GUEST: Ashley Sanford - Monster Jam Truck Driver

Episode Transcript

Julia Landauer 0:04 Hello everybody and welcome back to another episode of if I'm honest with Julia Landauer. Today's guest is an absolute Rockstar. She is a burst of positivity. She's Ashley Sanford and she's driver of the Megalodon Monster Jam truck. She was formerly a top fuel dragster, a general adrenaline junkie, professional, fun hacker and a lover of humanity. She's a girl who's always chasing a dream. We had the pleasure of meeting back in 2022, when we were both applying for Monster Jam trucks, and she got it and I did not continue. And I love her attitude. I love her transparency, her honesty, her vulnerability. In today's episode, we talk about her Monster Jam truck experience and what she's been challenged by what's been really exciting, we go into the nitty gritty of what it's like to drive a 12,000 pound truck up and down, jumps in the air on the ground. And then we also go into some of the things that she's been through on a personal level, she had a pretty tough 2023. And we talked about some of the grief that she experienced, how she picked herself up from that, how it was a reframe for her emotionally and mentally. And she shares some really wonderful nuggets that I think we can all apply to our lives. So I hope that you liked this episode, we get really real really honest, really vulnerable. And it's really special. Ashley, welcome to if I'm honest with Julia Landauer, thank you so much for joining me, Ashley Sanford 1:27 I am so happy to be here, it feels like I'm catching up with an old friend. And I always been such a fan of you. And it's really cool. I'm just so excited for this. Likewise, Julia Landauer 1:38 likewise, and like your energy continues to be so great. And so for our listeners, Ashley and I met in 2022 When we were both applying for Monster Jam for the Monster Jam truck series, and we're going through Monster Jam University. And so we had actually met right after my debut Nascar xfinity race. So I gone from that to completely different types of vehicles. And we hit it off and we made it through a few rounds together. Ashley obviously continued on and has now competing in the Monster Jam truck series, which is so cool, but we got to spend a lot of time out in you know, the training grounds. Yeah, Ashley Sanford 2:18 yeah, middle of nowhere cornfields, but we did we got to know each other so quick. And it was just like instant friends. And no, it's been so cool to follow along with your journey in it. I mean, really was amazing. Just going there and connecting three ladies, by the way, because we did have one other lady there with us Chelsea VanCleave whose shout out to Chelsea got to bring her in. But it was just so great getting to connect and see all these women who have different backgrounds, different upbringings grew up in different parts of the country, but yet we are all passionate about being behind the wheel and yeah, just started forever friends. Like totally, Julia Landauer 2:56 totally jam. Paxton, Illinois is like very middle of the country, small town like one main street, we got to explore a bunch of the restaurants and the bars, I guess, like they weren't the most happen, but you know, like, they were the bars, two bars. So it was it was a lot of fun. You know, the one hotel but ya know, I remember you know, what was so cool. And there was one day where I was watching you guys a lot. And you guys were doing more advanced stuff than I had done in the truck. And I was just in such awe of the toughness because you guys were getting air and that means you were landing from getting air and it's just can you describe to some folks kind of what it feels like to do a wheelie where you're accelerating you hit the bump and then you go straight up in the air and land on the back wheels because that's something I've never done. And I watched you guys I was like wow, they are way busier than I am Ashley Sanford 3:55 Guy wheelies my favorite. Yeah, no, it's so crazy. Like I'm just like visually going back to that moment of like, getting to do that for the very first time. And it really is so much fun. But it's taxing Antolin on the body. But what's incredible is from that first week of going out there and doing those hits that my body has never taken in such a massive vehicle. And so going from that to now today where I've gone weekend in and you know weekend over and over again. And it's crazy. I was getting so beat up like from the beginning of like, I would be so sore and I'd have bruises and now it's like I get absolutely nothing. Your body adapts so incredibly and just like upload to the human body for Yeah, oh my gosh, it's just crazy to have experienced that like how your body adapts to those kinds of movements but it really is so fun like going back to like actually doing this guy Willie, and taking a 12,000 pound monster truck and soaring it up vertically, it is just one of those, like, kind of my very first time doing it was like, I didn't know what to expect, am I going to do a backflip Am I gonna like you don't really understand yet what the truck is going to do, where it's going to move and really the technical abilities of these trucks because you watch them in some of these drivers, which I'm starting to do now the balance seen on two wheels front and back, like they're twisting like ballerinas sometimes. And it's to this day, like going on to certain pods. And this is, you know, our track is what we call our pods, the dirts always different. So you never know what you're gonna expect to this day you learn and your body does, you know, learn and we're okay with these harder tracks, these tackier tracks, going to be less forgiving, and you know, give you that pump a little bit more. Whereas the softer tracks, you got to hit it harder. And sometimes you're not even any good enough when you're going at it full throttle, and going from my background of drag racing. So this has been so insane because the technical abilities it takes to be ahead of the truck is something way beyond I thought