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A Birthday Ritual

In her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach extols us to please make each birthday a sacred event and mark it with a special ritual.

Maybe you need, not a boisterous family party, but a few private hours to remember, to honor the sacredness of the profound changes that have occurred in your life. Birthdays are new beginnings, but they’re also moments of personal closure, which are crucial if we are to grow positively into our authenticity.

My partner has really taken this birthday ritual idea to the max. This will be his tenth year of riding his bicycle in the Seattle to Portland Ride (STP) and this year it is not just around his birthday it is on his actual birthday date!

There are at least 8,000 people who ride the STP each year, it is fun to see parents and children teamed up together and then there are the folks who team up and spend the days as a group in festive attire and destination spa visits at the end.

He did the ride in two days a couple of times, but now his idea of a good ride is to accomplish this in just one day. 204 miles! He has ridden the ride one time alone and I have made him promise not to do that again, it is not as much fun as having a teammate and he pushes himself too hard when alone and made himself ill. Two of his daughters have ridden with him and several times they have done it on the tandem.

We drive to the University of Washington Husky field at about 3am the morning of the ride, and a few minutes before 5am the single day riders take off. There are lots of folks who arrive in Portland – Rose Center Park by 3 or 4 in the afternoon. My partner always hopes to be there between 8 and 9 pm.

The park is filled with tents of food, lots of equipment, travel guides and Whole Foods (a sponsor) always has a free grocery bag for each participant. Although there are food stops in route, one sees lots and lots of food being consumed by the cyclists. It is very festive.

In years past, I am the team support unit, driving to the UW and then to Portland for the next day pick up. I have also prepared the training diet, which begins with training rides in early March – always building up the mileage. Sometimes there is an overnight in Portland and time for shopping and a lovely meal.

It is quite a ritual and this year I asked him not to do the STP, so that I would not be taxed into illness right before my adventure, so that the budget would not be overwhelmed, and for him to stop training, training, training, and take care of a few things around the house.

Nope – his love of the ritual, the celebration and the ride won out. He is riding to Seattle and staying in an Inn on Friday – so I will not have to drive in the wee morning hours and in the afternoon also. So add another 60 miles to the weekend.

So Happy Birthday Guy and Have a Great and Safe Ride – may it be the best celebration of all.

Every birthday, not just the ones marking a new decade, is a significant milestone. Every age brings with it three hundred sixty-five Real Life lessons. ‘We turn, not older with years but newer every day,’ Emily Dickinson reassures the birthday celebrant in all of us. And that’s certainly something worth celebrating in grand style. ~Sarah Ban Breathnach

So how do you make your day special? Come on confess here and now – you do have little rituals that make your day special. Looking forward to your comments.

Related posts/sites you might also enjoy:

www.bikingarchitect.com has more information about the STP and other rides taken
Champagne Tour
Rejoice Beloved Woman
Gearing Up for the STP
Dream Bicycle

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8 Responses to “A Birthday Ritual”

  1. J.D. Meier Says:

    A friend of mine has a birthday bike ritual too and I thought it was cool.

    For me, I haven’t had a ritual, but I think I might come up with one. Usually I hang with friends, and I like that, but I also like when I’m on the road in a cross-country trip.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Likeability is a Skill

  2. patricia Says:

    Sounds like you know how to celebrate too. I don’t have a specific adventure for my ritual but I truly do not like to fix my own food on my date. The last couple of years I have had a massage and a facial and then lunch with friends. I am not very fond of parties because you can not visit long enough with people and I love to catch up!

    Happy Birthday to you the next time it comes around!

  3. Delia Lloyd Says:

    Hi Patricia

    I don’t do any rituals on my birthday (though it is very important to me that my friends and family reach out to me), but I have a friend who always takes that day off of work to do something special for herself. When she first told me this I thought it seemed a bit extravagant (esp for a workaholic like myself!) But the more I think about it, the smarter it seems. We take so little time for ourselves that your birthday is about the only time you can *designate* a special “me-day” w/out any guilt!

    Delia Lloyds last blog post..Friday Pix: Recommended Reading For The Weekend

  4. @lostinthefeed Says:

    I loved reading your blog today about the birthday rituals and wanted to let you know it touched me for a few reasons. It’s a wonderful reminder to me to take time to make special moments, well, special. I’m a firm believer that rituals can also be the core of childhood memories, and no matter how small, they can become an incredible foundation as families grow together. Most touching though, I was able to read your blog on my Dad’s 72nd birthday and because of it, reached out to him to talk about some of the little rituals we had when I was a kid. Thank you so much.


    @lostinthefeeds last blog post..for whom do you speak today?

  5. Jannie Funster Says:

    204 miles?! Cowabunga, that’s conditioning. I hope he stays super-well hydrated?

    My birthday is more of a feeling than a ritual, early April, the joy of spring. Possibility. Rebirth. Meditation. Movement. Wonder. Raking in lots of cash from relatives. :)

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Another video from my CD release show

  6. patricia Says:

    My partner has had this ritual for 10 years and this year I realized that my birthday always gets lost in the shuffle of going back to school – end of summer run around. I thought I should rev up my thinking and figure out just how I would like to celebrate.
    Thank you for coming by and adding to this post with your comments.

    I started connecting with birthdays through my mum’s birthday – it often fell on American Thanksgiving…and I could see how important putting a ritual was to her special day and not confusing it with a National Ritual…I am so glad if this helped you celebrate your Father’s day with conversation.

    I love the racking in lots of cash part! I wish!
    The biker’s called at 8:15 this morning to say they had completed 50 miles – it is not too hot yet! Yep hubby spends a great deal of time preparing for this ride. Makes him feel 62 years young today!

  7. bunnygotblog Says:

    What a great idea. I wish him a happy birthday and a happy bike ride.
    A few years back it was a ritual for my best girl friends and I too go out to dinner and have a few close friends over. Then we all moved out of state and it wasn’t so easy to do. The last time we were together us, New Yorkers, took a plane to Chicago to party for my birthday.

    bunnygotblogs last blog post..Advertising Towards Dummies – Teenage Illusions

  8. Patricia Says:

    Rituals and friends are just the best and for your birthday – ah very nice. His ride was great, some scary moments, but very good. Motel surprised him with a birthday cake at 11pm…and I gave him a massage at the spa for the end of the party!