September 16, 2009 12:00 AM

Hello my friends,

I hope you all had a great week … we are only days away from the premiere of the show. I am extremely excited and nervous.

For the last month, I’ve been getting up early every day and studying some of the greats like Fred Astaire, Michael Jackson, and Steve-O.

At first I thought, how hard can this be? Edyta drags me around, the judges vote, I make a joke about how tan my dad is … and then I go back and cry in my dressing room. I have realized it is much more than that. Dancing is an expression of life, and I am living it to the fullest through this experience. It is challenging on all three levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The true challenge lies in how fast we have to learn how to dance. It takes humongous discipline to stay out of your head and in your dance shoes … remembering it is a process that is one step at a time. Sometimes Edyta reminds me of that school teacher or parent who would make you sit there for hours and finish your project even though you didn’t think it was possible.

I remember when I was a kid and I went away to military school in Lebanon, Tenn., because my best friend was going … even at a young age I enjoyed a good challenge. My friend had an easier time being accepted because he was a great athlete. And I was a 25-pound overweight boy named “Ashley” from the mean streets of Beverly Hills, who got his hand stuck in the vending machine the first week while trying to steal some cookies …

When I came home from military school for Christmas, I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to stay home. My dad said that quitting wasn’t an option. “Just look at this tan, kid.” He said that if you start something you have to finish it … and that I would thank him one day.

The day I got back to military school I broke out with the chicken pox and was quarantined. I was put in isolation and cursed my dad. People would sneak in to see me … I didn’t realize how many cared about me and how many friends I had made in a short time. I finished that year on the honor roll and I even wanted to go back for another year.

Turns out my dad was right..

I am going to give DWTS 100 percent and do the best I can … and hopefully make some new friends along the way … like Chuck Liddell. He seems like a great guy, even though I was scared of him at first when he almost choked me out for accidentally taking his leg warmers.

I had the pleasure of running into Debi Mazar a few times. Debi’s adorable. She reminds me of all those smart, cute, funny women who are WAYYYY too stable to ever go out with me. I even got to hang with Mya. She goes by one name. I tried going by one name once but a dude simply known as Ashley doesn’t quite work!

This whole experience is amazing … I am even getting recognized more now than I never did. Until next week…

Much love, Ashley H. ABC

You May Like