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Local Editorials

Happiness is a choice

Last Wednesday was my birthday and I have to admit the week leading into it had me setting any birthday exceptions as low as ever.

I was turning 29 years old, an age I never thought would come, and I felt pretty apathetic and unenthused to it. For most, 30 sounds like an eternity ago and I may sound naive and inexperienced, but for others, I’m aging myself.

Growing up, I always had a summer birthday party or ones family and friends would organize. That was nice. Throughout my 20s, I was surrounded by close friends, and since I spent most of my 20s in college, I had time off for leisure or travel. That was nice. This year, however, was feeling all too ordinary and routine.

The past few weeks, I had been stressed about a few big changes in my life and the whole obligated joyfulness that seemed to coincide with one’s birthday was something I decided to dismiss this year. Instead of organizing something, I had decided to not do anything, that was up until a few days prior.

I decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and make the most of my special day. If I wanted to have a great day, I was going to have to make it one.

A series of events led to the most terrific, unexpected birthday I’ve had yet.

• My mother planned on taking me out to dinner at Louie’s Wine Dive in Des Moines the day before. Her, fellow writer Ty Rushing and I hit the road and she informed me that there would be nine of us attending. As it turns out, she surprised me with some of my most beloved friends and treated us all to an amazing dinner and dining experience.

• A dear friend of mine, Kayla Simpson, recently started her own cupcake business so I decided on giving cupcakes out to coworkers sort of like a child does for classmates in elementary. They were the best.

• The night before, I made a little cupcake topper craft that had me feeling creative and productive too.

• My boss surprised me with a latte and blueberry muffin on my desk when I arrived at work. Another unexpected and pleasant surprise, one that started my day off wonderfully.

• My close friend and travel buddy, Tessa Heeren, and I were going on a hot-air balloon ride adventure. I went on a whim and asked her two nights in advance if she would accompany me on the trip in Indianola. She easily agreed. It was an exciting, new and thrilling ride. The sites beautiful, the weather perfect and the crew fun.

Maybe that’s the key to happiness — low expectations. But maybe there’s another key to happiness — action. It’s all up to you whether you want to have a good day or not. Now that I’m back to my optimistic ways, I realized that being happy is a choice. It’s not always easy but if you smile and have good thoughts then any day can be a birthday.

Contact Kate Malott at

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