Birthday celebrations began thousands of years ago and initially started as a Pagan tradition. Evil spirits were believed to be more present in people’s lives during times of change (e.g. turning a year older) and so they would throw birthday parties full of friends and family to help ward such spirits off. The Greeks brought candles into the picture (also with the intent of warding off bad spirits) and Germans later (in the 1700’s) moved the candles on to tortes…which were then eventually carried over to cakes.

We’ve been celebrating birthdays for a long time. And yet, we’re a culture that dreads getting older.

Who doesn’t? I don’t want to get old. I don’t know anyone that would say they do. But as I look back at the past year, I am not only grateful for my birthday today — and getting older — but look forward to hopefully an even better one next, and many more if I’m lucky. I cherish today as a milestone in life and am so happy that I am here for it.

This was a big year.

I lost friends, to death and other ways as well. I will always be sad for those no longer in my life, but will cherish their memories and what I learned from the time I did spend with them. BUT… I gained so many new ones! I met amazing, incredible, and extraordinary people this past year. I can’t even begin to describe some of the friendships I have been lucky enough to form and how much I love some of the folks I met in my 31st year. Just thinking about them makes me excited for 32.

I left my love. Not a person, my job. I cried more than I ever have over any relationship. It was hard, scary, and painful, but I’m still here. And ready to plow on to a new adventure.

I moved. Back to Marina Del Rey, because as Albert Hammond used to sing, “It Never Rains in Southern California,” and I needed to finish 31 off with some extra sunshine. Visitors welcome.

I learned a lot. About life, people, myself, the world, and what I want out of it. Overall, it was a wonderful year.

Today I had more birthday wishes than I think I’ve ever had before. From family, to friends old and new, and well, even some people I don’t actually know. And whether it was a call, text, Facebook post, LinkedIn message, card, or the best — in person — it meant something.

And it was a very happy birthday. Thank you to everyone who made it so.

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