My 36th birthday has arrived and before I move forward with my life, there's a lot that happened this past year that deserves recognition and celebration.

Let's be honest: 36 isn't exactly a milestone year. If anything, it just means I'm closer to 40 than I'm comfortable admitting. That said, there's a lot to be happy about. In 2023, I married my best friend, broke down personal barriers and went green with a bike.

All in all, it was a banner year with zero regrets.

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My colleague Kristen came up with a fun idea that I had to try out. She told me to think of seven life events that occurred over the past year and match them with songs.

You should try this for yourself before the year is out. Here are mine:

1. The Day I Married My Soulmate

Jagged Edge, "Let's Get Married"

In the words of Buzz Lightyear, my love for my wife goes to infinity and beyond. Our wedding day was the best day of my life, hands down. Sure, it rained, but knowing that my wife was by my side was all I needed. It was a core memory.

2. Relaxing and Traveling the World

Bob Marley & The Wailers, "Thre Little Birds"

Once the plane touched down in Montego Bay, Jamaica, a little ditty went off in my head: "Don't worry about a thing because every little thing is gonna be all right..." My honeymoon was nothing but sunshine, feeling fine and my wife by my side. The rum was a bonus.

3. Learning to Let Go

Idinia Menzel, "Let It Go"

I noticed a familiar pattern this year. Friends came and went as I uncluttered my life. I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder, but I even went as far as emptying my office and keeping only the essentials. From physical items to friendships, sometimes it's worth closing the door in order to escape toxicity. I'm in my "Elsa Era" and loving every moment of it.

4. The Day I Became an Uncle

Rascal Flatts, "My Wish"

I can't begin to tell you how fortunate I am to have become an uncle this year. My love for my brother, my sister-in-law and my new niece is endless and I'm stoked to have gained a new title. As "Uncle G," I promise to always be there for my niece and to protect her from the bullies and heartbreak when she gets older. My wish for her is that she becomes a strong and independent woman, just like her mother, and a resourceful and brilliant young lady, just like her father (minus the lady part).

5.) Gazelle Goes Green:

Queen, "Bicycle Race"

I splurged on my wife and myself this year. Over the summer, I bought us some sweet bikes and, boy, did we put them to use. I went on a streak of riding my bike to and from work. My waistline and my wallet were grateful. Being exposed to the open air and not wasting gas was everything.

6.) Retiring From Rugby

Toby Keith, "As Good As I Once Was"

This one was bittersweet, but long-overdue. I've been playing the barbaric sport of rugby since 2006. My body hurts. I've met a lot of incredible athletes along the way, but most importantly, I've gained family. I love my Providence Rugby crew.

7.) Spreading Kindness and Breaking Barriers

Tim McGraw, "Humble and Kind"

Never in a million years did I see myself visiting schools around the SouthCoast to promote anti-bullying, but I'm glad I did this year. Teaching kids that kindness is stronger than hate was a dream that's become a reality. My mother always taught me to "stay humble and kind" and that's the mantra I'll practice as long as I have a voice.

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