Birthdays are a special kind of blessing. We get spoiled, over-desserted, hear from every friend we have on social media, are greeted by random cast members at Disneyland (best mood lifter EVER, thanks Disney!) and people give us a break because, well, we just made it one more trip around the sun and lived to tell.
I share my birthday with my Brother from Another Mother, John Boston, along with other stars in my life; former co-workers, fellow volunteers and actors, even a musician who helped me and millions of other adolescent girls through those difficult years around 17.
April 7 is pretty darn phenomenal.
What birthdays do is give you an excuse to check yourself off the work schedule shortly to have some moments of zen with those who know you best. That’s a better gift than any tchotchke that you will have to dust.
What’s even better is the validation that comes from these self-realization conversations. We often have them with people who know our back story, our please-don’t-mention-this moments and can see our invisible backpacks that grow or diminish over time.
In other words, there are no secrets. If you’re lucky, the balance of blackmail material between the two of you is somewhat even. If you’re on the short end, thank your friends for their grace.
I’d also say that Facebook has changed birthdays significantly. People who try and fly under the radar don’t have a chance. My phone died when I went to breakfast and by the time I got home two hours later to plug it in, it sounded like a slot machine on steroids in my office. Way to make a girl feel loved….
I started out by talking about blessings and if nothing else, birthdays give us a chance to count them. I try to make it a practice to do some counting every few days, but the pinging and desserting and drinking were in-my-face reminders – literally.
There’s no question in my mind that my life is blessed. Outside of a few more beans on the family tambourine, I want for nothing. Consolation, career advice, encouragement, enlightenment, love and laughter are there when I need it and I get to offer the same. I have freedom and opportunity, food on my table and a roof over my head. I’m married to my best friend, my children are happy and my dogs get along. Life is very good.
Back to my BFAM, John. He’s gonna hate this label, but he is kind of a life coach. Not the loopy kind that prey on neurotics, but one with a twisted sense of humor and a heart of gold. He’s led some innocent interns right to the edge of the bear trap and snatched them from the jaws of death before anyone found out. Lucky for me, my early life lessons were in pranksterism, shenanigans and writing edgy copy.
Today, we talked about valuing ourselves, an apt topic for old journos like us who not too long ago stepped over the threshold of 60. We talked less McDonald’s and more Medicare. Our conversation blended religion and politics and the state of our industry. Best of all, we did a lot of validating. At our ages, we can no longer afford to hope that someone will notice when we’re jumping at the fence like the last puppy in the litter. We’ve learned to tie knots in the blankets to find our own way over the chain link.
Nope, these seniors lunching over bowls of oatmeal and chili browns reinforced that we have worth and talent and our billable hours are worth every penny. We write differently, but with the same amount of passion and sincerity. I am truly blessed to have this coach in my life. What a perfect birthday gift.
Something about that magical April 7, I suspect.
Shameless plug: JB’s latest book, Adam Henry, is an interesting read. It’s also VERY thought-provoking, with a disturbing, yet gripping ending. I read it while traveling through snowy mountains and slushy plains enroute from Denver to LA (someone else was driving, no worries). I spent at least an hour after reading the last page a dozen times staring out the window in deep contemplation. It still haunts me. You should buy it and read it too; it’s available on Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Adam-Henry-John-Boston-ebook/dp/B00N85YI6G