Destination Wedding Photography

Heirlooms and Lace


January 4, 2023

Self Love and 2022

What a year it has been. Honestly I really thought 2020 was going to be one of the most difficult years, but this past year blew that out of the water. It wasn’t due to extensive travel, or too heavy of a workload or true unbalance of life & work. It was the absolute hardest for me mentally, emotionally & physically. 

In January I rolled up my sleeves, spent time focusing on what my goals were going to be. I said “THIS IS MY YEAR” & came out guns blazing. I was ready to grow, make massive changes & level up my business. What happened instead was a journey of self love.

Within a month of the New Year rolling by I found myself struggling to get out of bed. I spent 12-14 hours a day struggling to find purpose, meaning, & motivation. I achieved so much in 2021, I had so much to be proud of, yet I was so unhappy. Eli was gone all the time for work (not much has changed there), but Adelaide was also going through so much. Every day was a struggle to just be a mom. She was acting out, to the point of being verbally, mentally & emotionally abusive.

Owner of Heirlooms and Lace walking the beach outside Disney's Aulani Resort in Hawaii.
January in Hawaii with my best friend Jess.

It wasn’t just her fighting with me to go to school, do her homework, she was verbally & physically acting out, not sleeping well, in addition to following me around the house when I was home. The idea of personal space in our home became VERY nonexistent.

Adelaide just didn’t remember a lot of what our lives were like before Covid because she was still so little. All she could remember was us being home together 24-7. Eli working from home. Me not leaving the house for months, and even when I did go back to work May 2020 I only captured 15 weddings and a quarter of my normal session load. I really slimmed down my work load & it wasn’t the solution. Eli and I traveling for work outside the house really took a toll on her. More than we ever could have imagined.

Through all of that, what I was personally working through was full blown burnout. I struggled with the absolute overwhelm of trying to do all the things for my business, while still providing everything to everyone else. I took on clients that weren’t so great to me in 2021. Survived some of the worst highs & lows over two years due to Covid. Struggled to get my business financially in a good place after losing so much money. There was so much emotional baggage from 2020 + 2021 I didn’t deal with that it all just piled up. Whether I struggled to get out of bed, avoided working or even responding to emails… I was in a bad place.

ALL of that combined with my perfectionist, controlling A-type, enneagram 3 wing 2 personality & I was a ticking time bomb. I was finding myself crying in the car on the way to school drop off & pick up. I was coming home and climbing right back to bed. At the end of February I found myself struggling to get my breathing under control, got dizzy, and had one of the worst anxiety attacks I have ever had. It was at this point I knew I had to make a change, and started therapy in March.

That was for myself. The harder decisions came after… it was around this time, with encouragement from my husband & therapist, I decided to close my calendars for sessions & additional weddings. I spent a lot more time off social media, more time with my family, more time trying to find my way out of the darkness. I did some self discovery, some healing, & started making decisions not based on money, or my time, or what other people said, but instead for what I needed for me. It isn’t easy. I constantly feel like I am a burden to others. I struggle to ever ask for help. Even in the darkest of days I still find some way to lift others & cheer them on, while I am drying my own tears & wondering what in the hell I am even doing any more. 

I spent part of the end of April in Europe Healing, finding the creativity bug, learning, and trying all sorts of things outside my comfort zone. I won’t ever be able to thank AMV Retreats but specifically Andre + his partner Sofia for their support, encouragement & honesty that we shared.

I’ve spent a great deal of my almost 10 years in this industry, as a photographer thinking I am not good enough. That my work is mediocre. That someday no one is going to book me for a wedding or a session again. With the growth of social media we are all thrown that negativity every single day. That combined with the trauma of ghosting…. Yea ghosting is trauma. I’m gonna write about that in a different blog.

This industry is hard. It isn’t easy to remain in it for as long as I have. There have been sacrifices. Things i have avoided or topics I don’t talk about. Friendships with people outside the field is VERY hard, because we work 80% weekends. Saying “no” all the time eventually people stop inviting you. 

It’s also just a lot to run a business. We are on 24-7 between phone calls, emails, admin work we still have to maintain ALL the other hats to wear in our business. The finance team, the marketing team, the social media managers, and so many other roles. The sacrifice comes when we take time off, walk away from it all, it truly means we will loose potential projects. I’ll talk more on that another time.

The heart of the matter… this has been a VERY hard season of life. I am still a HUGE work in progress trying to stay on the surface. I wake up battling negative self talk, imposter syndrome & fear every single day. However through my hard work in therapy I know what I need to do to get out of it all. I know new coping mechanisms to work through it without getting deeper & winding up back in bed. I’m not saying every day is good, but I am saying in this day & age it is necessary to take care of yourself. Put your needs for your body & health first. It’s necessary to make sacrifices for massive change. It’s necessary to take time AWAY from the non-stop cycle of the world to reset our minds & get refocused.

So whether you are still figuring it all out. Maybe you’re stuck in this place too? Maybe you’re worried about getting in to therapy because of the tough questions & honesty it might bring. What I will tell you is this, I have learned more about myself & healthy ways to work through my anxiety, worries, fear, destructive self talk & more. I’m better at asking for help, expressing my needs to my husband, family & friends. I am not healed… I don’t know that I ever will be… but I am moving in the right direction. Y’all I would be lying if I said self love was easy, because it is not!

If you stuck around for this whole thing, know I am here & you are not alone. Therapy worked for me & I am excited about the work I get to put in this year. If you have questions or just came to read some personal stuff… THANKS and DM me! 

Sending love for a prosperous New Year, for more time for self love, finding yourself in the noise, creating boundaries that promote health, happiness and contentment.

Ashley Auger

Looking for a therapist? Try Better Help! Thats where I found my therapist and she is amazing! Get a free week using my link!

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