The Joy of Birthdays
The joy of birthdays is amazingly beautiful. The question is, "Are you anticipating or dreading your birthday?"
Well, a lot of people (including me) sometimes end up dreading one's birthday esp. at the thought of growing old year after year. But here's a challenge to all of us. Why don't we take this time to celebrate our birthdays instead. Let us throw worry and fear out of the window. Discover the joy that it can contain and you'll see how it makes a lot of difference.
May 5, 2008.
I celebrated my birthday with the cast and crew of Siddhartha, the Musical in Taipei, Taiwan. Oh it was a beautiful and memorable one for me as I rediscovered the joy of birthdays!
Being involved in a Buddhist musical play meant we were visiting temples and meeting Buddhist monks and nuns. Since I couldn't visit a church on my birthday, I decided to ask Venerable Master Yung Guang to bless and pray for me! I happily received her blessing and thanked God for the gift of my life!
1. The Joy of Life
The joy of birthdays is celebrating that you are still alive! Yipee!!! This may be very obvious but all too often it is something we take for granted. And sometimes amidst problems and burdens, it may be something we forget.
I remember a time I was under pressure to settle down. Pretty soon, I was feeling its effects and I was dreading birthdays and marriage party invitations and even new year. Misery won for a time. Until I changed perspective and attitude. After that , I would make it a point to honor life- my life, on my birthday!
Here are great and simple ideas to honor life. I love ceremonies. So using the following, I create a ceremony of sorts to celebrate life. You can create yours too.
- Going to church to offer a special thanksgiving.
- Writing a thank you letter and attaching the letter to a balloon and watching the balloon soar up in the sky
- Finding a quiet spot (like a garden or in a seashore) and spend time being grateful
- Lighting a candle or candles as you watch the flames dance
- Writing a journal and remembering all the good things that happened in your life.
- Buying flowers and putting it in my room to honor the beauty of life
- Planting a grateful tree
Remember: In the simplest act of buying flowers or spending quiet time in the beach, the more important thing is the gratitude for your life that comes along with it.
- I am special.
- I am precious.
- I am trustworthy.
- I am a great son/daughter.
- I am a wonderful parent.
- I am smart.
- I am joy in motion.
- I am beautiful/handsome.
- I am filled with peace.
- I am love.
2. The Joy of Feeling Special
Do you believe that you are special? I believe you are. And a wonderful occasion like birthdays is one of the best times to remember this. I would like to believe that on the day we are born, the angels sang and heavens rejoiced. Every year after that, your birthday reminds you of that joy, reminds you of your uniqueness. There is only one of you.
It feels good to feel special. Allow yourself to feel special. So on your birthday, when you are the center of the attention, enjoy it! Be joyful when people remember you and greet you. Blow those candles with gusto and make a wish, a prayer. Love the gifts they give you. Focus on the thought and the love from the giver.
Here are some great ways to honor yourself:
- Do positive affirmations.
- Take time to reflect and be pleased about your growth in the different areas of your life.
- Pamper yourself. Take time to do something you really want to do. Treat yourself. Go to a beauty salon. Find time to relax in a SPA. Buy yourself a gift. Eat good food. Do something that makes you happy.
If you are able to celebrate YOU, you would have discovered another joy found in birthdays!
3. The Joy of Good Company
This year since I was away from home, I was without my family and friends. But the company of the cast and crew (who in a way have become my "family" after a year of rehearsals and practice and being together) and even newfound friends in Taiwan still made my birthday special.
There is indeed beauty in being surrounded by family, friends and colleagues esp on one's birthday. A friend of mine shared that birthday celebrations have become a reunion time for their family. It is a time for fellowship and updates. In the company of loved ones, a celebration becomes meaningful and the pleasure is doubled. Treasure these moments spent with people you care about.
4. The Joy of Surprise
The element of surprise never fails to bring elation. When the birthday cake is brought out and a chorus of voices begin singing the Happy Birthday song, you just end up smiling.
In our preschool, we have little surprise games for our teachers that we enjoy doing. Here are some of the games we customized for each teacher, depending on their interests and hobbies.
1. The Shopping Game: Players posed as mannequins with a variety of things with them (e.g. underwear, shoes, belt with price tags). The birthday celebrant is led into the room and is asked to go shopping with a time limit. The challenge: the mannequins will not make it easy for the birthday celebrant to get the stuff.
2. The Karaoke Challenge: The birthday celebrant is asked to complete the sentences of the song we have prepared.
3. Hit the Pot: Blindfolded, the birthday celebrant hits the pot (hanging from the ceiling) with a stick.
4. Guess the Ingredients: Each person brought a certain spice or food for the game (e.g. pepper, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, sugar) We combined all of the stuff we brought and mixed them in the bowl. The birthday celebrant was blindfolded and was asked to name all the ingredients found therein.
5. How Well Do You know Your Groom-to-be: We prepared some paraphernalia for the bride (e.g. veil, cord, wedding ring, candles). Prior to the game, we asked the boyfriend several questions and wrote down his answers. During the game itself, the birthday girl was asked the questions like what is your boyfriend's favorite food? If their answers match, we gave the girl one object like the veil to see if she was "ready" for marriage. tee hee
My Taiwan Birthday Surprise
5. The Joy of Sharing
During this marvelous day, I discovered that as I was being showered with attention with all the birthday greetings, hugs, cakes and beautiful smiles, I realized that the best part of it all was my answered prayer. Before we left for Taiwan, I prayed that the musical was going to be a success. And that the cast would be financially blessed because of this.
On my birthday (that was the day after the first 5 shows in Taipei), we were all surprised with a red envelope (Ang Pao in chinese) with money inside. And we were blessed twice! One in the morning and another in the evening. I was very, very joyful that day. I realized that the best gift of all was being able to share joy with others. As I was happy, so too were the 60 cast along with the crew. What more could I ask?
The Joy Continues...
- To celebrate life is a joy!
- To celebrate YOU is a joy!
- To celebrate with your loved ones is a joy!
- To experience surprise is a joy!
- To give and to share is a joy!
May we always remember the joy our birthday can bring today and every year after that.
By: Michelle Simtoco
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