We’re a family who strives to live the notion of service being the rent we pay for living.
More than caring about what our Tornado of a girl chooses as a career-path, whether she marries etc we are focused on seeing she’s grateful, giving and realizes “there but for the grace of G-d go I” with regards to her fellow humans.
Two years ago, after watching bloggy friends perform good deeds in honor of birthdays, I suggested to my daughter she do the same to celebrate hers.
Eight mitzvahs to celebrate turning eight.
I let her select what the eight acts would be (as with letting her find her gratitude I surprised myself when I found the letting go challenging).
dog-sitting for a neighbor.
Some acts were easy & fun (play-dates/mom-time) and others forced her entirely out of her comfort-zone (interacting with homeless/introducing herself to new people).
The process, from creation to completion, was an opportunity for me appreciate how she’d matured in the past year.
While (finger quote) people (unFQ) still said tween days of I want! I want! were right around the corner, our celebration of her birthday with a smattering of I give! I give! provided a Helper’s High-filled experience we both benefitted from.
We learned about ourselves, about each other and about what we perceive to be a “need” a good deed could fill.
helping a neighbor get back on his feet.
It was with that backdrop I committed, at her request, to 46 mitzvahs before I turned 46.
These 46 acts of kindness started with a pretty meh birthday in Oakland and will culminate
with sparklers and fireworks tomorrow in Austin.
During the past 364 days of mitzvah’ing I learned:
- It can be challenging to think of NEW NICETIES and not to get repetitious. (I fell back on “if you don’t see a nice person be a nice person” a few times.)
- Kindness is connecting.
- Nothing cures sadness or loneliness more that getting outside of yourself.
- Secrets aren’t inherently bad! Keeping this one has felt like carrying around something special.
- As “giving without recognition” as I’d like to be—there were times I LONGED to see the mitzvah unfold or know what the recipient thought (I followed the Jewish tenet of anonymity).
Tomorrow it’s all over.
I have one act of kindness left–it feels special and momentous for that reason–and I’ve not planned what it will be.
Whether my final mitzvah unfolds as big or small it marks the end of an endeavor, the end of a
longass year and the start of what I hope will be better & brighter 365 days to come.
These 46 acts taught me, yet again, we may be a family who strives to live service is the rent we pay for living but, more often than not, paying our “rent” does far more for us than it does the recipient.
Bea saysJuly 17, 2015 at 4:52 am
Happy Happy Birthday!!
I need to do this before I turn 40.
That’s too many good deeds LOL!
AmyC saysJuly 17, 2015 at 4:52 am
Love this! And her list <3
Your heart must be running over.
MCM Mama Runs saysJuly 17, 2015 at 4:57 am
I love this idea and I know what you mean about sometimes wishing you knew how something actually turned out. I also often find it more challenging to figure out how to give/what to do than I do to actually do it.
Jennifer saysJuly 17, 2015 at 5:54 am
Happy Birthday Carla, you are awesome in every way!
Christine @ Love, Life, Surf saysJuly 17, 2015 at 6:57 am
Happy Happy Birthday my friend! I love this idea and I feel ripe for something along these lines as I approach my big birthday next year. xoxo
Melissa Burton saysJuly 17, 2015 at 7:20 am
i love the expression that “service is the rent we pay for living”. I’ve always believed that being kind and helping others is something one should do but you (as always!) expressed it more eloquently than I ever have.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday and may this year be even more fulfilling than last year.
PS – I also love how you have taught T about service. It will be a part of her as it seems to be a part of you. I hope I have also made this idea the fabric of what makes my son the person that he is as well.
Marcia @ Menopausal Mother saysJuly 17, 2015 at 8:12 am
Happy Birthday! Stepping out of the comfort zone, helping a neighbor….all GOOD things! 🙂
Sagan saysJuly 17, 2015 at 8:26 am
This is a lovely idea 🙂
Rena McDaniel saysJuly 17, 2015 at 8:40 am
Carla, I love the way you parent your lovely daughter. That quote “service is the rent we pay for living” is terrific! I have similar beliefs, but had never heard it put quite that way before. I am storing all of your wisdom away to share with my grandchildren as they get older. This is one I definitely want to do and I’m thinking of making it a family challenge. Apparently I’m supposed to be doing a quote challenge (I’ve been gone for 2 weeks) if you don’t mind I would love to use this one! I’ll link it back to you of course!