you got to go in those trucks and just romp around. I thought it was so easy, you know, oh, you hit this, you hit that? How hard can it be? But there were so much that really goes in between your eyes, like a part of becoming a Monster Jam driver and a successful Monster Jam driver. And it's been such a fun challenge. Yeah, Julia Landauer 6:37 oh my gosh, it's like I'm taking back to that day just watching because like from the outside looking in. I was watching you know, you were still and then you were accelerating towards this dirt mound and then you kind of hit the dirt mound with the front wheels, and then you face up towards the sky and then you come back down. Can you walk us through kind of what was the first time you did this? Can you walk us through what was going through your mind as you were approaching this dirt mound that you had to hit head on and unlike the sensation of going up, Ashley Sanford 7:09 you know I go back to it was just so like, simple. It was Tom Meents in our ears. Who for those who don't know, Tom Meents? The Professor, the goat of Monster Jam, if you will, he has done so much for Monster Jam. He is also the head teacher at Monster Jam University. And it is truly in his backyard in Paxton, Illinois, where we're doing all this literally His house is right there. We're in his backyard. So he's in our ears with our comm system. And I just remember really putting my faith in Him and being like, Okay, let's go through the steps. 123 And that was really it. And I somehow was like, at like in a peaceful meditative state because truly that was it. I'm like, okay, line up straight. fast, not too fast. Hit it, stay in it. And that was it. That's truly all I was thinking. And by doing that 123 executed a great sky Willie going out my very first day. And I mean, after that I was hooked. Julia Landauer 8:14 Yeah, no, you're a great job. Ashley Sanford 8:18 I mean, and but it's just one of those things as simple as making it sound 123 There's still so much that goes into this because there's truly moving parts. Yeah. In our brains, I mean it coming from a person who's an over thinker, usually behind the wheel. I do my best when I just let it go and do what I know what to do. Yeah, Julia Landauer 8:41 and it's kind of breaking it down into that pragmatic like step by step because my my only comparable experience which is not anywhere near the same thing was when we first did the little jump. So the dirt mounds were like what three feet high or something when we did our first job. I really remember sitting in the truck approaching being told to go and accelerating and when I hit the like smaller amount for the first time I kind of like tensed up in my body. I was like holding my breath. And then I kept accelerating you get in the air. And I know I was only like five feet in the air but my head was probably up like 12 feet in the air. And I remember thinking once I was in the air I was like, oh shit, this is gonna hurt so much. Oh my goodness. Like what's it gonna feel like when it lands I knew it had like really soft suspension. I knew it had these huge soft tires, but I was like, I'm catapulting 12,000 pounds into the air. What is it going to be like when it lands and I close my eyes? I tensed up my body and then it landed so softly I was so impressed at how soft that landing wasn't I opened my eyes. I was like cool. Let's do this again. But it's it really is something else. It's Ashley Sanford 9:48 so true though because I mean, our natural reaction is like you had said oh shit like this is gonna hurt because here I am in a vehicle flying through the air. But no, they really do set these trucks up for this and you over time you get to know the truck, you have faith in the truck, and you have your faith and your crew chiefs who are setting up the truck for you. And yeah, now that I've done some bigger floors, I actually last summer got to go back to Paxton and do stadium training, and get to do big, massive kind of obstacle course jumps that we were working on. And it's so crazy, because going into that, that's when I was like, you really have to be 100% committed. And you have to follow that 123 step of you know how you're approaching jumps and things because when you don't do that, that's when it hurts. That makes total sense. I have learned that the hard way already when you know if you have faster jump or you hesitate getting into a face of a jump. The landing is everything when you come down and you know is pick and it oh my gosh, even believe it or not on landings where you're able to do a flat for those sometimes are the hardest hits because it's just that impacts that shoots back down and or shoots back up. And it's wild that yeah, who would have thought that? Julia Landauer 11:19 Well, and it's almost like there's like, a delicateness to how the trucks land almost like, again, like my landing was so soft. That was just like, wow, this is so graceful. Like, who would have thought that a 12,000 pound truck would be graceful, ya Ashley Sanford 11:35 know. And it's so true, though, because I mean, and on going from the smaller to the larger ones, it doesn't matter. It's how you get into it, and how you end is really what's going to make or break how you're feeling. And it's been back to just a challenge and a fun new kind of challenge of driving for myself, because before it was drag racing, I actually did off roading. But it was when Rachel and I would go to my family's desert property and we build our own jumps and that kind of thing. But we've done all kinds of silly stuff. Wow. Nothing compared to this scale of what I'm competing. And now yeah, it's been such a fun thing for myself, because I am an adrenaline junkie through and through I am I love to push a I, I really do feed off of that my energy does. So it's been such a like, sweet, sweet tree of a dream come true getting a drive for a Monster Jam. Because I was always a fan of it. I really was. And I just I didn't know how to get involved, which I'm sure it was kind of a surprise opportunity for you. Yes, yeah. And so, but as