In four days, I’m having another birthday. My husband, David is just five months older than me and once we hit sixty, several years ago, he took on a particularly disenchanted attitude about having birthdays, saying he just wanted to “forget about it.” But I came back at him with, “You should celebrate every year of life.” I’m not sure if I was just trying to be superior by taking the high road, or if I truly have a more positive attitude about aging. I believe the older you become, the longer you should celebrate.
In my younger years, I waited on others to honor me on My Day. I was especially ‘sensitive’ around that time, watching to see if folks would remember, hoping they’d choose gifts and paper products for my celebration that I liked. But sometimes, I’d be disappointed because I have such a strong ability to visualize what I want, that nothing could match the perfection of my imagination. Once I saw this pattern in myself, I almost dreaded the disappointment of the build-up, then let down, of my birthday.
But when I turned fifty, I took control of my own birthday happiness.
When David asked if I wanted a party, I quickly responded, “No. I want a trip. By myself.” That was four years after my first Solo Journey to Sedona. I’d forgotten how to slow down and be more intentional with my time—like I thought I learned when I went through breast cancer. Instead, I’d gotten back into the over-busy, over-booked pre-cancer way of living. When I turned fifty, I knew I needed to go away and try again to reset my life.
For that fiftieth birthday present, and five years since my cancer diagnosis—that point I’d been hoping to reach without a recurrence, I went to Jekyll Island, Georgia. When I was there, I kept remembering that it was my birthday gift. The entire trip was truly that as I relearned how to play— riding my bike, swimming in the hotel pool, and reading through a thunderstorm while sitting in a wicker rocker on the Vanderbilt cottage porch. One morning before I headed out on my bike, I read Psalm 103:5 (NIV):
“He satisfies my desires with good things,
so that my youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
That seemed to be the perfect scripture for turning fifty, and perhaps it’s perfect for every year—no matter what age we’re turning. Now I’m wise enough to see that I can go ahead and act on those unique desires of my heart—whether it’s for a certain design on birthday napkins, picking out my own cake, throwing my own party, or taking off on a journey.
This year, David asked me how and when I want to celebrate—since I’ll be leaving on my pilgrimage to Florida the day before my birthday. I’ve decided that today will be my designated birthday and I’ve made reservations for us to eat brunch at Dame’s Chicken and Waffles— a combination that I’ve never tried. By the evening, I’ll be ready to Swing Dance and will request my birthday song by Van Morrison, “Precious Time.” It’ll remind me that “precious time is slipping away” — which sounds sad, but because I love to dance to it and love the part about being “queen for a day,” I will feel happy and energized, ready to take on another year.
I’m glad for the chance to Celebrate My Life and I hope you’ll do the same next time you’re turning a year older.
How about You?
How do you approach getting older?
What are the ways you like to Celebrate Your Life on your birthday?