In a recent edition of Oprah’s magazine, she discussed what happiness means and then asked her readers to describe their perfect day.
For me – it was a no-brainer. I live out my perfect day every year on my birthday and I am very selfish about protecting it. Given the nature of work and the scheduling that takes place 1-2 years in advance, I have a recurring “DO NOT BOOK” for my birthday.
I do not use the day to commit to errands. I do not set aside the day to get to that task that has been waiting for my attention. I am very protective of this day. I schedule the day around doing things that make me happy. And for me – what makes me happy are very simple things. Good food, being outdoors and family!
In the evening, I set it aside for time with my family. Now that the kids are older, we go out for dinner, but when they were younger, we would get dinner from my favourite restaurant and have a family dinner at home. No cooking allowed on my birthday! Always followed by a cake, preferably a mocha cake, but this past year for my birthday, friends brought over a pastry-esque cake (almost like a Vachon Flakie) and it was divine. I love opening amazing cards from my husband and kids and that is the perfect evening for me – the people that I love, with amazing food – bliss.
The day – it is all mine. I realized years ago, that I like having adventures and go exploring; I always try to incorporate that into my day. Sometimes there is some spa time built in, which can be nice, but typically, it is about the adventure of the day!
Before my mom got ill, I would usually spend the day with her. She and I would go to Niagara on the Lake, or go to a park, or spend the day in downtown Toronto, exploring new neighbourhoods – it was always fun. My belief, and it still is, is that my birthday is as much as about my mom as it is about me. My mom was the one who gave me life and I always use the day to say thank you to her. Even now that she is unwell, I still ensure that my birthday includes a visit to see her and just physically being able to see her, and hug her, adds to the perfection of my day.
Now for my adventures……this year was interesting because the weather was not co-operative. It was rainy, then the sun made a brief appearance and then the wind started – a pretty severe wind storm. But that did not dampen my spirits. I started off the day by grabbing breakfast, picking up a magazine and making my way to an art gallery and cultural centre that I have never attended. The misty day made the outside feel full of secrets and surprises. The surprises appeared in the form of a stream, and a beautiful garden full of tulips surrounding the gallery. I then ventured inside to the art gallery and enjoyed the local artists and the quiet.
After that, being footloose and fancy free, I decided to venture to this small town close by, full of quaint stores, which I could explore. I then treated myself to High Tea, followed by a drive through a posh area, dreaming of life in a mansion. From there, I ventured to a local park, where I walked along the river and then just sat and was at peace. Water always does that for me – it gives me peace. It calms me and gets me attune to just me and the beauty of the water. I have no words.
I then went and visited my mom, who even though she could not remember it was my birthday, was happy to see me, and that was good enough for me.
And that is one of my perfect birthday days. The beauty of birthday days is that for me, it is the 1 day that I can be selfish with my time and no one can judge, say anything or assign tasks. Birthday day is a free pass, where no one expects you to work, and are glad and supportive of you having fun and celebrating you! I dress in my favourite clothes, listen to my favourite music and enjoy the freedom of doing fun things, especially outside. And I look forward to it every year.
I think that knowing what makes your happy and ensuring that you have access to it, is very important and needs to be encouraged and supported. Life is busy and we become programmed to executing our best everyday. But sometimes, we need to get off the treadmill of life and find our bliss. We need it to recharge our souls.
So whatever your happiness may be, please ensure that you find time to incorporate it into your life!
But that’s just one Diva’s view!