soon as I got into it, I was like, yep, nope, this is where you belong, you're, you're here for a reason. That's, that's Julia Landauer 13:00 so cool. And something that you said, that I really liked was that, you know, in the Monster Jam trucks, you have to really commit to it. And I feel like that's such a good life lesson in general that if you are going to spend the time trying something, if you're gonna go after something, go for it. 100%, like have that full commit. And then you're much more likely to see if it's going to be successful or not. And I feel like that something that I've always imbibed, like whether it's relationships, like I kind of always moved quickly, like move fast and quick and just like figured out if it worked or, you know, with racing, going in full speed with speaking, going and committing, and I just really liked that idea that, you know, if you're, if it's going to be worthwhile to do something, do it with a full commit, do it Ashley Sanford 13:42 100% And you're gonna get 100%. Right, and whether it's 100% success or fail it hey, we're all there for it. Right? Yeah. We're, I mean, you're gonna learn the most that way about yourself, and whatever you're pursuing. I totally agree. Yeah. Julia Landauer 13:59 So you mentioned drag racing and everything. So can you kind of share a little bit about the similarities between Monster Jam trucks and drag racing, if there is any error if there are any, and then kind of some of the biggest differences more from like, how you approach it. Obviously, for listeners, drag racing is in a straight line on level track, whereas Monster Jam trucks or you know, in stadiums on dirt, so besides like those obvious differences, your approach to drag racing versus Monster Jam trucks. Can you explain a little bit about that? Ashley Sanford 14:32 Yeah, no, I love when I'm asked this because it actually is totally the same as far as my personal approach. Yeah, but driving wise, completely different. And I mean, we're, you know, you mentioned tracks, I mean, the vehicles themselves, the handling, everything's different there. But the way I've always drove and I am most successful when I drive is when I get into to a meditative state. And it's so funny because, you know, you see the different kinds of drivers, right? There's the, you know, hot and heavy, you know, punching the door down and they're getting themselves amped up doing jumping jacks. I've seen those guys, right? No, I am the person who I will truly before I get going, I need five minutes to myself. And truly just quiet my thoughts, quiet everything around me center myself, and get in tune with how I'm feeling. And in that moment is usually when I'm able to be like, Okay, let's just go have fun then. And it is is simple and crazy as it sounds. That's how I approach my driving. And when ever I'm able to successfully get in that right headspace where I'm truly just let go of the everything and outside world because let's get real. We all have outside world stuff that is always consuming us. And so once I'm able to let that go and just be with the truck and focus on enjoying myself in the truck. And I did the same thing with drag racing when I was able to let go the world and just focus on being in the car and that feeling of mashing the throttle. It, it's euphoric. It really is. And there's nothing like it. And it, you know, it being in the adrenaline moment filled moment of whether I'm heading to jump or I'm going down the drag strip is the same feeling of just I people have said they can hear me screaming outside of them. And I'm talking this loud Monster Jam truck. I really do I enjoy it. And with that approach, I have found success. That's Julia Landauer 16:50 amazing. And honestly, I feel like my pre race situation was kind of similar and that centering, I did a lot of deep breathing and kind of visualization in the moments before I was like going out. So do you have like specific things that you do to calm yourself down and get into that more meditative, meditative state? Ashley Sanford 17:10 Ya know, it's visualization. Ya know, I am that person. I close my eyes, and I picture myself in the vehicle that I'm driving. I've done it both ways. I picture the run. I picture the feeling like or I feel the feeling, you know, you really it's a manifestation 101, right? Yeah. Wait yourself in that moment. And you give yourself that feeling that you're desiring. And so I close my eyes. And whether it's going up for two wheels, which is a very tricky competition we do in Monster Jam, where we balance our skills on two wheels, and it is my most challenging one. And so this I'm just going here right now, because it's one that I visualize even outside of events, like on a before I go to bed, I do this. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's really as racers who don't have a lot opportunity to practice, which has been myself from drag racing to Monster Jam. You know, practice tracks aren't really a thing between the two, we do have our summer times where we get to go out and practice with Monster Jam. But that's just a week or two maybe. And then, you know, your every time you hit the floor at events, and so visualization is everything for me. And I do it in everyday life from if I'm you know, sitting at a doctor's office waiting, close my eyes. So like I said, going to bed, I think it's really important. And it's, you know, what works for me. And I think that's the thing. It's you got to find what works for you. Right? Yeah, Julia Landauer 18:52 totally. But I think visualization is so, so critical and so important. And hopefully not too underutilized of a tool because Yeah, exactly. It's free practice and whether that's for competition, whether that's giving a presentation, whether it's having a conversation that you know, is going to be a higher stress situation, like, visualize it, practice, think how you're going to feel so yeah, I totally I love that so much. We're gonna take a quick break, but then we're gonna come back to if I'm honest, and we're gonna have Ashley we're back with Ashley