Wednesday, July 08, 2009

How Do You Have Fun and Do Good on Your (Gasp, 40th) Birthday?

People have started to ask me how I'll be celebrating my 40th birthday next month: Will I be having a party, or a day of solo contemplation? Will I go on a fabulous trip, or stay home with friends? And what would I like for gifts, or do I want gifts at all?

I haven't entirely decided how to celebrate the big day, and would love your ideas about how to celebrate your birthday in a way that is fun and makes a difference.

In his post, What Should I Do On Your Birthday? Seth Godin writes:

"With all due respect to Hallmark, the idea of sending people cards and presents on their birthday seems both selfish and small-minded. It seems to me that we could think bigger. . . .

. . . On my birthday, it would make me really happy if people started a project, launched an idea or engaged in a difficult interaction that made something good happen. Make a difference day."
I know a lot of people have been using the Causes Birthday Wish Facebook application to ask friends to donate to their favorite nonprofit. I may go that route, but I have to tell you, it kinda gets on my nerves when I receive an email every time my friend receives a donation. On the other hand, the application seems to be making a difference according to Susan Gordon's post, $1 Million Donated Through Birthday Wish! on Causes Exchange.

Thing is, I feel like I should be doing something to have fun and do good on my birthday, not necessarily asking other people to do something in honor of my birthday.

For example, Adrian Reif chronicled his "birthday challenge" on his blog, aptly named, Adrian's Birthday Challenge. Inspired by an article about birthday fitness challenges in Backpacker Magazine, Adrian decided to celebrate his 24th birthday with a physical and mental challenge, and a fundraiser for the Nashville Rescue Mission. During the 24 hours of his birthday he challenged himself and his friends and family to:
  • 24 miles of bike riding
  • 24 kilometers (14.9 miles) of running
  • 24 boulder problems (rock climbing routes without a rope)
  • 240 total of push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups - (100 sit-ups, 90 push-ups, 50 pull-ups)
  • 240 Frisbees caught and thrown (it takes two! i need your help)
  • 8,760 seconds of reading (1 for each day I’ll have been alive)
  • 24 songs listened to from 1985
  • 24 - # of strangers to meet and learn their names
  • 24 hugs to different people (this means you, too!)
  • 24 spoken Chinese phrases (leaving for China in February)
  • 24 cupcakes shared with friends
He also raised over $1,000 in donations.

What ideas do you have for how to celebrate your birthday in a way that is fun and makes a difference?

Flickr Photo Credit: Happy Birthday to ME! uploaded by *spudballoo*
Cross-posted from

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  1. Fun post Britt for my 40th I raised over $1000 for favorite cause using Facebook Causes and then debuted our garage band, Old Coal (made up of other 40 somethings rediscovering their musical pasts) at local club to benefit the local school's music program.

  2. Wow. $1,000! That's impressive. I really like that you had an online and offline component to your celebrations. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi B! As you know, I just turned 39. I committed to a 30 day yoga challenge (which has overflowed goodness to my family and heart), I threw a big community dance party, to celebrate life and I chose 2 sacred symbols (that represent my life purpose and deepest values) to have tattooed on my forearms. I intend to utilize these visual anchors to inspire me daily to contribute my greatest gifts to the world as I continue to "have fun and do good." happy Birthday, girl!
    Go get it!

  4. I love the 30 day yoga challenge for yourself + the community party to celebrate with other people. I've been taking this incredibly fun ShimmyPop class and was trying to figure out how it might fit into the celebrations . . .

  5. Good - and timely - post, Britt! I'll brainstorm some ideas for both of us... though I have to tell you I'm leaning towards fleeing the country and pretending it never happened.

  6. What a fun class! Maybe in your fabulous way, you can invite them to do a summer special...Like our 30 classes in 30 days, at a super affordable $90 bucks! That way you can dance, cool is that! I truly believe that dance makes the whole world a better place.

  7. I've recently started a tradition of giving a gift or writing a thank you note to my parents on my birthday, to thank them and honor them for giving me life. Without our parents, none of the good we do or the fun we have would be possible!
    Have a happy birthday!

  8. That's a great idea! My birthday is coming up...only 29th but still...I'll have to give this some thought.

  9. Monaluna - Are you turning this year too? I always think you are younger than me (:

    Gabriela - While I was at class yesterday I was trying to figure out if there was a way to connect ShimmyPop and Women for Women International ... haven't quite figured it out.

    Cindyc - That is a lovely idea and one I might have to steal!

    Helby - 29 is a big one. I think that year before a big birthday is sometimes more momentous than the actual year of the b-day. I know 39 has felt that way.

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