Life As I Know It: Birthday Edition

Stephanie Hill features Life As I Know It Birthday Edition on The Style Bungalow

I started to reconsider my birthday plans around mid-June. Normally, I check into a spa for the day and mentally check out. It’s the one day out of the year where I don’t look at my bank account and just go for it. Massage? Make it two hours. Facial? Throw in microdermabrasion, please. Manicure and pedicure? Let’s upgrade to the hot stone massage option. A “no cell phone” policy? No problem. “And yes, I’d love another glass of champagne before entering the steam room, thank you!”

Post-spa bliss, my fiancé treats me to a “night out on the town” where we visit one of my favorite restaurants then grab drinks into the wee hours of the morning. We toast to another trip around the sun, to new memories and making it our best year yet. I wake up the next day to fresh flowers and hot coffee, take some Aspirin while we tell ourselves “never again will we split a 720-mil bottle of sake!” (true story) and laugh at all the funny things we told each other the night before. “We won’t be able to do this when we have kids or when we’re 80, you know that right?” he says. “Of course, we will!” I affirm. 

These types of experiences have become increasingly valuable to us through the years, especially now that we’re in the midst of another coronavirus shutdown in South Florida. “How on earth will we celebrate?” I asked. “Tacos and wine at home?”  he said.  

I’ll admit, I was definitely bummed out thinking about yet another “taco night” during quarantine. I made peace with it. As soon as I accepted the situation, much like our wedding postponement, I felt better. Besides, there are far too many people around the world experiencing pain and suffering right now so it seems silly for me to get upset about something so trivial. I have my health, family and job…that’s what matters, especially now.  

“How about a virtual karaoke night with your best friends?” 

Love that idea.   

Studies have shown that excitement alone for new “things” can quickly fade away. Emotion from an experience (such as happiness after an incredible meal) on the other hand, goes beyond and stays with you longer…sometimes forever. Perhaps this is why we love dining at new restaurants and traveling together? And the reason why people love hearing more about trips than only new clothing? Unlike stuff, experiences can bring about new perspectives, shape how you view the world and teach us life lessons. They can ground you and give you an overwhelming sense of gratitude for life. Even the bad ones — take going through a hard time and coming out of it stronger. Even though it was difficult, you’ve gained a newfound appreciation for the things you currently have like good friends and family or a beautiful home (doesn’t have to be big) that makes you feel happy when you walk through the door… 

I immediately think back to my “dark years” (if you don’t know what I mean, read this blog post) where I didn’t have much and most certainly not the means to spend on a “spa day.” I would shut all the lights off in my apartment, light a ton of candles, open up my windows and take a steamy bath while listening to music. Suddenly, the water stains on my ceiling disappeared, the chipped paint on my toes gone and noise from my boisterous neighbors were silenced…my mind was quiet. The cool crisp air that swept through my bathroom along with the beauty of a simple mundane Monday night brought so much perspective.  

In order to feel a sense of normalcy and “excitement” for your special day, I thought of a few things to do:  

Bake a cake 

Yes, you read that right. Whether it’s your first time baking with your quarantine partner or doing it solo a la Julia Child’s cookbook, take time to build the most perfect-imperfect cake to celebrate life. Bonus points: if you document the experience and if you’re me (aka, a terrible chef) laugh at it while nibbling on the most decadent dessert.   

Arrange a “BYOW” video call with family and friends

As in, a “Bring Your Own Wine” video call with family and friends to embrace the day, celebrate virtually and blow the candles out together. Afterwards, you can play a card game together or do a virtual karaoke session.  

Take the day off and learn something

I recently started Rita Konig’s online class on interior design from the Create Academy and have loved every second of it. Masterclass is another alternative along with so many creators who are offering everything from floral styling (that’s next!) by Willow Crossley to creative writing by Malcom Gladwell 

Have a picnic 

Doesn’t have to be pretty, just embrace being outside and the change of scenery. Whatever your favorite meal may be, grab it and go. Bonus points: it’s from your favorite restaurant! 

Foster a puppy! 

My fiancé’s shaking his head right now, but he knows this is next to impossible for me because I’ll want to keep every foster! But, if you’re stronger than me – fostering a puppy might be the best way to spend the start of your birthday!

Invest in home furnishings 

And no, I’m not referring to a new sofa. And yes, this somewhat contradicts what I said above, but hear me out! Your home is an experience and each room can have a separate purpose. For example, if your bedroom faces east and gets lots of natural sunlight in the morning, consider painting it in a soothing cool hue to counterbalance the warmth of the sun and evoke a sense of peace and tranquility. 

Give back 

If you can, give to someone else, big or small. Leave a generous tip. Offer to pump someone’s gas. Or make a meaningful contribution/offer your time to a cause you’re passionate about. It will certainly brighten their day, but yours too…promise.

I know “Life As I Know It” seems strange this year, but to all my July babies celebrating this month, I hope you have the happiest birthday, packed with excitement and wonderful new experiences! May it be filled with love, an abundance of laughter and togetherness…with masks on, of course. 

Xo, Stephanie

KT Merry Photography 

LocationCoqui Coqui Merida Residence 

Outfit detailsJohanna Ortiz (c/o) Nova Octo

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