Why Do We Fall?

Don't be afraid to fail

 

Six months ago I stepped into an MMA gym (Stars and Strikes) wanting to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. With no prior experience in any martial art, I was intimidated at first but everyone at my gym was very helpful (especially my coach) in teaching me and giving me great advice. My first week was tough (very tough) in the fact that I thought that I was in great shape until I started doing the workouts, sparring, and grappling. It’s an extreme, grueling process that will push you mentally and physically. Even learning the moves and techniques was an exhausting practice, but very rewarding once class was over. Upon leaving the gym, I felt a sense of accomplishment and purpose. After a month of solid training, I was hooked and looked forward to learning anything that I could. Aside from training at the gym, I was making new friends and forming a bond with the other guys/girls at the gym. Going to my MMA gym is like going to a family members house; everyone takes care of one another, and we treat each other with the utmost respect. While I was having a great time training at my MMA gym, I had to deal with criticism as to why I was training and at first I was puzzled by the criticism, but then I came to realize that there’s not a lot of people who train in MMA in today’s society. Most of the criticism about MMA comes from simply not being educated on the sport, and once I explained the sport to people—they came to realize that it’s a sport that requires commitment, dedication, and the willingness to improve each day.

 

With each passing day that I was going to the gym, I realized something: my teammates are really good (scary good) at competing and ultimately, winning many titles and awards that go up on our gym wall. I first got a sense of the MMA world back in January, and watched my teammates compete in an amateur MMA league titled PCFL (Prison City Fight League) in Jackson, MI (hence the prison city reference). Watching them compete was an incredible experience, and I could not believe that the guys I was watching—was the same group of guys that I train with on a daily basis. Each show that came up, I was sure to be there and root my teammates on. Then after about the four-month mark of training at the gym, I had a thought: I want to compete.

 

Aside from MMA, my gym also competes in amateur kickboxing shows. I felt that it would be a great way for me to start out, and to see if I could compete in such a pressurized environment. Now I just had to talk to my coach and teammates about it.

 

“Absolutely! I think kickboxing would be a good start for you,” said my coach after telling him that I wanted to compete in the upcoming amateur kickboxing show. That part was out-of-the-way, but the hard part would be getting a match up. Almost a month had passed by since I put my name in to compete, and I was losing hope that I would not be able to get a match up. Coming into the gym one evening—my coach had great news: he had found a match up for me. I didn’t know much about my opponent (other than the fact that he had been knocked out in 12 seconds in an MMA match). My immediate feeling was a sense of relief, but that quickly went away when my coach smiled and said, “you’re getting shark tanked soon.” For those who don’t know: a shark tank consists of you sparring against a number of “fresh guys” for 8 minutes long, and no rest at all. A shark tank is supposed to get you to your breaking point (mentally and physically), and to see what you’re made out of.

 

It was a Thursday night, and as I entered the gym—I felt anxious, nervous, and scared. The time had come for me to get shark tanked. Exhausted, broken, and tired were the exact diagnosis of how I was feeling during the shark tank. Getting hit repeatedly, trying to breathe, and movement seemed like an endless carousel that I was on. Once time was called out, I was drained and had nothing left to give. Going through the shark tank was one of the hardest things that I have ever endured in my life. I learned a lot about myself during the process, and I’ll never forget that night. As if the shark tank was not hard enough, I had a harder task to go through: weight cutting.

 

Weight cutting is an integral process in combat sports. The point of weight cutting is to get down in weight, and on fight night be at your everyday weight. For example: my everyday weight is around 164-165 lbs. My fight was scheduled for 150 lbs., so in theory—I would be 14 pounds heavier on fight night, which would (hopefully) give me a strength advantage and overall performance advantage. It would be my first weight cut, and it was hard; extremely hard. I stuck to a strict diet/regimen and not going over 50 grams of carbohydrates in a day was tough. The process was grueling and as weigh-in day approached, I was desperately trying to hold on. On weigh-in day, I had no food and water for the whole day (weigh-ins were scheduled for 7 p.m.), and throughout the day, I could actually feel my heart beating slowly. Stepping on the scale, I was praying that I was exactly 150 lbs. and when the final numbers came out: I weighed 148 lbs. and I was relieved, and could not wait to start hydrating and eating (normally) once again. But before I could do those two things, I had to face-off with my opponent. Finally, after training hard for this fight—I got a good look at my opponent. He was quiet, and didn’t say anything to me but just nodded when I told him good luck on our fight.  After weigh-ins my coach and teammates headed out to Starbucks and let me tell you: drinking coffee and feeling go down my throat was exhilarating. I know you’re probably laughing at that statement, but try to deprive yourself of your favorite foods/drinks, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

