Birthday blessings

Ok, let’s be honest here.

When you’re single and far from family, birthdays have the potential to be pathetic.  I’m talking wallowing-in-solitude-while-your-dog-looks-on-reproachfully pathetic. 

Lucky for me, since I moved to Arkansas, my colleagues and friends have taken good care of me on my birthday, never more so than this year.

So let’s start at the beginning.  Weeks ago, my awesome staff made plans to take me out to Bonefish Grill for Bang-bang shrimp and beverages, and three days before my birthday, we did this.  What fun!  Along with Jill, Billy, Casey, Amanda, Beth and Alex, Barb from development came along, and we had mucho fun.   They (and other members of my team) also specifically disobeyed my directive to not bother with a gift and got me a much-welcomed Petsmart gift card.  So that was Wednesday.

Let’s not forget that in the midst of all this celebration, I’m having a pretty craptastic week at work.  I mean, every week is a challenge, but this one sent me home with a droop in my shoulders almost every night.

Thursday, I was ruminating over my notes in the office in the morning when I hear someone try to sneak in; I look up and Terri has delivered an absolutely gorgeous bouquet of flowers.  Then, the whole Senior Team sang me happy birthday at a meeting, which was mortifying but very sweet.  A little retail therapy kicked in that night, with the arrival of my two new pairs of sandals, which are high-wedged and super fun.

Friday was a night to chill.  It was great.  That is all.

Saturday, the actual birthday, began with an extended brunch date with my two favorite Arkansas ladies, Lisa and Jennifer.  And wow, did they do it up right.  Lisa made sure my pooch got some presents too, and we ate and chatted on the porch of Jennifer’s gorgeous home.  Homemade grits and cherry-almond scones, fresh fruit and cheese, bacon…and we stretched the whole cooking to eating process over about 3 hours.  It was glorious.

Then home to nap, and then out for dinner with Noelle, Jana, Megan, Sannee, Samantha and Evan, the latter pair surprising me with a gift card to The Academy, where I will have some fun outfitting myself for my next fitness venture, swimming.  Oh, that reminds me…long before all of these festivities, my parents and brother and sister in law helped me fund plans to join the Boys & Girls Club so I can take up swimming again.  Dinner featured guacamole made at the table, a hibiscus margarita and tres leche cake.  Nom, nom, nom.

And today, the same dinner gang, minus Noelle, hiked out to Hawksbill Crag, one of the most photographed places in Arkansas.  (Special thanks to Kay for making sure Jana could come). It must be noted that before we got there, we drove around in the hills for a bit, before some nice ladies (with horses) pointed us in the right direction and we drove 6 miles up a dirt road to the trailhead.  The hike to the Crag is pretty short and downhill most of the way, and there’s a beautiful waterfall stop along the way.  But the views are so, so worth it.

We decided to head back to the waterfall for lunch, and found our way down to the bottom of a bluff via some adventurous exploration, which was the best surprise of the day.  Water was dripping over the bluff and catching the light; it was magical and none of my photos do it justice.  Then we began the trek back, which was all uphill this time, and I quickly realized that most of the hikes I’ve been doing lately are pretty tame.  It’s time to up the cardio a bit; good thing I’m starting swimming!

Then on the way home, we made an impromptu date to see Circus Oz, a show I saw a long time ago in Berkeley and hoped would go over well in Arkansas.  It has gone over well, and was just as much fun as I remembered.

Tomorrow will be a delayed day off (peppered with a little pesky work stuff), which I will happily spend with my pooch (we’re going to see what Lake Wilson looks like with leaves on the trees), shopping and volunteering.  And then, I might just finish rereading Mockingjay.

Oh, and lest I forget, it’s always fun to have a birthday in the age of facebook, when your phone beeps repeatedly with people near and far posting birthday messages.  Some are random, like those from the high school acquaintances, and some are awesome, like the ones from the long-lost roommates and friends.

Anyway, chalk this birthday up in the “non-sucking” category.  I have that fuzzy-eyed, hot-skinned feel you get after spending the day in the sun, and I’m so full of good food that I’ve definitely set my weight-loss plans back by a day or two.  But most of all, I’m grateful to have so many good people in my life, who take such good care of me.  Thanks, y’all.

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