I just celebrated my birthday a few days ago. It was the absolute best. I made time for myself. Went to the gym. Got a massage. Took my dog for a sun-filled walk to the park. Ate lunch at my favourite vegan restaurant. And enjoyed my own company.
This is not something I was always able to do. I’d feel antsy treating myself. Pressured to be doing something else. Guilty. Lonely. And any number of other uneasy feelings.
In the evening, I arranged a party for myself. Invited my favourite people (within Covid number limits). Picked up my own cake. Decorated my house. And poured myself a glass of wine while I waited for my guests to arrive.
A former incarnation of myself would either never have arranged my own party, or would have put together my own party, but been resentful and bitter about it.
I would have thought: “Nobody cares about me. Nobody thinks of me. Nobody loves me. I have to do everything for myself – even my own birthday party – because no one else will.”
This year, my heart filled with joy as I ran my errands and set everything up. I was so happy, as my friends and family members filed in. We ate. We drank. We laughed. Told stories. I lit my own candles. They sang happy birthday. I opened gifts - gifts that in the past would have seemed generic, and would have made me feel unseen, and not "special" - instead filled me with appreciation. I felt overwhelmed with love.
After everyone left, I looked at my messages on Facebook. Tens of birthday messages, each one bringing a warmth to my chest and a smile to my face.
I am embarrassed to admit that I can recall scrolling through birthday messages on Facebook in previous years and thinking cynically to myself, “Why did I get so few? Everyone gets more than me. These are so impersonal, anyway…”
In former years, I rebuffed any efforts on the part of others because they didn’t suit my overall thesis: that I was a victim, a martyr, taking care of everyone, with no one in the world taking care of, or caring about, me.
Not this year. This year, I replaced those empty feelings – of jealousy, loneliness, sadness, and blame - with full feelings of gratitude, joy, and happiness. I celebrated myself. And the world celebrated me.
Of course, the world didn’t change, and it wasn’t the birthday – forty-five wasn’t some magical number. It was me that had changed. I was showing up differently in the world.
My birthday this year is a testament to the fact that a change in perspective, a change in the way we choose to see and interact with the world, has the power to change our entire experience of life. You really do get to choose if you are going to lead a happy or a miserable existence.
Most of us walk around continually making the unconscious choice to be miserable, never realizing that there is ANOTHER WAY. To refer back to my first blog post that’s why I created Cam & Leo’s Emotion School – to help people discover, practice, and live THAT OTHER WAY.
So - I'm raising a glass - to many more relaxing, peaceful and joyful celebrations of life to come. For me. And for YOU reading this, too!