Photography Manifestations of 2019

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’m so excited for this new year to be able to expand myself and find comfort in all that I am. I know I fall into this Imposter syndrome constantly but this year, I’m not letting it get to me. 2018 has taught me that in order to move forward, I NEED TO BELIEVE IN MYSELF AND MY CRAFT! It’s amazing to have strangers and family believe in me but what about Ashley Jacklyn? We forget that people can feed on our energies and I honestly believe that others could sense my mood and fear of not being good enough.

I’ve said it last year to so many people, we are our own worst critics and the reasons why we are not where we want to be. Thankfully, I was able to see that last year and decided to finally make my photography a real LLC. Now that I fully am immersed into my path, what is next? It’s important that I stay focused and remind myself everyday of why I’m a photographer and mental health advocate.

Step one: who are the people that I want to target for my photography.

I want to work with people who see the value in photography and not just a photograph for their Instagram. Last year, I realized that A LOT of influencers do not respect photographers AND photography in general. To them, we’re a means to an end, which is them using OUR photos to get famous. Not here, not anymore at least. I want to work with influencers who respect what I do just as much as I respect their work. I know it isn’t easy to style yourself and always put your best foot forward, that is extremely exhausting but as a photographer; we too have similar struggles, especially when our work, like influencers work, do not get taken seriously. I’m throwing it into the air right now that I want to work with people who make my time and effort worth it. I want to create relationships that will last and grow with them.

Step two: My rates are high for a reason.

I don’t mind the collaboration here and there when I know that I am also gaining something out of the situation. But if you’re coming into my DMs asking me to collaborate with you, you gotta sell yourself to me as to why I should work free of charge. Just because you might be a pretty face, doesn’t mean that you can get away with free things. It’s time in 2019 people stop trying to use their physical appearances and actually understand how businesses run, especially from those of us who are smaller. I charge a specific amount because I have to pay for higher taxes and keep up to date with mainstream photography but the main reason why is I know I’m worth it. My workflow isn’t just me slapping a pretty filter over an image and calling it a day, I actually take the time to feel the images out and find the right style to match the person as well as the scene. Photography isn’t just a filter, it’s a moment in time created by us, that to me is magic.

Step three: Stop comparing my work.

I know ever since social media blew up the way that it did, photography has come along with it. Everyone and their grandmothers thinks they are photographers and I feel like I can’t keep up. Firstly, these trends that are popping up on Instagram are a bit excessive; like the person you started out with is transformed into some superhuman doll that looks like they would enslave our race, HAHA. Or that it’s just overly filtered and to some photographers, that’s their thing, more power to them but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes I wonder if I’m good enough to keep pursuing this. Of course after those thoughts and me making it aware to my friends, I get yelled at for not noticing how good I actually am and then those thoughts stop. But it’s something we all deal with and it’s time that I accept that there will be photographers no matter what, some will be betters and others won’t, just keep doing me.

Last step: STOP USING MY ANXIETY AS AN EXCUSE.

Listen, I know most of ya’ll think I’m this powerful being and you’re damn right! I live everyday constantly with anxiety on my mind and still kick ass at a lot of things but it’s extremely difficult to do things at times. Take the first week of this year, I contracted a stomach virus and could not eat anything. It really messed with my mood and therefore I started to fall into that trap of negative thoughts. Also, seasonal depression is a real thing and she’s trying to drag my ass in with her. BUT look, I have anxiety, generalized anxiety to be exact and no it’s not your normal anxiety. Let’s please lets stop the “Oh I have it too” because if you really did then you’d understand how stuck I can really get in my mind. The type of anxiety I have is living in constant worry, trying to find escape plans and always thinking the worse of a situation. If this isn’t your daily, then you don’t get to tell me that all I need is to breathe through it or “TaKe yOgA, YOu’LL bE cuReD” BECAUSE THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. It’s a chemical imbalance ya’ll and I don’t see you guys telling people who have physical illnesses if they take “yOgA” the illness will disappear, so STOP. Anyhoo, even though I live in the world of anxiety, it doesn’t mean it’s an excuse for not doing the best that I can. I will always give 110% of myself and work my hardest but it’s also understanding that there will be times that I can’t do something and that’s OKAY! My anxiety is a curse and a beautiful blessing, it invokes things into me that neurotypical people can’t understand and it teaches me empathy and kindness that I don’t think I’d have if I were anxiety-free. I know a lot of people think you can be cured of this and I’m sure in the future they will be able to but as of now, I am living with it and accepting myself for all that it comes with (sometimes but i’m learning to do this more) and I LOVE ME.

