A deep breath in and a strong huff out. Candles of green, red and yellow flicker atop a delicate chocolate cake as my family gleefully looks on. Off-key and joyful singing halts around the table. With flames out and cake consumed, another year tallies my total trips around the Sun to 24. Yet, my mind focuses not so much on the present. On this 24th birthday. But racks the happenings of the past year that have led to it. How so much has changed in 366 days (leap year). How relationships form and crumble. How friendships develop and strengthen. How work can bring equal amounts of happiness and sadness to life. How things outside my comfort zone enabled me to grow as an individual. How events unfolded that I never could have predicted. Suddenly, like a candle being extinguished, my burning mental state about the past went cold and prompted thoughts about the future. What events will occur in the upcoming 365 days? What obstacles will I face? Will I be able to conquer them? Will I fail? Luckily, these negative thoughts were as quickly consumed as the chocolate cake laid before my relatives. Reflecting on the past year is helping me frame the upcoming 365 days in a positive light. Can things go wrong? Yes. Will things go wrong? It’s likely. Does that mean this upcoming year will be awful? Hell no. Events are sure to unfold that will messy up well-designed plans and deeply desired wants. However, a host of unpredictable and amazing occurrences are bound to surprise as well. Much akin to my father’s hilarious mishap of thinking today was my 23rd birthday. So with that, I begin my 25th trip around the Sun. Joyful it’s guided by reflections of the past. Grateful it’s propelled by the warmest of wishes from family and friends. Excited to encounter the unknown.