Today I turn fifty. I’m not really sure what I expected fifty to feel like, but I don’t feel much different than before. In no way was I dreading this birthday; I’ve loved birthdays that end in “0”s in the same way that I’ve loved birthdays with the same double digits (11, 22, 33, 44, etc). They feel more special than the others. I love that my birthday is the same day as Loving Day (and off by just one year from the actual pronouncement). I like to think that I was born of a generation that recognized equality for all (I know that we haven’t, though). I’m saddened that two years ago my birthday was the day of the Pulse nightclub shootings in Orlando, Florida. For the past three years, it’s made me reflect on how much work we still have to do with regards to gun control, tolerance, and acceptance. These feelings mix with each other in a fabric that can only be described as human.

The overwhelming feeling that I’m feeling this year, however, is grateful. So incredibly grateful.

I moved back to North Carolina in September last year. I looked forward to moving to a smaller city after living in San Francisco for twenty-five years. I looked forward to quiet, to calm, to a slower pace of life, and to being closer to mountain trails. And I’ve found all of those. And more. I’ve found community, and kindness, and friendliness. As I planned to move, though, I did think to myself, “I’m kind of sad I won’t be in San Francisco to celebrate my 50th birthday.” San Francisco is where my friends are – the ones who I’ve known for twenty plus years. When I was moving, I envisioned having dinner at a nice restaurant in Asheville by myself on my birthday. A lovely birthday, but perhaps a lonely one.

Yet that’s not what happened.

Earlier in the year, a few friends said that they wanted to fly to Asheville to celebrate with me. I was taken aback. Flying to Asheville isn’t the easiest thing to do. It’s a tiny, charming, regional airport with very few direct flights to anywhere. So I planned a few events – a lunch at a favorite local restaurant, Rhubarb, an evening at Biltmore to see Chihuly’s work, a bbq at my house. And the weekend so far exceeded any expectations I could have imagined.

Friends from college met friends from San Francisco met friends from Atlanta met friends from New York met friends from Asheville met friends from water aerobics class met family. Everyone loved getting to know each other. There was amazing food (hello, bbq!) and engaging conversation. There were bouquets among bouquets of flowers (my absolute favorite gift in the world). And there was love. So much love in the air.

A local friend told me, “Just enjoy the present moment. You never know what will come next. But you can love, and appreciate, what you have right now.” Great advice not just for birthdays, but for every day. 


26 thoughts on “Abundance

  1. What a beautiful story and the best gifts ever of family and friends. Never occurred to me that you were turning 50!! What a blessing and such an incredible celebration xx

  2. Y’know, Ms Lori i think i discovered you when you were in Korea. I followed you thru your adventures with Room to Read (which we are still honored to support) and i love getting your updates. You are someone i have never met, but someone i have wished more of us were like. This world is so troubled; you continue to inspire me to have hope. Yes, i am older than you. And i really, really wish you a very Happy Birthday. xo

    • Thank you so much, Michael! I was envious when my former co-worker Emily said that she got to meet you at a Room to Read event in Seattle! I have no doubt that our paths will cross one day! Thank you for the lovely wishes. 🙂

  3. Lori, We felt so honored being at your bbq, meeting your friends and family; we had a great time. I’m still a bit in awe that you now live in Asheville, and not only did I get to meet my favorite blogger,(your kind of like a celebrity) but we’ve become friends! You are a blessing in my life. A very happy birthday to you! xo

    • Tricia, I am so happy that you reached out and invited me for coffee several months ago. You’ve made my time in Asheville even more lovely. I look forward to many more outings together!

  4. Happy Birthday, Lori Loo! What a wonderful community you’ve formed there. Great pix, great smiles – you are happy! As one who is living through double digit “55” – I can imagine how much you’ll enjoy that birthday too! And, by then your world will be even more abundant with friends and experiences and memories. Sending you a big birthday hug from California!

  5. Aw, I love this! Happy belated 50th Lori! I didn’t know you left San Francisco, I was just about to ask you if you wanted to meet up for a coffee (I just moved back here), but I LOVE Asheville so much. I’ve only been twice and always speak so highly of it to everyone I meet. I hope you enjoy the fresh mountain air and if I’m ever out that way I will let you know 🙂

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