Monday, November 30, 2015

Birthday Reflections

Today is my thirty-eighth birthday, and since this blog started in 2010, it is the fifth birthday I've had while doing this blog. The first year, I didn't even mention that it was my birthday, though a few friends wished me a happy birthday in the comment section that day. That second year, I wrote:

I am now entering my thirty-fourth year....I try not to spend my birthdays thinking, “I thought I’d be somewhere bigger doing something better by now.” Though sometimes, this thought does cross my mind....However, I have the firm belief that God has a plan for me. I don't know yet what it is, but I have to believe that I am where I am supposed to be at this point in my life. There is no room for regrets in life, though we all have them. Instead, I like to take each day as they come and look to the future. I try to be the person I want to be and strive to be all that I can be, which is really the most we can ask of ourselves. We also must know our limitations, so that we are not disappointed when we try to do too much at once.

Obviously, I was regretting that my life wasn't more. I was unhappy teaching, and while,I know I was doing good as a teacher, I felt like I was a failure and was wasting my education. Th next year, in 2012, I didn't reflect on my birthday. I wrote about it being St. Andrews Day and I mentioned some famous people who share my November 30th birthday, such as one of my literary heroes, Mark Twain. The next year, my birthday fell on a Saturday and I posted a slightly risqué post titled "Moment of Zen: Alone Time." You can either let your imagination take you where you will with that, or click on the link and satisfy your curiosity, though some of you I know have already read it because you left birthday wishes in the comments. That brings us to last year when my birthday fell on a Sunday, so my post began with the following Bible verse:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. -Jeremiah 29:11

As I reflect back on this blog through the years, I think that one of my central messages has been that God has a plan for each of us. While this time last year, I had no doubt that God had a plan for me, I don't know if I truly believed that He would give me "a future and a hope." This time last year, I was frustrated with my life. I was having chronic cluster headaches that were waking me in the middle of the night. I dreaded going to my job. I wanted an escape. I would never imagine a year ago that I'd be where I am today. I'd have never thought that six months later I'd be out of a job, or that I'd spend a torturous summer looking for a new job. I'd have certainly never believed that I'd not only find an advertisement for a dream job but that I'd get that dream job. Things like that have never really happened in my life.

Now, I find myself with a wonderful job with great benefits in a liberal New England state. I am being given my birthday as a paid holiday, or that my coworkers, insisting that I not be alone all day on my birthday, are taking me out to lunch. My other plans for today are to make myself an official citizen of Vermont. I'm going to get my new driver's license, new license plates, and register to vote. Then I plan to treat myself to see Mockingjay, Part II and probably go and have a nice dinner. I expect it to be a good day.

As I wrote four years ago: 

I love having a birthday. It's my special day, and though some people hate being a year older, I always find it better than the alternative. At thirty-four, I still have a lot of life left to live, and on this journey, I hope that it is bit of an adventure. There is an old Chinese curse that states: "May you live in interesting times." I have never thought this to be a curse, especially as an historian. In the present, we live on the front lines of history, and what would life be, if it were always boring.

It's bound to be interesting times when you live in a state that elects Bernie Sanders to the Senate and where the vast majority support Bernie for president.


mess said...

happy birthday joe!

Susan said...

Happy Birthday, Joe!

A beautiful post, full of happiness and hope. I went back and read your past birthday posts; today's is so full of promise for a bright future. I wish all of that for you and more on your Special Day. (((Hugs))) <3

Michael Dodd said...

Happy happy day!

Amanda said...

Happy Birthday Joe! You have the right attitude about birthdays! I tell people celebrate each one because you never know what the future holds. I'm glad you're happy and in a good place. It sounds like you're going to have a nice birthday ahead. Enjoy! Happy Birthday!! ((Hugs))

Mike said...

Happy Birthday Joe!!! How time flies and things change!!! Here's to another great year!!!

dl.miley said...

Happy Birthday, Joe. Life is a journey that always has many interesting twists and turns, many things to discover and many adventures to enjoy. Dave

JiEL said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY «young man» Joe.

Enjoy each moments in your life, your new life, because time goes by so fast...

I was your age in 1989, and it seems to me now being like yesterday...

You'll have a wonderful future in Vermont and your new job and friends.

I'm wishing you all the best.

(((( HUGS ))))

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday Joe!

James Flagg said...

I too am a teacher and a long time lurker. Sometimes your post would sound like they were written just for me. Happy birthday and all the best!

Marsha said...

Happy birthday!!