The basis of your life is freedom. The purpose of your life is joy.
— Abraham-Hicks

I’m on a never-ending quest to enjoy my one precious life as much as I possibly can.

I’ve been on a multi-year mission to feel better, ever since I had my son more than ten years ago. After surviving a Category 4 hurricane that toppled a huge oak onto and into our house—with us in it—then a month later going through 13 hours of natural labor before having an emergency c-section, I was raw, depleted, fearful, and enormously sleep-deprived. I was a list-making perfectionist dropped into a world where nothing was ever crossed off the list and nothing was even close to perfect. And the only way out was through. I functioned, but for the first two years I just trudged ahead, trying to be a perfect mother and having to settle for good enough. I was so scared of screwing up that I was only occasionally able to enjoy being a mom.

Then slowly, like sun peeking through clouds after a heavy rain, I began to see glimpses of myself. As my son gained independence and I gained bits of free time—such joy to be able to read again!—I came blinking into the sunshine. I am a positive person and was tired of being unhappy. I wanted to not only regain who I was pre-parenthood, but also to go beyond that to a place where I actually enjoy my life most of the time. (Imagine!) I adore vacations, but every day can’t be spent at the beach (unfortunately).

So I began a quest for joy. I’ve read hundreds of books and taken quite a few courses, and I’ve been on a slow but steady ascent.  Martha Beck’s books really spoke to me; her complete honesty, clarity, and empathy felt like a bear hug. And the magic! Real magic!

About ten years ago, I went to see her at a book-signing. Afterward I sat in my car, buzzing with her energy. A phrase popped into my head: “joy detective.” I had no idea what it was for, but I liked the idea of being one. I filed it away. Every so often I would take it out and examine it like a mysterious artifact, but I never knew what to do with it.

Then someone suggested I start a blog. I resisted the idea—I’ve always been afraid of the commitment a blog entails, as well as the public exposure of my private thoughts. Vulnerability alert! But as I thought about it, I realized I might finally have found the purpose for that phrase. So here it is, my blog: Joy Detectives.  Welcome! I hope you will join me on this journey. After two decades of writing for various bosses and clients, it is fun to reclaim my voice.

Ashley Brown, Joy Detective

Ashley at Key West.jpg

I grew up in New Orleans and spent my childhood with my nose buried in a book. I'm still an indefatigable bookworm, and a word aficionado. After I graduated from college with a degree in Foreign Affairs (which I've never used, although I had a lot of fun getting it), I worked as a waitress, receptionist, advertising copywriter and account executive, book editor, and employee communications manager for a death care firm before becoming a freelance marketing/PR writer. I'm also the author of A Beautiful Morning: How a Morning Ritual Can Feed Your Soul and Transform Your Life (for more info, visit or find it on Amazon).

I’m a diehard New Orleans Saints fan. Talk about joy--when the Saints won the 2010 Super Bowl, it was one of the purest experiences of joy I've ever had. No worries about the future, like on your wedding day or at your child's birth; just unadulterated bliss that my much-maligned, beloved team had FINALLY a) gotten to the promised land and b) won the damn thing!! I will never forget doing the second line around Antoine's Hermes Bar in the French Quarter, where I had watched the game with my father (who made me a Saints fan by taking me to all the games when I was younger). It is truly one of my absolute favorite memories.

I also love the beach (in case you couldn't tell by all the pictures on this website), good food and wine, spending time with my friends, music, old movies, painting, being outside, sunshine, massages, yoga and Pilates, horses, and dogs; I’m currently in service to a rescued beagle named Snoopy. And I love to travel. Traveling for me is another direct path to joy. I thrive on the adventure of exploring a new place and having experiences that are diametrically different from my usual world. My travel wish list is quite long, and I really need someone to start paying me to travel so I can get on it! Any volunteers for that, just let me know.

I live on the Gulf Coast with my son and husband.