Why My Quarantine Birthday Was Actually One of the Best Ever

I was dreading my quarantine birthday. How would I celebrate my milestone year sans party, cake and gifts?

An old Yiddish saying notes that “man makes plans and God laughs.” I imagine God cracking up when he heard my husband and I outlining our game plan to celebrate our milestone birthdays. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro was one option. Riding elephants in Thailand ran a close second. Sitting in our backyard during a pandemic didn’t make the top ten, surprisingly enough, but that’s where we ended up.

I will always remember my quarantine birthday as the day I made eye contact with a red cardinal, my heart cracked wide open, and for one stunning moment, I saw the world and all its wonders in high definition. Equipped with my new superpowers, I got a front-row seat to see a few things that had eluded my pre-pandemic eyes.

I took note of how people made me feel

A friend surprised me by getting up at 4:30 a.m. to place a sign outside my house that read, “Honk to wish Stacey Happy Birthday.” My dog put his head on my lap when I logged on to read the dreadful daily news. My family got me fluffy slippers and a pink bathrobe that looked like the ones I used to wrap around them when they were babies. Every act of kindness made my heart go thump.

I turned off Netflix and tuned into Mother Nature

Sitting in my backyard listening to a bird concert, I noticed how tall the pine trees have grown over the years. I saw a red cardinal staring at me with the gaze of someone I missed. I wondered why I had been staring at a screen for so much of the time when there is a magic show on my patio?

Young Woman Using Laptop While Resting On Sofa At HomeRadu Bighian/Getty Images

I found yoga pants and no makeup are much comfier than heels and concealer

My official birthday outfit was my favourite pair of yoga pants and a hoodie with a heart, the perfect ensemble to march around my neighbourhood and greet the yellow crocuses popping out to welcome spring. No make-up, no shapewear, but I felt resplendent in my unapologetic freedom.

I belted out,” It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to”

That may be an exaggeration, but I did feel the sadness in the world pulse through my body and shed a shower of tears. I belong to a world that is going through a difficult time. I am glad to be part of the human race and pledge to be an agent of light and hope in its transformation.

I stopped performing for an imaginary audience

As I sat on the patio in my backyard, I realized that outside of my inner circle of true friends and family, no one cares what I am doing. They are too busy curating their life on social media to read my latest post. While no one was looking, I let my eyes close in the soft spring breeze. When I opened them I saw the blue sky in high definition. In lieu of a cake, my daughter rolled a small ball of cookie dough and stuck a candle in it. I gobbled it up quickly then remembered no one was watching. Now, I am writing about it with pride.

CLOTHES DONATION AND FOOD DONATION CONCEPT. Donation box with clothes and hygiene products.Uladzimir Zuyeu/Getty Images

Now is the perfect time to jettison what’s not working in my life

What am I waiting for? I need to bid adieu to people that can’t shine until they blow out my light. I must toss those high school hip-hugger jeans that are not meant for a grown woman. I promise to look at my phone less and see how I can help repair the world more.

I learned to embrace uncertainty

Up until my quarantine birthday, my prior celebrations were carefully choreographed, brimming with people and presents. This year I awoke with no specific plans and let the day unfold slowly and spontaneously. I shared stillness, serenity, laughter, and tears with family. At the end of the day, my dog looked up at me with eyes that said,” She finally gets it.” I really don’t know what the next day or the rest of my life will bring. And that is just fine.

Birthday or not, here are 25+ things you should be doing for yourself during quarantine.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest