May 10, 2014

Why I Celebrate My Birthday Month

I'll be honest.

I've struggled to create and write over the past week. The ideas are there and I'm eager to work on them. But once I sit down with the ideas, nothing comes out right. 

Do you go through a phase like that when you're trying to be creative?

I understand it's just a phase and it will get better again. So I do my best to remain hopeful.

I also started something new this week, which took up much of my creative time: Writing a story for children. I'm still right in the middle of developing the concept, but I already have a strong foundation of the story. I'm really excited about this and I can't wait to share the process with you. 

It's a little awkward to write about celebrating my birthday on the day before Mother's Day. But this is what I got this week, and I still wanted to share it with you.

* * * 
So, I celebrate my birthday for the entire month of May.  

Does it sound self-indulging, claiming the whole month to myself? 
Perhaps so.

But there is a reason why I do this.

I grew up in a family where grown-ups didn't really celebrate their birthdays. We would say happy birthday to each other and might have cake after dinner, but they didn't make it anything special. I wonder if there was something cultural to it. Perhaps, we Japanese value modesty so much so that bringing attention to yourself even on your birthday is considered lack of modesty?

Anyway, fast forward many years, my husband and I had our first baby. As a childless couple, we made our birthdays special and celebrated in memorable ways. But once we got so wrapped up with our parental duties, we stopped paying attention to our birthdays. We made sure our kids birthdays were special, but not ours. 

When you're busy changing diapers, constantly mediating sibling fights, and tackling piles of laundry day after day, it's hard to make your birthday different from any other days. There were even times I forgot it was my birthday until someone else reminded me. But I shrugged my shoulders and told myself, "this is what it means to be a parent." This is how my parents celebrated their birthdays, after all. 

After a while, however, I noticed that I was unhappy. I felt unappreciated. I felt like a full time nanny, cook, and cleaning lady for the family who doesn't even get paid. I knew I needed to make a change. I wanted to feel special again, not just a mom who juggles daily duties.

Our birthday is special because it's the day we celebrate our gift of life. Having my own children made me realize this important truth. It has nothing to do with our achievements or performance, like many other celebrations in life. Birthday is the day we celebrate and honor us just the way we are.
"Today you are you, 
that is truer than true.
There is no one alive,
who are youer than you!"
                       - Dr. Seuss

Since I tend to forget to celebrate on my actual birthday, I thought it might be fun to dedicate the entire month to myself. This way, I can celebrate "just being me" in small doses whenever I get a chance.

I don't plan any big parties. Instead, I enjoy simple things like taking a long walk on a beautiful day with my family (they can't say no to my suggestions, because I'm the birthday month girl.) There's nothing better than savoring the beauty of the season while enjoying the company of my favorite people. 
My 26th Birthday, exactly 10 years ago.
Celebrating a birthday had a whole different meaning back then.
My 31st Birthday
Celebrating my 34th Birthday Month

I want to celebrate who I am today, without judging or comparing myself to others.  

Because I believe you will become who you fully are, only when you learn to embrace where you are today. 

I've been slowly uncovering the true design of who I am over the past several months. Celebrating my birthday is an important part of the process. 

On the night you were born,
the moon smiled with such wonder
that the stars peeked in to see you
and the night wind whispered,
"Life will never be the same."
Because there had never been any one like you...
ever in the world.
                            from On the Night You Were Born, 
by Nancy Tillman

Let's embrace our uniqueness, differences, our strengths and even weaknesses. Because we are created exactly the way we're meant to be. We're enough to be celebrated, just the way we are. 

You are special just the way you are,
for you are fearfully and wonderfully made...
                                                                          Psalm 139
And remember, you can celebrate you any day of the year. It doesn't have to be your birthday to make it special.

Would you take a moment to celebrate you today?

What's your favorite way to celebrate your birthday? Share in the comments


  1. Hi there Yuko, Happy birthday! I am behind you 100% on the month-long birthday. We NEVER celebrated our birthdays growing up. Like you said, it may be cultural (my mother being Japanese/Korean). I remember going to neighborhood kid's parties, but I don't think I ever questioned why our family never celebrated that way - it was just a given.

    At the risk of sounding Polly Ann-ish, I realize I celebrate my birthday every day by remembering to be thankful that I am in good health and still around! I give thanks every night before I fall asleep, it's a habit now. I have had friends my age (48) leave to early from illness and when I think about them I feel very, very fortunate.

    I really like your idea of celebrating every day in a small but profound way, like taking a walk with your family. It sounds perfect.

    1. I love that you celebrate your birthday every day by being thankful. We can make every day a celebration of life, and our birthday is just a reminder of that. I'm thankful for your health, and I'm also thankful that you took your time to visit here :-)

  2. Cool! Yep, inside each of us is a little girl who wants the candles, the cake, the whole bit! I love that you're celebrating, and that pie looks mighty good! But best of all are the photos of your family, my friend. Party or no, indeed you are blessed!


    1. Yes, we all need to take care of our inner-child and make sure that we feel cared and loved :-) Hope you had a lovely weekend, Linda.

  3. Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful month :-)

  4. P.S. I can't believe you are 36. I assumed you were in your late 20s.

    1. Thank you! Haha, I can't believe I'm going to be 36 either! But it feels great to be wiser as I grow older :)

  5. :) it's hard to beat a May birthday. How wonderful to be writing a story for your boys! What a great new creative outlet.

    1. I'm having a lot of fun working on the story, even though it's still in its preliminary phase. It's just fun to be creative!

  6. A birthday month sounds wonderful to me - like a month of mindfulness.
    Excited you have embarked on a childrens story, it will be fun to follow along and see how it progresses. :)

    1. I love the way you said it, "a month of mindfulness." I'm really excited about my new project - I'm not sure how I'm going to share that here, but I'll figure something out :)

  7. Yuko, I was popping around blogs and found this group of bloggers who are into decorating. Lots of good inspiration if you are in the mood to poke around. I don't even decorate and I like looking at all the photos! I know you so enjoy decorating so thought just in case you haven't found these bloggers you might be interested...

    1. Thank you for letting me know Gam! Even though I've never visited the site, I think I've heard of it. I'll definitely check it out - thank you so much for thinking of me this way :) oxox

  8. Yuko - this is just beautiful!!!

    "I want to celebrate who I am today, without judging or comparing myself to others.

    Because I believe you will become who you fully are, only when you learn to embrace where you are today."

    "Let's embrace our uniqueness, differences, our strengths and even weaknesses. Because we are created exactly the way we're meant to be. We're enough to be celebrated, just the way we are."

    Yes, yes, yes! Amen and hallelujah! These are exactly the things I'm uncovering right now in my own life - how to 'just be me', to be authentic, honoring my deepest truths, my gifts and calling.

    Thank you for sharing friend! Just beautiful :)

  9. Too apt that the line which inspired me to comment is the one with which Shawna (above) leads off: "I want to celebrate who I am today, without judging or comparing myself to others. ..." Just lovely, so true, and sometimes hard. I find the older I get, which for me dovetails with the more self-aware I become, your tenet is becoming easier and more valid. Really, I'm so glad that today I read this particular post.


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