“You don’t write your resolutions on January first,” Julie informed me. “You write them on your birthday. That’s the true start of your New Year!

Great idea. Julie always had a lot of great ideas. Some of them were a little dangerous, possibly illegal in a few states, but all of them were powered by a large dose of high energy. Julie didn’t do anything half-assed.

She called me “Bookie Bono” because I was always the one who held the money whenever she bet with some poor schmuck on the Chicago Bulls’ games. Julie was from Chicago, and she liked to “stir up a little action” whenever the Bulls were playing.

Back then we often hung out at Grannie Annie’s and Ole’s Nook in Ocean Park. Sadly, both those bars have closed, their owners have passed away, and saddest of all, Julie has joined them on the other side. But her legacy lives on every time I retell one of her flamboyant escapades, which turns out to be quite often.

I remember the time… Once when Julie… I probably shouldn’t repeat this, cause the statute of limitations may not have expired…

Our lives were different then. We worked hard, we played hard, we took lots of calculated (as well as downright dumb) risks, we celebrated raucously, and we vowed to never have regrets for the things we didn’t do.

Julie taught me compassion for all living things. She taught me how to Pay It Forward, long before the movie by that name made the concept popular. She taught me how to do frequent random acts of kindness—and not get caught doing them (She said they didn’t count if you got found out!). She taught me how to pull off the red-headed attitude, even if I didn’t have red hair.

Tomorrow is her birthday; mine was a couple weeks ago. In her honor, I continue the practice of writing resolutions each June. Number one on my current list: Live in such a way that Julie would be proud.

Happy Birthday, my friend.