It was a routine game night at my friends’ home in Aromas, CA. Their little studio space was the headquarters for friendly competitions of Clue, What Do You Meme?, Phase 10 and Monopoly (every possible version of it, too). Rochelle and I stepped outside for a moment to feed the cats and say hi to her mom really quick. What was intended to be a 5 minute errand became a two-hour long visit with some of the loveliest and most genuine people I’ve ever been privileged to meet.
Do you ever observe your life from space and think to yourself: how did I get here? See all these little pitstops and roadblocks? Those mean something. Maybe that’s too specific for the general population, but this evening that Rochelle and I spent with her parents and sister and adorable little nieces (who have the best names: Genevieve and Sienna) caused me to take a breath, stop numbing my thoughts and just… be. After months of wrestling with deep sadness and loss, it took everything in me to be social and joyful. I had no intention of opening up my soul that day, not even to my closest people. But this incredible family unlocked the door that kept me hidden away.
There isn’t a family on this earth that doesn’t have its struggles, but the families that walk together through those struggles with forgiveness, grace and encouragement are the ones that are unbreakable. The Goodman family is one of those families. Brian and Kathy have four kids. I feel like I couldn’t really imagine having one more sibling to make my brothers and I a quartet. Three has always been my normal, but four? Turns out all four of them are incredible people. Loving hearts. Generous spirits. Joyful souls. Passionate doers. A family of motivators. Inventors. Mothers and fathers. Artists. Lifeguards :) That’s for you, Jim. The 12 people you see below are not just some random people in the world… they are change-makers.
I feel lucky to call Rochelle a sister. And to get to stand before her extended family and serve them, bless them and love on them just a little bit feels right. After just one evening with them, I felt like a part of the family, like my feelings and thoughts mattered to strangers who decided they wouldn’t be strangers to me anymore. That’s pretty dang awesome.
You, Goodman extended family, are real troopers and super adventurous. I look at all of you—whether you know me well or not—and all I feel is gratitude. I’m proud of all of you for making it through the cold and traffic to make your Watsonville Aptos family portrait session happen. And WOW your outfits were on fleek (no one says that anymore). Seriously, has anyone ever seen this amount of people so perfectly coordinated?? Didn’t think so.