How I Spent My Best Birthday Ever (Psst, Alone)

For years, my birthday seemed to induce headaches. Whether it was because I let someone else plan my day or because I planned my day around other people, I often ended my birthdays with a horrible hangover (sometimes alcohol-induced, almost always expectation-induced). I’d put a lot of emphasis and expectation on this one day of the year, only to end up disappointed by friends canceling last-minute or the evening not going to plan. Looking back, it’s really too bad I wasted time being bummed about the few friends who didn’t show up for me because I’m also blessed with some of the most amazing friends – friends who will brave the 405 madness and sacrifice much-needed sleep just to be with me on my birthday. That being said, I’ve realized that the older I get, the more overrated birthdays have become. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for celebrating a milestone, but some birthdays needn’t be a huge celebration and that has become more apparent the older I get.

Years ago, the idea to spend my birthday alone might have seemed a little sad or anticlimactic to me. Yet after actually doing it and reflecting on the experience, I found it to be quite the opposite. It felt so indulgent and empowering. As it turns out, sometimes the best company is your own!

On my birthday, I slept in until about 8:30 and then spent the rainy morning catching up on emails and wine-related work over coffee. Later on, I sat down for tea at Bluestone Lane. I people-watched over a cup of Earl Grey and then headed to noon yoga class at Yoga NoHo. I discovered the studio through ClassPass and fell in love with their “Lunch Hour Flow,” which is a little slice of zen in the middle of the day.

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Lunch Flow at Yoga NoHo; Fact: I’m almost always the first person to class

Afterwards, I ran home to shower and grab a bite to eat before my 3 PM Swedish massage appointment at the nearby Anantara Organic Spa & Massage. I have a few favorite massage places in the area (La Moon & The Now), but wanted to try someplace new for a different experience. The spa was doing a fabulous promotion, so I booked an hour Swedish massage followed by a 45-minute infrared sauna session for under $70! Let me just tell you, sweating out all the toxins is a great way to spend a birthday. I felt so refreshed!

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Anantara Organic Spa’s tranquil lobby

Afterwards, I picked up one of my favorite dishes at Summer Canteen, the Thai restaurant I frequent in my neighborhood. It might not have been the best dish to scarf down after a sweat session, but it definitely hit the spot. And, my fortune cookie was hands down one of the best, most promising fortunes I’ve ever cracked open: “Soon you will get the recognition you deserve.” YES. PLEASE.

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Summer Canteen’s Pad See U and one of the best fortunes I’ve cracked open

Then, I was off to a 6:30 PM showing of Widows, which was heartbreaking, thrilling, and empowering, all at the same time. It’s written by Gillian Flynn (the badass woman behind Gone Girl) and directed by Steve McQueen (the director of 12 Years A Slave), which made for a really cool collaboration. I really enjoyed the movie and was so engaged the entire two plus hours. Viola Davis was, as always, so compelling, and Elizabeth Debicki’s storyline was a favorite of mine. If you’ve ever been to the movies by yourself, you know how incredibly indulgent it feels. There’s no trying to decide what to see, you don’t have to share your popcorn with anyone, and you can focus entirely on what’s unfolding on screen.

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One ticket to Widows at an AMC Theater

I ended the night with my favorite crème brûlée from Gelson’s (they sell them in their bakery section) and a glass of Port. It was the perfect way to complete my day.

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Crème brûlée and Port to finish off my solo birthday plans

After a day to myself, it was fun to catch up with close friends the following evening. We went out for Old Fashioneds at one of my favorite, cozy neighborhood bars, Forman’s Whiskey Tavern.

A different approach than previous years, I didn’t make a Facebook group and invite a ton of friends. I didn’t call to reserve a table or stress about what time everyone would get there. It was one of those magical, cozy nights where I was surrounded by the ones I love and that’s all that mattered.

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My favorite, eclectic wall at Forman’s Whiskey Tavern in Toluca Lake