• Philippa Kartawick

Today is my birthday! 26 on the 26th

Updated: Mar 2, 2020

On Wednesday 26th February, I turned 26. The sun shone, I slept well

the night before, I took my supplements and probiotic in the morning, I drank my earl grey tea slowly, kissed my niece, ate some blueberries and some porridge with almond AND cashew butter, despite being intolerant to oats, because 'today is my birthday!!!!' I was happy happy happppyyyy, and normal rules don’t apply on birthdays...

Never in mine, or my mother’s memory, have I enjoyed the reality of my birthday. I am always stressed and anxious when the day arrives, and a week prior to my birthday, I am often (subconsciously) sick with stress which sometimes manifests into very real physical illness and/ or pain. On the eve of my 16th birthday for example, I went to A&E. I was CONVINCED that I had breast cancer...the pain in my chest unbearable and a great big lump too...The lump, as it turned out, was my poor rips attached to my sternum, that I had relentlessly prodded and had become bruised and swollen. But at the time, and several days after my birthday, what I thought of as the truth, still stuck with me, even though I KNEW I was wrong. Perception (mind) vs. reality (body), if not in tune with each other, can be a real recipe for mishaps, can't it?

I thought about the significance of being 26 on the 26th, and pondered whether this meant anything to me; would this bring more symmetry this year? More balance?

I felt physically blessed too because I had woken up to my period, which is a sacred time in a woman’s life cycle of release and connection. So to have awoken into the true bliss of womanhood today, it felt more spiritual than usual, not least a reminder that today, on a day potentially quite fraught for me, I am my body, not just my mind.

And to my surprise, on the morning of my 26th, I didn't feel the desire to satiate my usual birthday 'perfectionism' and expectation (which was perhaps the root of my birthday fear previously) instead I felt warm and as though the day was effortless. I had FINALLY* come to the understand that a birthday, as special as it is conceptually, is just like any other day; you can plan certain things, but you must ultimately go with the flow. If you control TOO much and things don't go to plan, it can be distressing. Plan too little and nobody will come to your birthday party... A solution could be to leave it to your loved ones to plan your birthday, for when we LOVE somebody, it is nice to express that love in service. But people are busy, we all work and have things to do; we can meet in the evenings and arrange our time as best we can to be with YOU, but not the whole day... and so the onus of your birthday falls on you, just like in life every day, you are your own and ultimate decider.

I drew myself a bath with essential oils and started to write this blog post actually...I wanted to write on my blog on my birthday, I also wanted a bath, but I had spent too long on my phone pre-bath, and my parents were coming over soon to go out for brunch, so I balanced my iPad on the loo and sat in the bath. I stopped writing eventually, realising how silly I was being and read some of my book...but I had run the bath too hot and I started to sweat so I got out...already it felt like my birthday was sliding away from me...

I was late for brunch, my bath wasn't perfect...I didn't feeeeel birthdayee anymore, I felt panikey. This is my ONE day. I even cried in the cafe because the pain in my hip was excruciating, and why was it playing up now? I wouldn't let my mum buy me a pretty birthday dress because nothing was ethical, nothing was *right*. I had planned to go to yoga, but by the time I had left my parents there was no time an I hurt too much...

In the stillness of my mind on the train journey, I didn't think of much...

I got off the train in St Pancras and went STRAIGHT to the chocolate shop I loved, which had been replaced with a new chocolate shop...but somehow, from the train journey alone, my mindset had changed. I felt optimistic and rightly so!

The ease of happiness was breathed back into my mind and body. Without thought or effort, I was smiling again.

Though I am (also) intolerant to milk, with a buzz of birthday entitlement now back in my veins, I bought 9 chocolates and spent ages choosing them...I told the lady behind the counter that 'it's my birthday today!!' feeling so excited! I was given 9 more chocolates to choose and be prettily wrapped for FREE to because it was my birthday...and an extra choc because I signed up to their newsletter (why wouldn't I want to know about CHOCOLATE events?!!). I felt happy and we chit-chatted for a bit. I unhygienically ate one of the chocolates on the Piccadilly line and read some of my book about the spine. I thought, 'if somebody comments on my chocolates, I will share them ALL out!'. Nobody did. But I was happy and felt full in my heart, that I really DID want to SHARE THE LOVE!!

When I arrived in Fulham, it was 4pm and I hadn't had lunch. I threw some Gyoza and kale in a pan and slowly got ready for the evening, losing track of time in the warmth of feeling in control of my birthday again, I realised I was now running very late for meeting my friend at the cinema. The cinema turned into dinner in Soho and finally, I said goodbye to my friend and went home. Getting off the tube, I realised that I hadn't had a birthday drink! Heaven forbid! I walked straight into a cocktail bar, where cocktails were £19 (!?!?), so I ordered a lychee bellini instead and swayed to the live music, requesting ACDC and being wished Happy Birthday by the old boys at the bar. The barmen gave me and the old boys a free shot and I walked home to eat ALL of my chocolate in bed, because tomorrow was the first day of lent and there is no way I could leave these chocolate uneaten fo 40days!

That morning I THOUGHT I had 'finally'* understood my birthday. That 'ah ha!', my birthday was just like any other day...I can't control it, I can relax and continue, as normal...forgetting that 'normal' in a regular day IS spending too long on my phone and not honoring time to relax...sadly. Normal is being late and not being able to fit everything in...normal is not what I wanted on my birthday! When I relaxed on the train and accepted that the morning didn't go to (lose) plan, I felt determined to have a better, not perfect and not normal afternoon and evening. A better one. An improved one. I was realistic, whilst also being optimistic. In that frame of mind, I was able to be so present and loving with my self and my friend, I had the courage to go to the bar alone. My freedom in mind, gave me independence in spirit!

And so, for my 26th year on mother earth, I want to IMPROVE on everything I'm already working towards, being realistic, but keep my youthful optimism bubbling away.

Happy days ahead!

I hope you had some magic in your day and that on your train ride home, you let your mind wander, rather than be distracted.


lots of love,


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