I remember the thrill of counting down the days until the long awaited moment when July 23rd finally rolled around each year. I eagerly prepared a well thought out birthday list and anxiously planned my birthday party for that year. There was something so insanely thrilling about your birthday when you were young. As the years progress, birthdays become less thrilling and slowly morph into just another day of the year.
However; this year, my birthday will be more special than ever before. This year there is SO much to celebrate and to be thankful for. Because of a beautiful gift that I was given just three month ago, I am able to see experience another wonderful year with family and friends and all that this world has to offer. Because of my angel, I am able to celebrate my birthday with my family and friends at home this year compared to in a hospital room.
Reflecting back on this past year and all that I’ve learned, I have realized that I have gained a new outlook on life and learned new lessons I never once considered:
1.Surround yourself with good people.I’ve learned that life is too short to surround yourself with negativity and bad energy. I realized that the key to a healthy lifestyle and pure happiness is surrounding yourself with people who make you happy, who make you laugh and who love you. Nothing else matters.
2. There’s no place you’ll be that isn’t where you’re meant to be. This year proved to me that every moment is leading up to the life you are supposed to live. I’ve been taught that it may take a few tries to feel right, but the places and people you meet along the way are meant to be a part of your life.
3. Don’t take the small things for granted. Being away from home for many months and living in a hospital really exaggerated the idea to not take even the smallest things for granted. Now, ideas as simple as eating a meal at the dining room table with my family or sleeping in my own bed have become a major highlight of my day.The things that were once just a part of my everyday routine, now leave me feeling even more blessed each day.
4. Family is the most important thing. At the end of the day, my family is who got me through the worst times and who cheered for me during the best times. There’s nothing I will ever love more in this world and I know I am so blessed. I thank god everyday for the wonderful family I was given.
5. For every bad thing in the world there is a ton of good. It seems that the news that surrounds us each day is filled with tragedy and negativity. I try to view the world in an optimistic way, that for every act of hate practiced in the world, an unspoken act of good occurs as well. I experienced so many acts of kindness and love during the past months from strangers all around the world. Those acts of sincere generosity deserve some attention too.
6. People come into our lives for a reason. I’ve been shown overtime that everyone you meet, you meet for a reason. Whether is be the person you make small talk with in passing, the student you sat next to that day in class or the friend you’ve known forever, everyone has the power to leave an impact.
7. Be grateful for what you have. As cliche as it may sound, I’ve truly come to learn that you must appreciate all the things you have, from the littlest things to the most crucial things like the gift of life.
8. Change is scary but so good. Sometimes the things that provide the most fear, end up changing our lives. Although change can be scary, it is so often eye opening and life changing in ways you could never imagine. Change used to always be my biggest fear, but i’ve learned to embrace it and love it for it brings such marvelous new ideas.
9. Do what makes you happy. It is as simple as that. Life is too short to do anything that doesn’t put the biggest smile on your face.
10. Pursue what you love. Find a passion and embrace it. At the end of the day money is irrelevant, for if you are doing what you love you will feel rich and fulfilled.
11. Erase all toxicity from your life. As I said before, there is no need to surround yourself with negativity. Ignore the people who ignore you and make time for the ones you love and who love you in return.
12. Think of yourself every now and then. I have a terrible habit of putting others before myself which can often be a terrible flaw. It is unhealthy to never think of yourself. It is important to put yourself first every now and then in order to seek pure happiness.
13. Be kind to others. It is as simple as wearing a smile, holding a door and being the rainbow in someone’s cloud.
14. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. Tell your loved ones you love them. Never go to sleep angry. Hug those you love. Tomorrow is not guaranteed so why waste a day on anger, hate and negativity?
15. Treat yourself. Sometimes we all just need a little retail therapy or an extra scoop of ice cream for dessert. To be honest, during my roughest days in the hospital buying some new clothes on line most definitely always made me feel better.
16. Everyone has their own struggles. By looking at someone you can’t tell what scars they hide, what obstacles they are going through or what burdens they may carry. Love everyone and be kind.
17. Just Keep Swimming. A wise little blue fish once taught me this and it is perhaps the most relevant life lesson one can carry with them. When life is tough just keep swimming.
18. Watch that extra episode of Netflix. Sometimes we all need a little escape from reality. Instead of feeling guilty when pressing “continue watching” I have learned to allow myself to relax every once and awhile and laugh at my favorite show or cry at my favorite movie.
19. Do something each day that scares you. I’ve faced more fears recently than I even knew possible. I never realized how fulfilling it can be and how much joy can be added to life after overcoming something that once scared you.
20. Start each day with a grateful heart. Wake up each day and thank God that you were given another day. Although it can be a struggle each morning to get out of bed and face reality, there is nothing I enjoy more than knowing that I have another day to live a beautiful life.
This birthday when I blow out my twenty candles (plus one for good luck) I will be thinking of my donor and their family. There aren’t enough words in the world to describe how blessed and grateful I feel. I was given another year to leave my mark on the world and live each day to its full capacity. What better gift could one ask for? I hope with everything inside of me and all the lessons I’ve learned that this next year I can make my angel proud and do my new and beautiful heart justice.