This season Manulife is creating a movement of gratitude and paying it forward kindness during the Christmas season. We hope that by sharing our stories (as varied as they are) of #LifeAdvice and #gratitude we can amplify the conversation and encourage more people to think of sharing these types of kind gestures over the holidays.

Life advice sometimes comes to you in funny ways, and while some of our stories may seem a little strange, they all contain advice that we feel strongly about. BLUNTmoms is here to show that even on a bad day, there is something good that can occur, and that simple things sometimes make the biggest impact in your life

‘If You Don’t Build Your Dream, Someone Will Hire You To Build Theirs.’
This was a ‘quote of wisdom’ my father bestowed upon me at the ripe ol’ age of sixteen. Sure, at the time, ‘building my dream’ was the last thing on my teenage mind. Boys were first on the list, a 1996 cherry red Mustang was second, and third was likely the next time I’d be able to hit up Cinnabon at the shopping mall.
However, as I aged, I slowly understood what that little saying meant. It wound up being something that would stick with me for the remainder of my life during both the trials and triumphs.That piece of advice would also ruffle my feathers when I’d see all my efforts stonewalled. However, I’d also look think of his words fondly when I succeeded in any way. 
Succeed in life; that’s exactly what that fatherly advice pushed me to do. We all want to succeed, especially at life.
Like most, I had many jobs over the years. After making snow cones at the Snow Cone Hut, I was quite certain that I didn’t want to work in the snow cone industry, nor ever have someone to ‘report to.’ I envied the people I’d watched in my childhood who made their own paths, who went to the beat of their own drum. I thought often of that advice my father embedded in my brain during my formative years.
The snow cone job solidified that I was not someone who was meant to take the ‘safe’ path. While being critiqued on my ‘lopsided snow cones,’ I realized I was going to be one of those risk-takers. I was going to be that someone who went after what she wanted. I finished out my education and decided I wanted to be my own boss.
Seeing I didn’t have professional experience in, well, anything, I stuck with what I knew best, persuading people. No, I didn’t become a lawyer. Even better, I became a saleswoman! That’s right, the best talkers and persuaders usually make the best lawyers or sales people.
A business opportunity presented itself in California and the timing was perfect. I was near complete with my education and felt it was a sign that this was the path I was supposed to pave.
My father owned a similar operation in Arizona and was quite convincing that this was the perfect fit for someone who wasn’t too keen on taking the safe route. After about five minutes of ‘business plan breakdown’ and offering to join us for the first year to get the ball rolling, I decided to dive right on into the entrepreneurial pool. 
I was on board and furthermore, so was my man.
The three of us packed up and headed out in a U-HAUL to San Diego and started a small business in 2005. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into and let me tell you, at first, it was really rough.
Once you start out in anything new, you quickly learn that it takes a hell of a lot of patience, time, and perseverance to continue trekking down that path. It’s hard work, however, I kept that piece of advice in my brain. I don’t want to build someone else’s dream, I don’t want to build someone else’s dream! 
Many days were exciting and some had moments that made me want to hop back in the U-HAUL and head back home. However, I kept at it. I kept that saying in the back of my head, taped to my fridge; I’m surprised I didn’t have it tattooed to my body. It was something that kept me going, it was the one thing that kept me encouraged.
2005 is now nearly 10 years come and gone. I sit here today and manage our small operation and I can tell you, without a doubt, I have absolutely no regrets. I love and respect my father for branding that advice into my brain. 
Building anything from the bottom, you are often met with far more closed doors than open ones. However, these experiences build tenacity, resiliency, and character. 
I could have easily went back and ran the Snow Cone Hut and likely became one of those snow-cone-making masters, but I chose the path of less desired. I went left when most turned right.
The aforementioned is largely because of my father. He pushed me in a way that only he knew how. He wanted me to be met with closed doors, he wanted me to stumble only to get back up again, he wanted me to falter as he had so many times so I could feel the joy you are met with when those endless fails are finally greeted with success.
His fatherly advice with that saying provided me with an abundance of growth. I not only grew financially, I grew up. That piece of advice, it made me a woman. I built my dream.
I’m grateful to my father for pushing me to forgo the path of least resistance and rather, create my own journey. Essentially, that’s exactly what this has been, a journey. His advice ended up not only being business related, it extended to life too. I’m in my thirties and I can proudly say that I am still willing to brave the unknown. When you’ve traveled to ultimate highs and lows, not much intimidates you anymore, well, nothing except when it involves snow cones.

