Wednesday, July 17, 2013


My favorite month!

July and I have had our moments. I remember back in my KinderCare days (which means I was probably 4 or so), I had a book with facts about popular shows / movies. I used to love Knight Rider so when I saw David Hasselhoff and I had the same July birthday, I thought that was pretty awesome. In high school, I learned that my favorite teacher, Mr. Gray, also had the birthday of July 17th. More on that a little later. In any case, I loved birthdays.

The first time I remember not being happy on my birthday was during Camp Buckner at West Point. I was far from home spending a humid summer in New York. I was miserable. I was hot, sweaty, tired, and running around in the woods. (Strangely, I now do something very similar for fun.) Later in life, I had people forget my birthdays. When you've been dating someone for a while, that feels less than good.  That happened two different times over the years during two different relationships. No joy there. Worse yet, I could never recall my dad ever calling to say happy birthday. As a kiddo, I didn't think about that much. As an young adult, it made me a little mad.

My final straw occurred on my 30th birthday. I had always thought I would be married by 27 and have children by 30.  I was turning 30, and neither of those things had occurred. Instead, I was in a very negative relationship, in a brand new job as an IT project manager (ugh), out of shape, and trying to figure out where things had gone so wrong. I felt the black hole pulling me in, and it was a terrible feeling. Logically I realized that it was ridiculous for a number to have such real impact on my emotions, but it was more than the number. The issue was my life the way it was at that moment. The number just made me focus on my reality.  A month after our birthday, Mr. Gray passed away.

Later I would joke and say I had my mid-life crisis 10 years early.  At the time it felt like anything but a joke.I knew I could not continue in this direction so I decided to begin celebrating my birthday again.

Not only would I celebrate my birthday on my birthday, but I would begin my celebration on July 1st. To heck with that darkness trying to pull me down, I was going to fight back. Everyday between July 1st and the 17th, I would have a birthday celebration. That celebration could consist of a stop at the coffee shop, a new jacket, a bike ride with a friend, or anything a little different really. The point was to focus on the joy and goodness of one thing for that day. I also began my tradition of the red sock run one year later to celebrate and remember Mr. Gray.

The first time I came across Mr. Gray, he scared the hell out of me. Mrs. Wuthrich sent me up to his classroom to look for Nathan who she had sent up that way earlier to get something.  I was in 8th grade and sent up to talk to a teacher I didn't know in front of a bunch of high school students. I asked him if he knew where Nathan was, and he said something ridiculous. All the older kids laughed.  I took his algebra 1 class that next year, and somewhere during that time he decided I was pretty smart. Over the next four years, Mr. Gray became the dad I never had. The summer after my sophomore year, I spent every morning beginning at 7am with him, Jonathan (his nephew) and Angie (a woman studying for her PhD) doing math problems under the big pecan tree in his huge garden for about 3 hours. Afterwards, we would pick black-eyes peas, watermelons, cucumbers, garlic, or whatever was ready to be harvested. One day during a math lesson, I asked him when his birthday was, and he said, "July 17th!" I didn't believe him so he showed me his driver's license.  Lo and behold (as he would always say), it was July 17th!  From that day forward, he often referred to me as his twin.

Mr. Gray was retired Army; field artillery to be exact. Every day he wore red socks, "field artillery red" as he called it. So the first birthday after his passing, I ran my first red sock run and have continued the tradition ever since.

This year I took some pictures of my daily birthday celebrations at the request of a friend so I thought I'd go ahead and post them on the blog.  Without further ado....

July 1
Blueberry Bagel at Panera

July 2
While cleaning my garage, I found
$40 someone had left behind 
July 3
Free Iced Latte at Panera!
July 4
Freedom 50K Ride with Carolyn

July 5
Sold my old bike on craigslist in
less than 4 hours and made
$100 more than I thought I would

July 6
Diet Cherry Lime Dr. Pepper

July 7
$85 running jacket for
32 bucks!

July 8
Dartfish running gait
analysis at PT. Very neat.
July 9
In New Jersey for work. Birthday
dinner with my friend
Dave (far right). Thanks Dave!
July 10
Mom bought me a beautiful
sunflower. Thanks Mom!
July 11
Breakfast with the ladies. Blueberry
pancakes! (No powdered sugar,
sugar-free syrup ;-)
July 12
$20 at a time, Mom and I gave away
the extra $100 I got for the bicycle.
July 13
Peanut Paradise Smoothie sans sugar

July 14
Wright Museum and Bike Tour.
Very cool :-)
July 15
Birthday beer and free dinner
July 16

July 17th
 Red Sock Run and Bike

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