Sanford on If I'm Honest with Julia Landauer. So you have just completed your rookie season in the Monster Jam trucks. Is that correct? Ashley Sanford 19:36 That is correct. Baby Stark no more even though I still. I'm like, I'm gonna push that as long as I can. Because I still do feel like a rookie. And I'm learning so much every time but nope, I'm playing with the big boys. It's official. That's Julia Landauer 19:50 amazing. Well, congratulations. But looking back on your rookie season. What to you was kind of most surprising looking back on it. And what is something that you were really proud of yourself for accomplishing in that rookie season? Okay, Ashley Sanford 20:07 well, this is gonna be a little outside of the racing part, the surprising part. And I'm like, you know why it's true? The most surprising thing that happened to me last year at Monster Jam was I met the love of my life. Julia Landauer 20:22 Oh my god, congratulations. I Ashley Sanford 20:25 love No, and it's so crazy, because that was so unexpected. I won't go too crazy into it. Yeah. But um, he had started working as a technician on my truck, and actually eventually was moved up to be my crew chief and was not looking for this relationship, but just emotionally connected. And I truly believe I found my counterpart, my soulmate. We have moved in together, our dogs are best friends. So ya know, I got to go fulfill a dream driving monster trucks. And surprisingly, in my first year, I met the guy of my dreams. Like I my own little Monster Jam fairy tale over here. So that Julia Landauer 21:10 that is beautiful. And so not the answer that I was expecting. And so I love it. I love Ashley Sanford 21:14 it. Right, I thought you would appreciate it. If we're being honest, Julia Landauer 21:19 that we are here to be honest, I love that. Thank you for the plug, Ashley Sanford 21:23 of course. So the second part, what I'm most proud of is getting the Rookie of the Year title that was amazing for myself. Thank you. I mean, I really am just so proud of myself because I have, from my younger years in sand drag racing to asphalt drag racing, racing professionally with the NHRA, I had put our I have put so much energy, I've put my whole soul my heart into racing. And I had never really had that kind of recognition. Yeah, that which it's so silly, right. It's just, it's just a trophy. Julia Landauer 22:04 But I don't but I hear you. Yeah, I completely get that. It's that Ashley Sanford 22:08 validation of you put in the work, we see you. Congratulations. So getting through my rookie year, I was already just so proud to have done it and competed with some of the best. And then getting that trophy of saying not only did you just do it, we we think you were one of the best ones to do it. And I had some incredible rookie drivers that I was up against, to get that new award. And so it really did solidify for me. Yes, you are meant to be here back to what I was saying earlier. And yeah, no, I definitely am so proud of that. Because at 29 years old, got a rookie of the year, it's possible, it's never too late. Well, Julia Landauer 22:52 and I love that that because I hadn't realized that. And so I think that it really speaks to your perseverance and also passion for the sport. Like, I think it's easy to want to keep doing something, if you're really good at it. If you win a lot, if you get the trophies get the recognition, like, obviously, that's momentum and inspiration to keep going right. I think there's something really beautiful and powerful about the fact that you know, maybe you didn't get that recognition earlier on, but you kept with it and you kept trying things and you kept going for it. I think that's, I think that's so inspirational, thank Ashley Sanford 23:24 you, No, I, I love that I was able to pull that off and show that to the world because I didn't I always believed in myself and I knew I needed to be behind the wheel and that that passion was going to come through and it was going to be rewarded one day. And I'm just so glad I kept pushing because yeah, I really hope it inspires anyone else to just keep pushing as well because it is worth it. You'll get there and hey, it's gonna it's gonna be tough roads and the blood and sweat and tears, they will be real, but it's, you know, when you believe in yourself like that, when I really believe and you have that strong desire in your heart. It's, it's already yours. It's already out there and you have to be patient and start being British. It really is Julia Landauer 24:13 truly and I love that and I think that's, again just a really inspirational sentiment to live by. So thank you for sharing that with us. So looking looking to 2024 What are you most excited about with Monster Jam trucks and or what are you nervous about? Kind of what's what's going to be a focus area for you behind the wheel? Ashley Sanford 24:34 Ya know, I kind of touched on it already two wheels skills is definitely my most challenging area of driving when it comes to these trucks. Julia Landauer 24:45 Can you explain what two wheels are to those of listeners who are not racing fans? Ashley Sanford 24:50 Of course. And so in the two wheels skill competition, the Monster Jam trucks all go out each have two attempts to go out and bring their back As skills move, and as skills move can be anything from doing a sky wheelie with Shay we were discussed earlier just going up and popping the truck up into a vertical wheelie off of the pot off of the jump. And nowadays, all the drivers are so good at what is called these nose wheelies and they move him into moonwalks. And so what it is, is popping the trucks onto its front two tires, bouncing it into a complete vertical stand. It's doing a handstand, these 12,000 pound monster trucks and moving them up and down up the pod. Some guys are even able to do combo moves to get it back up into wheelie. And it talks about patience is really what it is. It's wild. It's patience. It's throttle control. It's brake control, it's getting the perfect place the right part of the dirt. And you know, and