Six months ago, Bonnie Ashdown of Spanish Fork never would have imagined that she would have a career cleaning people’s houses for free, yet that is exactly what she’s doing.
Earlier this year, Ashdown experienced a financial hardship that she didn’t think that she and her family would recover from. After a 17 year career owning a medical transcription business, a series of changes forced her to make a career change. What was a devastating several months has now turned into something Ashdown said she could have never imagined.
“I lost everything all at once, and it was devastating,” she said. “I was forced to change gears and I had to think about what it was that I loved to do. I thrive on helping other people and I love cleaning, and I began looking into ways that I could combine these two things.”
Ashdown said that she’d heard of people providing a service to individuals in need and creating a YouTube channel as a way of generating an income, but that she didn’t know much about how it would work.
“I have very little social media, and I didn’t know how I would connect with people who needed help,” she said. “I ended up posting on a community Facebook page asking for people with mental health conditions who were in need of extreme cleaning. All I asked in return was that I videotape the experience and keep them anonymous. From there, I was able to get several people and narrow it down to those who were in the most need.”
Ashdown said that she anticipated that it would take over a year to get things going, but within only a few months, her channel that she has named, “A Beautiful Mess,” was gaining tens of thousands of viewers.
“I had no idea how fast it would grow,” she said. “I really am living my dream.”
More than just views
Ashdown said that while starting the channel had a primary goal of generating an income for her family, that it has turned into so much more.
“Most of the people who I have had the pleasure of working with during this experience are on the neurodivergent spectrum,” she said.
Neurodivergence describes a wide range of cognitive conditions, most notably, autism and behavior disorders classified as executive dysfunction. Ashdown said that as she has been working with these individuals, that she has been opened up to a whole world that she knew existed, but was unaware of its prevalence and complexities.
“I had heard about autism, but had never heard about the neurodivergent world,” she said. “It’s been really neat to get to know these people behind closed doors. People have a lot of shame and they need someone who is nonjudgmental to help them. I’m so grateful that I get to be someone to help them.”
On Ashdown’s channel, she shares the cleanup and the backstories of the individuals in need, but makes sure to keep them anonymous. She said that the experience has helped her to know more about herself and her family.
Learning about herself
Ashdown said that learning about the neurodivergent world could not have come at a better time because recently her 21-year-old daughter was diagnosed with ADHD and possible autism.
“It’s been such a blessing to be opened up to this world so that I could better understand my daughter and even myself,” she said. “I have often wondered about myself because I am very introverted and relate a lot to many of the people who I help. I recently tested myself and am waiting for the results.”
Ashdown has been able to help 35 people in the past five months, and said that she hopes to be able to help more.
“These are people I would have never crossed paths with,” she said. “It has been an eye opener to see that so many people struggle, and I want to help people have empathy for others.”
Ashdown’s channel can be found on YouTube under “A Beautiful Mess/ Extreme Cleaning.” If you know of someone who would benefit from her services, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.