A previous version of this post was published in The Fresno Bee on February 7, 2020.
My birthday. (Like, almost two weeks ago now.) When I first noticed my 2020 birthday would land on a weekend, my mind went into overdrive. “I’ve got to have a party! I’ve got to go big! I’ve got to live it up large while I’m healthy and lucky to celebrate another year!” Guess what big plans I cooked up: Zilch. And did I post it all over my social media? Nope.
Am I sad? No. Am I tired and overwhelmed? Not really. So why no big ta-da? Because the weeks leading up to my birthday went by quicker than I expected, some of my most important friends would be unavailable on the date and I unexpectedly discovered I was fine with or without the kinds of ta-das I used to be so obsessed about in the past. Don’t misunderstand: I still love a great brunch, dinner and/or tasty cocktails…. but if timing and schedules don’t end up aligning with an official event on one particular date, it’s all good.
Recognizing life’s milestones should not be clouded with an overhanging stress of “Am I doing enough to commemorate this moment, compared to everyone on Instagram?” Living real life is about appreciating presence with others, but also appreciating presence with myself. Even if it’s on my birthday.
One of today’s biggest buzzwords in the world of health and wellness is ‘mindfulness’ — the idea that focusing on one thing at one time (rather than running around trying to do twelve things at once) keeps us productive, stress-free and fulfilled. I’ve tried it — for me, it seems to deliver what it promises. I’ve also personally experienced how verbalizing what I’m grateful for on a daily basis maintains a more positive mindset, regardless if any given day is action-packed or uneventful. Why not simply be thankful for the fact that I got one more birthday on the record, instead of picking apart what would or wouldn’t happen this particular year?
Most would agree that spending a birthday out and about and all dressed up is fabulous — I do! (And, I had a day full of family — fun lunch with my daughters, fancy dinner with my husband!) Let’s not discount any priceless and abundant love we get by spending a day at home with our kids, taking a walk around the block, or just binge-watching our latest obsession on Netflix (mine is ‘You,’ if you really want to know…). One of the most important, ongoing lessons that motherhood continues to teach me is to accept and lean into what feeds my spirit each day, as it comes. If that means planning a party with music and dancing, so be it. If that means lounging in my pajamas, I no longer question it. Each year is a gift, even if a birthday falls on a weekend and there are no sequins involved.
Happy Birthday to me, to you, to living life without overthinking or questioning if we’re doing enough. Because the answer is, always: We are… simply by being here.