happy to be alive

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. I have to say, it was the best one yet.

Maybe it was because I had so many other things to celebrate this time — like the fact that my partner’s property miraculously remained safe after a raging wildfire threatened to destroy everything he spent the past year and a half building.

I’ve never prayed so hard in my life.

Klamathon fire damage
The Klamathon fire burned over 38,000 acres, including this hill that borders Jason’s property

There’s nothing like a grand-scale disaster to really put things into perspective. To force you to appreciate the simple things that are so easy to take for granted.

Breathing clean air. Having a place to come home to. Being able to hold your loved one who stubbornly refused to leave until he was forced to evacuate.

Not that I can’t relate to refusing to evacuate in a fire. You can read about my first California wildfire experience here.

On a lighter note, this weekend also involved career celebrations. After focusing on getting another steady client for the past few months, I’m stoked to announce that I signed a contract last week!

Not only does this provide me with another source of income and greater diversity in projects, it officially makes me a cannabis writer!

It’s been a while since How to Run Stoned appeared in Outside and I’m excited to write about weed again.

Oddly enough, I immediately began thinking of what my next career milestone would be, even before I got my first assignment.

Does anyone else do this? Rush right into setting a new goal the instant you achieve one you spent months striving for? Without even taking a minute to pat yourself on the back?

Maybe it was the fire. Maybe it was my approaching birthday. Maybe I just spend a lot of time thinking about my own mortality, but I’ve never felt so determined to celebrate.

It’s like running up mountains. I don’t do it just because I love pain (though that may be true). I do it to savor the view from the top. Even if it’s cloudy, (or smokey ala Waldo) I still chill for a minute and enjoy being a total badass before I start planning my next grueling long run.

The celebration may be short-lived, but it’s necessary. It’s often the most memorable part of the journey. You know you’re not done working, but it’s sweet to feel a brief moment of relief.

So, that’s why I decided this year’s birthday promise to myself will be to always celebrate small victories and count my blessings.

Because life is short and sweet. Because it’s nice to take a break from feeling like everything you do is never enough. Because gratitude is something worth carving out time in your day for.

Gratitude has become a major theme in my life this past year. It’s a daily practice. I might make a gratitude list before bed, when I wake up, or whenever I catch myself complaining.

As a person who’s always focused on the negative and been way too critical (of myself an others), this is a tremendous attitude adjustment.

The older I get, the faster time whizzes by. I don’t want my memories to be filled with struggles and disappointments.

I’m always going to want to be a more successful writer, a fitter runner, and a better person. I can’t see myself ever getting to a point where I’ll just stop trying.

So I better fucking enjoy the process of getting to this place I’ll never arrive at. I never know when I might show up unexpectedly.

This year, I promise to amplify all the good things in life and honor every little bit of awesome.

I sound so wise.


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