happy birthday, phenomenal woman

It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.
— Maya Angelou

celebrating birthdays these years, in this age decade, is unlike previous ones. they are not celebrated in the same way or for the same reasons as they were before. whether your traditions stay the same year after year, or they’ve slowly changed over the years, each year the experience of your birthday is different, because YOU are different.

you are one year older. three-hundred sixty-five days of acquiring knowledge in some things and eliminating ignorance in other things. always a good thing. you have experienced one more year of tremendous joys, and one more year of painful heartaches. a year of changes is a year well lived.

growing older is interesting. the wisdom gained with age is invaluable, yet letting go of certain states of being that we are, or once were - the ones slipping away or already lost - is challenging.

you are a woman loved for your vibrancy, beauty, youth, vitality, spark. a woman respected for your talents, work ethic, and passion for all you hold dear. all these things and more are who you are. age alone cannot change the essence of you, unless your attitude toward aging allows it to. revered by others for what you are and have been to them, it is a new and exciting journey to step outside the box of your perceived self and begin to redraw the parameters within which you choose to be seen, respected, accepted, and loved.

you are more vital and beautiful than ever. all former personas or earlier stages of youth don't compare to the woman who now exists. with marriage and kids, your mind, body, heart, and way of life has been forever changed. you cannot change them back; but you wouldn’t want to even if you could. appreciating all that these years have given you is much more your style.

you embrace it all… sometimes smoothly, sometimes begrudgingly, but you do it... every change, every transition, every lesson learned. you recognize and accept what comes with humility and gratitude. you are thankful for all that life has taught you. for all you’ve been honored to experience. for all the strength you have found within to surmount the bumps in the road encountered.

sure, there are moments. fleeting thoughts of "remember when” and “if only" that will surface, especially in times of difficulty. those times of utter exhaustion and sheer overwhelmingness that life serves up to a wife, mother, daughter, sister, woman. these can elicit notions of a quiet and lovely escape from it all. i know.

continue to welcome it all. continue cultivating gratitude for it all. and as for your birthday, celebrate it in your way, as you don't owe anyone anything on this day. take it and make it what you will. or at least take a portion of it, just for yourself. after all, no woman’s an island. it seems more often than not, we are the anchor.

celebrate you. celebrate us. all phenomenal women. all born to live, learn, grow, and fulfill our own unique destinies.

yours is still being written. so is mine.

happy birthday to you, phenomenal woman.

i love you.

The inspiration for this post was my cousin's birthday. She is a phenomenal woman and doesn't need me to tell her that, but this was my substitute for a greeting card. I actually sat down to write her directly for her birthday; yet as I wrote this, I realized that I was speaking not only to her, but also to and about the other phenomenal women in my life, including myself.
So if there is a woman or women in YOUR life who could benefit from hearing these words - be it a family member, co-worker, friend or neighbor - forward this on to her and show her some love. The women of this world could use as much love and support as we all can get from each other.