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My sister's boss in NYC has this tradition of asking the employees on their birthday what they have learned in the past year and what their goals are for the next one.

So - what have I learned in this past year?

I've learned the quality of friendship. I've learned that if a friendship isn't making you happy or you aren't receiving the positive benefits you should get from a friendship, you have the right to leave it. I've learned that friends are meant to support you and you them, and if it doesn't happen, maybe you aren't as good of friends as you once thought. I've learned that if you give your all in a friendship and it isn't enough for them, you don't need to break yourself to make them happy - make yourself happy. I've realized that the friends that love you and want you in your life will work to keep it that way.

Most of what I've learned is about friendship. I've learned that it's hard to live far away from your closest friends, and it's hard to keep those dark thoughts out of your head that you aren't important to them anymore when you're far away. But, just being out of physical distance doesn't keep you from being out of their minds. If they aren't out of yours, you aren't out of theirs.

I've learned the quality of friendship because of the friends I've found. I've let a couple go, but the friends I've gotten closer to have made me more grateful than I could ever admit.

What are my goals for this next year?

To find success in my photography and graphic design business (meaning being successful in being proud of what I create), read more books, stay in touch better with those I care about, stop being afraid of taking risks, stop the self doubt, make more crafts, fight for what I believe in, and to sustain self-love.

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On Friday - my birthday, I had lunch with my grandparents and mother. After, I drove to my cousin's place and we got coffee. It was a chill day. Until... I was back at my cousin's after coffee and she told me to open her front door.

Three of my best friends from college surprised me. They flew to Arizona, to the 100 degree heat, and surprised me. I never picked up on all the hints of them coming. I understood some aspects after, but I never suspected before.

A huge thank you to my mother, father, Gerson, Grace, and Susan, and my cousin, Janelle, for making this happen.

I needed this, in all honesty. I missed Gerson, Grace, and Susan so much. It was the best birthday I've ever had. Plus, they got to see where I grew up... very different climate.

We swam in the pool, drank two bottles of wine, played games with the cousins, drove around my home town, ate at In N' Out, drank Dutch Bros, and wandered around Old Town Scottsdale.

Thanks, guys.

xx

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