In case you didn’t hear, Briana and I made the difficult decision last month to close the spa at the Portland Airport. Shortly thereafter, she and I were on a date at one of our favorite restaurants and we were reminiscing about all the work we put into that place and how great it was to have created an environment that was peaceful and beautiful in a place that’s often stressful and loud. We were both silent for a minute and then she said, “Let’s celebrate!”
We weren’t really in a celebratory mood, but we shifted the discussion from “How are we going to bounce back?” to “How are we going to bounce FORWARD?” It didn’t take long to come up with numerous wins that were made possible by this loss, including reclaimed energy and resources to put into new endeavors to help people achieve peace, health, and happiness.
What surprised us was when I asked, “Ok, how should we celebrate?” and we both drew a blank. Wait a second, how could two people who love holidays and creating ritual not remember how to celebrate? Well, in the same way that we sometimes forget what meals we like to cook, sometimes it’s good to get reacquainted with our palette of celebratory options. Besides having a party, here are some ideas to get your celebratory juices flowing:
- Have special food / drink. Briana and I were already at a great restaurant. However, since we make a point of eating delicious, high quality food every day, this didn’t feel celebratory in itself. As with rituals in general, an important part of the recipe for celebration is that it feels different than the usual. That might mean a cake with candles or champagne. For us it meant ordering $20 cocktails with some kind of amazing locally-crafted flower nectar in them. Mmmm.
- Take time off. If your usual routine would be to go to work or do some chores, celebrating could mean deliberately setting aside your work. Further, if this is how you celebrate, it’s important to let go of the need to be productive during this time. Specifically, do the opposite of working!
- Special purchase for YOU. Sometimes splurging can be a way to celebrate, though it’s important that the purchase feels like a gift to yourself. Ideally something that’s going to help you feel celebratory, light hearted, and playful. This is almost always easier to achieve when you spend your money on an experience than a thing.
- Take a trip. There are many ways to celebrate through a journey. It could be a trip to somewhere beautiful, inspiring, or fun. It could be a visit to see someone you love. It could be a pilgrimage that’s deeply meaningful to you. Just remember, as often as you can, that it’s a celebration.
- Get flowers. In our house, we decided long ago to always prioritize having fresh flowers year-round, so more flowers might not feel celebratory. But if flowers aren’t a fixture in your space, they’re a lovely way to signal that you’re intentionally celebrating.
- Dance / cheer / emote. While these are some of the most obvious expressions of celebration, for many people – myself included – they don’t come naturally. If you feel similarly about expressing I’M CELEBRATING! physically and verbally, it may be an edge worth leaning into. What holds you back? Does it feel silly? Is there a way that lets you turn off your self-critic?
- Make art / a memento to mark the event. While creating art may be a more subdued form of celebration than #6, it’s a great way to celebrate. It gives expression to our creative urge and it results in something that reminds us of the goodness it represents. If you’re so inclined, you may choose a tattoo for an especially indelible reminder.
- Share about it. While this isn’t exactly a way of celebrating in itself, telling people that you’re celebrating can be powerful. It makes the celebration more real. It lets others see you, cheer for you, and celebrate with you. If you have a hard time with this, is it because it feels boastful? Is there a way to do it while retaining your humility?
- Plant something. Buy a plant for your land / garden / apartment to commemorate the occasion and take good care of it. (Try not to attach meaning to whether or not it thrives.)
- Journal about it. I know journaling doesn’t sound like celebrating, but let’s call it an adjunct to celebrating. Journaling is a bit like hitting the save button. It helps you get deep and clear about what you’re celebrating, the ways you’ve grown through it, the fact that you chose this, and that you’re grateful for it.
- Let go / release. Dancing a jig and throwing confetti are great. Don’t miss out, though, on the satisfaction of letting go of all the energy that has led up to whatever you’re celebrating. The feelings that happened along the way may have included stress, anxiety, doubt, failure, confusion, anticipation, and more. Take the opportunity to intentionally unburden yourself. Let it all go and revel in the lightness.
The best way to celebrate is to do it in a way that feels significant and celebratory to you – even if it doesn’t look like a party. I encourage you to find something to celebrate this week and do it. If nothing celebration-worthy seems to happen, pick something that’s already working well in your life but hasn’t gotten enough recognition. Or make a choice for yourself that’s worth celebrating – like becoming an optimist.