Today is my birthday.
The year I turned 23, no one knew it was my birthday.
I was on retreat in the mountains of Colorado. This was before cell phones and before email. And no one on retreat knew that it was my birthday. No one had the address, there would be no surprise cake, phone call, card or present. I woke up and realized it was “my special day.” And it was up to me to celebrate it.
With a blank slate I chose to celebrate it in little ways, quietly.
That day changed my own expectations of a birthday for me. It was, perhaps, my favorite birthday. And from the year forward, it would be up to me to choose to celebrate my birthday in a way where I celebrated life well.
In 1997 my mom gave me the book, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. When I came to the reading on December 18, I read, “”Today isn’t my birthday, but it might be yours . . . ” I resonated with Sarah’s message: Choose how you will celebrate your birthday, for no one else will be able to celebrate you in the best way because, “no one knows the year you’ve just completed; no one else has lived it.”
Sarah then writes about her birthday ritual. I have adopted and formed my own rituals over the years. It is a time of reflection, pampering and personal gratitude. That makes a birthday to me. No expectations of others.
My birthday is a gift and reminder to me to celebrate life.