Abuse and Healing Together: Warrior Wednesday’s

I come from a long line of strong and determined women. Named after my Great Grandmother, Mary Kathleen Killcoyne, I have always felt a sense of pride in speaking my mind, working hard, and loving as big as I could. Mary Kathleen left Ireland for Ellis Island when she was just about 12 years old, never to see her family again. With her faith in God, she set out to a land unknown.

Her uncle was to pick her up, but he didn’t come. He didn’t come until the last day before little Mary Kathleen would be sent back to Ireland. She made her way out west and worked the fields of the coast to make a living with her husband and 7 children. She worked as a janitor to pay the tuition for Catholic school and that woman never complained of living out of a cardboard box, wearing Coke cans for shoes, or feeling like she didn’t have enough. She had God, a family, and that was more than enough. I got to meet my Great Grandmother, as she lived to be 103. That Irish twinkle in her eye let me know I would be more than alright, if I believed in God, and cherished my family.

So imagine my shame when my life took a few detours along the way. Growing up, I wanted to find a love as strong as my parents, but I looked for it in all the wrong places. Wrong places that brought a slew of abusive relationships, sexually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Through it all, my family never left my side. However, I was so ashamed of my choices, my lack of what I perceived to be, strength, that I hid my first abuse for 7 years.

I am not a licensed therapist, have any crazy certifications, nor am I a wise old owl, but I am a woman who strongly believes, that when positive people come together, there isn’t anything we can’t do. Many years ago, (about 8) I used to upload videos to my Facebook page discussing topics that we as women would face and have an open discussion on how to overcome these challenges. I stopped doing that because I was in a relationship that didn’t like me having such a strong opinion. Though I got support from my family, friends, and followers, my relationship (and his circle of people) liked me to “look pretty, and stand next to” him. Out of respect (insert eye roll) I stopped doing videos, and I tried my best to fit in the mold that his circle wanted me to fit into.

Well, that didn’t last now did it?!

Through the challenges I have faced I feel a strong calling to support people, and shed light on abuse. I love the quote “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that” by Martin Luther King Jr, because it’s true. I protected the people who abused me, and I hurt myself through keeping the abuse in the dark. With it being a secret I couldn’t get help, I lived through Hell alone, and I don’t want that for anyone!

With all of that being said, I am so happy to announce that I will be airing my first episode of my new Facebook LIVE Show “Warrior Wednesdays” this Wednesday June 6, 2018! It is a space for support, community, and lessons learned through overcoming some of life’s most difficult situations.  I am not a professional, I am not perfect, but I do have a voice, I am strong, so I might as well do my best to shed light on something that affects so many people.

Together we can overcome anything and take our power back. I hope that you tune in and join the conversation.

X O X O,

Ashley

Caitlin~ A Goddess, Inside and Out!

Referrals are THE BEST! Most of my photography clients have either grown up with me, or are a referral. When it comes to Glamour and Boudoir sessions a referral can go a long way, however, many times more research is needed. I mean, you are going to be going to someone’s studio, spending time getting your hair and make up done, then shooting, so if you don’t vibe, that can be 2-3 hrs of uncomfortableness.

As I get older I know that I can vibe on some level with just about anyone, especially if they trust me to do a shoot with them. On the same note, it’s a little rare that I am so connected to someone that it feels like I’ve known them my whole life, and I am laughing, more than I am pressing that shutter button.

Well, let me introduce you to the angelic and hilarious Caitlin! She was referred to me from my best referral source, Kristin, and within 24 hrs, Caitlin was booked, with a signed contract and the retainer fee paid. I mean, favorite type of client right there! Am I right?

As soon as Caitlin and her girlfriend Amanda stepped out of the car I knew I was in for a fun day. From picking outfits, to chatting as I did Caitlin’s hair, these girls were my type of girls! Fun, open, supportive, hilarious, driven, educated, and trusting. Getting ready and shooting lasted for a total of about 2.5 hrs, but I think we all hung out for about 4, just because we were having so much fun!

Caitlin-32

So thank you Kristin, for sending Caitlin my way. Not only did we have a great time during the shoot, but we became fast friends. And as the story continues, thank you Caitlin for sending Jenna my way 😉 Stay tuned for that session!

X O X O,

Ashley

 

Brenna and Nick get Engaged!

I love Engagements! People in love, and so excited for the future. That excitement is contagious. Whenever I am chosen to capture someone’s special memories I am so grateful! I met Brenna and Nick through John. He’s known Brenna since she was in high school and so see her grow up and meet such a special guy in Nick has been really exciting.

I think we found an amazing location with so many different backdrops to set the scene for this adventurous, fashionable, and loving couple!

Thanks for being game with my vision (awesome hiking abilities you guys) and being so open to the process! You guys take amazing direction and I hope you guys cherish these images for years to come! You guys are adorable and I can’t wait to see what this life has in store for you two!

