by Ryan Ashley DiCristina

SURPRISE! As you can see, much has changed for me in recent life. It feels like I’ve grown up on the cover of this magazine, sharing each new chapter as it’s come along. I’ve left NYC, moved to Colorado, started the huge church of Elysium project with Arlo (coming soon), got married, and now this new chapter. This one feels more like the sequel to my own life rather than a new chapter, because since the day we found out we were going to be parents nothing has been the same.

Photo by Peter Roessler

Photo by Peter Roessler

The past few months—since all five of those pregnancy tests turned out to be accurate—have been a psychological struggle, a mental battle and a physical test of both perseverance and self worth. It’s been REALLY SUPER GREAT! In all seriousness though, of all the interviews I’ve ever done this is probably the most honest, the most vulnerable and the most important. It’s time to use my platform to discuss something truly from the heart.

Photo by Peter Roessler

Photo by Peter Roessler

Posing this “naked” on every level as this all new person internally and externally was an entirely uncharted challenge. Do you know what happens to a woman’s body during pregnancy?! Holy shit! Through a few episodes of doubt knowing this photoshoot was coming up, my husband Arlo encouraged me to own the insecurities and be brave. To do this photoshoot with pride, not to show my picture perfect and sexy self, but to show another side. To show reality. Humility. What it looks and sounds like to be a real person going through real life changes. What it’s like to truly be a woman.

Obviously, I have not become a mother quite yet, so I cannot tell you personally how much this evolution and sacrifice is all worth it. But what I can say, is this has changed me in a way that is indescribable. Pregnancy has taught me that the value I placed on so many things was materialistic, momentary and surface level, therefore, fragile. It’s been a brutal awakening learning what’s most important, but it has been a gift from the universe, for the hardest lessons are the most important to learn.

Photo by Peter Roessler

Photo by Peter Roessler

My journey has not been peaceful, but it has been powerful. I AM still young, I AM still unstoppable, and though I am no longer fearless, I know I am brave enough to face anything head on. How lucky are we that we get to evolve? We get to grow? We have the freedom and the luxury to change and to start over and to cocoon phase this shit and come out brighter, bigger and better? Thank you to all of my loved ones who have stuck by me through the hormonal waves, through the bad days and the hard times, and for loving me regardless. And thank you to all of you for growing up with me in this magazine. I hope we can continue to evolve and grow together, and place importance on the soulful happy things in this world instead of the material. I look forward to teaching, to learning, to truly encompassing this new version of myself, and to meeting YOU, Atheus DiCristina. <3 Ryan Ashley