It’s My Party, I’ll (be) Fly If I Want To

(Photo by Jonathan Poon)
I’m tucked away in the upper right side of the frame, in blue. *Make a wish! (Photo by Jonathan Poon)

Birthdays are a fickle thing… When we’re young we look forward to the surprise parties. We look forward to growing older and more mature like our parents or our siblings, so we can be big girls and boys who are independent too! But it doesn’t stop once we learn to tie our shoes, or put on our clothes. It persists. Next we can’t wait till we’re a real “teen,” you know, not 12 or 11, but thir-TEEN. Then, it’s becoming a legal adult at 18, and after that it’s having your first (legal) drink at 21.

Yes, we’re all happy and impatient about our birthdays until we pass the age of 25, then suddenly there’s all this talk of down hill, or over the hill, whichever one it is. What happened to celebrating life as is at every age?

Despite the fleeting feelings of birthday glee that morph into birthday anxiety, or even amnesia, I say there’s no better day than when you were born to celebrate! Mine is only in a few days, so I’m taking a stroll down memory lane through the years and highlights of my birthday parties.

2003: @ the tender age of 24

I was 24 when I became intentional about celebrating my birthdays in a special way and feel the magic of me! I decided to gather with my home girls at a trendy restaurant, and mix in salsa dancing at Club Havana in downtown Milwaukee. Spicing up the night with something different and exposure to a new culture never hurt anyone.

2008: fashion, fun & the big apple


By the time I turned 29, I’d upgraded. That year, I decided to (be) fly, and celebrate my birthday twice! At home, I  had a shopping party at one of my favorite boutiques, Fred’s. The boutique prepared wine and cheese just for us. We privately shopped, chatted, giggled, and strutted all night long. We ended the night with dinner & dancing.



Days later, I was in flight to NYC where I’d celebrate on my actual birthday… *Like a BOSS!

NYC bday1

ro n me dancing bday

2009: enter, the dirty thirties…

But when you kick it in New York for your birthday, what tops that? Well, I’d say going to Ghana (a.k.a. ‘duh mudda land!) trumps it just fine. Those unforgettable 15 days of gallivanting through Accra and Kumasi on a shoestring budget conjured moments and memories I’ll reflect on for years to come.


At a kente village in Accra where I made kente, and modeled kente cloth.
(from left) Pic 1: Doing a canopy walk at the Kumasi National Park. Pic 2: Enjoying a hike to a village’s waterfall near Accra. Pic 3: Sitting in the window of the St. George slave castle in Elmina; ironically, the view of the ocean outside of the window was breathtaking, a stark contrast to the heartbreaking history of the castle itself.

2012: a creative way to celebrate

My 33rd birthday was the last one I had at home, in the U.S.A. We had a lavish brunch, and sauntered over to Splash, a paint bar, afterward. We laughed, we sipped on beer and wine, and cascaded the colors of our souls on each canvass.

A professional artist was there to guide us in painting a specific style (optional), but clearly our creative senses were tingling – we each walked away with our own unique painting. *Mine is the one of the city landscape.

2013: the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!      dark rooftop party1

Turning 34 was a reflective year. What had I done with my life? (That’s my humor and sarcasm, people!) How did I get to this place called South Korea? I was very nervous to celebrate my day, my life, myself with people who were good dinner companions and Korea travel buddies, but they weren’t my homies from… well, home. In spite of doubt, I put together a rooftop party in my building. Although the building was only three stories high, it was still fabulous! Picture it: a sunset over the city, cool breezes, mountain views, fun people, good music, danced the Cupid Shuffle, ate fried food and had fancy birthday cake!


2015: and then there were none

My birthday is September 25th. (Shot out to the Libras!) These days, my enthusiasm has dwindled. Of course, I’ll meet with friends for some festive lunches and dinners in the name of my aging ass, but the energy of Korea has sterilized the party-starter in me. I guess even social butterflies need a sabbatical.

This year I’ll be 36. I’ve enjoyed being 30-something, but nobody tells you about aging after 30, or what it really means. I don’t need 36 to be the new 20. I’m 36. I don’t want to be 20! I just want a clearer vision of the next four to forty years of my life.

Because no one wants to end up as the “Elmo” on a city street corner, looking dazed and confused! But ya know, I tell myself to learn to live within the mystery, believe in magic, and keep following your curiosity. Even if it leaves you a little bit out of place.

A random Elmo kicking it in the middle of Time Square. Only in New York.

How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you travel, have a spiritual practice, a birthday ritual? Please share!


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