Stories, gifts, and turning 60

I turned 60 today. And I made a decision.

I’ve believed for a long time that it’s important to celebrate ourselves on our birthdays – the day we left the spirit realm and entered the material realm to begin the endeavor of creating a life-long collection of stories that come together, in the end, to tell the overarching story of our lives. I’ve celebrated myself every year on my day for years. This year, I did something new.

I had a birthday month. I created a list of activities and events that I love, and I filled in people I’ve known for years about what I was doing with the idea that they could come along to anything that interested them. No obligation on their part and no need on my part. I figured whether 10 people or zero people showed up, I’d be enjoying activities that mean something to me.

I savored a wine tasting; attended a book and paper fair; hit the dance floor; had a fun, intimate dinner with some of my faves; ran a 5K; took a stroll through the Japanese Gardens; wandered through lavender fields, sampled lavender teas, and bought lavender flower sugar and a lavender plant at the lavender festival; and I went to to the Blues and Brews Fest at The Gorge. And I got to see some of my favorite people.

One of the absolute highlights was a surprise camping trip with my grown kids… the first trip I’ve had since I was a kid that I didn’t have to plan and execute myself. And believe me, I ate up lying in the hammock and reading my Kindle while they made dinner as much as I reveled in the time we spent together, the laughs and the stories we shared – as we always do… pure bliss.

Leaving the city behind for a while to soak up nature’s vibes – something I used to do on a regular basis – was just what I needed. And it added to the set of stories my kids and I share with each other.

Each of our lives is made up of stories:  the ones other people tell us, the ones that happen to us, and the ones we create. This month has signified the further evolution of the ever-evolving, ever-growing story of my life.

And I have many things to be grateful for.

This morning while I was walking to a meeting in downtown Portland, feeling content and satisfied with my life, thanks to the experiences I’ve had this past month and much more, I had the revelation that this feeling doesn’t need to stop. And so, from now on, I’ll be celebrating myself every day, which means honoring what’s true to me, what makes me feel happy, safe, content, fulfilled, and nourished.

You see, I’m making up for lost time. There were many years when I and the people around me didn’t celebrate me. And it took me a while to learn how to do that.

I plan to live a long time, and the thought of doing life this way – each day as a celebration – makes me want to live even longer, and that’s a good thing because I have a lot to see and do.

We all have stories, and oftentimes those stories have meant a fair amount of struggle to unravel the past, time spent worrying about what other people think, feeling that we aren’t “good enough,” and needing others to fill voids in us that only we can fill.

I’ve been enjoying life as a content, self-contained entity for a long time, and while it’s been liberating to live this way – being happily aware that while I have all I need within me – seeing everything else as a gift makes each day that much sweeter.

With every walk around the sun I accomplish, I find more to be content with and more to be grateful for, and I have to say, it’s a mighty fine feeling.

So tell me… how are you celebrating yourself today, and is it telling the story you want to tell?