Leading up to my fortieth birthday, I wasn’t sure how to feel. While I do believe age is just a number, the idea of moving into another decade of my life was making me reflect on who I am and what I’ve learned in the last 40 years. I think we all want the same thing in life. To feel seen and loved. I think to be seen and loved is to feel good. And that’s what we all want, to feel good… about who we are, our choices in life, our relationships. Outside of those two things we are all totally different. Some people feel really good when they go shopping or when driving fast in a car, while I feel real bliss doing yoga and being in nature. What gives us pleasure is different, but we all still want that feeling. The feeling that fills us up with the joy of being alive.
Months ago I thought I was going to have a huge party bus full of family and friends celebrate my big 40th birthday day wine tasting in Temecula. You see, my step mom celebrated her 60th birthday that way and everyone had so much fun. I think a few of us had too much fun, including me. As it got closer to my birthday, I decided I just wanted to spend quality time with the people I am closest to. Since I travel so much, these are the moments that are priceless to me. I’m greedy for magical memories I can take around the world with me and hang on to for the rest of my life. All the moments we laugh and connect are my joy.
My first celebration was with my Dad in Kauai. He flew us there for a four day father daughter trip. It was magical. It was like I finally got that wish from when I blew out the candles on my 11th birthday cake. I had always wanted more of his attention and during our trip he gave me affection so freely. We have been through a lot so on this trip we shared stories, laughed, and forgave each other for past hurts. It’s what I imagine walking in heaven would feel like. I am on a beautiful island walking along the beach with my Dad and feeling his love in a whole new way. Those four days were definitely one of my childhood dreams come true. I felt seen and heard. I was feeling good.
When I came back home from Hawaii, I had an intimate, but very loud and crazy celebration with my closest girlfriends from childhood. After all these years, we are here! we made it to 40! And, even better, we all still love each other like sisters. The bonds of friendship are everything. That’s a big thing I’ve learned. Friendships also make you feel seen and heard. That night we drank wine, told stories, hula hooped, took crazy photos while making silly faces. Honestly, it felt like the slumber parties we had when we were young girls. It was pure joy.
The next night my two closest girl friends came down from Los Angeles to take me out to dinner. This was a gift in itself as driving from Los Angeles to Orange County is a nightmare. Even though we don’t get to see each other all the time, when we are together it feels like no time has transpired. We are in this rhythm. We do this dance of words and its so healing. As my best friends sit beside me I feel safe, loved, and warm. After dinner we meet up with one of my closest hometown girlfriends and we sit around her bonfire. We drink, we talk, we laugh, we reminisce on all the birthdays we were in Vegas being crazy while now we would rather sit around the fire and laugh. I sat there thinking to myself, “this is so much better than being at a club.” Don’t get me wrong, there was a day when I would have fun in many clubs but that no longer excites me. Deep talks around a bonfire with incredible friends appeals so much more to me.
My last celebration which was on my actual birthday, March 13th, my step mom threw me a family party which included my two favorite little humans on earth, my niece and my nephew. I can’t explain the connection I have with them. When they wrap their arms around me I feel so much unconditional love it just melts me. Along with my step mom, sister, brother in law, and a childhood friend, we sat around the table eating my requested birthday dinner, sloppy joes. You see, I really am a child at heart. Of course she made mine vegetarian style. It was like tasting my childhood and it was so good. After dinner we played cards, laughed, ate birthday cake, and I opened my gifts. While I loved every gift they gave me, the real gift was getting to spend quality time with them.
In addition to all the nights of celebration, I got calls, emails, Facebook messages from my friends and family around the world. It was overwhelming in the best kind of way to receive that much love. My mother, who was traveling in Mexico, sent me a beautiful email saying how much she loved me and that she was proud of the woman I have become. I felt so much love from everyone in my life and I can’t imagine a more beautiful gift than that.
It was a good birthday. It was a “feeling good” kind of birthday!