Another Year Has Passed

birthdayAs I’ve said before, I’m not much of a birthday person (few things make me more uncomfortable than having Happy Birthday sung at me), but I do like rituals. I like the power of rituals to give meaning and mark time. So each year I make a birthday list, and spend some time reviewing the previous year’s list. What I completed, what I didn’t, how I feel about those things.

The list is never meant (or expected) to be completed. Rather, it helps give shape to my year and reminds me to take chances and try new things. Big things and small things, things I’ve enjoyed doing in the past and things I’ve always wanted to do.

This past year I’ve completed 11.5 out of 28 things, which seems pretty good. Things I’ve checked off my list include:

Get a job post grad school.
Try Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Try one new recipe per week or 52 in a year.
I actually made 63 new recipes this year. This was one of my favourite challenges as it made me step outside my normal cooking mode and try new ways of cooking favourite dishes as well as entirely new things–and actually put my many cookbooks to use!
Hold crow pose for 15 seconds–I actually made it to 14 seconds, which is why this counts as a “half” on my list of accomplishments, but this is perhaps the one I’m most proud of. It took a lot of work, a lot of faith, and a willingness to fall on my face over and over.
Sew something.

This awesome totebag!
This awesome totebag!

Dye hair blond–ombre counts.
Make more friends.
Make vegan cheese from scratch–both “goat cheese” and “bleu cheese” and they were delicious.

A few of the things I didn’t complete: get academic article published (turns out working full time kind of saps your energy and initiative to do these kinds of things); make gluten-free bread; take surf lesson (on my list every year); read 28 books (I made it through 12–both because the intensity of my job means I don’t have that much energy left over for reading and because I’ve become a lot more willing to abandon a book midway).

This year’s list includes:

Finish knitting my throw
Try surfing (as I said, every year!)
Increase cardiovascular fitness
Take a trip somewhere
Grow a tomato
Do unassisted handstand
Try false eyelashes
Read 29 books
Intentional movement 5-6 days a week
Finish Be Your Own Beloved course

Another ritual or tradition I’ve started around my birthday is my “box of lessons learned”–things I want to remember that I jot on scrap paper and put in a pretty box to revisit on my birthday. This is my second year doing it. Just a couple I’ll share:

“If it doesn’t personally impact you or hurt others it probably doesn’t need your comments.”

“If you don’t like someone and they don’t like you, that’s not a problem, that’s a mutual agreement.” (Credit goes, I think, my to my friend H.)

“You are so much stronger now.”


14 thoughts on “Another Year Has Passed

  1. I LOVE THIS!!! I also hate having ‘happy birthday’ sung to me, always have! I’m a massive goal setter and ritualist, and I think this is such a gorgeous idea… I think I may take some inspiration and start doing this as my gift to myself every year 🙂

  2. I love the idea of a birthday list. My birthday was a month ago but that’s not too late to make one, is it? (Also my list also includes “try surfing” – let’s make a pact that we will both do this in the coming year.)

    Congratulations on another trip around the sun, my friend. 🙂

    1. Not too late at all! And if you’ve accomplished something big in the past month (like, oh, say making it into the Boston Marathon!!) you could add that and check it off. And yes, definitely. Let’s both try surfing this year. Thank you!

  3. what a great idea those lists are. I would love to start one, too. Just am too scared, that I won’t have anything to tick off one year in….

    1. That’s why you make a combination of big scary things and small easy fun things! And it’s okay if you only tick off a couple–that can be really illuminating. Is it that I made goals that don’t resonate for me? Is it that I was too busy? Something else?

  4. I’ve had that same issue with surfing my whole life! I would actually schedule the lesson but either the weather would be bad or the waves too choppy. But I finally did a 1-day women’s surf camp this summer and loved it! Standing up was such a joy… I really hope you experience it this year!

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