Congratulations again and thank you so much for choosing me to capture this moment in time for you two!

X O X O,

Ashley

Whole 30 Approved Products

I wanted to share a few of our favorite Whole 30 approved products because it really helped me in a pinch to make sure we had food and didn’t fall off the Whole 30 wagon when I was pressed for time!

Without further ado let’s get to it!

  1. RX Bars– These protein bars are really good, as they only have a few ingredients. Now not all bars are Whole 30 approved but through my research I believe that these ones are : Mixed Berry, Blueberry, Coconut Chocolate, Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Sea Salt
  2. La Croix– You can’t have alcohol, juices, milk etc, ad sometimes water can get boring, so have some amazing La Croix. Put a lime or lemon in it with some ice in a high ball glass and it will feel like you’re having fancy cocktail
  3. Primal Kitchen– Salad dressings have a lot of added junk if you’ve ever taken a look at the ingredients. You can simply throw on some balsamic vinegar, but if that gets boring check out some salad dressings from Primal Kitchen. The Greek is my favorite!
  4. Nutpods– Say bye bye to your Vanilla Lattes, and yummy creamers in your coffee. If you can drink your coffee black, go for it. However, I cannot. You can find NutPods at Whole Foods where the alternative creamers are.
  5. Bullet Brain Octane– This was amazing, so amazing I am still using it. I added this to my coffee every morning and it truly helped me with my productivity. The brain fog that some people experience was nonexistent with me. I’m sure it was a combination of things, but the way I felt was so great, I don’t want to go back! This is now a staple in our house!
  6. Aidell’s Chicken Apple Sausage– Many sausages, deli meats, and bacon have a lot of adde sugar, fillers, and other nasty stuff we don’t want to talk about. But not Aidell! This is a great addition to your eggs in the morning, but also wonderful in a stir fry!

So there you have it! My “Must Have” products to keep me on track, when I lose track of time but don’t want to fall off the wagon!

What are some of your amazing finds on the Whole 30 journey?

X O X O,

Ashley

PS This isn’t sponsored post, but I do use VigLink (a blog monetizing tool) so if anything is purchased through this post I may or may not receive a small commission.

Whole 30- Our Results

Hey guys! I am going to roll out my Whole 30 series starting with my results. Why? Because we want to know if  something will work before we try it.

If you are unfamiliar with Whole 30 be sure to learn about the program here. This site has so much information and is really helpful if you want to take on the challenge of Whole 30.

I have to confess that my results weren’t simply from doing Whole 30. I worked out through out the 30 days so it wasn’t all from healthy eating. With that being said, many people do have success simply by changing the way they eat. Each person is different so you take a pulse with your own body and see if you’d like add working out to your eating program. Whole 30 isn’t necessarily a “lose weight” diet, but losing weight can be a byproduct of changing the way you eat. We did!

I do have pictures, but since I was a high school teacher, I don’t really feel like that would be very appropriate. I mean how horrifying if any former students stumbled upon Miss Cook’s Before and After transformation pictures. I hope you guys can understand.

John lost 10 lbs. I lost 5.8 lbs, and a total of 7.5 inches. John didn’t have much to lose to be honest and like many men, he can simply cut out bread, or alcohol and drop weight. Me, and many women on the other hand, have to work really hard to drop any sort of weight. So when I took my measurements and stepped on the scale I was rather pleased.

Before After Difference
Chest

34

33

-1

Waist

27.5

26.25

-1.25

Hips

35.75

35

-0.75

Butt

39.75

39

-0.75

Right Arm

11

10.75

-0.25

Left Arm

10.5

10.25

-0.25

Right Thigh

23.75

22.5

-1.25

Left Thigh

23

22

-1

Right Calf

14

13.5

-0.5

Left Calf

13.75

13.25

-0.5

Total

233

225.5

-7.5

The fact that I lost 1.25 inches in my waist and right thigh was enough for this program to be worth it for me. I am very happy with the inches lost!

Stay tunes to my must have products, favorite recipes, and tips for success! Have you done Whole 30? What were your successes and where did you find yourself struggling? I’d love to celebrate your accomplishment with you!

X O X O,

Ashley

Baby Pruitt

I love Referrals (hence the referral program)! So when Miss Brittney referred her cousin Amy to me for her Maternity photos I was over the moon. I have been photographing Brittney and her family for over 6 years, so I knew Amy was familiar with my work.

I had been eyeing this certain location in Sacramento for quite some time and didn’t quite have the right shoot for it, until Amy and Ryan! These two high school sweethearts were a dream to work with. They were game for anything I suggested, from the location, and timing, to posing, they were ready and excited!

As soon as Amy stepped out of the car I think I said “Yaaassss, my Queen!” and that isn’t an exaggeration. It was the first time we met in person, but sometimes you know you just vibe with people, and the Pruitt’s are my kind of people. They looked incredible! So I do have to give a shout out to their styling team!