Carol Cassara saysJuly 17, 2015 at 8:50 am
What a beautiful thing you are doing with your daughter. I am going to share to get more people exposed to it–smart parenting!
Elle saysJuly 17, 2015 at 8:52 am
Have a wonderful birthday DAY!
Leanne Le Cras saysJuly 17, 2015 at 8:55 am
what a lovely idea – that’s a lot of kindnesses to pass on and really inspiring – I don’t think I’ll manage that many but it will give me something to think about. It’s also a wonderful way to get your daughter thinking of others 🙂
Danielle saysJuly 17, 2015 at 9:05 am
I love this idea and I love how full of experiences her list was as well. What a beautiful and true idea.
Tamara saysJuly 17, 2015 at 9:07 am
I love the way you do this anonymously. So many people who act generously towards others feel the need to showcase their act. Making sure others see them as kind and benevolent too. To me, that action always undermines the original…..
Happy, happy birthday my friend! Here’s hoping I can see your face and say it in person! xo
cheryl saysJuly 19, 2015 at 12:19 pm
Didn’t she just showcase it here? Mine and my daughter’s lives have been filled with things such as those she mentions-but we never felt the need to tell anyone. Just felt good about it…our whole lives are built around service. It’s the only way to live.
Mithra Ballesteros saysJuly 17, 2015 at 9:15 am
That’s quite an accomplishment. I think you are spot-on when talking about how this exercise in goodness can cure sadness or loneliness. Kudos to you and your daughter!
Pam saysJuly 17, 2015 at 9:18 am
Today I think I like you even more Dear Carla. You are a jewel in the ring of humanity. Happy happy BD!!
Jack Sh*t saysJuly 17, 2015 at 9:39 am
C’mon, you know I like to come on here and write funny comments. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO TEASE YOU ABOUT HELPING OTHERS ALL THE TIME? YOU’RE MAKING MY JOB WAY TOO DIFFICult, whoops sorry… caps lock got stuck. Now what was I saying…?
Rebecca @ Strength and Sunshine saysJuly 17, 2015 at 10:00 am
You are one of my favorite people Carla! Always a feel good feeling when I read!
Happy happy happy birthday! XOXO Keep on rockin’ in this new season!
Kristina saysJuly 17, 2015 at 10:31 am
I just love you.
thank you for all you do, and for sharing that world with us. for allowing us to help, too.
cheryl saysJuly 17, 2015 at 11:04 am
yep- daily- for over 40 yrs. of my life-
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others-
Myra saysJuly 17, 2015 at 1:44 pm
You do good deeds
I know it’s true
For years I wanted to be more like you.
You never cease
To try so hard
To do your best
‘Cud just send a card.
You teach us all
With such finess,
That life is meant
To be more than just a witness.
To do and love and cry and complain,
You’re my idol,
Jody - Fit at 57 saysJuly 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm
Really love this Carla!!!! I want to say HAPPY BDAY now since I will be on the run tomorrow & not sure if I will get on here or not PLUS I have been on here less in general due to life & stuff… 🙂
Wishing you the best bday & last act of kindness!!! Truly a wonderful thing.
I am getting caught up in stress life so this might be the thing I need – maybe not 57 but more of the random… 🙂
lindsay Cotter saysJuly 17, 2015 at 2:52 pm
what’s the last act? Did you mention it? I can’t wait to hear about it next week! I’ll be raising my glass to you tomorrow!
Lori saysJuly 17, 2015 at 6:37 pm
Happy happy mitzvah culmination!
mimi saysJuly 18, 2015 at 4:37 pm
Many happy returns of the day! While this year may be over, i know your acts of service are not.
Jess @hellotofit saysJuly 18, 2015 at 6:19 pm
Ahh wishing you a belated happy birthday!! Loved reading about this idea 🙂
Abby @ BackAtSquareZero saysJuly 19, 2015 at 8:21 pm
What an absolutely fabulous idea.