Today is a milestone birthday for me. My 20’s had a good run. I got up early this morning (well, early for me) and mentally went over my 20’s like a scrapbook.

I studied and graduated from a university I never thought I could be a part of, let alone an alumni. I carry those four years deeply in my heart- they were some of my best days on this earth.

I moved five times. Only a few things remain from that first move from a dorm to an apartment. None of it says IKEA on it. I bought my first car on my own- a red mustang. It was a stupid car to own in DC, but I rocked that pony for many years. I still smile when I see one on the road.

I traveled to Brazil, Burma (x’s 3) Egypt, Ireland, Thailand (x’s 4), Zambia, London, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and a few tropical places. I made dear friends who inspire me every single day in these countries, doing amazing things.

I had a few amazing jobs before I found my calling. I was a barista at a coffee shop- where I met some wonderful people and can now make one  mean cappuccino with the perfect amount of foam. I worked in a career center where I realized that the perfect job for me wasn’t out there- I’d have to create it. I worked with a family that is now my family and I have a beautiful and smart kid sister to show for it. I worked at NOAA, where I got to see how gov’t works when you have amazing, good-hearted people in charge who truly want to make a difference.

I opened two businesses. One is only a year old, but the other hits 10 years old in March. I am very proud and humbled at the same time by that. The thought that I have been photographing weddings since I was 20 kind of baffles me.

I photographed almost 200 weddings, and over 1,000 other types of sessions. I still love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. I love watching families grown and change. I have experienced the best days of their lives with them, and, in some cases, have also documented some of their hardest days. Weddings and 60th anniversaries, to the last moments of a sick newborns life. In both cases, it’s an honor to be a part of these rituals, both happy and sad. I am still in awe that I am invited into such intimate moments in the life cycle of a family. It truly is my life’s work to tell the incredible stories of everyday people.

I finally married that guy who had been bugging me to date him since I was 14. We got married twice- once in a snow-topped courthouse with one witness, and once in front of our closest friends and family on the hottest day in June. In January it will be five years. I got to be an Army wife for awhile. That was interesting.

I adopted/rescued 3 bunnies, 2 cats, 3 dogs, and a hamster. The one bunny (Beans, whom I stole from a frat party) is still around and lives with a family in Bethesda. (he’s 9!) The kitties now live with my parents. (sorry, mom!) Dot the hamster lived a good, solid life after his rescue from the front lobby of my apartment complex in Silver Spring. The three dogs still live with us, of course, and make sure I don’t sleep past 6:30am. Ever. I have fostered and advocated for an unknown amount of animals. But I know it mattered to each of them. I will continue to do this every chance I can.

I ran two marathons two months apart and hated both of them. I haven’t been on a long run (over 5 miles) since I crossed the finish line in Honolulu in 2005. I’m OK with that. (that runners high stuff? lies.)

I bought a house. Like, a real house. It’s still standing. We’ve done stuff to it. It looks better than it did when we moved in. We have furniture that is delivered fully assembled. That’s pretty good.

I’ve lost touch with many dear friends over the years, but some have come back into my life. I know that some don’t understand why I want to keep in touch with so many people, but I feel like every person who has been a part of my life, even if it was for a short period, is part of my story. Part of who I am and where I’m going. That makes me feel so blessed and lucky in this life.

I have been disproportionately blessed with good family. I can’t type too much more about it, or I’ll be a crying mess. But yes. I have good family. Even the in-laws. (did you know I have four sister in-laws, and that I like all of them? That’s pretty good.)

So yeah. I’d say my 20’s were pretty good. So instead of being sad and focusing on the fact that my knees crack every other step,  I think I’ll hone in on the fact that I’ve had many incredible, unbelievable, amazing experiences.

That I have a passport full of stamps from adventures that changed me. That the people who surround me continue to inspire me and make me want to be a better person. That I have fiercely loyal friends and family.

That I know what I was put on this Earth to do, and I want to continue doing it, but even better.

That I know there is even more to do- and I’m ready.

Hello, 30.

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