The Prelude

Every year for nearly 20 years I have sent out my birthday email. I would exclaim about Ruth-month, celebrate Ruth-isms and be caught up in July euphoria. Freakish and over the top to some, amusing to others and a jubilant activity for me. Some people have even asked for it when it seemed delayed. “Where is your birthday email?”

Well those birthday emails changed.

Eventually they became more than a celebration of self and the expressed joy of being alive. They would come later and later. I began to feel different about them. They evolved, like I did, while I reflected on times when I was under great strain and wrapped in anguish. I kept wanting them to mean more.

Every year, while maintaining the joyous birthday antics, I wanted to inspire the recipients more and more. There was always a theme or some call to action.

Exercise. Volunteer. Seek wellness. Pursue a life you can love.

I tried to do all these things.

An interesting year it has been. I’ve told colleagues I am experiencing convergence, where work and personal passions have met in extraordinary ways. I get to teach college students on the verge of dynamic career paths. I get to work on a special project that helps improve teaching and learning or some of the most underserved young people, while helping to break down barriers keeping them from higher education.

I have the honor of knowing and working with stellar social entrepreneurs like Deaf Can Coffee, Literary Genius Foundation and Plant Jamaica. I have a solid circle of life companions. I have learned to be more open, to breathe through the mistakes, fail fast and push through those moments that truly suck and to keep it moving.

Progress is key. Incremental successes are worth celebrating.

The public service light inside me has gotten brighter. I have found myself so angry about the rhetoric that challenge women’s reproductive health rights, foster racism and delay action toward consciously taking better care of the environment. And so many other things that I just can’t comprehend. I’ve tried. Social media seems to have made it all louder and much closer.

So, I must say more and do more, even from my small corner in this vast world.

This year on the eve of my birthday there will be no email. Instead, this writer is taking more of her writing out of the closet. So, I am posting this via Medium instead. Bring on another year. Here’s to making it count.