we're talking once again in these massive trucks. So for me personally, I'm in Megalodon, who visibility is not great. It's mostly shark body on the outside. So we're doing this while also trying to look out these tiny windshields seeing where we're at. And a Yeah, so it's so difficult. It really is. I believe that it's such a great challenge. Because I mean, hey, it's one thing going out there and making hits. And in freestyle, that's what a lot of people know, Monster Jam for when you go out. And you're just making hits around the track and get in big air and that kind of stuff. It's which is a blast and still challenging. But two wheel skills is definitely this year for me, my number one focus of okay, how can we progress? How can we get better. And with every pass I go out there. I'm like I'm talking in just like the most miniscule amount of meat like changes I'm making to try and get these moves down because that's what it takes is getting your timing right. Like, oh, it has to be perfect. And some of these guys are just perfect every single time you once it's like it clicks, it clicks. And it's like it's like a half click for me right now. Julia Landauer 27:12 You'll get there on the full click. So Ashley Sanford 27:15 that's my 2024 goals. But also, there is a Monster Jam World Finals coming up this year. And it's in LA which I live in Southern California, in my backyard girl reaching for the Dream reaching for the stars right now of wanting to go to World Finals, because it's in my backyard. So hey, we you never know if you don't put the dreams out there. Right? Julia Landauer 27:39 So can you explain how you qualify? Or actually this will probably be good for listeners also, myself included? So I'm not entirely tuned in? So how do you qualify for worlds or like what is the look like to allow you to qualify for worlds Ashley Sanford 27:55 you are a guaranteed buy in if you win the championship series, you're competing. And so currently there are five here in the States tours that are going on, that are competing for a championship and I am in Arena series West Stadium Series West arena is and there's three arenas to stadiums. So five absolute guarantee drivers are going but they also kind of pick and choose okay. It's really one of those I think performance space and based picks that you get to go to World Finals. And last year, I got to go and watch in spectate. And it was incredible. And so even if I go back as a spectator, I will be just fine because I'm a fan girl no matter what. But to get to compete at world finals this year would oh my gosh, I that would be the pinnacle for me. Julia Landauer 28:56 Oh yeah. And you get to go put on a show in front of your hometown fans and all your family and friends. Ashley Sanford 29:02 A brand new state. Yeah, no, I, well, Julia Landauer 29:06 you put it out into the universe I had out. So we are all going to be rooting for you and hoping that you get that because that would be really cool. And then. So in terms of also some technical background for like any given like event, do you have multiple days of competition and then you get like a certain number of points at the end or how does each individual event work? Yes. So Ashley Sanford 29:31 depending on the weekend, the area we're in some, you know, it just depends on the crowds, right. We have some areas like we were in Tacoma, Washington, Tacoma, Washington shows out for Monster Jam. We had five events for the Sunday which is ridiculous. Honestly, it gets a lot on the body you're a zombie by Monday, but I'm not it's five events of going out and in each event, there are four smaller events we're competing for the first one kicks off with head to head racing. Second one's the two wheel skills, a doughnut competition in the freestyle competition, which is actually all fan vote besides . So whoever wins each event really is, you know, winning the fans over in that area. And those points are accumulated for 16 Plus weekends that we go out. And I mean, right now, I believe I'm sitting fourth or fifth, I, uh, you know, we're in the middle of the pack, which is not a bad place to be. And it's been really tight with the series I've been on. Everyone's been showing out every single weekend, so it'll be tight to the very end. And that's going to be a big determining factor. Yeah, and who's going to Monster Jam World Finals? Oh, Julia Landauer 30:50 cool. So this episode is coming out at the beginning of March. So how long will your season continue going on? Yes, Ashley Sanford 30:59 I'm set to the first of May. Yeah, cool. Yeah. And gosh, I should know this but World Finals is in May as well. I'm like what's weekend is It's mid May mid end of May and yep, kick off summer with with that fun stuff. Julia Landauer 31:18 That would be so then what do you so if the season kind of ends in May? Are you in the truck much during the summer? Or does a second kind of part of the season start? How does that work? Ashley Sanford 31:29 So a Monster Jam does their kind of summer series where after World Finals they do plenty events from you know overseas out of the country to here in the States and a is you to be determined in Monster Jam. Like stay away a little bit and Sir, so I would hope in the next couple months, I'll know what my schedule will be looking like. But yeah, as drivers I mean, it's honestly stressful because I don't know if I have a job yet going into the summer months and last year I was lucky and I was able to continue working with Monster Jam they wanted to keep me for the whole summer and kept me really busy. But I mean and this goes as a driver in any kind to see so much of it is unknown for us right like we really you know, you have the faith and you hope it works out and that's what I'm hoping will work out again this summer I'll stay busy and if not I'm sure I will find myself behind the wheel or something. Julia Landauer 32:30 I'm sure you will too. But I think way Yeah, could you dive into that a little bit more actually because like I think you know whether or not our listeners are racing racers