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So, in just a few days I will be celebrating my birthday. The day itself is actually March 13th but I chose this weekend for fun and games at the local watering hole. I think it is going to be a great deal of fun. A lot of my friends are coming who I have not seen in a long time as well as a large group from my work (where I am sharing the evening with another Team Member).

This is really only the second year where I have made a big deal about my birthday. Growing up my family never really did much. I had the obligatory cake and gifts as a child but I can only remember one time that I had a "party" proper and that was really only a couple of friends. As I got older we would usually go to dinner as a family and (since I am not a big cake fan) my mother would always buy me some chocolate chip cookies. After I came out I never made a big deal either. I was 25 when I came out so I just felt like I was too old for all that stuff. I felt like I was too old for a lot of things. I tended to be way too serious about life in general to be honest. But last year I decided to make a big deal of it. Instead of waiting for someone to throw me a party (or make me a banner) I made an event on Facebook and invited people to share in the fun. A lot of people came, said local watering hole made a big deal about it, and a good friend who is a performer brought me on stage. It was a blast and a crazy, black out, drunken mess (as it should be).

In the last few years the way I view the world has changed a lot. I worked really, really hard at my previous job. A place, and with a lot of people, that never really appreciated it. I made a ton of sacrifices as far as not living the life I wanted to be living because of this idea of success or work ethic. Don't get me wrong. I am ambitious, I have goals for myself, I believe I have a lot to offer but when it came down to it, when one third of the workforce there was separated, my name was right there on the list. This was early in the unemployment swing a number of years ago and I was fooled that I wouldn't have trouble finding something new. I believe it is a testament to my hard work and dedication that, at the time, no less then 4 people from the corporate staff of a fortune 500 company contacted me to see if there was anything they could do to help. Including people like the Chief Sustainability Officer of the entire corporation. I turned them down. I wonder to this day what my life may be like if I didn't. There is a good chance I would be living in Toledo right now, for one, but I doubt I would be as happy as I am now (even though things are still hard).

Now I choose to live a certain way. This includes the above mentioned hard work and dedication. I take my work life seriously, I want to do the best I can (which I still believe is better then a lot of people can manage ... call it ego, I don't care). and I hate failure with a passion. At the same time, my work life will never, ever define me again. I am not what I do. I am who I am. In the last couple of years I have made so many amazing friends and met so many people that I never would have before. This is a struggle with some of my older friends. They don't necessarily like that I came out of my protective bubble and am willing and likely to make new friends too. But the rewards have far outweighed the negatives. Most of my friends, today, tend to be between the ages of 18 and 25. I don't really know how this happened. As I am nearing 38 a lot of these guys and gals are literally young enough to be my children and yet this is not the kind of relationship I have with them. In fact many times, especially lately, they have been the ones offering me a helping hand and advice.

My decision is to live my life. It's that simple. To face my fears, to try new things, to love unconditionally, to offer all of myself, as damn near as I can manage it, every day. Sometimes this is simple things, I am determined to dance every night I go out at least once -- something I have always been afraid to do because I am not a good dancer and a big guy, I am afraid of being judged. Some are big things like refusing to turn away from my feelings of desire and love -- I deserve it and I will find it. I try to look and plan for tomorrow but I live for today. Tomorrow I may be unemployed. Tomorrow I may be out on the street. Tomorrow I may be lost, sick, confused, without hope, but today I am alive and I will live.

This is why I make a big deal of my birthday. It is more than an excuse to party, though party it shall be, it is a message to the universe that I am still here. That I am proud of who I am. That I am worthy of celebrating. It is also a message to all my friends (close, not so close, acquaintances, everyone) is important to me and that I want them by my side. No regrets.

Until Then and Always
~ Jamie

(x-posted to Facebook)