The Bright Side: A new kind of birthday

Published 6:59 pm Friday, March 17, 2023

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For the first time in 27 years, I’ll be spending my birthday away from my immediate family, including my fiancé and my pets. It’s very bittersweet, because I am so excited to embark on a new venture within the field of healing, but I have never been away from home on my birthday. I used to think birthdays were for decadent cakes and heartfelt gifts and having an excuse to get a coffee from both Starbucks AND Dunkin’ Donuts in the same day (because they’re free on your birthday, so, why wouldn’t you?), but very recently it has occurred to me that birthdays mean a lot more than the things we receive.

Looking back, the best part of any birthday celebration I had was the people I had the chance to share it with. I loved so many of my birthday parties; some were at our local dance studio, or at the mall, or at the indoor pool at the YMCA I worked at for years. I would not only get to hang out with my school friends on the weekend that fell closest to my date of birth, but I also was surprised by my extended family who made their way over to our house many years while I was young.

As I hit my teenage years, my birthday always fell around the spring musical, so I was usually spending the entire day with my classmates who were involved with the show. Some years my birthday fell on the night of a performance, which I loved, because I knew I would get to spend it with my friends and my family who came to watch. We usually had a late dinner at Applebee’s following the curtain closing. My birthday was even more of an excuse to see one another, to spend as much time together as humanly possible. The gifts were a wonderful added bonus, but it was honestly the people I was surrounded by that made me love celebrating so much.

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Since moving to the Outer Banks, my parents have made the trip up to see me and spend time with us on my birthday. We normally go out to dinner, and then we spend the rest of the night in, catching up and just enjoying some rare quality time together.

This year looks a lot different. I’ll be traveling to Pennsylvania for an event hosted by the group of healers I work with and study under. It will be my first event of this kind, and of this caliber. The days leading up to my leave have been filled with a mix of anticipation, excitement and, quite honestly, bit of mourning for a birthday that will be spent away from home, away from those I love dearly.

But rather than dwell on what used to be, I found encouragement in Isaiah chapter 43, when the prophet Isaiah delivered a message of hope to Israel, a message of new life. The promise of God would be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Verse 18 reads: “But forget all that – it is nothing compared to what I am going to do.” As I read that line, I was struck with this idea that maybe this birthday will prove to be the most significant of all. Perhaps all those years sharing laughs and time and cake with those I was closest to prepared me for new people to share that joy with. Not just the group I will be there with, but all of those who will walk through the doors of this event and be touched by God.

I then remembered why I was going to this event in the first place, which is to learn as much as I can from those who have been healing through the light and the love of God for years upon years, so that I too can do what God has planned for me. For this is His will, His work, and I am the vessel. Once this truth came to my heart, I realized this birthday will be such a special one. And with the love and support of those I would have normally spent it with, I know that there is joy in newness, and I’m ready for what is to come, what magic this birthday will bring.

Danielle Puleo is a staff writer for The Coastland Times. Reach her at