Dec. 7, 2021

The Power Behind Our Thoughts - Ashley Iverson

This episode is about Ashley Iverson, a woman who once felt like a shell but found true love in Cal Firefighter. Unfortunately, his loving husband passed away fighting for Thomas Fire. Ironically, after that incident, Ashley stepped into her purpose and began to love living life. She is now an Executive Director in Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness Mental Health Awareness & Support For First Responders & Family.


This episode is about Ashley Iverson, a woman who once felt like a shell but found true love in Cal Firefighter. Unfortunately, his loving husband passed away fighting for Thomas Fire. Ironically, after that incident, Ashley stepped into her purpose and began to love living life. She is now an Executive Director in Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness Mental Health Awareness & Support For First Responders & Family.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The power of thought;
  • What to do when you feel like a shell;
  • How to handle a spouse with past trauma;
  • What is self-care to you; and
  • How music and other non-verbal therapy help first responders with mental illness

Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness

Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness (Instagram)

Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness (Facebook)

Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness (Youtube)

Host Information
Your host Jerry D. Lund can be reached at 801-376-7124 or email at enduringthebdage@gmail.com or voice message use the icon microphone at www.enduringthebadgepodcast.com. Please feel free to give my information to anyone that might be feeling down or anyone you would like to be on the podcast. Please subscribe to the podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast.  If you like the podcast please share it and join the online community at www.instagram.com/enduringthebadgepodcast.

Reach out to Ashley and IFAA now. Don't forget to listen to our other episodes!

Transcript

Everyday Heroes Podcast Network  
This podcast is part of the Everyday Heroes Podcast Network, the network for first responders and those who support them.

Introduction  
Hi, everyone, and welcome to this week's episode of during the batch podcast. I'm your host, Jerry Dean Lund. And I don't want you to miss an upcoming episode, so please hit that subscribe button. And while your phones out, please do me a favor and give us a review on iTunes or Apple podcasts. It says hey, this podcast has a great message and we should send it out to more people. So please take that 30 seconds to a minute to do that review. And just maybe by doing that, it will push this up into someone's podcast feed that really needs this message. Now let's jump into this next episode with my very special guest. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Today is Ashley Iverson. How you doing?

Ashley Iverson    
Hey, Jerry, thanks for having me.

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, thanks for being on. Uh, uh, you gotta love zoom and all these other technology things. And when we go to start something, it never fails. Right? No matter how many times you've you've done this or there's always something..

Ashley Iverson    
Never fails, it fails.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, right. Right. Well, tell us audience a little bit about yourself, Ashley.

Ashley Iverson  
Oh well, um, my name is Ashley Iverson. Born and raised in Monterey, California. I went to Carmel High and moved down to San Diego after high school and went to San Diego State and you know, did the whole thing where you're supposed to get your bachelor's and be a successful human being and did that and put myself through beauty school.  But during those times I was basically a shell I did all the things that you know say that society says that makes you successful human being but inside I was not really wanting to live just didn't really have much to live for really and had next to no self worth. That being said, I built a pretty successful hair and makeup career and on my 26th birthday I met a super hot dude named Corey Iverson and he he changed my life it was a fast and furious love affair and we got married and had a baby and he was a CalFire fireman and on December 14, 2017 He lost his life fighting the Thomas fire.

Jerry D. Lund
Which was one of the one of the largest fires in California history at that time, right?

Ashley Iverson    
At the time it was yeah.

Jerry D. Lund    
That's been been pretty crazy. Fire year year after year. I kind of want to go back a little bit before we maybe talk about Cory and and some things that have gone on since he's passed away and so you said when you're you felt like a shell? When did you notice that when she knows that you were feeling like that was just after high school or before that? Or was there I was a realization at some point.

Ashley Iverson    
Well, I'm an only child and I was raised by a man that was post depression. You don't feel you don't express emotion you just go to work and and hustle through life. And I was raised by a woman that has a lot of internal pain. She struggles a lot with not knowing what love is supposed to look like and lack of self worth and I pretty much adopted that kind of mentality. It wasn't necessarily that you know, they didn't show me love. I just am very perceptive and took on my mother's sadness really and so I was never strong enough pretty enough. Smart enough, rich enough. You know, never enough and it just consumed me.

Jerry D. Lund    
Was that, Did you Did did you feel that when you're just even, like super young. So you felt that or?

