This week I celebrated my 49th birthday. When asked how I wanted to celebrate, I said that I wanted to be with my teens and a couple close friends, eat some amazing food, pamper myself a bit, spend some time in nature, and do a little self-reflection.
I’m an introvert, so a celebration involves people whom I already know and like, and no surprises. It’s not a day I want to be meeting new people or exerting emotional labour with small talk and frivolities. A Scrabble game is an excellent backdrop for a small, quiet social interaction.
Meals take on a new level of decadence on my birthday, from eggs benedict in the morning, and typically seafood for the rest of the day. This year, lobster, shrimp, and seared tuna made an appearance. The key is that I don’t want to have to do any dishes on my birthday. Cooking is therapeutic and fun for me, but dishes are not. For the cherry on the cake, or should I say pie, I asked for and got Bobber’s coconut cream pie with a coconut crust.
For pampering, my daughter suggested a theme of “paint the town.” We planned home manicures and pedicures to start. Keeping with the paint theme, she also suggested doing some actual painting on canvases. Since we were renting a cottage, we had lots of landscapes around us for inspiration. I’m always so terrified of interrupting the blank canvas with any paint, but when I finally do, I am thrilled with the fun of being creative. Making something that wasn’t there before is so empowering and rewarding.
My time in nature was a paddleboard ride past an assortment of water flowers while seeking out wildlife. I prefer self-propelled, quiet modes of transportation, to maximize the ability to see as much wildlife as possible. We had already been graced with loon, eagle, kingfisher, otter, and beaver sightings earlier in the week. Nature truly nourishes my spirit; and every sighting feels like a birthday gift. I never regret any time in nature, for the fresh air, exercise, relative quiet, and beauty.
Self-reflection is also part of my birthday, thinking about where I was last birthday and where I want to be next birthday. The difference between last birthday and this one was negligible, given COVID-19. Instead of being sad about that, I’m focused on the future and making sure I move forward next year.
As part of my birthday reflection, I think of goals for myself, including how I’d like to improve personally, professionally, and as a parent. I won’t bore you with my professional and parenting goals, but here’s a brief insight on the personal ones. Knocking on fifty’s door is difficult for me, since I don’t feel older than 35, but I think that my body and gravity are betraying me. That leaves me with this year’s first goal of not being depressed by these changes and to learn to accept them and myself. I also want to continue to work on my flexibility, since every day there is a new ache or pain in the morning. My third goal is to try and reverse how a year and a half of a pandemic has made me even more introverted, and to become more social. These reflections are a check in on my New Year’s resolutions, as well as a new one.
So here I am, 49, in a post-birthday glow, feeling pampered, full, loved, blessed, and focused.
What are your birthday traditions?