The Birthday Candle Glow list – a mini self-coaching ritual

There’s something about motherhood that makes us go big on birthdays again, isn’t it? Whether it’s seeing little fingers clutch their tissue-wrapped XL pieces of cake, buttercream dripping off the sides like molten treasure or the delight of fairies and dragon slayers chant numbers as they count up to the age of a little friend, standing mesmerised in their midst, whether we throw big parties complete with thank you bags and bunting or prefer to have a quieter family celebration, the truth is that once we have children, birthdays take on a sweeter significance in our lives, than perhaps they did before.

And what then of our birthdays? Well, what of it you may ask, depending on how you’re feeling right now as you read this blog. It may be a milestone that you’re looking forward to celebrate, or a threshold you dread crossing. Or if you are a bit like me, somewhere in between, a day that I like to give myself a little treat – a massage or a new dress, but don’t spend too much time thinking about.

But a few years ago, I started a ritual on my birthdays that has become a comforting and revealing exercise all at once – my Birthday Candle Glow list. And this is how it works.

Find a nice quiet corner, about twenty minutes of undisturbed time, your journal of the moment, and a pen. Now, close your eyes and breathe for a few minutes, slowly and softly giving your mind some space to settle down. Then on the top of a fresh page, write down the number of candles that would be on your birthday cake that year (a.k.a your age) and the words GLOW LIST next to it. In my case this year, it’s going to be My 44th Birthday Glow List. And then write down that number of all that makes you GLOW! So, 44 items on my list that bring a warm glow to my face! It could be people you have in your life, achievements, things that you’re grateful of, dreams that spur you on. The past, present and future can interweave… there are no rules, except that these be aspects of your life and personality, that make you glow from within, and the number of items be that of the age you’re turning.

Chances are that after the first ten or fifteen items on your list, you flag a bit… but keep going. This is when the extra good stuff comes out, things you haven’t considered before, things that will surprise you and give you insights, just like a mini session with a coach. I did not realise until I reached item no 16 that live music brought me so much joy or that 36 (vision boards) made me glow, or (41&42 – collecting memorabilia and having lots of photographs displayed at home) was so key to my well-being.

And as the hours slip away, and you embrace another year and all that it brings, whether you choose to blow candles on a cake or not, do keep your Birthday Candle Glow list. Like you, it will probably change a bit through time, and a few bits will remain the same. But like all rituals, it will find a way of informing and inspiring you over the years.

I’ve enjoyed doing this little ritual over the last three years and I intend to continue. If you do try it, I would love to know how it has been for you, please get in touch via my profile page or my website . And while you’re at it, Happy Birthday to you!