Monday, April 29, 2013

My Birthday Wish for Myself

     My birthday turned out to be a great success despite an initial bump in the road. On Wednesday night, before the big day, I had a nearly one hour long crying spell over...well, basically everything. The Boston tragedy! The world today! Missing Nonnie! Time moves too quickly! I don't volunteer enough! Everything. 
     I was making all the tragedies in life mine and wearing them around like some sort of shawl. Not having made any plans for my birthday didn't help, either. Sometimes birthday plans are the perfect distraction for people like yours truly who experience disillusionment at the slightest bit of change in their lives (I wonder how old I'll be when this passes...?). Talking to Scott, talking to my mom on the phone and reading blog posts from around the internet (distraction!) finally helped me get it together, although I never made a firm decision about what we were going to do on my birthday. 

     The day of, I had a great time nannying my little buddy who claimed that it was his birthday and proceeded to sing happy birthday to himself repeatedly which of course made me laugh and sort of took the pressure off this day being all about me. After work, I arrived at my parent's house to find my sister and mom serving one of my favorite pasta salads for lunch (I'll try to post the recipe sometime soon). I went for a surf, meeting some friends out in the water who gave me special birthday waves. Afterwards, my mom, Danielle and I did a beach clean-up inspired by my new commitment to live more outside of myself. Danielle got an unfortunate call that her rent was doubling in NYC, causing her quite a bit of stress that she somehow managed to stuff away for the majority of my birthday and I went for another surf in the evening while Scott swam around snapping some photos. After the sun went down, we went in to town for Thai food, had cake at the house and finished the day watching home movies. 

    Friday and Saturday passed in similar ways: working, surfing, eating, drinking, watching home movies, until it was time to take Danielle to the airport on Saturday night. Her living situation now sorted out, we felt less apprehensive about sending her east, even though it was still tough. On Sunday, Scott and I went to the church from my childhood in Laguna Beach and wandered some of my favorite beaches where I first fell in love with the ocean. Throughout the day, Scott had to listen to me start all of my stories with "At Junior Lifeguards..." I love a good trip down memory lane. It makes me feel like, even though time has passed, those times can still come to life again. This was an important incorporation to my birthday festivities.

     We settled at Shaw's Cove in north Laguna where we both fell asleep face down on our towels almost immediately. When I woke, I had some time to read. It was a mostly quiet day filled with the still moments I was craving following the eventful week. After all the celebrations and conversations I needed some time to sort through my mind. The memories from the past week had gathered like tiny spider webs in my head-stuck, but tangled. I relied on this slow Sunday to sort through them and put them in their rightful place-on an imaginary shelf in my mind where I could see those moments and pull them out again when the time was right, just like I had today with my recollections from Jr. Guards. 
     We finished the day at a cozy restaurant just south of the hub of town after paying the meter again even on a Sunday (rude). I pulled out my journal while Scott took in the warm, but dim surroundings that made me call this place a tavern in my journal, even though it wasn't.

     What's the lesson here? I found myself asking of the past few days. I love when I experience something and come through it with some kind of new understanding, but what is that this time? Finally, as my tea arrived with a bit of honey in it, I thought of one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite books, The Secret Life of Bees. It goes like this:

August: "You know some things don't matter that much, Lily. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person's heart, now that matters. The whole problem with people is--"

Lily: "They don't know what matters and what doesn't"

August: "I was gonna say, the problem is they know what matters, but they don't choose it. I love May, but it was so hard to choose Caribbean Pink for the house [a color she hated that made her sister happy]....The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters".  

    I want to focus more on choosing what matters from here on out. Have I failed at this in the past? I mean, I am one of those wackos that quit their job to follow their heart, potentially making it seem like I choose to live it up instead of having a reliable career, but I think the character in this book means more than that (ya think?). I want to do more to make other people happy, to put other's first more often. I'm not the worst, but I could do better. Of everything I've experienced since I was born, from the good memories to the deaths to the world tragedies, right up until my recent birthday meltdown, I think that's what matters most of all.

