“Trust someone not for what they say, but because, like a bridge, you can venture out on them without fear of collapse” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers

Lisa James by © Cyndal Lorch

Image by © Cyndal Lorch

An Interview with Lisa

Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?

A. On my 25th birthday my volleyball teammates held a surprise party at a cool restaurant & lounge Dundas Street West owned by one of our friends. They had the 3 most embarrassing photos they could find of me colour-printed on legal size paper. They posted these images all over the bar and even hung a volleyball net across one of the walls…which also featured these embarrassing photos. One of my gifts was a huge Mickey Mouse mug because I was infamous for drinking large amounts of tea at one sitting; it has since cracked but I use it at my desk at home as a pen holder. The other cherished gift from that night was one of those aforementioned photos in a 4″x6″ frame. It still sits on my bookshelf in my living room. It reminds me to not take myself too seriously :)

Q. How about the worst? And why?

A. When I was about 10 or 11 years old I had a plan to have a big birthday party at home – it was a big deal because I normally have friends over. My mom and I went to the Party Supply store on Bathurst Street and that place was like Heaven. I would go there even when there was no party being planned just to browse. My mom let me buy all the supplies I wanted; balloons, party favours, colourful plates, cups, napkins, etc., etc. Unfortunately my mother struggles with mental health issues and when the time came around to have my birthday party she decided, on very short notice, that she didn’t want to go through with it. In my mind, telling everyone that we had to cancel the party because of financial issues seemed like a perfect way to inspire empathy and not have people ask questions. I was totally WRONG. I still remember the exclamation “Lisa cancelled her birthday party because her mom doesn’t have enough money!!! Bahahahhahahahahaaa!” There were a handful of the “popular kids” that all chimed in. Kids can be jerks :)

Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?

A. The one gift that never ceases to surprise me is when people write heart-felt messages – even if delivered on facebook. I am not typically overly-sentimental, but something about a friend or acquaintance delivering a timely birthday wish makes my soul happy.

Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?

A. I love food – all kinds of food – so much that I couldn’t possibly choose just one type of cuisine to make a ritual of.

Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?

A. Celebrating the now is so important. In particular taking stock of all of those things that get taken for granted; being in good health for example. Age shouldn’t be the focus. Whether you are trying to get older or trying to forget the real date on your birth certificate, the number of years is pretty insignificant if quality of life and/or a healthy state of mind are not present.

Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?

A. None. I would like to be more consistent with doing a long journal entry in the same designated book on my birthday.