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Monday, January 17, 2011

Sun/Mon Day 16 & 17

Well today is my birthday.  As I was writing this blog in my head yesterday and today I was fully prepared to have it be a blog full of whit and humor... centering around my first ever nude sun bathing session at a nude beach.  I had all these funny little pun's that I was going to throw out things like: well since I came into this world naked, I figured I may as well wear my birthday suit again (not sure if that is really a pun).  Anyways, trust me, it was going to be funny.

Then, something amazing happened...

Probably between age 8 - 10 I began to hate my birthday.  My family grew up poor and we never had "enough" money.  Talk of having to borrow money to buy groceries, pay rent, etc... was as common as the weather.  As an adult I can look back at things with a different set of eyes, however, as a kid, it was devastating and as a result, I began to associate an immense amount of guilt with my date of birth to the situation my family was in.  In my adolescent mind I saw my parents struggling to get by and so when my birthday and even Christmas would come around, I felt terrible receiving gifts from them because I knew they didn't have the money to buy them.  I equated my couple of moments of happiness I got from receiving my presents to hours and days of stress and struggle for my parents (I felt selfish for receiving them).  In my mind I would punish myself, telling myself I was a mistake and the world would be better off without me.  I won't get into the extremes of mental torment I took myself too... that is another story, but the above is neccessary to paint the picture of the magic of today.

So as an adult when my birthday has drawn closer I find myself shying away from people... withdrawing into my own mini depressed state - pity party, party of 1.  Friends, family, ex-girlfriends have all tried to do nice things for me and every time I have fled.  I do whatever I can to try and spend the day as alone as possible only then to feel sorry for myself for continually feeling this way.  I'm aware of the issue, causes, triggers, etc... I just won't let myself let go (trust me I am working on that).  As I shy away and run, I leave the people who love and care about me hurt and saddened that I will not allow them to celebrate my birthday with me.

One of the challenges for this year was to experience a moment of pure, SOBER, happiness on my birthday.  Something I can never recall doing as an adult.  There have been brief moments of happiness, but always because I am forcing myself to be happy for someone else who is trying to do something nice for my birthday, or alcohol induced ones.

I believed this to be almost impossible.  I was stressed and sad yesterday, I could not sleep this am, and re-scheduled many of my appointments so I could avoid being around people.  I was off to a great start to repeat birthday's of the past.

I survived the morning and went for a run around 9:30am fighting back tears the whole time... tears that I was running away again, tears that I was being sad when I have so much to be happy for and then tears over the previous two.  I decided to take myself out to a late breakfast at my favorite breakfast spot, it's called "Shoreline Cafe."  I love this place because you can actually go sit in the sand.  I have been going there for years and the staff all knows me and greats me with a warm smile every time I come in.  And, best of all, know one there know's it is my birthday. 

I eat my meal and am sitting in the sand watching the ocean, enjoying the perfect summer day in the middle of January.  I ask the waiter for my bill and he brings it over smiling as always.  I open it up and see nothing but a blank receipt and the words "thank you" written along with a smiley face.  I turn to the waiter to tell him the receipt is blank and he is smiling and he says, "no, no my friend, it is on us today."  Then the manager, a great guy named Enrique, comes out smiling and shakes my hand and tells me they had a busy weekend because of the holiday and great weather... they just wanted to do something nice for me.  They had no idea it was my birthday or what was going through my head at that time.  I will tell them one day.

I left there over come with a mix of emotions.  In my coaching business, I work with clients about the importance of acts of kindness, simple things such as a smile to a stranger - you never know what kind of difference it can make in their day.  And yet I had never really experienced one in such a powerful way at such a significant time in my life.  I have tears in my eyes as I type this, for words cannot describe what this moment meant to me, another wonderful discovery that has been brought about because of this challenge.  On a normal birthday I would have not dared to go in public, I would have hid and sulked.  On this  birthday, (only because I promised myself to step out of my comfort zone and to no longer just settle for things being as they are), I tired.  And because I tried, I was treated to the greatest birthday gift I have ever been given - a genuine act of human kindness which lead to me experiencing what I thought was impossible, a genuine moment of SOBER happiness on my birthday.

I felt a shift in me today.  While I am still not ready to break out the pinata's and birthday hats just yet, I have found myself smiling and laughing more on this birthday than any birthday in recent memory.

Never underestimate the power a simple act of kindness can have on another human - on the world.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Carpe Diem,

Jesse





12 comments:

  1. Awesome blog post Jesse, nothing comes even close to bliss like experiencing genuine kindness. Random or purposeful, kindness is contagious! Breakthroughs in our personal journey are special and should be cherished. Keep moving with forward motion!

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  2. Jesse,

    First I have to say Thank you for sharing. In not so many words I have to say I can 100% relate. Although I wont share my story with the rest of the bloggers who read your story I will one day share it with you. I will share that I am a believer of GOD and as a Christian I want to thank you again for your transparency. I admire you not because of your 1000 challenges but for the difference you are making for yourself and as I have said before...to have the world be accountable for it...

