CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This is a first for me. I've never had a column published on this day.
I know I'd remember because it's the birthday of actors Donald Sutherland, David Hasselhoff and James Cagney, along with comedienne Phyllis Diller, financier John Jacob Astor, war hero John Paul Jones and reality show producer ("Survivor," "The Apprentice") Mark Burnett. It's also the birthday of my nephew Christopher, my cousin Millie, my friend Rachel Rogier -- and me!
Birthdays are always a time for me to take stock of where I am. It's fortunate, too, that mine falls near the middle of the year, because I can look at goals I set in January and see how much (or how little) I've accomplished -- with the realization that I've still got almost half a year to go.
I write myself a letter every January and have it mailed to me around my birthday (thanks, Burning Bowl Ceremony!). This gives me a chance to reflect on lessons I've learned so far in each year. My friend Barbie Dallman does this with a different concept each year. She picks something like "courage" or "forgiveness" and focuses on that characteristic for an entire year. I can only imagine how many scenarios must come her way as illustrations.
My sister, Paula, gave me the book "The Secret Life of Birthdays." It breaks down every day of the year and downloads interesting information in the arenas of health, meditations, planetary influences, numerology and general advice. That's how I found out what Donald Sutherland and I have in common -- although I'm sure his card is probably just late.
As I write this several days before the July 17 publication date, I'm under the influence of strep throat. I'm not sick very often. When I do get under the weather, though, it also causes me to reflect. I'm drawn to look at the pace of my recent activities to see if my immune system may have been worn down to make me more susceptible to catching something.
You guessed it! I've been burning the candle at all ends. Work, family, travel, graduate school and home projects have all been tugging at me. So it's no wonder I've been given this timeout to recoup and rebalance. I just wish it hadn't come with the added dimension of a sore throat that feels like daggers are being stuck in it when I swallow! Oh well, this too shall pass.