Celebrating me, when I remember

© Jenn Shallvey

© Jenn Shallvey

My birthday came around the other day. Usually I tend to underplay it and hide hoping no one notices. I am and never have been one to be in the spotlight and for years birthdays just seemed like too much attention on me.  I remember even when my son was born 20 years ago finding an excuse to focus even less on me. His birthday was only weeks before mine.  In that first month of his birth, wen it came to my special day I was asked what I wanted for my birthday. I said ‘oh don’t worry about me, just get something practical’. Practical was a baby bouncer. Really I did this.  This was also back when I wanted gifts and things for my birthdays. These days I am more about the experience of being with my family.

Where I have celebrated is in the milestone birthdays. There is something about rolling over the age to another decade that warrants acknowledgement. For 30 there was the surprise party in a restaurant filled with 50 people (thanks husband!). For the 40th it was co-celebrating with my best friend from high school at a women’s surf camp in Hawaii. Yes I live in Australia but travelled to Hawaii to learn (and fail at) surfing.  For the 50th, yes I had that one already too, I travelled to Japan on my own and included a meditation retreat.  For all the other birthdays they basically came and went.  I might have used my birthday as an excuse for making the kids join me for dinner out. Otherwise no big deal.

Then this year came. I am in a new place in my personal development. Definitely feel different in a good way.  I woke up on my birthday feeling alive, really alive. This feeling was noticeable.  I then decided on this day to intentionally celebrate me, all of me. So in meditation that morning I connected into the core of who I am and truly acknowledged me, my gifts, my presence, my mistakes, my learnings, my failures, my successes. I accepted it all.

Then I went for a swim. Swimming is my way of celebrating life and feeling joy. I have written about this before. On this day though I was in flow (no pun intended). I felt like I was gliding, floating, and zipping through the water. I smiled under the water. I smiled out of the water. I laughed. I chuckled. What a crazy lady I must have seemed to all.  I swear if you could read my energy though you would have seen a big ball of light at the pool that day. I was truly celebrating this life and my birth. As I swam I said silent thank you’s. I do this a lot. Some people do gratitude journals I do thank you laps in the swimming pool, or on my walk or bike ride. Usually it seems I feel like thanking others when I connect to nature and am outside. Something to reflect on later.

So on this birthday I swam, celebrated me and thanked everyone for enabling me to be in and live this life.

Then I noticed something else. I had disconnected from social media in a period of digital detoxing.  My settings are such that people are not able to leave a birthday message when automatically prompted. I also turned off notifications and messages. Add to that some of the people who are close to me in my life are not even online in this way.  Lastly I tend to not tell anyone it is my birthday so I do not expect anything.  So it was to my surprise and joy as the phone calls, emails and phone text messages came in all day wishing me a happy birthday. It was a genuine effort by people that matter in my life. I loved it.  So not only was I celebrating me but the people who are important in my life were doing the same.

The only thing we could not do was celebrate as a family because of travel plans. So I still can claim the birthday card at another date for a family dinner. This is more valuable to me than any ‘thing’ - especially when your kids are15 and 20 and have other places they would rather be.

Intentionally celebrating me on this one day reminded me how valuable such a practice can be on other days. I do my best. I do this in ways that are simple and integrated into my day to day. I regularly take moments in my day to pause and breathe to reconnect to myself.  Of late I have more intentionally focused as well on doing what I call breathing me back in.  It’s a way of focusing, centering and grounding myself - really celebrating me. No one knows I am doing this. I do it when I remember. So yes another way to remember to be me on days when it is not my birthday.