This One is Different, Happy Birthday to Me!

I don’t like birthdays. Never have, never thought I would. I like to celebrate accomplishments. Celebrate doing something, achieving something. I’ve always thought celebrating a birthday was kind of weird. I mean, everyone has one, what’s so special about having one.

I dislike birthday’s so much that if there is something I want and my birthday is near, I just buy it so it can’t be “for my birthday.”

In the past 5 years my perspective about almost everything has changed. Feel free to read the previous entries of the blog to see why. I’d like to think I’ve evolved. But this birthday thing, I just couldn’t wrap my head around what’s so special, until March of 2019.

*This is a better time than any to make a very important note. I love kid birthday parties. We have been lucky enough to have great friends and family who throw parties for their kids. Those afternoons are some of my favorite events. Mostly because it’s a reason to gather. How I miss gathering with friends, I hope we can be back to “normal” soon. Thank you to everyone who invites our family to your child’s birthday party. I just hope if your reading, you didn’t stop at the 1st paragraph and decide to stop inviting us.

Back to my perspective about Birthdays. February of 2019 it was apparent that my mother was not going to live long. She had been battling cancer and it was obvious to her and us that her time on earth was coming to an end. I tried to spend as much time as I could with her during those months. On one of my visit’s she brought up my upcoming 40th birthday in May.

I didn’t like the idea of turning 40. Really hated it actually. I like to think of myself as 25. Heck, I open baseball cards for a living, I’m really 12. I was really struggling with it and my mom knew it. Our conversation went something like this:

Mom: “Tom, are you excited to turn 40 in May.”

Me: “No, in fact I’m going to skip this birthday and every other birthday. I don’t want to have a birthday anymore.”

Mom: “I wish more than anything I could have another birthday. That would be another year with you, Michelle and most importantly, my grandkids. Instead I won’t have another birthday. “

May be an image of Al Kulczewski and Peggy Kulczewski and people smiling
This is the Facebook profile picture my mother put up on her profile. How fitting, celebrating a birthday! My dad loves the Cubs and Ice Cream Cake!

My mom just put me in my place. I didn’t know what to say. I think she found a little joy in putting me in my place. Who am I kidding, she found a lot of joy in putting me in my place.

The only thing I could really do was to celebrate my birthday. I still wasn’t ok with that. As May approached, mom’s health got worse. She passed away April 25, 2019. 11 days before my birthday. He funeral was 3 days before my birthday.

I decided to not listen to mom. We didn’t throw a party. Our family was living in a 3 bedroom apartment at the time. We were building a house and it couldn’t be done fast enough. The birthday came and went.

41, that will be the party. I turned 41 on May 6, 2020. Guess what people were doing May of 2020. The answer, not a thing. That birthday came an went.

42 is where it’s at. I turn 42 today and I’m pumped. Another year with my wonderful family. Another year of running a business that really started by opening packs of baseball cards in a basement. Now we are remodeling a 6,000 sq ft building into a true destination cards shop that will be an awesome place to work, hang out, and simply be. Another year of traveling and finding new adventures. Another year of making new friends and truly reconnecting with others. No more BS small talk. Either connect with friends or don’t waste anyone’s time.

If your reading this (thank you by the way), what am I trying to say to you. Celebrate every stinking day. Don’t wait for your birthday. Do what you want to do. The first thing, is that everyone’s path and trail is different. Do what you want to do. Not what someone else wants you do to. 1) Want to do a dream job, but your crappy 9-5 is getting in the way. Start your dream job from 9 pm to 2 am. Build it up, then quit your 9-5 and be your own boss. 2) Want to be a better cook for your family. Take the time, learn a recipe and get the “good” food. Take pride in the dinner. 3) Want to write a blog. Just start writing. Don’t care what others think. Guess what, they are jealous if you take risks they would never take. They can sit around the bar stool and talk about you all they want. 4) Want to finish a degree. Do it. Don’t make excuses.

Go all in, be bold. Believe in yourself. My baseball card business is tons of fun. Lately I’ve recognized a saying others say to me when they learn a little about the business. The saying is “who would have thought.” I never really thought much about that saying, but today someone said it to me when I was wiring a large amount of money for a large amount of baseball cards. My answer just came out: ” I thought. I thought about it 5 years ago and decided to pour my heart and soul in it. I thought about it because I have so much self confidence in my abilities and work ethic the hundreds of doubters in my life didn’t effect me. My wife thought it would work, my business partner also thought it would work. I think about it day and night. That’s who would have thought.”

The bank employee looked at me and simply said: “Good for you. I’m glad you thought of it.”

Tom Kulczewski is actually looking forward to turning 42 today, who would have thought.

4 thoughts on “This One is Different, Happy Birthday to Me!

  1. Kora, “Daddy, why are you crying?” Me, “Oh, I’m fine. Just reading Tommy K’s blog.” Happy birthday! Let’s get together & celebrate your 43rd.

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  2. So true Tom. When I think about birthdays it’s 29. As we were growing up my mom is still to this day only 29 😆. When I turned 29 I was like o my goodness I’m as old as mom. I still say it all the time. Great memories with my mom and the family.
    Your blogs always are so true and to the point. I left a high paying job as it was not what I really wanted to do and was very unhappy with it. My wife and I had so many plans together and our lives going forward so stepping away was easy to do what we thought was the right step. Yes COVID did put some hardship on us but we stuck with it and are moving in the direction we want.
    Thanks for the words of thought and being together mean so much.

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