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How to Have a Positive Birthday in Isolation

3 ways to celebrate a special day in unprecedented times.

Birthday in isolation

I have a birthday coming up and given that we’re many weeks into the social distancing practices required by the coronavirus pandemic, I sort of know what to expect.

There will be wishes of “happy corona-birthday” on social media. Perhaps a video call with family members (I know by now that the singing of “Happy Birthday” will be hilariously out-of-sync!). My husband and son will make a cake. We’ll put on our masks and take a family walk in the fresh air. I will make the day extra meaningful by making a donation to a charity I care about. 

I will feel celebrated and loved. 

But I will also have some other, more challenging feelings. As much as I am aware of how fortunate I am in so many ways, it is still unsettling to go through normal experiences like birthdays in new ways, in still-not-normal times.

Part of living with authentic positivity means acknowledging and embracing that full range of emotions, the joy and security of knowing I am loved on my birthday, and also the sadness of not being able to celebrate with friends and family, like I normally would.

So as I approach this birthday, I’m reflecting on three ways I’m hoping to make this birthday an authentically positive one. 

1) Show Gratitude

I’m always grateful to have completed another trip around the sun. But now, as so many lives have been lost to COVID-19, I am especially aware of how fragile and precious we all are. Now, perhaps more than ever, is the time to express our gratitude out loud—for each other, for ourselves.

2) Do Something Special

Just because my birthday is different this year doesn’t mean I’m skimping on the cake. The thing about birthday cakes is that they’re special. Even if your house features cake after meals on a regular basis (lucky you!), a birthday cake says, “this day is different, this day is important.” So I can’t take in a show or head to a favorite restaurant on my birthday. But I can do something I wouldn’t do on a regular day—and name that as my birthday treat.

3) Make Space

Having been at home or very close to home for so many weeks, I have been beginning to feel like every millimeter of my house is a “been there, done that” kind of space. My thoughts are similar—when I joke about not knowing what day it is, or it being day 4,375 of social distancing, I’m really saying, yikes it feels like I’m just doing the same thing in the same space, over and over again. I’m looking to my birthday as a reminder to make space for something new. A new year of my life, a new way to be in my home, a new way to deepen the relationships that matter most. 

Have you had a birthday during the pandemic? How has it felt for you?

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