Ashley Iverson    
Yeah, I would say that it, it, it, the awareness of it was, you know, preteen teen 12-13 years old.

Jerry D. Lund    
Yeah, that's pretty hard time to have those type of emotions. I mean, I think even today in our ever kids are still, a lot of them are still feeling those same things about that, that time in their lives. And maybe it's just some of the chemical makeup that's in certain certain people that it may be start to express itself at that time. Or maybe just like I said, maybe start becoming self more self aware about yourself and how you're actually feeling internally.

Ashley Iverson    
As well, I think you're absolutely right on both parts. I think that, you know, with all the chemical changes that happen in that time frame, especially for women, not having the external support, and kind of guidance on where you can direct your thought processes, then it's just recipe for disaster really, because I very much believe now in the power of thought, you know, literally anything can be done in life, dependent on what you're telling yourself. And so, you know, in that crucial age, 12-13-14 years old, where, like you said, it just kind of comes in and you're becoming more aware of what what you're feeling. Having, I don't you know, I don't know, it could have gone a lot differently for me, if I had that structure of this is normal. And you have the power to change your, your your internal makeup, really know not just what's happening outside of you, but by thinking, but by your thought processes. You're able to perceive your external circumstance in a positive way. Right away. It's you.

Jerry D. Lund    
Right? Yeah, I get it. I could see, you know, not having that type of influence, you know, and it seems to be something a little bit contagious. Maybe it's something that age that everybody's like, I'm not feeling well. I'm having a bad day. I'm starting to see a lot of that in the teenagers. 

Ashley Iverson  
Cause you're impressionable. [Yeah], you're so impressionable. From childhood up until that teen? [Yeah, yeah.] I don't miss those days. I'm not gonna lie. You know, now I have two girls. And so I just, you know, kind of brace myself for that time period. And will will, hopefully, always just be very cognizant of communication with them both. Yeah. Because I think that, again, Communication is paramount in this life.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right. And thinking back to those times, and is probably wasn't, as are our parents probably weren't thinking about those things. They probably, my guess maybe didn't under fully understand the power of words and things, I guess, Oh, wow. With that, because you're right, right. My, my, my dad passed away about 20 years ago, and he'd say, died in his early 60s. But when my parents were married, or my mom got really mad, they got divorced. And then my mom married someone else, and he was a recovering alcoholic and, and he wasn't recovering very well. And my mom was also and so just, I can relate to you like with some kind of those external things happening to you. You don't feel like a lot of self worth and you don't know where to turn to. And for me, I actually like a neighbor down the road kind of like took me took me in my real dad. He lived you know, fairly far away. So I didn't get to see him very much but you know, there was a someone that took me in to help you know, kind of try to build up that self confidence and give you some value.

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, yeah. I too was able to have mentors if you will I to me, they were adopted mothers present in my life from those teen years and on that have kind of filled that that role that was a little bit different than than most.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. My I think I guess it was point I was trying to get to is this like, you know, your parents don't really don't teach you those type of feelings because I think they're also probably trying to keep their feelings suppressed too, in the type of relationship that my mom had with my stepdad he was abusive physically, verbally, to the point, we actually had to just pack up our car on my birthday and escaped. So he basically wouldn't come and track us down to Egypt was just abusive. So.

Ashley Iverson  
Why would I would imagine that that, you know, is a lot of shame, based on on why there wouldn't be expression of talking about what was going on, in terms of our parents. But I actually experienced the opposite, I was receiving all the darkness that my mother was experiencing, and she was sharing with me. And so I was taking on things that a 12-13 year old, shouldn't shouldn't be taking on. So, you know, it's that balance of both right of acknowledging that your children only have the capacity to take on so much, but also giving them credit to be able to have difficult conversations at the same time. It's a weird mix.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right? Right. You have to form those relationships with with them, and they have to form that with you to to have the ability to actually carry on a conversation and meaningful or difficult conversation like that, because who wants to really have them? Right? They're usually that age. They actually do sometimes I would say they actually wanted to get off your chest and, you know, get some feedback back from you, not just from their friends and whether they're hearing through the through that. Yeah, but yeah, so it just kind of a difficult, rough, rough time through up into your mid 20s. Was there any way special way that you coped with some of that darkness and stuff? 

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Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, marijuana and antidepressants. That's still a shame point for me to be honest. Because of that. For me, growing up, and so there wasn't there wasn't much coping happening at all. I mean, I'm trying to think of the things that I would do. I've always exercised. I've always been into physical fitness. But I honestly can't think of doing anything that I'm doing now to be self aware and get to a point of self love. I wasn't practicing any of it. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. I can understand that. And then, I mean, it's it's a very difficult transit was a difficult transition to get into a relationship?

Ashley Iverson  
Sure. Yes, and no, Cory and I had a very instantaneous connection. It was one of those kind of love at first sight situations. And so that side of it was easy. The hard part was both of us believing that love could be real, and, and work. He was when we met working with the feds, and so he was, you know, gone six to nine months out of the year. And I, I think that he didn't believe that, you know, a good looking female could stay faithful while he's gone. And I looked at a good living environment and didn't think that he could stay faithful as well and so, very good six months or so we played the game pretty hard. And it just came to a point where it was like, alright, well, I'm not gonna play this game anymore. I gotta go. And, you know, we took a took a minute and a breather and came back together. And it was game on at that point that was. So we met on my birthday, September 8, 2012. He waited until the end of his season to call me again in November. We guided through through that next year, and then kind of split up a little bit and then in July, got back together moved in together in September, he proposed December 30. We got married March 22 and pregnant May 23. Is when we found out so once we decided that we are all in it was off to the races. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. Oh, that's great. That's, I mean, sounds like a perfect like, you know, love affair, you would have I mean, it was is difficult on both sides right to to to navigate that relationship when you're gone for long periods of time.

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, but for us it worked because I think it it forced us and enabled us to stay independent and stay stay in our selves in our in our the codependency that can come along with relationships that I had had in the past, or it's all or nothing, right, right out of the gate. And I just lost myself. And that's when I was 19 years old and found myself idea with suicide ideations, because I just lost myself completely. And so the structure that came along with firefighting worked for the both of us. That being said, I had the marriage, I had the life I had the home, I had the family, but I still didn't like living, to be honest. And it wasn't until Cory sacrifice that I really started to realize how amazing life can be as horrible as that sounds, the moment that comes out of my mouth, because he was my best friend and the one person that I cared approved of me. But I think that that's the biggest piece of our story, is he knew that he couldn't fix me, he knew that his love was never going to fulfill that I needed to love myself. And he gave me the gift to be able to find that.

Jerry D. Lund  
How did, how did Corey handle you know? Did he know where you how you were feeling inside? I mean, and so how did he How did he handle that? Like, what I tried to see how he would try to help you.

Ashley Iverson  
He was my rock, for lack of this kind of the only way to describe it. He always had confidence in me and was there for me. He just had confidence in me, you know, and he himself, you know, I in venturing into this work since he left. We all have our darkness we all have our demons and our battles. But he was really good at managing his I think is is the best way that I can presume now because in the beginning I would say that he didn't struggle with with you know, the darkness and and didn't have mental health issues. But I you know, I think a better way to articulate it now is we just balanced each other out. Well, I was there for him in ways that he needed. And he was there for me in ways that I needed but I still definitely knew I was struggling.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. Well that's, that's that's a beautiful thing right in a relationship when you can find that that balance and you know, receive that confidence from your spouse and also give that give that back to him that same same type of gift. I know this is a hard conversation for you to have and I know there's a lot a lot of feelings in and I appreciate your you know, being honest and through this conversation. Can we talk about that the day that Corey passed away? Or does that? Some kind of tell us, can you then just tell us the events that led up to that?

Ashley Iverson  
So that morning, I shall back up a little bit. The night before, he gave me a call- FaceTime. And now, you know, obviously, he was at the Thomas Fire. And he gave me a call at like nine o'clock at night. And he was already in bed, our daughter. And normally I wouldn't go into her room if you FaceTiming after I burn your bed because she was two years old, and she needed sleep. And she'd see him in the morning and and that night was special. I picked up the phone and said immediately do you want to see EV? And I walked into her room and the three of us FaceTime together and she got to say, I love you. And he got to say the same thing the night. The other thing that was special about that evening is normally when he was at work, he would always separate himself from the crew to have a conversation with me, no matter if it was 30 seconds, or however long it was this time he was in the rig with his boys. And I would always have to ask like can I say hi guys. I if I was going visit I would break out in a cold sweat and my heart would start beating on my chest because I was so intimidated to walk in a fire station. And we're you're talking with him in the rig because you want to say hi to the guys and turns the camera and I got to say hello and the faces that I side never even seen before and I got to share with him. We were remodeling the our master bath and the one part of the shower or the whole thing that he picked out was the flooring and it had just gotten laid that thing. So that was awesome. I got to say goodnight to him and show him that. And I turned on for the first time ever. A Lewis Howes, you know that name? 

