It seems counterintuitive at times to stop the forward progress of what we’re doing and celebrate where we are right now. But without taking this time we risk falling into repetitive cycles that are unhealthy, thinking what we’re doing isn’t getting us anywhere or that we aren’t making a difference. It doesn’t have to be big, and we don’t need external approval for the goodness we put out into the world (though this is helpful recognition), but every so often we must stop, take a deep breath, and acknowledge that we are doing our best.
In the past neglecting to do this has, I think, been part of the reason I haven’t taken the time to acknowledge my birthday. I would remove my birthday information from social media so there would be no reminder for myself or others that it was in fact my birthday. I would find myself not wanting to celebrate, or struggling even to acknowledge it. There were no qualms about being another year older, or that I was in some way losing anything, but I would almost be annoyed if people wished me a happy birthday. What was this helping me accomplish? My birthday being in January, which is during the New Zealand school holidays, also didn’t help when I was younger. Friends would often be away with family and unable to make it if I had any sort of party.
This led to questions of self-worth, whether I was worthy of having such a celebration simply because it was my birthday. Over the years since school I’ve struggled with self image, struggled to see myself or any achievements as worthwhile. Over time this led me to put in less effort into things, not just in celebrating my birthday but other areas of life too. When I just started to play the drums, and then the guitar I’d turn away from playing because I felt wasn’t good enough and I never would be. When offered opportunities to further my progress in a particular sport I’d shy away thinking I wasn’t good enough—even though they’d offered because they thought I was!
Perspective can be a funny thing.
The Monday just gone was my birthday. I watched some football, had a wonderful dinner with my sister, then watched a clever new New Zealand comedy TV series. It was a good day. And next weekend I’m going to organise a low key boardgame gathering, when there will be more people back from their well earned breaks. My birthday is also a reminder. Three years ago one of my best friends died far too young from cystic fibrosis. As one would imagine it is a sad reminder every year. But, as well as that, it is a reminder to celebrate her short but wonderful life. I couldn’t ask for a better reminder of how to live life beautifully. She chose kindness at every opportunity, and was always there for me when I needed it—sometimes even before I knew I need jolt of positivity! She didn’t have time to waste in unimportant things, so she didn’t. Each of the past two years I’ve been inspired to look at how I’ve spent my time, and whether I can improve that. I think I’ve done a good job at cutting at out unnecessary things, but I still have a ways to go before I’m where I want to be, and where I know I can be.
Here’s the chorus of a song called ‘Home’, inspired by this wonderful friend.
Take care of your heart And give with every part Love until you can’t love anymore Breathe deeply for a minute For they'll always be with you Smiling, and laughing, alive inside your soul Forever home
Thanks Kimmy, for being a wonderful friend and an amazing human.
Remember: it’s ok, and healthy, to stop and smell the roses every now and then.