Two things strike me as incredible today.

1. My little sister, Rachel, is turning 22 today.

2.  I get to celebrate with her in Cambodia-as a family unit with my mother, along with wonderful friends (Sesame for lunch!)

Sisterhood, as anyone who has experienced it knows, isn’t easy. It’s a bumpy, pot-hole filled road full of fist fights, pinching, throwing sandwiches, stealing lipglosses, arguments, jealousy, judgment, and annoyance. It’s also beautiful and metamorphic- a lifetime of growth, of learning to contribute, and allowing someone to know everything about you and find that she still loves you. Along with all the turmoil comes a deep bond and friendship, that for us is unbreakable.

I was initially intended to be an only child (or so I am told); my parents were content with me at the time, a quiet 2 year old with two loving and happy parents living a charmed life in Bangkok- but when the news that Rachel was up for adoption came, my parents weighed the options and decided that it would be important for a number of reasons for me to have someone to share and grow with and for Rachel to join our family.

It’s no secret or mystery that Rachel and I contrast in almost all ways possible. In her own element, she’s a natural extrovert who enjoys being around people as much as possible, I prefer solitude for the majority of my time and work. Rachel has a soft, empathetic heart while I initially move towards judgment and criticism in scenarios that should rather be given more thought and mercy. Rachel makes friends quickly and easily, while I decide who I can trust over time. Rachel acts on impulse and loves adventure, my planner is my guidebook and when my itinerary is thrown off kilter- it can be very difficult. There are no right or wrong traits that we each hold, they’re just very different.

Growing up, she preferred wearing over-sized boys basketball shorts and tee shirts she received at Summer camp with her hair slicked back into a low pony tail. No fuss. No time. No…style; that was my personal opinion (but then again, I was wearing Juicy Couture tracksuits and Abercrombie at the time so…there’s that.)

Over these past three years, I have seen the transformation of a hometown, laid back little girl into well…a sexy young woman, venturing into new territory in her new city and life. While I’m still not quite used to this new girl I see every once in a while on her Facebook page, I know at her core she’s still the outdoors loving, wild at heart little pest I’ve always known- just learning and growing with time. And doing so with killer natural eyelashes and amazing, big jungle queen hair.

She has been patient with me and given me more leeway than deserved as I’ve berated her for all the things I had believed she had failed in, even while I had fallen so many times in my own past. Her honesty, openness, and willingness to share is a sign of humility that naturally comes very difficultly many, myself in particular. Her humble spirit is something that I am sure will take her to a place and space where she can use her unique mind and warm heart to help others, grow herself, and expand into the stunning butterfly of a woman I know she is coming to be. I am honored to claim her not only as my sister, but as a dear friend.

Happy birthday Rachel, I love you.

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