How Do You Celebrate Birthdays?


Hi, Growing Bolder readers! My name is Jackie Carlin. I’m one of the executive producers here at Growing Bolder. And today is my 38th birthday! Know what that means? Birthday pastries!

Jackie CarlinWhen I was younger, I probably thought 38 was “old.” In fact, for years, my grandmother has been celebrating the anniversaries of her 39th birthday, rather than the age itself! She’s always said it jokingly and is actually proud to tell who her true age. And if I look this great at 75, I’ll be doing the same!

Jackie Carlin

To be honest, I’ve never been one to want a big celebration on my birthday. I’ll even admit that I find myself suffering from a smidge of the birthday blues every year. It has nothing to do with getting older, per se. It’s more a reaction to the increasingly faster passage of time. The years just seem to fly by, don’t they? Of course, I always enjoy cake and maybe a glass of wine to toast the new year, but I’ve never considered a big bold statement to celebrate another trip around the sun. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time birthdays got bigger. I blame Growing Bolder.

We’ve come across some people who do some extraordinary things to commemorate their birthdays. And why shouldn’t they? Each year we’re privileged enough to be alive is reason enough to celebrate, right?

Take Kenneth Smith. To mark his 80th birthday, he set out on a 132-mile hike across the state of Florida. Since it’s not really a birthday without a party, Kenneth invited some friends to go along with him. One catch, you had to be over 80! He found a few others willing to make the journey with him, including a 90-year-old man! With 25-pound backpacks over their shoulders, they set off from Florida’s east coast and headed for the west coast. No nighttime stops at fancy hotels either. This five-person group did it the old-fashioned way, they roughed it! Just hearing the enthusiasm in his voice during our Growing Bolder Radio Show conversation is enough to make you catch the celebrating bug!

Then, there’s former President George H.W. Bush. He celebrates his birthdays in a bold and free-flying way — by jumping out of planes! Beginning on his 75th birthday, the former president and World War II veteran started skydiving in tandem with former U.S. Army Golden Knights members. He said one of his reasons for doing the the jumps is to prove “old guys can still do stuff.” He made the leaps in a tandem rig invented by our pal Bill Booth. Click below to see President Bush’s big birthday statements:

Since we produced the story, the former president made what he’s calling his last jump. In June 2014, the wheelchair-bound Bush made one final jump on his 90th birthday, once again landing in his front yard in Maine.

Out of all the big birthday celebrations we’ve covered, there’s one that I would consider emulating — getting marked to mark a big birthday. Five years ago today, my birthday twin Andrea Kudlacz celebrated her 60th birthday by showing how the generation of her youth left a permanent mark on her life. She invited us to the tattoo parlor to document her first ink!

My only problem would be deciding on a tattoo. I’m not sure I’d ever reach a decision. Skydiving is looking better and better all the time!