Natalie's 17th Birthday Surprise Trip!

11.09.2015 -
She had no idea what was in store for her! Weeks before her birthday we planned her birthday weekend, a night out with me and getting her ear pierced, a party with sisters and sleepover, a day hanging with her best friend...and she got off work for all those days having no clue that none of those plans were actually going to happen. She stated she didn’t want to do really do anything for her birthday she just wanted "to be with her peeps”, though better than last year she still struggles with seeing the point of a birthday celebration for herself. A mixture of not loving herself and not feeling worthy of celebration, not wanting anyone to put extra cost and attention on her and never having had birthdays free of trauma and negatively impacting memories growing up, leaves ugly bruises and marks on the soul. So behind the scenes of all the poker faces of hiding a birthday surprise she would never forget us sisters were cooking up a trip! Something we have never gotten to do and something we knew would mean more to Natalie than anything else we could possibly think up or do for her.

The week of her birthday was the hardest for me to hold in the secrets and keep playing “the part”. After school I pulled her suitcase into her room and informed her of a change of plans that Katie and Lindsey were coming down early in the morning, she needed to pack a bag because we were going on a road trip together for her birthday, were going to be gone a couple of days but that was all she could know. She took it as a joke, then she took it with much confusion, then she took it panicky and her anxiety kicked in. The whole time I was helping her pack she were from serious faces to giggles to frowning faces back to smiles again. Somehow we pulled off the surprise. To be honest still quite unsure how we did that exactly.

The next morning before the sun came up I woke her up to get ready to leave and then sisters arrived in a crazy bundle of excitement and energy and wide-awakeness. Natalie still in a state of confusion and wasn’t showing a whole lot of emotion. She was annoyed we wouldn’t give her any hints or clues yet. She was full of energy and hiding well her anxiety of not being able to prepare for what we were doing and not having any control.

Once we crossed into Texas she was even more confused. She had been trying to think of places in Oklahoma we would be going too for a couple of days. Oh honey….no, no, NO! It wasn’t until we got close to the airport and we started telling her to keep her eyes open she starting piecing together the airport and then when I actually started to pull in she believed it and the freak outs, squeals, heavy breathing and exclamations of "where in the heck ARE WE GOING!!!" started. Once I got us to the parking to leave my vehicle we told her she had to open her first birthday gift to find out where we were going! And then…

Disney, beach, California we come! With a soon-to-be-17-year-old and all her excitement, thrills, panic, anxiety…more excitement, triggers, and all the many firsts she had in store to experience! 

"Travel isn't always 'pretty'. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even can break your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you - it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your conscience, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you...Hopefully, you leave something good behind." -Anthony Bourdain

First plane ride FREAK OUTS! we were the craziest group on the plane and owned it! The flight attendant even announced it was the "girl in the tierra and birthday sash's birthday" to the who plane and Natalie says she will never again look at an airplane in the sky the same! 

"Tired of trying to cram her sparkly star-shaped self into society's beige square shaped holes, she chose to embrace her ridiculous awesomeness and shine like the supernova she was meant to be."

"You are at peace because you know it's okay to be afraid." - Mulan

"Nobody knows the trouble I've seen. Nobody knows my sorrow." - Zazu

"The things that make me different are the things that make me." - Winnie the Pooh

"To laugh at yourself is to love yourself." - Mickey Mouse

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." - Piglet

"And suddenly you know, it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings."

Ahhh, to sunshine, to tipped over kayaks, to rocky shorelines and crashing waves. To sand and bare feet walking and laughter and sunburns. To the salty water taste and convertible tops down and palm trees overhead. To walking beautiful lined sidewalks eating ice cream cones, to music blaring and bad singing and car dance offs. To late nights, and tired eyes, and happy hearts and dealing with triggers and trauma. To hooking arms and walking together, to hugs, to fights and to make ups. To trying, to being, to living, to breathing, to fighting. These are the memories that will sweep away the soiled souls for new beginnings. 

"Along your pathway of life you will observe you are not the only traveler. There are others who need your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire and souls to save." - Thomas S. Monson

"Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." C.S. Lewis

"Who says we have to grow up?" - Walt Disney

"Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age and dreams are forever." - Walt Disney

"You're weird but I like you." - Dot

"Where there is kindness there is goodness, and where there is goodness there is magic." - Cinderella

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." - Winnie the Pooh

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