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It’s my birthday. Maybe it’s because I am born in July and I’m a Cancer, but for the longest time, my birthday has made me decidedly crabby. Now, this does not apply to all birthdays. I absolutely love throwing birthday bashes for my kids. The look on their faces when they are waiting to blow out their candles is probably one of my favorite things. Ever. I love attending birthday parties for my friends and family. I love listening to people get a beautiful, heartfelt toast. I love watching as someone opens a gift that they really, REALLY love. Those things make me so happy. Oh and cake. I love birthday cake a whole bunch. But, when it comes to me, I would rather the day just pass on by.

As a kid I loved my birthday, with some caveats. I was a mini control freak and I had a mother with a very lackadaisical approach to parenting, so I ended up planning my own birthdays at a very early age. Because I loved being in the kitchen and all things sweet, I always baked my own cakes, starting at about age 6. Eventually I discovered Carvel’s ice cream cake, and then my baking graduated to ordering my own ice cream cake. That was always the highlight of my birthday, and cake, as you will see, still plays a major role in my adult life. I would spend weeks planning the BEST birthday ever. It usually involved pinatas, outdoor games, endless hours of Marco Polo in the pool (this was NJ in the summer, keep in mind) and lots of 1970’s junk food like Squeezy Cheese and Fun Dip. In my fantasies everyone would have the BEST time ever and end the joy-filled day cheering my very existence, possibly ending in a rousing limbo contest followed by my friends chanting “Shannon! Shannon! Shannon!”

Well, the truth was, I was a weird kid with only 1 or 2 friends on a good day. My birthday falls smack dab in the middle of the summer, when the few friends that I did have were at the Jersey Shore or camping at Spruce Run. The one or two stragglers that did show up were usually shy and socially awkward, and quickly my Napoleon complex would rear it’s ugly junior head and they would balk and mutiny would ensue. Inevitably, my fantasy party would end up with me boohooing in my room, leaving my Mom to entertain the motley crew of sad little ladies.

Birthdays are for the birds! That is what I decided early on and I have stuck to it since then. Maybe it’s genetic. I remember my dad planning for months…I mean MONTHS…a surprise party for my Mom’s 40th birthday. I was 10. Keeping a secret that was that huge was torture. The excitement in our family as the big day grew closer and closer was almost unbearable. My father, who was never a great planner, really outdid himself. He invited friends and family from near and far, some that we had not seen in years. He took my mother out for a pre-planned dinner and while they were gone everyone feverishly assembled and waited for them to arrive. Then they finally got home, and we all waited, breath held, for them to open the door. When my Mom entered we all shouted “SURPRISE!” just like in the movies. However, my Mom, not one for shock value, promptly burst into tears and ran back out. It took a while for my Dad to compose her enough that she could eventually join the party. That was maybe when I decided: Not only are birthdays for the birds, but surprise parties are the absolute pits!

This past year, my 41st year, has been such a crazy ride. I would say it was, without a doubt, my most challenging. It was also my most rewarding. I like to call it my best/worst year. At Urban Waxx, we went through some really pivotal shifts, and we got rid of a lot of things that were simply not working anymore. Things that I thought that I needed, but in reality were really holding me and the growth of my company back. I am happier at Urban Waxx now then I have been in, maybe ever. I am, it is safe to say, wildly in love with my business, and everyone involved in it. It feels like a new chapter in the wonderful, wild, humbling, kooky book that is Urban Waxx. I am committed to being the best boss that my team can have. That is a process that I work on all day every day. That means staying calm, honest, being accountable always, respectful, and always doing what I say I will do. Oh, and also never taking myself too seriously and always laughing at least 30-100 times per day.

Personally, I made some really big changes this year as well. I did some things that I had wanted to do forever, like going to an all-woman surf camp this spring. That was something that caused a lot of anxiety and excitement, and it ended up being one of the most wonderful, life changing experience that I have ever had. It changed me in many ways. I also gave up wine for good last fall, and that was something that has brought so much joy and clarity to my life.  I have become close to people that I feel like I have been waiting to know for my entire life. Beautiful, loving, remarkable people that I am so grateful to know. Finally, I fell back in love with yoga, and I am literally obsessed with the mat. If I don’t practice yoga every day now, I get pretty itchy. Yoga allows me to meditate and calm my mind in ways that I have never known before. I want to do yoga every day for the rest of my life. The end.

This year was a doozy. When I think about where I was last July and where I am now, I do not feel like the same woman. Has that ever happened to you? I feel like I am a different person on a cellular level. I would like to take that 2014 version of me out for a coffee and tell her: “Lady, it’s ok. In a year you are going to be someone that you really, really like. And I promise you that everything is going to be ok.”

So, I guess now that I think about it,  maybe I should be celebrating instead of being all emo and melancholy. I love Urban Waxx. I am surrounded every day by a team of magical, strong, creative, hilarious women.  We see guests day in and out that we get the honor of connecting with in really genuine and remarkable ways. I have 2 healthy kids that keep me smiling and grounded and on my toes day in and out. I live in, in my opinion, the best city in the country. I love yoga. I love the summer. I love my friends and family. I really, REALLY love cake.

For the first time, maybe in my entire life, I feel like I am precisely where I am supposed to be. I feel like the people that are around me are the exact right people. I feel like whatever plan the Universe has in store for me, I get it. I accept it. I have finally stopped fighting and I have just started to be. And with that acceptance has come a measure of peace and happiness and gratitude that I have never experienced before.

Ok, fine. This year, I am going to eat a whole bunch of cake, and instead of acting like a sullen teenager when people wish me a happy birthday I will act like an adult and say thank you. I will not be a brat about this day. Instead, I will just be so very grateful. Because I am, so, so grateful.

Peace & Love. And cake.