As you get to learn more about me, you'll come to find out that I am no stranger to celebrating the accomplishments and life moments of others in my life. Celebrating others brings me a great sense of joy because I love seeing people happy!
Starting in my late teens until now, allowing others to celebrate me or just simply celebrating myself has been something I continuously struggle with. I have always been the "keep your head down and make it happen" kind of girl. Therefore, being the center of attention makes me anxious and overwhelmed at times. I learned this about myself when I was 17 years old at youth retreat for high school students in Redlands, CA. It was lunchtime during day 2 of the retreat. With the intention of minding my own business and being to myself, I found a seat in this large dining hall that faced the community TV. I proceeded to eat my lunch in peace while watching the soccer game until a good acquaintance of mine randomly stood up and yelled out loud that it was my birthday to a group of 600 people I had never met before a day in my life. This prompted these same 600 people to sing "happy birthday" to me and there I was, just standing there...awkwardly smiling and trying not to run away. It didn't end there. The whole day, random retreat attendees and leaders would randomly walk up to me and say "happy birthday" while others decided to re-sing the song as a solo debut.
I would never want to relive that haunting memory again (LOL), but I am woman enough to admit that I miss moments like the one I experienced since we've been in this global health pandemic. This pandemic, as most of us can agree upon, just simply sucks! I've see a whole lot of things in my lifetime, but my goodness - this is some off the wall shenanigans. It's a lot happening at this time that is out of our control. That's probably been the most difficult thing to grapple with being that I am a planner to my core. Through journaling and talking with friends, I realized I do have control over a couple of things. One of those things is the ability to celebrate myself. When you are stuck by yourself, all day every day (minus the Zoom related work calls), you have no choice but to acknowledge and celebrate your very own milestones. Sometimes those "milestones" are as simple as waking up, getting a workout in, completing a passion project... or a birthday.
I came to terms around November that the pandemic wasn't going anywhere anytime soon and I was going to celebrate a milestone in the comfort of my home - my own birthday. I started to think about ways I could not only acknowledge my birthday, but also intentionally celebrate myself with people who are important to me. I decided to put my event planning skills to use and organize something for my birthday (which was on January 4th). As I reflect upon the outcome, I am 100% proud of the way the day turned out. Operation birthday = SUCCESS!
My birthday was truly a fun filled day despite being a full work day! First, I worked out to acknowledge the gift of seeing another year. I kicked ass on the Peloton by doing a stacked strength training workout. Then, after showering of course, I pulled out my makeup chest and got dolled up for my at-home photoshoot with my new ring light and pink birthday balloons (check out IG for the pictures and videos). The photoshoot was worth it because not only did I get cute pictures out of it, but I also looked the bomb dot com the entire day for work. Then, there was work - which was really chill because I only had two meetings. During my last meeting, my team ambushed me at the end with the happy birthday song via Zoom. Although it was a surprise, I didn't have the feeling of running away, but the awkward smile was definitely in full effect.
The icing on the cake happened after work! I hosted a virtual party via Zoom that combined two of my favorite things: painting and pizza. My good friend and owner of Paint 2 Gather, LLC, Seranie Ruiz, collaborated with me to make this quarantine birthday one to remember! She provided step by step instructions as my friends and I painted a creation inspired by my essence in the safety and comfort of our own homes. We even stayed on after the paint session was over to just talk about life. Some of my friends who had never met in real life before just clicked, and by the end were exchanging Instagram handles. Although we were virtual, we had a GREAT time and I could see why! Everything was just right - the music, the food (you really can't go wrong with pizza), the company... the overall energy. By the end of our time together, I didn't want to click the red "end" button on Zoom. At that moment, I realized I made the right decision to celebrate myself with good people, even in these unique times.
Lesson Learned: Celebrate yourself... and if it feels right, allow others to celebrate you as well!