Jerry D. Lund  
I do. I like him a lot.

Ashley Iverson  
I do too. I turned him on and he was interviewing Oh, geez, it just it just slipped away from me. Come back to me, hopefully. But his, the the premise of this conversation that I got was the reason for living is giving. And we and I and I went to sleep that night. And the next morning I the last text I ever sent Cory was a I was an adjunct professor for cosmetology at the time, and I was pregnant and had terrible morning sickness and I had to excuse myself from finishing my contract. And they were still paying me. And that morning, I shared with Cory on the text that I planned on tithing the money that I was receiving on Earth as a first time that I had ever had any intention on tithing ever. And a couple hours later, we, EV and I got into the car to go meet up with his aunt and uncle and grandmother and grandfather. We were going out to celebrate his grandfather's 80th birthday. And I gave him a call and I said we'll be there in 10 minutes. And so okay, we're just getting grandpa down to the boat. We're taking them out in like San Marcos. And I got there and I saw a CalFire rig No, no quarries uncle was retired CalFire site. Weird maybe. We borrowed a rig for the day to tow grandpa. It was like the fact that I even had any sort of thought process that there's a CalFire car was interesting in itself. And I got in the car. And I'm walking around to the left and I saw his uncle walk around the car to the right. And the look on his face. I said to him did grandpa just died? Now he he was he was dying of cancer at the time. And so it wasn't just like, out of left field that I asked if Grandpa just died there was a reason he's in for me automatically going to grandpa but the look was a look that I had never seen before but I knew what it was any any any any you know panicked and said it was Cory and I you know, I was holding Evie and I kind of like No, no, no, no, no and just like fell kind of away from them back to the ground. I was like, what? He's hurt yeah. It was just easy and as complicated as that.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. I could never imagine I could never put myself in your shoes to fill something like that would be to feel like but it's that that's happened is just devastating. I mean, it's, it's horrible our way around. Yeah, yeah,

Ashley Iverson  
It's horrible. For me, though, to be honest, every single thing that has happened since Cory's passed could not have been more perfect. I could not have imagined having some random man come to my house or getting a phone call. So being told by someone I know is you're replaceable to me. And then the next the first gift I was given was within moments after it happened. Tony Meacham rolled up and I couldn't stop thinking about the Yarnell fire and the the hotshot crew that last night team. And so I asked Tony immediately and I said, "Who Who else was hurt? And he said no one and I felt genuine gratitude in that moment. And I think that the to write the act of sending out to the universe to God, whatever, whatever term you want to use, that I was interesting giving into the universe, and then I was also emitting gratitude. I think that both of those shifted the whole transpiring of everything to come after that, because then I was interested, being a shepherd of, of financial giving and giving in general. And also I was just hounded by blatantly, too, it's not just like, okay, you know, it, there was no choice behind it for me, but to be grateful for the endless amount of things that began to happen.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. So that was it, that could have totally just spun you a different way, right. You could have just without information, and no one would have ever right, probably thought differently if Ashley's you know, start spiraling downwards, instead of having this life life changing moment, you know, losing Cory, but also, you know, it's a life changing moment that happened inside you.

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah. And, you know, I was thinking about before we got on the call, I was thinking about how some people almost see it as a negative thing, how public it was, for Cory, and for me, it probably saved my life. Because if it was a private thing, and my one, you know, supporter, my one person that that was my pillar of strength was gone. And then, and then everything else was not there as well. I don't I to be honest, I might not be here. I mean, I had my children and so I had to live right. I had to, I had to keep going. I'm not about to orphan my my children. By some sort of conscious choice. That's a whole nother rabbit hole if you go down, but I wouldn't be sitting here having the conversation. I am with you today. I'll put it that way.

Jerry D. Lund
Right. Right. You're you've come to a point where you're, you're you've been thriving in life instead of feeling like that empty show, you know, for those 26 years before that.

Ashley Iverson  
I am happy to say that today I am stronger, spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally than I have ever been in my life. And I can actually say that I love myself I, you know, I still struggle with things that I feel as though I could improve upon. But the negative self talk and shame and torture that I would put myself through is on a whole different level now. [Yeah], because of practicing certain things, to to help myself learn how to love myself.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. How did your family and Cory's family you know how, how do they handle the passing of Cory, and you know, and your two year old daughter?

