Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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My 40th Birthday Reverse Bucket List

109185552Today is my birthday! My…40th birthday! I can’t believe it. How did this happen? Where did the time go? What happens next? Is that a gray hair?

I have lots of questions and very few answers, even after living this long.

But one thing was clear with this impending milestone: It must be celebrated in a BIG way! So, by the time you read this, I’ll be in Spain! I know, right? It’s a country that I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time, and I’m so excited to mark this occasion there (or here, for me, because I’m here/there right now). If you’d like to follow along, you can check out my Instagram or Twitter. Or read my post-trip itinerary.

Another way I’ve been planning to celebrate this particular and monumental event is with a “reverse bucket list.” I picked up that idea from a business coach I follow, Rebecca Tracey, and it seemed very appropriate. I am a perfectionist and list-maker, so I can often get bogged down in the things I have yet to do, am behind on, or missed out on. I didn’t want this birthday to be about that. So, I’m choosing to honor this day a little differently than most might as they hit 40, and also secretly hoping it’ll help me to celebrate the wins along the way more often.

Here’s to the great life I’ve lived so far, those that have shared it with me, and the wonders that are yet to come!

My Reverse Bucket List: (in no particular order)

  1. Started my own business
  2. Traveled internationally
  3. Read the entire Bible
  4. Went skydiving
  5. Went on a mission trip and a humanitarian trip
  6. Lived in New York
  7. Been paid over $100 per hour
  8. Taken a two-week vacation
  9. Been in a movie (extra in Drumline), on a talk show (audience of Talk Back Live and Tyler Perry Show), in the audience for two game shows (Price is Right and Family Feud), and on a podcast (Girlfriend It)
  10. Attended numerous conferences I love
  11. Held an Oscar
  12. Visited my beloved California at least once every year since 2008
  13. Been in the delivery room for the birth of my best friend’s first child
  14. Seen a Broadway play (and sat in box seats!)
  15. Volunteer for a social justice organization
  16. Participated in a breakout on supply chain at an anti-slavery conference
  17. Walked a half marathon
  18. Lived and traveled by myself
  19. Been published in magazines
  20. Sponsor a World Vision child
  21. Was a camp counselor, and made life-long friends
  22. Went to state twice in high school for One Act Play (a Texas thing)
  23. Moved to Georgia after college, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it gave me some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met
  24. Went to counseling for two extended periods of time, something I’d recommend to everyone
  25. Moved away for college, meeting some of the people I still hold closest to my heart
  26. Participate in Lent
  27. Read 40+ books in a year
  28. Purchased a Prius
  29. Made it home to visit family and friends each year for the holidays
  30. Done the major cheesy and fun tourist activities in the cities I’ve lived in
  31. Participate in a fast
  32. Start meditating
  33. Found a mentor
  34. Was baptized and accepted God/Jesus/Holy Spirit
  35. Donate to my missionary friends
  36. Watched all five seasons of Alias in five days—yes, it’s possible!
  37. Learned to cook…somewhat…good enough for me
  38. Had corrective eye surgery
  39. Fought with my words, actions and spending for the rights of others
  40. Started this blog!

 

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2013 As An Abolitionist

photoIt was a big year to be an abolitionist. I really wish I’d been ready for it! There were milestones and celebrations and remembrances—some worldwide, some national and some just for me. Over and over, I was given opportunities to honor the work that has been done, rejoice in the part I’ve played, and prepare for the fight still ahead.

Here’s a look back:

  • 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation
  • 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address
  • 50th anniversary of the March on Washington
  • 50th anniversary of the death of JFK
  • Passing of Nelson Mandela
  • Got more involved with Not For Sale Georgia.
  • Took Out of Darkness training, and began volunteering for Solomon House.
  • Attended Lobby Day.
  • I heard Jason Russell speak for the first time.
  • I heard Mary Francis Bowley speak for the first time.
  • I heard Rebecca Stevens and John Richmond speak, both new to me.
  • Gave $25 to Kiva to help lift someone out of poverty, a factor in those at risk for slavery.
  • Saw Lincoln in the theater
  • Release of the movie, The Butler
  • Release of the movie, 12 Years a Slave
  • I read a lot of great books on the movement.

Overall, it was a good year to be an abolitionist. I feel really confirmed in playing a role to end slavery.

Looking forward to see what 2014 has in store.


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Happy Birthday Doesn’t Even Come Close

131630375Happy 100th post to me! While that is a celebration in itself, I wanted to tell you about something even more special that I was able to be a part of recently. It’s really something worth honoring.

A few weeks ago I attended a birthday party. While at first that may not sound all that exciting, it was unlike any birthday party I’ve ever attended.

It was for a survivor of sex trafficking. And it was her first birthday party ever.

She’s older than I am (I’m a very young 36.), and I’ve never seen such joy at a birthday party. Sure, there’s the six year-old who is super excited to open his new Angry Birds t-shirt, or the teenage girl who squeals while waving around her first iPhone, or the twenty-something who over-shares on Facebook about her birthday cruise. But this experience was pure, unfiltered, full-on thrill. It was one of the greatest days of her life. And it was pretty darn amazing for the rest of us too.

We had the usual—streamers, balloons, flowers, party hats, cake and gifts. But to her, we hosted the Oscars. Everything we did during the party or gave her was like an answer to prayer. There was gratefulness displayed like I’ve rarely seen over such simple things most of us take for grated like a cute watch or a pretty handbag or sweet-smelling lotion or a nice pair of jeans. But for someone who went from having nothing, to personally owning a few lovely things, it was a milestone. She held up her new clothes excitedly saying she would wear them to her very first church service in the morning. Nothing was taken for granted, and everything opened a new conversation full of hope and a different future.

Funny enough, one of her favorite things was the balloons. She said she loved balloons and always wanted one of her own, so she was excited to take them to her room afterward along with her gifts. And she didn’t open our cards in public, but instead tucked them neatly inside her pretty little purse and told us she would read them when she was feeling lost or scared or alone. She said they would comfort her in desperate times when her past would creep back into her thoughts. Our words would communicate love when our arms couldn’t be there to embrace her. It was so ordinary and so extraordinary all at the same time.

We laughed with her and cried with her, and drank in every second of her. She couldn’t believe we would do anything like this for her. She’s been used and abused her whole life, and in many ways still showed the scars.  She animatedly talked about her brand new faith, and asked questions and shed tears when she remembered God would always be there to listen to her. She said if she’d only known that before, she would’ve started talking to him long ago.

Before we all left, we prayed with her because this was a birthday in so many ways. It was a landmark occasion. It was a symbol of a new future. It was a party for leaving “the life” behind and entering a new one. It was a day just for her.

“Happy” birthday just didn’t do it justice, and I’m not sure any words ever would. But I know I’ll never quite look at birthdays the same way again, and I certainly hope I get to attend a few more like that. I also hope I can make mine more meaningful. I plan to make my birthday as much of a happy day for me as those around me, and those I can help like her. And that would certainly be worth celebrating.