Sunday, October 2, 2016

Countdown to Kim's 40th. 40 Charities in 40 Days!

I'm turning 40 on November 11th.

I wanted to do something to mark the occasion.

I had planned a birthday party; I'd planned it in great detail. It was going to be themed 40 Things I'm Not Supposed To Do Because I'm 40 But We're All Gonna Do Them Anyway.
There was going to be:

  • splashing in puddles (via kiddie pools with water because it's November and CANADA)
  • a "money cake"
  • pin-the-tail on the donkey
  • a Lego station with scads of bricks
  • eating donuts off a string
  • Twister
  • punching balloons
  • hula hoops
  • streamers
  • a piƱata
  • a whole list of, well, a total of 40 fun, fanciful, nostalgic activities, edibles, or items
It was going to be SO MUCH FUN.

But the closer it got, the more real it got. The more real it got, the more I realized how many people there would be, how many things there would be to manage: liquor license & adherence to it, each activity, control over who entered the community hall, hosting well (ie. making sure to talk to everyone and making sure they all were having fun and making sure they all had people to whom they could talk,) ensuring I didn't miss anyone on the invite list, ensuring there was sufficient food, drink, drinky-drinks, keeping the children happy (mine and those of friends,) and, in terms of my anxiety, the hugest deal-breaker... being socially ON for fourteen hours.
I realized there was no possible way I would have any fun at all. I would be franticly trying to ensure everyone else had fun, everyone else had food, everyone was OKAY, that rules were being followed so the liquor licensing people wouldn't slap me with a birthday fine, that the community hall didn't get TOO messy because it would need to be clean for inspection by noon the next day.
Not fun. Stress. Anxiety. Full on dread.
It increased the closer the event came (keeping in mind it's still almost two months away.)

I cancelled. I couldn't face hosting MY event. I've hosted events for work. That's no big deal. Being the centre of attention is never comfortable for me; work functions, large or small, have never been about me, even if I conduct them, even if I stand in front of massive groups of people. An event ABOUT me? I simply couldn't fathom how I would cope with the attention, as much as I want to see every person I invited and every person I hadn't yet invited. (With all due respect and apologies to anyone who has experienced the pain of death of a loved one, I am so glad I'll be dead for my funeral. I won't have to feel any of that anxiety.)

I still want to do something for my big 4-0 though. A childhood friend with whom I have very minimal contact has been having, organized by her family, a countdown to 40. She's two weeks older than me. I counted 40 days from my birthday and realized it's the day my partner, Jen, starts her incredible new job as Manager of Programs and Services at iSMSS (Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services,) October 3. Something about the coincidence of that timing, about Maria's birthday countdown, about wanting to mark my birthday, and happening to be looking at a website for donations as wedding gifts (my brother is getting married on October 22, my grandpa's birthday and Jen's and my anniversary.)

It was one of those whirling special effect cyclone-spinnning-dizzy-so-much-brightness-all-the-colours SLAM of a realization that I could have an online birthday party with donations as gifts.

Less stress. No gifts (I have no needs; my wants are first-world irrelevancies.) A chance to chat, online, maybe in person, maybe through a comment, with myriad people but not face being the centre of attention, not face everything involved in hosting a huge party.

Most of all, when I picked myself up off the floor this morning having been levelled by the Hollywood special effect realization, I could use my monumental birthday to ask people to be part of monumental change.



I will publish on this blog and post a Facebook event simultaneously on October 3, 40 days from my 40th birthday. All 40 charities I want to support through the celebration of my birthday will have a post. Aside from the first charity and the last*, they will be in no particular order. My friends and family can donate as they wish. Some ideas keeping 40 in mind are:

  • give $40 to one of the 40 charities I want to support
  • give an amount of your choice each day to one of the 40 charities I have selected, culminating in you having made 40 donations to 40 charities
  • give $1 a day to 1 listed charity, culminating in $40 spread over 40 charities
  • give to all 40 charities, all on my 40th birthday, whatever amount you choose
However, I also urge anyone to give however they want and in the manner and amount they can. Many of the charities I have chosen take in-kind donations, second-hand donations, and seek volunteers.

I would LOVE to hear from all my family and friends in the time frame of October 3 - November 11. A note on this blog, a message on Facebook, an email, something hand-written that you pop in the mail or in my mailbox... just some connection with all of you who mean so much to me. If you participate in donating in any fashion, I would love to know anything you'd be willing to tell me about your donation(s.) I don't need to know amounts; the whys are of interest to me. You'll hear/read why each charity/non-profit (not each one has charitable status) means something to me and why I want to support it in honour of my birthday. I'd like to hear what you think. I'd like to hear who you support and why. I'd like to hear what you think of my way of celebrating my birthday.

I'm looking forward to it. I hope some of you are able to chat in person with me, drop by for a coffee/tea/sparking water/glass of wine/thimble of scotch (just a few at a time... drinks and people ;) )

Happy Not Yet Birthday To Me!

The other 38 charities all have places in my heart and meaning to me. They will not appear in a hierarchical order; I will feed them into a randomizer to ensure equality in the order they appear. All the charities will be listed in the sidebar when this blog goes live. Each day, there will be a post about a particular charity: what it means to me, why I've included it, some information, or other variations. They won't be long, unless I feel they need to be.

So, on October 3, you will be able to see the 40 charities I'm supporting. Each day I'll highlight one.

*October 3rd, the charity of the day will be iSMSS to mark Jen's first day of her new job and embarking on new, exciting adventures in her career, ones that can change lives for so many of us in the LGBTQ2+ community in Alberta and beyond.
November 11th, my 40th birthday, the charity of the day will be John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights for two reasons. The first is that my birthday falls on Remembrance Day; I hope deeply that I will see peace and the recognition of all human rights in my lifetime extending to all generations who follow, the dream so many had when war was supposed to have been over forever on a November 11, almost 100 years ago. The second is that the John Humphrey Centre holds a special place in my heart, yes, in part because I was born on a day when people think of war and it's horrors and I desperately want peace and, yes, because I and people I care about have faced human rights violations that I know don't begin to compare to the human rights violations people elsewhere have faced (with violence and death.) I also love the John Humphrey's Centre because it connects my present, I know and value people at the Centre, with my childhood; an annual award is given in the name of a man who, as a child, was just my friend's dad. I didn't know that when other parents went to work selling insurance, cement, keeping accounts, pricing garments at Woodwards', Mr. Gall (Dr. Gall, I never heard him called that in life) went to work to change the world, fighting for human rights as a Professor of Law at the University of Alberta and as a founding member of the John Humphrey Centre.

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