You can reach Salina Carter, Amy’s hair stylist here, and Kristen Lopez, the make up artist here.

We are awaiting the arrival of little Miss Violet any day now, so let’s all send them love and positive thoughts for a healthy and speedy delivery!

X O X O,

Ashley

2018 Resolutions

As 2017 comes to a close I have to feel really blessed. Between the unknown career path, to my niece and nephew turning one and two, to another year with John, to new friends, awesome Clients, and every thing else in between, it has been a year of change, challenge, growth, and appreciation. So I can look back on 2017 fondly, and know that all the hard times were great lessons learned, and know that in the good times I was truly present in those moments.

Moving into 2018 I do have a handful of goals and resolutions and decided to share those resolutions with you. One, as a way to keep myself accountable, and two, because I believe that putting things out into the universe helps attract it back to you. So there’s that 🙂

Resolutions:

  1. I want to commit and finish Whole 30. Honestly, I have good intentions like everyone else, but then something happens and I quit. But not this time! On day 9 and it’s going well 🙂 Let’s chat on Day 15 or 20!
  2. I will blog once a week.
  3. I am going to focus on networking and promoting my business. That is so not natural to me, but hey, greatness is outside of your comfort zone right?
  4. I will love, support, and build my life with my partner in way that is authentic and focused on teamwork and gratitude.
  5. I won’t forget the little things, I will be present and soak up the time we have with those we love.
  6. I will be more charitable
  7. I will believe in myself and know that what I stand for is good and should be shared.

So far 2018 has taken off like a rocket ship. I have always had a lull in business in January but not this year. I will take everything in stride and enjoy all that comes my way.

What are some of your Resolutions?

X O X O,

Ashley

Ravishing Rachel

Rachel and I have been friends since the 4th grade! She’s the Ethel to my Lucy, the Thelma to my Louise, and the Good Witch to my Bad Witch. No, literally I was the Wicked Witch and she, Glenda, in the 8th grade play The Wizard of Oz.

Life has taken us away from our home town, and farther apart, but nothing can break that bond we have. When she was coming home for the Thanksgiving holiday I wanted to make it a trip to remember, because it has been about 1.5 year since we’ve been together.

I reached out to some amazing creative women to put together a glamorous shoot for Rachel and myself to celebrate our sisterhood, all that we have gone through, and where we are right now. And to kick off our 32nd birthdays.

Thank you to Rachelle of Couture Beauty for doing the hair and makeup for us. You are the best in the business and made us feel so fierce, and ready to take on 32! After our “Best Friends” Shoot had wrapped I needed to snap a few of Rachel myself.

I have mad love for this girl, and a mad love for styled shoots! Putting the two together was quite a dream! Thank you again to Rachel for being an amazing soul, and to Rachelle for her incredible talent.

X O X O,

Ashley

Debonair Adair

By now most of us know I have an immense love for portraits. There is something about connecting one on one with people and bringing out the best in them that just makes me so excited. I love having the opportunity to work with people to bring their vision to life and to kick up the Style-o-meter.

I know that sometimes people can be a little uncomfortable spending money or time on themselves, but there is nothing wrong with that. I honestly believe we need to take the time to pamper ourselves a little bit.

I wanted to do a styled session of John for quite some time. He has this refinement about him, this gentlemen swagger that is so natural. He is the nicest man you’ve ever met, and I think sometimes he is so good at taking care of those around him, that he doesn’t really take the time to pamper himself. So, that’s where I come in.

For his shoot I wanted to showcase that swagger that is so effortless. I was inspired by GQ, so we went to a friend’s Penthouse in Midtown, Sacramento, I had John bring a few different professional looks and the shoot just seamlessly happened. Success!

Everyone needs a good headshot, but I encourage my clients to take that “typical headshot” and flip it on it’s head, with a professional portrait session!

X O X O,

Ashley

 

The Sutter District’s Annual Pooch Parade

If you haven’t been to the annual Pooch Parade hosted by Sacramento’s Midtown Association you are missing out! Sponsored by the Sutter District it is the seasons most family and pet friendly event!

Not only is there an amazing pop up dog park for your fur baby to run around and make new friends in, but there is always awesome children friendly live music! The Hoots is fun for kids and parents alike!

There is also face painting, a bouncy house, different craft stations for the kids, and lawn games for the adults! It truly is a family friendly, fun event. But what truly takes the cake is the always expanding Pooch Parade!

This year we had almost 100 Puppies dressed up, strutting their stuff for the coveted prizes. I think next year I might need to borrow a pooch and dress up because I would LOVE a gift card to any of the yummy restaurants in the Sutter District!

If you haven’t attended, be sure to attend next year! And if you did attend, be sure to check out our photos and see if you spot yourself and/or your pooch!