How Changing One Thing Changes Everything

armchair_view_TL2“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I celebrated my birthday in February, and it was the first time in my 36 years that I’ve spent the day alone.

It had never even crossed my mind that this was something I might do. In fact, if you’d suggested it to me before this year, I’d have balked. It didn’t seem right somehow; wouldn’t it be lonely? Aren’t you supposed to celebrate with loved ones, go out… you know, make some noise about it?

And then this year came along and something in me said, I think I want to do this one alone. No meals out, no party, no drinks, no cake with candles or balloons. No fuss.

Of course I wondered if it would be lonely, if I would regret not making plans. I was slightly nervous I’d find too late I’d made a mistake.

It turned out to be one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

I gave myself an agenda-free day, spent time reading, treated myself to a mug I’d been eyeing up for weeks in a shop near my home. In fact I ended up coming home with flowers, cake and some unexpected new clothes. The sun shone, which always helps of course. I had an IM chat with a dear friend. I spent an inordinate amount of time on Pinterest, lying on the floor, surrounded by cushions, tea and cake.

It was a slow day, a peaceful day. I did receive a few cards, and discovered that gifts, while lovely, are not necessary. In fact, I sent a gift to my parents; a bunch of flowers, as a ‘thank you for having me’ gift.

I learned many things on my birthday this year, about myself, what I need and want, what I’m capable of, what really feels good to me. I think mostly though, I learned that changing one thing can create a shift that gives you a new vision on something, whether that’s your work, your life, your relationships, yourself or something else.

And of course that is not limited to the ‘big’ things like life events! Small changes can make a big difference in creative projects, in a painting, in the outcome of a story.

I don’t know if I agree that you ‘must’ do the thing you cannot do. But I do know that you can. And that if you do, it will be more than you ever imagined.

Have you ever spent a birthday alone? Or taken action you never thought you were capable of? Did it change things for you? I’d love to hear how your brave or unexpected choices have shifted things in your life.


10 thoughts on “How Changing One Thing Changes Everything

  1. Oh, I love this Tara. I remember when I was a teenager always feeling disappointed when I couldn’t find someone to go see a movie with because it meant that I would miss out. I couldn’t go alone, it wasn’t even an option, that is until I felt I had no choice. I can’t even remember what the movie was, just that I had to see it. What I thought would be a horribly lonely “make do” activity became something wonderful! After the movie I could just sit with the experience without having to talk about it or hear someone else’s opinion. Bliss! Going to the movies alone continues to be one of my favorite things to do. Thanks Tara!


    1. That’s a great example Cecilia! I haven’t been to the cinema by myself for a long time. I especially love how you shared that doing what seemed unthinkable turned out to be rather awesome. :)

  2. What a lovely post and your Eleanor Roosevelt quote is so very apt for me today. I did something today I have never done and that is to turn down a job as the hourly rate was too low (I am recently self-employed with one client who is about to sell up and retire) so it was a big deal for me. But I felt proud of myself for not doing myself a dis-service and accepting a lower paid job out of desperation or fear. The result was that the company contacted me and gave me the rate I wanted.

    So I trusted myself and knew that whatever happened it would be okay. And I believed that I can be my own boss and choose who I work for.

    Thank you for a beautifully written post from your heart and I am glad you had a lovely birthday – it sounds divine.

  3. Helen congratulations and thank you so much for sharing your story here! It must’ve been hard to stick to your guns, and I’m so happy it resulted in the rate you wanted {and deserved}. So inspiring! Thank you for your kind words too.

    1. Thanks Tara – I felt strangely guilty for not accepting the original offer, but that’s just because that’s what I have always done. It’s good to feel your worth x

  4. What a wonderful post Tara and Happy Belated Birthday!

    About 10 years ago I went through a divorce and did many things I thought I could not do: lived on my own, rebuilt a social network, went to see live music by myself… It was very powerful in showing me that I was capable of much more than I’d given myself credit for, and capable of enjoying my own company. Thankfully I can do smaller things too (things that don’t require a divorce 😉 ) to remind me of that, like go to a coffee shop on my own or take a creative risk by submitting artwork to a juried show. These little things are great ways to shake things up and boost my confidence when I need it.

  5. As some one with 4 children in a 3 bedroom house – your birthday sounds all kind of perfect to me. Time alone is something of a rarity (and I feel all kinds of selfish for yearning for it) but your day sounds amazing.

    There are a couple of brave things I can think of in my life but I can’t really post them in public – but yes – they bettered mine and my childrens life and definitely made me a more confident person. Not choices I had thought I would ever have to make but in doing so they made me stronger. x

    1. Carmen that does sound like a full house! Of course sometimes I wish for the love and buzzing energy a family would provide too… swings and roundabouts! It doesn’t seem selfish to me at all to wish for a little time to yourself. You’re still you, whatever your outer circumstances.

      I totally understand not feeling you wish to share certain experiences, but I’m glad you stopped by to share your thoughts. It seems we have hidden depths of strength within us we so often feel certain don’t exist!

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