Happy Birthday, Dad!

 

Happy 60th birthday to my father! Is it too soon to say ‘my old man’? ;p Even though it is cliche, I seriously don’t know what I would do without you, Dad. There are days when I get so down on myself and think I just can’t do this anymore. And when that happens, you are always the person I turn to first to cheer me up. You have an unfailing optimism that astounds me time and time again.

You are the best example of loyalty, commitment and unconditional love in my life. I miss you and with I could be with you, but I hope you have a stellar day and don’t work too hard!

Today I Turn 23!

Processed with VSCO with g3 presetToday I am 23!

The typical response I hear is, “That’s so young!”

And while yes, it is young, I can’t help but think of all the millions upon billions of things that have happened in these 23 short years. And when I do, it actually feels quite old.

In the last 23 years…

I was born.

I grew up in Malibu, surrounded by two kind, handsome brothers, a mom who packed stellar school lunches and plans vacations like a pro, and a dad who’s easy laugh makes everyone love him. I passed afternoons playing in the Santa Monica mountains and summers swimming in the salty Pacific.

I moved to El Segundo, where I learned to drive, kissed a boy for the first time, attempted geometry and politics and biology but discovered the only thing I really like is writing.

I attended university, where I had an endless turnstyle of rooms and roommates and unrequited crushes. I learned to speak mediocre German and studied abroad in Heidelberg, where I was introduced to good coffee and train travel for the first time.

I graduated and moved to Weinheim on my own with two suitcases and tried my best to figure life out. I found an apartment and held a job and attempted to teach kids and get to know my coworkers. I cleaned a cooked and shopped and budgeted for myself. I rode a childs-sized bike everywhere in all manner of wild weather and dreamt longingly of my Honda CRV. I paid bills and made a few friends and deciphered what it means to feel simultaneously like a kid and an adult. I experienced genuine loneliness and joy and depression and elation and anxiety and triumph and love, to name a few. I felt the kindness of strangers and friends alike, who stuck with me through it all even when it might have been easier not to at times.

Thank you to so many people, near and far, who have supported me this year. From the friend who sat with me in a cafe when I was depressed and just listened, to the neighbor who brought me furniture when I had none, to the girlfriend who sent me a letter just because, the mom who mailed me socks when my feet were cold, the family who flew across oceans to visit me, the coworker who bought me american peanut butter, and so many others. I know without a doubt that I couldn’t have done it without you.

And that’s just scratching the surface! So yeah, can you blame me for thinking 23 is actually quite old in the grand scheme of things?! Even though there were times when it wasn’t easy or fun, I’m so grateful to have had the chance to do it all. I don’t deserve these blessings but hey, look, there they are anyways. I think maybe, just maybe, I am finally learning the meaning of gratitude at my advanced age :p

So here’s to 23+ more years of living in and learning about this beautiful world and trying my best to do myself and others proud. What a gift.

My 21st Birthday

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Today I am 21. I also spent my 20th birthday in Germany, which you can read about here, and who knows where I’ll spend my 22nd! Last night I went to dinner with my grandparents who live near here and had a lovely time. Then this morning my apartment mate surprised me with beautiful orange roses, I went to coffee with a friend, and then went out to dinner and drinks with three other wonderful Pepperdine students currently interning in Frankfurt. Although I miss my family and friends back home, I could feel their outpouring of love and encouragement today in numerous ways.

Though I can’t say I seem particularly older or wiser, there is definitely something distinctly special about the age 21. It has a different sound to it than 20. I am gaining distance from my teenage years and undeniably entering adulthood. Being a ‘twenty something’ is such a scary, unknown, exiting time in life. This is the year I will graduate from college, get a job (hopefully), move into my first real apartment, and so much more. I can’t wait to see the doors God opens up for me in the coming months and years, and where this wonderful life leads.

P.s. Guess who else shares my birthday? Donald Trump…#honored.

 

A Happy (German) Birthday!

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It’s official: I am no longer an angst-filled teenager, but rather a mature adult. Or at least I pretend to be. Sunday was my twentieth birthday, and I had the unique pleasure of celebrating it here in Germany. As the day slowly approached, I wasn’t sure how I would feel about being away from friends and family back home. While I’ve never been a big party person, I do enjoy the tradition of going out to dinner with my immediate family and a few close friends. I’m happy to report, I didn’t feel nearly as sad as I thought I would, because the day was filled with so much excitement and joy! Keep reading to experience my high-quality birthday through low-quality photos.

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When I walked out of my bedroom Sunday morning, I was greeted with this lovely sign by the talented three-year old in the family. “Gottes Segen” means God’s Blessing in German, and is a common birthday greeting. It is bad luck to wish someone happy birthday before their actual birthday in Germany, so this was the first I greeting I’d received thus far!

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Daria opening my birthday present- I didn’t mind, she was so cute! The bag played Happy Birthday every time you opened it, and you best believe she opened it at least fifty times.

Next, we headed off to church. I am so glad my birthday landed on a Sunday, because church is an instant, pre-planned party! I love the community I’ve found at church, and there’s no other group of people I’d rather share my day with. I brought a carrot cake and peanut butter chocolate cookies I’d baked the day before to enjoy after the service. Now you know I hate to brag, but they were pretty dang delicious!

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^I wished for three more wishes. Obviously.IMG_6947
After church, we headed home because my ‘host mom’ had kindly offered to cook me one of my favorite German dishes- Käse Spaetzle! This is basically classy Mac n’ Cheese- thick flour noodles with melted white cheese and a creamy mushroom sauce. I ate three bowls full, and keep in mind this is after the two three slices of birthday cake. No regret.

Like I said, the quality of these photos does in no way reflect the quality of these experiences.

After an afternoon nap/food-induced coma, I set off by bike to meet a few friends from church for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The evening was so light hearted, funny, and affirming. I am proud of the people I surround myself with, they are always building me up.

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The evening culminated in a Skype call with my family, the four people who have walked beside me every day of this journey.

Thanks friends for reliving my special day with me. I missed you dearly, but I can’t thank you enough for all the support and love you’ve given me these past twenty years. I can’t wait to see what year twenty has in store! Have a great week, see you back here before we know it.