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!

 

JAM_4772web

 

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.

 

PhotoGrid_1378936508022

 

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.

 

JAM_0302

 

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

 

JAM_9695

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

char new 10

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.

char new 4

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.

Charlie Jacks 4

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.

Charlie Jacks 2

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.

char new 2

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

Ignore Impossible Episode #3: Cash Colligan

avatars-000033344310-ir3hhf-cropCash Colligan joined me on the Ignore Impossible podcast. We talked about The Cab, Play For Keeps, Rapping, and Life. Cash is very driven in his own life, and he shares with me what it takes to be successful in anything that you do.

 

Follow Cash on Twitter: twitter.com/TheCashColligan

Like his page on Facebook: facebook.com/ShineOrDieLife

Check out Cash on Instagram: instagram.com/cashcolligan

 

Are You Watching Closely?: Andrew Gerard

Photo Credit: Johnny Liu Photography
Photo Credit: Johnny Liu Photography

Do you believe in real magic? If not, I would guarantee you would after watching Andrew Gerard perform. Andrew has come up with some of the most amazing magic over the years. He has worked with magicians and mentalists such as David Blaine, Criss Angel, Keith Barry, and Cyril Takayama. Andrew is also a talented musician, and I had the chance to ask him about his magic and music career. You will come away learning more about magic and music.

Justin Marroquin: How did you get into magic?

Andrew Gerard: Well growing up my father was a magician, in the classic sense, stage magic, illusions etc. I never liked the classic stuff as a child, it looked like a play to me. But my grandfather “Gerard” was quite the inspiration to me. He could second deal cards, taught me to steal a watch and how to look at people differently and study them. I thought he was a pirate, or something growing up LOL. He was actually a very charming guy. I remember he gave roses to all the ladies in the neighborhood one day, and even threw his jacket over a puddle. The police showed up after dinner, because the local library had called them saying someone was stealing the roses from the garden. He even stole the sign that said “Do Not Touch The Roses.” I remember he also talked his way out of a ticket one time, I think he convinced the cop they were related through his last name. I think his idea that having knowledge and understanding people was more important than wearing a tuxedo, and making doves appear.

JM: Do you have a favorite illusion/trick?

AG: I think OOTW (Out Of This World) has the ability to profoundly have an impact on someone when performed at the right time, in the right way. (See Andrew’s version of OOTW on the ProCess DVD).

Note: For those who don’t know, OOTW is considered to be one of the best card tricks of all time.

AG

JM: What was your best performance in magic?

AG: I don’t think I have ever had a really great one yet. I am extremely rough on myself, and I usually come off stage and ask my sound tech, Wayne how bad was it? But I remember in 2001, I did a bill change for a homeless guy, it was pouring out and I just finished a gig at an upscale Martini bar; He had five bucks in his cup, I changed it into a hundred and let him keep it. He was dead silent for like two minutes and asked me “Is it real?” I could tell he really was questioning reality, and he needed magic at that moment. I saw recently a video of a magician doing this as a promotional thing. It would have been better if he didn’t film it, but then again maybe he would not have done it.

JM: What is your best memory in magic?

AG: I have had so many amazing opportunities in magic, on stage, and off camera. It would be hard to pick just one, but right now a couple of moments come to mind. I landed in New York to work with David Blaine, he knew I rode motorcycles, so he threw me a set of keys to one of his BMW’s and we went riding downtown NYC, it was amazingly so busy. He took me to Harlem and David Blaine pulled over at this old house, we parked and he told me to go up the stairs and read this red plaque. It was Harry Houdini’s house, and we did magic to each other for a couple of hours. After that, we rode home and picked up these two Brazilian girls that didn’t speak English. David told me to double one and he did, too! I had to give her my helmet we were also going the wrong way up a one way street! A cop was directing traffic and blew a whistle at us, I thought we were toast. No helmets, driving the wrong way etc. The cop saw it was David Blaine, and stopped traffic and told us to ride up the sidewalk and through a red light! Now that was magic! David Blaine is like Superman that way; huge star power without the attitude.

