Tomorrow is my birthday. Since as far back as I can remember, I have always looked forward to my birthday with giddy anticipation. There is something magical about the day you were born. To you, the world did not exist until you got here and made it great. When I was a teenager, my grandmother confided in me that, once you had children, your birthday was just another day that laundry had to be done, lunches had to be made, etc. I remember looking at her, horrified, that she would say such a thing. How could my birthday not be special??? Well, Grandma, you were right. The older I’ve gotten, the less “special” my day has become. I mean, I still get to spend it with my family, which is great. But somehow it’s not the same. No one will make me a special breakfast of pancakes with whipped cream and put a candle in it for me. No one will spend weeks planning the perfect themed birthday party for me, complete with color coordinated desserts and decor in the venue.
But the truth is, I’ve never had a birthday like that. Yet my birthdays have always felt special to me because I’ve always had what I wanted and needed. The same holds true this year – I have amazing children and family who are all well and spend time with me; though Jon is no longer my partner in life on earth, I have love and memories of him locked in my heart forever, never to be removed; I have found a loving partner in Danny, who puts up with me and all my quirks; I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, clothes and shoes in my closet. I don’t really want or need anything else.
So I decided that this year, I wanted to do something a little different for my birthday. What that was, however, was a little unclear. Then I saw a post on Facebook about a young man named Zach Sobiech. A media company (Soul Pancake) filmed a documentary about Zach and his life for their documentary series, “My Last Days.” Zach had cancer and did not have much time left on earth. You can see Soul Pancake’s video about Zach here. I was so moved by this 17 year old boy, who sadly lost his battle with cancer just 4 days ago. He was quite inspirational, saying things like, “You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.” His older sister commented that Zach taught her that “things are okay when you believe in something greater than yourself in this world.” But Zach said something that really touched me. He said, “What makes you happy is seeing someone else smile because you put it there. That’s what’s awesome about, like, living in this world is that you can help people.” That really resonated with me. After I stopped crying, I realized that this would be what I would for my birthday. Instead of trying to decide on something that I wanted to receive for my birthday, I would decide on something that I would GIVE for my birthday, something that would help people. Then I stumbled on a pin on Pinterest that was linked to a website called, “The Birthday Project.” There was my answer. Robyn, a young mom, started the site after a huge response to her blog post about how she celebrated her 38th birthday by completing 38 “Random Acts of Kindness” (RAOK). So this year, I will be doing the same thing. In celebration of the day I was born, 42 years (and one day) ago, I will complete 42 RAOK. I have compiled a list, just as Robyn did, but am hopeful that opportunities will present themselves to me. Some acts will be for complete strangers, while others will be for people who I know and love. When I complete my 42 RAOK, I will post a complete list of all that I did and what the experience was like. In the meantime, I strongly suggest that you watch Soul Pancake’s video about Zach (link above) and also watch his music video, “Clouds.” I hope that both will change your life, as they have changed mine.