What I wish I knew in high school

When I was in high school I really struggled with finding myself. I was a chameleon who blended in to whatever my friends thought was cool. I let boys treat me like garbage and I thought I was not worthy of love.

I am now 25 years old. I work with high school girls 2-3 days a week. I see so much of myself in these young girls. The never-ending struggle to fit in and be accepted. This post is dedicated to them.

These are the 15 things I wish I knew when I was in high school. 

  1. You don’t have to change who you are to fit in with the “cool” kids. Cool is a matter of perspective.
  2. Stop pretending you are something you are not. You don’t have to put on an act to please people.
  3. It’s totally okay to cry. Let out your emotions. Don’t keep everything bottled up.
  4. Your parents aren’t stupid. They were teenagers once, they know more than you think.
  5. Find something you love to do and devote yourself to it.
  6. Don’t get drunk. I know, I know. A lot of people will say that drinking is just what you do in high school. But why? You don’t have to make poor decisions to have a good time.
  7. Be kind. Everyone is fighting an internal battle.
  8. Choose your friends wisely. If your friend is only around when they want something or need a ride, are they really your friend?
  9. Having a boyfriend/girlfriend shouldn’t be your main focus in life. Dating is fun and great BUT it isn’t everything.
  10. Stop believing that you aren’t good enough. You are worthy of love and respect.
  11. It’s okay to say no, even if it’s to the person you are dating. Don’t do anything you aren’t ready to do.
  12. Stop comparing yourself to the girls around you. If you live life always comparing you will always feel inadequate.
  13. Don’t be ashamed to tell someone if you are being sexually abused or hurt by someone. You are not to blame for the terrible things people do.
  14. Try hard in school. There is nothing wrong with wanting to succeed. Be a go-getter! Set goals for yourself and work hard to accomplish them.
  15. You are capable of so much more than you think. Where you are right now isn’t where you will always be in life. When you graduate high school everything changes. Don’t get so wrapped up in the labels you are given. You are young and you are able to re-create yourself whenever you want.


Sometimes life sucks. There are mornings when I wake up and literally can’t get myself out of bed. But there is one thing that can make me feel better at my worst.

My husband.

Johnny is my rock. When life kicks us down somehow he manages to pick us both up. I am thankful to be married to someone who understands me and loves me unconditionally.

We are not experts on marriage, but I would say we have a pretty great one. We are in our third year of marriage, and almost 7 years as a couple. It has been bumpy and wonderful all at once. Here are some things we have learned:

Listen to hear what the other person is saying and not just to respond 

I think we so often listen just to argue. I know I am guilty of this. Sometimes we need to just listen and say nothing.

Never stop dating

Dates are important. Take the time to just be together. Find a hobby you both like to do together. We love movies and food. That may sounds boring but there is nothing better than spending Friday night at the movies!

Learn how to let it go

Johnny and I are very different. He is neat and I am messy. I live life in an organized chaos and it drives him crazy. If we fought every time our room had clothes on the floor we would never stop fighting. Pick your battles.

Netflix & Chill

One of my favorite things to do is watch tv. Every night at dinner Johnny and I eat in front of the tv. That sounds bad but it’s my favorite part of the day. We find a show that we both like and binge watch it everyday. I’m not saying this is for everyone, but make a daily routine. Have time set out that you spend together. Sometimes the everyday hustle takes over.

Take care of yourself

You can’t depend on someone to be your everything. You have to be able to depend on yourself. Do things alone or with your friends. Being married is a balancing act.

Be honest

If you are happy or upset, tell your spouse. Something I had a hard time with early on in our marriage was opening up about my feelings. I was always scared that I was being annoying. It is much better to be open than to pretend you’re okay.

Compliment your spouse 

Being married doesn’t mean you should stop complimenting your spouse. Tell them when they look great or when they had success at school and/or work. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves.

Don’t keep secrets

If you are talking to someone over text or social media that you wouldn’t tell your spouse about, then it probably means you shouldn’t be talking to that person. Keeping secrets from someone is a good way to put a strain on a relationship.

Say thank you

Be grateful. Everyone wants to feel appreciated.

Don’t take life too seriously

Marriage is the best. You get to spend your life with your best friend. Johnny and I both have signature dance moves which we only do in front of each other and for some reason even after 3 years it cracks me up every single time. Life is too short to be boring.




Starving for Beauty

1 in every 200 women struggle with anorexia. Anorexia isn’t a vain disease where you just want to be skinny, anorexia can be deadly. Like everything else associated with a mental illness, eating disorders have such a terrible stigma. People with eating disorders are told to “just eat more,” as if they enjoy the constant battle with food.

