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We’re celebrating big today … and this week … and really, a good part of this year. But it’s all for this day: Seth’s 40th birthday!

We’re in the midst of four trips for his big 4-0: Florida in May (pictured here), the Chicago area in June and Tennessee as we speak! The last trip in the set is set for next month and will double as our anniversary celebration.

But in the meantime — until all those birthday trips are in the books and blogged — I’d like to mark this big milestone with 40 little notes celebrating Seth.

40 reflections for 40 years

It’s no easy task to put a person into words, but in the spirit of honoring Seth by summing up his best qualities, here is my best effort! He is:

  1. Accommodating. He often goes out of his way to make things easier for other people, epitomizing the ideal of treating others as more important than himself.

  2. Adventurous. He’s always game for a good road trip, for exploring new places and for trying new things (while still tempering my tendency to allegedly get too close to wild animals and canyon edges).

  3. Amiable. If you meet him, you’ll like him. Guaranteed.

  4. Ambitious. Like a lot of our generation, he graduated college right at the cusp of an economic depression — which didn’t make job hunting easy, even with a fairly marketable engineering degree. But he took the work he could get at the time and since then has made huge strides in his career.

  5. Analytical. His current job is as an analyst for the Department of Homeland Security, so this quality is to be expected. But he truly does have the best possible brain for that line of work.

  6. Circumspect. He’s good at seeing the big picture and thinking logically about things and really should probably be President. #Seth2024

  7. Collaborative. Although he’s a good leader when circumstances call for it (#Seth2024), he’s also a gracious team player.

  8. Committed. When he sets a goal or forms a habit, he sticks to it — so much so that his streak of perfect circles in Apple’s Fitness app was almost 700 days … Until, devastatingly, it was broken by our day traveling home from Key West in May. But now he’s back at it, undeterred by that heartbreaking broken streak.

  9. Considerate. He has a knack for keeping others in mind, for caring for aging relatives and — in the incredibly rare instance I might benefit from criticism — for delivering it in a careful and thoughtful way (as well as with fear and trembling).

  10. Courageous. He already had a life course charted and was partway through college when he decided to join the Army after 9/11. He was motivated not by career options but, rather, by a sense of duty to his country — which has always struck me as an unlikely choice for most people to make in wartime.

  11. Curious. It’s not uncommon for him to set out on an impromptu research project when something strikes his interest — and more often than not, that something is a piece of technology or principle of physics I wouldn’t have thought to wonder about. So I learn a lot that I wouldn’t of my own volition — including an abundance about All The Automobiles. (Did you know the 4Runner is built on the Tacoma frame? I now not only know this but recite it every time I see a 4Runner — no joke.)

  12. Diligent. He’s unflaggingly thorough on the job, and if you notice him at a wedding, he’s probably finding something to photograph even during the few moments here and there when it might be possible to have some down time.

  13. Diplomatic. We can both take a strong stance on the issues that matter to us — like whether it’s admissible to leave clothes in random places around the house upon undressing (arguably our greatest ongoing conflict) — but he always makes a point to understand my point of view.
  14. Empathetic. He doesn’t come across as a soft person but does have a soft heart when it comes to seeing others suffer.

  1. Foresightful. Did anyone else not know this was a word? I promise it is, because I looked it up specifically to describe Seth’s penchant for planning for the future rather than only doing what’s gratifying at present.

  2. Fun. Whether on cross-country adventures or ordinary evenings on the couch, his company can’t be beat in my book.

  1. Handsome. This may not matter much to most people, but as someone who spends a lot of her life looking at him, I appreciate it.

  2. Helpful. Whether it’s offering pro bono financial counseling and technical support or providing muscle for moving large pieces furniture — to name just a few of his most sought-after specialties — he really is a handy guy to have around.

  3. Hopeful. No matter how the present appears, he has a deep belief that all will be well in the end.

  4. Humble. Humble people don’t call themselves humble, and neither does he. But whether or not he’d agree with this characterization, he really isn’t ostentatious about all he’s accomplished (which is why you may not have heard about how perfect a wife he has).

  5. Inventive. If something doesn’t work as easily or ideally as it should, he can often figure out a fix or at least find a workaround. And if he’s ever frustrated with being the go-to guy for fixing other people’s problems, he really only has himself to blame, being a top-notch problem-solver!

  6. Joyful. When something strikes him as especially funny, he’ll sometimes laugh so hard no sound comes out — and this might be my favorite (non) sound.

