Once upon a time, I wanted nothing to do with celebrating my birthday. I didn’t want to burden others, I don’t need the attention, and I really wasn’t keen on facing the fact that I was getting older. So if I didn’t acknowledge it, my day of birth would become just like any other day—one where I could work, not have to think about my advancing age, and, okay, probably go out to a (forced) dinner with my boyfriend and family. But that’s where it started, and that’s where it ended.

Here’s the ironic part: I LOVE celebrating others. Planning birthday parties, hosting dinners, making cards, baking cakes—very few things bring me more joy than showering someone I care about with love, attention, and gratitude on their special day. When it was my turn, however, I couldn’t stand the thought of any kind of celebratory gesture. Having others be bothered with my needs turned my stomach into knots, and if I could have disappeared for 24 hours, I would have.

Then I realized I had it all wrong.

Not wanting to celebrate my life and its most significant day was, for me, a symptom of not fully valuing myself. On some deep level, I didn’t feel worthy of receiving love from friends and family. Even though I knew how good it felt to give and to love and to make someone smile, I was depriving those who care about me of this same pleasure. Experiencing love may be life’s greatest gift, but it comes in equal forms of both giving and receiving.

I also lived in a deluded state that my life was infinite. Yes, I was healthy, did work I loved, and had some incredibly rich life experiences, but didn’t everyone? Not fully grasping the sheer miracle of my existence and how fortunate I was to wake up another morning, have more time to spend with someone I loved, eat chocolate, travel to an exotic locale, or simply take one more breath, I lived my life as if there was a stamp of guarantee on every year that came and went—until I finally woke up. Life makes no promises, it’s not a perfectly wrapped box tied with a pretty bow, and the only thing we really have is this very moment. Everything else is icing.

Of course, we grow up hearing these words of wisdom all around us. Be thankful, feel blessed, life is short, we’re lucky to be alive, there are no guarantees … but often it takes experiencing the highs and lows of life ourselves to really have these messages sink in. For some, that may take a few years; for others, it might be decades.
For me, it took nearly four decades.

Today is my birthday, and I am going to celebrate me. Me having another day to breathe, to feel joy, to work, to give, to walk, and to love. I no longer hide behind my delusions as life passes me by, year after year. If we don’t care enough about celebrating ourselves and all the good in life,
then what are we doing here?

So excuse me as I go eat cake, drink champagne, revel in the fact that
I get another day of life, and receive love—lots of it.

And I can’t wait to do the same for you .

ColleenHolland.HealthyVeganSignature

Comments

Kathleen Keene

Kathleen Keene

I used to have similar feelings, kinda tied up with the fact that many didn't know what to do with me as a vegetarian. When I became vegan, I took control and had my own 100% vegan birthday bonanza! That was at 35. ;)

Healthy Vegan

Healthy Vegan

Kathleen, thank you for sharing! I love the thought of your "vegan birthday bonanza." You go!

Maggie Hohle

Maggie Hohle

thank you! I agree.

Healthy Vegan

Healthy Vegan

You're most welcome, Maggie! xo

suzy

suzy

thank you <3

suzy

suzy

thank you <3

Healthy Vegan

Healthy Vegan

Such a pleasure, Suzy! I hope you found the piece inspiring.