January is always a tough month for me. Every year on the heels of a crazy Christmas season and an early January week-long trade show, I lose it. Energy, attitude, coping skills- my insides feel like the brown grass in my yard looks in winter. And like the grass, I wish for sun and warmth to make me grow again. This year I was anticipating the same type of January blues, to be exaggerated by the knowledge that in mere weeks, I was going to be 50 years old.
50- the BIG 5-0, the half a hundred mark, the beginnings of AARP discounts, the official over-the-hill age. To be frank, I don’t feel anywhere near 50. Actually I feel younger than I have in years and I have skirted my annual January collapse. (that is a story in itself). I thought perhaps I would be ready for a big birthday party this year. In my mid to late 40’s I have existed in one mode- SURVIVAL mode. “Don’t ask me to do anymore”, “I can’t handle another thing”. That was my inner mantra and my actions and attitude followed. I thought it was justified and in most people’s eyes, I do have a lot on my plate. I have run our family business for 18 years and juggle 4 very active, later-in-life kids, keeping me in the “taxi” stage of parenting. Through persistence and a deep desire for a better quality of life, I found renewed mental and physical energy by changing my health- everything else good has followed.
Mulling the party idea with my family, it just didn’t feel right. Do I host a party for myself? I wasn’t really comfortable with that. Maybe a dinner out with my family and a weekend away with the girls would be the way to ring in my 50’s. It sounded nice, but I knew I was missing a piece.
The piece came to be in the form of a Facebook post from a friend. Know I have been very late into the world of social media. It was a part of my “I can’t handle anymore” years. Too much information, too much to read, too many distractions…I didn’t want anymore. There was something too emotionally invasive about social media and I didn’t want to partake. But feeling better, I decided to test the waters. It was a week into my new life that I read a post that changed my course.
It was a post about a woman who celebrated her big 4-0 by doing 40 acts of kindness. Through another post, she read about a woman who celebrated her birthday by doing one good deed for every year and she took the idea and ran with it. She then documented her amazing day, and then shared it on her blog. Her idea was kindness spreads kindness, and I am living proof of that.
One day soon, with my deeds done, I will thank her for sharing her experience. It is like a stone thrown in a lake, as the ripples reach further than you can imagine. I am her ripple and I hope to have ripples of my own.
As I began to consider the magnitude of 50 deeds, a few “what-ifs” tried to creep in, but I kept them out. I emailed my friend who shared the post and she was in- 50 good deeds for my birthday! I called my sister- no question, she was in. I called my Mom and she was tearfully and joyfully in. My kids and husband, they were in too.
As of today, I have 3 days until Deed 1 begins and my Deeds have taken on a life of their own. I decided to name my adventure, BE THEre is GOOD in the World. Do you see the BE THE GOOD?
Because 50 was too much for one day, I decided to do my deeds within a week. I will start on a Sunday and do 10 deeds with my husband and kids. This day together is my birthday present from them this year. We will be picking up trash, delivering lunch, sneaking quarters into vending machines and giving gifts to many who have helped us. On the following 3 days, I will be joined by my wonderful friends and neighbors, doing 10 deeds a day.
When I hit SEND in an email to explain my idea and solicit help- I was scared. I had put myself out there like I had not done in years. Within hours all fears were dissolved. I had checks in my mailbox, donations on my porch, emails with kind words and offers to help. It has been several weeks since that initial email and the kindness continues to pour in.
For my final 10 deeds, I am packing my bags, and my 9-year old daughter and I are flying to St. Louis, Mo. There we will meet up with my sister, parents and childhood girlfriends. I will do my last 10 deeds in St. Louis while taking a walk down memory lane and visiting with the people that were part of my beginnings. We will be visiting the arch, we were “born” on the exact day 50 years ago, stopping by my childhood home and elementary school, paying tribute to our parents and “deeding” along the way.
For now, I will close with a few last thoughts on my impending adventure, as perhaps they will be different once all is said and done. I think this is a new beginning. I described it recently as a re-boot. A re-boot for my next 50 years. A change that will move my mind and heart more in tune with others, more thoughtful, more mindful of how one person can effect change. I hope to BE THE GOOD in my everyday life and model it for my children. I hope to be more connected to family and friends and to recognize and seize everyday opportunities to change someone elses course. I hope my new mantra will be “how can I help?” and “I can do that.”
Stay tuned for more to come…..and BE THE GOOD-