I have been dreading today. It’s not because of ageing or that I dislike birthdays. It’s that it’s hard to look forward to your birthday in the current COVID-19 inflicted self isolation situation. So how do you celebrate in isolation?
What is there really to look forward too? Post not arriving in time so you don’t have birthday presents to open? Zoom calls with unsynchronised singing of Happy Birthday? Not being able to go anywhere or do anything?
It turns out that being ‘zoomed out’ is a thing, and while I was originally a bit sad not to have a virtual get together planned, I’m now quite relieved. I’ve already been in multiple video calls for other birthdays this week with the signature video call lag salutations being sung. And to be honest, being on video calls has become exhausting, so it’s a blessing gin disguise to have a slower birthday.
So this morning I headed out for a walk which gave me time to reflect.
In this time of Coronavirus inflicted uncertainty, what can we be certain about, and what can we celebrate? I decided to flip my sadness and make the best of my birthday to celebrate in isolation.
How? Let me share the decisions I made.
I’m not going to lie, there have been a few teary moments today, likely compounded by the whole situation, and the feeling of isolation. Even living with the love of my life, it’s still possible to feel lonely on a significant day in our current situation. And that’s totally fine and allowed. I you have a pending birthday or celebration coming up in isolation, or even if you just want to take some of these to try, I hope it can help inspire you while we while away the time alone.
Start the year how you intend to continue it
Once the reality of isolation set in, Mr de la Rue and I settled in to building habits to support us during this crazy time – namely organising an exercise and meal prep roster. We live in a small apartment so one of us has to go out for a run or walk, while the other uses our balcony for a work out. The perk being if you go out for the run/ walk – you also get to go to our favourite cafe to buy take away coffees. That’s been working well for a couple of weeks, but this week I purposefully planned that I could go for a walk on my birthday, some coveted time outside in glorious weather.
But more importantly. I’ve been meaning to return to my meditation practice. I used to meditate daily, but that habit slipped when I changed day jobs. So in the final year of my 30s, I have a goal to return to regular day time meditations. So today I used my walk to also listen to a walking meditation. I had found in the past meditation and mindfulness has been incredibly helpful for my mental health, so there is value in establishing the practice. Now to continue and build that in to a daily habit.
And if you’re stuck for exercise inspiration, you can always try one of the many new online burlesque classes from across Australia, from the comfort and privacy of your own home. Check out my list of Online Burlesque Classes.
There is a lot of talk about isolation and comfort eating, and many remarks being made about putting on weight during this time. Many of these comments are hurtful and fat phobic, shaming people with bodies larger than society tells us is allowed. So fuck that. It’s my birthday and I chose to enjoy my day, my way. So not only did I get my usual large soy chai, I also bought pear and raspberry bread to toast for breakfast, and some cookies for morning tea. And we planned to have my favourite home delivery for dinner (stuff cooking today!) AND we put a bottle of French Champagne in the fridge to chill and enjoy tonight. Plus Mr de la Rue brought home a small birthday cake to celebrate – if you’re going to do it, enjoy it and don’t for a second feel guilty.
Give yourself permission to celebrate in isolation. If indulging in food and wine isn’t your thing, what is? Soaking in a tub with a fizzing bath bomb? Spending hours in pjs reading a book? Getting dressed up to the nines and taking some birthday love selfies? DO IT!
Appreciate your loved ones
Find ways to connect that work for you. Like I said, zoom burn out is a real thing and listening to people sing you happy birthday by video call can be cringeworthy, or amusing. But remember there are other ways to stay in touch with the ones you love. Today I had a call from my Dad and step Mum, call from best friend, a series of texts from another best friend, Facebook chats, Skype and Zoom calls with friends and workmates, and a video call with my Mum to cheers with a champagne each. And of course I had the most supportive and caring husband a person could wish for to celebrate in isolation with.
I was also reflecting on my time in the USA for Golden Legends Champion Challenge last year and especially a workshop with Sweetpea. Working your Woo delivered a valuable piece of advice to stop and appreciate yourself, changing the internal monologue you have with yourself by loving yourself. It can be challenging, but if you can’t tell yourself you love yourself on your birthday, when can you?
Make time for yourself
On a similar theme, making time for yourself to slow down and appreciate the world around you is vital in these overwhelming times. My meditation reminded me of that, and today I specifically made time for myself during the day, brewing my favourite loose leaf tea to have with my delicious cookies I bought at the cafe. No social media, no hurry, just time to let the tea steep, watch the steam rise, and then appreciate the flavour and subtlety of your freshly brewed tea. Sometimes it’s the simple things you can celebrate in isolation with.
Take time to celebrate
If you do still have a day job, it can be hard to step away from work. And if you’re a full time artist, you might feel the need to hustle and make an income. Both will lead to burning out and overwhelm. I woke up at 5am thinking of work, so I got up and did the pressing things at 7am, then forced myself out for my walk. So give yourself a clock off time, set and alarm if you have too and switch off from work. Celebrate in isolation with something special, do something you love and can look forward too otherwise you might just let the moment pass without stopping to acknowledge it.
Facebook best wishes can be really overwhelming – feeling like you have to be present online and responding immediately actually puts a downer on your day. It’s your day and your time, so you don’t have to feel like you must spend it all staring at a screen – goodness knows we’re already doing more of that than usual. Make some time when you’re ready, even if it’s after the day, to go and appreciate the love that your friends share to celebrate you. If you can reply to each, it lets you really take in each and every appreciation. But don’t feel you have too if you don’t have the emotional energy too. Just remember to be grateful for your friends and family reaching out, grateful that we have the technology to connect us, and grateful that you’ve reached another year, or even just another day.
Focus on the good times
Yeah, it’s shit right now. But surely you can find good moments and memories to look back on and look forward too. Remind yourself this is only temporary, and focus on the good things – past, present, and future. So I’m finishing my day focusing on a past moment that is also a future moment. This amazing photo of my Fuchsia Femme act captured by Cam Attree in Brisbane last year – celebrating my new act and performance in Florida USA at the Golden Legends Champion Challenge, and looking forward to when I will perform this act again, for Miss Burlesque NSW in November (Coronavirus allowing…)
So here I am, starting the final year of my 30s looking forward to the future instead of focusing on the inconvenience of right now.
So how will you celebrate your special moments in iso?
HMUA – Cath Mish-Wills
Costume – Crystal Queen