 

Fight day had finally arrived, and it was definitely an interesting and exciting buildup for me. My mind was racing with all kinds of scenarios and situations that I was imagining for my upcoming fight. Arriving at the venue, my nerves started to sink in for me. Checking in and after clearing medical checkup, all that was left to do was to wait for my fight. Being in the back room was nerve-wracking, and just knowing that my turn was coming—was a crippling feeling to me. It all felt surreal to me that I was about to fight. Putting on my fight trunks, having my teammates support me, and my coach trying to calm me down was an experience that I will hold on to forever.

 

The time had come. It was time for me to fight, and it was all becoming a fast reality for me. With Metallica blaring through the venue, I walked out with my team. Stopping at the front of the cage, my team had a gathering and everyone was giving me encouragement for my upcoming battle. Then they left to their seats, and leaving me alone to face the toughest challenge of my entire life. Stepping up to the cage and hearing it close, I felt a sense of calmness that came over me. That sense quickly faded when I stared across the cage to my opponent (he looked like he was on a mission to destroy anything in his path). The referee slapped his hands, and it was go time. Touching gloves with my opponent, I was getting ready to throw a combination, when out of nowhere (seemingly) I got blasted with one of the hardest shots that I have ever felt in my life. Then another one came, and each one more crushing than the previous one. Falling down on the mat, I was about to experience my first standing eight count. The ref holding my gloves, and counting to eight will be etched in my memory for years to come. I was OK, but a little woozy. The ref slapped his hands for a second time, and we were off once again. Hitting my opponent with a kick, he came at me with the ferocity of a 19 year-old Mike Tyson, and again, his crushing blows were too much for me to handle. I was seeing gloves coming my way, the ref, the crowd, and the cage all at once. It’s a helpless feeling, and scary at the same time. As expected, I went down again. This time the ref signaled to the nurse to come check me out. The nurse gave me a series of tests and after examining me, she told the ref that she will not let me continue to fight. And just like that, the fight was over. Leaving the cage was the most embarrassing moment in my life. I had just been destroyed in front of strangers, friends, family, and teammates.

 

Going in the back room, I knew something was wrong when one of my teammates grabbed an ice pack, and put it on my right eye. Looking like Rocky, the embarrassment set in even more. My coach and teammates offered words of encouragement and praise, but I felt otherwise. Getting dressed and getting my stuff together, my brother appeared and told me how proud he was of me, and told me about one of our favorite scenes from the movie Batman Begins “why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up,” said Thomas Wayne to his son, Bruce. When my brother said that to me, it clicked in my head: you have to fail before you succeed.

 

I have absolutely no regrets about my first kickboxing match, and I learned a lot of valuable lessons that night. Take it from me: get out of your comfort zone, and see what happens. You might fail like me, but even doing something that you set your mind to will be extremely gratifying. Don’t waste any more time, and really commit to the goals that you’ve set for yourself. You just might surprise yourself on how far you can actually go.

 

 

 

 

Ignore Impossible #8: Mariah Rivera

Justin Marroquin interviews Mariah Rivera Featured dancer in the hit show “Fantasy” at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Mariah Rivera joined me on the podcast, and she shared with me what it’s like to perform on the Vegas strip, and her determination to always be better than yesterday.

 

Follow Mariah on Twitter: twitter.com/MariahFantasy

 

 

 

 

Onnit: Total Human Optimization

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In this day and age, our lives are extremely busy. Whether you’re going to school, work, exercising, have kids, etc. It’s a lot to keep up with, and with all the demands and high expectations in our lives, I am here to tell you about a company that will alleviate your problems, and get you to perform at a higher level not only with your mind, but your body as well.

 

Let me introduce you to Onnit. What is Onnit? It’s a company that is dedicated to providing quality products and fitness equipment to make you a better individual in every area of your life. I will explain what some of their products do, and how they can fit into your life.

