What my birthday means now

To know how to grow old is the master-work of wisdom, and one of the most difficult chapters in the great art of living.     — Henri-Frederic Amiel

aging
Art by Mary Englebreit

 

Like all children, I looked forward to my birthday.  It meant a party, cake, gifts.  I was one year closer to some milestone of maturity and freedom.  To five and to kindergarten, to 6 and first grade, to 10, the double digits, to 16, to 17, to 18, to 20, then 21, then 25.  At 30 begins the, oh dear.

This week, I will honor the day of my birth.  My birthday, not as a milestone on the way to somewhere, but rather a reverent day of celebrating my soul’s continued, blessed presence on this earth, inhabiting this dear body of mine.  My body is feeling the years, but my soul is deepening, rich with contentment and depth.

hap bir
Art by Mary Englebreit

 

I am contemplative on my birthday and filled with gratitude.  Another year to love bigger, better, more.  Another year to be joyful and  to be kinder, both to myself and to all who come across my path.  On my birthday this year I will be tutoring some students for their SAT’s, and for the TOEFL.  My new calling is to help young people reach their dreams.  Whilst my children groan when I offer advice (I try not to!), my students beg me for it.  They eat my words as balm to their insecure feelings about their lives and the future.

That’s a fine job to have:  To stand still like a big tree and give the comfort of shade whilst the young whirl around us, trying to make the leap towards the hoped for direction.

Oh I will celebrate.  I will buy myself some white flowers.  A glass of champagne by candlelight.  At the least, a cupcake.  I will toast my departed parents who are forever a part of my birth day and raised me with so much love.  I will give thanks for everything.  I am happy to be here.  Happy to give my soul another year to ripen deeply on this rich and richly flawed earth.

white-peony

 

-glass-of-champagne

 

 Gotta end with some Dr. Seuss, don’t you think?

“Today you are YOU, that is truer than true.  There is no one alive who is YOUer than you.”

How do you celebrate your birthday?

xo  Liza

P.S.  Shout out to the birthday lovelies!  Donna, Margo, Laura, Colleen, Paola.

 

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8 thoughts on “What my birthday means now

  1. Birthdays to me are about blueberries and celebrating with my family in Vermont at a lake cottage. Blueberry pie became my cake of choice. Today I turned 63 and for whatever reason began thinking back 50 years to my 13th birthday. My friend Debbie Schacht was visiting us in Vermont and we celebrated together. I miss her.

    1. Marg, or Margo as I knew her, was my best friend in Maugham School in Tenafly, New Jersey, but then she moved away and I was heartbroken. The Internet put us back in touch. Happy Birthday my friend, yesterday! Yes, I too miss Debbie Schacht, r.i.p. Love your birthday celebration with family and blueberry pie! Can’t get much better than that.

  2. As someone who celebrated her birthday YESTERDAY, I saw the Book of Mormon on Broadway, something I had wanted to do for a long time. And I bought the tickets. So there! I don’t usually do something so obviously celebratory. I like the unexpected, quiet, quirky things that make birthdays memorable, but you can’t script those.

    1. Happy Birthday Laura! I have to add your and Margo’s names to the list of the July birthdays. What a wonderful, soulful, artistic great you gifted yourself. We have to gift ourselves.

  3. Eliza, I loved your image of the “big tree” and all the young people whirling around in our shade. As a teacher of many years, I delight in hearing my former students’ tales of achievement and adventures had around the world. My favorite birthday flashback is to my 9th birthday when my mother put together an absolutely amazing hayride for me and all my 4th-grade classmates. She also made a cake in the shape of our elementary school, including every detail down to the monkey bars and playing fields. That party was talked about for years! Such fond memories.
    Happy birthday to you!

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