Posts tagged self care
Um, no thank you.
" 'Um, no thank you. I done and I’m going to go home now. Thank you for your time' I said. I remember hearing the shake and irritation in my voice. " | Self Care Tips | Self Value | Confidence | Inspiring Quotes for Women | Set Healthy Boundaries | quotes on nature | Encouraging quotes | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern

A few years ago I decided to do something that would help me grow as a photographer. I wanted to thoroughly understand what someone might be going through in front of my camera. That way, I could balance helping them feel comfortable and confident while also being “in my zone.” The best way to do that, I determined, was to be in front of the as many different photographers as I could be. It was there in my vulnerability I learned not only how to be a better photographer but about the importance of healthy boundaries.

When I first began my project, I started out with photographers I knew - keeping in my comfort zone. Then, as I grew in my confidence, I started venturing out and working with photographers I didn’t know. It was here in the realm of the unknown photographers that I met a man we’ll call Blake.

Blake was a quiet man with a gentle demeanor who happened to have a love for the horror genre. When we first talked about working together (because I ALWAYS recommend meeting with someone and talking ideas over before you officially decide to work together) I was specific about the fact that I had a few dresses I wanted to wear and was open to some more creative ideas as well but did not want to do any or much horror-esque photographs. We came to a set plan and scheduled the session.

The day of the session, I met him on location, rotated through a few outfits and then we looked through the RAW images. Once we’d selected our favorites, he asked if I wanted to do some more “horror-esque” photographs with fake blood and wearing some torn up clothing he had. I commented that it wasn’t really my cup of tea, like we discussed, but would be okay if we could brainstorm an idea we could both get behind. Ultimately, we found an idea that he was still excited about and I was feeling okay about doing. (Do you see my wavering boundaries?? Eeek - I should have acknowledged those flags going off in my brain)

As we photographed the last segment of our session - the horror-esque portion - Blake began to try and push my boundaries with the horror aspect. While I’d previously stated I didn’t want blood or anything too dark, he started to ask again if I was sure and then make slight passive aggressive remarks like “this would look MUCH better if we could do blood” and “too bad you don’t want to have more fun.” (Throw up more of those flags!!!) I began to grow uneasy and uncomfortable. I kept politely declining his asks and, finally, after he made the comment about not wanting to have more fun, I finally put my foot all the way down.

”Um, no thank you. I'm done and I’m going to go home now. Thank you for your time” I said. I remember hearing the shake and irritation in my voice. I’m not a confrontational person but I felt disregarded and like I was being manipulated. I was done being pushed to do something I was uncomfortable with and I needed to course correct and honor my original boundaries.

This experience sticks out in my mind because it happened at the stage of my life where I started to be more assertive on my own behalf. I remember how uncomfortable it was to be asked to do things I didn’t want, how small I started to feel when he disregarded my simple boundaries and how icky I felt after the whole situation. I walked away with stress bearing on my chest and guilt riding on my brain.

This experience helped me learn that I need to be assertive with my boundaries up front. I need to be kind but firm in what I say and I need to walk away more swiftly from situations where I’m not being respected - even if it’s as simple of a situation as my time with Blake. If I would have set my boundary more firmly upfront, it would have been more difficult for him to try and push me and manipulate me. I also wouldn’t have walked away feeling gross that I had been disrespected because I would have had confidence in knowing I did my part.

To this day, I still see those images on occasion and I wish I’d set my foot down earlier. Hind-sight is always 20/20 and, while the images aren’t trashy, they still pick at my brain a little. They just remind me of a time I was uncomfortable because I valued keeping someone else happy over truly sticking to who I was. In the grand scheme of it all, I’m thankful for the reminders that pop up and show me how much I’ve grown, encourage me to keep growing and reinforce how important it is to care for myself and respect myself always.

Peace, Gratitude (and maybe fluffy cupcakes)
"I never used to be one for journaling - hah, just kidding.  When that lead hits the paper, a doorway opens that" ... Self Care tips for Women | Gratitude Journal | Journaling | Self Value | Positive Mindset | Restoration | Rest | Love of books | All things journal | Gratitude Lists | Joy | Self Care Practice | Self Care Quotes | Nature Quotes | Fern Picture Quotes | Winston Salem Photographer | Jasper & Fern

I never used to be one for journaling - hah, just kidding. I've always had a pencil in a book scribbling away my thoughts and feelings. When that lead hits the paper, a doorway opens that helps me process. It's rather wonderful. My mind gets to be cleared and all that tension inside my head and chest dissipates as I work through my thoughts. While journaling was never a foreign concept, the first time I heard about Gratitude Journaling, I was a bit puzzled. My initial thought was that it must be just listing out everything you're grateful for in a book and, honestly, that sounded kind of disengaging. I've since learned that it's nothing like that and, now, gratitude journaling has become one of my favorite self care practices.

