Birthday Awesomeness

Guess what – today’s my birthday and I’m giddy about it!

Growing up as a Christmas Eve baby in a family of self-centred people wasn’t easy – often my birthday was completely forgotten, and always it was treated like an inconvenience – so I have had to work HARD to get to the point where my birthday is something to be celebrated rather than dreaded. Over the years I have drowned in depression, flirted with suicidal thoughts, and questioned my worth in this world, but not this year!

I would never have imagined that this year I would be sitting here on this beautiful day, the sun shining and my heart bursting with love for myself and the world, feeling absolutely giddy that it’s my birthday.

So today, on my 41st birthday, grinning like an idiot in this Starbucks sipping my free birthday latte, I want to take a self-indulgent moment to acknowledge all the awesomeness that is me and my life. (I’ll understand if you choose not to read on – I know how annoying super-happy people can be. :))

Awesomeness #1: I have awesome friends! I have done a fair bit of culling and cultivation of friends in the last few years, and I am so blessed now to have people in my life who are loving and supportive and smart and fun and funny. I think for many years I didn’t feel I was deserving of all these great people and their time, but I have come to recognize that I’m a freakin’ awesome person myself and a great friend and they’re as lucky to have me as I am to have them!

Awesomeness #2: It’s fifteen degrees in December. Yes global warming is terrible and I do care tremendously about the environment, but selfishly I am so happy to be basking in the beautiful sunny warmth of today. I don’t have to worry about bundling up or driving in a snowstorm, I can just live my day however I’d like which is an unusual luxury on my birthday. Thanks, universe!

Awesomeness #3: I run! Despite my struggles this year with my back injury and lack of motivation due to work stress, I haven’t given up. Running is my sanity, my freedom, my challenger, my salvation. This morning I went for a run in capris and a light jacket and thought about how today’s run felt like a renewal of vows, of sorts – no matter what obstacles will try to pull us apart, running and I are partners for life. I read about someone who runs his age in miles on every birthday. I doubt I’ll ever be that person (I can’t even run my age in kilometres!), but I think it would be cool to make sure that on every birthday I give myself the gift of running. I’m sure glad I did it today.

Awesomeness #4: Music! In the last couple of years, I have reignited my love affair with music, and become an out-and-proud fangirl of Twenty One Pilots and My Chemical Romance. More than that, though, in my teen years I used to compose songs and dream of becoming a songwriter. After recently sharing that with my son who is a tremendous musician in his own right, he has set me up with a DAW (Digital Audio Workspace) connected to my digital keyboard so that I can start composing again. He says he can’t wait to hear what kind of music I make, and I can’t wait either!

Awesomeness #5: My family sucks, and that’s ok! I’ve finally been able to let go of that impossible dream of turning these blood relatives into a great loving supportive family, because I’ve learned how to give myself that life of peace and love that I was chasing for all those years. My parents and siblings, they’re just part of my story, my history, but they don’t shape my present or future. I don’t have to hate them or need them or feel guilty about not trying harder with them, and I don’t have to love them or like them either. We survived a lot of bad years together, and now we can go in our different directions and that’s totally ok! It’s so lovely to feel free of that weight and claim my life as my own.

And finally…

The greatest awesomeness of all: I make this world a better place. In work, in friendship, in love, I make this world a better place. I’m smart, funny, caring, compassionate, honest, adventurous, life-loving. If I wasn’t here, the world would get along just fine, but I make it just a little better. I don’t do it in big flashy ways – I don’t have millions to donate, I don’t create brilliant inventions, and I don’t compel massive audiences to change their lives – but people in my life have told me they admire me, they respect me, they’re inspired by me and they’re so grateful to have me in their life. My presence brings joy to those around me, and really I can’t think of a better reason than that to celebrate that 41 years ago today, I was born.

So here we are, December 24 2015: Happy birthday to me!

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Me as a little girl

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Me at age 41

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2014: Year in Review

As I happily leap into 2015, I’d like to take a moment to look back on the last year, because what a year it was! This year has been pretty incredible and, because of some big steps taken, I am so looking forward to the adventure that lies ahead in the coming year. I already have some exciting things in store, but I’ll introduce those as the times draw nearer. For now, here are my highlights of 2014:

1) I finally took out the trash! After years of gingerly trying to make everyone around me happy, I finally decided it was time to make me happy and the first step was to stop tolerating toxic relationships. So, I started this year by dumping a soulless manipulative abuser who had been wreaking havoc in my life for years, and slowly re-evaluated and rme and sandraefined my social circle to include only those who truly have my best interests at heart, who nourish my soul and who value me as I am (like my bestie in the photo). The result is that my life is now filled with people I respect and admire, and my days are filled with peace. Three cheers for decluttering!

