I have an amazing family. They accept me for who I am. They push me to be better. But the surest sign is to see how they love my daughter.

I have felt estranged from my natural family for a while. I am far from perfect, and guess that realization was quite a disappointing reality for my parents. Gradually over time their favoritism of my brother and sister became more and more bothersome to me. And while I tried for years to ignore it, the hurt was unavoidable.

Until recently.

I made the decision that some things in my life were going too well to allow the pain to continue. I hid my family from Facebook feed. No need to see my parents visiting my siblings knowing they have no intentions of visiting me — leaving me feeling hurt. I didn’t need to see the love and time they showered on my nephews knowing my kids weren’t going to get the same level of attention. I hold nothing against my sister or brother. And I love my nephews. But it hurts. And I didn’t want to hurt anymore. So I hid my family from view… and in doing so, walked away from their lives.

But I’m not sure it was so much that I was walking away from them as much as it was my walking towards a new family.

When started Stand Up Paddling a little over a year ago, it was a fun way to stay active. But then I started to connecting to others that shared my love for the water. At first I looked at this community as great friends. But after this weekend it is apparent that they are way more than just friends. They are my family.

The Texas SUP community really is family. And our family reunions are the best!

And words cannot express how blessed I have been to have a place where my daughter and I are accepted for how who we are, flaws and all.