As an adult, I seem to have mixed feelings about my birthday. I do get excited for ‘my day’ and all that comes along with that. But there is also the sense of the passage of time, which seems to heighten at the time of another birthday. I find myself thinking about all of the things I should have done by this point in my life, and haven’t. Last year was tough, 30 was a hard pill to swallow. Somehow this year seems worse. Now I am no longer just 30. I am solidly ‘in my 30s’ and that just doesn’t sound as good to me.
Honestly, I was expecting a pretty horrible birthday this year. Being in isolation meant no time with friends, no going out for something special, no connections with anyone outside of my house. Oddly, it was one of the best birthday’s I’ve had in a while. I think this is due to a few things. Firstly, I really had no expectations for my birthday. And most importantly, I didn’t let myself wallow over how I wished things could be different. I really put effort into enjoying the things I could. So here are my tips to make an isolated birthday the best it can be.
This might seem like a bit of a silly one, but there is a reason it’s on the list. For over a month now, I have the routine of getting up at 6am on weekdays to do a Beachbody on Demand workout. Sure, I could have used my birthday as an excuse to sleep in and relax a little more, but I actually didn’t want to. I feel soooooo good after a workout! Once those endorphins kick in, I’m always in a good mood. There is seriously no better way to start a birthday, than with a natural endorphin high.
I was really blown away this year by how many people reached out to wish me a happy birthday. So many calls, messages, and Facebook posts. Especially when you get a lot of posts on Facebook, it might be easy to skim them over and just see that a lot of people wished you a happy birthday. I like to take the time to read them all individually and thank people for their message. Even when they are from people I don’t interact with much, or know really well, I really appreciate that they took the time to write me even just a simple ‘Happy Birthday’. It can be easy during this isolation to start to think that people don’t care, but they do. And reading all of those messages is a good reminder that you do matter to people.
I am very lucky right now that I live with my parents, and that my mom really likes to play games. It is a great way to pass the time and get some healthy competition going. It is my usual mid-afternoon routine that my mom and I have tea, a little treat, and a game. For my birthday however, I pulled out a game that we don’t usually play. It was so frustrating at times, with each of us blocking the other’s paths whilst playing Ticket to Ride. In the end, we each won a game, so we could both come away feeling somewhat accomplished. Even if you live alone, playing games with others is possible! There are many apps and websites that allow for some long distance fun.
Another thing we are only doing once a week, is getting our mail, as we have a post office box. Though my birthday did not land on our regular mail day, my mom said that we would check the mail, just in case there was something for my birthday. Well there was! I had a couple of lovely cards and gifts from people. As well as some online orders that had finally arrived, and was almost like getting more gifts. I did not appreciate getting my Visa bill though!
I took some time on my birthday to really think about everything and realize how lucky I am. Sure, things aren’t perfect, but they could be a whole lot worse. Even a lot of the ‘bad’ things that have happened in the past year, have likely made life easier for me now. I am beyond grateful right now that I am living with my parents through this time, even if they do drive me nuts sometimes.
One of the things that we can still easily enjoy during isolation is food. For my birthday, I made an effort to eat all of the delicious foods that I wanted to. We are only getting groceries once a week, so we planned ahead for birthday meals. Lunch was a super garlicky artichoke dip with tortilla chips, something I don’t make very often. For my tea time treat, my mom had a special vodka truffle from Purdy’s chocolate for me. The perfect snack to go along with my French Chocolate Pu’erh from Steeped Tea.
Dinner was really special. I had asked my dad to make Risengrød, a Danish rice porridge that is usually the first course of Christmas dinner. Despite it being so simple, it is one of my favourite dishes, and I thought that it shouldn’t be just for Christmas. For the main course, my mom surprised me with beef tenderloin, perogies, and cauliflower. And of course, cake for dessert. This time, I requested just a simple boxed angel food cake with cool whip and peaches.
Getting to eat so many delicious things was truly enjoyable for me. But the enjoyment comes not just from the food, but the fact that they were things I don’t get all of the time. They were special for that day.
So, I actually had a pretty wonderful birthday. Would it have been better if we weren’t under social isolation? Maybe. But maybe I appreciated everything that much more because of the social isolation. Every call, every message, every gift meant so much more. It could have been easy to get down in the dumps and be upset about all of the things I couldn’t do. But I chose instead to love the little things and appreciate every moment of my day. And that made all the difference.