Seasons of change and transition are universal parts of the human experience. Whether it’s going from middle school to high school, partner to parent, or from full-time employee to full-time caregiver, there will always be tension involved in transition. But along with the newness of change, comes the opportunity to foster new growth, learning, and understanding, and to forge connections with those around us on a deeper level.

For Ashlyn Carter, transition is a familiar guest whose presence always comes with new challenges. Carter, however, has mastered the art of the transition while still retaining her passion for creative expression. 

Carter graduated from PLNU in 2006 with a degree in managerial organizational communication and landed in the wedding planning business. She spent some time pouring her energy into creating beautiful events for couples and gaining experience in the event industry working with vendors.

Ashlyn Carter with her husband & 3 children on the beach

However, when Carter and her husband, Travis (2006) got married and were expecting their first child, she knew she wasn’t going to be able to continue working long hours on the weekends.

“My experience in the wedding industry made it easier for me to transition. I taught myself floral design because it would give me flexibility and income,” Carter said. “I had to pivot to something I could do at home so I could raise our kids.”

As she started to share more about floral designs on Youtube, Carter realized that her following was steadily increasing. With each new video, she had more and more followers.

“It grew so quickly,” Carter said. “All of the sudden I was getting thousands and thousands of views on these floral videos.”

Carter seemingly found her niche in the ever-changing landscape of social media platforms. But if you start scrolling down Carter’s Youtube channel, you’ll quickly notice that she’s sharing more than just floral tutorials.

“I loved designing florals,” Carter said, “But after a while it wasn’t giving me the same joy it used to. It started to feel hard to post about flowers so I changed.”

As Carter started looking for new outlets for her creative energy, she found herself turning to home decor, spending time on her own home eventually realizing that she really enjoyed the process. Now she and her husband have spent most of the last year renovating a property called the Carter Cottage that they plan to list as an Airbnb. The Carter Cottage is the fourth rental property that the couple owns in the Point Loma area. And at most of their properties, they rent to PLNU students.

“There’s something that’s in me that has to create. I know it’s one of the gifts I’ve been given and very much feel that it is a calling for me and it’s been interesting to see how it’s manifested over the years.”

“We love filling our home and our properties with college students and creating a space where they can feel comfortable,” Carter said. “There are so many great moments seeing our kids involved with college kids.”

As the most recent outlet for Carter’s creative side, home decor has been featured prominently on her YouTube channel. Even with all the joy it brings her, she’d tell you her favorite part of decorating the Carter Cottage isn’t purchasing the perfect light fixtures or assembling a space filled with coastal ambience — it’s the influence they’re having on the people around them. 

“I hope our kids are watching us,” Carter said. “By filling our homes and properties with college kids, I really want them to see how to be a positive influence in the community.”

“You really have to process and think about [your] gifts and callings. Just because I know what I have to do or want to do, doesn’t mean I have to go and do it all at once.”

For years, the Carters hosted many college small groups at their home before their priorities shifted to their own kids’ after school activities. Now, with all of their kids in sports, Carter and her husband are hosting fewer small groups in their home and posting less to YouTube. But they would be the first to share that they are still remaining faithful to their creative callings as they navigate this busy season of life.

“There’s something that’s in me that has to create,” Carter said. “I know it’s one of the gifts I’ve been given and very much feel that it is a calling for me and it’s been interesting to see how it’s manifested over the years.”

On her YouTube channel, Carter shares buying tips and product reviews from her perspective on everything from Instant Pots to potty training to coastal home decor, eschewing the hyper-branded approach most influencers take when trying to secure followers. For her, the joy of creating is paramount to brand expansion or individual marketing.

“I’ve been on the threshold many times with Youtube where I could really see myself making it a business,” Carter said. “And part of me knows that will probably happen in the future, but right now I’m really enjoying raising my kids.”

“I hope our kids are watching us. By filling our homes and properties with college kids, I really want them to see how to be a positive influence in the community.”

In some ways, Carter’s perspective on motherhood and family life is a new one. She has a clear, creative side that she isn’t afraid to apply to multiple areas of her life but also knows that she’s in a season where raising her family is a priority. Instead of engaging in the search for the elusive work-life balance, Carter seems to have embraced a different approach.

“I know there can be so much more and I could really go all in,” said Carter, “But I’m so needed with my family right now. The world tells you that you can do it all and sometimes you can, but for me, personally, my kids come first. After the next ten years, I will pursue one of these avenues and go all in.”

Carter’s unique perspective shines a light on another option for stay-at-home moms and parents alike. While there seems to be a shift from stay-at-home parent to working parent, achieving this kind of balance in reality is almost impossible. Providing for a family as a stay-at-home parent looks different for everyone but it doesn’t have to mean putting future careers, degrees, or even goals on hold indefinitely. Perhaps, taking Carter’s approach into consideration, there is the option to lay the groundwork for a future accomplishment while continuing to raise a family knowing that you will achieve that goal when you have finished your current calling to parenthood.

Carter seems to have taken this approach to her calling.

“You really have to process and think about [your] gifts and callings,” Carter said. “Just because I know what I have to do or want to do, doesn’t mean I have to go and do it all at once.”

Kendall Patton is a 2016 graduate of PLNU and a former student-athlete. She graduated with a degree in journalism and is a freelance writer for the Viewpoint.