Name: Ashleigh Gaskin Langdale
What is your occupation?
“I have recently joined Allenstein and Allenstein Law Firm as the Social Security Appeals Council Case Manager. I’m an independent contractor for the Greater Gadsden Area Tourism Board. I side hustle and contract with various organizations, individuals, non-profits and businesses by coordinating and directing, event planning, fundraising, marketing and consulting to aide in creating awareness for their cause and furthering their mission. I’m in the beginning phases of business start-up that the aforementioned side hustle will fall under and be named Kate Miles.”
What made you decide to work in your field?
“I love people. All people. My passion and calling (today) is to help people. All people. It’s rewarding in so many ways. I’ve learned how to maneuver difficult people and help them like themselves more. I have had the chance to go home and share with my husband, children and family stories of my work, and share with them the magnitude of issues people face and that I was blessed to have a hand in. I’m reminded everyday that things could be worse. I love that I get to know how incredible it is to work every day with others who care deeply about their work. I love that I meet the most amazing people with the most remarkable stories that will stick with me forever (some are heartbreaking and some are inspirational). And I’m not just talking about the broken; I’m also talking about the organizations whose board members I never would’ve met otherwise and what led them there, the donors and why they feel lead to donate, the families and how their here now because of helped they received in the past and now want to give back. I’m reminded that people are three dimensional and not just workers. They have lives and stories and families they carry with them every day and what they carry makes them rock stars. I’ll always be able to look back and say without hesitation that I devoted my time and energy to something that really and truly mattered – a life without this is simply not a life well led; my children are watching me.”
Tell us about your family and pets.
“I am married to Chad Langdale who is night-shift Sergeant at the Etowah County Sheriff’s Office;. Combined, we have seven children: Maddox Gaskin-Pruett (age 4), Addi Kate Hammontree (age 9), Beckham Hammontree (age 10), Grayson Mead Davis (age 18), Gabe Langdale (age 14), Mason Langdale (age 17), and Justin Langdale (age 25); a daughter in-law, Kelsey Langdale; and a granddaughter named Maddi Kay Langdale (almost 1 year old)! They attend Westbrook Christian, Southside High, Piedmont High and White Plains High. Grayson Mead will attend Jacksonville State University post high school graduation this year, and will begin his journey toward law school; Mason plans to join the United States Air Force. We have four cats – Oreo, So-nic, Savage and Oliver. I’m allergic to cats.”
Describe an average day in your life.
“All day long, I function in dysfunction. All day long, I live in 30-minute increments. All day long, I spend time in the prayer closet. All day long, I brace myself and ready to go wherever I’m called to be.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I enjoy and almost require solitude and all things nature related. Solitude for me means spending time in my bedroom alone, disconnected from everything and everyone on Earth for hours, and if I’m lucky, days, which allows my mind and body to rest, while recharging my soul so that I can continue to do good for others. On the flipside, it makes my heart happy to create memories with my children – I love spontaneity and taking them on “adventures,” which usually includes tent camping and all that it entails, and roads trips: destination unknown and free of charge as long as we have a tank of gas and each other.”
What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
“My greatest accomplishment is sitting where I am right now. I believe that life is a constant work-in-progress and that all moments, the beautiful huge ones and the horrible small ones, all makeup who I am. My children look up to me and are proud of me and they say it. If I’ve done nothing else “good” in this world and if I don’t live to see another day, just watch my children and what they accomplish and attribute that to what I have.”
Name the one person that has been the most influential in your life. Why?
“There is no “one” person who has been the “most” influential – everyone who has touched my life has had a major influence on me. My mother, Lynn, has taught me the art of moving forward no matter how weary we grow and even though tears are often hidden, they should never be ignored. My daddy, Don, has taught me the ability to hear what is said so loudly in complete silence, to be proud and appreciate my legacy. My sister sister, Randi, has taught me that I put too much faith into people and that if I’m not strong enough to stand up for myself, then I have a sister will do it for me. My brother Josh has taught me that we can’t always follow our hearts and act on our feelings because wolves hide in sheeps clothing. My late grandparents taught me that the only answer to every question is Jesus, that you can die with dignity and live on in the hearts and souls of those you left behind. My husband Chad, who I admire and respect more than he knows teaches me every night and some days as he straps up his boots, puts his vest on, holsters his gun and leaves all that he loves behind without a complaint, that we have to do what we have been called to do, make sacrifices that aren’t always a fair trade, and that even on the days we feel defeated, we have to keep moving, because it’s not about us. My best girlfriends have taught me that support can be constant despite geographical boundaries and lifestyles. My friend Morgan Alford Lavender taught me to expand my horizons, to love my inner spirituality and to ignore those against my efforts, about multi-tasking and to continue pushing the boundaries no matter what. My children, my precious children, continue to teach me that resilience is a real gift from God, to slow down and listen, to never impose guilt, to laugh often, to not take life so seriously, that their hearts are more important than stuff, that spending time with them is more important than the perfect home, that I need to always fight for them, and that I’m not doing so bad after all.”
To what do you credit your success?
