Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Aranmolate.
Hi Ashley, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Well, hi! I appreciate you having me on! I got to where I am today by relentlessly operating with integrity and the love of a good metaphor – which are still my driving forces for strategically taking risks each day.
In essence, my story is an unpredictable one of chaos and marvel. I had a rather ordinary Southern childhood, following the rules and assimilating in spaces where I was taught to…but only when necessitated. I was a social late-bloomer though, and many years were spent just trying to fit in – with people who lived on the fringe of society to those most likely to control society. Despite my musical, artistic, and athletic talents, I rarely applied myself to strive for more due to diminished self-esteem related to years of bullying. To that point, it was easy to accept the path of least resistance by following what my parents thought was best for me…which happened, but with layers of complexities.
I tend to find harmony in extremes, so I purposely immerse myself in environments that allow me to lean into those challenges. It’s how I started to build confidence. For example, I earned my first nursing degree from the great Tuskegee University and my second nursing degree from Duke University. Both are very different environments but equally refining. I earned my MHA from Ohio University because it satisfied my passion to solve health disparities in underserved populations. Ultimately, I stumbled upon my passion when I simplified my life and really started paying attention to how I show up in life affects others — so now life is dictated by it.
I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Oh, certainly not. I’ve healed from some tough traumas. Most recently was a bitter and rather expensive betrayal by one of my closest friends – he went rogue, and it set me back in many ways. If I can take a vulnerability risk here, I share that because while that wound may never fully heal, the betrayal brought me tremendous blessings. Sometimes you may unexpectedly be your only support system, or have to deal with lies – but just stay the course anyway and as long as you maintain integrity, trust that your plans in life will work out remarkably. Someone needs to hear that!
I’ve also survived intimate partner violence, dealt with financial hardship, loss, and have lost count of the number of times I’ve slept in my car but still made it to work on time with a smile on my face, ready to work. Hardly anyone knew all these years. Shame can keep a lot of people stuck, you know?
I’ve evolved to learn that pain in life is to be expected, but suffering is often preventable. How we deal with our obstacles determines a great deal going forward. I now enjoy having few material possessions, and as difficult as it is being at rock bottom, I never thought I’d be able to make stand-up comedy-worthy jokes of my circumstances. There are many jokes! And I truly thought I hit the therapy jackpot many years ago when my own therapist was excited that I was pursuing psychiatry!
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Well, personally, I’m a mommy to three little kids and bonus mom to three big kids. One of my bonus kids is expecting soon, so I’m about to be a grandma!
Professionally, I’m a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, a published author, and a speaker. I’m shopping for a publisher now for my children’s book who’ll allow my insistence that the illustrator be a person of color. I’m also a self-taught cosmetic chemist who focuses on waste-free products. Those products will be housed under my non-profit. When I’m not doing that, I’m working on building my independent practice here as well as other states. My primary interests are trauma, forensics, alternative and holistic medicine, and climate psychiatry! I’m passionate about restructuring how mental health is viewed and treated in the most sustainable way. I’m developing mental health programs and consultation services for law enforcement agencies, maternal care facilities, and inner-city school systems. Because my last decade was spent in Memphis, I’ve devoted my collaboratives to serve there, as well as Atlanta and surrounding. Eventually, nationwide, then global. My approach for leading people to inward healing is so that they too may be able to heal others and future generations.
Perhaps what I’m known for, frankly, is how I make people feel. People trust me, and I think that is sacred. The same comfort level I have sitting in the prime seat in a boardroom is the same comfort level I have sitting on the sidewalk sharing a snack with someone who is houseless. Regardless of political views or gender identifications, I just care about making people feel valued. Sometimes that’s all the people need in order to heal. I suppose I’m proud of that, but I don’t do any of my work to be noticed. It’s my purpose, and it feels good.
What sets me apart from others is my enduring curiosity. I have this deep-seated curiosity about the human experience. It used to get me in trouble as a kid, but I’ve devoted years tempering it. My curiosity is part of why I didn’t stick in corporate America long – instead of walking straight back to my desk from the break room, I’d have to stop and ask the janitor how his chickens are doing or another colleague about if they got their back pain checked out. Suffice it to say, meeting deadlines was a challenge, but I was still well-liked in the companies.
Let this resonate with you: There was an encounter that I had some time ago with a kind, houseless gentleman with severe schizophrenia, who I’d eventually befriend. He said to me, “Ashley, do you know that scripture in the Bible where it says, ‘One day the least will become the greatest, and the greatest become the least?’”. I said ‘certainly’, to which he responded, “I have yet to see that happen.” With that, I’ve further invested my career to dignifying care that impoverished people with mental health struggles receive. They are “the least of these”.
Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
I don’t quite subscribe to luck – but this one thing I know for sure: God rewards obedience.