Birthday Bliss!

Today is my 30th Birthday, and I feel good. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment.

As mentioned in my previous blog, July 22 has not always been a day of celebration for me. In fact, for many years, I would grow anxious, bitter and sad as my birthday approached. Because July 22 is also the date of my cousin’s funeral, I associated my birthday with his death.

I have a “Brad Box.” It’s a red and yellow tin box with a sun on it. Inside, there are pictures, poems, stories, newspaper articles and small items that remind me of my cousin. The box also contains a stack of birthday cards that were given to me at his funeral. I’ve read the messages many times, and most of them are filled with sorrow and grief.

It’s interesting how a specific event can affect your mindset on that same day, moving forward…

For a long time, I would have my friends and family promise not to make a big deal out of my birthday. I would opt to stay home and be alone with my thoughts instead. The last thing I wanted to do was celebrate my life on the anniversary of his death. During my deepest throws of depression, I would question my purpose in being here. I hated the idea of celebrating the day I was born, and I found myself wishing that it would have been me who passed on instead of Brad.

And then there were the years where I would go out with my friends and try not to think of it… this typically resulted in me drinking myself into complete and total inebriation. I would end up arguing with someone – usually my sister or a friend – and the night would always end with me in tears.

I remember one particular birthday (my 27th), where a group of friends suggested that we go out for a nice, relaxed birthday dinner. A couple of them knew that I was sensitive about my birthday, and they ensured me that we would just have dinner. No bars, clubs, etc. At first, I hesitated but they convinced me that it was a good idea. After all, it was the weekend and I hadn’t done anything on my birthday the previous year. So, we decided to meet at a restaurant, and I made the reservation for a party of 12.

On the morning of July 22, I received a phone call that my stepdad’s sister had died unexpectedly from a brain hemorrhage. She was home, cooking dinner the night before, when she fell to the kitchen floor and was pronounced dead about an hour later. She was young, in good health, and her sons were the same age as me and my sister. They had spent every holiday with us for the past 8 years, and while I wasn’t extremely close with her, the news was devistating and heart-breaking for the family… especially for my stepfather who was battling cancer then.

Throughout the day, I started to receive more calls. Jaime couldn’t make it to dinner. Then, Cathy had something come up. Ashley wouldn’t be there, and neither would Katie. One by one, my friends were bailing on our dinner plans. When I arrived at the restaurant that night, only two of my girlfriends had showed up. So, my boyfriend at the time called his buddies to fill some of the empty seats. I took the event as a sign… my birthday was not worthy of celebration.

Now, three years later, I can honestly say that I am in a good place on my 30th birthday. The past two years, in particular, have been transformational. I’ve changed so many things about my life, including: my thought process, my food choices, the activities that fascinate me, my creative outlets, and the overall outlook that I now have regarding my purpose here on Earth. I am no longer a victim of circumstance, and I will not feel sorry for myself.

I also choose to be surrounded by positive people who inspire me. The company we keep holds so much weight on our mental health and well-being…

So, as I enter my 30’s, I’ve decided to make the following promises to myself. This is my credo:

  • When inspiration strikes, I am going to honor it. I will not put the things I’m passionate about on the back burner. Passion and inspiration are now my driving forces.
  • I will finish writing my first book, and when it’s done, I will have it published. I will share my story with as many people as I possibly can. And when I’m busy promoting my first book, I will be simultaneously working on the second.
  • I will make a difference in this world.
  • I will accept the things that I can not change, but I will not dwell on them.
  • I will not question my self-worth. I know that I am appreciated and valued.
  • I will spend more time with nature. I will sit with sunsets and sunrises, and I will camp out as often as possible.
  • I will make it on my own as a young entrepreneur on a mission.
  • I will respond to the negativity I encounter with kindness.
  • I will become a fire staff-spinning badass.
  • I will tell my family and friends that I love them as often as possible.
  • I will be the best me that I can be.
  • I will not only face my fears, I will crush them
  • I will invest much more time at the bellydance studio and at the gym. I want to be a freak of nature like Evelyn Tosi (the jazz instructor from the studio where I teach). She is a 50-year-old in a 20-year-old’s body.
  • I am going to transform my body, just like I transformed my mind. I am being realistic, though, and I’m not setting weight loss goals. Instead, my intentions are to feel good, eat right and make sure that my exercise routine is a direct reflection of the activities I enjoy.
  • I will read as many books as I possibly can.
  • I will take the time to LISTEN, BREATHE and BE
  • I will inspire my hoop dance students to feel good and accomplish their goals – not just in class, but in life.
  • I will smile, laugh and love


  • Anonymous

    This is a beautifull post, and not only am I cheering you on but committing myself to those goals too! Errr, except for the fire staff spinning… wantz 2 lern hoopz pleese k thx.

  • Meisha

    Abby you have always been a ball of energy I'm so happy for you and your hooping and everything your accomplishing. Congratulations I can't wait to read the book. Something about being in my thirties has set me out to be the best I can be as well. I'm heading there and I love my hoop although I'm not so skilled I'll keep practicing.

  • Anonymous

    It's amazing what happens you you're barely in contact for years and years. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

    In my early 20s, I had my own struggles. I never received a formal diagnosis because I refused to seek help for my problems, but a rough guess would be hypomaniac bipolar. I'd have days where I irrationally felt like a complete genius and everything was just coming together and I was making so much progress in life, and then I'd be smashed upside the head with a couple weeks of crippling depression. Then, some sense of normalcy, and then another episode. Naturally, that screwed with my ability to conduct a normal life, which then just gave fuel to the depression. There was a lot of contemplated suicide at the time, and I'm sometimes amazed I got through it. I was lucky enough to still have the control to just force myself to do the things that had to be done, and it's only through a lot of discipline that I got my life back. I still need it to keep my life.

    I can't say that I've experienced the same tragedies that you have on your birthday, but I've also never really wanted it celebrated. I still don't like making a big deal out of it (I make a massive deal out of my wife's birthday), but I guess it's been the last couple of years where things have seemed to change a bit. Living in Seattle when I was 25 was the first time when I really felt like I had a place I belonged and close friends. My girlfriend (who has since become my wife) asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I just said that I wanted to see some smiling faces. Our apartment was filled with people when I got home, and it was the first birthday I could remember where I simply felt like everything was right.

    I haven't mentioned it, but since getting on Facebook and finding all my old peers, you're one of the ones who I've felt most proud of. You have such a dedication to being your own thing. I might add that your bullet points give me a lot to think about for myself.

    BTW, if you ever find yourself out in the Bay Area, I hope you'll keep me in mind.

  • smitas

    Abby–You are an amazing person and I feel very lucky to know you. You are a great inspiration and I know all of your dreams WILL come true. Happy Birthday and many happy more 🙂

  • Bmast

    Abby- I didn't know you were writing this blog but Im glad I stumbled across it. You have already made a difference in so many people's lives,so you can cross that one off the list. I know we haven't seen or spoke in years but I am so proud of you and always have been. I still have your PN business card tucked away somewhere 😉 I can't wait to read your book and share it and this blog with people I know. I love you Abby. You will always be a dear friend, the kind of friend that picks up right where you left off (my wedding-it's been too long!;) miss you girl.

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