Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I'd Rather Die While I'm Living Than Live While I'm Dead

Posted by: Jenn Latino
Fundraising update!
This week I am sending a shout out to the Lowe family! Valerie's parents have been wonderful supporters of many of my adventures in life. In their most recent demonstration of support, I received a generous donation toward my fund raising efforts. I ca also credit Sue and Stan for my new kicks!! I will go through 2 pair of training shoes and then a 3rd to complete the walk. Walking shoes are not cute, but they are necessary I am going to survive with limited blisters and other foot related discomfort. Thanks to the Lowe's for the sponsorship. Maybe I'll get a patch to wear on my shirt during the walk-just like those NASCAR drivers!! (Note: This still does NOT dismiss the fact that from August-December we are dire enemies on the football field.)

I have a lot of friends who have birthdays in July. It seems like every day I am calling to sing my signature birthday medley to a friend or family member. What is it about July? Blame it on the cold winter months when folks are cooped up in the house. Meredith’s husband Ben and my coworker Bert kicked off the month with July 3rd celebrations. Last week fellow 3-Day veteran, Amber, my friend Chip, and my favorite now 5 year old, Julia, celebrated. My friend’s Heather and Reese both have birthdays this week. Yesterday was a trifeca of birthday madness with Dana, Sara, and my uncle, Robert, all blowing out a few candles. My mom, dad, my cousin Vincent, and Aunt Bunkie will close out the month with all four birthdays in a 6-day period. Like my sister and I, my mom and her sister are separated by only a few days. When we were growing up, we always thought I was older since if my birthday was on a Monday, Joyce’s was Wednesday. If mine was Tuesday, her’s was Thursday. Mine came first. It made sense to us.

Some folks are concerned about getting older. My grandfather, who never saw biological age as any barrier to living a full life, (and had a birthday only 1 day after his granddaughter, my cousin, Justina) used to say about birthdays, “It beats the alternative!” I have been celebrating my 29th birthday for a few years now. It seems to beat the alternative of admitting the actual candle count. I tend to subscribe to the teachings of Mr. Jimmy Buffett who serenades me every year on my birthday with the genius lyrics of “Growing Older but Not Up.”
I’m growing older but not up
My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck
Let those winds of time blow over my head
I’d rather die while I’m living than live while I’m dead
I am fascinated by the probability of birthdays. Given that there are 365 days in a year, you would think that birthdays would be fairly spread out. However, I’ve noticed that birthdays tend to cluster rather than cling to their own little square on the calendar. Test my theory. Yes, blog readers, you have homework! Ask someone who’s birthday you do not know. There are 364 chances to 1 that it will be on a day different from yours. There is an 11 to 1 chance it will be in a month different from yours. Leap Years present an even more exciting opportunity for a birthday. My friend Simon was born on leap day and only sees his actual date of birth on a calendar every 4 years.

More often than not, I find that when I learn someone’s birthday, it is not a unique date but rather one that is shared with someone else I know. For example, this weekend while attending a shower for a co-worker who is getting married, I learned that her birthday is the same as my mom’s. There are 2 directors in our office. My supervisor has the same birthday as my niece. The other director, my friend Jennifer, has the same birthday as my dad. In addition to only 24 hours of separation from my sister, I am part of a fun birthday line up with three of my best friends, Michelle, Kim and Valerie. Kim’s mom and my aunt, Charleene, fall in the midst of all the madness too, all 6 birthdays in a 7-day span. It’s fun to celebrate for a full week with these ladies and, some of the best memories we have are on the streets of Disney World, all of us wearing our “It’s my birthday!” buttons.

Folks celebrate birthdays in a variety of ways. We take an annual picture to show how much we have changed. We make a mark on the doorframe of a closet to note our growth (these days, according to the annual marks, I am growing left to right more than up and down). We visit our favorite restaurants. We gather with the people we love and raise a glass (or two) to life and health. And, most importantly, we eat cake!

I just love celebrating birthdays! In addition to giving me a perfect reason to belt one of my favorite tunes into the voicemail boxes of my friends, birthdays are the perfect opportunity to EAT CAKE! I like to send e-cards to folks. Something loud and obnoxious sent to their work email address, of course, to let them know that I am thinking about them. One of my favorite lines of e-cards is the Hallmark duo Hoops and YoYo. They crack me up!

Birthdays also represent an accomplishment. Not only to celebrate that we have survived the craziness of the world for another 365 days but to reflect upon and recognize the accomplishments of our year. What a difference a year makes! This time last year there were 4 women connected to my life undergoing treatment for breast cancer. This year, Teri Carpenter, Jan Ziegler, Pat Munchick, and Helen Jones are post surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation and are on their way to full recoveries. ONE YEAR!

At this point in the summer, I have to dig deep for motivation. There is no playlist that can keep the serious pep in the steps it takes to complete long training walks. I try to find a concept or idea to focus on to keep me moving forward and help pass the time. This weekend, as I complete the longest training walk so far, 10 miles on Saturday, followed by 6 on Sunday, I’ll be thinking of how very lucky I am to have had 29+ birthdays in my life so far and that there are only 256 days until my next birthday-and believe me, I am going to celebrate with some cake!

Another great man with a birthday this week is one of my favorites, Bill Cosby! This funny fella has inspired me in everything from identifying my career path (through his direction of A Different World), to finding humor in the sometimes painful pursuit of a terminal degree, and most recently the focus of a keynote address I shared with some fabulous graduate students. Bill turned 73 on Monday and, over the years, he has shared his humorous perspective on birthdays and growing older.

Gray hair is God's graffiti. –Bill Cosby

From Bill I learned to enjoy dessert first! A principle I practice regularly.
Did you ever see the customers in health-food stores? They are pale, skinny people who look half dead. In a steak house, you see robust, ruddy people. They're dying, of course, but they look terrific. –Bill Cosby

Through his humor, Bill has also reminded me that no matter how tough the walk may be, the result is worth every step!
Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it. –Bill Cosby
In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure. –Bill Cosby

What will you celebrate this year?
Happy Stepping!


  1. Jenn, I think this may be one of your best blogs yet! BTW, I love not only sharing a birthday week with you, but also knowing that I will pick up the phone and hear your song on the other end of the line. Hoops and Yo-Yo are my favorite - I have gotten a lot of great H&YY cards from Rachel. You know I've been feeling under the weather this week, so I'm a bit behind on walking and blogging. This post just gave me some motivation to finish out the week strong. Love you!

  2. I agree with your grandfather!! Sometimes people find hard to face the next number but I do celebrate it!! I am proud to say I am 42 going on 43 and it really does beat the alternative. This year I am celebrating getting into grad school(it took me a little time to figure it out) and life in general. As my mom was only 58 when she lost her battle with breast cancer I figure there is no time like the present. I am not giving up HOPE, LOVE and FAITH or the belief that someday we will find a cure for this awful disease that you walk in support against!!
    Thanks Jenn for being so strong! PS.I share a birthday with a real twin and many friends and classmates I met along the way.

  3. Awesome Posting! You have your own unique style of writing that touches your readers.