Saturday, November 12, 2016

Thank you! See you in 2017!

Thank you, everyone who participated in my birthday giving countdown. I am so encouraged by the generous hearts of so many people I know.

I don't know the total that we raised together. Right now, for those charities on, we've raised $678 (the page is open until midnight EST tonight if anyone wants to get in a last minute donation.) I'm also waiting until tomorrow for anyone who wants to vote in the decision regarding where I donate the generous gift my mother-in-law sent me. That will be added to the total; I don't know totals for the 7 organizations on Canada Helps, the amount for in-kind donations made, or for donations made to organizations not listed. I am fairly sure it's over $1000.

It was never about totals though. My heart has been so warmed by the number of people who have donated, who have engaged in conversations with me about this project, about different charities and our diverse interests in support, methods of support, the struggle to want to help all but not having the resources to give enough, to give everywhere that we see need, know there is need, in every way (never enough in-kind, not enough time to volunteer everywhere, never enough money.) Yet so many of us are trying to do what we can; all our attempts add up. All our conversations help us keep momentum.
I got to have so many conversations with people at many of the organizations too. It's really been tremendous. We have so many people in the world who care.

There were donations to all the organizations who have alternate methods of collecting funds. There were donations done in-kind to food banks in at least three countries, cloth diaper donations, donations to support people at Standing Rock, among others.

From all areas of my life, people donated. There were friends of Jen's who I have never met who donated. There were friends of mine, women I've known online for over a decade but never met in person, who donated. There were donations from Edmonton, from across Canada, from the US, from the UK, and from New Zealand.

How incredible a feeling it is to share my 40th birthday with so many wonderful people around the world. If I had hosted a traditional party, I could have requested donations in lieu of gifts. I would have missed out on all the interactions internationally, beyond the edges of Edmonton... I would have missed out on making new connections with people at the organizations. There wouldn't have been time to fit in all the conversations in the few hours of a conventional party.

I have really enjoyed this. I have loved everything about the conversations on social media, through email, with people I've bumped into, new people I've met... I sat with an incredibly talented artist at the annual fundraiser for the Nina Haggerty Centre for the Arts; I saw photos of her work on her sister's phone and forged two new friendships. I have someone whose art I would like to add to my collection; I'll be saving to buy one of her glass mosaics.
I feel a stronger sense of hope for our fragile planet, for all of us who, if we share nothing else, share this tiny space in the universe.

Thank you, everyone. Donations, conversations, shared desires to make things better... you made my 40th birthday magical through all this.

I was inspired by, and have felt a growing sense of inspiration,in the words of Shannon Zwicker: Love Is The Answer. I think about her words daily and about the immensely loving impact she made and the legacy she left; it grows. It is not a memory; it is a living legacy that has affected me and helped me confirm and commit to more than I once did (and I know I am not alone in feeling so.) I cannot sign off on this project without acknowledging the profound impact she had on me; she didn't know she did. Her sister Heather, who I've connected with more often in the past two months than every before, her four wonderful children, her sister in law, her husband, her parents; I want them to know. Shannon has become part of my daily thoughts; her philanthropy, her parenting, her embracing of life are things I think about all the time, things I aspire to in a real way. Thank you, Zwickers, Ramsbottoms, and Laura, for being the people who share Shannon's legacy and for your support and kindness, your generosity, as my fledging feet learn to do something of what she had come to perfect.

Love IS the answer. Thank you all for showing and sharing so much of it.


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