Usually for me, birthdays are bitter sweet. I always feel my age and I usually question my direction in life. Should I be doing this anymore? Am I making a difference? Mostly though, on my birthday, I just want to feel special.
I had to perform 3 times over my birthday weekend to very diverse crowds. The first party was at an organic bakery in Jersey City and it was a tiny little place packed with high energy kids of all ages. I brought Albert with me, and we arrived early, like I like. I was a bit frantic trying to set everything up amongst tons of little kids and a face painter who still had a line of customers, but somehow we pulled it off. When I looked up to start the set, I saw lots of shining faces. Not just on the kids, but on the grown ups. I guess some of them knew who I was, and the others were eager to find out... Ah, the pressure. We started singing and it was so much fun. The kids were dancing from the very beginning, and shakers were flying. There was a lot of laughter and, well, it was also fun playing with Albert. He cracks me up, and he had practiced a lot, so it sounded pretty good. I was proud of him, and so grateful that I wasn't there by myself. We were very well received and got lots of hugs and thank you's at the end, in addition to some free cupcakes. Totally worth it.
At the second party (a bit smaller and more mellow), the Mom of the 4 year old birthday boy told me that he watches my DVD every day and knows all of the words by heart. He soon proved it by standing right next to me the whole time singing his little heart out and playing his brand new ukulele! All of his friends seemed to remember me as well, and were very much into singing and dancing along with us. It was pretty awesome. Then, his Dad and a friend joined in playing some pretty incredible African drums on the last three songs! It was so much fun I almost felt guilty charging them for the party...
The next party was different. Lots of people, lots of balloons, a bit of "typical birthday party chaos" and a little three year old whom I had never met before who also apparently knew most of my songs and had a special request set list. I wasn't sure how this one would go as I had never met the family before, and well, you never know. This little girl sat through the entire 45 minute set with a big smile on her face. Albert was joining me on bass again, and we went for it. There was a range of ages, but those kids lasted the entire time. I was asked to end the party with "Ten Thousand Kisses," and the birthday Mom promptly sat her daughter on her lap and rocked her to the entire song. It's a long song. After the set, she thanked me for coming and said that I really made her little girl's birthday special. Then, the birthday Dad told me that he had to leave the room the first few times he heard Ten Thousand Kisses because he was so emotional, and he told me that he really enjoyed my singing and my songwriting. That was really gratifying for me to hear. I was happy.
I was exhausted.
That night, as tired as I was, Dave took me out for sushi. Albert and Jen took the kids. It was so nice to just relax and have a Sapporo and some good food with my husband. We talked about goals, and we talked about the kids, and we talked about us.
Yesterday, my 39th birthday, was all for "me." I started out the day with a meditation and felt really good about the direction that I am going. I got tons of phone messages, e-cards, and FB posts. Both my parents and my sister and her family sung to me, and they made me choke up. I had quiet time, and I had family time. My perfect balance. My family brought me my favorite chocolate cake and some handmade cards and some cool, new clothes. It couldn't have been any better. And you know what? I felt special.