You're Invited to My Birthday!

Birthdays can so easily devolve into mini pity parties with the following guests:

“This isn’t where I wanted to be at x age.” “No one loves me…enough.” “What have I even accomplished?” “Next year will be better. God owes me that. I deserve it!”

It’s a celebration of not-enough, not-there-yet, promises of future generosity only to mask a rooted entitled pride. At a party like this, I will get drunk and cry and then eat 3AM fries with a disgusting amount of bbq sauce.

So let me plan another kind of party that forces me to choose the small victories over the unfilled big dreams, to choose the people who love me over those I have unfair expectations on and to choose Thank You’s over Next! Because I think a heart of courage and gratitude make dreams bigger and more colorful without the chains of a timeline and comparison.

You’re invited. Come with sparkles. Get ready to dance and mingle:

  • I am grateful for a God who loves me and stretches me to love better.

  • I am grateful for Joyce who is fighting for the rights and the place of Asian American families.

  • I am grateful for a family that makes me dependent on God to teach me forgiveness, grace and kindness because I am not those things naturally.

  • I am grateful for Toni and the most life-giving hours on end hangs.

  • I am grateful for Kerry who inspires me and who listens to my monologues.

  • I am grateful for Brandon, Nelson, Watson, Elliot, Oscar, Lola and Lucy for giving me the best home a girl would never have dreamed of.

  • I am grateful for Janet & Luis for being family and for showing me a marriage I aspire to.

  • I am grateful for Bianca and her never-ending generosity and fun and realness and for our little podcast endeavor.

  • I am grateful for Gospel Care and all the friends who see and know me, and give me opportunities to share my gifting in a way that I long: Samri, Hillary, Jaslyn, Sarah, Mark, Caroline, Nathan, Aubrey

  • I am grateful for Aubrey and our drives to Malibu. Oh Malibu!

  • I am grateful for those people fighting in the White House against Trump, maybe as spies.

  • I am grateful for those who have not given up hope in the midst of this administration.

  • I am grateful for Geoff who works with me tirelessly to make my show better.

  • I am grateful for an acting studio who believes in me, who believes in actors, who lets me build community in LA.

  • I am grateful for Chris who taught me the love of plays and rehearsal and monologues.

  • I am grateful for people like Ben who believe in his students.

  • I am grateful for the Bible, most of the time.

  • I am grateful for Faye for trusting me with her and Bobby and for being kind and generous and funny and for making me laugh more than I do with any other couple.

  • I am grateful for Claudia and our stocks talk.

  • I am grateful for Jenni for being a mom/friend/mentor/friend.

  • I am grateful for Olivia for letting me send my mail to her home and for always being down.

  • I am grateful for Melinda and our walks around the reservoir.

  • I am grateful for Chiara and her getting-it.

  • I am grateful for Karen and her kindness.

  • I am grateful for my family at Intelligentsia and for making Silver Lake feel like home.

  • I am grateful for SJ for making me love singing again.

  • I am grateful for Jackson, Chelsea, Hannah, Ngan, and the whole Girls Who Code team for giving me a gig that makes me go GO GIRLS!

  • I am grateful for a car that works.

  • I am grateful that I have a city like New York City.

  • I am grateful for public libraries where I can borrow plays and copy sheet music.

  • I am grateful for my guitar and for the calluses that are forming on my fingers.

  • I am grateful for all the friends who have trusted me with their homes and/or pets: Michael, Eliza, Katie, Johanna, Lizzy, Josiah, Lissa, Sam, Sarah, Elyse

  • I am grateful for 365 Whole Foods.

  • I am grateful for Joanne and Ruth, that no matter how much time passes, we fall right back into place.

  • I am grateful for Sophia being the realest mom and for being my future mentor if I ever get the chance to be preggers.

  • I am grateful for Ol’ Fashion’s.

  • I am grateful for Jenny and Tam for showing me the long-suffering of following Jesus.

  • I am grateful for Williams for making me proud of my nerd.

  • I am grateful for the Boggs Center and the team there that believes in the progress of humanity.

  • I am grateful for my Passion Planner that makes me excited to do my day.

  • I am grateful for Tim Ferris, Chase Jarvis and Masters of Scale podcast.

  • I am grateful for chips & salsa.

  • I am grateful for knowing that I am not what I achieve.

  • I am grateful that I can choose to not be a pity party.

  • I am grateful for the Final Draft that Steve gave me when I first moved to LA 7 years ago.

  • I am grateful for the two gold rings I stole from my mom.

  • I am grateful for Salsa & Beer, BCD Tofu, Pine & Crane and In&Out.

  • I am grateful for the people who show up at St. Francis pantry.

  • I am grateful for my dad’s 80s denim jacket.

The list can go on. And I know I’ve forgotten so many people and things. Please forgive me. This is the thing with gratitude. It builds. You can spiral the other way too.

For this next year, I do want big things. I expect big things, but anything that comes my way will come because I am surrounded by people that make me want to be better and braver. PARTY TIME.

Nancy Ma