    I have tears of Joy for you as I read your blog...and the heaviness in my heart as I felt like I was reading my own story...Jesse again...Thank you and have a wonderful birthday...There is a reason why we are here in this world...I truly believe we all have a purpose for each other....

    Matthew 5:3-10

    3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    4 Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    5 Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
    6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
    7 Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
    8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
    9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
    10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Love,
    Rhea

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  3. Jesse,
    Thank you for your openess and sharing with us - total strangers. Your strength and unselfishness are truly inspiring.
    You are making our lives richer. Thank you.
    L :>

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  5. Happy birthday Jesse. You, and your outlook are certainly something to celebrate. Since stumbling across your blog I have forwarded it on to several friends who have also started following you. We can all use a little positivity, optimism and inspiration from time to time.
    And gorgeous pup by the way. :)

    Keep on,

    Kim

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  6. Aloha, Jesse,
    Happy Belated Birthday!! I have to say I relate so much to what you wrote although in different ways. I recently celebrated my birthday on January 11 (1977) and decided, this year, I was TRULY going to CELEBRATE it. (Actually, I met Paul and saw you briefly at the Villa before you guys went to your VIP section on friday night and got linked to your blog through his facebook page) Up until this year, I had always made a big deal and happily celebrated my friends' birthdays while on mine, kept it to a simple dinner with a friend while hardly anyone even knew it was my birthday.
    But after having experienced a horrible one year marriage, currently in the process of divorce, and having worked for several years in the main trauma hospital of the Pacific Basin where we see life change within literally a seconds moment, I decided this year I was TRULY CELEBRATING MY LIFE. (and hence, that is how the villa came about!) :)
    I have never been more grateful and appreciative of living, especially being so fortunate as to live in HI. I completely HEAR and UNDERSTAND what you are saying about SB (I used to live in Pacific Grove for a little while). There is beauty EVERYWHERE. I am so lucky to have lived in places that I relate to and I do so much to the mana of HI.
    I found myself walking around the hospital the other day thinking, "Wow, what BEAUTIFUL wood floors these are" and wondering how many people had crossed the path of the giant tree on the grounds for hundreds of years previous. Despite waking up to the reality that my marriage and hopes and dreams of a family are no longer (as of now), I COULD NOT be more grateful for the life I have because we are all here, breathing, surrounded by physical and spiritual beauty, goodness and wholeness.
    It does have a lot to do with yin and yang. Working in an environment where you see life change so quickly, for everyday people, helped me get out of a very unhealthy experience and just LIVE. You can only really truly appreciate the "good" to its truest extent when you have experienced some of the "bad". We all really could perish at ANY moment. So thank you, for reminding us, to truly be present in every moment: enjoy! have fun! love what you are doing! because all we have is this instant right now.
    It is feels so good to read and in some cyber-sense be surrounded by people like you, Paul and your other friends who just focus on the positive, goodness, realness, and fun in life!
    Thank you for your open and honest rawness. It really helps keep a bigger perspective on all that "this" is.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and insight with us and keeping us focused on the small positive things in everyday life. That is the greatest gift you can give to the world and to yourself. Hau'oli la hanau, Jesse! You TRULY deserve to celebrate yourself!!!
    Much Aloha,
    Julie

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  7. I don't even have anything to say... just sitting here at work taking a much needed break and this made me SMILE.

    So thanks

    KB

    *Happy Belated Birthday

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  8. Hello, Jesse!

    So, what can I say? ... really great blog!!
    it is my birthday soon and these words inspired me for the many things I wanna do on my b`day.. and just to appreciate every little kindness...
    .
    thank you for sharing! I really liked!

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  9. Happy Belated Birthday Jesse!

    Thank you for being so open and sharing such a personal topic with us strangers =]. It takes a lot of courage to be open and so rawly honest about things so personal. You are touching many people on many different levels that may or may not even realize.

    I look forward to your daily blog posts now, every day because you really are SO inspirational to me and many more i'm sure of.

    THANK YOU!!

    <3 Steph

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  10. Happy late birthday Jesse.
    I am just catching up on your blogs after a long week.

    I really wanted to thank you for being so open and sharing this experience.
    I'm not one to well up in tears often but I still have a few in my eyes while writing.
    Family is a sensitive spot in my life and I can relate fully with your story about your birthday and the torment that followed.
    I know its hard...but again I thank you for sharing this cause it really shows me that it is something I can learn to heal from.

    Brie

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  11. Hi everyone, I am glad so many of you got so much out of this post. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I promise I will get back to all of you who have emailed me. Thank you as always for your ongoing support.

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  12. .....amazing, what can I say after reading this post.
    Christmas has been like that for me since I was 5.
    I am very glad to hear that you have found some small measure of joy to celebrate the day of your birth. You are a gift from God, we all are.
    I look forward to reading more about your adventures and want to thank you for making me smile this early in the day.

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