It was my birthday last month. And, like many people, I usually feel a bit flat in the run-up to celebrating another revolution around the sun. There’s nothing like getting a whole year older to remind you of how short life can be!
As someone who lives alone with only a couple of friends and zero family members living nearby, plus everyone’s busy work or family schedules, finding a way to celebrate with others can feel tricky.
Several years ago I became really upset after a close friend seemed to forget my birthday. It took several rounds of rather indignant and then rather tearful EFT (tapping) for me to realise that I’d assumed that my birthday was the ONLY day of the year when I could reasonably expect people to think of me or pay me loving attention.
Thankfully those days are behind me, but I admit that I still felt a little sad and unloved when my attempts to organise a group event fell flat.
So I wasn’t feeling too hopeful come Monday morning, when the final week before my birthday launched. I woke up to the sound of drilling in my next-door neighbour’s flat. Bad enough, but I had an emergency dental appointment booked with a brand-new dentist at 11am. Talk about psychological priming!
An unknown number rang. It was Farzana of SF Digital, who I’d met a few weeks before at a digital marketing workshop. Cue 20 mins of hilarious and life-affirming conversation, full of kind words from Farzana, where opportunities for further conversation and even collaboration appeared out of the blue!
This wonderful, spontaneous and love-filled interaction with an acquaintance established the tone for the whole week, which included;
- Chatting with my neighbour’s workman, who commented, “You’re very polite! Most people are SO miserable!!”
- Being hugged by my NEW dentist (an incredibly warm, radiantly loving, Greek lady), as we share the same birthday!
- Seeing Captain Marvel with my friend Adam, who took particular care of me as I was still full of anaesthetic!
- Receiving a wonderful call from my new friend Ifalase, in response to a passing comment about feeling unloved – yes, a CALL, not a WhatsApp message or text! She’s SUCH a beautiful human being.
- Having lunch with my Hay House mentor David Hamilton, and my fellow Diverse Wisdom mentees Heena Vasani and Dion Johnson at The German Gymnasium, with THE most attentive and caring waiter called Elton – with a surprise treat of chocolates and a birthday dessert from the kitchen!
- After lunch and still at The German Gymnasium, having a wonderful and much-overdue meet-up with my globe-trotting friend, creative facilitator Kevin Davidson, about complexity theory and his “Playing at the Edge of Chaos” session at this year’s CounterPlay Festival.
- Having my THIRD wonderful conversation of the day on the train home, talking to two strangers about twins, personality, the stress that parenting under-three-year-olds can have on a relationship, and how you can discover how stressful a household is by testing an infant’s urine for levels of cortisol (wow!)
- Having a 45-minute phone-call with a chap called Mark at the Senior Railcard office to sort out a minor detail on my mum’s railcard, that also covered fame, Masterchef The Professionals (a friend of his since childhood reached the finals!), trans acceptance, how grief calcifies into grievance (hence so many angry people calling him for things not related to his service), and so much more!
- Seeing the amazing and HILARIOUS Musical Comedy Awards at short notice with my friend Kevin, and receiving a HUGE amount of care and assistance from both him and the wonderful usher Darren at The Bloomsbury Theatre.
- Having a delicious and quiet birthday meal actually ON my birthday, with my dear friends Katy and Adam.
Blimey! I’m exhausted just RECALLING all of that, so you can imagine how tired I was at the end of that week!
The amount of loved I received – and had the opportunity to offer and mirror myself, too – was extraordinary. It’s easy to believe that without a loving partner or close family in one’s immediate vicinity, a person can be bereft of love.
But I remember something that Susan Piver mentioned when I saw her speak this time last year, the advice she gives at the close of her book The Wisdom of a Broken Heart: if you feel you cannot find love in your life, GIVE love instead. You still retain the power and agency to do that, no matter your circumstances.
To which, I might add; yep. And like those guys sang, love really IS all around.
You just need to be open to it from beautiful and unexpected sources.