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Week 4: Happy birthday to me

Happy birthday to me. I’m 103.

Into week 4 of the challenge and the week of my birthday. While once birthday’s were something longed for (becoming a teenager, being old enough to get a driver’s licence, reaching the legal drinking age, and having a 21st) I have now reached the point where I would like to stop the figures from rising. This week I really did start feeling like I was ageing when I realised I was beginning sentences with phrases like “when I was younger” and “I remember when”; not to mention proving the old wives tale ‘hangovers last longer the older you get’ is not actually a tale. Oh dear.

This week I took a bit of liberty with the “trying a brand new thing” deal. I extended the meaning of “new thing” to “new thing on my birthday”. It’s my birthday and I’ll extend if I want too.

This year marked my first ever birthday as an adult in the town of my birth (and current town of residence), and was also the first year since 2004 that I celebrated my birthday on Australian soil; two issues I was trying to come to grips with.

I have always tried to celebrate my birthday in style, and I was determined that this year would be no exception. But how was this to be achieved in a small town with limited options for eating and drinking? Never one to be deterred I first decided to send invites to some fabulous ladies I had the pleasure of getting to know / reconnect with during the last few months. I was happy to find that the list was not as short as I feared it would be given that I had only just started devoting time to developing a social circle in the few months since my dad “went fishing”.

But where would we go? I wanted food and wine but I wasn’t satisfied with dining at the local Sizzler – that may have been alright when I was 13, but not for my adult self. Talking to people in the know I discovered a lovely restaurant overlooking the river which came complete with a modern menu and linen napkins. Book it Danno!

Dinner with the posse was a lively affair, and I even got treated to a full 5 minute firework display. Ok, so the fireworks were not specifically for me, but given that the display was directly across the river from our dinner table, it occurred right when dessert was served, and it was my birthday dinner, I was pretty chuffed.  Bar hopping followed after dinner, and I am reliably advised by my sister that I stumbled through the front door at around 330am. Not a bad effort then.

The following day was a day that I care not to remember in detail – oh the pain, the pain! As I told my 10-year-old niece, it must have been something I ate. My sister, however, had other ideas and used me as a demonstration of what not to do. Moving on…

I woke up on my birthday still suffering somewhat from the effects of the celebrations (two-day hangover – I AM old). However, that was not going to stop me from partaking in my first ever birthday boot camp. Yep 530am boot camp on my birthday certainly was a first. In fact, I think just being up and about at 530am on my birthday was a first, let alone sweating it out swinging tyres and such over my head (note to self: it is not a good idea to forget to wear deodorant when one is undertaking a strenuous work out involving lifting one’s arms repeatedly in the air. Needless to say I did ask the instructor for more ‘arms down’ exercises in order to spare the rest of the boot campers. No joy I am afraid to report.)

Other birthday firsts included taking my over 50’s walking group on our regular walk (something I never thought I would be doing in my life, let alone on my birthday and wearing a birthday hat in the shape of a cake complete with foam candles), and participating in a pole dancing fitness class (whilst I have done pole classes in the past, it was a first to be swinging around a pole on my birthday).

One very important first this birthday was the fact that I got to spend my birthday with my niece. Never before in the 10 years of her life had we been in the same place on my birthday. And what a joy she was – decorating the house with balloons, making me a card, singing happy birthday repeatedly, and pulling out the crazy dancing moves during our frenzied birthday dance-athon. Happy birthday to me!

Sadly this year also marked my first birthday without my dad. It was intensely sad not to hear his voice wishing me a happy birthday, but I knew that he was with me in spirit and I took comfort knowing that somewhere in the night sky was the star that I officially had named after him as a Father’s Day gift several years ago.

Introspection time

So what did I learn this birthday week?

I learnt that two-day hangovers really do exist. This is not a lesson I hope to repeat.

I learnt that if you don’t wear deodorant and you sweat profusely you shouldn’t drive your car with the windows up and the air conditioning on.

I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you are (in life or location); you can choose to make yourself miserable, or you can choose to do all that you can to make your situation as happy as possible. Likewise, you can lie down and let life wash over you and blame the winds of fate for your state of being, or you can take action to create as much joy as you can with the situation in which you find yourself.

I learnt that I am able to make wonderful friends no matter what location I find myself in. Yes I am an extrovert which certainly helps, but anyone can do it. It may take a little time, a little effort, and you have to move outside your comfort zone, but the benefits are worth it. Yes you may meet some duds, but hey, one person’s dud is another person’s treasure. And I strongly believe that meeting new people enriches your life. There are so many people with so many life experiences in the world and so many things that you can learn from and broaden your outlook on life.

I learnt that there are many benefits to celebrating your birthday with family; there is something truly special about being surrounded by the love that is family.

I re-learnt that laughter really is the best medicine, and that there is such freedom in dancing like no-one is watching. Try it today. Go on, I challenge you.

And so endeth another birthday and another challenge week. I leave you with a final  thought of the day:

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are? ~ Satchel Paige