I know that 2019 has the power to be a wonderful year and I know that it also takes me putting a lot of effort and work into it for it to be a wonderful year. I also understand that I will fall but I know I have the ability and strength to get back up and do it again. Thank you to those of who you are here still with me, we have a lot of work to do.

Until then, xoxo

Jacklyn

2018, thank you.

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve and as I sit in bed on this Sunday evening, cramping and eating (true story), I’m hit with nostalgia.

2018, I’ve lost a lot but I’ve also gained so much.

I didn’t want to see what you had in store for me and honestly thought this year would be trash. In January, my best friend since I was a child decided to stop being my friend. After everything we went through, he decided on love and I’m okay with that. I wish him well, but he’s gone to me, I have to move on.

That feeling of losing a friend brought out a lot of hurt and pain from the past and my trust issues with people slowly crept back into my mind again. I’ve always wanted friends, especially a sisterhood that would empower one another and this time around, I got extremely lucky to be surrounded by wonderful, beautiful women; Rei, Tejal, Elvia, MJ, Shae, Baylee, Alexandria, Larissa, Alexis, Erica, Crystal, Ashley, Sharan, Swati, MahJ, Emily, ; women that believe in ME and my craft, and so many more beautiful souls on my Instagram. I never knew how powerful these women could help heal my soul in a way I thought couldn’t happen. I’m truly grateful and changed by the kindness I have received from all of them and on Instagram too.

I have been blessed to be a part of so many amazing opportunities this year, the Goddess event, getting to write my mental illness story on Trust me, I get it, being on a local Jersey City blog called Growing in Jersey City for International Women’s Day ,working with beautiful brands like, Wunder Body and of course AMERICAN EAGLE! I want to say that each opportunity is NEVER too small to me. When someone comes to me because they want me to be a part of their wonderful change in the world, I always give my 100% heart and mind because I know how hard it is out here to be a small brand and make a change. But WE ARE changing the future and I cannot wait for all the new opportunities to make this world more beautiful in 2019!

In the end of February, I finally decided to create my photography LLC. I felt that it was truly time to invest in myself the way so many others believe and support me. I realize as this year is coming to an end, that believing in yourself and what you are meant to do is one of the hardest journeys of self love. People will ALWAYS try to bring you down or make you feel like your dreams are not possible but they ARE! I still kick myself to this day because if I had the courage and strength to believe in my photography, I would have created this sooner.But that’s the funny thing about life, everything happens when it’s meant to be. God’s timing for us will always out-weight what we believe is the right time and I am finally trusting this process. Shout out to Francisco Hernandez , Jessica Kobeissi, Photo me Ike, Manny Ortiz, Tony and Chelsea Northup, K Visionary for being the inspirations I need!

In July, the week of my 27th birthday, Brian and I got a call about an apartment space in Downtown Jersey City and we only had a few hours to decide what we we’re going to do. You guys know that I have anxiety and deciding things so quickly and being such a huge change, instilled so much fear into me. I worried that we couldn’t do it on our own or that it would ruin our relationship but I took a leap of faith with Brian holding my hand, our families behind us rooting us on and God telling me that “it’s all going to be okay” and we became apartment owners. It was hard in the beginning, I cried a lot because family is so important to me and I really loved being surrounded by Brian’s family everyday but I knew that it was time for us to start our own journey and of course, we’re like 10 minutes away from both of our families (yes, I’m a CANCER!)

In September I got extremely sick with a middle ear infection that caused me to lose some of my hearing, a respiratory sinus infection and bronchitis. For a whole month I was stuck to a bed, unable to breathe and afraid to sleep because I thought I’d suffocate in my sleep and never wake up. I also was unable to hear and when one of your senses are compromised, the world seems so lonely. It felt really lonely but I promised myself that I’d get better because I had so much more to do in this world and I did.

At the end of November, something traumatic happened and I had to take a week away from the world, to hide and try to recollect myself. It brought back a lot of anxieties within me that I thought I had overcome but were only push in the back of my mind. As I write this, I’m looking at my vision board of 2019 and have promised myself that I will see a therapist and heal again. Healing isn’t linear and it isn’t beautiful either, it’s ugly and probably the hardest thing to do but I am ready.

There was so much more that happened but I’d be here writing a novel and I’m sure with this generations mindset, half of you haven’t even made it this far, haha but I digress. I’m so appreciative to be able to still be here despite all that life throws at me and I know my Grandpa is watching over me and protecting me because it’s not my time yet. This world still has so much to learn about empathy and mental health awareness and I’m going to be the one to stand tall and make that change. It’s not easy and just like those days I had in 2018 where everything felt wrong, I know I will find the strength to keep moving forward.

One last thing before I go, I want to say thank you to Brian for being my soulmate. He has taught me patience, how to be grounded and how to love when I was afraid. God knew we needed someone like you in the world to remind us of how beautiful it can be. And to my family, friends and my pups, thank you for loving me for who I am, growing with me and seeing the beauty and pain in this world. I love you all so dearly and I cannot wait for 2019 with you all.

Until then, xoxo

Jacklyn

September Sickness

Hi everyone!

It’s been such a long time since I have written a blog post. I know our attention spans are like the size of a goldfish so I’m gonna make this a quick little post on my horrible journey.

It was the beginning of September, a month I usually get extremely excited for since Autumn is my favorite season. Unfortunately for me, I got a sore throat which lead to acute bronchitis and a middle ear infection, both of which I am still recovering from.


I don’t know what and how it happened but this sickness hit me so quickly that it literally is still taking me time to heal. On Thursday it’ll be a whole month since I was diagnosed and also since I’ve actually been able to hear correctly.

I haven’t been able to shoot any photos and therefore had to dip into my savings which really sucks and has hit me hard. It’s extremely expensive to be sick and I would wish this on no one. But I’m extremely grateful to Brian, my love and best friend for being by my side throughout this horrible ordeal.

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There were moments I caught myself wanting it all to end, not only to stop my pain but to stop being a burden on Brian and my family. I know that is the mental illness part of me speaking but I truly have felt like such a burden because of this sickness. It has not only taken away my ability to breathe properly, which we all take for granted but to hear my loved ones voices properly. It truly isolated me and made me angry at the world and at myself. Brian, somehow kicked my ass in the most caring way and kept me going. He cooked, cleaned, took care of the pups, made sure I had all of my medication and still worked. I don’t know how he did it but I’m truly so grateful to him and his ability to keep it all together. Without him, I don’t think I would have made it and I’m not saying that in an extreme way, but there were moments where I couldn’t breathe and I thought it was the end and he was there, helping me relax, find strength and get through.

Another wild part about this September Journey is my Lupus is back. Yes, if you didn’t know, a few years ago my doctor suspected I had lupus but it wasn’t one of the worse cases and as long as I took better care of myself, i.e the gym and better eating habits, I could probably live normally with it. Unfortunately, this sickness brought it out and my body was already so weak and the added ache, rash and firey skin, really didn’t add to my comfort. I felt defeated but I knew I needed to keep fighting.

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It’ll be a month this Thursday that I have been house bound and bed ridden, trying to breathe and make it through. I’m writing this to say thank you to all of you for sending me prayers and believing in my healing. I’m not fully 100% yet but I know I am finally in a safer place. Being sick is never easy and having a mental illness really makes it 100x worse but please listen to your body. I don’t care what society tells you, you are IMPORTANT, your HEALTH is IMPORTANT. Take care of you so you can be the beautiful change we need in the world and thank you, my love, for being by my side through every tear, every gasp for air, every ache in my body and every tantrum to want it all to end. You are more powerful than you know and you are totally loved by me.

