Many people out there don't like birthdays. They'd rather let the occasion slip under the radar rather than acknowledge that they've just become another year older.
I am not one of those people.
I love my birthday. I love it so much that I don't just celebrate on my birthday. I celebrate for the entire month of May! And, while I can do without the traditional singing of "Happy Birthday" when the Big Day arrives, I do appreciate having people taking the time to pass along their birthday wishes.
I consider my birthday as the marker for the beginning of my true "new year". Rather than reflecting upon the past in order to plan for the future on January 1st, I do all of that during the week leading up to my birthday on May 11. As I thought about what I wanted to accomplish over the next year, I realized that I'm going to have to work pretty hard to outdo what I accomplished after I turned 30.
In terms of "firsts," last year was a banner year, and I'm determined to make this year even better.
I visited the Grand Canyon for the first time last May in order to push myself to complete my first serious hike.
Along with my boyfriend Stephen and our friend Rob, we were going to do exactly what this warning sign was telling us not to do. We were going to hike from the canyon rim to the river and back. In one day.
We made it to the river. And after turning the corner, we encountered a ginormous pile of fresh mule poop. Complete with billowing steam and buzzing flies. Awesome.
The climb back out of the canyon was tough, but we didn't suffer serious illness or have anyone die on the trail from exhaustion. Just over 9.5 hours after we started our hike, we reached the rim. Booyah! You can check out more pictures from our hike here.
In June, my friend Candice and I rode the ferry over to Governors Island in New York for the first time. We spent the afternoon biking around the island and exploring the sites, including Fort Jay, which was used during the American Civil War to hold captured Confederate officers. I'm still amazed by the number of things I haven't done after living in New York for all this time.
And then there was the Lady Gaga concert at Madison Square Garden in July. Epic.
August brought my first trip to Texas. I went to visit my friend Kristina, who lives in Austin. While I was there, we took a day trip to San Antonio and made time to remember the Alamo. Texas? I love your barbecue!
Fast forward to October, when I ran my first marathon. 26.2 miles through Hartford, CT. After months and months of training, which included a long run on the Town Lake Trail while I was in Austin, I crossed the finish line and received my medal. I'm pretty sure that nothing will ever beat that feeling of accomplishment!
Then life quieted down a bit after the marathon. Just in time for the holidays. I took time off from running and enjoyed everything related to hibernating for the winter months. I was almost forced into inactivity, though, given the number of record-breaking snowstorms we had in New York.
After the first of the year, life picked up again and I found myself "on the road" for work. I attended my first industry trade show in Orlando in January, made two trips to our Knoxville headquarters in February and March, and then attended my second trade show in Las Vegas in April. My first trip to Las Vegas! I even found Elvis while standing outside of the Bellagio and waiting for the famous fountains to do their thing. Elvis was very gracious about posing with me even though I didn't have any cash on me. (He informed me right before my coworker took the picture that he worked "for tips".)
And then, squeaking in during the week before my birthday, Stephen and I went to Fenway Park in my absolute favorite city ever. We've both been to Fenway for the tour and I've been to Fenway for a game before, but this was the first game at the classic ballpark for him. Despite the Red Sox loss, we had such a fun night!
Obviously, my life didn't take a turn for the worse when I hit 30. Now that I'm 31, I hope that the spirit of "the best is yet to come" is still alive.
To those who've wished me "Happy Birthday!" on Twitter and Facebook, thank you so much for helping make my day so special! You guys are amazing.
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