Let me just start off by saying this is not the post I had originally intended to write. After sharing posts from my mom’s birthday brunch this week, I fully intended to share a magical birthday experience of my own.
I thought I was going to share pictures of the most beautiful blush colored roses, a luxury outdoor picnic and sweet pictures of baby goats. I thought I would share peeks into a birthday party that had been planned for months and was perfectly executed down to the very last detail.
But this post isn’t about any of that at all. This post is about how love showed up and saved my milestone birthday.
For THE longest time, I couldn’t decide how I actually wanted to celebrate my birthday. Should I take a trip? Or maybe have a blowout party? Should I do something that was so significant it would mark the occasion with fervor? It took a few months but I finally decided I would go on an adventure with my mom, sisters and bestie S to mark each decade, then I would have a big party with my family before rounding out the celebration week with a champagne lunch with girlfriends. It seemed like the perfect mix of celebration and sentiment. I never imagined it would be anything other than a magical experience.
My first adventure was a girls weekend with my mom to the Renninger’s Extravaganza in Mount Dora, Florida. It’s one of my favorite places on the planet to shop and it only happens three times a year. This year, it was on my birthday weekend. I spent the day before we planned to leave packing my first attempt a capsule wardrobe and all but danced to the car to meet her at 6:00 am.
We laughed and shopped all the way down to Mount Dora finding steals and deals that were ah-mazing! We even found a few pieces for my baby sister’s master bedroom makeover. Literally, we could have filled an entire trailer full of goodies.
We were less than 10 minutes from our final destination when we got the call about the weather. The last time my mom and I had checked the weather for the party it was going to be a balmy 73 degrees with only a 20% chance of rain much like we were enjoying in Mount Dora. All of the birthday festivities were scheduled to be outdoors and for weeks it seemed like everything would be on track.
I’ll freely admit, when we got the call that warned of possible winter tornadoes, damaging winds, hail and pounding rains, my first thought was to brush it off. I didn’t even let myself have one negative thought that my birthday plans could be derailed by weather – not a single time. I even told my mom, “Don’t worry about it, it’s all going to be fine. We’ve never even had a winter storm like that ever.” We told the vendors to keep us posted and continued to enjoy our weekend but quietly in the back of our minds, the seed had already been planted and we both knew it.
We had a fabulous dinner, stayed up way too late talking and readied for the Extravaganza like the storm wasn’t even coming. That was the first time love showed up – we spent so much time bonding, we were blissfully ignorant to the impending storm.
The next day we shopped Renninger’s until we were so exhausted we literally had to sit down. I’ll share more of our trip to Renningers later but here’s a quick look at the kinds of things they have there. It’s acres upon acres upon acres of anything and everything you can imagine from true primitive antiques to yard sale style junk. This was the second time love showed up – it was a truly gorgeous day and we found so many fantastic things.
We were on our way home reliving the details of the girl’s trip when the first vendor called to cancel. The other vendors soon followed and I knew this milestone birthday I had been anxiously awaiting and dreaming about for months would have to be canceled altogether. I’m not even going to lie to you guys, I started sobbing. I don’t even know how to explain it. I was just so disappointed. I started crying and crying and crying some more. I could not get myself together. Had I known how bad the storm would be, I wouldn’t have even shed a tear. It’s one of those not so proud moments I so wish I could take back.
The last hour of the ride home was pretty quiet. Gone were the moments of ignorant bliss and funny stories and can you believe its. And one more time love showed up. It’s a gift to know when to speak and when to be quiet because the silence is already speaking volumes.
I hugged my parents tight and headed home thinking my milestone birthday was all but a wash.
But when I got home love showed up again, this time in the form of party lights. “I know you’ve always wanted party lights so I thought maybe you wanted them around the fire pit,” S said. Right on cue, I was overcome with emotion and I started sobbing all over again. We sat outside drinking wine and rehashing the weekend under those party lights.
You guys, can I just say it’s so tough to let people love you through your crazy sometimes! I had no idea why I was taking this whole thing so hard. But there I was, a total basket case.
The next day, I was on the phone with my baby sister. She was trying her best to give me the, “it’s ok to cry…you’re just disappointed…no I don’t think you’re crazy…I would be crying too,” speech when she said a simple unassuming statement that changed everything. We were talking about creating mosaics from garden stones when I was telling her I didn’t understand why people even enjoyed creating mosaics at all. “It’s nothing but a bunch of broken bits gathered together to create a piece of art. Let’s face it I continued (with a totally sour attitude I might add) who wants to look at a bunch of broken bits.” And in all her baby sister wisdom she said to me…oh man, I’m going to cry all over again just thinking about it, you guys…she said…
“Your broken bits are my favorite broken bits and I think you’re a beautiful piece of art.”
Right? It gave me a lump in my throat too. That one simple statement changed my outlook on the entire birthday weekend. It changed how I felt about getting older, on how I managed expectations, on how I had failed to express gratitude, love and joy in the face of what felt like utter disappointment. It changed how I thought about celebrating milestones that had nothing to do with a specific day on a calendar and had everything to do with celebrating the exhilaration of finally making an A on a spelling test or running 6 miles straight or choosing to walk in the face of courage instead of settling for a life that is unfulfilled.
I could barely choke out the words, “thank you,” but I knew from that moment on there would be no more tears for the remainder of the weekend. I spent the rest of the day with S at an animal rescue which couldn’t have been a more exciting surprise. And like so many other times before, love showed up again…
We were eating a late lunch when the first storm reports started rolling in and I knew then we would have to cut our adventure short. It didn’t even seem like a big deal though, my heart was so full. Ironically and surprisingly, we finished the night making (you guessed it) mosaic stones to go under the swing I use multiple times a day, every day. I know, right? The lessons just kept coming.
I woke up on my birthday to watch the sunrise like I’ve done each year since turning 21. It was overcast but the sentiment was still there. According to the weather reports we would have less than 3 hours to before needing to shelter in place. We raced off to a breakfast that included my favorite food of all time – shrimp and grits. By the time we made it home the rain had already started falling but it didn’t dampen our spirits at all.
We had a pajama party, watched movies, napped, read magazines, opened presents and ate cake until it was time to grab the flashlights and hunker down.
My birthday party do-over has technically been rescheduled for tomorrow. While I know it will be a magical event filled with the most beautiful blush colored roses, a luxury outdoor picnic, champagne, sweet baby goats and heirloom presents, I know I’ve already received the most amazing birthday gift I didn’t even know to ask for…
because love showed up and rallied every time I needed it. Those are the gifts I’ll remember most about my milestone birthday.
I hope you all have a peace filled weekend and love shows up where you most need it too. I’ll see you back here next week.