How to Milk a Birthday for Every Drop

Pulling away from my house with the windows down on a beautiful sunny Sunday grooving alongside my playlist to the tune of Alicia Key’s “This Girl is On Fire,” one would have thought that I was on my way to an American Idol audition. I was on fire. Singing my little non singing heart out. Hell, I was on the road to what I knew was going to be a week long solo excursion to celebrate my entry into my next phase in life. At that moment, all was well in my world. The original plan was to go away with some girlfriends to celebrate my milestone, but that just didn’t come together. However, as I am learning more each day to not worry so much about ‘what was supposed to be’ and focus my energy on ‘what is’ life tends to meet me exactly where I am providing what is needed for that time. And it is wonderful.


One of my girlfriends pleaded with me not to spend my birthday alone. At least not this one she said. When I told her I was considering a solo cruise, she said it was too important not to celebrate with someone. As a result of taking in  others concerns, I hesitated  and passed on that trip. As this year has truly been teaching me to live in the present, I wasn’t even concerned when 3 weeks before my scheduled excursion there was still no destination or plans in place. I knew I was going to be somewhere other than home during my scheduled week. So I was excited for the unknown. I knew God was working in my favor when He had placed exactly what I needed on the heart of my other friend who requested to plan my trip and surprise me. To my surprise, she ended up planning me a trip right in the San Francisco Bay Area, my own back yard. She attempted to get friends to join me for day jaunts, but due to late notice and work schedules that also did not work out…for my benefit.

Here’s the interesting part. About 2 years ago, I worked through a workshop called Fight Club with Jeff Jochum and the lovely duo Stephanie Ostermann & Christine Tremoulet were my mentors. It was an intense weekend that would take too much for me to explain here. Just know that while I loved my family, parenthood, educating & wifing, the day to day drudgery had just taken its toll on me. I found myself uninspired. I needed to reignite the fire inside of me that was smoldering from the hard stuff called Life. Initially, I thought I was doing it to figure out what direction I wanted to take in my photography business but as they warned me, it was really about tapping into the ‘authentic me’ which translates into anything and everything I do. “Work Happily EverAfter” was the tagline. I now see it more appropriately called “Relate” Happily EverAfter because once you uncover it and move within that…it affects the way you relate to everything in your surroundings. A few of my key belief statements resulting from that weekend were;

“I believe in spur of the moment trips where you figure out what you are going to do when you get there. And I take vacations alone, refuse to cook and leave my clothes on the floor because I can.” (you can read my other ones here)

Whew….the person that I needed to celebrate most with was me! And there needed to be no agenda, no obligations, no expectations other than just being alone. He (some call it the Universe) knows just what we need and is there to provide those needs. In my case, he used my friend to nudge me in the right direction of following my heart.


So what did I do with this seven glorious days alone besides lazy mornings filled with plenty of time for reflection? It went something like this. On Sunday, with my sunglasses on, sunroof open and Alicia cranking, I drove into the city to have snacks and evening conversation with my awesome friend at Lake Merritt. We laughed, shopped and talked dreams. The next day after sleeping in my friend and I had brunch before I left for my next destination in wine country about ninety minutes away. That car & I spent some quality time together. Took some wine, and snacks to my hotel where self care was on the agenda for that evening. After watching many late night infomercials ( I successfully resisted) Tuesday resulted in a Champagne tour and a gorgeous drive with my camera around Hwy 1 along the California coast where I succeeded in getting lost after dark, scared shitless and found my way back again. That is some beautiful country, even in the dark when you are scared and trying to tell your GPS what is the correct way. After some late night room service and a great nights sleep, the next day landed me in Healdsburg talking for hours to the locals. There, looked at stuff that would have driven most company crazy, sipped on some wine and had a 3 hour lesson of wine paring. Who knew so much thought went into the how’s & whys of wine. Before Wednesday, my biggest thought was red or white, dry or sweet. Seems I’m a sponge for new information. Truly it was a blast.

Thursday was my actual birthday, and it turns out that it was the one day I longed for the company of my husband to be there with me but it seemed out of the question since he was working and caring for our kids. Much to my surprise, a knock on my door that morning revealed my husband complete with kids gifts in hand. He took me to a fancy lunch, spent the day with me at the spa and finished off with a five star dinner then drove back to pick up my kids and go home. That was a six hour trip for him. Talk about whirlwind romance. Friday found me whale watching early in the morning on a boat in the San Francisco Bay for 6.5 hours. What an adventure. There were a lot of sick people, but no whales. It didn’t matter, it was truly an experience. I’ll end this adventure here as the last two days were just fun around the Bay area visiting friends, shopping, picture taking and relaxing.


It was amazing! I am thoroughly convinced that we should do the things that scare us. Everyone should take a trip alone, at least once in our lives and get lost in things that awaken your senses. Personally as often as possible would be my choice. Also trust the inner knowing within yourself to know what is right for you. This lesson keeps coming up for me over and over. Finally, celebrate yourself. In our family, the birthday person is the Honoree of the month. It’s all about them as much as possible. However, don’t wait for anyone else to celebrate you. If you start the party, people will show and well if no one else does, the most important guest is already there!

Charisse Rhodes

Just an ordinary superwoman trying to keep her crooked cape on while being a blessing to folks along the way. Find her online here.

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