Tag Archives: #KindnessJar

On Birthdays

For whatever reason, I’ve got a mind that remembers numbers, which is exemplified by my ability to recall almost everyone I’ve ever known’s birthdays each year. The only one that always tripped me up was my two best girlfriends from college. Both have (had-one sadly has passed away) birthdays in September, just three days apart. I often got them mixed up. I always remember that May 1st is my nephew’s birthday as well as my best friend from childhood’s birthday. I always remember my sister’s birthday coincides with the anniversary of the Edmund Fitzgerald (the shipwreck that occurred on Lake Superior on my sister’s sweet 16). I always remember my former housemate and college friend’s birthday, which is on 12/22. And I always remember my high school boyfriend’s birthday is on 12/31. Unlike many people, I don’t need to rely on Facebook to remind me of upcoming birthdays. I guess it’s kind of a weird talent.

I will be turning 51 later this month. I’ve been hemming and hawing about how to mark the occasion. Growing up, my dad’s approach to his birthday every year was a shrug and him saying “Ah, it’s just another day”. Hubs has a similar approach. Neither want to be fussed over. They are humble men.

While I believe it’s admirable to be humble, I feel a weird sense of possibly displaced disappointment when people I care about don’t wish to garner attention on the anniversary of their births. Because I want to lavish them with attention and I want others to lavish attention on them, because dammit, they deserve it!  Your birthday only comes around once a year, right? I think no matter who you are, it’s worth celebrating making it through another year on this planet.

I’ve always had conflicting feelings as my birthday approaches each year. Without a doubt, I always want to celebrate the occasion, as I am a “good time Charlie” who is always up for a party.  Yet, calling attention to myself by reminding others of my impending birthday feels kind of yucky to me (hence the reason I’m not divulging the actual date of my birthday here).  I worry that people will think I am self-absorbed, attention-seeking, and conceited. That maybe they won’t give a rat’s ass but will feel nonetheless obligated to send me a card or wish me a Happy Birthday because I made sure that they were aware it was coming up.

I am not going to throw myself a birthday party. That would be obnoxious. On the other hand, I would also never in a million years discourage a loved one from throwing me a party on my birthday.

I appreciated the strategy some of my former social work colleagues employed on their birthdays: they baked treats and put them in the break room, making sure to send an email to invite everyone in the office to come and enjoy a treat to celebrate their birthdays. I’ve only been in my job for two months now, meaning I’m still under that 90 day ‘probationary period’ so perhaps I should tread carefully and focus on doing the best job I can instead of calling attention to myself just because it’s my birthday and I just so happen to be at work that day. Plus, my boss recently had her 31st birthday (yes, it feels weird that my boss is actually young enough to be my kid), and no fuss whatsoever was made by her or our co-workers that day because she’s humble like my Dad and Hubs. Yes, I work for a humble millennial. They do exist, people!

However, I very much enjoy baking and I am striving to be as kind as humanly possibly every day (see my last post about my new fangled Kindness Jar ), so maybe I should bake something and bring it in to work. It’s not like I’m going to waltz into the office that morning wearing a tiara and a “birthday girl” sash, right?

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About my jar

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As I talked about here, in 2017 I kept a Happiness Jar. It helped me stay positive each day as it forced me to notice all the little and sometimes big things that brought me happiness.  I’m glad I did it. Reading all of my scribbled notes from my Happiness Jar on 12/31 brought back to mind moments that I had forgotten about. Doing this gave me a healthy dose of the warm fuzzies and made me realize what a great year overall it had been for me.

In this post, I grandly proclaimed that 2018 was going to be the year of the “Goodness Jar”.  I thought it would be fun to keep this jar thing going, just in a new way.  My plan was, at the end of each day, I would jot down something I did or said that exemplified “goodness” to me. I started this practice in earnest on 1/1. After a few days, I came to the conclusion that the “Goodness Jar” was not meant to be. It felt like everything I came up with was, for lack of a better descriptor, lame. I found myself obsessing about what “goodness” looks like in my day to day life. The word “goodness” quickly became meaningless. I mean, who am I to determine what “goodness” is? It was all just too much for my 50 year old brain. While I certainly had good intentions, I simply didn’t take enough time to think it through before leaping into it.

So I’m scrapping this idea. Perhaps my jar would be better put to use by using my creative culinary skills to make homemade “hootch” to store in this jar. Perhaps I could bedazzle my jar, stick a candle in it and set it out somewhere as home decor. Perhaps I could fill it with skittles and send it to one of my most favorite bloggers. I think it would help her to get through whatever time is left on the Trump presidency.

As worthy as those ideas may be, I have instead decided to re-christen my former Happiness/Goodness Jar the “Kindness Jar”.  The thing is, the Happiness/Goodness Jar was really all about me. What made me happy. I think it’s time to focus more on others. Like doing something to bring a smile to someone’s face. Or clearly conveying to someone that I see them and hear them and believe they have value in this world.   As long as I resist the urge to overthink it, this might work.

To make this more doable interesting, I’m going to include not just what acts of kindness I believe I bestowed upon others, but the kindnesses that were gifted to me by others. I like the idea of documenting kindnesses both given and received. And while I’m at it, I think I’ll jot down acts of kindness that I simply witness in my every day life, whether it be between co-workers and clients, strangers on the bus, or folks out shopping at the grocery store. The setting matters not, while the actions will.  With this three pronged approach, I figure that I have no option other than to be hyper focused on kindness each and every day.

I recently saw this clip below, and it really resonates with me. I believe my blogging community is chock full of kind-hearted people who just might agree with me.

 

Cheers to kindness, people!