Inspiring Vines of the Pergola - #4 in series

Published May 29th, 2015

Yesterday was my Birthday. And, I have to say, it was a perfect day. At 47 years old, I have almost become an expert in how to make a day that makes me the happiest I can be.

Part of my wisdom in this matter came from living for years in a culture where people did not celebrate birthdays. In fact, in Maasailand, many people have no idea when they were born, so celebrating one's entry into this world on a specific day is not really a big deal. Now, of course, the Maasai, like all traditional peoples, are masters of ritual and celebration -- they celebrate when the rains come, births of children and cows, marriages, initiations into adulthood, etc, etc. -- just not so much an individual's annual marking of their own birth day.

But, in the culture I grew up in, I always enjoyed my Birth Day. So, for over a decade while living in Africa, I taught others about a birth day, what it meant and how to do it properly. Thinking every year about the whole concept is what made me an expert in celebrating my own special day, and helping others who seek out my ideas.

Walking through Vine Pergola this morning, I realized that celebration is another pillar in our lives that provides structure. Celebration is a time to step back from the day-to-day, mark a moment, and appreciate life. When the celebration is over, you really do feel different: refreshed, joyful and blessed.

When I was thinking about what to do for my birthday this year, I thought about what I needed most at the time. The things that would make me happy. Interestingly, I never feel bad that I am another year older. Many Americans do feel strange about "getting older." Maybe it is because I lived for so long in a culture where elders are revered, and the older you are, the wiser and more content you are. I love being older, wiser, and more content. I really do.

For me, my favorite things are choosing what I want to eat that is special. Yesterday, I went to the market and bought freshly made croissants. After getting some urgent work activities out of the way, I had cleared my schedule and booked a massage at a beautiful spa on the beach in Key Biscayne, Florida, a gorgeous 15-min drive from my home. Much calmer than Miami Beach, I was one of a few women using the steam, sauna and baths. After my treatment, I was presented with a slice of birthday cake. I felt very special, and spoiled. I then went for a long walk and swim in the ocean.

Dinner was overlooking the sea in a spot that reminds me of my other home, Tanzania, Zanzibar. Surrounded by love.

It was a perfect day.

We all need to celebrate more. Celebrate simply being alive. And you don't need to wait until your birthday to do it. A celebration can be as small, and inexpensive as simply taking a moment to reflect on what you are grateful for at some moment during your day. Put on your favorite song and sing and / or dance. Give someone a hug. And, when you are full with gratitude that makes manifest a desire to cook, or seek out your favorite food, drinks, and gather together loved ones; go for it. We all have so much to be grateful for we shouldn't ignore it all.

Maybe it is because of how hard life is in indigenous rural communities that make celebrations more joyous and fun. As if just staying alive is a miracle and cause for celebration. I get it. I also feel that a life without celebration misses a lot of meaning, and weighs our hearts down.

Having just celebrated another wonderful birthday, I am here to tell to you to remember to lighten up, take a step back from the day-to-day and celebrate something you are grateful for. Whatever that may be for you. Enjoy!


Vine Pergola at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Coral Gables, Florida

My gift after my massage.

Pargo en costra de especias: Spice crusted Red Snapper, hibiscus corn cake, fennel cream and a margarita overlooking the rising moon overlooking the Atlantic Ocean