Ashley Iverson  
And when we found out, fell to the ground, and Evie, my shoes came off, and I stood back up, mind you, she's too, right. I picked her up again. And she says, mommy, your shoes came off, put your shoes back on, you know what's going on. And I knew, I knew that I was never going to hide what had happened. And I, I turned to her and I said baby, daddy went to be with God today. And he's not coming home. And I probably said it just caught pretty much like that I was in so much shock that tears were not there yet. And she just started sobbing into my shoulder. For a two year old to have that kind of awareness of what I had just said is is is mind blowing. And then later in the afternoon, we are driving in the car and I called someone through the speaker right? And she said, Are we calling daddy? I thought oh my god. How many please? Yeah, don't let me have to answer that question more than once. And she never asked it again. And, you know, everybody, everyone that was have any sort of closest to Cory, their entire lives have changed. He you know, you he was one of those ones that leave too early that were just walking angels that just just had this presence about them. You know, I'm sure you've lost people where they they've gone to in your in your, you know, ego based self if they left too soon. Yeah, yeah, they were there there. He was, like, I'm sure the person that you are picturing right now the person that would walk into a room and you're just drawn to them. They were just they had this magnetic presence, and just this understanding of life, that it's all going to be okay.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that that image for me is kind of is my dad. He had a certain kind of swagger to him. He was a salesman for a number of years and in Southern California. And so he, he did have some swagger to him. And people always look to him for, he because he kept his word that was his big thing, you know, in there. There are yah, you see him around, and we should we should have gone to those people that are walking that walk and, you know, it's pretty, pretty impressive to see what what they can do to a room and stuff or, or an audience.

Ashley Iverson  
That's very special. And I am just grateful he chose me because he was so cool.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, that is very cool. Were you, and you were pregnant too at that time? 

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, it was about halfway. Yeah.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. That how was the how was it? The birth is? What was is your youngest daughter?

Ashley Iverson  
Two girls, Evie and Taylor. Um, it was I am not very good pregnant person. It wasn't very nice on my body. And number two was was even worse. And so I was induced, so I was ready to get her out. And I shared, I shared with some people that it was, it was going down because it was scheduled, right. I did not expect to have like 30-40 people just kind of milling in as I was accurate. Yeah. It was good. It was good. It was quick. She was she was out like four hours. So that was great. But it was it was interesting. It's been very, very supportive on all around ever since ever since I'm grateful for that.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, yeah, you, you've done, you set up a foundation now in Cory's name?

Ashley Iverson  
I did that is coming up on the anniversary of his name was Ryan Mitchell. He was a CalFire Captain out here in San Diego and died by suicide on November 5. And Cory was sent to backfill for him. And when Corey came home, I saw fear in his eyes for the first time. And I think it's because a Cory for the first time really realized how much mental house can change everything in a second. And then fast forward a month later, when Cory was killed, all I could think about were his colleagues, because Ryan was still very heavy on my mind, even though I had never met him, just like the sheer fact of suicide within you know, the first responder community was was pretty foreign. Right? I would that's definitely an out of sight out of mind saying that the whole mental health game, in general was I didn't, I didn't think about the things that he was experiencing, because I was the one that struggled and I would sit on calls for weeks, if not months. So in our whole time have known each other Cory may be shared, like one or two calls, but me just because he knew that I couldn't. I couldn't take that on. And so when he was killed, all I could think about were his colleagues that were with him that day, because no one gave me a clear understanding if they watched him burn alive for a year, I had no idea what happened. In terms of what happened of their experience, you know, I know the outcome of what happened, but and how it happened. But so I started asking them what what level of mental and emotional health care you guys are receiving on a regular basis at work. And I was basically laughed at. And so, you know, a lot of my internal struggle prior to Corey leaving as a hair and makeup artist, you're an unlicensed therapist, essentially. You make people pretty and they verbally vomit all over you. And yeah, 

Jerry D. Lund  
All day long,I'm sure Yeah. 