  7. Kind. He truly is one of the kindest people I’ve known in the way he interacts not only with me but with pretty much anyone. With the exception, perhaps, of people who let their lawn care slide or leave old couches sitting at their curb. Because he’s also:

  8. Observant. This may not be a plus for individuals in our general area who don’t keep their home’s exterior tidy (and who may then find themselves anonymously reported to the city), but it is a plus for property values.

  9. Patient. Not that he needs to be, at least on account of me. I am of course always easygoing, never opinionated or set in my ways, and not one to give driving instructions from the passenger seat. But if I were any of these, I suspect he’d handle it pretty well.

  10. Persistent. Case in point: I once came home from work on a day he was running wiring for speakers in our bathroom ceiling. It evidently wasn’t going well, as I found him sitting dejected on the floor in his underwear … because even clothes were too much of an annoyance in his current state (which he described, unconvincingly, as “just chilling”). I don’t remember what solution he found to the roadblocks he’d encountered up in the attic but do know he stuck with it until those speakers were installed — and he’s persisted through many other challenging projects since then.

  11. Positive. Outside of the occasional short-lived grumpy episode (which I promise is never instigated by me), he makes the most of situations and has an uplifting disposition that always brightens my life.

  12. Practical. I sometimes run ideas by him with an invitation to tell me why they won’t work — not because he’s discouraging of my dreams but because I know that if I have any blind spots in my brainstorming, he’ll likely spot them.

  13. Rational. To an extreme. So much so that I’d advise not going up against him in any complex strategy game, because he’s usually multiple plays ahead in his mind — and it’s practically impossible for mere mortals to combat that kind of wizardry.

  14. Reliable. If you make a dumb move that drains your car battery, he’s only a phone call away to rescue you with jumper cables. (Actually, this may hold true mostly just for me … But in whatever capacity he commits to coming through for someone, he’ll do it.)

  15. Sacrificial. Becoming a wedding photography team wasn’t initially our plan; it just sort of started when I reached the point of needing a partner in my work and he jumped in without being asked. I’m sure he didn’t realize how many of his future Saturdays he was signing over, but he’s stuck by my side both in life and in business and has undoubtedly become one of the most skilled “accidental” artists out there. Which brings me to:

  16. Skilled. He becomes competent at pretty much anything he sets his mind to do. What he doesn’t know, he learns — and he’s not intimidated by projects like pouring concrete or cutting tree limbs, even though his day job is at a desk.

  17. Smart. Not only in terms of stored knowledge but also in his ability to think and to learn. I’d even go so far as to say he’s the smartest person in a lot of rooms (assuming, of course, that I’m not there).

  18. Steadfast. When businesses do well, it’s often largely due to consistency in their goods or services. And if it were possible to buy stock in Seth, I would — because he’s steady in that way, not someone who leaves you wondering what mood or version of himself will show up on a given day.

  19. Strong. I mean this in multiple senses but here will share the story of how he surprised his Army unit by beating everyone who went up against him in a wrestling match, including a 300-pound guy he pinned eight times. I’m taking his word for it since I wasn’t there, but from what I do know of his ability to use his strength, I believe it’s far from a tall tale!

  20. Surprising. I doubt anyone without an intimate knowledge of his history would ever suspect that he was expelled from eighth grade … but he in fact was (before going on to graduate high school at the top of his class). And I count myself lucky to be among those who know these unexpected (if slightly deviant) details of his story.

  21. Sweet. My mom can confirm this, as her reaction early in our relationship was an emphatic “Seth is so sweet” — spurred by his willingness to get up early on Christmas morning to help my dad shovel snow. I’m pretty sure that if he hadn’t already won over my parents, they certainly had their hopes set on him from then on as their future son-in-law.

  22. Trustworthy. Pre-marriage, I was pretty independent and picky, unwilling to trust the course of my life too easily to anyone. But because of all the qualities listed here and then some, Seth actually was an easy choice.

  23. Wise. I of course brought a lot of Wisdom to his life, but he has quite a bit in his own right, as well.

  24. Witty. He’s one of those people who can be funny off the cuff, which is evident from my written collection of 600+ “Sethisms.” And although this trait is listed last by virtue of my alphabetizing, I think it’s actually a pretty perfect point to end on — because I hope this day, especially, will be lighthearted and full of laughter.

Happy 40th, Seth, and here’s hoping for many more years of you in the world!

I'm a print-journalist-turned-wedding-photographer who fully believes in the value of telling true stories beautifully. By means of a camera, I am a curator so my clients can be keepers of their most important moments.

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all rights reserved