Friday, August 3, 2012

The Final "Before 40"

Most of my "Before 40" events have required some planning.  Planning takes time... something I don't always have in abundance.  This final month wasn't looking good.  I was seriously in danger of not completing my Before 40 quest.  The thought of failing to finish was completely ticking me off and making my final month quite stressful, (as if turning 40 wasn't stressful enough!).

My original plan was to sky dive.  I bought the Groupon deal for it months ago.  Then, I started having really bad back pain, and sky diving just didn't seem like a smart thing to do.  I wanted to do something BIG for my final month, but I had no idea what I could do that wasn't physical.  Then, one day while searching online, I found "Free Hugs"...

I immediately loved the idea of personal connection in a time when connecting through social media has become the norm. I believe the human touch is a powerful, healing thing.  The problem was that not many people seemed to agree with me.  I was having a hard time getting anyone on board with my plan.  Even my husband thought I was a nut.  "You want to hug perfect strangers... WHY?"  When I finally found three people who wanted to participate, we couldn't get our schedules to match up even one day this month!  I could have just done it myself, but I felt like two or three people giving out free hugs might be okay, one person giving out free hugs might be seen as a hippie weirdo.  My husband already thinks I've "gone all granola", since I've been eating humus lately, so I didn't want to completely freak the poor guy out.  I was back to square one and running out of time.  I was getting stressed and grouchy.  

One day, when I was driving home from work, I saw that the cars up ahead were stopped.  A couple of cars turned around and went in the other direction.  The car in front of me turned around, and pulled along side of me.  I put my window down and the woman said she would strongly advise me to turn around, because there was an accident up ahead and it looked like it would take a long time to clear it.  I told her, "I really don't know any other way to get home from here!"  She asked where I was headed and said that if I wanted to follow her, she was going a very round about way, but she would go slow so I could stay with her.  I was so touched by her kindness that I wanted to pay it forward in some way, so when I got to the toll booth, I decided to pay the toll for the person behind me.  That is when the idea for my final month was born - twelve acts of kindness (one for each month of my 39th year) in one month.  I wanted to prove to myself and to others that you don't have to have a lot of money to make a difference, so my goal was to do it all for $100 or less.  This is what I did...

1.  Paid turnpike toll for person behind me.  ($1.25)

2.  Jim, Dylan, and I ate dinner at Arby's one night.  When we came out a homeless man came up to me and said he was hungry.  I went back inside and got him a sandwich.  ($3.19)

3.  Dylan and I were at the mall one day.  I rushed forward and held the door for an old lady with a cane.  (The best part of this good deed?  When Dylan saw me do it, he then held the next door for her!  I firmly believe that kids learn more by what we DO than by what we say).  (Free)

4.  I had two ($5 off) coupons for a restaurant that were expiring that day.  I went in, gave the coupons to the first two tables I saw, and then left.  (Free)

5.  Donated $25 to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

6.  Donated $7 to buy a child a book at Jumpstart.

7.  Donated $25 to Shriner's Children's Hospital in Erie, in memory of Doug, (who was a Shriner).  I was lucky enough to tour the hospital with Doug years ago, and see the amazing work they do.

8.  Donated 500 grains of rice by correctly answering 50 questions on

9.  Sent a book to a little boy whose dad died recently (my cousin)... "Help Me Say Goodbye:  Activities for Helping Kids Cope When A Special Person Dies".  ($13.94)

10.  Dropped off two bags of Dylan's clothes that no longer fit at a Planet Aid drop box.  (Free)

11.  Dropped off three bags of groceries at our local Food Pantry. ($18)

12.  Went to, and did the following...

*Clicked to help sponsor 1 child from Children International.
*Clicked to save 7.4 square feet of rainforest through the Nature Conservancy.
*Clicked to protect 11,000 square feet of big cat habitat through The Wildlife Conservation Society.
*Clicked to support life saving breast cancer research through Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
*Clicked to help fund seal hunt observers through the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
*Clicked to protect 100 square feet of ocean through Oceana.
*Clicked to feed a rescued primate through The Jane Goodall Institute.
*Clicked to offset my computer's energy use through
*Clicked to help end violence against women worldwide through Amnesty International.
*Clicked to help adopt and protect threatened wolves through Defenders of Wildlife.

(You can go to the site and just choose one thing to click on and support, or click on each one like I did!  You are allowed to click on each thing once a day).

I did 12 acts of kindness in three weeks for a little under $100, which just proves that you CAN make a difference even if you don't have a lot of time or money.  You just have to do SOMETHING.
Well, that's it folks.  My Before 40 journey has come to an end.  I plan to do one final post to sum up the experience soon, but for now... let the partying begin!!


Brooke said...

I love this one!! I hope you have a fantastic day... Tomorrow, right??

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

You are a beautiful person inside and out.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome! You're inspiring!!

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