Colorado author Ashlee Bratton launches new book in Edwards Friday
October 1, 2014
When Ashlee Bratton is in the car, she likes to play what she calls the "lottery life" game. If you won the lottery, what would you do? After you bought the big house, the fancy car and spent six weeks in Hawaii sipping cocktails by the beach while someone rubbed your feet with coconut oil, then what? Bratton thinks that for most people, after they spent some of their money partying like George Clooney in Italy, looking suave and sailing a yacht around Lake Como, they would embark on their true passions and pursue their real purpose in life.
Bratton also believes you don't have to win the jackpot to live the life you want, a topic she explores in her new book "Life Before the Lottery: Living Beyond the Bucket." A Colorado resident with family ties to the Vail Valley, Bratton will launch her book locally at The Bookworm of Edwards on Friday.
In "Life Before the Lottery," Bratton tells the story of how, in her mid-20s, she was bored with her job and unhappy with her life.
Living in California at the time, Bratton skipped work one day and while sitting in a coffee shop, composed at list of 30 things she wanted to do before she turned 30. Instead of trashing the list along with her latte, Bratton took her "30×30" list to heart, completing 29 of the 30 items on the list before the big 3-0. Unlike a classic "bucket list," where people compile things they want to do before they're six feet under, Bratton wanted to achieve her dreams while she was still alive and kickin'.
"The concept of a bucket list is not new at all," Bratton said. "(The book) is about being able to put a deadline on it and actually doing it, not putting it off."
FACING ONE'S FEARS AND FINANCIAL FREEDOM
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Bratton's book is part-memoir, part-advice on how to accomplish your goals by the time you reach your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond. Bratton said it's never too early, or too late, to go after the life and experiences you crave.
"It's not a book about turning 30 or that kind of thing," Bratton said. "It's more about figuring out what season of life you're in and embracing it, and going after that (moment) in life for you."
Bratton's own list was quite ambitious, with things like being completely debt-free, getting her masters degree, running a full 26.2 mile marathon and river rafting through the Grand Canyon. While she completed all but one thing on her 30×30 list (you'll have to wait until the book launch to find out what she wasn't able to cross off), Bratton said most of her adventures didn't turn out as she'd planned. She initially was going to do the Grand Canyon rafting trip with a friend, but they dropped out at the last minute. Bratton, who said she'd never "been to the movies on my own, let alone a vacation," decided to face her fears and embark on the voyage solo.
"Sometimes when you have dreams, you've envisioned how they're going to be when you do them," Bratton said. "The best thing about the list is that most things happened in a way I'd never expected. When I put them on the list years ago they turned out nothing like I'd imagined, (but) in fact most of them (were) better."
Not everything on Bratton's list was for fun and adventure.
"I made an effort to cross off my financial goals first, to pay off my debt," Bratton said. "Because I did (this), it opened me up to the opportunity to be able to do those (fun) things. It was freeing to be able to pay it all off and get it done. That's when I made the decision to go back to school and get my master's degree. So I was debt-free for 20 days. The whole point was to learn good financial practices and keep those going."
SPREADING THE 'LOTTERY LIFE' LOVE
One item that wasn't on Bratton's 30×30 list was writing a book about her journey. Soon after she began to slay her list like a dream dragon, Bratton began encouraging others to compose and complete their own. One of those friends who caught onto the "Lottery Life" trend was Gina Galindo, who still resides in California. Galindo met Bratton seven years ago, when life was somewhat rough because she just had gone through a divorce.
"I met Ashlee at a time when I was just kind of broken and heart-ached," Galindo said. "She told me about this list of things she wanted to accomplish when she turned 30. (I thought), 'Wow, she's younger than me, she's got her mind set, she has all these goals.' I was just really impressed with her."
A few years later, Galindo made her own list and said Bratton motivated her to finish school, make a career change, buy a new house, move on from her divorce and rebuild her relationship with her daughter.
"Mine were more emotional things," Galindo said. "(Ashlee) inspired me to keep moving forward … (to keep) looking towards the future and not looking back."
Galindo will be 40 this month, and has already begun composing her 50×50 list. Galindo said one of the keys to Bratton's approach is actually putting your plans on paper, and placing it in a spot where it's always in sight.
"I remember she had it written out; it was in a frame and it was something she kept by her bed," Galindo said. "She looked at it every day, as a reminder. I think it's helpful to have it visually in front of you."
Stories like Galindo's are peppered throughout "Life Before the Lottery," as proof that anyone, regardless of age, finances or other limitations, can still take steps toward changing their life for the better.
"A lottery life is about if you have no restrictions, nothing holding you back, in detail, how would you be living your life?" Bratton said. "(The book is about) finding out what those desires are and not waiting until you hold a winning ticket. You don't have to hold a winning ticket to live your lottery life."
After reading "Life Before the Lottery" and seeing scribbles on a page turn into the life you've dreamed of living, you may not care that much about hitting the jackpot after all.