For some great birthday journaling prompts and ideas, check out my article, the Gift of Birthday Journaling.
I celebrated my birthday in Miami this year. Being a Pisces, the sand and surf was a gift itself. And of course, getting a tour of the Miami Seaquarium was perfect for this fish. Painting artwork with a dolphin named Onyx, getting kissed by a seal (sardine breath, gah!), watching the epic manatees bob at the surface like two ton potatoes. The sushi was a no-brainer. I also enjoyed some birthday journaling barefoot on the beach. Which is how I’d prefer to do all my writing.
Toward the end of dinner that night, the waiter came out with a slice of cake held aloft, an unlit candle atop. I smiled in appreciation, ready to accept this thoughtful delivery orchestrated by my partner. But alas – the server was delivering it to the woman seated next to me. Because it was her birthday, too! She’d driven two hours to have dinner at this place. A birthday miracle! Or a fun coincidence, at least.
Why I like journaling on birthdays
I know it’s a mixed bag when it comes to loving birthdays or hating them. I’ve always loved my birthday and leverage it to get attention and free stuff, an approach I don’t normally pursue the rest of the year. I enjoy having the date all to myself, unlike regular holidays.
Plus my birthday falls in that bleak slush between winter and spring when there’s little to look forward to, so the celebratory break is a treat.
I enjoy organic rituals as an opportunity to review progress and set goals for the coming year. Although I enjoy the energy of the New Year, the standard annual calendar turnover doesn’t really speak to me as much, maybe because it’s kind of impersonal. I tend to favor the first new day of each season, especially June 21st, one of my favorite days of the year. And as a lifelong student, September has always felt like the real new year starting to me.
I spend extra time journaling around these dates and use them as a level setting point to check in on my goals, where I’m at and what kind of progress I’m making. Also to think ahead to the next milestone and what I want life to look like at that point.
Birthdays are a natural fit to this type of journaling.
It’s also just fun to compare one year to the next, and while you can pick an arbitrary date and compare and contrast, doing it around birthday time feels more special.
Visiting birthdays past
Because I have 35 years’ worth of journals, I like to pull out several and revisit the entries from those birthdays. Sometimes I choose them randomly, but I also like to seek out a few I know have meaty entries or show stunning progress that I can enjoy. A little back-patting never hurt.
Even if I didn’t do a formal birthday round-up, it’s fun to see what kind of birthday I had 10 years ago. Let’s have a look, shall we?
Ten years ago on my birthday, I wrote this:
“I was thinking about Pisces nature this week in light of my birthday and how it’s two fish swimming in opposite directions. And how that nature can keep one either eternally conflicted, eternally balanced (if we rely on the laws of physics rather than astrology), or constantly flopping back and forth – not unlike a fish caught in a net.
I believe my path in this life is learning balance – perhaps borrowing Virgo’s scales. To honor both fishes, and at times favor one or the other, but in general return to center. Black and white thinking – or more accurately, “on and off” behavior, has fueled my crazy for a looong time. It doesn’t work and I just end up swimming in circles.“
Still checks out.
What does your birth story say about you?
This is a fun prompt I included in the Birthday Journaling article, because I’m fascinated by origin stories. My mom was in labor for days and when I finally emerged, I had the umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. Born blue, but came out swinging. I think that set the stage for the rest of my life. You just can’t keep me down.
What birthday gift has meant a lot to you?
One of the prompts I enjoy working with on my birthday is what gifts I’ve received that meant the most to me. Some material gifts, others experiences or intangibles. A few gifts were something I really wanted, others were super thoughtful and showed that the giver truly knew me. This year’s present from my partner took the cake.
I’ve always wanted to learn archery. It seems like a fabulous skill for the zombie apocalypse – you can make your own ammunition, it’s silent and sustainable. And I could both protect and provide for my family. Plus I’d get to be a badass like Katniss or Neytiri. There’s a place in town and every time I drive by, I say, “One day I’m going to learn archery. It’s on my bucket list.”
This year on my birthday I unwrapped a strangely shaped gift from my fiancé to discover a breathtaking carved wood bow and a set of feathered arrows, along with a package of archery lessons. I have to be careful what I say around him because he makes things happen. But this was next level. Bucket list, here I come!
New project: dedicated birthday journal
I’ve been active on Reddit lately (I’m at u/journalingsaves – come say hi!) and one thing that’s become clear is that many journalers like to keep multiple notebooks for specific uses. I recently started the same with a wellness journal and a business journal.
But while writing the article on Birthday Journaling, I realized how fun it would be to keep a separate birthday journal. So when it came time to do my birthday journaling, I wouldn’t have to dig through a couple hundred notebooks to find the relevant February entries to work with. I could have one journal with all my annual birthday narratives. Then I could be more mindful and focused about it.
I have so many gorgeous blank journals I could use for this – although I do love an excuse to procure even more. “But it’s my birthday!” usually keeps me out of trouble.
Thanks for celebrating with me! Check out my article on Birthday Journaling for more ideas to try around your birthday time, if you’re into that sort of thing.