Lady Luck says, “Happy birthday!”  

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Once upon a time, a birthday changed my life… Sounds like a fairytale, right?

Many years ago, I met an astrologer who told me that in order to be lucky, I needed to spend my birthday in different parts of the world. Every year would require a new location. She studied my charts while I looked confused. She made a list of where I should go and what for: next to each city’s name was one word. One place should be avoided because I would cry all year. Another would be ideal for inspiring me on my spiritual journey. A specific town would be auspicious, financially promising, open my horizons, and so on.

Say the magic word

Photo by Ram katneni on Unsplash

Photo by Ram katneni on Unsplash

The words luck, auspicious, abundant, and successful will trigger all sorts of things in us. I wanted to be lucky, especially after a tough year with my health. The idea of chasing luck was a strange one, but why not? I had just spent a year recuperating, and so I began my birthday trips. I spent birthdays in New Mexico, Arizona, and New York, but mostly on the American west coast.

 I don’t recall any substantial life changes.  There were hiccups as anyone would have, but things seemed to get progressively better in my life

Photo by Leio McLaren (leiomclaren.com) on Unsplash

Photo by Leio McLaren (leiomclaren.com) on Unsplash

 I thought a lot about these birthday trips and how good they made me feel.  I kept them short, three to five days, and always in a new place.  I learned how to eat dinner alone in restaurants full of families and couples. I met interesting people. I learned to enjoy doing things solo. I spent time driving aimlessly, getting lost, and taking some fantastic photos.  I decided I would always create a mini-adventure on my birthday.

 In hindsight, maybe the luck I was to discover was how much fun it is to travel solo and splurge on myself.

Alentejo, Portugal

Alentejo, Portugal

Celebrating solo in Portugal

When I first moved to Portugal, I lived in a tiny town.  I went through a big cultural shock, I was too isolated and felt very lonely. I was quite lost and had no support. The good thing is that it made me search for places to visit!  I became very busy getting lost on the backroads of the Alentejo.

Marguerite Beaty

Marguerite Beaty

 When my birthday came along, I made a reservation to the wonderful São Lourenço do Barrocal. This was my first of many visits. I drove on a hilly scenic road through tiny towns and passed by large pastures with curious cows.  The views were gorgeous. The grass had turned to gold because of the Alentejo’s hot summer. The countryside glimmered.

When I entered the hotel’s property, I saw roaming cattle on either side of the pebbled road.  I stopped my car to enjoy that bucolic and surreal scene.  My mood shifted, and I felt happy and optimistic. I knew that my life would change from now on and that I would have the best birthday ever.

Photo by Marguerite Beaty São Lourenço do Barrocal pool

Photo by Marguerite Beaty São Lourenço do Barrocal pool

I checked in, put my bathing suit on, and walked towards the pool on the long-tiled path. I felt transported. I dropped my things on a long chaise and jumped into the cold and soothing water.  There were many people there, but I was still able to swim a few laps.  I thought, this is too good, and that I would never be able to return home. I brushed the feeling aside and continued to swim.

 Later that day, I made my dinner reservation and a few great appointments at the spa for the next few days.  This trip was all about treating myself well.

My room faced an infinity pool where I spent some time relaxing with my ear pods and feeling renewed.  My spa treatments hadn’t even started yet, and I was already so happy- I couldn’t imagine what it would be like afterward.

Happiness hides behind your point of view

I was finally getting back in touch with myself.  I realized that I had been in survival mode; instead of stopping to think about how to change things, I started running.  I was in constant movement.  Always visiting a new place, taking long walks, I just kept moving. I was trying not to think because I felt that my move to Portugal had been a colossal mistake.

 We forget how important it is to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to push unpleasant thoughts aside.  Have you ever experienced that?

 During this trip, I decided to change my perspective from “mistake” to “adventure.”  I began to paint small watercolors about my day-to-day.  Photography and watercolors kept me busy and happy.  My next challenge was to learn more about Portuguese cuisine, but I decided that I would do that at restaurants.  My kitchen at this rental was dismal, and I heard about some great chefs in the area.

 Eventually, I moved to a city called Elvas, and was very happy there.  I loved the architecture, the beautiful yellow on the city walls, the walks outside of the town, and I felt at home in the little blue house that I rented—the Casa Azul. Elvas is near Badajoz in Spain, so I had the luxury of living with two cultures.

 This all stemmed from reframing my birthday, and eventually my mindset. It has led me down many amazing paths and every year I look forward to celebrating my life and my growth. What are your birthday plans? How far would you go for “luck”?

Photo by Marguerite Lucky Solo Birthdays

Photo by Marguerite Lucky Solo Birthdays

Marguerite

 My Happy Solo Thanksgiving by Marguerite

Discover these dining experiences:

 Restaurants in Elvas:

Tasquinha do  Barrogo  

family owned, cozy and delicious

Adega Regional  

Great Portuguese food- make your reservations

 Sao Lourenco do Barrocal

Fantastic hotel and restaurant!

 Estremoz:

Mercearia Gadanha 

Alecrim 

Tasca O Carlos

 Hotel restaurants with excellent chefs in the Alentejo:

Basili Restaurant at Torre de Palma 

L’And Vineyards

Main Photo by Jonathan Francisca on Unsplash

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

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