When you lose someone close to you, it really puts things into perspective as to what’s important in your life. Especially at that given time. When I lost my husband nearly 5 years ago, I learned how to stand up for myself. It was a hard road for me to go down, and I still find myself fighting it and wanting to just give up. I’m not talking about actual fights and being a “witch.” I’m talking about standing up and saying “no, I deserve better than this.” It meant I had to say goodbye to people who weren’t real friends to me and distance myself from those who took advantage of me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I will give you the shirt off my back AND my pants off my butt if you need it. But having that type of personality also attracts people who want to take advantage of you. And I still struggle with needing to say “no.” I don’t want to let other people down. It also made me look at my work as a photographer and say “no, I am better than free work.” I had to start charging people and stand by it. I’ve given a LOT of discounts, sometimes offering way more than I should as a discount, but I still made myself charge for my time and work. I’d love to do free, but free doesn’t pay the bills and honestly it doesn’t pay for my education or professional equipment. I was/am worth being paid for what I do.
Then a little over two years ago, we lost my youngest sister. That was another, even more traumatic, kick in the pants. I felt like NOTHING was really that important. Doing dishes and cleaning house wasn’t important in the grand scheme of life. I still don’t think they are (although they are necessary regardless haha!). What was/is important was actually living and really loving each other. I cherish every day I get to spend with my kids and husband, I get homesick more and want to see my parents a lot more often, and I also crave to see/visit with my other sister. But I’ve also realized that it’s important for me to take care of ME! It’s not uncommon for a mom to move her needs/desires off to the back-burner in order to provide for her family and make sure they are happy. So I know there’s nothing actually wrong with me for doing that. But at the same time, I know at some point my kids are going to grow up and graduate and move out. So I need to also show them how to take on the responsibility of reaching their own goals. I won’t be the one writing their college papers or making sure they get up and go to work. Of course I’ll encourage them and support them to the best of my abilities, but they will need to make their own path and walk their own roads. And the best way I can think to help teach them how to do that is to start taking time to try to reach my own goals and aspirations. Just because I’m a mom, doesn’t mean I don’t have dreams. This means I’ve been taking a lot harder look at my health habits, trying to be more conscientious of what I eat as well as what I think about myself. I’ve been fighting the inner thoughts that say I’m fat and ugly, unloveable, not talented enough, not smart or creative enough… I am surrounding myself with people who care about me and deleting people from my life who only bring me down. I’ve also changed how I do things professionally speaking. For years I have done portrait sessions to help pay the bills. But while I’ve been doing that, I’ve lost focus (and time) to really work towards my fine art photography goals and getting representation in galleries. So I’ve stopped doing portraits and am going to work on my series/fine art work. Don’t get me wrong, I love all my clients and truly appreciate the learning experiences (and friendships!) I gained from doing portraits. But it’s time for me. It’s time for me to focus on my own goals and push through the thoughts and obstacles that would prevent me from reaching them. It’s time for me to think of who I want to be when I grow up! Haha! Because before I know it, all the boys will graduate and move out and I’ll need to have something to keep me busy!! And I fully believe that if my boys see me fighting through college and work and all the naysayers, they will appreciate it and know that they can also achieve their dreams. I want to inspire my kids, friends, family, etc. to reach for what is important to them. Whatever it is. And the only way I know how to do that is to do it myself and show that it CAN be done. Of course I wouldn’t mind winning the lottery, it could make the fight easier. But who wouldn’t want to win the lottery?! Ha! In the mean time, I’ll keep focusing on my goals as a mom, wife, and person and what is truly important to me. My family and my art.