Celebrate Your Birthday Like a National Holiday

You may think I am kidding when I say you should celebrate your birthday as if it were a national holiday, but I am dead serious. No, these aren’t just musings of an only child (though I know I am one and fight the unfair stereotypes and half-truths on the daily.) Honestly, you need to celebrate.

Here are reasons why it’s vital to treat your birthday with the utmost importance.

1. You have successfully completed another year of your life. (High-five, my friend.)

2. Depending on what time of year you celebrate this amazing occurrence, you can consider it a second New Year. A new time for a resolution, a start of something fresh, an opportunity to better yourself in the new birth year. In my case, it will be to ride my bike again (I haven’t in 20 years. Very traumatic, very unthinkable at present.)

3. If you don’t celebrate and you mistreat your birthday, other people will take a clue and do the same. If you skip it, if you ignore it, the joy of celebrating will go away. However, the aspect of growing older doesn’t. (This is where one makes lemonade out of those cliché lemons, the most sour lemons of all.)

Birthday bubbly. Don't mind if I do.

Birthday bubbly. Don’t mind if I do.

4. It the one time a year you could be somewhat selfish and consider yourself to be super important (within reason my friends, you still have family and possibly kids who need you.) But consider yourself the VIP on this day. Most people will allow for such indulgent “self” behavior.

5. Celebrate the age you want not the age you turn. For a few years now I’ve observed the anniversary of my 27th birthday. It was a good year and I still loosely resemble that “me.” I’ve had to up the number this year, because it’s not longer mathematically feasible for me to have come to the states at age seven and still celebrate my 27th. So we are upping the number to 28. I am willing to do this.

6. Don’t be afraid to celebrate the way you want to. Well-intentioned loved ones may make suggestions that you don’t care for. Speak up! If you say nothing you will spend the day feeling resentment and anger. You should be celebrating not seething. If you don’t speak up, this may perpetuate from year to year.

Celebrating with a bucket of sweets, there is yogurt somewhere in the bottom.

Celebrating with a bucket of sweets, there is yogurt somewhere in the bottom.

Celebrating the way you see fit will differ from your friend, your neighbor, or your family members.

Here is what I do to make that day(s) feel absolutely magical.

I typically make myself scarce on my birthday. As noted above, I am an only child and I love my alone time. But as a parent, I don’t get “alone” time too regularly. So I promised myself that after college graduation I would find a job where I would not work on my special day. And other than birthday 2010, I have been successful (damn you Steve and your ill-timed client meeting). I spend good portions of my day on my own, doing a bit of this and a bit of that to commemorate another year of this life.

Sweet out-of-town relaxation.

Sweet out-of-town relaxation.

Do I fly by the seat of my pants? Oh sweet Jesus, no.

I plan my day carefully (I am an over planner, no I cannot just start a day with no plans. I’ll end up frustrated and possibly yell at the poor barista making my latte.) The day is carefully filled with things I want to do that are fun. Today is not a day for chores, hard labor, or for digging ditches in the yard. If I want to walk the dog I will, if I wish to grab a fatty breakfast, that’s fine. I want to tuck myself away at Barnes & Noble for a magazine and refreshment, so be it. Don’t question the motives, don’t judge my choices; they were carefully thought out and lovingly arranged.

wedded bliss on my birthday.

wedded bliss on my birthday.

Sometimes your birthday celebrating can piggyback on something amazing. For example, birthday 2013, our friends were married on June 29th (thanks Art and Kate!) And it was awesome.SAM_1785 They chose a great venue, beautiful location, delicious food and even a really tall cake just for me…. err us. Just for us. I even got a party favor with my birthdate on it. I danced, I wined and dined and even had a day trip to Petoskey! I wish this could happen more frequently!

I wholeheartedly look forward to celebrating my birthday and cozying up to some fun plans on my day off.

Cue the location, the fancy clothes, the drinks and us. Viva 27, again!

Cue the location, the fancy clothes, the drinks and us. Viva 27, again!

Please note: Celebration suggestions can certainly be made and considered. Your loved ones could suggest something totally up your alley. But the birthday “celebrator” holds the sole power to “yay” or “nay” an idea. Let this be one day where grumbling is kept to a minimum. Your birthday will come, and you too will be able to revel in it.



My Dad

I miss my dad more than usual this year. The ache in my heart never quite goes away. The missing piece of me never heals or regrows. The sad little blue corner deep in my soul never quite goes away. His passing wasn’t unexpected, he wasn’t ripped out of our lives in a horrible unexpected way. He slowly progressed in his fight with Lou Gehrig’s disease – all 9 years worth. The medical staff at the local hospital told us we’d have 6 – 9 months, well my dad showed them.

Though physically he lost his battle, he was finally freed. He would finally have the much-needed rest his soul needed. We were left without our Tatus three years ago. The same weekend Adam and I went to Detroit to celebrate my mom and my father-in-law’s birthdays (well and Adam because you see they are literally three days in a row.) We were also announcing the impending birth of our first child. My dad pulled through, he pulled through the announcement. Though he couldn’t react, he was there with us. Though he couldn’t show signs of joy, I know his soul was whistling a happy tune. Be would become Dziadek Rysiu.

The next day he passed away, quietly in his sleep while Adam and I went to celebrate birthdays and our secret announcement with his family. My dad pulled along for so many years, I think mainly for us. He pushed through his days as his disease progressed, he never faltered. We all adapted to the new, yet ever-changing “normal.” We found joy in the little things and made memories the best way we could. Our time with my dad was precious, we made the most of it.

