Searching the Lost and Found for My Birthday Hum


Birthday hum: a woman sitting at a restaurant table stares down sadly at a small birthday cake.I have officially turned a year older. I am . . . well, my age doesn’t matter — it’s just a number right!?

As a child, I loved celebrating my birthday. My brother and I are a couple of weeks apart in our birth dates so we always shared a party. I remember all of our friends coming over to our house and us having backyard games and balloons and cake and all sorts of fun. I remember for my 13th birthday, my mom set up a surprise party at a nice restaurant with friends and family. For my 16th birthday, I remember going to get my ears pierced at Claire’s . . . so many wonderful memories from childhood.

A Change in Birthday Tune

But as I got older, college-aged, a lot of no-good, very bad, unfortunate events seemed to plague the time leading up to my birthday (or right on my birthday). The accumulation of these events over my college years quickly eroded my love of my birthday. The biggest event was the passing of my mother a few days before my 24th birthday. While family and friends did their best to make my birthday special, it really was impossible.

So since then, when people ask me, “Any special plans for your birthday?” I meet the question with a quick “Nope!” I always get the sense that people are sad for me. Which, honestly, I’m sad for myself too.

The Birthday Hum

I bring all this up because recently I watched a Ted Talk that was done by Shonda Rhimes. If you don’t know who that is, my friend, you have been living under a whole mountain! Shonda is the writer and creative mind behind Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How To Get Away With Murder.

Shonda’s Ted Talk was about one year that she chose to say “yes” to everything. One “yes” in particular made her realize that she had lost her hum. She says she found it again by embracing a “yes” she wasn’t always fond of doing — playing with her children. But by taking those 15 minutes out of her busy day to play pretend or play a game, she found her hum again.

A glass mug states, "Enjoy Every Moment."This talk was a message geared toward working, but I feel as though it can be applied to all aspects of life. I’ve been trying to think of ways to apply this to my birthday.

I feel like finding my hum is much easier said than done. So I posed this question to a friend: Where do I even start? She gave me two questions to think about . . .

  1. What are five things you would do if your mom was here?
  2. If resources were unlimited, what would you do?

To say that my list in answering these two questions has begun is an understatement!

While I didn’t exactly find my hum for this birthday, I found myself surrounded by my family. I look forward to spending the next year quieting my mind and listening out for my birthday hum. I may just try out the items on my list ahead of my birthday.

I don’t want to feel sad celebrating, but feel that joy again and make new wonderful memories.

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Sydney Mcleod-Bryant Barnett
Born in Boston, but raised in Mount Pleasant, Sydney left South Carolina to go to Lenior-Rhyne College (now University) where she met her husband and graduated with a degree in Political Science. She and her husband moved back to Mount Pleasant in 2012 and are currently living in the family house (zoo) with Audrey who is going on 8 and Amelia who is going on 2, a dog and two cats. Sydney loves re-familiarizing herself with the city through the eyes of her children , traveling, learning Korean and listening to audiobooks.


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