This is a big one, but I’m not one of those women lamenting the aging process. After kicking breast cancer to the curb 3 years ago, after the steady climb back into my strength and vitality, gaining another year is an achievement. Sorry, not-sorry… it’s an outright blessing and a gift! But please don’t jump to buying me a present for my 40th birthday in November. Don’t look for a save-the-date in the mail.
Here is why: I have a special invitation to all of my friends and family. I am inviting you to celebrate with me All Year Long!
One of the gifts in being where I am in life is that I know what I like and I know what I need. I know how to ask for and pursue what I want. While I like to attend other people’s parties, I don’t enjoy the thought of planning one for myself, or hosting one, or having a surprise party thrust upon me. Hear me out before you close this and call me a party pooper!
I always feel overwhelmed at my own parties. There is too much noise, too many competing conversations, and I can’t give individualized attention to discuss anything of depth over the French onion dip. There may be quantity in who shows up, but it’s usually not the space for quality time.
There is all this pressure in the planning and preparing too. First, culling the invite list to meet my budget, booking a venue, planning entertainment and food, hunting down RSVP’s, you know…really working it! Then, suddenly it’s party day, and 4-5 hours later it’s over and done. I’m left stripping tables with half a buzz and tossing half eaten pieces of cake. Instead, I want my “cake” and my “birthday buzz” all year long!
Here’s the other thing. I don’t want you to celebrate me. I want to celebrate US in this world together. I want to honor our paths, lament our struggles and heartaches; I want to dance over our achievements, discoveries, and joys! I want to do something that is so uniquely US. It may be spontaneous or it may elegantly planned, but either way it will be personal and it will be QUALITY time. Perhaps there will be greasy food involved, or hysterical laughing, or getting lost in the woods. We might dare each other, go outside our comfort zones a bit. We might just stroll that old familiar neighborhood and talk quietly. We might sit in silence and watch the world go by together. If geography prevails, we will curl up with our phones and share our hearts. There will probably be a lot of laughing and maybe some crying too.
This would be the greatest gift for me in this year of turning 40. I want this celebration to be lasting, and I want to share time with the people I love and care about in a meaningful way. Here is how I see this playing out in real life. My job in to show up, to be (reasonably) available, and commit to showing up. Your job? Seek me out. Offer up your plan, your date, your reservation, your hike in the woods, your dance in the rain, your best lasagna, your cup of tea. Small groups are ok too.
This is not about what you will do for me, or buy for me. I really don’t want presents, just presence. Real life, real time presence. In thinking about the many people who have touched my life in a meaningful way, even a year might not be enough time, but we can try!