 

alpha-brain-alpha-onnit-alpha-brain-shroomtech-beonnit-new-mood-HourlyRevShare-Hourly-Rev-Share-hourly-rev-share-review-felmina-alliance-chris-burpee-empower-network-banners-broker-visalusFirst up, is Alpha Brain: This is a complete, balanced nootropic. You’re probably wondering what is a nootropic? A nootropic is considered a memory enhancer, neuro enhancer, cognitive enhancer, and intelligence enhancer. Alpha Brain will make your brain work better, and it’ll keep you sharp and focused throughout the day. We can all benefit from having our brains work better, and this product does exactly that.

 

shroomTech_sport_logoShroom Tech Sport. Never again will you have to down energy drinks, or anything else for that matter. Shroom Tech Sport is designed to give your body clean energy, and power you through your workout, or any activity that you partake in. Shroom Tech Sport is a combination of cordyceps sinensis mushroom, adaptogens, antioxidants, and methyl B-12. Basically, your oxygen intake level will increase, which will allow you to get through your workout without feeling drained, or winded.

 

125Hemp Force Protein. With all the protein powder mixes on the market, it can be confusing, and downright annoying on which one to use. Hemp Force is a complete protein isolated from organic hemp seeds. It has all of the essential amino acids, all three branched chain amino acids, and Omega-3 and Omega-6. Also, it contains cocoa and maca root. This product is really good for after your workout, or as a small meal. As with all of Onnit’s products, everything is pure and natural. That’s what separates Onnit from other companies. They truly have a desire to provide people with the best products, and keep harmful ingredients out of their products.

 

monkey-primate-chimp-ape-kettlebellPrimal Kettle Bells. Your workout is not complete until you swing these around. In addition to the food and supplements, Onnit offers the best fitness equipment you can get your hands on. These Primal Kettle Bells not only look incredible, but they will get you into shape, and you’ll have fun doing it. Onnit focuses on, and emphasizes real world movement in their fitness equipment and programs.

 

 

 

 

There you have it. If you are interested in any of Onnit’s products, just click on the links provided, and see what Onnit has to offer. I only explained a little bit of Onnit, and I will get into more detail in future posts. I encourage you to try out their products, and see the benefits for yourself.

https://www.onnit.com/?a_aid=JustinMarroquin19

 

 

 

 

 

The Definition Of Determination: Ashley Alexiss

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Playboy Miss Social February 2011. Playboy South Africa Girl Next Door 2012. Internationally published glamour/lingerie model. Creator of Cleavage for the CURE. Student. Ashley Alexiss works hard at anything she does, and her determination is second to none. Ashley is the perfect example of working hard and not giving up. I admire her attitude and the way that she carries herself. She doesn’t understand the word “can’t” and if you dare utter that word to her, she will most likely prove you wrong. Everyone will benefit from learning Ashley, and I’m proud to bring you my interview with her.

 

Justin Marroquin: Have you always been interested in modeling?

Ashley Alexiss: This is funny. When I was a kid, I hated pictures! I look back at my childhood pictures and I would literally have this death stare. It wasn’t until high school that I started actually smiling, then decided in my Junior year to enter the Miss Teen Massachusetts pageant. I ended up winning the title of Miss Congeniality, and had to do a mandatory photo shoot where I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and took to it and here I am.

 

JM: Of all the photo shoots you’ve done, what’s your favorite?

AA: Honestly, every photo shoot I do is different, and special. Until I do a shoot with penguins, I won’t have a particular favorite.

 

Photo Credit: Bob Sleeper www.zzzphotos.com
Photo Credit: Bob Sleeper http://www.zzzphotos.com

 

JM: What has been your best experience as a model?

AA: My best experience has been meeting some of my life long friends: Megan Retzlaff, Cassandra Marie, Katy Ann, Amy Madison. There’s so many other ladies too—but these girls have changed my life for the better. I’ve met them all through work and if I wasn’t in the field I’m in, I may never have gotten to share my life with them. I appreciate good people and good people is an understatement for those girls.

 

Photo Credit: Hot Shots Photography
Photo Credit: Hot Shots Photography

 

JM: Tell me about Cleavage for the CURE?

AA: Cleavage for the CURE was launched after I had gone through two life changing experiences. One, getting a breast augmentation and two, losing my grandmother to cancer. I put the two of them together and wanted a way to use sex appeal for better reason. I started by auctioning off my bras that I’ve worn in photo shoots, that no longer fit, on Ebay, and would donate the majority of the percentage to Susan G. Komen. Since then, I’ve sold silicone bracelets to raise awareness of C4TC and have made model contests to give models exposure. I want to think of Cleavage for the CURE as a pay it forward type of campaign.

