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In My Own words

35: A Milestone Birthday

Katherine Au

(Sept, 2010) Every 365 days comes a day singular to each one of us. It is the day that signifies the date of our birth Ė the anniversary of life for each one of us. I think our birthdays mean different things for each of us Ė for some it may mean presents, for some it may mean others putting the birthday recipient first, for others it may mean something entirely different.

For me, the meaning of the occasion has evolved over the years. Apparently, according to my mother, when I was born I was all about being useful and prompt for my parents. My mother was going in for her final OBGYN appointment before I was scheduled to arrive in the world. Apparently, the doctorís office was right next door to the hospital in the small town where my parents were living at that time, and as my mother was laying on the doctorís table during her visit, her water broke. She was marched across the walkway to the hospital where she was given a private room. She was actually given a private wing of the hospital since she was the only mother admitted to give birth that day.

The nurses tucked her into her bed and began to monitor her throughout her birthing process. During that process they kept telling her that she was not as far as along in labor as she kept saying she was. Actually, my mother was correct; she was fully in labor. The nurses kept telling her that she wasnít even close to delivering since she wasnít in as much pain as she needed to be to have a baby. However, my mother was in full labor; I was just more gentle and accommodating than most since soon after being told she wasnít fully in labor she proved the staff very much mistaken since she very shortly after delivered me.

Apparently, I decided to come into this world when it was convenient and helpful for my mother shortly after her last scheduled doctorís visit. And, I also decided to come only a few hours after my mother was admitted. I was quite accommodating. Iím not so sure if I was so throughout my life. Youíd have to ask my mother that question to know for sure!

What I do know is that when I was younger, to me birthdays were about presents and things. I wanted objects that would identify me and serve to express how much I had been worth during that year.

Now, years later, as I reach my own milestone of turning 35, I have grown to see my birthdays as not a matter of what I get each year but more as a matter of how Iíve grown each year. Who have I become? Who have I grown to be? This year, as I reach my own minor milestone, I look at my last year and where Iím going this next year.

I know Iím in a good place in life. It has been a long journey, no longer for me than I imagine possibly for others, but it has been my own. Iíve worked over the years to grow professionally as well as personally, and this year I have to say that Iím looking to the next 35 years with great anticipation.

I have for many years developed professionally in the role of being an assistant. My first assistant position was as an executive assistant in the public realm and liaison to the Board of Directors. What I learned in this job was that it was my job to "manage" my superiors, and in doing so I had to do so in a way that was unknown to each of them. From that job I continued as an executive assistant working for a private person but one in the public realm. I worked for a company, but I worked in the home of my employer who was the founder of that company. Then, I moved completely into the private realm and became a personal assistant to an individual woman. I have since grown from that position to work in the private realm for a couple that manages a company. I once had someone tell me that being an assistant, at any level, is beneath anyone and a "cake" job. To that person, I would say that being an assistant should be tried first before it is deemed an easy position. There are easy moments, as I would imaging there are with any job, but on the whole it does take finesse and some elements of skill to perform certain tasks to the level of expectation of those supported.

I did not intentionally intend to be an assistant for my career. It was the path that I landed on by chance while being employed for another job and found that I was good at the new path and I enjoyed it, so I continued seeking positions that were comparable.

Personally, I guess Iíve also "fallen" on my path, although Iíd like to say there was a bit more intention with my path decisions. I donít know what lies ahead. I can envision, speculate, dream, wish, hope for all that I want and wish for but life has its own ways of accommodating what is intended. I have life goals that have not been met yet, but I know that the goals that I have accomplished have come just in time and as they should; further, those goals unaccomplished to date will come in their own time as well.

I heard a friend recently state that we make our own destiny and we are in complete control of our lives. I wanted so much to agree with him and I do to an extent. We are in control of each of our lives. I do not deny that possibility that some regard as a fact. The choices we make today shape our lives for tomorrow, of that I do have no doubt. However, life, as I know it to be, always seems to throw in a curve ball here and there to reshape what we each envision or determine our destiny to be. I am of the belief that that which does not kill us only makes us stronger, and that all that comes arrives for a reason, although I do have to admit I havenít figured out yet what all those "reasons" may be; but, what I do believe is that we are given the opportunity in life to figure that out, and that is a great gift.

So, on this birthday, the birthday where I am the same age as my mother was when I was born, I am most thankful for the possibility of the gifts of learning how this life I live can be lived with as much grace and dignity as possible. I have fallen on my face a multitude of times, but Iíve always found the way to get back up Ė sometimes more gracefully than others; however each time I find a way. I donít imagine that it is just some path of destiny Ė it is my choice to stand back up. And, so this year, when I see my life at a halfway point to seventy, my written wish to share is that I will be able to continue to find the ways to my path and continue to live life as I started it Ė filled with the desire to be accommodating and helpful to others. For, Iíve found in helping others I actually help myself, and that is a life choice well worth pursuing.

Read other articles by Katherine R. Au