“I’m still striving for success; I’ll never stop striving. I’ve come a long way in the last years, but this hasn’t come without a realignment of my goals and vision for my life, my faith in God, a change in my mindset, and a work ethic matched by few. Also, passion. I have found that I’m driven by passion. If I am blessed enough to be involved in something I’m passionate about, you better believe that it’ll be a success. I have achieved slight success in some casual areas of my life by simply by not conforming to shallow thinking and by remembering that I must have compassion for everyone, no matter the case. I’ve learned to do the tough things first. If I fear something or someone, I allow that fear to drive me into the situation feet first without leaving any part of me behind. This has several great effects, one being that I achieve greater peace of mind afterwards because the ghost of the horrible task is no longer weighing on me. When I was in high school and college, I was lazy and chose the easy way whenever possible. Surprisingly, a lot of my “success” at work or on my task has been related to my earlier laziness. I’m not innovative; I just find more efficient ways of doing things because it means less work in the long run, which means less stress, which means means more peace, which allows me to be a more productive and pleasant person, which means I’m a better mommy, wife and everything else I’ve committed to and been called to be. Lastly, by believing in myself when maybe no one else did. If I didn’t believe in myself, then how could I expect anyone else to believe in me?”
Are you involved in any service organizations?
“I’m an associate member of the Gadsden – Etowah F.O.P Lodge No. 2, race director for the Hot Pursuit 5K Glow Run which raised over $20K for the James M. Barrie Center for Children, board member of the Gadsden – Etowah Patriots Association, parade director of the Gadsden – Etowah Veteran’s Parade, supporter of the Love Center in Gadsden, supporter of the YMCA of the Coosa Valley, supporter of the James M. Barrie Center for Children, a Modern Woodmen of America Hometown Hero recipient, supporter of the Etowah County Law Enforment Memorial, Gadsden – Etowah EMA volunteer for Relief for Rosenberg (and drove a truck and trailer to Texas to aide in the effort), a member of F.O.P No. 4 Women’s Auxiliary, supporter of the Humane Society Pet Rescue and Adoption Center and supporter of Gadsden State Cardinal Foundation, Race Director of the Cardinal Foundation Swoop Sprint 5K.”
What is your favorite thing about this community?
“The people. Everyone is always so willing to help in times of need, no matter the need. Our community is always seeking to help and support each other even if we are at odds. Kind of like how family is – we may not always agree, but we dare someone to mess with one of us. Also, our love for non-profits and the people’s desire for our cities to keep moving forward and upward. We have proactive groups of people of all ages and all walks of life who have passion for our county and it’s future that grows daily and will continue to do so as awareness of potential and plans are spread. Y’all hold on tight and watch what’s going to happen here, and more importantly get excited and be a part of a movement…any movement. If you’re one that complains and says the same ole dusty stuff about our community, I promise you that there’s a place that you’re needed and can be used effectively, other than your couch. I don’t say that offensively; I say it because I feel that if you’re opinionated enough and passionate enough to be negative about where you live, then I challenge you to use your opinion and your passion to help us get where you want us to be. We need you and we love you.”
What would you like to see change in the community?
“I feel that Etowah County needs a family court judge specifically and not a judge who deals with theft, rape, murder, property disputes, etc with a little family law thrown in the mix. We desperately need someone who will focus on the unfortunate chaos that domestic relation cases have become in our community; so many children, non-custodial parents, and families in general have been damaged in our county and feel that they have no hope. Tthe truth is, as it stands now, they don’t. I would like to see shared parenting be the standard order regarding custody arrangements, where children spend as close to equal time as possible with each parent, when both parents are loving, stable, capable and willing parents. This arrangement prevents cases of parental alienation which is a form of child abuse and has lifelong consequences for the children. I would also like to see change in that when Guardian Ad Litems are assigned to these case, that they be held to higher standards than those who are the parents of the children that they are representing, and the requirements for them being appointed such be evaluated more closely. Aside from community changes in family court, I’m a firm believer in rehabilitation during incarceration. I would like to see more effort and participation to establish outside key partnerships whose inputs and roles would be decisive in the planning and delivery of this system whose goal would be to shift the focus from punishment to rehabilitation, to have a system in place that focuses on the cause of crime and then finally a plan to rehabilitate the inmate to ensure that only reformed and fully-functioning individuals are delivered back to society. I believe that family members, role-modeling acquaintances, friends, former co-workers, neighborhood leaders, victims, victim advocacy groups, law enforcement and communities of faith are a part of the pre-reentry to society process. If you’re sitting at home complaining about our community and wanting change, get up off the couch and get involved. We need you and there is a place for you.”
What is your favorite quote?
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Rainer Maria Rilke.
What advice would you give yourself as a child?
“The same advice that I give my children, which is to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Be proud of yourself, even if you’re different, because you were created with intent and a purpose that requires you to be like no other. Be confident, but not arrogant, and be the best encourager of others, so they can find their purpose, too. Be okay with failure, because that’s where you’ll learn some of life’s greatest lessons. Be kind, compassionate and forgiving, because nobody gains anything from being the opposite of these. When you are scared, sad or unsure, speak from your heart because that’s where Jesus lives. Be faithful in believing in something bigger than yourself, because the world is not about you. The second you begin living like it is, the world will teach you a lesson. Be motivated and courageous, because life is not easy and requires hard and scary work, but it will be worth it. Be thankful, because thankfulness creates joy and contentment, and life is intended to be enjoyed. Be an honest and loyal friend who speaks the truth with love and stands firmly through the best and worst of times. Be what God intended you to be, and that’s only the best you that you can be.”
If you would like to nominate someone for the People of Etowah column, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 256-547-1049.