I turned 38 years old today. Not such a milestone, but not too shabby either. I’d like to think I’m about halfway through life, or maybe (hopefully) even a little bit less. I’m definitely old enough to know that you can choose how to feel about your birthday, and somewhat wise enough to choose not to let it bring me down. I know so many women feel bummed when they get a year older, maybe just about aging or maybe about expectations not met. I am looking at today as a chance to choose to take care of myself, find a little extra joy, and remember to acknowledge all the wonderful gifts I’ve been given in all their various, mysterious forms. Honestly, I just can’t take it too seriously. I woke up to my kid and my husband delivering me the most adorable and ridiculous, crumbly, sloppy, love-filled cake coated in pink sprinkles and frosting along with a homemade card painstakingly adorned with sparkle hearts. That’s about as good as it gets. Then my loves were off to school and work, and I am here summoning a “treat yo’self” mentality for the rest of the day. Here’s my running list of little ways to celebrate your own birthday.
1. Get up early. Before everybody else. Make a coffee or a cup of tea and go outside in your coziest robe (or look out your prettiest window). Try to get up early enough to see the sunrise. This morning was a magical one. When everybody else woke up, I herded them right outside to enjoy it with me. Cheryl Strayed, in Wild, wrote “There’s a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it – you can put yourself in the way of beauty.” I don’t think anyone can expect to be that present every single day, but your birthday is a good day to purposefully jut your aging butt right in the line of beauty.
2. Answer the Phone. In the past, I’ve been loath to answer the phone on my birthday. It seems silly now. I didn’t know how to just say, “Hey thanks for calling and thinking of me. I miss you too.” Maybe I just enjoyed having those nice voicemails, or maybe I didn’t want to be face-timing with bed head, or maybe the attention just seemed awkward. But this year my mom can’t call me, because she’s gone, and her voicemails are gone too, and I feel more aware of how people can be gone and with them goes your memories of their voices. So I am answering the phone today and facetiming with messy hair and feeling very loved and connected. Also, my kid gave me this pretty new iphone case so my phone and the calls coming on it feel like even more of a gift. And yes, maybe I am infusing my birthday gift of a phone case with a bit more meaning than it was intended to have, but what’s the harm in that?
3. Pamper your bod. I gave myself a pedi (won’t torture you with a picture of my feet, but here’s one of our super-pretty “Springing into Summer” Nail tutorial) and did a deep conditioning treatment on my hair. Then I did one of these cheapo face masks (which i lurve). I have a prescription for massages for my bum hips, which I never take advantage of, so I made myself an appointment for that. I also highly recommend checking out Groupon or Living Social for some discount local spa experiences. Note: Just returned from my massage. When you go for a medical massage, you might come home in excruciating pain, lol.
4. Clean your jewelry. Sounds random I know, but taking care of one of your treasures makes it new again. Most jewelry stores are happy to clean your jewelry for you for free if you just pop in and ask. I went to the mom and pop shop down the street and they cleaned up my wedding ring and this ring my mother gave me with a smile. She gave me this ring a few days before she died this summer. She wore it on her pinky my entire life, and I always adored it. It’s a capricorn, which we both were. Giving it a little love today made me feel close to her again. And cleaning my wedding ring and seeing it sparkle brought back a flood of memories of the most loving moments between my husband and I.
5. Eat something good. And I’m talking something healthy or at least something homemade. Give your body something to nourish it today. Tonight you can eat some junk that just tastes delicious, but today make a colorful salad or eat a sweet, juicy tangerine. Bonus points if you present it to yourself beautifully, with a proper cloth napkin and maybe a pretty plate or a wine glass of water. Further bonus points if you pick it from a tree. Scarlet made me some deviled eggs on our fanciest egg-serving platter. What a doll that girl is.
6. Read something beautiful. I love poetry and therefore it feels like a treat I give myself. And because it’s a treat I give myself, I don’t take the time to sit and read it too often. It feels so indulgent. I remember when I was writing Prudent Advice, I had a constant stream of poetry in my life, and that was good. So this morning I thought of a favorite birthday poem (Dylan Thomas “Poem in October”) and from there I started poking around, just soaking in some written beauty. Very invigorating. I even posted a poem on Prudent Advice for the first time in years. That poem captures a feeling I’ve been having about time and love and what can and can’t last. There is a poem out there that will feel completely universal while also uniquely meant for you to read on the anniversary of your birth. I mean, truly, there is a poem out there waiting for you. Go find it!
7. Wear something beautiful. I put on a pretty dress today just to hang out and work and shuffle about. I also curled my hair and threw on some lipstick. Why not?
8. Cuddle. With a pet (maybe not a chicken, but a dog or cat or rat would do), or a kid, or a spouse or even a friend. It’s easy to forget how to touch things and be touched, and the warmth it can bring you. It’s also a way of sharing your warmth with others – the perfect way to give and receive at the same time, something so elemental and utterly free.