gather & give thanks

I celebrated Thanksgiving this year with my friend Kristen's family in Moorpark, California. Funny that the first time I met Kristen and her now-husband Dan, it was 10 years ago, our freshman year at Cal Lutheran, when she invited me and a couple other out-of-staters to join her family for Easter brunch at the same house. The fact that she invited a stranger from the dorms to her parents' house says a lot about who she is -- warm, sincere and open-hearted. I've always loved meeting my friends' families because it's a chance to learn what made a person the way they are, and I completely get it after crashing a few family dinners with the Anderson's.

I got to watch Kristen marry Dan last May at a ranch in Malibu, in a fairytale wedding that was so 'Kristen and Dan'. I've loved watching their relationship over the years because they have the perfect imperfect love story -- highs and lows over the course of 10 years that are easiest described by playing every single Taylor Swift song back-to-back [pre-pop Taylor Swift]. There was a time when I wouldn't have believed they would end up together, and now that they are, I can't imagine that there ever could have been the possibility that they wouldn't be together. 

A few years ago, back when I was positive they were over, Dan went on a mission trip around the world where he spent 12 months in 12 countries. He spent that time honing in on what was important to him, including his faith and the people who really matter. He realized he wanted to spend his life with Kristen so when his trip was over, he flew to LA to tell her that [straight out of a rom-com]. Their story doesn't fit into the mold of how it feels like love should go, but it's real and in some ways, I think it's better. They both had a lot to learn, and now that they've grown into themselves, they've built their marriage on honesty, faith, and love. And in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful to have both of them in my life. 

I spent Thanksgiving day running barefoot on the beach, napping, and thinking about how lucky I am to be able to take this crazy adventure. I set up my space on a beach just north of Malibu that's quiet and just secluded enough while still feeling very safe. I've spent the time here biking down the PCH, hiking the hills nearby, trying new yoga and Pilates classes, and attempting to surf. I feel pretty busy for someone who is technically unemployed ;) I'm taking every day one at a time, but I'll probably stay here for a while because I love it so much.