Fly free and happy beyond birthdays and across forever, and we’ll meet now and then when we wish, in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.
— Richard Bach in ‘There’s No Such Place As Far Away’
Celebrate your life and approach every day without expectations or feelings of entitlement. Acknowledge and express your gratitude for the people in your life – both loved ones & strangers – while you notice the ways in which they brighten & elevate your days.
I celebrated my 26th birthday this past week, and approached the day in a way I had not done before. I’ve certainly played both sides in the past, whether it be “It’s my birthday, everyone pay attention to me!” or “It’s just another day; it’s really no big deal.” But this year, I came into my birthday seeing myself as a part of everyone and everything around me. I knew that the birthday wishes were not just about me, but a reflection of the people delivering them and who have touched my life in some way – big or small – over these past 26 years.
I realized that I wouldn’t be where or who I am if it weren’t for the people in my life, so I saw my birthday truly as a celebration of connections and relationships. This ranged from my parents, family members and friends (new & old, near & far), to acquaintances and even complete strangers. I was so grateful for the waiter at my birthday dinner for taking such an interest in us, sharing his personality and passion, and just being a fun part of the night. I even gave him a big hug on the way out! No one is insignificant.
None of us stand alone or live in a vacuum. I felt such deep appreciation and really relished in the richness of my life on my birthday. None of us need to wait for our birthdays to do this… start now. Throughout the day, my goal was to be grateful and remain very present to the experiences – expecting nothing, appreciating everything, and taking the time to receive the love from those around me, and reciprocate it. Again, it wasn’t just about me. I wanted the people in my life to know what they mean to me, and my birthday was the perfect opportunity to express my gratitude to them… whether it be a teary and heartfelt conversation with one of my best friends on the trail or a quick hug with the waiter at dinner. I felt connected. Here’s the Weekly Intention Guide to help assist you in a plan to express your gratitude to the loved ones in your life.
I made sure to sit down and read the birthday cards that were given to me, slowly and fully. I took my time opening gifts. I was so touched by all of the people who reached out to me in some way, shape or form to send their well wishes. When I got a phone call, I didn’t screen it, multi-task during it, or rush through it. I really listened, shared, and enjoyed the conversations with the people who cared enough to call me on my birthday. I even called a few people myself, wanting them to know that I was having a great day and very thankful for their presence in my life. I hadn’t even realized I was doing that until a friend pointed out how amazing it was that on my own birthday, I was calling people to express my appreciation for them! But without those people, the days of my life would not be as vibrant. I was so happy on my birthday because of my strong and beautiful connections with others. I wanted to celebrate them and their presence in my life, and it felt so good to share in the love and joy.
I recently overheard a conversation where one woman was talking about how she felt completely loved and appreciated on her birthday because everyone was being really nice to her that day. Her friend quickly reminded her that all of those people love and appreciate her every day… they were just telling her all at once on her birthday, and she was very aware of it and noticing it because it was a special day. Those people are always present in all of our lives, every single day. Our reach is so much broader than we think, and we are all intertwined in ways we cannot even fully fathom.
This week, I encourage you to approach your days not expecting anything, and truly appreciating everyone and everything that comes your way. Then, take it a step further, and let them know it! Although some of us have seen this video before, I couldn’t help but want to watch it again. Paired with this song, it gets me every time… Enjoy, and get out there and spread your wings!