I think so often we feel that we are alone and no one understands our burdens. If you are struggling with an eating disorder I hope these words will be a reminder that you are not alone.


Naomi’s story: 

It all started in eighth grade. At the time, I was suffering from severe headaches—pain that lasted for months at a time. I visited several doctors and specialists all over the area, and no one had an answer for me. My parents were beginning to worry, and at one point a doctor feared I had a brain tumor. Finally, neurologists agreed this was simply a bad case of migraines, assuring me it’d be something I would “grow out of.” Migraines and diagnoses aside, the last neurologist I visited provided some hope. I remember that visit vividly, like it was yesterday. He told me there was a new drug on the market, and it would surely help with the pain. But, there was one side effect.

“Now, I do have to make you aware that this medicine causes weight loss. But… well, you could afford to lose a few pounds so I’m not too concerned about it.”

For the first time in my life, I questioned my appearance. For the first time in my life I second-guessed the number on the scale and the size of my jeans.

“Ok. I’ll lose some weight. I guess I need to.” I thought. From that day forward… it spiraled out of control. I was held prisoner by an eating disorder. Anorexia held the key.   

DSC_0142Anorexia consumed my life—every single part of it. By the time I walked the halls of my high school the following year in ninth grade, I lost 30 pounds. A couple years later, I had dropped another 10.

I told no one. As I gazed into the mirror each day, I saw one thing: flaws. My skin was hanging off my bones, but I saw fat deposits. My ribcage prominently poked out, but I saw only 10 bones and not all 12.

“Just a few more pounds, then you will look better.”

“Did you see that girl? She’s so much prettier than you. If you lose more weight, then you can be pretty like her.”

“Look how huge your legs become when you sit. You ate too much today.”

The lies my mind convinced me of pushed me to unbelievable lengths. I hid my food in secret stashes all over the house, and declined all social gatherings to avoid food. Each day I forced myself to run 12 miles. I deprived myself of sleep until I completed 300 squats, 100 push-ups, and 500 sit-ups. Workouts grew longer and calorie intake kept decreasing in hopes that somehow, someway this would make me more beautiful.


My parents took me from doctor to doctor, desperate for an answer to my drastic weight loss—one that I would never admit. When my mom stepped out of the room for a moment during a visit with an endocrinologist, the doctor took my hand and very gently asked me, “Naomi… is there something you want to tell me? It’s ok. I can help you.”

He knew. He saw right through me.

I broke down in tears. It was as if the shackles fell off, and the prison doors opened. I felt free. No more secrets, no more lies.

This doctor referred me to a specialist, and with therapy and weekly check-ups, I started the uphill battle towards recovery. I’m alive today because of this man. No matter how many times I wanted to wring his neck or skip a session, he persisted. He fought for me when I wouldn’t fight for myself. When my heart almost stopped beating, the doctor said, “Nope. She’s not going anywhere.”

I hate this disease with every fiber of my being. Eating disorders do not simply “go away.” It’s not a simple case of strep throat that disappears when you finish your antibiotics. Trust me, I wish it were that easy.

Every single day I wake up and feel inadequate. Every morning, my mind tells me I’m not good enough. Not pretty enough. Not worthy of food. Hungry? Ignore it. Dizzy? That’s a good thing.

But every single day I choose to rise above it—to fight. I fight to love myself, and truly embrace who I am. I will not let anorexia dictate how to live my life, and I will not live in fear.

Because I am good enough. 




When I was in middle school my favorite things to wear were my black patent leather sneakers with a thick wedge and Mary-Kate & Ashley blue cream eyeshadow. As I got older I started conforming more to how other girls my age dressed. I wanted so badly to be accepted and liked by my peers. I would even wear clothes I hated just to fit in with my friends. I was terrified of letting people really know me. Impressing my peers wasn’t my only struggle. I had to look like these photoshopped girls in magazines with perfect hair, abs, symmetrical boobs and huge butts. No matter where I turned I had someone or something telling me I wasn’t enough.

You would think now that I am almost 25 years old that I would be able to like myself and stop caring about what the people around me think. As I have gotten older the beauty standards have changed. Now there is the pressure of having surgery to fix everything about you that isn’t perfect. Lips too thin? Lip injections. Butt too flat? Butt implants. Stomach too big? Tummy tuck. The list goes on and on. I’m not saying that having elective surgery is wrong. If you feel better about yourself that is wonderful, but what happens when you find another thing you dislike about yourself. You can only alter your body so much before you lose yourself.

