12 Things I Learned In My 30's | Documentary Family Photographer In Houston

mom flying a kite at the beach-1.jpg

I turned 40 this week. That age seems so far away when you're a kid, doesn't it? Like it's some astronomical number that you'll live an entire lifetime before you get there. Well, here I am. At that crazy high number that when I told my children how old I would be, they said "Wow!!!! That's a BIG number!!" Ha! But while I still have what will hopefully be decades of life ahead of me, there's a few things I've learned in just the past decade that I thought I would share here. So here we go.


#1. How To Love

20 days after I turned 30, I married the love of my life. It was the biggest earthly love I had ever experienced and it’s only grown deeper and stronger over these past 10 years. I have learned, and I’m sure my husband would agree, that to love is to fight. Fighting is exhausting. I hate conflict just like everyone else, but when it’s something worth fighting for, you do it with all of your being. My marriage is worth fighting for, so my husband and I do it. No question. Love is not lazy. But my lesson on love doesn’t stop there. When my first born came into the world, my heart felt like it was maxed out on the love that I could give and feel. She was a total game changer in the way of how love felt. A couple of years later, my second born came into our lives, and like any parent that’s expecting a second, third or 6th child, you wonder just how you could love yet another with all of the deep affection you have for your first child. But then you meet them, and fall in love all over again. You sort of feel like the Grinch at the end of the movie where his heart just keeps growing. That was me in my 30’s. My heart grew to 3 times it’s normal size, and it continues to grow as I watch my children learn, grow and accomplish different goals, and doing it right alongside the man who loves us all with all of his being.

family day at the pool-1.jpg

#2. Family First

A strange thing happens when you get married and have children. You quickly realize that everything you heard about family before is true. I grew up in a loving home with my amazing parents who did everything they could for my two brothers and me. I had a solid perspective of what love looked like, and how to navigate this crazy life. I cherished my parents and my brothers so much, but it wasn't until I had a family of my own that I understood how deep that love could go. And not just for my husband and two babies which is the more obvious connection, as mentioned above. There's not much, if anything that compares to that kind of love. But it doesn't stop there. It extends to seeing my parents as well as my husband’s parents be the loving grandparents to my children that they are, and my brothers being the awesome uncles that they are. Throw in all of the cousin adventures, and hanging out with their loving aunts, great aunt and uncle, I can't help but have a big goofy grin on my face.  Time spent with all of them, and seeing my children create their own memories with their extended family has been such a special thing to witness, and makes me value that time with each of my family members so much more than I ever did before.

#3. There Will Be Tough Times

I've been through plenty of difficult circumstances in my life. I'm no stranger to trials, and I'm sure I will see plenty more in my lifetime. From dealing with the loss of family members, family struggling through insurmountable health issues, weeping through two miscarriages, being misunderstood, the loss of friendships, being judged, it has certainly not been an easy road, particularly this past decade (or just this past year even). One thing remains to be true though. One thing remains constant. I wouldn't be the person I am today without God's sovereign hand there to see me through every seemingly debilitating step of the way. He's the reason I'm bruised but not crushed. He receives all the glory!


#4. Joy Comes In The Morning

No matter what life throws at me, there is always a place in my life where joy can be found. On those darker days, when things just feel hopeless, I know I can turn my attention to all of the blessings that I have that are more than beautiful! God’s grace, my family, my friends, my job, the invention of queso, there are countless things to hold onto, to be thankful for, and keep me grounded in the joy that God has put in my life.


#5. Conviction Wins Over Popularity

So often I get caught up in fitting in. Caught up in trying to be what makes everyone else comfortable instead of being who God calls me to be and living according to the convictions of His Word. He's the one I live to please, and while I'm far from perfect in doing that, I should never allow the thoughts of others take me off of the path that He's laid out for me. I was not created to please man.

bathroom selfie-1.jpg

#6. My Business Is My Business 

I have worked hard at creating, shaping, and molding my business over the years. I've learned that you can't please everyone, but that those who believe in what I do are the very reason why I do it. Standing my ground, and staying true to what I believe is the best way to run this business of mine has been a hard lesson learned. It has allowed me the strength to know that no one else gets to make those decisions for me. Whether it's the style of photography I offer, being compensated appropriately for the time spent away from my family, or how and what products I provide, the final decision is mine to make.

#7. Being Kind Is Not That Hard

I once had a drive-thru employee tell me that nobody had ever asked them how they were doing when the customers pull up to the window, and was pleasantly surprised when I did. How hard is it to say hello, or ask how someone's day is going with a smile on your face? It's not, and we should all do it more. We should all slow down, and stop only thinking about ourselves and what we need to do or where we need to go and remember that there is an actual person on the other side of the conversation.

mother and daughter slip n slide-1.jpg

#8. I'm Too Old For A Slip ‘n Slide

That's it. I have nothing else to say about that. 


#9. Friends Who Check On You Are The Best Kinds Of Friends

I'm so grateful for all of the incredible friends in my life who pursue me just as much as I pursue them. It's a rare thing, and I am beyond blessed to experience it almost daily! We often hear the phrase “doing life together”, and I can honestly say that I have my tiny gang of friends that I truly do that with. They love me just the way I am, and let me be serious or ridiculously silly. All of which is invaluable for my sanity as a work from home, homeschooling momma!

#10. I'm Not Perfect.

I make mistakes… daily. Just ask my daughter who has to hear me apologize, again, for losing my temper with her and her brother. Which leads me to my next lesson...

mom and son embrace-1.jpg

#11. Apologizing Is A Must

If you want to have any sort of healthy relationship you have to be able to admit when you’re wrong and say you’re sorry. Marriage, family and friendships alike, apologies, forgiveness and conflict resolution are vital. As a Christian, God instructs me to forgive, and that I am to seek forgiveness when I have hurt or wronged someone. It’s not something I’m great at, but I most definitely want to improve upon each and every day!


#12. Take pictures!

Lots of them!! Get in them! Show your kids that you were with them, that you played with them, that you loved your spouse, and in turn you will see how much they all love and adore you.


Tomorrow isn't promised, neither is your memory of today, so make it count and make it last in photos.

And to sneak in one final extra lesson, I’ve also learned to…

Keep it real,
Nikki  Gould :)

Sign up below to have your own memories documented by me! Why put it off? Make today count and let’s put your story in photos!


Olive Shoot Photography & Films
Houston Family Photographer
Documentary Family Photographer in Houston
Family Storytelling Photographer in Houston

Nikki GouldComment