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah and I loved it. But one person at a time just wasn't enough for me. And I would say that to Cory. So I do the MLM things to try and honestly help more people. Not knowing how, though, and it was very clear, very early on within days of the accident of why I'm here. And so the Iverson foundation is advocating for change in the mental health realm with in first responders.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, which is awesome. Right? There's just are can't be enough of it out there. And I think maybe some people that are listening, maybe they don't really understand, like the magnitude of how big CalFire is, it is a massive, massive department that's basically covering huge chunks of California. And it's so yeah. For you know, to set a foundation in his name, and you know, being out there in that CalFire area, and you know, having that close connection to the eye. You have a great video on your website.

Ashley Iverson  
Such a good job articulating what what the heart of the foundation is.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, it does. It's yah, such an amazing quality video. Like it's really impressive. He don't have to everyone go check it out. And where is that on? What's the website?

Ashley Iverson  
That's on, the website is iversonfaa.org

Jerry D. Lund  
Okay. Yeah, I can't remember which sign it was on. And so your approach to helping, you know, first responders with mental illness, you have one unique thing we talked about the other day and you have through music, some therapies for music. So explain that.

Ashley Iverson  
So yeah, part of part of the the foundation is providing alternative, alternative mental health modalities. So I would say the general public considers the main mental health modality as being talk therapy going and talking to a therapist. Well, that's one of so many different options of mental health care. And that what we're doing is is sponsoring programs such as music therapy, we call it music resilience, because I feel like it's a You know, it's those old alternative modalities are harder to get buy in for, because they're not so mainstream as talk therapy, right? If you talk to someone, and they're struggling, the first thing that comes out of somebody's mouth is are you talking to someone which is, which is a huge benefit. But things such as music therapy, and yoga, and meditation and exercise are, are equally as beneficial and may reach someone that talk therapy is just not the modality that's going to provide healing for them. Right. So yeah, we sponsor things like that. It's pretty cool.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I think I do like the music thing. I mean, like all the modalities because they all have something to offer. But I think the music thing is real cool. Because there's, I mean, who doesn't love music? Yeah. And then I do like the name I like it, because, you know, brings back resiliency, I think sometimes, right? Getting into the some self care, listening to that type of music does rebuild your resilience. I mean, you have to have resilience. Everybody does, but especially first responders.

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, and they're great over there. So it's with Resounding Joy. we subcontract out with music therapists, specifically Resounding Joy. And it's not just about playing instruments and that kind of stuff. They, they help you learn what the music is doing for you. So in terms of, you know, affirmations, are you listening to positive affirmations or negative affirmations? Are you listening to music that it's gonna bring you down and keep you in the darkness? Are you listening to music that's going to lift you up? And so there's different aspects of music that I think we don't really have awareness of that are affecting us inside? Yeah. And so you learn you learn the ins and outs of that kind of stuff.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, I think the right we, we both agree that the power of the word is so huge, but that Power Word, whether it's coming through music, or through yourself, thoughts is very, very damaging. And I get some people want to go to the gym, and they want to lift all angry or run down the road super angry music because it gets them pumped up. But I think that's something you might want to consider changing.

Ashley Iverson  
There's a time in a place. There's a time and place for all of it. You know.

Jerry D. Lund  
But yeah, it definitely can can bring you bring you down. It's any said yoga. And you're also doing that sponsoring, sponsoring classes for that?

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, well, I was approached in 2018. By lovely individual, Kendall would, and she wanted to do some, you know, she's a yoga instructor, and she's like, get me in there. And I'm like, alright, well, I don't know, you should like write some papers come in, like PowerPoints, that kind of stuff. Because firemen like PowerPoint, you know, like, you gotta have all the, all the data and stuff, right? She's like, she's looking at me like, okay, okay, I'll go do it. And then she's just like, No, I'm just gonna go to the stations, just awkward, awkward yoga. Alright, well, you want us to start paying the bill. And she's like, okay, sure, because they were, you know, the, the guys that she started helping and working with originally, were happy to throw down some money to have her come out and teach them. And it just took off. I mean, in 2020. Because of the inability to be in person, we had to go virtual, and it did nothing but benefit her her practice and our offering. In 2020 alone on her own, she taught over 400 yoga classes. 

Jerry D. Lund  
That's impressive. 

