As 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.
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.”