Photo: Getty Images


An old saying notes that “man makes plans and God laughs.” I imagine God cracking up when he heard my husband and I outlining our game plan to celebrate our milestone birthdays. Hiking Mount Kilimanjaro was one option. Riding elephants in Thailand ran a close second. Sitting in our backyard during a pandemic didn’t make the top ten, surprisingly enough, but that’s where we ended up.


I will always remember my quarantine birthday as the day I made eye contact with a red cardinal, my heart cracked wide open, and for one stunning moment, I saw the world and all its wonders in high definition. Equipped with my new superpowers, I got a front-row seat to see a few things that had eluded my pre-pandemic eyes. By the way, you weren’t the only person born on your birthday.


A friend surprised me by getting up at 4.30 a.m. to place a sign outside my house that read, “Honk to wish Stacey Happy Birthday.” My dog put his head on my lap when I logged on to read the dreadful daily news. My family got me fluffy slippers and a pink bathrobe that looked like the ones I used to wrap around them when they were babies. Every act of kindness made my heart go thump.


Sitting in my backyard listening to a bird concert, I noticed how tall the pine trees have grown over the years. I saw a red cardinal staring at me with the gaze of someone I missed. I wondered why I had been staring at a screen for so much of the time when there is a magic show on my patio?


My official birthday suit was my favourite pair of yoga pants and a hoodie with a heart, the perfect outfit to march around my neighbourhood and greet the nearby trees and flowers. No make-up, no Spanx, but I felt resplendent in my unapologetic freedom.


That may be an exaggeration, but I did feel the sadness in the world pulse through my body and shed a shower of tears. I belong to a world that is going through a difficult time. I am glad to be part of the human race and pledge to be an agent of light and hope in its transformation.


As I sat on the patio in my backyard, I realised that outside of my inner circle of true friends and family, no one cares what I am doing. They are too busy curating their life on social media to read my latest post. While no one was looking, I let my eyes close in the soft spring breeze. When I opened them I saw the blue sky in high definition. In lieu of a cake, my daughter rolled a small ball of cookie dough and stuck a candle in it. I gobbled it up quickly then remembered no one was watching. Now, I am writing about it with pride.


What am I waiting for? I need to bid adieu to people that can’t shine until they blow out my light. I must toss those high school hip-hugger jeans that are not meant for a grown woman. I promise to look at my phone less and see how I can help repair the world more.


Up until my quarantine birthday, my prior celebrations were carefully choreographed, brimming with people and presents. This year I awoke with no specific plans and let the day unfold slowly and spontaneously. I shared stillness, serenity, laughter, and tears with family. At the end of the day, my dog looked up at me with eyes that said,  “She finally gets it.” I really don’t know what the next day or the rest of my life will bring. And that is just fine.


  • crack up (v) 讓人大笑
  • resplendent (adj) 燦爛的;華麗的
  • in lieu of (ph)(以⋯⋯)替代
  • adieu (n) 告別
  • spontaneously (adv) 自然地


心動不如行動 — 馬上註冊!