Birthdays are really taboo for me, because after a while, I feel we start making a big deal out of them for no reason. Not to be a cynic, I am thankful for every new year of life, but real talk; is every year really special? Does every year really warrant a big celebration?

I always love becoming a little older and hearing younger friends or sibling mention what birthday year they are experiencing. Speaking of reminiscing there are a few birthdays in particular that I remember for different reasons. 

13 - I remember this year, because it was the first time I planned my own birthday party and invited friends from school; in particular, this girl I had the biggest crush on came to my party, and it just made my day. Of course I was too shy to speak to her, but I watched her like a hawk the entire party. Ha!

17 - It was the first time I could go to the movies by myself and buy a rated R ticket; you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t grown. I saw “South Park” the movie. 

18 - I remember the day I turned 18. Like clockwork I received my draft from from Uncle Sam, which let me know that if something went down around a war, I would have to drop my dreams of being a jazz drummer and report for duty.  

35 - On my 35th birthday, I’ll be hopping on a flight and  headed to Jacksonville, Florida, to be part of a Toy Drive Fundraising event for my non-profit. I will literally exhaust myself for my kids that day, by making sure families have gifts and necessary things for Christmas. Giving my day to my children has truly been the highlight of my life. It feels so right, and of course, I plan to have a nice dinner with some family and probably smoke a cigar.

Something that I honestly have to let you know, is entering 35 I have had to let go of false expectations. I have built a life of expectations particularly around my age. By this age, I will be this, or that. I feel like at 35, as one of my mentors just told me, “Ulysses, life isn’t about achieving the Big Goals, it’s about the interim goals.” Truly, I am learning to let go of expectation, even in some ways, die to them, while falling in love with the in-between and finding peace in the middle. 

35, is still bringing me new levels of stability, focus,accountability, wonder and a true appreciation of being fearfully and wonderfully made. 

35, Let’s Rock Out and go meet 36.