Until then, xoxo

Jacklyn

Where I'm at.

I haven't written a blog post in over three months. Writing isn't my forte so I try to stay away from it as much as possible. But one thing that therapists throughout my life have told me, is to write. Write how I'm feeling or what I wish I was feeling. Write about my struggles or what my favorite book at the moment is ( pst. it's "Blackfish City" by Sam J. Miller). 

I guess I haven't blogged as much as I should have because my thoughts are always sporadic and I know people can be extremely cruel and judgmental. I also know that there are far more exciting bloggers than myself out there who I'm sure you'd rather be reading. That's okay, we can't be good at everything, so please my generation, stop trying. You're making those of us who want to focus on one passion, look bad, like we're lazy!

Back to the point of this, I suppose this blog post will let you guys know where I'm at, mentally and emotionally. 

Here it goes.

I've been feeling extremely "numb" (for a lack of a better term) lately and I think I know why but maybe I truly don't. You know that saying, "love isn't everything", well I've tried to believe in it as much as possible. Despite the older Jacklyn being a cranky person, angry at the world because of her mental illness, she still believed in love being the saving grace. 

And I think I'm at a point where I don't know if that's true anymore. It's not just romantic love, it's all types of love that I'm starting to question. Why is it that all of our lives we are fed this ideology that love conquers all? I'm sorry to burst your romantic hearts but it takes more than love to be happy. 

After the unfortunate news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, people wanted to start taking about suicide. They wanted to show people the signs to "look" out for and let them know they are loved. I have done this as well and I know how important it is but it's also extremely surface level. LOVE isn't everything and if it were, don't you think celebrities like Chester Bennington or Robin Williams would still be here? These celebrities have "all" the love we "wish" to have, the fame, the money, the "support" and yet they are still hurting. They are still lost and afraid because they are HUMAN. 

Reading the reports and even hearing from friends and family, a lot of people consider those who die by suicide, selfish. I'm sure this has to do with certain people's religious beliefs and to each their own but you cannot understand why someone felt that life was so unbearable and dark, that they decided to leave, unless you actually ask them. Suicide is NOT the easy way out, it takes a level of pain that most do not understand because they see some glimmer in hope, even in their darkest moments. Those who die by suicide don't see any hope and they try but it isn't as simple as seeing a therapist or taking medication. You wouldn't tell someone who has cancer that they didn't try hard because their bodies failed. With people who usually die by suicide, their brains fail them; look up information on serotonin and the neurotransmitters that give us our moods and feelings. I'm not a doctor and I know doctor jargon can be difficult to understand but research for yourself. 

Anyhoo, I digress; I'm sure I'm "numb" because I'm starting to see that love isn't the saving grace that I thought it could be. You could be the most loved person in this world and still feel depressed, still feel lost and afraid. Love isn't that knight and shining amour we see in the movies that is usually depicted by a gorgeous man who comes into to your life and takes all of your worries away. What truly is the saving grace is taking care of yourself and I don't mean self care Sundays, though I do love a good bath with some Lush products and a book in my hand, I mean taking care of your thoughts, of your health. Being accountable for the human being that you are. Everything in this life is cause and effect and what you do will determine how you feel.

Take me for example, I used to have an extremely negative view on life, don't get me wrong I can still feel that way a lot but it took me falling into depression and having dangerous anxiety to see that something was wrong. I had to rewire my whole mind and how it felt about people, feelings and how it felt about myself. I'm not saying that all you need to do is look in the mirror and evaluate yourself and bam you're all better, I'm saying that you need to pay attention to all that you are and get to know yourself, even the "bad" parts. 

I can't talk for anyone else but myself and my own experiences but figuring out what works for you and what doesn't, is important. I don't think love is everything because I see the pain it takes to keep surviving with a mental illness. I see the dedication it takes to take care of ones body, even when you hate it. I see the anger of wishing to be neuro-typical and not have to work so hard at being here. 