 

JM: Where does your determination come from?

AA: My determination comes from being rejected the majority of my life, being told I can’t do what I’m doing because I’m short, curvy, and nobody would take me serious. I love proving people wrong, and that’s what I’m doing while making a positive impact.

 

Photo Credit: StewartSmithPhotography.com
Photo Credit: StewartSmithPhotography.com

 

JM: What do you want to achieve the most in your life?

AA: I honestly just want to be successful in this industry, create a movement that other people can follow and inspire others to follow their dreams no matter how far-fetched they may seem.

 

Photo Credit: Bob Sleepr www.zzzphotos.com
Photo Credit: Bob Sleeper http://www.zzzphotos.com

 

JM: Has there been a photo shoot that you didn’t like how it turned out?

AA: Every model knows you have more than one of those during your career. Whether the photographer just decided to be a creep, or not get your photos back. I’ve had that happen a few times by people I had highly respected only to find they clearly didn’t care about their professionalism. It happens, and you just have to keep moving on.

 

Photo Credit: Radiant Inc
Photo Credit: Radiant Inc

 

JM: How can people get more determined in their lives like you?

AA: Just believe in you. As long as you love yourself, believe in yourself, and are motivated, you can do anything! Seriously think about it. If you don’t think you can do it, how do you expect anyone else to think otherwise?

 

Photo Credit: Bob Sleeper www.zzzphotos.com
Photo Credit: Bob Sleeper http://www.zzzphotos.com

 

Follow Ashley on Twitter: twitter.com/AshAlexiss

Like her page on Facebook: facebook.com/AshleyAlexiss

Be sure to check out www.cleavageforthecure.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persevering Through It All: Lauren Ashley

Ice QueenEach person I interview is exciting for me. I get to learn more about them, and how they live their lives. There are moments in our life when we meet somebody in our lives, and come away astonished at how much stuff they have gone through and are still joyful and happy in their life. Interviewing Lauren, and hearing about her story was inspirational and moving. Lauren was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and it held her back from her modeling career. She was also a victim of Hurricane Sandy, which happened two weeks prior to the date of a photo shoot Lauren had for a billboard ad. She lost almost all of her personal belongings from furniture to childhood pictures, but it did not break her spirit or smile. Her family’s two homes were damaged as well as her family’s business. Still, Lauren did not give up, and she volunteered for a local church, where she cooked, and fed those were less fortunate. Lauren is still continuing to chase her dreams, and I’m honored to tell you a little bit more about her.

 

Justin Marroquin: How did you get into modeling?

Lauren Ashley: As a young girl I always dreamed of being a model. While in NYC one day, I was approached by a talent scout for Wilhelmina and joined “America’s Next Top Model” contest. I was unable to sign the contract due to being on mind altering medication since I was diagnosed with Lyme disease, and was just starting treatment. I then just did promo modeling. Last summer I did a hair ad for my hair stylist mentor, Michael Miller. During the photo shoot the photographer asked if I would like to pursue my modeling career. I then made my portfolio, and did some editorial work. Then, my first paid job for an ad wound up being on a billboard in Las Vegas. I always said “one day I’m going to be that girl” while pointing at a billboard ad, while walking through Manhattan. Well, that dream came true!

 

602999_4133374467235_1894832724_nJM: Describe what you went through when you were diagnosed with Lyme disease?

LA: I became ill in 2004-2005. I was extremely fatigued, suffered from joint pain, small seizures, mental fog, aches all over, and was so weak at times, my father had to carry me into my doctors. Being I was young and did not look sick, it was a tough battle. I was blood tested at least once a month, or sometimes twice a month for over a year. Doctors and nurses did not believe me because I did not appear ill. I was told I must be on drugs by pediatrician’s nurse because of my age and the symptoms I had. It was a very difficult time for myself as well as family and friends. Everyone close to me knew there was something wrong, and knew that I was not under the influence. In 2007, I tested positive for the western blot test and began treatment. About six months after treatment, I began feeling all the symptoms again. My infectious disease doctor had said “there is no way possible you could have Lyme disease again. You must have HIV or some type of lymphoma.” That being said with no significant reason broke me into tears. I had just been tested one week prior, and was negative for HIV and my blood cell count was 14, which is only slightly elevated. There was no medical signs or reasons as to why the doctor would say that. A month had went by, and I was tested for Lyme disease again, and had a new stain of the Lyme bacteria, and when through treatment again in December of 2008. This was the worst thing to go through, and I do not wish Lyme disease on anyone. I hope someday they will find a cure!