Where we went in Laguna:
+ Food The Stand-Lots of healthy vegetarian choices, reasonable prices, good atmosphere, but we have a place like this by our house in SD that we both think has better food.
+Beach Shaw's Cove, one of my favorites. Great tide pools, relaxing mostly local atmosphere.
+Drinks The Beach House- I ordered the "Pure Joy" and let me tell you, it was! I've never eaten here, however, so I'm not sure how the food is.


  1. Happy belated birthday! I loved "The Secret Life of Bees," too (although it made me want to sit and eat biscuits with honey constantly!). It can sometimes be hard to choose what matters, but you are much more cognizant of it than most, which is important. And sometimes you have to give yourself a break -- you do a lot of great things, and you obviously care very deeply about your family and the environment and other people, but we all have to focus at least a little on ourselves, too.
    On a lighter note: I love all your photos and I have to say they are making me even MORE excited to move out to southern California this summer! We're coming this weekend to look for houses and I cannot wait!

  2. so well written, so true. we really need to figure out the things that matter and choose to do those things, even when it isn't what we want. this beach day looks lovely! so does that little "tavern"

  3. p.s. long time reader, new commenter. you form now allows me to comment. I didn't used to have the opportunity because I don't have a google account.

  4. @Casey thank you so much!

    re: the comment form, I had to make it Google accounts only for a while because of spam exploding my inbox every day (annoying!). Glad you were able to share your thoughts, they are much appreciated.

  5. What a wonderful quote! And a wonderful way of looking at things too. I kind of love that.

    I also kind of love your camera. Those pictures are amazing, especially the 2nd one.

  6. I just love your perspective on life so much Devon. And The Secret Life of Bees is one of my favorite books of all time. So much wisdom packed inside that little book! I'm glad you enjoyed some of your favorite things on your birthday!

  7. Happy Birthday Devon. That was an amazing post, I understand the pre-birthday meltdown only too well. It is a time of too much introspection for me, of too much pressure to be getting everything in life right, and I always feel anxious about the passing of time and change. Oh, and by the way, I think that those who quit their jobs to follow their hearts are amazing people, not wackos! Glad you had a great time in the end, the photos are beautiful as always.

  8. Happy Birthday to you!

    This post brought me to tears from the raw and realness of it, the transformation and wisdom (so conveniently unearthed on your birthday) and the sheer relatability! Dang.

    Living with integrity (from what it sounds like quitting your "day job" and not having a "traditional career") is the surest way to follow your heart, ultimately be of service and make the choices that matter.

    Bravo Devin!

  9. I love The Secret Life of Bees. You chose such a great quotation too. I'm glad that your birthday was a success and that you even received some clarity over the weekend. :)

  10. Happy birthday, Devon - I'm glad your day turned out well and I'm happy to share a birthday with such a rad lady as yourself! :) I think choosing what matters is a great intention to set and one that I need to focus on more, too.

  11. I love this post! I know I say that about every one, but they're just so good and real. Beautiful pictures and beautiful writing. I can completely relate with the birthday meltdown. As I'm getting older, it has turned into a time where I reflect and wonder what am I doing with my life? What is my purpose, because I feel like I'm not doing enough. For one of my birthdays a few years ago I woke up super early on a weekend (something I never do) and journaled about what I had learned about life so far. I felt so good after I wrote it down. But then when I looked back at it this birthday, I felt like I hadn't done anything the past 2 years with the information I had found. I felt I had just pushed it aside. Something I've been hearing from family and friends recently (and even wondering myself) has been is this what my life is supposed to be? It really has me thinking about things and how we stand up to all the pressure and stress society places upon us. I'm rambling, but I loved your post and really loved reading what you are feeling and thinking about.

  12. Happy belated birthday and glad you didn't stay slumped for too long. Haha on how the boy you nanny for kept singing happy birthday to himself! Glad you got to volunteer that day and also get to do all the things you love.

  13. WHat there is a place like the Stand in San diego??! I grew up in Laguna and have lived in SD 6 months and not found any vegan or vegetarian beach shacks like the stand here! You have to share where? :)

  14. Happy super-belated birthday Devon! It sounds like you had a wonderful time enjoying and celebrating the things that make you who you are with some of the most important/loved people in your life.


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