Ashley Iverson  
Oh, we got a guy over in Scotland, practicing and across the state and being just incredible. And I think that yoga is such a beautiful tool that hits mental health on so many different facets, the power of your breath, the physical aspect of it, the meditation aspect of it for me, meditation is and breath are severely underestimated. I [right], think that that's where, you know, in meditation, it's it's the space between the thoughts. That's where, that's where the juice is. That's where you really begin to learn who you are. And you're able to start communicating with yourself and then then in turn communicating with others and learning how to love yourself in that communication. And so I think that yoga is a really special modality that is non threatening. It eliminates the need for talk therapy that some people can be intimidated by. It's just a beautiful, beautiful gift that the first responders are really taking hold of and enjoying and I think benefiting them. So it's really special. She's now at the academy, actually, with CalFire down here. 

Jerry D. Lund  
Oh, nice.

Ashley Iverson  
And Clark. 

Jerry D. Lund  
That's very cool. Very cool. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, there's definitely huge benefits to yoga, let you know, not just the actual, you know, the breathing, and that's great. And then the kind of meditative type state, I feel like you get in when you when you're doing yoga, kind of pushing yourself in those stretches and stuff like that. I think that intimidates some people too, about getting into it, but just like, yeah, just go in. And it's one of those things that just like everything else is gonna take some practice to do it, you know, the people that are teaching first responders yoga or not, you know, yoga, yoga, just not wanting to them to be a yogi, you know, to speak.

Ashley Iverson  
Yeah, and the physical part, I would say, is the last component of what yoga can offer. It's connecting all of it, it's connecting the breath, to the body, to the mind, to all of it. It's a trifecta of just amazingness, I have run two half marathons. And the first one I was severely ill prepared for, I mean, I'm pretty sure I ran in like three hours, it was horrible. I wanted to die. And the second one, I trained with practicing yoga. And it was a whole different ballgame. I mean, I felt like I was just like, charging it right. If anything, every step got faster and stronger through the, through the race, and I think it was because of the the, the control of breath and the control over the mind. And just, you know, cuz you can mindfuck yourself to death when you're running. It's like, five steps

Jerry D. Lund  
You got plenty of time.

Ashley Iverson  
This is a terrible idea. And then and then it's over, you know, but if you are able to alter your thoughts, right and have control over your breathing, then it's the, the it's the possibilities are endless, right. So I did that second one. In 159, I was sub two hours. I was just like.

Jerry D. Lund  
 Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah.

Ashley Iverson  
And I think the yoga had everything to do with that.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah. What other future things do you have planned for the foundation?

Ashley Iverson  
Oh, Um, currently the thing that lights, my fire is doing things like this, talking on podcasts and talking to departments in person. And the first two years, I was on a high that I will never be able to articulate. It was unbelievable. I was asked to come and speak in over 30 public venues. I had hundreds of people telling me how strong I was, and all the things right. And I didn't feel depression for two years. And I thought that I was healed. I thought I was fixed. Not realizing that it was all external. And, you know, they warn you that it's going to get quiet after somebody dies at some point. I don't think anybody could have predicted the quiet the 2020 brings. Yeah, and so I I mean, it's it's all good. It is good. It was a dark time. I'll tell you that much. At first. I was like, Are you guys kidding me? Like this is not a big deal. Well, getting locked up in your house for seven and a half weeks with a five and two year old will mess with you after a certain amount of time. Yeah, like a few short days. Get me out of here, you know, but what it did was, first of all, allow me to grieve Cory in a in a private way. You know it really I was able to get mad at him I didn't have I didn't have anger for those first two years at all. And I was able to be angry and in private. You know, well, the girls had to see that. But, you know, hopefully I didn't fuck I'm not too bad anyway.

Jerry D. Lund  
I'm sure you did well.

Ashley Iverson  
But the thing that happened in that time, and especially in the past, like six months, I really started walking the walk and practicing the things that I was preaching, but not really understanding the profound change that they can bring. Those first two years, I thought that self care was massages and and, you know, getting my nails done that kind of stuff. In the past year, and six months, especially, I really start pushing into things like breathing and meditation and physical fitness and the power of water and the power of thoughts and the power of manifestation and power of faith. All the things, right, and they, it's all kind of come together on how I can articulate it to first responders, and give them something to take away from, and not just stand in front of them and be like, What is going on here? You guys, you got to take care of yourselves do something, right? Now I'm able to walk back into those departments and say, Hey, listen, these are things that actually work. Yeah. And they don't take a lot of time. The biggest thing and the main thing that I hear is, okay, great. Self Care, sounds awesome. I'm stuck at work, I can't do it. All these things that I'm going to be sharing with them can be done in less than 10 minutes, if not 40 seconds, you know, the more you practice it, the faster it brings you back to reality, and it grounds you and brings you just to the now. That's the biggest, biggest thing in you know, mental health is you're either living in the past and dwelling or you're panicking about what can be in the future. Right? And you're, you're not where you are right now. And all these things that that that self care does is just that it just brings you to right now. And you can never deny that right now. Always. It's okay. Yeah, in the shittiest of circumstances, if you just take 40 seconds, right, and take three, as big as you can press and release them as much as you can, you'll realize, it's, okay. My leg might be broken right now. But ultimately, I'm okay. Yeah, it's weird. It's a weird juxtaposition on how right now, it's all good.

