In approximately 46 days, I will turn, well, 46. There it’s out. That means you all have 46 days to get my mailing address and send a gift! Oh, wait, did I say that out loud?
Oops, that’s not what I meant!
What I meant to tell you is that I read something last week that made an impression on me. From a blog I follow, called Kind Over Matter and whose tagline reads: ‘touching the world with kindness, inspiration, gentleness and love” authored by a variety of writers, came an email with the subject line “how giving gave my birthday meaning”. Knowing that I am just mere days away from turning a new number, it caught my attention. I am not one to shy away from birthdays for fear of more wrinkles, aches and creaks; I believe that age is a state of mind. But I do approach a birthday with an appreciation for and an interest in looking at what my life means, to me and to others. Cake [lava cake to be specific] and presents are always welcome, but not required. Wine, on the other hand; is most definitely required. I’ve heard that anti-oxidants are good for anti-aging…
When Random Acts of Kindness was a novel idea, I was an early adopter, intrigued by the whimsical and yet positive impact of reaching out to others in unexpected and unnecessary but delightful ways. I may have actually paid someone’s toll booth fee on at least one occasion. It also reminded me of a memorable experience from college, when all my friends and I were broke and had had our fill of Top Ramen and mac-n-cheese. A lasting impression was made on me when one of our friends invited a large group of us out to a nice restaurant – and paid – for a fantastic meal for everyone. He shared that in his culture, it’s the custom to give to others in your life on your birthday, to return the gifts of friendship and love. So, the more I considered this notion of a giving birthday, the more captivated I became. The blog post illustrated how one woman completed 35 acts of giving to celebrate her 35th birthday, and because this is me we are talking about, I have to take this literally – naturally – as much as I appreciate the random nature of things – and have 46. Right? Right.
I have been quietly pondering this possibility, considering the different sides of ‘signing myself up for this’ and on some days, I am fascinated, and on others, intimidated. I have a lot in front of me at the moment; this is my busy season at work, a big presentation to prepare for later this spring, and so on. And then I remind myself: we are all busy, everyone has too much to do. And each time I gave myself permission to let it go [after-all, who would know?], I found myself coming back to this idea. In my mind, the challenge has been presented, and frankly, I think it’s probably necessary, something I may even need.
So, here we go, we are doing this. Yes, you heard me correctly. We.
I was tempted to go about this quietly, not say anything, in part because that makes sense to me and in part because it’s often just how I do things. It’s counter-intuitive to me to make it my mission to share and then tell everyone about it. But then I realized: I would not have learned about this possibility if someone else hadn’t talked about it. I would not have been inspired if someone hadn’t taken the opportunity to be an inspiration. So, I convinced myself that sharing this is OK and again, because it’s me, put my own twist on it, and ask you for help.
Remember the WE that I mentioned earlier?
This is where you come in and where YOU and I become WE. I want to let myself be nudged, and turn the turning a new number into one of giving, and I’d like your help. My goal is to somehow give in 46 ways to mark 46 years and I need your ideas for how to give, what to give, and to whom.
Let your brains fly – WWYD – What would You Do? Think of ideas – from simple, sentimental, and silly, to as fun, crazy and ridiculous as you want. Some can cost money, and some shouldn’t.
I will make a list of our ideas…a combination of yours and mine..and over time, as I complete them, share how it goes with you. We are in this together after all.
And for those who might be wondering, my word for 2013 is…
And yes, I am intimidated. And fascinated.
“We make a living by what we get.
We make a life by what we give.”