 

JM: After going through that, how did your life and modeling career change?

AL: After becoming ill with the Lyme disease, my life changed a lot. I have to make sure I eat healthy, and get as much rest as I could. I couldn’t go out with friends and celebrate being 21. I couldn’t keep up with my friends and a social life because I was always so tired. It also caused complications between my boyfriend and I. We soon broke up after he said I had no chance at being a model, and no one would ever love me because I was sick. Everything consumed my mind in a negative way, and I no longer tried to pursue my dream career. I kept track of everything I ate and every symptom I felt. Doing that was supposed to help me keep track of what to stay away from to feel better. I soon realized that I was focusing on what was wrong instead of what was right, and positive in my life. I stopped keeping track of every little thing in late 2010, and began meditating and Reiki therapy. I’m not saying it’s all in your head, but sometimes as a complex as our lives are now, we tend to forget how powerful our minds really are. I focused on getting healthy mentally and physically for a year. Then when I was to pursue my dream career!

 

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JM: You are a strong, positive woman. How do you stay that way?

AL: The saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is true and is something I live by. I have friends who also have Lyme disease, and I help them out by sharing advice, books, and self-experiences. Helping others cope, and making them feel like they are not alone like I did, really makes me happy. I have to stay positive not for myself, but for them as well. “Being positive is contagious, smile without a doubt, laugh without a care, live your life with no remorse. Make others smile, and live the positive life just as you are. Your strength will grow to overcome every obstacle you face in life while mentally blocking out negativity.”Lauren Ashley

 

JM: What are some of your beliefs and values?

LA: I believe that you have to be strong and independent to get what you want in life; you just have to work for it. You can achieve anything you wish if you believe in yourself. I value my family, friends, and my strength. Without family and friends, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

 

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JM: Going through so much in your life, how do you keep moving forward?

AL: I set goals for myself and write them down. Your past is history, and you can only learn and grow from it.

 

JM: What is your advice on how to accomplish a dream or goal?

AL: Write down your dreams and goals; hang it somewhere you will see it each day. Then as you achieve each one, cross them off.

 

JM: You were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Describe what you went through?

AL: I live in the Jersey Shore area, and we were mandatory evacuation October 28, 2012. My family and I went to my grandparents a few miles inland. Our pets were freaking out, and kept looking in the direction of the ocean; the dogs were whimpering, and the cat ran right in his carrier! While driving there I was almost struck by the lining of a truck bed that was at the stop light across from me. The wind was so strong it was hard to control the vehicle. I felt like I was in the “Wizard of Oz” and it was something I have never experienced before. The power went out around 9 p.m. that evening, and all cell phones had stopped getting service. The sounds of the storm were like something from a movie, I couldn’t sleep. I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen, and was scared and sick to my stomach. I was scared for my life! My cell phone would get one bar of service every so often, so I was able to send and receive text messages while I had service. My family and I returned to our homes the next day. On the way home stuck in traffic, seeing all fallen trees and telephone poles had already made me nervous to return home. The main road was still flooded with a foot of water in some areas, including where I had lived. My parent’s street wasn’t as bad; we were still without power and it was dark, so we couldn’t really see the damage. In the morning we went to where I had lived, the home flooded with three and a half feet of contaminated flood water. I had to throw out everything I owned. Furniture to childhood photo albums. I didn’t lose hope or my smile, and my family was there to help me. I just kept thinking that I had my photo shoot for my first paid ad coming up in two weeks, and things could’ve been worse. My parent’s two homes were damaged as well as our family business. Being I had to toss my belongings to the curb, I arranged some so that the neighbors would smile. The National Guard were on almost every street corner in my town for over a month; it was certainly not a pleasant time. I helped volunteer at a local church on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons to help prepare meals for those that lost everything, and had nowhere to live. Doing so, made happy knowing with all I lost personally, I could still help out others.

 

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JM: Is there a certain goal you are trying to achieve right now?

AL: Currently, I am in Playboy’s Miss Social contest, so I hope that I will soon win. I also wish to be a Guess model.