Jerry D. Lund  
Being present. Right? It's about being present. And having the ability to, to be present these days is extremely difficult for many, because anytime they may have taken in the past to read a book, or, you know, do sit down, just playing, just relax, not not do anything is, is very difficult now, because now everybody is on their phones, like thinking that time. You know, sitting there on your phone, scrolling through things is not really the self care that you need. It's mind numbing, in a way but you don't want to numb yourself in that type of way because being alone with your thoughts and feelings, you got to take that time, if you're picking up your phone or doing something else, you know, something else to distract yourself from have taken that time to look deep in yourself, man, you're not going to address those issues that you need to and I think that's one thing, right? Just starts stealing your resilience.

Ashley Iverson  
Right? I shared some thoughts on that. Consuming right, we're we're constantly consuming and and that that FOMO factor is real, right? You just want to be a part of life and we get so wrapped up in but if, if I had this and if I was doing this then I would feel better and life would be greater and you know, and and I was listening to something the other day was Alan Watts and he was talking about half the time. We all I wish my brain could remember it right now. Half the time we don't know what we want because either we already have it or it's something we don't need. I don't remember the second half of that, but I loved how he was touching on we don't know what we want because it's sitting right in front of us.

Jerry D. Lund  
Right right. Right. Not not taking the time again right to be present and seeing those things that are there in front of you. Ashley, where where else can people find you? I think we have the website. Where else can people find you?

Ashley Iverson  
Ahm Instagram is probably the best place to find me. That's ashley.m.iverson. I inadvertently deleted my Facebook during 2020 and my panic of darkness I just wow I was freaking out and tried to disable the messenger and it just wiped it all out. And I'm like, well, apparently I don't need that anymore. So Instagram is the best way to find me.

Jerry D. Lund  
And then they can also follow the foundation on Instagram too, right?

Ashley Iverson  
Yes, the the foundation is Iverson FAA on all platforms. And so that's Instagram Iverson, FAA, Facebook as well. YouTube as well. And the website iversonfaa.org

Jerry D. Lund  
Awesome. So people can contact you, are you able to go out and speak now and things like that get out and about?

Ashley Iverson  
I got a I got a couple lined up. I'm excited about it. And I'm stoked things are things are starting to move again.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, that's awesome. You know, I really appreciate you sharing your story today. And you know, it's through something very difficult was very also very inspirational to me. And thank you for be willing for willing to share that.

Ashley Iverson  
Thanks for having me, Jerry. It's so nice chatting with you.

Jerry D. Lund  
Yeah, it's been great. I'm excited to see the foundation grow. And are you going to start bouncing out of Cal? And see if you get some places to speak other other countries, the United, accross United States.

Ashley Iverson  
I'm headed up to Canada in the end of the month. I've got like T-26 days before I head out. And I mean, I'm just gonna put this out there. Bam wants to ask me to come and talk to their apartment. I'm there.

Jerry D. Lund  
Awesome. That's awesome. Okay for you. Okay, well, thank you for being on the podcast today.

Ashley Iverson  
Thanks, Jerry. Much love to all you guys.

Fire and Fuel Apparel  
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Outro  
Thanks again for listening. Don't forget to rate and review the show wherever you access your podcasts. If you know someone that would be great on the show, please get a hold of our hosts Jerry Dean Lund through the Instagram handles @jerryfireandfuel or @enduringthebadgepodcast also by visiting the show's website, enduringthebadgepodcast.com for additional methods of contact and up to date information regarding the show. Remember the views and opinions expressed during the show. Solely represent those of our host and the current episode's guest/s.

Ashley Iverson

Executive Director

Plagued by mental health my whole life even through experiencing the love many search for their whole lives, a successful career, home and growing family. It wasn’t until Cory’s sacrifice, I ironically stepped into my purpose and began to love living life.