Monday, November 9, 2020

A Different Kind of Birthday Month

by Yvonne Ortega @YvonneOrtega1

My Plans for 2020

A year ago, I planned my birthday month for 2020. My birthday was October 30. I would fly to Myrtle Beach and attend Shari Braendel’s Fashion Meets Faith Beauty Camp October 15-16. My plans at the camp included appointments to get my hair styled and eyebrows shaped. I would also go to the mall and find a new outfit. 

After the event, I would rent a car and take several days to visit friends in the Charleston area, sign books, and celebrate life. Then the pandemic changed more than my birthday plans for 2020. 

The Pandemic Crashed Head on with My Allergies.

I’m flexible, but the requirements for masks, social distancing, and constant wiping or spraying with Lysol Disinfectant made the trip impossible. Wearing a mask for hours and the smell of the spray and wipes on the plane, much less for days at a time would make my allergies flare. My doctors advised me not to travel. 

How did I celebrate my birthday month? What did I remember?

First, I remembered that others also change their plans. 

One of my cousins has the same allergies I do and cannot tolerate the masks or disinfectant cleaners. She looks forward to the day she can visit her two sisters on the West Coast. However, the fires and heavy smoke prevented her from doing so this year. The pandemic policies of masks and disinfectants do the same. Therefore, she calls, texts, and emails them. 

A prayer warrior friend in North Carolina also suffers from allergies. Heavy metals and toxins have compromised her immune system. The pandemic closed the borders to Europe and ended the dream of a trip with her husband because of the quarantine for two weeks at either end of the trip. 

Because of her age and injuries after a fall, a friend changed her plans. I wasn’t the only one who had to change my travel plans.

Second, I remembered that bad things also happen to good people

My enclosed sunroom air conditioner malfunctioned, and that brand had been discontinued. The new A-C unit wouldn’t arrive for a week. 

To complicate matters, a certified mold expert found mold in the sunroom, which serves as my office. Initially, I needed to move out of the home during the remediation and restoration of the sunroom for three or four days. Later, it turned into a week with additional work in the rest of the house. 

Before I left, I packed the car with clothing, food, and projects to work on. I settled into a nearby hotel on the top floor for those with severe allergies. This all happened in October, my birthday month. During the week, the hotel was practically empty, which helped with the social distancing.

However, many people checked in for the weekend. That meant social distancing on the elevator or taking the stairs all five flights up and down. I definitely completed my exercise goals each day.

Scripture backs up this lesson I remembered. “He [The Father] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45 NIV).

Third, I remembered that spring-cleaning makes weekly cleaning easier.

I thought I had eliminated piles of books, clothes, and other items I didn’t use. The remediation & restoration project showed me otherwise. Before my departure for the hotel, I had tossed five or six bags of junk and had also donated that many bags of items to the thrift store. 

The elimination of junk makes weekly cleaning easier and faster. And those donations bless others who can’t afford to pay full price. 

When I returned home, I bagged another six bags for the thrift store. I also shredded or tossed at least six more bags of unwanted items. I repeated this Bible verse to help me do it with a positive attitude: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Colossians 3:23 NASB). 

My godly friend hadn’t done any spring cleaning and didn’t have a chance to sort through bags or boxes when her attic leaked. She and her husband had to pack and leave immediately. She said, “When we move back home, I’ll have to unpack countless boxes of unwanted, moldy, or musty items.”

And my birthday? My friend and I ate lunch at a local restaurant.

In conclusion, here are the lessons I remembered:
  • Others also change their travel plans.
  • Bad things happen to good people too.
  • Spring-cleaning makes weekly cleaning easier.
Ask God which of these lessons he would have you work on this week. 


Yvonne’s background as a licensed professional counselor brings a unique perspective into the heart of women. She’s a speaking and writing coach and the owner of Moving from Broken to Beautiful®, LLC. She belongs to the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, the Christian Authors Network, the National Speakers Association, and Toastmasters International.

She celebrates life at the beach, where she walks, builds sand castles, blows bubbles, and dances.


  1. Yvonne, thank you for the reminder that sometimes our plans change. I, too, have allergies and terrible sinus issues. I'm praying for you.

    1. Melissa Henderson, you're welcome for the reminder. I'm sorry you also suffer from allergies and terrible sinus issues. We can pray for each other and hope to see each other live at the Blue Ridge CWC in 2021.

  2. Yvonne, Happy birthday! I think we can all commiserate with you in this strange year. My husband and I celebrated our 50th anniversary in March 2020. We had a large event planned with people coming from all over the country, but we had to cancel at the last minute because of the pandemic. Although we miss not seeing friends and family we haven't seen for years, the celebration is our marriage, not the party.

    I love the fact that you found positive lessons to be learned during this time. Perhaps that's the most important thing we can all take away from 2020. I hope you get to take that trip and celebrate your birthday next October!

    1. Kay DiBianca, thank you for the birthday wishes. Belated Happy Anniversary to you and your husband. Yes, the celebration is a marriage of fifty years. God bless you. I hope to make that trip next October and prior to that, I hope to make it to the Blue Ridge Mts. CWC.

  3. We were forced to get rid of unused junk when we moved a year ago. Fortunately our children descended on our place, rented a dumpster and threw away things we thought we needed. I looked the other way--and it turns out I don't miss most of the things they threw away.

  4. Roberta Sarver, thank you for a good laugh this morning. When your children came with a dumpster, you looked the right away — the other way.