I turned 34 this week. Hurrah! I survived on this planet one more year and I couldn’t be more grateful. While it has had its share of challenges, the year of 33 has been so much easier than the year of 32. The year of 32 saw a career change, lost job, house downsizing, 430-mile move, a devastating fire, hard drive crash, and a case of head lice. The year of 33 has happily been a little more mundane. We still endured life in a cramped apartment, more job hunting, tight finances, car transmission repairs, and a tornado scare, but we’ve also experienced so many blessings. My husband gained a new job working with good people. We found a good church home with people who care about us. We’ve made friends here in Dallas who are actually as quirky and nerdy as we are. I saw my sixth book published, started the Sylvan Scribes book reading club, was a guest speaker at a speculative fiction convention, met several amazing readers, walked the grounds of two arboretums, attended Major League baseball games, and toured world-class art museums. Even with all of that, walking into my neighborhood grocery store and seeing the sheer variety there compared to my small town’s store still makes me smile.
In the weeks prior to my birthday, people kept asking me what gifts I wanted and, quite frankly, I had no idea to tell any of them. Money? Clothes? A lamp to replace the broken one on my side of the bed? Nothing seemed right. Nothing seemed adequate because I have already been given so much.
As it turns out, what I really want for my birthday aren’t things that money can necessarily buy—although it can help. If I’m truly honest, what I most want for my birthday are things like: losing 20 pounds and being able to fit back into the sexy leather pants I wore in college, shooting photos of plants and wildlife in their native environment on some exotic island, seeing one or more of my books hit the USA Today bestseller list, replacing my sturdy but worn camera equipment, spending time with my closest family and friends, and being remembered on my birthday as someone who made a difference in others’ lives.
He didn’t know it, but my husband was the first to give me my best birthday present this week. As we both sluggishly crawled out of bed at 4 a.m. to get ready for work, he kissed me and wished me a simple happy birthday. Before anything else happened and before any other promptings, my husband took care of my first birthday wish: to have my birthday remembered by someone I love. My parents did the same about four hours later and my family and friends have kept the amazing wishes coming ever since. They all made me smile so much!
I haven’t celebrated my birthday yet, but I think I should tomorrow. Tomorrow morning, I think I’ll do some writing, finish a few house chores, get some of the junk cleared off of my desk, and go to church. In the afternoon, I’ll take the birthday money I have and go shop for a couple new pairs of jeans and maybe visit the zoo. After I’ve had my fun for the day, I’ll sit down and plan out the bucket list for what I hope to have happen by my next birthday. I think I’ll skip the exotic island trip this coming year in favor of a few more practical things.
Getting back in shape, helping other people, publishing more books, replacing the broken lamp and camera flash, seeing my favorite bands in concert, visiting more museums, and maybe hitting that bestseller list all seem like amazing goals. And the best part about each of them is that I won’t be working toward them alone. With a year’s worth of planning and several hundred people rallied to the cause, we might see all of this come together. So here’s what I’m asking for my birthday. If any of you had planned on spending any money on me, I’d ask that you would instead help me give gifts to someone else. Go online to your favorite bookstore, find a friend in need of a good book, and then give them one of mine. It’s a simple gesture and it won’t cost you more than what you would pay for a cup of coffee, but I guarantee you that it will make at least two people’s day a lot more fun. If we can each make someone else’s day happier, maybe we can all find our own smiles a little quicker.
Thank you all so much for my birthday wishes! Until we meet again, may we each rewrite our world for the better!
The SCRAWLS blog is brought to you from the writing desk of Alycia Christine at Purple Thorn Press and Photography with vivid fiction, deep love, and epic art for all. As always, contact me with any questions or thoughts. Thanks!