As I write this, we’ve entered into my birthday month;

by the time you read this, my birthday will have passed. There was a time when I didn’t look forward to my birthday; a time when my birthday didn’t live up to my expectation. The problem was, I didn’t really know what I wanted my birthday to be, I just knew that I always felt a sense of dread as it approached and disappointed when it was over. Somewhere along the line I decided to take the responsibility for enjoying my birthday into my own hands. It took a few years before I got it right, until I could ask for what I wanted and truly plan and enjoy my birthday. I did it though, and found joy in simple pleasures, finally looking forward to that day instead of dreading it.

And then Leah died.

How could I celebrate my birthday without my daughter’s physical presence? There were many years that I didn’t celebrate. My birthday became the third event in a black hole that began with Mother’s Day and included Leah’s birthday in April.

My 50th birthday celebration was a bittersweet day that included dedicating a mediation spot in our yard to Leah, as well as being surrounded by family and friends with good food and live music, exactly the kind of celebration that I treasure. I began to see that it was possible to be with the full spectrum of feelings on my birthday.

I could feel sad and feel joy at the same time, one feeling not diminishing or superseding the other.

Every feeling could have its place in my heart. After that I began to plan my birthdays again. Each year finding something that honored where I was at the time and making space to feel the feelings that missing Leah on my birthday created.

This year I am 64. I’m still not quite used to the fact that my age starts with a 6, and sometimes that means I think I am too old, or that it’s too late for me to live my life fully as me. Most of the time though, it means that I stay true to what I’ve come to call Leah’s Legacy, that losing her is too high a price to pay to not be who I am. I’ve done a lot of work to excavate my true self as a part of my grief journey and the writing of my book.

This year, on my 64th birthday, I am embarking on a yearlong quest.

My intention is to arrive at age 65 with intention, releasing and surrendering anything that I am still clinging to, or is clinging to me, that no longer serves me. I will be asking to be shown whatever I need to step fully into my Truth in each moment. I will be fully claiming my Queen, Wild Woman, and Priestess. I will reclaim my health and know my vibrant and radiant self. I’m very excited to begin this quest, yet I know that there will be trials along the way. That’s the way it is with every quest. There will be initiatory moments, as well as triumphs. I am entering this next year willing to be in the unknown. I will be recording my journey and will share it with you as I am called.

In the mean time, here are some strategies for navigating a difficult birthday.

  • Take some time to write down what you want this particular year. It’s important to do this each year because you may feel differently from year to year.
  • Plan your celebration exactly as you want it to be.
  • Be true to your own heart. Don’t feel pressured to meet someone else’s expectations, even if it’s something you’ve always done. Let them know that this year you need something else.
  • If you are missing a loved one during your birthday take some time to honor your feelings.
  • If, during your birthday, you are in a new situation, a new location, etc., find something in your new circumstances that speaks to your heart.

Remember to be gentle with yourself. Grief changes us and you may still be discovering how it has changed you. Allow yourself time to find what you need now in your new reality.