I know a lot of people will consider that self love and I guess in a general sense it can be but to me, it's more and I think categorizing it as just self-love, is also dangerous. It takes away the power of waking up every morning and fighting the dark thoughts that lay within one's head. That's not love that's strength, that's POWER! 

It's not a bad thing to realize love isn't everything but it is a shock and one that is making me question everything. Like why don't people like pickles and when will Kingdom Hearts III come out. I kid but really, I'm "numb" because now I have to understand what this body truly needs, what she has to work hard for. It's not just love because I love my body and my mind and all that I am and I know I am loved too, but it's this quiet understanding of "this is who I am, I either keep fighting to try to fit societies standards and get lost in my depression again or I make my own damn path and do what I need to do to be happy." 

I wanted to end this by saying that you could have it all and not have anything. Or you could have nothing and have everything. When we die, we don't leave with our Mac books and Instagram accounts, unfortunately for me there will be no Starbucks for me wherever I go, so I need to focus on within. That can start with simple tasks as writing how you're feeling, taking photographs, even getting up in the morning and brushing your teeth. Everything should be celebrated because being alive is our gift. That beating of our heart is not a ticking time clock, it's a reminder of the change we can make. 

I love you all and not just love, love. I truly believe in you all and if you need a smack of hope and realization that life can suck but it can also be beautiful, well I'm here. 

Until then,

Xoxo Jacklyn

 

How acupuncture is helping me with my period.

Hey everyone!

Before I get started, I wanted to add a little disclaimer and warning. 

I am not a professional and what works for me will be different for everyone, consult with your doctor first if you're unsure of why your periods are bad. 

Secondly, this post is going to be about menstruation, if it makes you uncomfortable, please do not read on. It's also going to be a long read but I really hope you read all of it because it's imperative that we see that having extremely painful and heavy periods are NOT normal. 

 

Okay, now that I said all of that, let's get to the reason why I'm writing this post. The first time I got my period was probably the only time that it did not physically make me feel like I was being ripped from the inside out. I was around 11 or 12 give or take and I knew this must have been the infamous period that all my older cousins were talking about that made them officially a "young woman".

I didn't want to get my period and becoming a young woman was something that terrified me. I liked being one of the guys who enjoyed playing dodgeball and manhunt. But of course it is the way life works and my periods soon after would be hell on Earth.

I have this one memory of me laying on my living room floor, crying and punching my stomach because the pain was too much to handle. I don't think anyone in my family really cared because painful periods were deemed normal. Who knew that society considers this normal, that women and young girls are subjected to this pain and have to be okay with dealing with it because it comes with being a female. 

I'm twenty-six years old and throughout my journey with having a period, I have found ways to find as much relief as possible. 

Normally my first day is the worst, my cramps are unbearable to the point it makes me dizzy and at times I have fainted from the pain. I cannot move, I'm immobile and crying because nothing seems to work. I usually have to take 8-10 Midol (DON'T DO THIS) pills throughout the day to feel somewhat like a human being. Taking these many pills is NOT recommended whatsoever because I do get side effects from taking this amount, but I'd rather have the side effects of that than feel my horrible period pains.

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The next thing in my arsenal of period hacks is a huge heating pad that I put on my bed and lay on top of. Heat is "apparently" a great way to get rid of cramps and all that unfortunate shit that comes with periods, like bloat. To me, it doesn't work that much and only gives me some small relief for my lower back cramps but I'm always desperate for any type of relief. For my front cramps, I use my fiancé's Marc Pro, which is basically a machine that stimulates the muscles through electric stimulation. In the photo posted, you can see where I lay the sticky tabs on my lower abdomen to help alleviate the cramping. This also isn't a drastic pain reliever but it does help me feel like it's moving shit around in there.

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These little tips and tricks that I have acquired throughout the years have helped me get by and yet, for three days I am still immobile and unable to move.

As much as society wants to throw in my damn face that this is normal, I know this isn't. I decided in December to take a visit to my gynecologist to see what he thought. He checked me and said that having cramps is normal but not to the extent that it leaves me immobilized for two to three days. He put me on birth control (again!) because he said it helps many women with their bad period symptoms and I should be able to live a "normal" life. Unfortunately, it has not helped one bit except for making my periods shorter. He also diagnosed me with PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) but that will have to be another blog post itself because this new diagnosis has changed my life completely. 

