I turned 33 today. From about 18 to my late 20s, I really disliked birthdays – they felt like some morbid reminder of how quickly life slips away from you – but by my 30th I could no longer ignore how much better life got as I moved away from the overwhelming insecurity of being a 20-something. So now I look forward to birthdays as a chance to reflect on lessons learned and feel gratitude for all the friends and family who take time to contact me. And when you have a preschooler, you have super cool conversations like this:
Me – Hey, Jonah, guess how old I’ll be tomorrow on my birthday?
Jonah – Um, five?
Me – Nope! Thirty-three.
Jonah – WOAH! That’s really, REALLY big!!!
Ha! I loved how he phrased it: “REALLY big!” Somehow, it seemed to hit on the growth that we continue to do as we age, even though at a certain point our culture views aging as a decline. It was just so positive and happy!
In addition to my usual birthday rituals – for example, dinner out with my parents – this year I tried to incorporate some additional perks into my day, just to make it extra special.
- As soon as I got downstairs with the boys this morning, I put music on Pandora that I would enjoy listening to while I made breakfast.
- I took the time to make a high protein breakfast because I knew I’d feel better the rest of the day if my blood sugar wasn’t plummeting.
- I tracked down my favorite outfit in our piles of clean laundry and made sure I was wearing clothes that I would feel attractive in. This seems like something that should be easy to do everyday, but at this point in my life it’s just not.
- I put on make-up and wore earrings, just for fun!
- I had my mom watch the boys so I could attend a sister circle for mothers and be able to pay attention without worrying what they were up to. I took extra time picking out what to contribute to the salt bowl and selected yummy, luscious things that made me happy, including purple glitter!
- On my way to pick up the kiddos, I indulged in picking up my favorite sandwich from a local shop near my mom’s house. And I savored every bite.
While I usually feel too rushed in the morning to get too fancy with wardrobe and make-up, the extra boost I felt all day is making me seriously consider setting a few extra minutes aside for these things on a more consistent basis. I’ve never felt the need to wear make-up everyday, but it might be fun to do so more often than I am right now.
Whenever I make a point of trying to make life just a little bit more special, I am struck by how easy some of these things are: playing music in the background, being more mindful about my appearance, or indulging in a treat I don’t usually have. None of these things took a huge investment of time or money, but I appreciated all of them so much! They just gave my day that extra little umph.
In addition to finding ways to indulge myself, my friends and family went out of their way to make me feel special too. From babysitting to thoughtful gifts, they reached out in ways that made me feel loved and cherished. My husband got me some new colored pencils so that I don’t have to use my kids’ pencils for my mandala coloring book. My parents got me some additions to my Fiestaware collection that I really wanted. And my in-laws got me some book and movie gift cards, so I was able to go to Barnes and Noble after dinner and pick up a couple of Brene Brown’s books I’ve been wanting to read. One of the women at sister circle this morning even gifted me a copy of Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. We tend to have the same taste in books, so I’m sure I’ll love it.
I know that many people are skeptical about the value of special days. “You should tell the people in your life that you appreciate them all the time, not just on their birthdays.” Or, “What’s up with Valentine’s Day – husbands should bring their wives flowers just because, not because of some stupid Hallmark holiday.” Yadda yadda yadda. But you know what? We don’t do those things enough. It would be great if we did, but we don’t. So when the opportunity comes around to do that little something extra for yourself or a loved one around you . . . just do it.
What rituals and traditions do you typically do on your birthday?