Today is my birthday. I always like to spend part of the day in reflection...thinking back over the past year and thinking ahead to my goals for the next 12 months. Sort of like New Year’s Eve, but without all the pressure.
With each passing year, I feel a little shocked that I’m as old as I am because I feel like I’m 25. I also remember 25 like it was yesterday. And 18 and 30...I can’t believe it goes so fast. I find myself solidly in the middle of my life and I feel like I’ve just begun and my “to-do” list just keeps getting longer.
But mainly I find myself filled with overwhelming gratitude for the blessings I’ve received. Not everything has gone as planned, but my plan probably wasn’t the best one anyway. And in almost every way, my life has surpassed every expectation I ever had. I dream pretty big and my reality has in so many ways been better than anything I could have dreamt. By a far measure.
One good thing about getting older is you appreciate things more. I have friends and family who enrich my life every day and who surround me and support me and, above all, love me....even when I’m not very lovable. And they’ve proven that over and over. I try to be as supportive back, even though sometimes I think I’ve failed miserably and then I try to mirror the support they’ve given me so I do better the next time.
I have my health, which I don’t take for granted. It’s a precious thing to be able to move freely and have my body do whatever I need it to do.
I talked to my Dad today and, as we usually do, we talk about the day I was born. I asked him why he and mom named me Melinda (and couldn’t believe I’d never asked before) and he said he couldn’t remember. I know I’m not named after anyone and Melinda wasn’t a very common name back then--still isn’t. So that is just one of life’s mysteries that will go unsolved. But I’m glad that’s the name they chose. I’ve always loved my name and it makes for a great-looking byline, if I do say so myself.
Since I wouldn’t be here without them, I want to honor my mom and dad today. As I may have written before, my mom started the Presbyterian church I was raised in. My father, although not a founder like mom, was a charter member, and over the decades, both he and mom provided thousands of hours in service to that church, as deacons and elders, Stephen Ministers, ushers, clerk of the session, treasurer and many other ways. They set a wise and generous example of giving back that still inspires me to this day. Being of service mattered and from an early age, my sister and I helped, even if it was just picking up the programs left behind after church or cleaning out the wine glasses from communion.
So today, in honor of Charlotte Newman (I miss you, Mom) and Walter R. Newman (Hi, Dad!), my donation goes to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, N.C.
Thank you for having me, thank you for loving me, thank you for supporting every one of my dreams (except to become a go-go dancer when I was six), and thank you for naming me Melinda.
Oct. 24: Trinity Presbyterian Church
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