For the past two years or so, I do a reflection on my birthday (January 23). It is for me a time of reviewing the year that was and seeing what the year to come can bring.
A very good and dear friend while toasting me on a Skype call, asked me if I felt I had accomplished the goals I had intended.
I paused for a moment because I had to think about it. I said, I hadn't accomplished the things I had set out to accomplish many years ago, and I certainly hadn't accomplished many of the things people at age 26 would have accomplished; but, I said, I've accomplished far more than any 26 year old would have ever thought to have accomplished, much less to have considered as a goal. So while I haven't achieved some of the regular things most 26 years would have, I've achieved so much more.
Over the past four years I've been fortunate to have traveled to 7 countries (not counting the transit countries), 7 US states, and had the opportunity to participate in and speak at many conferences.
My life, has evolved into something so much different from what I thought it would have when I had turned 19 (in January of that year).
The past year has by far been the most unexpected, adventurous, love filled year. I learned new skills (serious people skills from being one of two election officers at ILGA World Conference), met new amazing people and gained new friends, experienced love, and was recognized by the first black president of the United States of America.
I built on my skills as an activist (LGBT and women's rights) and learned some things that I would have never gotten at university. I learned that my faith/belief was undergoing an evolution and I learned to experience the love my family was able to offer me and accept that in their own way they did love me, and recognise the blessing in how my family has been able to work through a very public LGBT figure, while being part of a conservative Christian denomination.
I learned that I had a lot more to learn!
In the latter part of the year, I recognised that I wanted to be able to give more (yes in addition to being an activist) and so I got trained by an awesome Jamaican (Coach Kerri) and then did my certification exam to become a life coach.
Despite our differences I had an outpouring of love from my immediate family on my birthday. My baby sister posted to my Facebook page:
My middle sister gave me a birthday card saying:
My mom and dad gave me the following card
To end the day, my parents and sisters took me (and my sister's boyfriend) to dinner and presented me with a cake, which they had hidden in plain sight.
On my 26th birthday, I've been able to recognise and accept that the love I receive from my family (the Jackson 5) is the love they can give, and that despite our differences our family bond has remained.