Birthdays as Transformative Rituals: Celebrating Life with Purpose and Introspection.

June 11, 2023

Birthdays as Transformative Rituals: Celebrating Life with Purpose and Introspection.

May 29, 2023

Big birthdays are often a time for celebration, with a major holiday or a big party.

For my 50th, I had 3 big adventure holidays including backpacking holidays in Northern and Southern India as well as a rustic camping safari in Namibia. I spent a couple of months in Australia for my 60th as well as time in Croatia, and sailing to islands in the Indian Ocean. I’m not financially rich, but I do feel wealthy in how I spend my time.

Life changes and I change.

65 is special – so many people never have the fortune to reach this age.

This time, I wanted to mark my birthday in a ceremony. To create my own, deeper way of recognising the passing of the years, rather than a big party with cake, candles and balloons. To mark it in a way that is meaningful to me.

This is what I did.

The day before, late afternoon I went to my woods and gently dropped into the natural environment. Sleeping out in the open (I did have a sleeping bag) and listening to the sounds in the woods. The deer were noisy; I didn’t hear an owl.

Everything was ready for my birthday.

I woke at dawn, had a hot drink and sat quietly in reflection. My phone was switched off, my watch was in my bag.

I smudged with sage. I drummed a little. I danced. I prayed. I spoke to the trees around me.

I’d taken some poems to reflect on. Many people I knew had sent me heartfelt messages and quotes.

I read and cried.

I danced.

And I wrote … pages and pages in my journal. I reflected on where I was in my life right now – work, relationships, health. And then I looked back. Right back to my late teens. And then I spent more time reflecting on the last 5 years.

I thought about how far I’d come. The changes I’d made: personal – a new single life and independence. Work – moving towards retirement and transition work. Changes in relationships with family. Undertaking 2 Vision Quests and now supporting others as a vision quest guide.

Gaining weight, not losing it but also regaining fitness and accepting my body.

Being kinder to myself, and not putting up with things. This is the time to be true to me.

With all these changes over the last 5 years, thinking how awesome life will be moving forward.

What changes and achievements will happen between now and 70. I’m excited for my future.

Over the hill – nah! I’ve climbed that hill and am looking ahead – I’m nowhere near the end.

I want to inspire you to take time out to reflect, and it doesn’t have to be done at a big birthday, it could be anytime, but a birthday is a good time to do this.

Dr. Denise Taylor, Chartered Psychologist and Vision Quest Guide, gained her doctorate at 64, researching how people can find meaning in life after full-time work. Author of 8 books including Find Work at 50+, her next book – Rethink Retirement will be out in early 2023. Denise is a MEA online alum, and a Corazon member. www.amazingpeople.co.uk

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