• January 2016, I decided that every social media post I made that was directly related to my life I would post the hashtag: #yearof35. I’ve stuck to that for the most part. As a matter of fact, you’ll see it later in this post!
  • May 2016, I approached a family member explaining to them how I wanted to celebrate my 35th birthday. In my excitement and visual story telling, I listed each thing I wanted to do. If someone was listening and closed their eyes as I spoke they’d hear nothing but excitement fall off the ends of each word.
  • July 2016, I’ve been posting more and more on social media about my birthday as a way that I choose to celebrate out loud. Some have been receptive. Others probably find it annoying or unnecessary.

Well, I’ve received some questions and to some degree push back as to why I’m making such a big deal over my 35th birthday. One person said, “It’s not like it’s your 40th birthday.” Another said, “You act like its your last birthday!” I just laugh it off because they don’t understand my story. The backdrop for my birthday celebration this year is based on my New Year’s Resolution. For all that I’ve been through in my life, this was the first year, I promised myself I’d live as loudly, as fruitfully, as abundantly as I could. In the past, I’ve never really celebrated my birthday. I’ve gone even as far as being resentful when it arrived.

This year, I made a conscious promise to myself that I would begin valuing life; more importantly, my life and the many blessings that I’ve seen. When I reflect back on my life, there were times in my past where I could have been dead, in jail, or just in a rut that didn’t offer a shovel to dig out of. I’ve faced chronic sickness and been healed. I’ve taken a last breath before, had breath breathed back into my body and been given another chance to live. I’ve made choices that could have altered every bit of my life and re-directed me to the pits of hell. The damage from all of it sometimes resonating beyond the moment that it impacted. The beauty in it all is that there have always been many more blessings than sickness or death or poor decisions. There was always a new day for me to begin again; to make a promise to myself and my future. With each lesson, I learned to live again and move forward more grateful and aware of what having life really means.

My story hasn’t been shared with many (even this post doesn’t cover the details of the destruction that has been attempted on my life), but those that know my story in detail, know that I’ve got something to celebrate. I’VE GOT LIFE TO CELEBRATE! What I’ve learned from my story and my life is that it can be so easy to rest on the negative; to wonder why life isn’t going the way we plan it; according to our rule book. My view on life has changed so drastically and for that I’m grateful. We have to celebrate LIFE. I now make intentional efforts to thank God for EVERY blessing; whether it was perceived to be small or great. This year, my 35th year of being on this earth begins my public celebration of being grateful. My relationship with God continues and my thankfulness and the display of that won’t end.

So this post encourages you to do the same. Celebrate the small and the large moments that define your life and who you are as a person. Don’t be shamed into minimizing your happiness. Ignore or pray for those that just don’t get it. Remember to some degree, they just won’t get it! It’s not their life. Everyone reacts differently. Post every hashtag you please or plan every event that allows you to display your appreciation of life. Your happiness depends on it.

I will continue to live out loud! Appreciate the moments that matter most to me. Embrace and celebrate myself and I encourage you to do the same. When July 24th makes its way this year, I’ll wake up full of joy; full of happiness, knowing that my life has been spared another year to share with myself and others.

Oh yeah… Here’s to #yearof35 #happiness #livingoutloud #grateful #forme #myjoy #mylife