Last week many celebrated the birthday of my amazing mother, Sheila. We first enjoyed a warm, espresso martini evening complete with a dance party surrounded by our dearest friends (thank you Alicia and Matt for being such awesome hosts!) and anticipated a much-planned weekend at Elk Meadows just across from Hood River for the upcoming weekend.

The drive was long, and if anyone happened to watch my Snapchat from the evening- very scary at one point when I found myself deep in the woods when GPS failed me and I swore my body was going to be found the next day bloodied in the forest. That thankfully and obviously didn’t happen, and I finally made my way to a roaring fire surrounded by friends and family, some whom I haven’t seen in years, and of course- the birthday woman herself.

The cabins were lovely and perfectly cozy, complete with mini fireplaces and chipmunks and squirrels that sometimes felt comfortable enough to make their way in and help themselves to Hilary and my peanut stash while I was napping. We spent the evenings dodging smoke from a wonderful camp fire laughing, drinking, and catching up. Sharing and listening to stories both old and new, it was one of the most important events that I’ve had the privilege of being part of.

We spent my mom’s birthday doing what she loves the most: spending time in the glory of nature. While it may not be my favorite thing climbing over slimy rocks in a dark cave (the Ice Caves, to be exact) or dodging horse poop on pine needle carpeted trails- I found enjoyment in seeing her revel in the beauty that I do take for granted. The beauty that I missed incredibly so particularly when I lived in the city of Phnom Penh where quiet greenery is almost impossible to find. I found childlike wonder in the lichen and mosses and all of the little pieces that I usually pass by and that’s a gift she gave to me, probably without even knowing it. We continued the celebration at our sublime host’s home (thank you Uncle James and Aunt Daryl!) over a delicious meal, plentiful wine, gifts, reconnecting, and a view that took our breath away.

Watching her transition through this past year from Phnom Penh to Tacoma and now to her new home in Oregon has been important. Throughout the years of her life she has gained wisdom, the ability to extend seemingly limitless grace and mercy, and resilience that does not go unnoticed. She is the type of woman that I hope to be one day, and although we have our extreme differences, I find such delight when I hear people say that we are so similar in many ways. When someone can see that, I truly know that they know us. Us as mother and daughter, and us and friends.

As she embarks on this next excursion of life I have no doubt that she will trek through it with finesse, strength, an open mind and success. I am so grateful and proud of my incredible mother and so blessed to have her for another year as a mentor, a guide, and a confidant. I know I am not alone in that.

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