 

JM: What do you think the meaning of life is?

AL: There is no exact meaning of life, it is self-belonging. No two people have the same opinion on what the meaning is. I believe the meaning of life is creating yourself, finding what makes you happy, having an open heart to love, and living your own life. If you keep searching for the meaning, you will not be living your life; just as if you keep searching the meaning of happiness, you will not truly be happy.

 

A note on modeling and the mind: It’s not all about what you see, but what you don’t see. It’s not just about looking good and being pretty. It appears that way to the eye. What is the real emotion hidden behind the beauty? How do we hide the true emotions we feel? We do it with our minds, escape reality, and get into “character.”Lauren Ashley

 

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Follow Lauren on Twitter: twitter.com/LaurenAshley0X0

Like her page on Facebook: facebook.com/x.Lauren.Ashley.x

Vote for her on Playboy Miss Social: playboymisssocial.com/laurenromanowski

Check out her website: xlaurenashleyx.com

See her photos on Instagram: instagram.com/x0laurenashley0x

Photo Credit: JAMills

 

Backstage Pass: Charlie Jacks

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The music industry is filled with people who have great talent, but there is only a select few that can engage people, and make them feel the music. One of the few people who can do such things is Charlie Jacks. She is a UK music superstar, and has a massive following in Japan (and soon to be US) with six number one albums, and nine singles at the top of the Japanese iTunes charts. Charlie took time out of her busy schedule to tell me about her music career, achieving goals, and what inspires and motivates her.

Justin Marroquin: How did you get interested in music?

Charlie Jacks: I’ve always been a bit of an entertainer. I loved singing in school and my mum noticed how much I danced around the house singing as a kid, so she put me in classical music lessons. I think it really kicked in at a Chinese restaurant. We went for a family meal and there was a performer singing with a piano and mic this particular time. My family managed to persuade me(with a $8 bribe) to go and ask if I could sing. I sung “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette. It was the silence of the room and the applause after that—made me want more. The feeling that you can acquire someone’s emotions with your voice, and impact them just a little really moved me. And that my friends is where it began.

JM: Where do you seek inspiration and motivation to write songs?

CJ: My motivation is simple—literally, life. If it makes me emotionally happy, sad, hurt, angry, I write about it. The same with my friends; if I see something I can relate to, it’s a beautiful thing to be able to capture in words and replay as a song. I find if people can relate to your story, they want to listen.

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JM: What do you enjoy more: writing songs or performing?

CJ: Performing songs I’ve written. It’s a beautiful moment when you see someone join into a song you’ve written.

JM: Do you set goals? If so, describe how you go about doing it.

CJ: This is tricky. My goal when I started music (in Japan) was only ever to release one single, that turned into six and nine albums. Now I have the same goal, but in the UK and US.

JM: How do you handle negativity?

CJ: IGNORE it. How does negativity ever benefit anyone? It doesn’t, so the best option—cut it out.

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JM: Do you have any plans to come to America?

CJ: Yes, I do all of my writing and recording in the states. I’ll be back soon to start the new EP.

JM: What is the best part about the music industry?

CJ: Achieving goals—meeting and working with creative people. Two creative people in the same room is a recipe for magic.

JM: What’s the worst part about the music industry?

CJ: There a huge amount of no’s. You have to be thick-skinned and willing to be turned away a lot to survive the industry. But if you are persistent and believe in yourself enough, you’ll get there.

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JM: How do you want to be remembered?

CJ: I just want to make a little impact on some people’s lives. “That song helped me through hard times” or “That song reminds me of summer” that kinda thing.

JM: What is one piece of advice that has helped you in your life?

CJ: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

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Follow Charlie on Twitter: twitter.com/charlietoons

Like her page on Facebook: facebook.com/OfficialCharlieJacks

See her photos on Instagram: instagram.com/charliejacks

Read her Tumblr: charliejacks.tumblr.com

Listen to her music on SoundCloud: soundcloud.com/charlie-jacks

Check out her website: charliejacks.com

Beautiful Wisdom: Abigail Ratchford

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The life of a model is exhilarating. Photo shoots, traveling, and being on the cover of magazines are just a small part of what girls do in the modeling industry. I admire models not only for their beauty, but their approach and mindset on how they attain success. One model you should keep an eye out for is Abigail Ratchford. Smart, beautiful, and determined. Abigail embodies all three qualities, and she was kind enough to tell me her experience and thought process on modeling.

