(Originally published in The Huffington Post)
I turned 40 this week. I am not overly focused on my age, because I’m really enjoying my life right now. That’s not the whole story though. I spent a big part of this year really tripping over having the PERFECTLY AMAZING BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION!
I know I’m not alone, in the age of social media where we are delivered by-the-minute highlights from our friends lives, having a little Birthday Envy is more common than most of us would admit. I don’t know about you, but big budget baller bashes, epic sojourns to foreign lands and movie star encounters stay in my news feed.
I am genuinely happy for my friends, but the kindergartener in me has been asking, “When is it going to be my turn?”
Attempting to make it my turn, I shared some extravagant ideas with my husband. After a long talk we agreed the ideas weren’t practical with all that we already had going on. We decided to schedule them for next year.
But in my head I worried, “I need to put something in my newsfeed NOW, because it’s my birthday NOW!”
My husband, who secretly keeps track of my heart’s desires, assured me that all would be okay in the future and the NOW. Meanwhile, he was planning something for me that I was sure to enjoy.
My intention was to trust this plan of practicality and patience fully, but I didn’t. My frustrations grew. I bit my tongue for a while. Then somewhere along the journey I found myself verbalizing my frustrations about not having the epic celebration I’d envisioned.
So what did I do? I had one of my messy (but beautiful) venting sessions.
To Know Better Is To Do Better
While the venting made me feel better at first, I realized this outburst was an optional part of the process. I realized it could have been avoided if I had focused on the right things from the start.
I realized the planning and celebration of beautiful life events such as the day you were born could be Amazing and feel Amazing with a few key shifts in perspective.
I hope these realizations help you have a more amazing birthday (or other major life event) the next time one rolls around. Here’s what my journey helped me discover:
- The Newsfeed Doesn’t Matter You Do.
If you are not on social media you already know this. If you are “on the fence” or “all in” on social media you probably struggle with this. I mean when you’re not on social media you know it doesn’t matter.
But when you’re on it for too long, you tend to get sucked in and taken back to a high school way of thinking. Your sense of what is real and lasting becomes totally warped. Your sense of your true priorities in life becomes distant. You let others highlights become about YOU and what you are NOT experiencing rather than focusing on all of the wonderful stuff that makes up your life.
If this at all sounds like you, consciously limit your time on your outlets of choice on the time leading up to and during your birthday. I know you want to spend time sharing selfies and reading all the birthday posts. You can and will do that, but try doing it after you take the time to celebrate yourself!
- Gratitude Matters A Lot Too.You knew this was coming didn’t you? The most important thing to do on your birthday is have gratitude. Making a mental or written list of all the good things in your life is a quick easy way to shift your perspective when your emotions get the best of you.When I focused on these things I became more grounded and able to prepare for the best birthday of my life.Gratitude that my mom and dad found each other and made me.
Gratitude that I have food and shelter.
Gratitude for the beautiful family that surrounds me.
Gratitude for my health.
Gratitude for the friendships I have.
- Reflection is a Gift.
Before your birthday comes, I would encourage you to think about how you want to celebrate and why you want to celebrate that way. Be honest and make sure you aren’t making choices for the wrong reasons like I was. This will likely help you avoid irritability and messy (but beautiful) venting sessions with loved ones.
The day of your birthday take some time to pray, meditate, journal, blog or draft a post for social media. Spend some time alone thinking about the journey you’ve been fortunate to have in this unique life of yours.Spend some time thinking about how AMAZING you are. How talented and gifted you are. Next ask yourself what you want to do with those gifts and talents while you’re still here. I promise you won’t regret taking these moments of solitude. In just a few moments you can envision a beautiful roadmap of the year to come.
- Celebration is a Mindset You Can Have All Year Long.
Putting too much emphasis on having the perfect moment or the perfect day means things can play out really right or really wrong. Trying to ensure that all things come out really right can lead you down the path of an exhausted, disappointed control freak. Yes, I’ve been there.
When I decided to stop putting so much emphasis on one day being perfect, I found I relaxed quite a bit. Relaxing helped me see that this is actually shaping up to be a pretty epic year regardless of what happens on my actual birth day.
I have several trips and visits planned with my beautiful family or friends. If they all come to pass I will have spent quality time with the people I love. Later this month I will launch an awesome new program to support moms who want to grow in their commitment to organic living. I’m also enjoying discovering new talents as a creative.
In other words, when you look for things that bring you joy in your daily life, you might not feel the need to cram all the fun and beauty into one day or week. You can have mini celebrations as often as you like.
- Be Proactive In Expressing Your Needs to Loved Ones.
One key thing I did this birthday was ask my husband in advance to take the day off because it fell on a Monday. I recognized my birthdays historically trend “#emotional,” so I was proactive in making sure I was doing more than fixing my kids snacks all day. You know I love them, but I needed and deserved to break the routine for my birthday. Hubby delivered the day of my birthday by arranging childcare and took me to an Ayurvedic spa for several hours. It was quite an adventure, which resulted in me being scrubbed, rubbed and anointed with oil. I’m certain it was more oil than King David received in the Bible, but I digress.After the spa we lunched, shopped and then met the kids and granny for an Epic Dinner Celebration! What made it epic? The fact that we spent it together, plus the food was divine. Oh and I should mention that we happened to know the maître d.I say “happened” because the first two restaurants we were going to were closed because it was Monday. We decided to give this third one a try and hope for the best. Upon walking in we were recognized by the restaurant’s manager. When he found out it was my birthday he showered us with complimentary champagne, desserts, live music and the finest the restaurant had to offer.We enjoyed it so much, he invited us to come celebrate with him anytime he is working. So you see, the celebration continues.This weekend I’ll have a fun girls’ night coordinated by hubby to cap the week off. I’d say I can’t wait, but I can. Every day really is a celebration!
Your Recipe For More Joy
I hope this recipe helps you the next time something as wonderful as a birthday, anniversary, or other personal achievement comes your way. If you feel yourself needing to manage your emotions just make yourself a cake.
Get out a bowl and mix a cup of Gratitude, with a half cup of Solitude. Pour in an ounce of Reflection, a Teaspoon of Proactiveness and blend everything with Celebration.