November 17, 2012

birthday joy

Our life has been absolute mayhem lately with moving and traveling and NaNoWriMo and all sorts of other good-but-exhausting circumstances. Order and organization have become unfamiliar concepts, and planning ahead has meant thinking about what needs to happen five minutes from now. And right smack-dab in the middle of it all, my birthday arrived. 

I am always a little bit sentimental and melancholy about birthdays. I try to tell myself that they are just another day, that there are 364 other days that matter, too! But I have never succeeded in reducing the weight I attribute to this particular day each year. On birthdays, I feel the passing of time more acutely. I become overwhelmed with the importance of the year to follow, wanting so much to make this one count even more than the last. But against the backdrop of chaos in our life lately, this birthday turned out to be a day of opposites, in many ways. Usually, I love to have things planned out in advance: amazing adventures which will make the day memorable for all time! But this year, as my kind husband tried to anticipate how he could make my birthday special, I hardly wanted to think about it, let alone make any hard, fast plans. All I could think about was how many things still need to be put away in our new space, and how much laundry needs to be done, and how discouraged I am from falling behind on my NaNoWriMo project. I went to sleep with a heavy heart and wished I could push my birthday off a month or two.
But these are the moments when I am so grateful that Ryan knows me so well and cares so much. I woke up to discover a trail of thoughtful notes and gifts and these beautiful flowers (which just might be the prettiest roses I have ever seen!!). And I was given a chance to let go of my anxiety and exhaustion and let these gifts of love soak in to nourish my weary heart. As phone calls came in from friends and family, the love began to multiply. And while I still did not feel entirely like myself, we decided to find a way to make the day count with some spontaneous city adventures.

There are so many places I have wanted to check out in Chicago for awhile now, and what better day to explore a bit? First, we visited Bite Cafe in Ukranian Village, which was super cute and had delicious food! I ordered the tomato sandwiches, on melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and dressed with yummy kimchi for amazing flavor. I love that the salt and pepper shakers are different sizes! It's all in the details, right?

Our next stop was shopping fun, which was super inspiring although we did not end up buying much. We visited Sprout Home, where I was absolutely amazed by the selection of plants and containers and pretty things in general!! It is SUCH a beautiful store and you MUST visit if you are ever in the area! I found a couple of vessels for some air plants I got recently, and I love that every time I see them, I will think of this wonderful shop!

After wandering the neighborhood for awhile and visiting many different shops, we landed at Big Shoulders Coffee, a newish shop/roaster in Chicago which I've wanted to try for some time. Ryan was a good sport even though he is not a coffee drinker and we shared conversation over my French press experience. As is my tradition, I picked up a bag of beans to bring back home - this always helps me to savor my coffee shop experiences even more and provides good fuel for my days of writing.

I am reminded of how much I love my city. All the beautiful, unique wonders of the busy world around us filled me up again and inspired me so much. My day of exploration reconnected me to my creative passion and reminded me to open my eyes wide and soak in the world around me. It is so easy to become mired in the never-ending list of tasks and responsibilities, especially in times of transition and stress.

We ended our city adventure at Mana Food Bar, a vegetarian restaurant we have wanted to visit for a while now. The only picture I managed to take in this wonderful place was of the menu, because once the food started to come my attention was completely monopolized by the deliciousness of each small plate in front of me.

My birthday was cured by a simple return to beautiful gifts in life which inspire me: good food, the city, pretty things, love from friends, and quality time with my favorite person. This birthday broke the mold, and reminded me that sometimes the feelings follow the actions and not vice versa. Is this true for you, too??

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