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My birthday is coming up. Normally it’s a blah “Woo Hoo”. Like anniversaries, they are a bigger deal when it’s a “0” or a “5”.

This one is neither of those. But, it is another year of successfully dealing with cancer. I’ve had a malignant tumor since early 2015. It’s wrapped around the aorta and therefore can never come out.

So birthdays DO have meaning to me.

What is that meaning? It’s a reminder of my mortality … a nudge to use every day … to live more in the present. .. and to get more life balance. Reminds me that I am (and need to continue to be) a true Saggie.

How do I celebrate? Each birthday I try to do something new and outside with family. It’s more challenging given that mine is in December. The last few years we have done:

  • Great Falls, VA
  • Tent Rocks National Monument (between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, NM – look it up)
  • Montpelier/the James Madison mansion
  • Fredrick, MD, and this year
  • Seattle, WA

It’s an excuse (gives me permission) to choose what we’re going to do that day.

One year I wrote a “letter” to my 25 year old self. It wasn’t the usual academic narrative. It was two columns. One was the things I’m glad I did. The other was the things I wished I’d learned earlier (like dancing). At the Coast Guard Academy I skipped out on a dancing class and got 8 demerits.

On my 30th birthday, I was home in Connecticut and was going to do a 20 mile run to deny the new age.

All the preps were there, except it snowed 6” the night before, so I ditched the plan. On another birthday I was alone and ended up having a wisdom tooth extracted. Birthdays don’t always go the way we expect or have them planned.

Another meaning for me is gratefulness. This isn’t hard because my day comes shortly after Thanksgiving.  Birthdays remind me of my parents and all the sacrifices and gifts they gave me. My birthday also sparks a mental photo album of my life experiences.

 I try hard to remember the birthdays of a number of people I’m close to. It’s my way of saying “I value you”. I hope that your birthdays are meaningful to you and that they contribute to your life balance.

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