When I turned 40, six months ago, I wanted to do something special to celebrate, and honestly, to prepare. For the 40 days leading up to my birthday I created a 4-part daily practice of moving, reflecting, playing and connecting.
I thought I'd share it with you in case you'd like to try it. You could do it for any number of days (I picked 40 because I was turning 40), and during any time of transition: birthday, anniversary, moving, new job, end of a job or relationship, start of a new relationship, engagement, marriage, pregnancy, birth, a change in your parenting role, etc.
For the 40 days leading up to my birthday, I picked one thing to do each day that engaged my body, mind, heart and soul: moving, reflecting, playing and connecting.
Moving: I spend a lot of time sitting at the computer each day, which is unhealthy on so many levels, so I made a commitment to move in some way every day. My movement usually took the form of either yoga, walking, a dance fitness class taught by my friend Heather, or a ShimmyPop! class at a local belly dance fitness studio, Hipline.
Reflecting: I'm a big journal writer, so this was an easy one for me. Still, if I have early morning meetings, or deadlines to meet, I'll skip my journal time, which is never a good thing for my well-being. Inspired by The Artist's Way's Morning Pages, I committed to free-writing three pages in my journal each day.
Playing: This was actually the hardest thing for me to do. Do something purely for the fun of it? No larger purpose? No connection to my lengthy to-do list? It was also the most rejuvenating. Inspired by a Speaking of Faith interview with Stuart Brown, the author of Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, I committed to playing every day, which took many forms. I crafted, baked, watched funny TV shows, spent time with the hubs, saw friends, went to the movies, and danced. Many times my playtime also integrated with my movement and connection time.
Connecting: To me, the essence of "doing good" is making and honoring real connections. When we realize that we are all connected, how can we be cruel to other people, animals and the natural world? You can make connections in so many ways like: talking on the phone, sending a letter or email, spending time with someone, organizing a community gathering, volunteering, playing with your pet, being in nature, saying a prayer, and being a good listener.
Because I love getting and receiving letters, I committed to writing one letter each day to tell someone how they had made a positive impact on my life. Some of the people I'd known for years, and some I'd met recently. They were friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.
I tried to let the recipients of the letters evolve organically. A couple of times I had dreams about people who I hadn't heard from in a long time, so I wrote to them. In both cases, the people wrote back and told me about challenges they were going through that I don't think I would have known about if I hadn't written them a letter. I also began painting my own cards and postcards, which integrated with my play time.
Connecting was the richest part of my 4-part practice, but ultimately, all of the parts began to flow into each other. When I recorded in my journal how I had moved, reflected, played and connected each day, my actions often fit into more than one category.
By the end of my 40 days I felt energized. Ready for the big day. Most importantly, I felt more connected to myself, and to the people who had made me who I was after 40 years.
I am going to start another 40 days of Daily Have Fun Do Good Practice starting on my half birthday, February 19th, and ending on March 30th. If you decide to try it to honor a time of transition you are experiencing, let me know how it goes.
I'd also love to hear about your daily practices.
Photo of Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting taken by me. These are probably the most delicious cupcakes I've ever made, and I've made a lot. The recipe is from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero. Making cupcakes definitely falls in the Play category, and if you share them, into the Connect category too!