You know, a lot of us spend a great amount of time “searching.” Searching for something. Searching for anything: Happiness? Love. Our paths. Ourselves. Searching just because we know there’s something we should be searching for.

Well, this year- this birthday- I found what I was searching for. And I found it by recognizing that I already had it all.

I turned 38 last week. 38 trips around the sun. 38 February Firsts. I turned 38 and it was monumental- it will forever be etched in my history as one of the most significant birthdays I’ve ever had.

This birthday...it changed me. It ripped my heart open and let in all the light I had forgotten existed. It confirmed beliefs I had about life- and desires, gratitude, intentions, forgiveness- and love- ideas that I had pondered and considered but not necessarily held true.

And all of this- this epiphany, this elevation of consciousness- came just in time for my 38th. So what did I do? Instead of looking at it as a parentheses- or a pause button or distraction in the middle of the chaos- I, for once, recognized that well, just maybe, the celebration and all it entailed IS MY LIFE. It’s happening now. No pause, no break- but reality itself. And when I approached it from that angle- it was as if a miracle occurred. Life, all of a sudden, became magic. Every minute. Every waking second.

Life is made out of moments. Of experiences. Of joys and of laughter. The beauty and difficulties. Life is oh so many things- and yet, most of these events or moments or details would be missing a component without the people who share them with us. And I’m not just talking about the celebrations and the good stuff. The people who make up our tribes..our chosen families.

The people who hold us up when we can’t hold ourselves up. The very individuals who make sense of our worlds when there’s no sense to be made. And the people closest to us who not only remind us of the light we cannot see but those who bring out our own light.

So I spent my birthday with these very people: the divine human beings I am lucky enough to call my friends. And it’s with these individuals who I welcomed my next trip around the sun- the very friends, who I know, will be a part of my little world for much longer.

Forever, if I’m lucky.

This year, I blew out the candles on four cakes. I celebrated for three full days on two continents. Two of my homes.

And I cried. I shed a tear over each flame as I continued to celebrate. I silently hoped that life would always be this beautiful. That I will always be this full of joy. I cried tears of joy. Because I am so lucky. So f*cking lucky. I don’t know how it can get any better than this.

But what I do know is- I begin my 38th year- a year that will come with radical change- with a heart full of gratitude. With joy. And with a love in my heart so fierce that it feels like it may explode.