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My birthday is a few weeks away which astrologically speaking makes me a Libra.  For those of you who pay attention to the zodiac you can make all types of assumptions about me, while others of you may simply be saying “what’s a Libra?”

If you check the internet you can find all types websites that outline the traits and characteristics of a Libra, including the fact that they don’t like to celebrate their birthdays alone.  They tend to be social beings but have tough time making decisions.

I had not given any of this much thought until last year when I celebrated one  of those landmark birthdays in which everyone expects you to do something big like take a once in a lifetime trip or jump out of plane.  I spent almost an entire year trying to figure out what I should do to ring in my half century mark (yes I just revealed my age).  Oddly years before I had made some plans that sounded exciting but as my birthday drew near the idea didn’t seem all that inviting.

I became almost paralyzed by what to do in celebration of the big day.  Friends and family were very sweet and had offered up ideas that would satisfy most any Libra.  In the end I spent the day at a beautiful Southwest Florida beach with my family and then watched the sunset with a handful of friends.  My lack of a big plan produced a very meaningful and special day.

What a difference a year makes.  Now that I have crossed a year ending in a zero, nobody is asking about my plans.  A few moments after the sunset on my last birthday I began to think about how I wanted to celebrate future milestones.  I decided in Libra fashion, I wouldn’t celebrate alone and that I would dedicate a least part of the day to a cause I held personally close.  This might sound like an unusual way for a person who is surrounded by community issues and causes daily at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation.  But for this one day a year I thought it would be nice to focus on a personal passion.

This year on October 14th you will find me at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater in Fort Myers for the 4th Annual Hope Clubhouse Mental Health Symposium.  If you are a regular reader of this column you know that Mental Illness has had a profound impact on my family and supporting mental health initiatives is important in my world.   Two years ago I had the honor of sharing a story from some of my family’s personal experiences.  This year Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA), a six-term member of the U.S. House of representatives will be the keynote speaker. He is also a clinical psychologist and pioneered the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” House bill H.R. 3717. Congressman Murphy is one of the few members of congress with a background in healthcare and the only child psychologist. I am looking forward to hearing his insights and starting my 51st year a little more inspired and informed.

In keeping with Libra tradition, I don’t like to be alone and would love to see you there.

If you have a special tradition for celebrating a birthday that includes a cause I would love to hear from you at [email protected]

Sarah Owen
Sarah Owen

Sarah Owen, President & CEO of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, leads a passionate and diverse team dedicated to driving regional change for the common good. The Foundation is committed to engaging the community in conversations and action that creates sustainable positive change and provides the funding to make those changes a reality. More