I don’t like glitter and I’m not a fan of confetti. I’m not good at celebrating. I’m a doer, a survivor, a caretaker. I can help create a fantastic celebration for someone else, but won’t take that same energy and attention to celebrate myself.
For a long time I celebrated my birthday as if it were a holiday, worthy of taking the day off, getting pampered and eating cake. Well, to be honest, I’ll use just about any excuse to eat cake. But as the years have gone by, I have had to work harder to celebrate myself, my achievements, and the ways I have watched God’s faithfulness unfold in my life. In so many ways, I had become the queen of the “move on,” going from one season to the next without taking the proper time to celebrate.
Right before my last birthday, I read a passage in a book about how play is also a holy and sacred way God can speak to us. I started to write in my journal some ways I could play more. I tried to remember the things I loved to play as a child and I remembered that I loved to play Nintendo. But when I tried to list some ways I was still taking time to play as an adult, I had a hard time coming up with examples.
This year, two of my girlfriends told me about how they celebrate their birthday all month long. I winced a little at the idea. I’d been doing OK celebrating my birthday for one day, but what would I do to celebrate myself the entire month? Isn’t that excessive? Why do I think it’s excessive to celebrate myself? I decided to give it a try.
There was an antique auction I’d really wanted to try, so I invited my girlfriends to attend the auction with me. We laughed, bid, lost and won. I had a ladies’ night at my house and invited my girlfriends to wear sweatpants, eat old school snacks and watch a movie. We laughed and had some of the most real conversations we’d had in months.
My husband and I picked a Saturday that month and ate our favorite childhood cereal and tried to help Mario save the princess on Super Mario Bros. Some friends offered us their vacation home in Savannah, so we took them up on it and experienced a new city for the weekend.
I had a blast! I realized celebrating doesn’t have to be reserved for holidays or my birthday. There are a lot of everyday, seemingly ordinary things that deserve to be celebrated: getting out of bed, finishing the dishes, completing a project, surviving the school year. I learned that celebrating doesn’t have to cost money or require an elaborate plan.
Dance to one of your favorite songs. Treat yourself to a new book, a new nail color. Try a new hairstyle. Reward yourself with a couple of hours with a friend who makes you laugh. Sing your favorite song really loud while you’re in the car or in the shower. Celebrate that you made it through the week, you survived the season, you still have breath in your lungs.
Don’t let a special occasion be your only reason to celebrate. Sometimes an invitation to party awaits right in the ordinary.
Amena Brown is an author, spoken word poet, speaker and event host. She is the author of five spoken word albums and her latest book, How to Fix a Broken Record (2017). Amena performs and speaks at events with a mix of poetry and storytelling. She and her husband, DJ Opdiggy, reside in Atlanta, Georgia. AmenaBrown.com.