This week I'm turning forty-five years old.

To mark that occasion along with my graduation, some friends came out to tackle an invasive species removal project at a local city park:

A tradition started five years ago as a gift from my wife Kelly and the friends who participate, I like celebrating with an activity that feels useful and that hopefully benefits the wider community. This year's project was cut a bit short by a sudden downpour, but we managed to clear out a good section of tree line, which will in turn help protect a reforestation project happening nearby. Afterward we gathered with still more friends at a local restaurant to continue the celebration.

It was a good day and I felt fortunate to be surrounded by folks who are, as one of them put it, "glad I exist and have survived this long." 😀

I'm coming up a bit short on deeper reflections about this birthday milestone. A lot has happened for me personally in the last five years — losing a parent and a number of other people dear to me, starting and finishing my journalism degree, awesome world travels, some big professional shifts, navigating a pandemic, all that goes with parenting a wonderful seven year old, and more — and yet the time has also flown by, sometimes in a blur.

So life as a whole continues to be about figuring out what's actually important, what's just, where I can make a difference in the world, how I can challenge myself to learn and grow, and, in any given situation, how to find and experience whatever truth, beauty, joy and/or love there might be. Thanks to all who are and have been a part of the journey.

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