Birthday thoughts

One of the greatest values I’ve learned from Native folks is the belief that on special occasions in life you give gifts rather than receive them. So, for my birthday, I’d like to offer you the gift of some of the life lessons I’ve learned on my 77 trips around the sun.

We all have a ministry. Serve quietly whenever and wherever you can.

People want to be liked. People like people who like them.

People want to be helpful — the young and the old, especially, need to be made to feel useful.

People want to talk about themselves. Listen to them, without pulling the conversation back to yourself.

The only legitimate exercise of power is to give it away.

Burn no bridges. Forgiveness, to whatever degree you can practice it, is always the best course.

“Thank you” and “I’m sorry” are the two most important phrases in daily human affairs.

Sometimes you need to take a step backward in order to go forward.

Giving is a generative act.

Debt, once acquired, rules your life.

You will regret most the things you don’t do.

Though people will use it against you and you will be hurt by manipulative people, you will never go wrong by being kind.

Pet every dog you can.


31 thoughts on “Birthday thoughts”

  1. Thank you Kent for this wisdom. As the anniversary of my 77th whirl around the sun is coming up soon, you have just given me the best gift…a very special way to prepare and celebrate. I was planning on just letting it sort of breeze by without notice. Now I will create a fun giving day. Have a very fun birthday!

  2. Happy birthday and thank you, Kent. Many words of wisdom in those lines. Can I add one? “Pet every cat you can”. I saw a picture of you holding a cat one day and it was beautiful. They are all precious.

  3. Many Blessings Kent on your special day, considering the gifts you’ve given us!
    I’m praying for many more trips around the Sun, as many as you want.
    I give thanks to God for your Mom and Dad and You.

    I love your Birthday Thoughts and would like to post it in my home.
    But I didn’t see one on your website. You should have one made.

    It’s a great picture of you, too!
    Unless we all become like children . . . . . .

    Many Blessings Kent

  4. Shelly Powers

    I love this!!! So much wisdom here. I’m saving this for my young grandson’s that are 8 and 9 years old to add to the important things I want them to consider so thank you. Many years ago I wrote to you looking for a Native non-profit to volunteer with and you recommended Red Feather. What an amazing journey since those days so thank you for that and the wonderful things you share in your writings.

  5. Douglas O'Neill

    Your 77 times around this orb is a present to us, your readers, and your cyberspace friends. If I knew of a gift that would mean something to you, I would say, “Your ability to write and communicate with words is a God-given gift like any other art form. Let me give you the only gift I can send you for us that do not possess such a gift. Thank you for making my 72 trips on the same orb a wonderful experience because of your talents!”
    Wishing you the best,
    Doug O’Neill
    Retired sociologist
    Brookings, SD

  6. Windi Landis-Stermer

    Happy Birthday Kent! Celebrate yourself today. Your gift of words were quite moving. Love it! Have a fun holiday tomorrow also! Happy 4th coming at ya!

  7. Jerry Somdahl

    Thank you for your gift. I have found such delight and insights in your writings. I hope your birthday finds you content and full of the love of this life.

  8. Happy Birthday, Kent. On July1st my dog, Tori, and I celebrated our birthdays. Me, 55. Tori, 13. You first tip toed into my life with your beautiful book, Simple Truths. I have since gifted that book more times than I can count. I’ve read several of your other books too–more than once. I’m better for “knowing” you. Thank you for giving so generously.


  9. Carolyn Yates

    Happy Birthday! I will be 68 soon but my mother (89) will probably not make 90 as her dear body is wearing out. This Saturday I will travel to where she lives (about 5 hours away) and hold a birthday lunch in a bowling club we’ve hired. I’m blessed that 18 members of my family aged 6 moths to 89 will sit down with me. This is my gift to our family and it makes my mother and I feel very happy to plan it and look forward to it. Your words keep me grounded. Thank you.

  10. Travis Ramage

    Thank you for the words of wisdom from your 77 years around the the sun. I also celebrated by 49 trips around the sun on 7/3. I especially appreciated the tip of petting every dog we see. 🙂

  11. Happy Birthday and many more. I always enjoy the wisdom you share. Thank you

  12. Cindy Chicoine

    I hear you.
    I honor your wisdom sharing.
    I give gratitude for your life ministry that reaches my heart.

  13. Wanblee eion kapee

    Thanks for your thoughts. Celebrated 50 years of sobriety on June 1st, as did a mutual friend, Basil B of Pine Ridge in March. Also 83 years of riding around on this ball of dirt we call Earth. Our paths crossed many years ago and we shared our journey on Highway 2 from MN to Seattle. You, on a moto, my mode was by “thumb” at the age of 15 in 1955!

  14. These words . . . your gift . . . they bring tears in response to your wisdom and grace. They are a gift of re-membering.
    Deep calls to deep and I am grateful.
    Joyous birthday, Kent.

  15. Thank you, Kent, for your words of wisdom and Happy Birthday! I will turn 70 in two months and will add your words to my attempt to serve in an “elder” place. Liked the last comment especially! Thank you for sharing your online thoughts and wonderful books – looking forward to the next one!

  16. Thank you for your birthday gift to us all!!! Your words filled my soul today. Your wisdom and experiences have been a gift to me over the years. Thank you!!!
    Have a wonderful birthday! 🥳

  17. Carol Vagnini

    You have gifted me and so many with your writings! I am so thankful to have met and heard you in Vail, CO. Please keep writing: your wisdom is immense and a treasure. Happiest birthday wishes.
    Carol Vagnini

  18. Happy Birthday Kent! I love the words you have shared with all of us on your birth day and plan to share them at my next women’s gathering. You definitely have been given the gift of speaking what many of us feel but can not express. My Pastor shared your book “Neither Wolf Nor Dog” with me about 16 years ago, and since then I have read most of your books, heard you speak in the Twin Cities, and saw the movie about 3 times. I grew up in SD and am grateful for all you have done to bring light to the beauty, wisdom and heart of the Native American people. May you be blessed.

  19. Kent, this is a list I’ll refer to often. Thank you. You will always be my favorite author.

    Wishing you many happy returns of the day.

  20. Ramona Guerrero-Rodriguez

    Ahxéhéé Mr. Newburn for sharing your heart in all you write. Creator bless you always💙🪶

  21. Dear Kent-thank you. Your truth is well said . Birthday blessings & love. The Midwest will miss your heart & soul.

  22. Chas Scheiderer

    I wish I discovered you earlier. I was recently loaned a copy of your book Neither Wolf nor Dog. I can’t say I enjoyed it because it made me so sad. I wish I got to meet Dan. I’m going out to get The Wolf at Twilight foxiest thing tomorrow. Thank you for your work.

  23. Chas Scheiderer

    That was meant to say first thing tomorrow. Dan would be disappointed at my lack of attention to detail.

  24. You, Dan, and your other friends and characters have broadened and deepened my life splendidly. I greatly appreciate coming to know of you and all that you have shared. Heartfelt thanks.

  25. Thank you for writing Neither Wolf Nor Dog, I borrowed it from a friend in Switzerland while on holiday. It has helped me understand some things in life, mainly we all need to listen more and talk less!!

  26. Happy Birthday from another July birthday celebrator! I like the thoughts that you shared and I will ponder them as I join the 70s Club! Keep sharing your thoughts and perspectives. You write in a way that speaks to so many of us! Thank you!

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