My birthday is today. As the date approaches each year I begin to feel knots in my stomach. I dread it so much that I imagine I look like I have a black cloud hanging over my head. This, usually, is a very sad day for me since I don't have family to spend it with. I know my parents are watching over me, but somehow it just doesn't feel the same. My friends are dear and we always have fun, so why do I become so sad?

What fairy tale world had I been living in?For the longest time, instead of seeing my glass half-full, I have seen my glass half-empty. I had been allowing outside forces to determine how I felt. I might as well have sold my soul. I only felt good if everything in my life was going perfect and everyone was happy with me. And what fairy tale world had I been living in? Where did I get this idea that everyone's life was so perfect but mine? I have come to understand an outside appearance can be just that, an outside appearance, a facade. How fitting the expression, "The grass is greener on your neighbor's lawn." Guess what? It isn't.

Of course I can justify why I should feel bad on my birthday. And everybody knows feelings are never good, bad, right or wrong. They just are. And those wrinkles, where do they come from? Though the defining question I find myself confronted with is "Does my behavior serve me?" Is it really working for me? Well, yes, it has in many ways, though none of them give me the inner peace and happiness that I long for.

I have faced, and continue to face, adjustments and challenges. In fact, I have a standing joke with my friends, "All I want, please G‑d, is a boring life." G‑d, I'm tired of all the surgeries and pain, maybe a break is in order? I do at times try to invoke a bit of humor into my circumstances. Like the time I went to see the eye surgeon. I knew I had to have one eye operated on, but then the doctor performs this test, and lo and behold, he tells me both eyes must be operated on. I just looked back at the doctor and smiled. I said, "G‑d must really love me if he wanted both eyes operated on."

Or maybe the time I was sitting in a store waiting for the clerk to return, and out of nowhere, a pole hits me on my head. I ended up with a concussion. Now of course when I called my girlfriend from the hospital, I couldn't help but smile when she said, "Edith you have all the mazel [luck]." Maybe I do just in a different way than others. My rabbi decided to find humor in my injury. Lucky for him – I adore him. He said, "Maybe it knocked some sense into you." I think I understand what the rabbi meant. He was trying to tell me that G‑d will keep knocking on my door, in this case my head, until I truly see my blessings.

I'm onto a new perspective. What is life without a few wrinkles? And I need to stop listening to those commercials about washing that gray away with this-and-that hair color. So the world knows I have lived a little. What's so terrible? And so what if I have some hardships? G‑d forbid, it could always be worse. And when my faith becomes weak, I will remember the twenty-third psalm. "The L-rd is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing…Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me…" I will silently recite the words in my mind, as these words are the backbone of strength in life and in death.

If this day has been loaned to me, I will embrace itIf this day has been loaned to me, I will embrace it with all my might. I will acknowledge the precious gift of life G‑d has granted me and ask no questions. I know he shall reveal his purpose in His time, not mine. G‑d's time is the best time.

My girlfriend invited me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. I wasn't really feeling well, so I cancelled. In the afternoon, I noticed a card under my door. It was from my neighbor, so I went over and thanked her. She is about eighty-years-old and very sweet, but she wasn't feeling well either. We spoke for a few minutes and we agreed she had caught a virus and would feel better soon. In the evening, at about the time I would have been out for dinner, the phone rang. It was this same neighbor. I saw the caller ID and thought to myself, no, I don't want to get "stuck" on the phone for an hour. Sometimes she can be a bit chatty and I was really just looking forward to a quiet evening alone for my birthday.

Something happened, as if G‑d spoke to me and said, "Pick up the phone." So I did and my neighbor said, "Edith, I'm really sick." I told her I'd be right over. I knew instinctively to call 911. It only took me about thirty seconds to get to my neighbor's home. I could see she was really in bad shape. Her clothes and hair were drenched - soaking wet - from sweat. She informed me she had put a nitroglycerin pill under her tongue for chest pain. I made her stay seated and I put her slippers on. And just as I was comforting her, my cell-phone rang. G‑d intervened again and had another fine rabbi return my call. I apologized to the rabbi that I could not take his call at this moment and explained the situation. He gave his blessings for a complete recovery. The ambulance took my friend away, and even though I worried most of the night, I knew she was going to be okay.

I understood why I was supposed to stay at home now. G‑d gave me the most beautiful gift of all on my birthday. My own special mitzvah – the gift of helping another human being in need.