• Sarah

My 5 biggest goals

Goals are scary things. If you write them down, then you know it’s something serious. You have to make plans and sacrifice a lot and know that you might not reach them for a really long time.

But funny thing is, your goals SHOULD scare you. They should scare the PANTS off you. Know why? Because it will kick your booty out of your comfort zone. It will stretch you and push you in ways you never dreamed of nor could you do without that goal. It gives you something to live for.

With all that said, I’ve had to really reach deep inside and think about my goals. For awhile I felt like I kind of reached them already. Find someone who loves me for who I am and whom I love and marry him. Have a bunch of kids. Live a relatively simple life. Raise my kids to be decent human beings. Bam. Done.

Not done. Guess what? It’s not that easy. Marriage is not easy. Raising kids with so many different personalities is not easy (oh ho, it is not). And life keeps rolling. My passions and hobbies change. New goals get added to the list. So now in addition to my goals of being the best wife to my husband and being the best mom to my kids, I want to be an awesome birth photographer.

But let’s break them down and get real:

Goal #0.5 and #0.5: Healthy mentally and physically

These are kind of separate goals that actually go hand in hand. I’ve been working on this all my life: to have a healthy mind and body. What I’ve learned is that neither can be healthy while the other is not. No matter how much I wish it, I can’t be emotionally healthy if my body suffers, and vice versa.

I didn’t realize how much I was suffering emotionally until I was pregnant with my third. I was angry. That angry version of me scared the crap out of me. It was like Hulk and Dr. Banner. I knew it wasn’t who I truly was and that I needed help, but I didn’t get help for another year. Not through anyone’s fault but my own, but when you have a baby, things get pushed aside. I went to see my midwife after realizing I wasn’t getting any better and she strongly encouraged me to see a therapist and wrote me a prescription for an antidepressant.

I was neither embarrassed nor ashamed of what things had come to. I accepted it all because I wanted change. I hated the version of me that I had become. And I hated what it was doing to my family. Utah may get a bad rap for the number of people on antidepressants, but I know for sure that it was necessary for me. I will never regret accepting help from medication as well as from my therapist who has been a Godsend. She has helped me process and work through so many things to help me be the best version of me that I can be.

After having a baby, your body goes through multiple changes, one of which is weight gain. It’s a fact; I gained a lot of weight since having a baby and I struggled getting it off. I’ve tried various weight loss programs but one emphasized eating and one emphasized exercise. I couldn’t mesh the two together. Until one day, after taking my puppy to our doggy play group, I sat at the park while some women were working out nearby. They were all so nice complimenting my little girl when one asked if I wanted to join them. I thought, sure, why not? And I joined them. No matter that I wasn’t in workout attire nor had warmed up or anything. But I did it. And now I’ve joined their group and I feel that I’m where I’m supposed to be to help myself physically and mentally too.

Now, my awesome personal trainer says I have amazing form doing a push up, something I never thought possible. It's not just the weight loss I'm working on, it's being strong too.

Goal #2: Debt Free

Become financially secure is not an unusual goal, but it’s been something we’ve been avidly working on for about 7 years. Budgeting didn’t come easy to Jed and I when we were first married. We were frugal, but having achieved the DINK status (double income, no kids) was really nice and new for us. So we allowed ourselves a few frivolities and didn’t think much for the future.

Fast forward a few years and couple of kids later and we realized we had made some poor financial decisions. I was in charge of the “budget” but we were constantly spending more than we were bringing in and the forecast wasn’t looking good.

We sucked it up and asked our financially savvy neighbor to look over our budget and point out where we could improve and what our options were.

Thus started us on a path that is similar to Dave Ramsey’s path to financial freedom. We’ve never taken those courses, but we are constantly reviewing our budget (we do it through Google sheets so we can both look at it and edit when necessary) and weekly we go over it so that we are on the same page. It’s in no wise perfect, but it’s getting there. We met one goal of paying off our van and using that to snowball another debt. Slowly, but surely, we’ll get there.

Goal #3: ADHD Expert

More than two years have passed since my oldest was first diagnosed with ADHD. I had always suspected something was up, but his behavior was beyond anything I could figure out or help him with. Once we got him diagnosed and medicated, I realized that our journey wasn’t over. We saw a psychologist who diagnosed him with ODD - opposition defiant disorder.

Finally having answers has helped us so much, but we still have a long ways to go. I have to relearn everything I know about parenting and try different approaches. I have to learn to let go of expectations. I know these are pretty typical for parents, but when you have a child who is not neurotypical, it’s a whole new ball of wax.

I just stumbled upon the Netflix show “Atypical,” about a high functioning autistic boy. It’s pretty much my life, in a way. Autism is very different from ADHD, but there are still obstacles that Adam has to work around and there may be things he can’t participate in because of his struggles.

But I know I am his mom for a reason and I hold on to that fact as tight as I can, especially when the going gets hard.

Goal #4: Travel

My husband has never been out of the country. He’s 35 years old and it’s about time that we change that! This goal comes after goal #3 of being financially secure, so we have lots of time to plan. I think we may start with somewhere in Asia, perhaps Japan. I have a couple of friends who are half Japanese and who have been there, and Jed’s learning Japanese on Duolingo, so I think we’re practically ready to go there haha!

But if it were up to me, I’d love to go to Europe, specifically Italy and Greece. I love ancient history, so this is right up my alley.

I mentioned this in a previous blog, but I’ve been out of the country many times before: once to Holland with my family, twice to Ecuador (for a church mission), once to Chile for volunteer work and then a weekend getaway to Argentina when I was in Chile. All it takes for me is a picture and the travel bug just chomps away.

Photo taken in Viña Del Mar in Chile in 2009.

Goal #5: Improve my craft

I want to be an amazing birth photographer. In a saturated market, it will be hard to make a name for myself, but I feel like I’m making some strides. I’m investing in myself, starting in education. I’m taking an online birth photography course through Birth Becomes Her, and it’s been fantastic. I’m learning lots and hope to practice more and more with clients who are brave and take chances with me. I’m so honored with the women who have done this with me already, and look forward to meeting more amazing brave souls who like what they see in me as a person and as a photographer.

Next step after education will be to invest in better equipment. Amazingly, my trusty ol’ Canon Rebel is a work horse and I’ve made some incredible images with it and a flash. I can’t wait until I can upgrade to a full frame camera that will work amazing in low light situations, a common issue during births.

But for now, I will learn all I can and do all I can with what equipment I have now.

Photo credit: Dani Reed of Mind Over Maternity doula services. I love that she captured this behind the scenes of me doing one of my favorite things.

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