or not like that that unknown that element of unknown for so many people can be really daunting and sometimes it can be overwhelming I think like knowing that so much of your futures up in the air or out of your control, do you and you're obviously a positive person and optimistic and we love that because I am too and but do you have techniques that you use to either center yourself or calm yourself or not let the potential stress of not knowing what's next get to love Ashley Sanford 33:15 that we're touching on this because I like to tell people hey I have a lot of people fooled don't let, Don't worry I as positive and optimistic as I am. I am human at the end of the day and this is all work this is an every day I show up for myself and I choose positivity I choose optimism. Because I am a control freak I am. Let me say this right. I'm a recovering control freak. Yeah, on it. Because it's so easy, right? We I mean from when we're a young age I think of when I was a little girl I was like I'm gonna be married by this age and I'm gonna have kids at this age and we like to plan we That's who we are human nature, right? We just want to like have everything figured out and I at 18 years old was like I'm gonna be competing and Top Fuel at this age when this by this agent, and oh my gosh, how different my life is in this moment from what I had thought it was going to be. And so learning this was my big one learning to let go of everything is really I had a woman tell me one time she said can you do anything right now about how you feel like are you your I told her I was stressed about something she's like, Can you do anything about it at this very moment? And I was like, no, she said Let it go. You're you're letting or that let it go. Oh, and as simple as it is. It is so massive because I mean we do we want to be able to in which and it's so good because you do have to put action into you know what you do to cry for? Absolutely. But at the same time, sometimes you really do have to like things are out of your control. They're out of your power, and you only can do what you can do and so many people will sit there and just stress and get down on themselves and be. And I mean, I'm guilty, I've done it a million times off of you know, you shouldn't be doing this to be getting a sponsor, you should be like outgoing and doing this, or you should have done better at this amount or this and that and you could play that game and fall down that hole. But what's the gonna get you at the end of the day? Yeah, you're gonna be down on yourself. And you're Yeah, no, it's completely unproductive. And so it really is, it's a choice of every day. And when those moments arise of, you know, freaking out whether it be big or small. Can I do something about it right now? Yes, sir. Now, you know, if you are let it go, and, and even in that moment, when you do let it go, choose to see it as, okay, this was an opportunity to learn something, what did I learn from this? What What can I take from this, and this is something that I do all the time. And it's, you know, easier said, than done as well, because you could just get caught up in things and I will quickly not even check in on myself. And then, you know, hours later be like, Oh, my gosh, I'm so upset over what? Yeah, and it's, it's really it for me, letting things go and choosing my happiness and choosing to look at things in a better light than a darker light. Again, it sounds so you know, you use your son the done right, but you have to internally, truly connect with yourself, talk to yourself and be like, no, like, I want to feel good, right? Like, I want to feel happy. I don't want to feel this way. So let's look at it different and you'll be surprised yourself, you are your own best friends. You really are. And we get that. And if you can connect with yourself and get that relationship with yourself builds up. I promise you'll start knocking down all that nonsense. It's true. Julia Landauer 36:59 That is so beautiful. Ashley, we're gonna take another quick break. But we'll be right back with Ashley Sanford on if I'm honest. We are back to If I'm Honest with Julia Landauer. With our guests, Ashley Sanford. So we were just talking about obviously the power of having the mental strength to say okay, what do I have control over? Do? Can I do something? Can I move on? Can I let it go. And I think that's so powerful. And I liked what you were saying about how kind of positivity and seeing things in a more optimistic light is a something that you have to actively practice. So I think that that's really, really powerful. Switching gears a little bit and related but different. You gave me permission to ask you about a trauma that you and your family went through last year when you lost your cousin Marissa. And for listeners obviously I checked in with Ashley and everything but I was also seeing how she was addressing this profound loss with her followers and fans and community and I thought it was really beautifully done in kind of how you paid respect to her. But then also kind of just like let people know the emotions you were feeling well I'm I'm getting a little tense stuff here but um can you share kind of what what that did for kind of your your mindset and your psyche last year, as you're also having this massive year are professionally and just some of that that you were going through? Ashley Sanford 38:44 I really experienced I say I'm like I feel like I just jumped timelines. I don't know what it was last year. But I mean, talk about going from extreme highs and lows. I experienced it all last year. And I'm losing my cousin Marissa. So I had just turned 30 Recently, but last year, she had just turned 30 She was my very first best friend. She was born seven months before I was our moms are sisters. Our moms are best friends. She pretty much has been in my whole life since the moment I opened my eyes. And so to have someone that you have that love with that connection with she supported me more than anyone in the whole world. She believed in me when I didn't believe in myself, to