Justin Marroquin: When did you first want to become a model?

Abigail Ratchford: I always was interested in it but never really took it seriously. A few years ago I did the Miss Pennsylvania pageant, which required me to have a professional photo shoot for the program book. After that shoot I realized it was something I like to do, and wanted to pursue. For the next year I had a few small photo shoots but never did anything with the pictures, this spring I made up my mind to get serious about it, had a ton of shoots booked for me, and then the pictures ended up in several mens websites, and the rest is history!

JM: What is the best part about doing a photo shoot?

AR: Well, the best shoots to do are the ones where they provide a hair and makeup artist. It’s nice to just sit there and have someone create this glamorous look on you, and you get to relax until it’s time to be in front of the camera! About 60% of mine I’ve had hair and makeup done, and those were the ones that I loved the most.

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JM: Do you get nervous when modeling?

AR: No. Never. Just the first 30 minutes of the shoot you usually have to relax your face muscles. Sometimes they can tense up and you don’t get the “look” you want to come across on camera. Sounds strange, but it’s true. Besides that, it’s not something that makes me nervous, really.

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JM: What is going through your mind when you are getting ready for a photo shoot?

AR: Hmm, make sure the clothes I wear will photograph well, some things look nice in person but photograph poorly. Also, if you have something too sheer, the flash from the camera can make it almost see through. So I always make sure about my clothing, and I will look at shoots that famous models have done to pull inspiration from, and study their poses, body language, facial expressions, etc. I try to make the final product as good as I can.

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JM: What is your definition of beauty?

AR: Beauty is being comfortable with who you are. Don’t focus on your insecurities, celebrate your assets instead. So if you hate your stomach, don’t stress over it. Show off your amazing legs and realize all of the things that you are blessed with!

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JM: Describe your top three goals that you want to achieve?

AR: I want to be in major men’s magazines, Maxim, FHM, etc. I want to get into acting and be in TV and films eventually. Lastly, I want to be a household name. I want to be a model-celebrity. There are plenty of models, models on the catwalk, models in playboy, models who do promotional work etc. If I’m going to do this, I want to be as big as I possibly can, and not only be a model but be a celebrity, like Heidi Klum or Kate Upton. They used their modeling careers to launch them into a whole other realm of success, that’s my ultimate goal.

JM: Give one tip on how to be more successful?

AR: You need a plan. There are steps involved. Very rarely do girls get “discovered” anymore like they used to when Cindy Crawford was discovered by a photographer picking corn. Those stories are few and far between these days because there are so many girls trying to be models, and the competition is fierce. The first part of the plan is figuring out exactly what you want to do, and finding someones career who you would like to emulate, and figuring out how to get there. For example, I would love to emulate Kate Upton’s career, but also be my own person, Abigail Ratchford. I just mean what type of model/public figure she is. Model, sensation, curvaceous, bubbly, and has a great personality. To do that, I had to get pictures taken that were sexy but not trashy, got them on men’s sites like SportsIllustrated.com, TheSmokingJacket, Men’s Humor, etc. I built a fan base which is very important. Then people who ran other sites started seeing me and contacted me to be on their sites because they heard about me. The first time I was on SportsIllustrated.com in the spring, the site owner contacted me and said he had a lot of good feedback on my gallery, and wanted to do a special American themed feature on me for Memorial Day, because of the great feedback. Th point is, you need people to make a buzz around you, and that makes you “marketable” for sites, websites, etc. because they know you will attract traffic. You can’t do it on your own, and just sit back and wait for it to come to you. I realize I have a lot more to do to get to Kate Upton’s level, clearly, but the more people know about you and support you, the better. I’ve done enough in these last few months since March to know I’m ready for the next step, I don’t just want to be on websites, I want to be in print magazines, make a career of this, and get real success and fame, not just internet fame. So remember: make a plan, build your fan base, study someone who you admire, and take over the world one step at a  time, haha. You need to make yourself go VIRAL!

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JM: How do you want to be remembered?

AR: I want to be remembered as someone who took a shot, no matter the outcome. There are so many people trying to do the same thing as me, and you are lucky if you make it as anything. I know I will certainly get much further giving it a shot and Moving to LA, then I would if I sat back and feared failure my whole life. I just hope the outcome is in my favor.

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