Here is my question for society, when am I going to be enough?


I will never be perfect. I will never look like a model in a magazine. That is a hard pill to swallow but instead of beating yourself up about it might as well embrace your imperfection!

Sometimes the best cure for an unhealthy relationship with yourself is finding contentment.

So, here we go:

Self-Love Goals:

Goal #1: Step outside of your comfort zone. Wear that crazy dress you’re always too afraid to wear in public. Go bra-less! Whatever it is, just do it!

Goal #2: Get that fun hair cut you’ve always wanted! Hair grows back.

Goal #3: Post the selfie. If you are feeling like a goddess POST THE PICTURE. Who cares what people think.

Goal #4: Compliment other people. I think we often forget that everyone is insecure. Even the most beautiful person has flaws. Self-love isn’t only about your outward appearance, being kind is good for your soul!

Goal #5: Compliment yourself. This sounds super weird, but instead of looking in the mirror and saying everything you hate, find one thing you like about yourself. Even write it on your mirror.

Do you accept the self-love challenge? Do it with me using #dearselfchallenge and tagging me on Facebook.

Me, Myself, & I

I am a portrait and wedding photographer in Lexington, Ky.

I have been married for 3 years to my college sweetheart. He is my best friend and the best person in the world.

I went to Asbury University where I majored in Art.

My husband is in his fourth year of medical school. He is going to be a psychiatrist!

I am a dog mom to a perfect german shepherd mix.

I am an avid animal lover.

I have a beautiful niece named Gwen, she is the most precious little girl in the world.

When I was in elementary school I told my friends to call me AshDog.

I was obsessed with the Jonas Brothers in high school. I went to 16 concerts and met them twice. It was an unhealthy obsession.

My papa is the longest reigning mayor in the state of Kentucky.

I am addicted to sweet tea. If you are from the south, you know the struggle.

My biggest fear is sharks. They are terrifying monsters. ‘Nough said.

I love going to the movies. My husband and I go almost every week!

My dream job is to be a fashion photographer.

I am a shopaholic. It’s a problem.

Bingeing on Netflix is my all time favorite thing to do. Anything about serial killers! Send me suggestions!

My favorite food is buffalo wings.

The Beatles are the best band in the universe. That’s a fact.

My mom is my role model.

I have two little brothers. They are my favorite people.

I love to make women feel special and beautiful.

I have one tattoo that says “beauty from ashes.” I have a list of about 5 more I want to get!

I really enjoy making lists, if you can’t already tell.

That’s a little about me!


Things people who suffer with depression hate to hear:
1. Just be happy.
2. Your life isn’t that bad.
3. Everyone gets sad sometimes, you’ll get over it.
4. Stop being so sensitive.
5. Just go out and have fun.
6. You don’t look depressed.
7. You have so much to be thankful for.
8. Stop feeling sorry for yourself.

Depression: major depressive disorder is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.




Here is the truth about depression from someone with depression:
1. Just be happy. Trust me, if it were that easy everyone with depression would choose to be happy.

2. Your life isn’t that bad. Having depression doesn’t automatically mean you have a terrible life. One of the hardest things about depression is knowing it’s not that bad but not being able to shut off everything in your mind telling you that it is.

3. Everyone gets sad sometimes, you’ll get over it. There is a huge difference between feeling depressed and being depressed. Everyone feels depressed when life gets hard. Depression is something that sticks around after hard times end.

4. Stop being sensitive. I am about as sensitive as they come. Ever since I was a little girl I would wear my feelings on my sleeves. Before I was on medication for my depression I would cry constantly. Sometimes to the point where I felt like I was going to pass out from exhaustion. It was such a terrible feeling that I wasn’t able to control or stop.

5. Just go out and have fun. When you are in your lowest points of depression it’s almost impossible to get yourself to go out and have fun. Things you enjoy aren’t enjoyable.

6. You don’t look depressed. THIS. I am extremely good at acting like I have my life together. So much so that I have actually had people tell me that I have a perfect life. I just smile and nod because inside I felt like inside I was drowning. Depression isn’t always something you can see in people unless you really pay attention.

7. You have so much to be thankful for. Again, you can have a great life and still suffer from depression.

8. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I can’t speak for everyone, but I didn’t feel sorry for myself, I hated myself. I was so angry with myself for “allowing” myself to feel so hopeless.

All of this to say, if you know people who suffer with depression love them and support them. Encourage them to seek medical help.
If you have suicidal thoughts please reach out to someone. You are worthy of life.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline