You may have heard somewhere around the internet…today is my birthday.

Last year on this day, I turned the Big 4-0. I posted about counting my blessings, and I ended with:

So, Forty? Look out, because I’m going to totally kick your a$$.

I’ve gotta be honest. I think I did that. It was a really good year!

I’m still counting my blessings; I try to do that daily (some days are harder than others, but I think that’s pretty normal!) In my reflections recently about this birthday, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the people who surround me. I’ve been asked several times this week, “Are you excited about your birthday?” “Are you ready for your birthday?” “Big plans for your birthday?”

No, no, and no. But that’s how I want it. As long I’m with the people I care about, I don’t need big, explosive plans. I’m at the age now where, although I could totally throw down much better than I could (or wanted to) in my 20’s, keeping it simple is the way to go for me. “Simple” means that all I need is love and good company. Corny? Maybe. But these days, people are the most important elements of my life.

I have always been very lucky in that I make friends very, very easily. Moving from the Chicago area to Ft. Worth when I was ten and then to Knoxville when I was twelve seemed difficult for me at the time, but looking back, I’m thankful for the friends I quickly made upon arriving in each new town.

It was awesome to be in the same high school (in Knoxville) for all four years. I knew so many people; it was wonderful. When I was a Junior, I was a part of a super, tight-knit group of Duran Duran-lovin’, New Wave ridin’, MTV watchin’, British Invasion embracin’, neon-colored clothing wearin’ friends.

Here are most of us at my sixteenth birthday party, one of my favorite birthdays ever. And yes, we were posing that way on purpose for the camera. (The one who looks like he’s sleeping? I believe that was an error in timing.)

Those people with those goofy expressions in that picture were, besides stalking meeting and dating Jim, the best darn thing about high school for me (and I LOVED high school, so that’s saying a lot!). I loved being a part of that group, and it’s a time I’ll never forget; it was one of the happiest times in my life. I have group memories and individual memories with each and every one of those people. If you’re a regular reader, you’ll recognize Kate in the photo there, who is still my best girlfriend, and due to the technological development that is Facebook, I am back in touch with the other three girls plus my friend who actually took the picture!

After high school, and after getting married, I had a smattering of friends here and there wherever we lived. I met Dawn (love her long time) along the way, and I treasure her friendship so much. (Personal note to Dawn: New Year’s Eve 2009! Can’t wait! Woooo!)

I’ve lived in my current town here in the Chicago burbs since 1995, the longest I’ve ever had roots down in one place. I’ve got great friends in all different departments of my life: the temple, the health clubs, the neighborhood, the other parents at school, lacrosse club, and so many more.

And then, over the past couple of years, I’ve met so many fabulous people through this blog. I’m a part of this really cool community here, and I’m so blessed by that.

Back to my birthday (it IS all about me today, you know) and my friends. On Wednesday I got an early birthday wish on Facebook from one of the people in that photo up there. The Birthday Calendar application, for some reason, had my birthday on Wednesday. Whatever. (stupid app) So she was the first person to send me the wish. And that’s how it started.

Then yesterday morning, I woke up to this on Facebook, from the Microblogologist:

And then, yesterday evening when I was at the mall, I got a tweet from my German twin sis Kat, on my cell phone:

Last night, a few on Twitter were, uh, all a-twitter about my birthday, and I woke up to an inbox full of well wishes too, from my online AND IRL friends and family. I already know that my mom will call me by 7:30, which would make any other person nuts but as she giggles and cackles about how early she’s calling me like she does every year, I will remind her that I’m the one who is the morning person* and I don’t mind the early call, like I do every year. I’ve got a nice Fab Five dinner planned, and it’s going to be a great day.

I know how lucky I am to have so many friends on every one of the 365 days of the year, and I feel 100% more blessed on my birthday when everyone comes out to let me know I’m in their thoughts. All of this attention could spoil a girl, you know. But don’t worry; I’ll keep my head about me because I’ll be busy counting all day long…

“Count your age by friends, not years,
Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
— John Lennon

*My sister did a post about this that’s hysterical. Click here for it, and click here for the youtube video: the one in her post currently isn’t clickable!