2) Climbing the career ladder. In the Spring, I was offered a promotion to Business Manager. I turned it down. I wasn’t 100% sure that was the best decision because promotions are hard to come by at my work, but it just didn’t feel like the right direction for me. Not long after, the management team approached me with a promotion tailor-made for me and I became a member of the management team on my own terms. I got to keep doing what I love with a title that will help me transition to even greater opportunities in the future. It never ceases to amaze me how life works out when you trust your gut!

me in utah3) I got giddy in Utah. Truth be told, at first I felt a bit nauseous at the thought of going on a trip alone, but taking a solo trip was on my bucket list so I figured I may as well muster up my courage and get to it. I’m so glad I did! The excitement started to hit me at the airport, and I don’t think it ever went away. I spent every day feeling absolutely giddy, hiking beautiful trails breathing in clean crisp air, looking out over unbelievably breathtaking landscapes, and meeting people from all walks of life. I discovered that I really enjoy my own company, and I never tired of that moment when someone learned that I was a girl travelling alone and said, “Wow, you’re amazing, I could never do that.”  I used to be the person who said that to others, but I like it much better being the person it’s said about! Utah will always have a special place in my heart because Utah is where I finally fell in love with myself.

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4) 21.1 km of WOW. Another bucket list item checked off, this year I ran my first half marathon, something I never would have imagined I’d be able to do when I first started running two years ago. moab raceThe secret for me was choosing a beautiful destination that would inspire me to want to run for two hours, and I sure did choose well! Moab, Utah had me running with a big grin on my face which, I must admit, became tear-soaked a couple of times when I was overcome by the sheer beauty and privilege of it all. In fact, it was such an amazing experience, I’m going to do it again. Next destination has already been chosen – stay tuned!

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first 40 years5) Welcome 40! I am THRILLED to have turned 40 last week. My thirties were a difficult decade – a really really really long emotional growth spurt – but I feel this year I’ve finally started coming into my own; I have a way better sense of who I am, and I really like me! It feels like a graduation of sorts, and a fun girls’ trip to Cuba with my best friends was my graduation party. Now I get to embark on my future knowing that I have a solid foundation within me, and I can hardly wait to see what every new day has in store and what exciting adventures I will dream up for myself! What better way to start not just a new year, but a new decade? I’m on top of the world. 🙂

Birthday Battlefield

The holidays are the worst. All those happy families gathering to exchange thoughtful gifts, sharing laughs and loving hugs. I finally let go of that pipe dream last year. I waved the white flag and drank the bottle(s) of wine and finally realized my family will never be that family, no matter how well I can cook a turkey or decorate a Christmas tree.

Now layer onto that a Christmas Eve birthday. My Christmas Eve birthday. Flashback to being a teenager, when my mother completely forgot my birthday because she was so preoccupied with Christmas preparations. Flashback to my twenties, when my mother and siblings forgot my birthday because they were too busy trying to charm my partner. Flashback to my early thirties when my mother pointed to the new Martha Stewart laundry hamper in the hallway and said “happy birthday” before brushing past me to get back to competing with my sister’s in-laws for miss christmas congeniality.

My birthday has become a battlefield.

When I became single again 3 years ago, I was terrified of facing my birthday alone until a dearly cherished friend became my birthday captain. She took charge of the day, banished all talk of Christmas until December 25 and for the first time in years – maybe ever – made me feel that my birthday could be something to look forward to. I loved her for it, and felt so lucky to have someone so genuinely wonderful in my life.

This year I decided I was finally strong enough to go it alone. I could manage my birthday. I would still meet my birthday captain for a casual dinner, but I would take the power back  and not let this one stupid day throw me into an emotional tailspin. But I miscalculated. I didn’t consider the day before the birthday.

It started with the chocolate. Boxes of chocolate being consumed, one after another. Oh dear, that’s not a good sign. And hours of watching Felicity. Oh god, my life isn’t actually any better than it was when I first watched this show 10 years ago. Then came the wine. And then, of course, the tears.

Oh no. I’m not ready, I can’t do this on my own. I need my back-up. I was entering the birthday battlefield completely unarmed and alone. Alone alone alone. What was I thinking? But it was too late. I was under fire and my army was scattered, out of reach, battling their own holiday demons.

The attacks came steadily. “Still single, third year in a row.” “Look at your life, you’re no further ahead.” “You’re an idiot to think that relationship could ever work.” “You may as well get used to being alone. Nothing’s ever going to change.” I fired back as best I could: “No, next year can be different.” “I’ve changed my career, at least that’s something.” “I won’t be single forever.” But I’m getting worn down.

As I cross the midnight threshold, all I can do is hope that the worst is behind me, and count down the hours until the battle is finally over. Twenty four long hours. Happy birthday to me.