Today is my 45th birthday. I’m not sure if I ever thought about being in my forties when I was younger. You know, when you’re in your 20’s and your 40’s sound so far away. Actually, I like being in my 40’s. It feels like an age that fits me. In your 20’s you’re busy trying to figure out who you are. In your 30’s you’re trying to forget your 20’s and the dumb things you did. And then the 40’s came and I finally felt comfortable with who I am.
A few weeks ago I was writing in my journal on some random thoughts that crept in while I was feeling blue. I was thinking about default triggers, those random thoughts, beliefs, or feelings that pop into your head, that are set off by some button that was triggered.
In my thoughts I went way back to grade school to consider what made me happy as a child and when I had my first encounter with an adult who squashed my creative impulses. During this stroll down memory lane I remembered my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Sibley and how we celebrated birthdays in her class. How I loved Mrs. Sibley’s class. She was kind and caring and mostly patient with us 5 and 6 year old kids.
Kindergarten was a new and fascinating experience. I was proud that I didn’t cry when my Mom dropped me off on the first day of school. I remember the cloak room with individual hooks for hanging our coats and spaces for our winter boots. The cloak room had dark wood panel walls. Funny that I can still see the grain of the wood.
Our classroom was bright with lots of windows and it was always decorated for every season and holiday. And when we celebrated birthdays, the birthday boy or girl sat in the middle of a circle while Mrs. Sibley led the class in singing Happy Birthday. And on the birthday boy’s or girl’s head she placed a construction paper crown. On the crown she had written your age and surround it with colored foil stars. After singing happy birthday we shared treats of cupcakes or cookies brought in by our mothers or another family member.
Those were the best birthdays.
After recalling this memory, I was struck by how great it felt on those gold star days. Not just because you were the center of attention for a period of time but for the happiness that came from wearing that crown. Not just from wearing that crown but for the sense of accomplishment that came from seeing the foil stars. Wow! This is big. This day is important.
And then I thought, why isn’t every day be a gold star day? A day where everything we do, no matter how big or small, gives us a sense of accomplishment.
And how do we get that sense of accomplishment? Through gratitude, through appreciation, through smiling at strangers and at ourselves. By telling someone you love them. By scooping the cat’s litter box. By laughing, even though you want to yell, when your child does something irritating. By not honking or not giving the finger to the driver that cut you off.
I’ve made “Have a Gold Star Day” one of my mantras. I posted it inside my medicine cabinet so I’ll see it every morning and every night. It reminds me to find accomplishment in all I do. It reminds me to be grateful and appreciative. And yes, it reminds me of my birthday crown.