Ashley Alteman

Visit the Manulife blog for more details on what they are doing to share gratitude this month, or pop onto the #LifeAdvice hashtag on Twitter and start sharing the best life advice YOU have received! 

This post is sponsored by SPLASH Media Engagement on behalf of Manulife. 

@Manulife is asking you to spread some positive by thanking those in your life who have given you great #LifeAdvice. Take a moment to #PayItForward by thanking someone important to you.


Ashley Alteman is known for her love of dinosaurs, ponies wearing sweaters, and overuse of commas. She is an editor’s nightmare. She won a spelling bee in the 8th grade for correctly spelling “carrot” and knew from that moment she was destined to be an amazing journalist, or a sarcastic blogger; she went with the latter. Ashley details her laugh-out-loud parenting and personal fails at You can also find this hot mess fumbling around on Facebook


    • Thank-You for reading the post, Theresa! I LOVEEE your page!! It is so beautifully put together!

  1. Beautiful words. Sounds like your dad was a smart guy and that he’s passed some of those smarts on to you. It is nice to read that someone sees life as an exciting journey.

    • It’s for sure an exciting journey…with lots of bumps! However, a lot of lessons–great ones.

  2. I love this! Wish I had gotten this crazy blog thing started in 2005. My parent’s advice was very different: go to school, get a job, be indispensable, be safe. I’ve done all that and I hate it (don’t tell my mom). I wish I had started paving my own way a long time ago. Go girl!

  3. Words from a wise man and now an equally wise woman. Only a few years ago did this quote cross my path and get my attention. I’m still working towards my goal but it’s great to read YOUR success story!

    • And you are surely getting there, lady friend! We all are! One step and glass of wine at a time… 😉

  4. Wonderful life advice! Life is all about enjoyment and experience, living with no regrets! 🙂

    • No Regrets!! You got that right, sista! I think I need one of those neck tattoos. ‘NO REGRETS’ hahahaha

  5. I am FINALLY realizing that paving my own way is the best way to go. I wouldnt change anything about my life and I don’t have regrets, but you are really blessed to have a dad that gave you such powerful advice at such a young age. I think most parents steer their kids to the “safe” route.. which isnt always the best.

    • You are SO on point with that ‘safe route’ comment, Lauren. There are pluses and minuses to both. To each his own! I am happy to hear that you are paving that yellow brick road. I see you! You are on it, lady! YOU inspire me!

  6. Although I do love a good snow cone… You definitely made the right choice. Well done. So glad you chose San Diego (;

  7. Smash–love your take on your journey. love your dad, too ;-)!

    • It has certainly been a journey 😉 One surely worth the ride! My pops is pretty bad ass, if I do say so myself! I wouldn’t be where I am today or WHO I am today without that man.

  8. You are one of the bravest people I know — not afraid to take on new endeavors or challenges! You are always understanding of the lessons to be learned and applying it your life!
    I’m so happy that you left AZ and are here!

    • Thank-You, Heidi! It takes a bunch crappy roads traveled to end up in a place where you are no longer frightened to take on something new! You certainly learn to let the small stuff go when you’ve handled the big shitty life moments–you live, you learn, you APPLY! 😉 I am happy to be here in SD, too! And grateful for amazing friends like YOU.

  9. Love this wisdom…love you and your blog. Your Dad is an amazing man.

  10. Your dad must be proud. It takes courage but the road less travelled is so much more interesting.

  11. Such an inspiring story. It’s awesome that you used his words as your mantra on the path to success. Your dad must be really proud of you!

    • Thank-you, Jess! Yep, surely a mantra is became! One that was well worth its endless repetition! 🙂

  12. smash!! This is great! I follow all of your blog postings and enjoy them all!! This one is REALLY out of the box and you hit it out of the park!!!!! Great words of wisdom from a wise man who raised an obviously motivated, self starting woman!! Please keep the blogs coming! I know I can’t be the only one who absolutely loves to crack up over coffee in the morning reading these amazing inspiring stories of REAL LIFE!


  13. Ashley you really have a gift. I love reading your blogs and even better I get to hear it in person 🙂
    Keep being yourself and thank you for the great inspiration.

    • Oh, my Lucy. Thank-you for reading and furthermore, for actually knowing me in real life and still loving me. hahaha 😉

  14. great advice, and true. Can I hire you to build my dreams smash? Haha

  15. Great post, great Dad. Those risks and adventures are the ones that lead us to great rewards. I’ve always been like that too and I can’t imagine it any other way. Really enjoyed reading this about you.

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