Another year has come and gone.
Another year older? Another year wiser?
Normally, I would say older yes, but wiser? I am not so sure.
However, this year, I feel wiser. I feel sharper.
I feel free.
For the first time in years, I wanted to celebrate my birthday. I actually had gift ideas for my family - no gift cards, no "surprise me" or my normal answer of "it's ok, I really do not need anything" - which is true, but far less fun!
I wanted to set my own plans this weekend, enjoy time with my family on my own terms. And I wanted the cake. Not just any cake, but a very specific kind that I knew I would relish every decadent bite of. I didn't try to impress anyone(including myself) with some Pinterest level outfit, party or day. It was simple. We played. My family sang "Happy Birthday" and we blew out candles on a cake. I opened the PERFECT gift to help me separate from my phone to be more present, but still get those pesky pages from the hospital. (New Apple Series 3 watch - will review this one once I am used to it!) And there is another gift I have wanted for a LONG time coming soon - I am full of fabulous, sugar-ladened smiles and it is AMAZING. And all of this BEFORE my actual birthday because my husband and son simply could not wait for the actual day - and honestly, that doesn't matter. I felt loved for who I am and I was celebrated simply for being alive today. How often do we CELEBRATE life? Not just the accomplishments, the jobs, the successes, but simply celebrate being alive?
Answer - not nearly enough.
We all need to celebrate more. Find more joy in every day. More gratitude for another 24 hours of breath. Life is too short not to celebrate. Blow out the candles, eat the cake. It is not selfish, it is a act of love for self and life.
Ironically, this week I realized that along those themes, I had also given an irreplaceable gift to myself. I am not entirely sure when it happened, but it did and it is now written in my soul.
I finally gave myself permission to be me and to no longer care about the nay-sayers, the haters, the passive-aggressors or the demeanors. I simply have no room in my life, not a neuron to spare nor a tear to shed, for those who want to undermine me, share their unproductive criticism and negativity or those who try to tear me down to create a stomping ground for themselves. Constructive criticism with kindness and goals of self-improvement? Bring it on! Criticism that is meant to attack, leaves you feeling like less or like a failure? That is not productive, it's a wasted moment of malice and pain. I am done wasting moments. I will celebrate instead. I will choose joy.
I will continue to blaze a trail toward my dreams. I will continue to succeed and I will do that because I love the life I am blessed to live. I love my family, my friends and most importantly, I finally love ME.
When was the last time YOU actually celebrated yourself? What "gifts" do you need? Grace? Self-acceptance? Courage to be yourself?
Buy a cake, light the candles, celebrate and GIVE YOURSELF that which will refuel and inspire you. Then, please pay it forward. I promise you, we all need it.