I filmed a TV show called “Past Lives” in London, England where I investigated past lives, etc. One of the girls took me to Abbey Road, where the Beatles recorded. I didn’t want to take a picture, it was too special. After we went to a pub for a pint, I read her mind and she asked me if I believe in angels, and heaven, I said yes. I didn’t know it at the time, but she had a brain tumor, and died two weeks after I flew out.

Backstage at Oprah with Criss Angel, we were alone in the dressing room, and both started laughing. We could not believe we were there. Criss was always very polite and respectful with me, I found him to be humble then, very much so.

541870_10151322302684291_1230221587_nJM: How are you able to stay so creative?

AG: I try. I fail. I try again. I think once I get interested in something, I go all the way. It means I dedicate a lot of time to not giving up on ideas. The down side is I can’t tie shoelaces, or throw a football. Thank god for Velcro.

JM: You are also a musician. How did you get into music?

AG: Once again, my father was a classical guitarist, so music was all around me since I was born. I was actually not very good, so I had to practice 10X’s harder than everyone else. Also, I never learned other people’s songs, I just wanted to create my own.

JM: What is a better thrill for you: Performing magic or playing music?

AG: That is difficult to answer. Music is real, and people react for an entire 60 minute show clapping, screaming, dancing, singing along, etc. I have never had anyone ask me after a show “how did you do that?” which is nice. With that said, magic can create very special memories when performed correctly. The difference is someone can learn the invisible deck and go blow someone away that day. You can’t learn guitar in a day, or even a year. In music, you must create your own song and lyrics. I wish magicians took some inspiration from musicians.

550159_10151359138249291_1876985788_n

JM: Has magic helped you to be a better musician?

AG: Well in some ways both have helped with each other, they are like cousins. You need to be able to step up and execute the art, and also be the person the audience needs you to be, which is yourself.

JM: Which is harder: Practicing magic or playing music?

AG:I don’t practice either anymore, I perform and I play. I think the best way to get good at anything, is to get stuck into it deep. Live it, breathe it, etc. I always fall asleep and wake up with a deck of cards and a guitar beside my bed, and sometimes in it.

27891_10151290406304291_1536324053_n JM: What is one piece of advice that has helped you in your life?

AG: Don’t try to be like anyone else, that’s weak. Every person reading this has one unique attribute that makes them incredibly special. Most of the time it’s something you take for granted, or that you can’t see yourself. Ask your friends to describe you. You may be blown away at what they have to say; for certain everyone will say one thing about you, that is your starting point. Build off of your strongest attribute.

“Success is knowing you are becoming the person you were meant to be.”

Like Andrew on Facebook: facebook.com/AndrewGerardMindIllusionist

Check out his website: gerardthehypnotist.com

Watch his videos on YouTube: youtube.com/user/GerardTheHypnotist

Listen to the band he plays in: danhaofficial.com

Ignore Impossible Episode #2: Abigail Ratchford

Photo Credit: Brian Landis Photography
Photo Credit: Brian Landis Photography

 

 

 

 

 

Abigail Ratchford joined me on the podcast, and we talked about modeling, goals, and her outlook on life. Abigail is quickly becoming one of the top models in the world, and she has the determination and will to succeed.

Follow Abigail on Twitter: twitter.com/AbiRatchford

Visit her webiste: officialabigailratchford.com

Check out her Instagram: instagram.com/abigailratchford

 

 

 

Wonder Woman: Abi Christine

Abi ChristineAbi Christine is my first guest on the IGNORE IMPOSSIBLE podcast. She is a mom, fitness guru, published model, bikini competitor, blogger, and sponsored ProSupps athlete. Abi came on my podcast and we talked about health, fitness, and life. She is a wealth of knowledge, and I hope you enjoyed the episode.

Check out her website: abi-christine.com

Follow Abi on Twitter: twitter.com/abichristinefit

Like her page on Facebook: facebook.com/abi.christine.fit

Instagram: instagram.com/abi_christine

Supergirl In Disguise: Katie DeLuca

Katie DeLuca 1Model. Actress. Host. Katie DeLuca is the definition of determination. Every interview I do, I learn something new and Katie definitely inspired me with her outlook on life, and her motivation to be the best she can possibly be.

 

Justin Marroquin: When did you know that you wanted to become a model?

