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  • Fran Braga Meininger

Celebrating My Day


Tomorrow is my 67th birthday. It’s certainly not the stand out benchmark of my 60th, nor the right of passage I felt when I turned 65 and began receiving retirement benefits. It’s just turning another year older, with a click of life’s odometer and not much more.


If it weren’t for Facebook announcing it to those I’ve befriended, I’m not sure many would even know. And that’s just fine. Birthday parties seem superfluous at this stage, awkward even, as everyone make jokes about grey hair, sore joints and not remembering why I came into the kitchen in the first place.


None of that appeals to me. Yes, my hair is grey, and occasionally I have joint pain, but I have far more to think about and entertain my mind than worrying about my age.


What I do care about is how many more experiences, delights and memories I can gather into whatever number of years I have left, and doing so in a mindfully and wholeheartedly. Which is why my primary focus is on making each and every birthday special in some way that matters to me.


I’ve celebrated with a variety of new experiences over the past decade joining a climbing gym, exploring a new tributary of a familiar waterway, kayaking a peaceful lagoon, preparing an elaborate menu shared with my closest friends, all of which I look back upon fondly. I’ve even travel to other continents to mark the passage of time in a grand and extravagant way.


But quite frankly, this year the activity is secondary to the outlook and mindset I embody on this anniversary of my birth. For me, it will be a balance of gratitude within the present moment, optimism for what is yet to come and somber reverence for what has gone before.


Personal reflection, introspection and time spent quietly, alone with my thoughts, has become a part of my regular practice. It must also be part of this occasion, as I feel where I am, and where I’m going, is all a reflection of where I’ve been and the woman I’ve grown into through those experiences.


It is also a time to recall with reverence those who have had a significant impact on my life, especially the people who are no longer with me. I feel it essential to remember that nothing and no one remains in my life forever and to endeavor to always express how I feel to those I appreciate and love. And looking back reinforces the importance for me.


I also feel the need to recall my accomplishments, feeling proud, giving myself credit for my achievement, and on the flip side, acknowledging those times when I fell short, disappointed myself and others and made ill advised decisions.


This year, I am especially compelled to spend some time sorting through my memories, taking count of my blessings and good fortune and setting some intentions for the future I envision for myself.


I’m sure I could raise a glass to all of that, drink just a little too much and become sloppy sentimental, but frankly I’d much rather spend the day clear headed, filled with energy, striding up a trail into the wild place that brings me the most peace these days, just to settle on a rock and think.


Perhaps, I’m becoming more insightful. Maybe age brings with it a need to go deep inside, as Yung wrote, to explore the shadow self in preparation for our end. Perhaps, it’s just a natural shift in an ever increasing desire for serenity rather than rivalry. But whatever it is, my way of making my birthday special this year will be far less grand and much more at peace.


Happy Birthday, to me.

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