There I am.  Whirling and twirling amid bubbles on my 7th birthday in my peach party dress.  Not a care in the world, perfectly present, and feeling loved and special in every way.  I love this image.  I love who I am in this moment.  I refer to it often – particularly around my birthday.  For me, this is how birthdays should feel.

This week I will celebrate not just another birthday, but another year of learnings, moments both happy and sad and everything in between, and newfound wisdom and growth.  As many of you know about me, I love birthdays – all birthdays really.  I love the pause it creates to celebrate a single person who has contributed to my life.  I love my birthday because it provides for me a time to reflect.

I will hear my mom tell my birth story from that April 23rd forty-two years ago when she unexpectedly went into a quiet and quick labor with her firstborn six weeks earlier than expected – alone, shocked and scared in Portland, Oregon, with her husband stationed far away in Korea as an Air Force pilot.  I will hear how my grandma paced in the hospital hall with a cigarette for a companion.  I will hear about the excitement not really contained by Mom’s sisters, my Aunt Suzy and my Aunt Margie.

I cannot hear the tale of the day I was born and not reflect on what has happened to that tiny five-pound baby in the years since.  I think about whether I have filled my parent’s expectations, I wonder about ways my life could have been different, I recall those decisions and moments that changed the trajectory of my life.

Divorcing was the biggest decision of my life.  I look at how divorce has changed me, deepened me, molded me into a more intentional version of myself.  I appreciate the hardness of my life equally, if not a little more, than the happiness of it.  I consider how I am living my life and note the ways in which I am being most authentic and the ways in which I could benefit from adjustment.

I consider my birthday wishes and wants and see the story they tell of the life I want to lead.  The gift of my birthday every year is bringing forth the present.  It is when I am present that I most sincerely acknowledge my past and more fully look forward into my future. And so, as with all the years that have passed, I sit in satisfaction and smile as I say Happy Birthday.

Angela Dunne

CategoryDoing Divorce