Two days ago, I turned 32. The same day I officially launched my website. I used to throw parties and then spend the following days hangover but it changed the moment I stepped outside my own country because I saw that there are other soul enriching ways to spend it. Living abroad has its perks for sure. This year, I didn’t do anything grand but so far, it’s the happiest and most fulfilling celebration I had. I still can remember how bad my hangover was in Malaysia in 2014. In 2015, I forgot it was my birthday while cruising Vietnam’s Halong Bay. I spent days googling and preparing for that trip as a present for myself only to forget it was actually my big day. 2016 was with the refugees in German class. 2017, champagne overload and 2018, I stayed longer in bed, hugged my comforter and pillows tighter then braced myself for an ordinarily special day.
- Dress nicely.
I have always loved playing dress up to feel good most of the time. And since quitting the corporate world, I have started dressing down a lot. Ironically, I have been dressing down in Europe’s fashionable streets when in Asia, I made sure to dress up as if I am meeting my boyfriend’s family for the first time everyday. It is just a bit hard to master walking on the cobble stoned street with heels being stuck between them but this day, I took my trusty five-inch yellow wedges out for some treat. I might have walked like a calf but it looked really well with my LBD and brown mailman bag so I gave it another exemption.
I used to scoff at the thought of me closing my eyes and being aware of my breathing process. It is just so corny and I couldn’t afford to look sillier than I already feel. Later on, as I started facing more complicated life issues and needed to stay on top of them, I learned how to zone out to be able to think clearly. I started on the first day of Spring and opened my balcony door without intending to really start meditating. The chilly air brushed my face and chills crept from my bare feet up my spine. I ignored the urge to run back inside to dive under the covers and stared a bit on the pond from the garden that I often just ignore to think of all the things I needed to do for the day. As I gawked longer, I heard the birds chirping. I noticed they are chirping louder than I ever remembered. Maybe because of the fact that I opened the balcony door and I am now with them. I closed my eyes and listened. It was one of the most relaxing days of my life. As delicious as an hour of Thai massage, sauna or bubble bath. Sure I got colds that same day but the next days, I started bringing my yoga mat on the balcony and began my days with five minute yoga poses until it has become a habit. I am no yogi but sure, few stretches help me to move within the day with ease and grace.
3. Visit my daily gratitude list.
As I grow older, I became mindful of every little thing around me. And after moving overseas twice, I have started practicing minimalism. I also started being thankful and appreciative of simple pleasures I get from non material things I used to be skeptic about. When I started counting my blessings, I started complaining less and stopped why certain things are happening. Instead of playing victim, I look forward to what profound lessons I will learn that will add to my strengths. It makes me look forward to the best things that are still yet to come.
4. Write Thank You cards
Why will I pass up on the opportunity to let the angels in disguise in my life know grateful how I am for having them? Using my incurable fetish with pens and papers, now is the best time to put them to good use and thank everyone I hold dear. Days before my birthday, I found myself scouting for materials for the self made cards I wanted to do but when I lost my way to the store, I saw these cute little cards in a nice souvenir shop down town and couldn’t help getting few. Can I not send myself one?
5. Read a Good Book
There is nothing that feels a lot better than flipping through the pages of a book that enriches and caresses my heart and fattens my soul. The feel of the paper between and on the tips of my finger and the smell is just 500 on my delicious meter as Oprah will say it. Having a hopeless book addiction, my days are just incomplete without reading and learning something new. And my birthday will not be so special without reading anything. I could only thank the one I ordered from Amazon arrived just in time.
6. Light a Candle or two
I made a short trip to the nearest church. I am certainly not preaching here. I hardly attend mass due to the fact that I can’t concentrate well. My attention problem is getting in the way every time I will see a movement. It just feels so good to light a candle, close my eyes and utter my gratitude.
7. Create Something
I finally mustered all the courage I can to finally launch my website. It made me stay up until three in the morning and wake up at six. I was dizzy but I am so excited. So after all of the other things that I did, I sat the rest of the day writing, editing and learning how to really run a website. I love beautiful little things and writing about them is just something I can’t help. This year, on my 32nd birthday, I gave birth to a baby called www.thisvillagegirl.com. Tending to it is hard for my technically impaired self but I am more motivated to making it beautiful. Not for anything else but for passion, for actively creative something delightful.
8. Take a Walk.
I never fell in love walking until I get to live away from home. I always hated the fact that I need to walk. Maybe because of the traffic jam, poor public transportation system, pollution and hot weather where I am from. Luckily I live near the Rhine River and it has become part of my daily mindfulness routine to take few minutes to just sit in one of the benches nearby, breath and admire how magical nature is. This is really where I am getting the mood to write or create something. If the weather is nice, I will go for a walk with my journal and pour my deepest, darkest thoughts. During colder season, I make sure to bring my camera. I then take pleasure in editing and the photos I have taken. I may not be that good but it is a creative outlet for me. It saves me from overthinking and over analyzing things.
9. Pop something Bubbly
I have stopped consuming alcohol not because I feel so old for it but because I don’t like how it makes me feel anymore. But my birthday is an exemption. A glass or even the entire champagne bottle is indeed in order.
10. Eat somewhere nice and cozy
I was taken to a Japanese restaurant by surprise. I love nicely prepared food but I will have Japanese any given time. And another surprise, the food tasted so good and not adjusted too much to European taste. It all felt authentic. It all felt like home.
Have you celebrated your birthday alone on a foreign, faraway land alone? How did you celebrate it? How did you feel about it? I’d love to hear your experience.