My birthday has never been a convenient day to celebrate. When I was a little girl, my birthday parties were rarely looked forward to because it meant summer was coming to a close and school was starting soon. As I got older, many friends and family members would be away because it falls on or near Labor Day weekend. So, I have gotten quite used to not celebrating on my actual birthday. This year looked like no exception, as it fell in the middle of the week.
I knew I was going to be alone on my birthday and honestly, as an introverted person, that is absolutely fine with me! I like spending time with people but I also need, make that NEED, time alone. So, normally, a day to myself: to read, practice yoga, write, be in nature, make jewelry or some other artsy-crafty project would suit me down to the ground. However, since it was my birthday, I wanted to do something to celebrate. I decided the best way to do that was to make it a day of gratitude and giving.
My first stop was Target. Since I started all this dental work, my monetary donations have dwindled. So, when I got a gift card from the sales guys at work for Target, I decided to buy food to donate to a local food pantry. I was inspired by Mimi Ikonn’s birthday video for this first deed. (Our plans diverge after that. She gave people free hugs. I’m … not a hugger.) I went over the limit for the gift card but it was worth it. I was pretty happy with my haul:
Okay… two! (It was my birthday after all.)
When I returned home, I wrote out a list of 100 things for which I am grateful. I won’t be sharing this (you’re welcome!) It is a really good exercise to do, especially on a birthday. We are trained by advertisers practically from infancy to think about what we are going to receive on our birthdays. It’s worth taking a moment to appreciate all that we already have.
It’s funny. The landscaping guy broke my car window by accident the day before. Initially, I was pretty annoyed that my birthday was going to start at the glass place. Then I gave myself a little smack-down. How many people in the world would love to have a car in the first place? How many people would love something to eat on their birthday? “#1stworldproblem, Cynthia Lenz! Get over it!” And I did quickly.
I decided not to keep all my gratitude to myself. I wrote out a card to one of my friends expressing how pleased I was to have such a good friend in my life. It was a lot of fun mailing a card to someone else on my birthday. How nice is it to get an unexpected bit of appreciation in the mail? At that moment, knowing I was doing something to bring a bit of cheer to someone else, which no one else knew about, was a gas! I think it will be a new tradition. Thankfully, I have a lot of other people in my life to send cards to.
My last act of goodwill was to make banana bread for everyone at work the next day. Judging from how often I see people at the vending machine, I figured an unexpected homemade sweet treat would be appreciated.
While the banana bread was in the oven, I sat down to eat dinner. I poured myself a nice glass of sauvignon blanc. The wine was a gift from my buddy, Jack, at work. I told him I would toast to his health and prosperity on my birthday and I did.
I really enjoyed my different kind of birthday. Birthdays have a special energy to them. They remind us we were given the gift of life. Think of what it would be like to never have existed. Impossible! I don’t mean to sound like Pollyanna. Life is really REALLY hard sometimes. Having a little awareness of the beauty, that is all around us every day, makes it much easier to endure those challenges. What better way to celebrate it than by creating a little beauty for others?