They Say It’s Your Birthday…

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Congratulations to me, I’ve completed another trip around the sun. That’s forty-five now, if you’re interested in counting.

There are traditionally three questions I ask myself on my birthday. Well, there are traditionally two, but I added one last year.

  1. Was this the best year of my life?

2015 Answer: No. I got blindsided by several things this year, family members with various health issues that blew my stress level way up. Plus work stuff – we’re being taken over early in January – and a general feeling of burnout that’s probably just a net result of everything. And I’m beginning to think I may have a couple of small mental health things of my own to deal with. Well, maybe more than beginning, but life in general has brought mental health more to the front of my mind this year.

  1. What can I do to make this year better?

2015 Answer: Next year can certainly be better than this year, but the answer to question 1 at the end of 2016 will almost certainly be no. There’s a fairly good chance that my oldest child will be leaving home for university next fall, and any year one of my children leaves can’t count as the best year ever. Barring summers while he’s in school, and those will depend on his summer jobs, I’ve had him around for nearly all the time I’m going to. That’s hard. Actually, it’s depressing.

Self-pity aside, there are things I can do.

Staying positive will help. It sounds trite, and overly simplistic, but it’s a real thing. If you can manage to keep yourself looking for the good things and letting the less good things have less traction in your mind, you will enjoy life more. For those of us with overdeveloped senses of nostalgia and guilt, that’s harder, but just because something is hard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue it.

My workplace is transitioning to new owners in a couple of weeks, and there’s a one-year plan for employees at all levels. That translates to my job being a 12-month audition. That audition may lead to bigger and better things if I put the effort into it. So I need to put the effort into it. I’ve got plans, but I can’t solidify all of them until the transition actually happens.

And I need to be what my family needs me to be. Primarily, this means available. My teenagers need a father, my wife needs a husband, my parents need a son, and more distant relatives may need smaller things. It’s worth noting that all of those needs are continually changing, but what they come down to is for me to be available when it matters, just to different degrees and in different ways for different people.

  1. What am I doing to make the world a better place?

2015 Answer: A great question, and I’m not sure I have a great answer, or even a good one. I’ve been more alert to the things I see as problematic in our society and world, but I still can’t figure out what to do about most of them. So far, I think my actions have mostly been small ones, but I’ve moved my mindset from angry about certain issues to thoughtful. I’ve made moves to contribute in small ways to certain ideals and causes, and I’ve tried to make sure I’m completely open about that with my family, and as open as possible with my friends. I’m looking at it that way because I think one of the best ways I can serve ideals and the world is to set the best example I’m able to for the people around me. How cliché is that? But being cliché doesn’t make it any less true.

So those are my questions and answers for this year. Anyone have any different ones?

Be well, everyone.

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