For 13 years, my periods have been this way and looking back now, I'm not even sure how I've made it this far. I think because of how it was viewed in the past, I just accepted that this would be my life until I got older. 

In January, I went to a health and wellness event and saw a stand that caught my eye. It talked about acupuncture, your tongue and how to can determine a lot about your health (Chinese medical practice) and irregular periods. I've taken acupuncture before but never for my periods and I must admit, I was pretty skeptical that acupuncture could even do anything for that. Erin of Erin Kumpf Acupuncture & Herbs and I talked about my unfortunate periods and said that it isn't normal to be feeling so much pain that it keeps me immobile and unable to do everyday tasks. 

My first session was like any normal session of acupuncture, I did an intake sheet, listed all of my problems ( I have a lot LOL) and figured out what I wanted out of this journey. I knew that I was extremely desperate to find relief for my periods and PMDD wanted to find help that was not just me popping pills like a mad woman. Erin explained to me how a normal period should feel and how my lifestyle, body temperature and sleeping habits all play a huge part on my body's overall health, duh right?! But to me, it was like I was learning so much new information that so many young girls and even older women are not taught about our own biology. 

For example, every morning right when I get out of bed, I take my temperature. If it's high it can play a huge part in why I'm having problems sleeping at night because my body isn't cool downed enough to relax. I'm sure that's why I toss and turn a lot! 

Also the tongue can determine a lot about blood flow and temperature and if you're sick. I don't want to talk much about this because I don't really know a lot and don't want to throw out false information but please if you are interested and in the Jersey City/Hoboken/NYC area, you should check out Erin Kumpf Acupuncture & Herbs for yourself. Now back to my journey, Erin told me that I needed to see her twice a week for a few weeks until she saw progress. I won't lie, the price is extremely steep since she doesn't take insurance; I have to pay $97 a session and adding that up twice a week for a month is a huge chuck of money. (Now I see her only once a week!) But when you're desperate to feel like a normal human being, the money is worth it. 

It's like normal acupuncture except she gets spots that are connected with my uterus and other parts that will help make my blood flow easier in my body. Sometimes it hurts because I'm sensitive AF and bruise for EVERYTHING but I get to relax, talk to my body & God and count my blessings that I'm trying to heal. With acupuncture, I also take these root herb droplets that she sells, they taste like dirt and feet but I chug it to get it over with. If you get this, heat up warm water, don't put a lot because you will want to chug it and add the amount of drops stated and then bam, easy peasy.

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I have to say the first period I had after doing all of this was like a complete 180. I did still have cramps BUT they were so manageable that I was able to move around, work and do stuff like a normal human being! I basically had the same symptoms but on a scale of 0-10, it was a 4 rather than the usual 15. I was pretty skeptical but because I noticed that my extreme irritability was not as much as it normally was during that time,  I knew something had to be working.

I know this won't be the answer for every woman who has irregular periods but to know that there is something out there that can actually work and has nothing to do with popping pills that leave you zombie-like, is a huge win for me. I wanted to write this because Erin and her acupuncture has literally changed my life. As I write this, I'm on my second period after trying acupuncture and again it's extremely manageable. I wouldn't have written about this if I didn't think it was important.

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY YOUNG GIRLS AND WOMEN LIVING WITH A PERIOD THAT TAKES OVER THEIR LIVES. Society has tried to implant in us that being a woman and having a painful period is a part of the experience but that's all a lie! Ladies, if you have daughters teach them the importance of their bodily health, if their periods are extremely painful, get them checked out by a gynecologist, don't wait till their 18. The taboo that they are too young to see a gynecologist is what is hurting our young girls, get them checked and if everything is ruled out like, endometriosis and PCOS, try acupuncture. 

I'm a new woman because I decided to take a chance on myself, I hope you do too.

Until then, xoxo

Jacklyn

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