A Better Me

January 17, 2018


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I'm Ashley. I'm the person that captures the stories you want to remember forever.

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This year is all about becoming the best me I can be. Every year should be about this (obviously). But this year is the first year that I’ve decided to be really aware of the way I treat myself and the steps that I am taking to achieve my goals. I think in order for me to become a more confident, loving, and patient person I really need to be conscious of the way I talk to myself and others. Not only is it important for me to do this for my mental health but for the sake of my daughter.

A Better Me - Barre3Becoming a Better Parent

Ever since my daughter was an infant I’ve tried to be incredibly conscious of how my own self-image impacts her. I think it can be really easy to forget that when you talk down to yourself and your children hear that they are internalizing those words whether you realize it or not. Your child is in many ways just like you and if they hear you talking negatively about yourself they will likely grow up to hate the same things about their body, think they aren’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or whatever it is that you might say about yourself.

Children learn their thoughts and behaviors from us. I want my daughter to grow up to be confident in herself, her abilities, and the power that she has in this world. Which means I have to be the one to set that example. If she sees me chasing my dreams, she will too. If I show her that exercise and eating healthy is just something our bodies need she won’t have to learn those things later on in life like I did. So for her to be the best person she can be I need to be the best person I can be.

Time for Change and the Start of a Journey

This is where b3 enters the story. About a year ago a friend and I discovered barre3 while we were looking for adult ballet classes (I’ve always wanted to be a ballerina). As many of you know I live in South Dakota and apparently, adult ballet isn’t super popular around here so barre3 was as close as we could get. I find this hilariously serendipitous because at the time I had no idea just how much it would change my life. Because I knew I absolutely needed to make changes for myself and B3 this was as close to ballet as we were going to get we decided to give it a go.

Exercise has always helped me combat my stress, anxiety, and depression. However, it had been a few years since I had done any real regular exercise even though I enjoyed a fairly regular yoga practice throughout much of my college life. After I graduated I moved to a new state, found out I was pregnant, had my child, was a stay at home mom for a couple of years, and launched my business. And even though I’ve always known depression and anxiety this was far worse than anything I had previously experienced.

Days where I couldn’t seem to force myself to do anything, where it felt like everything was crashing down around me, and all I wanted to do was sleep but my anxiety wouldn’t let me. These days were quickly becoming my new normal and I wasn’t okay with it. I could see it impacting my daughter, my husband, my friends, and my family. My anxiety had actually reached the point where I had been admitted to the hospital to make sure I wasn’t experiencing a heart attack. This isn’t normal for a 27-year-old.*

A Better Me - Barre3

The Journey

So while I expected barre3 to help with my anxiety, depression, and self-confidence like most things in life, there were unintended consequences. I saw my stamina increase 3-fold; which means that long wedding days on my feet in uncomfortable shoes are far more manageable than they were before. I no longer wake up the next day feeling completely exhausted and hungover (ask any wedding photographer the wedding hangover is very real). Chasing my toddler up and down the stairs 700 times a day is a breeze. I’m a much happier person which makes me much more fun to be around. Hiking, climbing, scaling weird things for the perfect shot is no big deal. I remember the first time I went to a barre3 I laughed myself silly during ball-holds because I thought I would NEVER be able to do them.

But guess what? I TOTALLY CAN! Every day barre3 teaches me that I can do hard things. That hard things are totally and completely possible. You just have to push yourself that extra inch.

One of the most surprising ways that barre3 has affected my life has been with my business. I expected it to help me in my personal life I didn’t expect it to help me in my professional life. I’m far more confident in myself which makes me far more confident in my work. It’s exciting! I’ve grown so much over the last year as an artist I’m honestly amazed. I don’t wake up with this intense fear of failure anymore I wake up and know I’m going to be successful. On top of this, I’ve built some incredible relationships with that I truly hope last forever.

The Results

Barre3 helps me love myself. It’s given me confidence that I’ve never known before, it’s encouraged me to step outside my comfort zone, it’s helped me overcome some pretty intense internalized bullshit, and as a whole, it has made me a much better person. I’ve learned that I really need a group setting to push myself I am not the kind of person that can do it from home. I really need an instructor to guide me, to keep it interesting, to push me when I think I’ve given my all. Because of barre3, I’ve found balance for the first time in my life. I’ve learned how to have grace with myself and how to give grace to others.  But best of all, I’m excited to wake up every single day.

A Better Me - Barre3


* I want to stress that I do not think exercise is the be all end all to curing your depression and or anxiety. I’m simply stating that for me it is an excellent tool in helping manage mine.

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  1. Milana says:

    so well said!!!!! 

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More Than Just a Photographer

As a mom and a business owner, I understand the power of a moment, the story behind a smile. Photography for me is a bridge – connecting hearts, capturing the unspoken. It’s about creating an experience that’s as enjoyable as the final product. Your ideas, your story, your essence – I’m here to bring them to life through my lens.


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