Looking back, looking forward: Five stories of goals and breakthroughs

January 2020 Posted in People

By Melissa Wagoner

There is a reason why setting New Year’s resolutions is a popular activity. As a new calendar year begins, it can feel essential to lay the groundwork for the days ahead, filling the squares with trips to the gym, the bookstore and maybe even a tropical beach. But with all that talk of the future, the past can become forgotten – those special goals already achieved no longer celebrated.

So, here’s to creating a new, New Year’s tradition, one that celebrates not just the unwritten future but also the important struggles and successes of the past because it is these, after all, upon which the future is truly built. Here are five community members doing just that.

Lara Ghio

Age: 38

Goal: To start her own Spanish after-school program in Silverton.

Why: “[W]hen you take advantage of the time period in which your child is naturally learning new languages, it’s likely that they will have a much easier time learning Spanish and actually retaining what they’ve been taught through Spanish storybooks and other fun tools; hence, my Spanish afterschool program.”

Hurdles: “Finding the confidence and believing in myself was such a struggle… I started small by doing Summer Spanish camps this summer and that’s when I knew people believed in me when they started signing up their kids. I thank the community, friends and family for giving me the reassurance that I needed.”

Lessons: “Stay positive, ask lots of question and find mentors that can help you and guide you.”

Encouragement: “[I]f you believe in something so strong and you know you can make an impact – go for it!”

Ashley Orr Graves

Age: 41

What made 2019 great: She both met and married the man of her dreams.

Why: “I think, as people, the core of each of us has
a desire to be known as our true and authentic selves
and to give and receive love being that whole, and authentic person.”

Hurdles: Orr Graves said the real hurdle for her came in asking, “How can you choose a life partner when hardly knowing yourself?” and then seeking out the answer.

Lessons: “Be intentional and don’t let yourself off the hook.”

Encouragement: “It’s never too late to dream another dream or set another goal. Life is short, be apologetically yourself. And do the work to be the best version of yourself because when you do you are a better partner, co-worker, parent and/or community member.”

Kyle Palmer

Age: 53

Goal: “I’ve reached a point in my veterinary career
where I’m firing on all pistons – I have a challenging
and rewarding management position, I’ve had more work published in national veterinary magazines than in any other year, and I’m able to work with several consulting clients in my spare time, advancing the things in my industry that I’m passionate about.”

Why: “I’ve always had to have professional growth to sustain myself, and I have to be doing work that’s meaningful in order to satisfy my own values.”

Hurdles: “After a jarring and unexpected job change after 26 years, I wasn’t sure what to do next. My work family had always been central to my career and moving forward without them seemed impossible,” Palmer said. And so, “I threw a lot of stuff at the wall to see what would stick. I stepped outside my comfort zone in every way and didn’t stop exploring options until I found some that checked all/most of my boxes.”

Lessons: “To not sit around grieving until I found what was perfect. I didn’t die after being faced with something horrible and I won’t die if I have to, or choose to, take more left or right turns in the future.”

Encouragement: “Believe in yourself. The world is full of others who’d love to drain you of your value (usually in order to accommodate their own lack of self-esteem), but they absolutely can’t rob you of your integrity and purpose unless you let their voices be louder than
your own.”

Andrew Weitzman

Age: 45

Goal: Return to his career as a full-time psychologist after unexplained vision loss in February 2019 left him legally blind.

Why: Andrew’s income became primary in 2017 when his wife, Sarah Weitzman, began working part-time in order to stay at home with their two young children.

Hurdles: Navigating insurance referrals, HR bureaucracy, assistive technology devices, moving from a two-car family with two drivers to one vehicle and one driver, changes in family roles, Andrew’s 12 weeks in Portland spent attending the Oregon Commission for the Blind’s intensive vocational rehabilitation program.

Lessons: Ask for help, advocate for yourself, take everything one day at a time, appreciate what you
have, kids are adaptable, always click the box for long term disability (you never know when you will need it and we didn’t have it), and finally; financially prepare for unpredictable situations.

“We weren’t prepared,” Sarah Weitzman admitted. “We’re lucky. We still have our house. It was very scary, not knowing financially what might be around the corner. We’re so thankful we made it through this hurdle.”

Encouragement: “It takes persistence,” Sarah noted. “Change is a gradual process and a big part of change is practicing acceptance.”

Erica Zaluskey

Age: 42

Goal: Starting her own aesthetic medicine business.

Why: “For the last 24 years I have worked at the Salem Hospital, with the last 18 years in the Emergency Department. One day I realized I couldn’t see people on the worst day of their lives. I needed a change. I decided to go back to school and pursue a career in aesthetic medicine. Now I get to help people feel better about themselves.”

Hurdles: “I had to figure out how to work with the big pharmaceutical companies and hire a medical director for my business.”

Lessons: “When one person says ‘no,’ never stop asking for what you want and need. Always visualize your dreams as your reality and stay true to yourself. If you truly want something, never ever
give up. Surround yourself with supportive people.”

Encouragement: “Bad news: time flies. Good news: you’re the pilot.”

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