Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: birthdays

The Secret to a Happy Birthday (and maybe life)

It’s my birthday week, yet it’s also October.  Because it’s not a “big” number, the celebrations this year are low-key: Drinks with the girls, dinner with the hubs, pumpkins with the kids – such things are perfectly fitting for 37.

For not the first time, I declared my own birthday celebration with a few friends. I made a FB event and invited handfuls of friends to join me for wine. Some of them can make it; some cannot. Amid the apologies from the ones who have to miss out, I shared with a few of them this secret: I don’t take it personally.

You see, I only invited people who I already know like me. I do not question their love. Their attendance, or lack thereof, is not a statement about me or even our relationship. It’s a reflection of their state of life right now.  I want to be a good friend, one that understands, rather than being someone who wages an imaginary competition for their attention.

Life is so much easier – so much better – when I recognize how little is actually about me. Sure, I put my name on the birthday invite, but how a person responds isn’t about me. I don’t have to take everything personally. 

My friends, when I stop taking it personally, I am free. When I stop using others’ actions as a measuring stick of my own worth, I can feel infinite amounts of love. My identification with love, my knowledge that I am loved, comes from something bigger than birthday attendance.  Sure, it might be a way I can feel love, it can be an experience of love, but it’s not the source. So even if only one person could join me on the Friday of the Birthday Weekend, I can still feel secure and feel love. Love doesn’t come from people, it comes through them.

So as for me and my birthday, I’ll feel the love of some friends from afar; and I’ll see the love of other friends from across the table. I will find the source of love by turning my attention to it rather than expecting others to fulfill it. And I’ll feel free to accept love in all it’s forms of delivery.

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the moment you know

i had a brief “moment” today while my niece celebrated her 3rd birthday with her family. it was a typical 3-year-old party with food, presents, princesses and wrapping paper everywhere. no hats this time, thank goodness. oh, and a candle (which she loved) on a birthday cookie.

there was a moment as we lit the candle and sang (albeit quite poorly) “happy birthday” that she was just looking around at all of us who were watching and singing to her. it was brief, but the moment was there. she was smiling and giggling and then all of a sudden she felt the need to nuzzle into her daddy. she knew. she knew she was loved, and it was a little bit too much. all those people, all those presents, all that awful singing with her at the center and you could see in her eyes the “wow.”

oh, the experience of being so loved that you feel you must hide.

sometimes birthdays seem silly. and i’m sure we’ll go to no less than 462 parties in the next 10 years. but for the chance to celebrate another year that God has given us the gift of knowing someone special, i’ll start appreciating the birthday party routine a whole lot more. for my kid – or for any kid – to know that they are loved because people chose to spend a saturday oohing and ahhing over princess bracelets and singing off key just to celebrate that “one more year” – it’s all worth it.

in some ways, celebrating a birthday is almost just as much for us as it is the birthday boy or girl, if we choose it. they may get the presents, but we get the joy of their presence for yet one more year.

(yeah, can you tell it’s october by the tone? only a few more days until november.)

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