COLM: A Birthday Tradition

By: Wendy Castellanos-Wolf

celebration of life month

Today is the first day of my COLM. I am normally ecstatic for this day to come because in the past it has meant parties and special outings, summer time and presents. I am sure the question must have already come up, what the heck is COLM? Is it another one of those strange acronyms that young kids are using like YOLO and TMI instead of using real words and phrases?

COLM is an acronym but in my defense, I made this term up over a decade ago, before twitter and facebook, back when society spoke in real words and was comfortable with complex sentences. It stands for Celebration of Life Month and it derives from the belief that during the month that marks the anniversary of one’s birth, one should celebrate every single day.

In the Augusts of my past, this has meant 31 days of celebrating me! (Yes, I am a Leo. Doesn’t this explain everything?) But this year, as a woman in her thirties about to celebrate, (or not, I haven’t decided yet), her 33rd birthday, I am wondering if I have outgrown the idea of COLM. I guess I am not as self-centered as I once was and for some reason the idea now feels silly. I am an overworked adult suffering from constant exhaustion, too many unfinished projects and a dusty and fraying list of dreams I’ve yet to pursue. Getting older comes with so much pressure! Honestly, I don’t think I have 31 days of celebration in me this year.

I have hit a wall with the COLM tradition and this year I am leaning more towards letting my birthday pass by unnoticed and forgettable and redefining what COLM means to me. After all, if I have learned anything in thirty something years, it is that it most definitely is not about the quantity, but the quality. Perhaps COLM can be redefined as Celebrating Our Lives Matters. This new definition turns COLM from a self-centered all about me tradition, into an inclusive one, while at the same time preserving the essence of the original meaning.

I like it. COLM 2013. Celebrating Our Lives Matters. The redefining of COLM is the quintessential difference between the girl I was in my twenties and the woman I am now in her thirties. While I am still very introspective, I have also developed this sense of where I fit in the world and how the choices I make on a daily basis, shape the reality I live in and affect the people around me. It is not all about me, it is about us, and although knowing that I am just a small dot in the universe should make me feel insignificant, it is actually the opposite. Knowing that I am a part of a collective of lives that matter makes me feel powerful. 

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