Birthday wishes from abroad
Today I turn 34. The older I get the more and more I don’t take it for granted that God has
allowed me to make it thus far. The older I get the more I have had to say goodbye to people who didn’t make it to this date. I suspect it will become more and more like this as I age and go on in this world and, while I am not meaning to be morbid here, this thought can’t help but cause me to have a kind of solemn thankfulness for today. One which I honestly think is growth for me-My word this year being “sobriety” and with it the discipline of not avoiding/running away from hard things- I think it’s growth for me to be a bit more reflective on this day than I’d usually be.
One of my fb friends did something on her fb for her birthday that struck me. So I am taking a cue from her on this day and asking a birthday request for anyone who reads this and, as she put it, “wants to make my  year old heart sing”. Pick one, and do it for me. And if you’re so willing, let me know how it goes. These are some things I’ve done these past years which have helped me to grow, or some things I want to incorporate more of in my own life this year.
1. Read a book that you usually wouldn’t. If you’re real into theology pick a fiction. If you mostly read fiction pick up a memoir or nonfiction book. Read it all the way through if you can. If reading is hard for you, read it with a friend and set a date to discuss it.
2. Buy your favorite book, write why it means so much to you on the cover to gift to a friend. Put a star by or underline your favorite part. (Some people want to kill me for asking you to write in a book but it’s my birthday and I do admit-I’m a little biased- this is the best gift I could receive, ever!)
3.Make friends with someone who is different than you for the sole purpose of getting to know them. Some of the sweetest friendships I have ever made are people who were different than me. I once invited an atheist German girl to a movie and I was so intimidated by her but the more we hung out the more I realized we had more in common than I thought and she ended up becoming one of my dearest friends. I’m not saying this will happen to you, but you never know....
4. If things feel overwhelming or just plain hard. Don’t hold that in and keep it from everyone. Tell a trusted friend. When they ask “How are you today?” Say the hardest and bravest words that can be said. “I’m not doing so great”. Let it sit out there in the world for a second and then tell them why.
5. If things are still hard and dark find a counselor and tell them too. Find one that you can talk to (sometimes that means you find one and don’t click and have to find another- that’s ok! Find one you can connect and feel safe with) Unpack those feelings and don’t be afraid to cuss or cry if you’re real angry or sad in your session. If you’ve thought about ending it all please know that suicide is not the only option- Tell the counselor you go there too sometimes, if you do. We were not made to carry that darkness alone. Let someone in, bring it to the light.
6. If you can. If it’s not too painful. Tell your mom one reason you love her. She may have been a not-so-great mom and maybe there isn’t much to be thankful for in your relationship. But after being a mom for only three years I can see how moms are mere human beings. She carried you for 9 months and brought you into the world. Your birthday is actually her “birth” “day”, if you want to get technical -and that has to count for something, right? If you can’t tell your mom this or if it brings up a lot of hard feelings, it’s worth processing those thoughts. (Hence, #5)
6. Find an exercise that makes you feel alive and do it. Not to lose weight but because it makes you feel most like yourself. Because it reminds you of how you danced with abandon as a kid, or makes you feel strong or sexy. Go to a Zumba or Jazzercise class and pretend you are Beyoncé. Go to a muy tai class and get your anger out. I don’t care if it’s water arobics or yoga or cross fit. Pay for the freaken month and do it. See what happens.
7. Take a week off social media. Make someone else your secret keeper if you can’t resist to log on. Have them change your password and hold it hostage for a week. Be bored. Look out the car window and see where your mind drifts to. Notice if it causes you to be more present. Less scattered. Notice if it causes you to check in more with your heart rather than other people’s comments or likes.
8. That thing you really want to do, start it. ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON'T HAVE KIDS!!! If it helps, write the start date in red marker on your calendar, circle it and do it on that day. This past year I started this blog, I've started to write that book that has been nagging at me for a while now. Really, I've just started to take my writing a bit more seriously. And it's been a wonderful growing experience. Join a group, sign up for the art class if that motivates you. Just do it. Begin. It doesn't have to be perfect and it can be just for fun.
9. And finally, one I have found the pleasure in doing this past year...Read your favorite book one more time, just to relive the magic.