Katie DeLuca: Well, I’ve modeled since I was a kid, I always loved being in front of the camera ( I was such a ham), though it wasn’t something I did full-time until I turned 18.

 

JM: What was your first photo shoot experience like?

KD: Professionally, it was a little nerve-wracking at first. Everyone who helped me prepare was really encouraging, and helped me warm up and get comfortable. Once I got in front of the camera though, my nervousness went away. I worked with an amazing photographer, Andre Rowe who is amazing. He and I have since forged a very strong work relationship and are very good friends now. I turn to him all the time with ideas and inspiration.

Katie Deluca 3JM: How do you balance your life?

KD: Who says I’m balanced? HaHa! Just kidding! I am actually very organized, and I am always planning months ahead with shoots for my book, or for clients. I pull pieces that inspire me or I may be able to use later. I’m also very blessed to have the absolute best support system at home. I have someone who is behind me 100% of the time and encourages me to keep pushing and inspires me to always be the best possible version of myself.

 

JM: Besides modeling, what else are you passionate about?

KD: Family, health, and cooking. I make it a point to have family and friends over to our house regularly, and we cook dinner together and hang out and have fun. I also am a big health nut, and just because I want to eat healthy, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t taste good. I’m constantly experimenting in the kitchen, and researching the health benefits found in natural ingredients. It’s a sort of therapy for me, knowing I’m doing something to fuel and nourish our bodies.

Katie Deluca 4

JM: What do you think is the biggest misconception about modeling?

KD: That it’s easy. I see people flip through magazines all the time, and not stop to appreciate the time and effort that went into some of those campaigns. It’s hours of planning, it’s an entire team of people—not just someone with a camera and some random girl. It’s the photographer, it was a special chosen model, it was a hair and makeup team, it was wardrobe who picked out the outfit and made sure it was always wrinkle free, or some other detail was on point while she was posing, it was a set crew who were in charge of lighting, and then editors who clean the images up, all the way down the production line. Not to mention, that wasn’t the first or only shot they took of the model. They probably went through a thousand or more stills and poses trying to figure out which one was going to showcase the product and tell the story best. Meanwhile, you have to sit or stand there as the model and remember to keep your face reflective of your pose and make it look painless and effortless. It’s an art form.

Katie Deluca 5JM: What sets you apart from other models?

KD: I’d like to think my versatility and personality. I have a very can-do attitude and will go to whatever it takes to get the shot, whether it’s posing with animals or acting out a character that’s very different from me. I have fun being able to dress up and be something or someone else for the time that I’m in front of the camera, and I love making the clients’ visions come to life.

 

JM: Name three things you want to do before you die?

KD: 1. I want to be my own brand and own my own corporation. 2. I want to have traveled to every continent and meet their people, seen their attractions and tried their food. 3. I want to raise a family and make our house a home. It’s funny the last of these, is the riskiest in my line of work, because that usually means you lose the ability to model and do it all, but I know I can. Other models have been successful, and one day, I will too.

 

JM; How do you handle naysayers?

KD: I have no time for negativity. I surround myself with only the best people, and those who are doing something with their lives, and are supportive of others. No one is perfect and we’re all human and free to make our own decisions. The tag line this week is ‘bitch, don’t kill my vibe’ haha.

384262_479052032118719_1905579000_n

JM: What goal are you trying to achieve right now?

KD: Well right now, I’m trying to win Maxim Magazine’s Hometown Hotties competition. I’ve made it to the Top 100 so far, and I’m hoping to make it into the Top 10 and farther. So stay tuned!

 

JM: Success. What does it mean to you?

KD: Success is in what you’ve done with your life, to better the life of others. Money can buy you the nicest things, but it cannot buy love or true happiness. Fame comes with the territory, but what you do with it is what’s important. How you have impacted or inspired or changed the world around you—not even on a global scale, but say within your community, is a success. What will people say at your funeral? Leave the world a better place, and that in and of itself is a great reward.

 

Follow Katie on Twitter: twitter.com/KatieDeLuca

Like her page on Facebook: facebook.com/IAmKatieDeLuca

Check her out on Instagram: instagram.com/thekatiedeluca

Watch her on YouTube: youtube.com/misskatiedeluca

Visit her website: katiedeluca.com