Do You Live a Celebrated Life?

In the opening scene of the 2005 film rendition of Pride and Prejudice, the only sound we hear is the gentle chirping of birds. There’s no music as the screen opens up to a foggy field. The simplicity is completely enchanting.

That’s always how I knew that summer had arrived when I was a girl — waking up to the early morning sunshine in my eyes and hearing the birds chirping brightly. I’ve never thought of myself as a morning person, but now I realize that I must have been because I’ve always carried this affinity for those first quiet moments of the day. It’s interesting how our perspectives of ourselves can change over time.

But where were we? Oh yes. Here we are now, in the scene of an 1800 century story by Jane Austen.

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Gentle piano music accompanies us as we meet Elizabeth Bennet, walking along reading a book, completely lost in it. She giggles quietly to herself. Her footsteps rustle in the grass, carrying her across the dewy green pasture to the narrow stone bridge that crosses the moat in front of her family’s home. We hear the distant thunder of steers’ hooves hitting the ground and geese quacking before they land in the murky water of the moat.

Lizzie walks between the fresh laundry that’s hung out on the line. We hear it flapping in the wind and can imagine the fresh clean scent of the white sheets. Just for a moment, I can hear my grosmommy telling me to be careful so I don’t pinch my fingers in the ringer when we were doing laundry on her front porch.

We’re immersed completely in this moment with Miss Bennet, even though we don’t even know personally know her. We’re right here, and her world feels like our world. Every moment is a small celebration.

I’ve noticed that sometimes the world I’m living in doesn’t even feel like my world. I feel detached, like someone having an outer body experience, watching her body going through the motions. It’s not a healthy way to live — to be disconnected like that. I wasn’t aware that it happened as often as it does until recently. It’s not a celebrated life. 

You see, I’ve been realizing that it’s easy to count my wins. I can quickly check them off and be on with my day. Enjoyed a hot cup of tea, check. Dropped my daughter off at school in time, check. Got a difficult task done, check. Check. Check. Check.

I want my life to be more than a series of successful little checks. I yearn for more than just getting by one day at a time. I want to fully live in those little moments of everyday life. We each want to live a life that we can celebrate, don’t we? I just think that sounds so nice to say but in reality, it’s not as easy to get in the habit of celebrating regularly.

The Magazine Photoshoot

Monday was exciting. I was one of the models in a photoshoot for the Denver Style Magazine.

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Not all of us love getting styled by someone else and made up, but I always love how I feel in front of a camera. I want it to last as long as possible. I never want to peel off the gorgeous long eyelashes or wash away the perfect contouring of my makeup.

What if I felt this beautiful in my own skin all the time, without any special effects or a significant occasion to celebrate?

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with loving a highlighted moment, but I don’t ever want to find myself living only for the highlighted moments like this. I want to bring wonder into everyday life a little more often. What if I celebrated something today that I wouldn’t normally celebrate?

I went on a date. By myself.

After the photo shoot on Monday, I decided not to wash my makeup off and call it a day. Instead, I drove downtown and took myself on a date. I plan to do this even if I’m in a relationship again or married someday because it’s something I learned to do from a happily married mentor of mine who believed in celebrating small moments and taking oneself out on solo excursions as a form of self-care.

I parked my car near Denver’s Union Station and found myself walking along the water fountains to the south of the station. Since it was a Monday night, the area was quieter than usual. I sat down to watch the splashing water and people walking by. Everyone was with someone else — couples, families, friends.

Instead of feeling left out, I felt content and connected to my surroundings.

A girl dressed in a sari walked by with an older gentleman who was disrupting the quietness of the evening with his exclamations. “Can you see it now?” he was asking the screen on his phone.

The girl caught me watching them with curiosity and laughed. In broken English, she explained to me that the man was her dad and he was Facetiming her mom back in India. She didn’t owe me an explanation, but her delight invited me into their moment of wonder as they shared their experience in an American city with family members on the other side of the world.

The warmth of witnessing the two of them together stayed with me as I made my way into Union Station. I found an open stool at the long wooden bar inside and took out my journal. For the next two hours, I filled page after page in my journal. I ordered a drink and truffle fries and savored them alone, slowly. I closed my eyes and melted into the setting around me. I forgot that I was still wearing my long lashes and makeup from the photoshoot. I wrote down what I was hearing around me and described what the atmosphere smelled like.

I was celebrating my evening away in a setting that felt like a scene from a movie, except it was real life. It was simple and meaningful. It was absolutely marvelous.

When I came home, I savored the way my apartment smelled and how the floor felt under my feet after I took my shoes off. This is a celebrated life, I thought. And I celebrated that realization.

A life of celebration looks different for each one of us.

Several years ago, an evening out alone would have felt quite painful. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. I would have felt silly. I would have felt left out from all the love in the happy couples around me. I would have come home feeling lonely and rejected. Over the years, my perspective has changed as I’ve made it my goal to celebrate whatever season of life that I’m in right now. Slowly I’m learning to choose gratitude over the focus of what I think I lack.

What would a life of celebration look like for you? What will you choose to celebrate today?

Here’s an idea: until further notice, celebrate everything.

Life isn’t like the movies and fairy tales — it’s better.