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You Are In Integrity

“You are in integrity when the life you live is an authentic expression of who you are.” — Alan Cohen

 

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A Birthday Blog

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009 is my 48th birthday.  I don’t expect it to be any different than any other day; my friend Keith will pick me up in the morning as he does every Tuesday, and we will go to Joshua Tree.  Joshua Tree is a program here in Phoenix, Arizona which provides food to individuals with HIV/Aids.  Going to Joshua Tree seems today as a major ordeal.  I’ve been sick for the last three weeks with some form of bronchial infection. 

Since I began blogging three years ago, I’ve written something about aging, being a Gemini or birthday memories.  This year, I’m going to share an exercise I participated in with the hope that I’d have some fun with writing about my birthday. 

What was the hardest age for you to reach?

I’ve never had a negative association with a particular age.  I really do believe that age is just a number and that it doesn’t tell you anything more about a person. 

What was your best birthday?

My best birthday was my 35th.  My partner and a friend of ours put together a wonderful party at our home on Roosevelt Drive in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  I still enjoy looking at the pictures I have from that day, seeing the joy and happiness that abounded that day. 

What was the most difficult birthday you’ve ever had? Why?

Last year was my most difficult birthday I’ve endured.  I was in the midst of a serious financial crisis which put me into a deep state of depression. 

What is your favorite thing to do (or not to do) on your birthday?

Dinner at Red Lobster.

What is your favorite thing about birthdays?

Before moving to Phoenix, I was surrounded by family and friends.  I enjoyed my family’s tradition of getting together for birthday cake each and every year. 

Do the approach and day of your birthday evoke particular memories? Smells? Tastes? Feelings?

I’ve always associated my birthday with the smell of lilacs.  This is always the time of year in Milwaukee when the blooms are most abundant.  I long for that smell of lilacs!  Now, living in Phoenix, I associate the appearance of the Jacaranda; bright blue flowers on stark, leafless branches. 

Birthdays: love ’em, hate ’em, ignore ’em? None of the above?

There are times when I feel each of the feelings listed above.  Typically, I feel disappointed because no matter how hard I try not to create expectations in my mind, they still seem to form. 

How do you feel about age and aging?

I feel fortunate because people often tell me that they are surprised to learn of my age, because I don’t look it.  That seems to be a genetic blessing in my family, because we all get that comment regularly. As I’ve said before, age is just a number, and doesn’t tell anyone anything substantial about the person you are. 

What did your family do about birthdays when you were growing up?

When my grandmother was still alive, she gave us the choice each year of our choice of her most loved birthday cakes: angel food or chocolate.  The family would all get together and enjoy coffee and cake.  It was a simple get-together, but one that I miss now that I am so far away from family. 

Do you have "mortality moments" on your birthday? Do you invariably feel grateful? Both? Neither?

I only began to have “mortality moments” this year since I had a very real near-death experience just a few months ago.  Each year, I seem to have an ever increasing list of health issues which are of concern.  I am grateful that I am 48 years old, but in my mind I think about how both of my grandfathers lived only to their early fifties. 

Do you tell people your age? Why or why not?

I find that I am more comfortable sharing my age after some period of getting to know each other.  I figure that way, I won’t be pre-judged.

Have you ever spent a birthday alone? Do you prefer spending your birthday alone?

I have spent birthdays alone, since moving to Phoenix in 1994.  I dream of being back in Milwaukee and participating in my family’s tradition of getting together each year. 

Do you broadcast your birthday or prefer not to mention it?

With the advent of social networking sights, I do find myself saying “yes” to birthday date requests. 

Do you have particular rituals on your birthday?

No rituals presently, but long for the day when some new traditions and rituals might be established with friends and family.

What do you think of birthday parties?

I’ve always been uncomfortable with birthday parties for me, but love having them or attending them for other people.  For myself, I prefer just enjoying the company of a few close friends and family.

What do you think of surprise parties?

No one has ever had a surprise party for me, and I have only attended a handful in my lifetime. 

At what time of year were you born? How has this affected your birthdays?

The Indy 500 and Memorial Day are two major seasonal events that I associate with my birthday.

Do you feel differently about other people’s birthdays and your own?

I love acknowledging other people’s birthday’s, and always experience some awkwardness or embarrassment when my birthday is remembered and acknowledged. 

Do you have trouble remembering your loved ones’ birthdays? Do you keep a birthday book?

I enjoy acknowledging the birthdays of my friends and family.  I have always had difficulty with remembering them and have always maintained a log of some sort.  Today, with technology, this has become a much easier task.