Throwback Thursday: What I Learned About Life On My Birthday

Going through our archives, we came across this great post by Dr. AnnMaria De Mars from August 15, 2015 “What I Learned About Life On My Birthday” that we wanted to share in case you missed it the first time around.

It was seven years ago this week that Ronda won a bronze medal at the Olympics. I wouldn’t even have realized that if I hadn’t gotten a message on twitter from the Judo Inside people congratulating me on the anniversary.

It was a day of mixed feelings – disappointed when she lost in over time to drop her into the bracket to fight for the bronze, excitement when she won the bronze medal match. Ronda had trained for years leading up to that and as her family, it had been a lot of effort and sacrifices to help her get there.

Seven years later, I wasn’t even thinking about it. I’m in Salt Lake City, Utah as part of the Boom Startup Ed Tech Accelerator. I’m sure Ronda wasn’t thinking about it, either. She went on vacation somewhere with no cell phone service and no Internet.

Seven years ago, I left Beijing on my birthday, flew to Tokyo where I had terrific sushi, then flew home to Los Angeles and went out to dinner with my husband. Thanks to time zone changes, my birthday lasted much longer than 24 hours. It was a very nice day. At the time, I was on the USJA board and probably fighting with half a dozen people on the board and on the USA Judo board (because we were always fighting about something with no outcome but wasted time). I hadn’t thought about them in years until I sat down to write this post.

Now, I spend my time very productively and happily making computer games that teach math, social studies and (soon) English.  The work I do improves people’s lives and employs people (which also improves their lives because no one ever says ‘Hey, look at me, I’m broke and unemployed. This is so awesome.’ )
There is a point in here that is very important …. 

I was talking to my brother, who teaches middle school, and he commented that his students get soemotional about insults (real or imagined), disappointments and accomplishments. We agreed that it because they have no perspective.

Recently, Ronda did something that made me want to smack her in the head. I was quite annoyed. Her sister, Jennifer, who not coincidentally also teaches middle school, commented,

“I know you are upset, Mom, but it’s not the first mistake she has ever made and it won’t be the last. She’ll figure out for herself eventually that it’s wrong and then she’ll do the right thing.”

The point is that too often we make ourselves miserable or unbearably arrogant because of a single failure or success.  Whatever it is that you are sobbing or cheering about today you probably won’t even remember happened five years from now.

I’m not saying that we should all go through life like robots because nothing really matters. What I am saying is don’t get too stressed about the things that go wrong. Also, don’t be a pompous ass about the things that go right. As both Ronda and Julia commented after winning the junior nationals, 10 years apart,

“It’s great the day you win, but then it’s tomorrow.”

Here is the other important point – what matters isn’t any single day. It’s all the days added up together. And at the end of the day – there is always another day. You can try again tomorrow.


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