Last week I celebrated my 35th birthday with my family. It was a wonderful day, full of gifts and surprises. Not the kind of gifts you unwrap (though there were a couple of those) but gifts given and received in love.
gifts from Brienne's birthday
simply to illustrate the "gifts" theme of this post
This year I requested we use my birthday gift budget to buy me a concert ticket. Tonight I'm going to Natalie MacMaster: Christmas in Cape Breton. Ok, well I'm not going to Cape Breton but to MacMaster's Christmas themed holiday program that's passing through Maine right now. A friend will be joining me, it's a girls night out and I'm so excited. I have wanted to see a live music show for months and months and finally it's happening for my birthday. (Thanks Debbie for the encouragement.)
Damien always makes me the sweetest cards
But the concert is really just the icing on the cake of an already wonderful birthday week and month (December with all its festivities seems like a continuation of the celebration).
sugar cookies instead of cake
I received so many lovely gifts for my birthday and I have to admit I have been giving myself a few gifts this month. Here they are in no particular order:
The gift of time. Time off from school. Time to go to bed early and read books. Time to tickle my children and read stories. Time to make Christmas gifts. Less time spent on my computer (photo work, internet, communication etc...) more time enjoying this season.
The gift of friendship. This has been freely given but I have also been seeking it out as of late. I am tired of feeling isolated and have made a conscious decision during this month off from school to reach out and make time for friends. Friends for tea, friends for lunch, and friends to go to concerts with.
The gift of pretty. For my birthday Laurent and Brienne made these pendants for me. Also, my friend gave me earrings (see photo at end). I feel like a new woman with all this new jewelry.
The gift of nature. Our winter hikes this month have been gorgeous. I haven't shared many photos because I haven't had the time to process them all, nor am I posting as much. But I assure you (even without the photos to prove it) these weekly hikes refresh and recharge me.
The gift of pampering. On my birthday we had friends over for cookies and tea in the afternoon. Damien came home from work early to start preparing a special supper. As our friends were leaving I was shooed off to a hot bath, where I was waited on ("can I bring you tea mommy?") while Damien cooked. After our delicious supper I was escorted to the in-house spa where I was treated to body massage, a pedicure and manicure - while sipping a starbucks coffee and eating more cookies. I went to bed feeling loved, loved, loved with soft and supple skin to boot!
The gift of reading (& the promise of more good food). My mother ordered me my very own copy of Wild Fermentation for my birthday. It arrived today (smile).
The gift of understanding. This is a gift I give myself, though many have extended it to me also. I seem to be in a long period of self-evaluation and reflection and the darkening days simply intensify this introspection. I want to further understand what makes me happy, what it looks like for me to function at my best. I want to know what will bring me joy as our lives change and shift. So I'm reading, finding resources, taking personality tests, watching inspirational TED talks (you must watch this TED talk) etc...
The gift of love. I'm taking time to ask questions about who I am because I want to continue the work of creating a life I love.
This all sounds so self-focused and I am reluctant to share my navel gazing but the truth is I want to accept myself more. Dare I say it, I want to love me. My family and friends love me, they tell me so often. I love my children and husband with all my heart and then some, why can't I love myself and feel comfortable saying that?
Wow, there is no neat and tidy way to stitch this up after opening my heart so wide. So I'll leave it there. I am loved.