Birthdays when I was a kid were awesome! There were balloons, smiles, laughter and the cakes…oh the cakes! My aunt would make me the best cakes! Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Bert & Ernie! And the entire family would be there, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone. I had some family that lived out of state and while they might not get home on my birthday, they would be home very soon for the Christmas Holiday.
I can remember people telling me it was unfortunate that I had a birthday so close to Christmas and I understand what they meant, but I thought it was awesome. I would get the “cool” Christmas toys two weeks before all my friends!
My 7th birthday holds special meaning for me and my family. The day before my birthday I had a bad accident at a friend’s house. I took a bad fall and had a skull fracture and broken arm. The skull fracture required surgery which was done on my birthday. I spent some time in the hospital, but got to come home just before Christmas.
As you get older you hit some milestones, becoming a teenager, driving at 16, becoming an “adult” at 18 (I put that in quotes because NO ONE is an adult at 18) of course 21 makes it legal to do what most college kids have been doing since they were 18. After that things calm down a bit. The big ones become multiples of 5, 25, 30, 35, 40, etc.
Some people look forward to their birthdays, but for me, as the years rolled by I started to get annoyed. I (like many people) got caught up in the rat-race of life and birthdays were just a reminder that I was a year older and nothing had really changed. I have a great job, but I did the same thing year after year and because of my job I was often on the other side of the country for my birthday. In fact my mom once called to sing me “Happy Birthday” at 6am Ohio time…I was in somewhere in California!
Traditionally I would spend my birthday looking back at the year and only see the things I didn’t accomplish, the goals I didn’t reach, and the opportunities I missed. And as I got older and my injuries and surgeries increased I became less and less active and there was one big change from year to year, my weight. This little inconvenient fact did nothing to improve my view of my birthday. For the most part I was content to ignore my birthday altogether. To be honest I expected this year to be rough and for good reason, I didn’t do well with 30 and we’re not going to discuss 35, so 40 had to be horrible right? Awhile back I wrote a post about perspective and well… mine sucked.
Today has been like previous birthdays; I’ve spent a good deal if time looking back at the past year, but the view is different. I’ve spent the better part of past year trying to make changes and better myself. I’ve done more in the past year than I have in the previous 5 (maybe 10)! On my birthday a year ago I hadn’t been to a gym since college, now I’m there most days. I hadn’t been in a pool since I was a little kid and my bike was in the garage collecting dust.
More important than all of that are the relationships. I can say most of my relationships have grown stronger. The people who really care about me support me in my new found insanity, even if they don’t fully understand it. I’m happy and they’re happy for me. A small number have been negative and it took me some time to fully understand that they’re like boat anchors and I’ve had to distance myself from a few of them. I don’t get to see some of my friends (CK & family) as much as I’d like in part due to my training schedule (getting up at 4:30 generally leads to going to bed about 8-9) but they understand and we make the most of the time we do have together. Like at the surprise party they threw for me last Sunday!
Then there are the new relationships, walking this road has introduced me to some truly wonderful people, just today I got to meet MK’s sister. She came for the “Birthday Workout” this morning and we had a blast! Laughing while lifting makes you work so much harder so you don’t drop weights on your own head! Over the past year I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect not only with MK, but an old friend who I haven’t seen in over 10 years, BJB (more on him later) My trainer KBW and her wife KBW (using initials is getting confusing) have become some of my dearest friends.
So today, at the young age of 40 I look back and smile, it’s been a great year and tomorrow I’ll continue working on the goals that will make the coming year even better. To all my family and friends who came to the party or have taken the time to call, sing, text or make posts on FB, Thank You, I love you all!