My dad & me circa 1980

My dad & me circa 1980

As we are getting ready to celebrate Adam’s 3rd Father’s day I think of what my dad would have been as a Dziadek Rysiu. Would he have treated Henry like a porcelain doll, like my dad treated me? Would he help Henry build forts out of blankets in the living room? Would he have tickle fights with him? Would he read him lots of books and use funny voices for each character? Would they play any practical jokes? Would he explain why the clouds differ from each other, why the sky is blue, why the trees shed leaves?

In a way he has, through me.

The ache in my heart ebbs and flows. The ache grips my soul and then relaxes like a slow heartbeat. I focus instead of my happy memories of my dad. The ones that give him color, life, and joy.  I remember his tall stature, his shy smile, he warm light brown eyes, his tanned skin. I remember his excellent story-telling abilities, his well-timed sense of humor, and general ease on existence whether by himself or in a crowd.

Oh sure, I have my weaker moments, where I look with envy at the dads with their kids, at the grandpas with their grand kids. But I am reminded that my dad, though no longer here, is still ever present in my heart and my memories.

Lent – How Hard Could it Be?

Oh very hard indeed…Each year I’d try to come up with something to test myself with during Lent. Ten years ago I tried to keep up with seven things I “gave up” yeah four of those never made it. Eight years ago I guaranteed that I would have 40 days dedicated to Lent, even if I have to extend a day – Lent lasted 53 days that year. Five years ago I gave up swearing. With disastrous results. I lasted three days (you are thinking how lame) in truth by the third day my heart began to hurt when I’d get annoyed and didn’t let off some verbal steam, slowly I realized I wouldn’t make it to my 30th birthday at that rate. So swearing was back on and I haven’t made that mistake.

Now fast forward to this year. Lent did sneak up on me. I barely gave it much thought, but I decided to do the following: stop checking my social media when I am hanging out with Henry by myself. I try my best to put away the phone and focus on the mini. It’s hard and I am getting better, I hope this one sticks post Lent. The other was simply to stop buying myself material things for the next 40 days. I didn’t give up Starbucks, I didn’t give up sushi, I am not going to stop going out to dinner. But I am not going to buy myself any clothing, books, accessories, or tchotckies. Seems like a good thing to challenge myself, with some monetary benefits. I will still buy gifts for others (I couldn’t possibly skip four March birthdays, that wouldn’t benefit the celebrants in the slightest.)

Little did I know how much it would challenge me. And when I noticed it the most was this weekend. It started on Friday. I’ve had a horrible work week and was desperately clinging to something fun and weekend related.

So it began:

YAY! Old navy has my favorite jeans on sale. Boo, I cannot buy them.

Oh yay! World Market has all of their Bohemian clothing on sale, totally befitting my love of Bohemian springwear. Booo, I can’t buy this either.Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.05.01 PM

The theme continued on my Mama’s night out which ended up at Barnes and Noble (happy place.) I spied a lovely crafty magazine that I know I’d absolutely love, I nearly drooled over it while sipping coffee in silence. Mollie Makes. Perfect projects, perfect quirk, perfect for me. I put it back.

Follow this up with the next day’s adventures at the mall play area (the breakfast food happy place I recently spoke about.) We cut through Barnes and Noble (where I visited my crafty magazine again – we shall meet again in 40 days.) Then we made the mistake of weaving through the discount section. Where I spotted the book, the one I have hunted for a year, considered buying put back on the shelf, considered for book club… and here it stood, The Dove Keepers mine for just $5.99.Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 11.03.28 PM YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME. I didn’t even touch the book. Cursing at my stupidity, I walked away. Hoping to reunite with it in 40 days.

One thing I am learning is that I am strong, I can withhold purchasing things for myself over these 40 days and I understand and appreciate the reasons why we keep on with tradition for sacrificing something for Lent.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the next 40 days will go at a snail’s pace.

p.s. I can accept gifts…. hint, hint, hint, hint, hint.

Just because you don’t drive downtown, doesn’t mean you have to act like it.

The circus is in town! YAY! Aren’t we all excited. We watch from our office windows as elephant rears poke out of tents in the parking lot behind the Van Andel. The tigers are here, great! People are milling around… people who typically wouldn’t be caught dead downtown are SLOOOOWLY milling around. That’s where the other side of this story starts.

I am pulling out of my parking lot thinking of two things, 1. I need to get home quickly so I better hop on the freeway and get the hell out of here. 2. There are people everywhere not watching where they’re strolling – walking right in front of my car. Try not to hit them, they’ll make my insurance go up. ugh.

I start to pull out and have my left turn signal on, oh but wait, can’t turn, there are two mini vans nose to tail waiting to pull into the parking lot. Blocking EVERYONE, me, the cars across the street hoping to turn onto Oaks. People on Oaks can’t go either, the powder blue van and maroon van have caused gird lock in ALL directions. With calm faces they wait, and sit and wait some more until the car in front of them pays their fee to enter. Can we get a traffic cop over here?

So I curse and mutter and do my angry flailing of my arms and proceed to turn right instead. Sitting behind a gentleman insisting on going UNDER the 25 mph speed limit. I could walk home faster. ugh.

But when forced to take the “scenic” route does have its upside. I ended up seeing some new ArtPrize entries along the way, I took a route that I don’t use very often. And I also had the opportunity of cursing at the usual downtown drivers who just weren’t going as “efficiently.”

To all the out-of-town-circus goers… my dendrites thank you.