have that kind of love and then to lose that kind of love is one of the greatest losses and I know so many people experienced this, and I had never I had been so grateful that my life I had experienced grief but not to this level and to have someone at so young 30 years old tragically be Taken from your life and your family's life, in which we, my family are so insanely close. It was really, truly just heart wrenching and painful. And there's no like, there isn't a silver lining when it comes to being in the moment of grief. And I think so many people and I mean, myself too, when I was looking for silver lining, I was like, How can we find positive in this and how like, and it's okay, if you can't sometimes. And that's where I think that was a big one for me to come to terms with and be vocal about. Because I, you know, and here I was just starting off monster truck driving, and I was having to, you know, be you know, keeping fans the loop, I miss my event, people were wondering what was going on. And it was just one of those things of like, you know, like, we just have to be vulnerable, we have to just feel what we're feeling and get through the hurt to, you know, live for the person we lost. And that's where at the end of the day, I was like, this sucks. It's terrible. But I'm here, I'm alive. And I had 30 Incredible Years with this person that taught me XYZ. For me personally, Marissa was the embodiment of love and light, she was the person it's the cliche, though, she was the person that walked into the room and lit it up. She just was vibrant. She didn't judge anyone, she, she loves everything. She saw the beauty and everything and all I in that moment of like realizing, okay, what are we taking from this, we're taking all of her and we're gonna hold on to her, and we're gonna continue to share her, because she really did have the best outlook on life. And so for me, personally, I was already, you know, going through a personal transformation last year, you know, personally driving all all the ways and then losing her. I feel like I just gained more of myself, because it she really did, she opened up that vision of myself of being like, no, she, how did she see you and, like, you need to love yourself, like she loved you. Just because she's not here doesn't mean you don't deserve that. And, and I'm just so grateful, I was able to connect with that, because I know grief is it's not linear, and everyone experiences in different levels. I'm a spiritual person. So I feel like I was able to get on that level and find that connection with her and, you know, use that continue on really where I just feel and I really just want to put this out there for anyone listening who's going through grief that it's okay to not be where I'm at. And you get where you're gonna get when you're ready to but just know, it's, it's not fair, and it sucks. But just find those good things in that person. Find the things that you why your hearts missing them so much. And flip it and utilize those great qualities about them and put them into your life. And know it's not going to fix anything because you know, what's happened has happened. But at the same time, you can feel that love again and you can feel that light again. And that's that's what I've gained from it. And I know I have a guardian angel with me and every step I take and it's I feel it I know and I it's true and when you can connect with that it's really powerful thing it is. Julia Landauer 43:35 Thank you so much for sharing that so transparently and honestly and it sounds to me just from hearing what you said that obviously there's no silver lining when you lose someone there's I don't think there's ever a silver lining. But one probably unexpected, you know, result is that as you said, like you started viewing yourself how she viewed you. And that's so much self love as well. I'm getting Ashley Sanford 44:04 I'm covered in chills, right? Yeah, Julia Landauer 44:06 that that's so beautiful. It Ashley Sanford 44:09 is it really really is because I think the biggest thing we all struggle with is self love. And if we all started there and could find a way to love ourselves first it's a ripple effect it is it'll go outwards and it'll affect others and that hey, even if it's that person in the grocery store line that you know is having a terrible day and if you can, I don't know just put a smile on their face over something's still your I you know, I'm just a firm believer that it it matters in what you do matters. And if you start on the inside first and you start loving yourself, you'll see the world around you start changing i i Promise I've witnessed it myself. Yeah, Julia Landauer 44:58 no, I agree and I It kind of reminds me kind of tangentially, like something that I like to think about also talking about self love, but also how we talk to ourselves. Like, don't talk to yourself the way that if you wouldn't talk to someone you care about that way, you know, like, I think we tend to be hard on ourselves, we tend to be kind of most brutal with ourselves, especially if we're high achievers, if we're you know, whatever. But if you wouldn't talk to your sister that way, or you wouldn't talk to your mom that way, or you wouldn't give feedback to a friend that way. Don't talk to yourself that way. Yeah. Ashley Sanford 45:33 And it's so true. And we all forget it. We do and we're so quick to be our hardest critic, our worst enemy and we're at the end of the day, we are what we have we're it's just sighs and you we all believe in ourselves. We all have that little bit that we're like, no, there's more there's more in us. And as long as you can find that and you can work on loving that part of yourself it's goes to your inner child too, right? Like you just gotta you really need it feed where you know in the needed and so many people a get caught up in the rat race of life and are just quick to like you knew the you know overachievers of like oh, no, I need to be doing more I need to be doing this. And it's like, know what you're, you're always doing enough you are if you're