Karen Perry, a vibrant woman with a curious gaze and warm heart that overflows into her joy-filled nature, was the wonderful woman who introduced me to the concept of gratitude journaling. I had the opportunity to get to know her through a monthly meeting she hosted for women where we met to speak joy into eachothers’ lives. This is where she shared her concept of gratitude journaling with me and I got hooked. Through her time as a life coach, she crafted a simple gratitude journal that provided the opportunity for you to allow yourself to go as deep or as uncomplicated as you needed while also helping you grow and appreciate your life. She calls it the Peace Pages. 

Now, you may be wondering why we're talking about something that doesn't seem like a "self care" practice. Our take on self care is slightly different. We fully believe that self care goes beyond your standard "refreshing" practices. We believe that self care also helps you be restored. A grateful mindset spreads joy, relieves stress and helps you build stronger, healthier relationships.

Whenever I stop practicing my Peace Pages, I inevitably notice a drop in my mood and motivation after a few days. And, because I'm true to pattern, my brain always asks "What changed?" Many times, I can link the slow decline to my neglect of gratitude - because, transparently, I'm not a grateful person by nature. This is exactly why I love adding the Peace Pages to my self care though. They help me keep my perspective where it needs to be - aiding in the restoration of my heart and mindset. 

Now, remember that self care is personal. What works for me, might not work for you. If journaling isn't your cup of tea, that's okay. Find another way more suitable to you to fit more gratitude into your life, something that can get your heart and head in the right place. Find your equivalent to lead hitting the paper.

Now, go LOVE HARD!

P.S. If you come up with an awesome idea of how to do incorporate gratitude in your life, we'd love for you to share that with us!!

People are People

A friend shared some heartbreaking news with me recently. News that, while it didn't directly affect me and my every day, brought up an old deep heartache. This heartache brought back a mantra I say multiple times a day and is something I want to share with you - if you haven't heard me say it already (which, if you spend any time around me, you've definitely heard it).

People are people.

Yes, I know this is obvious but, sometimes I need to remind myself that we are all humans, inherently flawed, each dealing with our own burdens and struggles. We all are acting from our own perspectives, our own personal history, our own hurt and life experiences. We each have needs, wants, desires, unique ways we are fulfilled, unique ways we are gifted and unique ways we respond to the life happening in and around us. Each and every one of us are in need of unconditional love, grace, forgiveness and understanding. 

I remind myself when the person in the checkout line in front of me does something to annoy me, "people are people, Alyson, be kind and understand that you have no idea what type of day they've had or what they're going home to or anything else that may be going on in their life;" When the person driving erratically does something rash, "Breathe, Alyson. People are people. You don't know why they are in a hurry or what/who is depending on them or why they're making this decision." To myself when someone takes what I say or do negatively "People are people, Alyson. You may have hit a nerve, not been sensitive, or could have handled the situation better. Maybe they're having a bad day. You don't know why they're reacting like they are. Be gracious, show them love, stop judging, know where you're coming from and do what you are able to help the situation and encourage them." This saying comes to mind all the time.

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It also comes to mind when I hear news like today of a young pastor committing suicide, a pain that hits close to home as I've been in the congregation of a beloved, godly, inspiring pastor who made the same decision. The truth is, depression doesn't use discretion. It doesn't say "well, you're a pastor. So, I'll leave you alone." In fact, with the weight pastors and church staff carry, it's likely that the struggle with depression may be found more right there amongst our incredible church leaders.

When it comes to depression and struggle and pain, people are people. Just because people have a certain status, job title, influence, or wealth - they are not immune to the negativity of life. At the most basic level, we are all human - all judgements, differences, and prejudices aside - we are people. We all struggle. We all experience hurt. We all need to experience kindness, to be encouraged. Everyone... everyone... needs love and support.

Embracing Me : Betz
I’m not done. So long as I am in my body, I have have things to learn.” 
— Betz [on the healing process]
Inspiring Women's Portraits | Embracing Me | Winston Salem Women's Photographer | Overcoming life's Obstacles | Betz | Inspiring Women's Stories | wsnclife | wsnc photographer | North Carolina Photographer | Women of Winston Salem | ©Jasper&Fern

There was a gentleness as she spoke. Her gentleness wasn't a timid voice nor a voice of fear. In truth, Betz's voice was full of soul, of love and of calm and of courage. As she recounted her story, walking through the pain and her steps towards healing, her glow was visible. My favorite moments were when her smile crept out. Her face would illuminate and you couldn't help but smile with her! I loved getting to hear Betz's story and celebrate with her in her triumphant growth. She's truly a beautiful soul! 

Inspiring Women's Portraits | Embracing Me | Winston Salem Women's Photographer | Overcoming life's Obstacles | Betz | Inspiring Women's Stories | wsnclife | wsnc photographer | North Carolina Photographer | Women of Winston Salem | ©Jasper&Fern
Inspiring Women's Portraits | Embracing Me | Winston Salem Women's Photographer | Overcoming life's Obstacles | Betz | Inspiring Women's Stories | wsnclife | wsnc photographer | North Carolina Photographer | Women of Winston Salem | ©Jasper&Fern