trying, you're doing enough, and everyone needs give themselves that pat on the back. And you really do need to be cheering yourself on you really do because it just it's one of those things where like, I encourage everyone to just like for a week straight, so week straight. And in those hard moments of say you're not I messed up on this, or I made this mistake, whatever it may be. Let it go and be like, it's okay. I'm human, I made a mistake and just see how you feel. See the difference and how you feel right and continue that. I I'm just such an advocate. And this last year I have personally been through so much. And I just know the power that's within ourselves of loving ourselves. And if everyone could just try and tap in there, I would love to see it for everyone because I want everyone to love themselves and feel that love because they deserve it. They do we all totally Julia Landauer 47:23 and and like kind of you've kind of alluded to this, but at the end of the day, like our relationship with ourselves is the longest relationship we're going to have, right? Whether it's physically with our bodies with our souls and minds, like we need to nurture it. And I think I think part of that is also being like, I'm a big advocate for letting ourselves feel what we need to feel and if it's sheer unbridled happiness, like feel it if it's being really frustrated with yourself, feel it productively for a little bit and then move on like same with anger, grief, or you know, whatever it is so yeah, well, I feel like I had just had a soul cleanse. Ashley Sanford 48:06 Like it is going from racing does your day life is complex? Life is complex. It is and and I think that's I mean, for me, at least the biggest takeaway is okay, yeah, we have our niches Right. Like we have already seen worlds, we have this. But at the end of the day, we're all human. We're all experiencing the same internal struggles and we're all trying to get by and do our very best in the worlds we live in. Right. And so it's a beautiful thing life in it. Julia Landauer 48:37 That is such a poetic way to round out the discussion part of this podcast recording. Ashley, thank you so much for your vulnerability, your transparency, your really wonderful nuggets of your experience that has led to wisdom like this is so beautiful. So thank you. Ashley Sanford 48:57 Thank you. Yeah, gosh, I am just so grateful to you to have made a friend like you, you really do inspire me daily and personally, professionally, and to have gained a friendship with you and doing this. It's just you guys I'm having a conversation with a bestie right now and I'm so glad you all get to tap in and because this does it feels so great. And I really appreciate getting to do this with you. Julia Landauer 49:23 Of course so we're gonna end on the rapid fire if you're honest. So no stress, but here we go. Okay. What is your go to dinner when you need to make something quickly? Ashley Sanford 49:37 Ooh, go to dinner or breakfast for dinner. I love breakfast for dinner every day. Whether it's cereal and a bagel or it's full on avocado toast and eggs. Yup off breakfast for dinner. I Julia Landauer 49:48 love that. What is a country that you'd like to visit? Ashley Sanford 49:51 I need to visit Europe. I have traveled so many places and I have not been to Europe yet. We need to get you to Europe. busy this year goal actually so finger. I don't know where yeah, I'm like, just put me on the first slide out my first week and off. Julia Landauer 50:10 You let me know where you're going and I will give you my tips. Now they have to use them obviously, but we'll give them I will. What is your favorite trick to do in a Monster Jam Ashley Sanford 50:20 truck? My favorite tricks do in a Monster Jam truck is a sky wheelie. I feel like we are all like conversation, but it is it's Hey, it's my bread and butter. Also, Julia Landauer 50:31 I didn't say this earlier in the episode, but like I was listening on the radio when you guys were out doing your stuff. And so when I watched you do your sky wheelie the first time and then like I hear, I'm like, oh my goodness is her back. Okay, like that was such an aggressive landing. And then you're, you come on the raid and you're like, and you're like laughing I'm like, Oh my God, I feel like the nervous mom was like, she okay. But anyway. Oh my god. All right, last, if you're honest, what is something that you're grateful for right now? Ashley Sanford 51:02 I am grateful for getting to have this conversation with you. I truly I feel so in the moment right now with you and getting so you know, walk through kind of my life with you as to what's led me to today, I really am proud of who I've become. And I'm proud of the message I'm able to put out there with people. So I'm grateful to you for helping give this platform and, you know, whether it's inspiring anyone out there, you know, to continue to pursue a niche career like we both have, or it's just getting through a hard time. I hope we can connect with people and yeah, make a difference. It's Julia Landauer 51:44 super important for people to know that they're not alone and what they're going through. So you've clearly help everyone who's listening feel that way. So thank you so much. Ashley, where can people find you online? If they want to follow you? Ashley Sanford 51:57 Please follow along @ashleyracergirl, I am on Instagram Twitter. That's about it nowadays. It's I feel like Instagram is really just the main one. But Julia Landauer 52:10 well, I will be sure to link those. Next Yeah, yes, that will never be true. But I will be sure to link those. And Ashley. Thank you again so much for joining us, everyone. That is our episode. If you liked this episode, I hope that you'll share it if you know someone who's going through a tough time and could really benefit from hearing Ashley's experience and wisdom. Please share it with them. Please go ahead and follow Ashley and then give the podcast a rating and a review and thank you for letting us be honest with you and I look forward to seeing you next week.