(REQUEST: In honor of my birthday, would you please humor me and read (or skim) a slightly longer post than usual? Yes- ok great- thanks for my birthday gift!! )
I am SO excited about turning 40! Seriously, I’m not kidding, I really am.
Yep! Today is my birthday! I know that today will be absolutely perfect, because I am blessed with the most amazing group of people I get to call family and friends. I’ll have tons of emails, calls, texts, messages and cards and I will cherish every single one of them. I love that in the last few years, my birthday has become a day to celebrate all the good things and people in my life and I’m excited to spend the next few days with my husband (who I haven’t seen in a few weeks due to lots of travel on both our parts) and sweet friends who have proved their friendships are the “real deal” as they’ve walked through some tough times with us (yep we are traveling again- but only for the weekend and it’s the last time this year- I promise:) AND a HUGE shout out to all our amazing (and often-used) dog and house sitters who keep our boys happy and our house safe!
Now before you all go checking your calendars or wondering if you really are losing it, it’s true, I’m only turning 39 but I’m pretty excited about that too. Because I’ve decided that 40 really is the new 20, or 30 or whatever age you think is the coolest, and I am embracing this whole next year- all 365 full days on my way to celebrating 4 full decades on this earth. I’ve got some pretty cool things planned and in the days to come, I’ll be sharing more about how exactly I’m going to celebrate this year, but not today.
Nope, today I’ve decided there’s no better day to give you the long-awaited (humor me) and promised part 2 of my Amazing Average post. You may remember that I took some time to celebrate learning to be ok with being average and it was so cool to hear of how that resonated with some of you guys! I would LOVE if we could take the world by storm with our amazing “average-ness”…which leads me to the point of today’s post.
What I’ve discovered during this journey towards celebrating average is that the great majority of us won’t ever have the influence of Bill Gates, or Rick Warren or Paul Farmer. We won’t have unlimited money, resources, contacts and influence to change the world in the way we would if we did and could. But what I’ve also realized is that that’s ok, and it shouldn’t stop us from changing our world one person, conversation, kindness, moment at a time.
It shouldn’t stop us from doing what we can do, when we can do it, where we can do it, as we can do it. Because the truth is, it’s only one second of time that ever changes things for the better- one smile, one helping hand, one word of encouragement, one dollar, one idea, one action. Earlier this year, my friend Mary sent me this article from the New Yorker magazine that talked about this idea from a medical standpoint, and I think if it applies there, it applies pretty much anywhere. The truth is, medicine is ONE of my spheres. It may or may not cross over with any of yours, and that’s ok- because we need all of us, with all of our unique conglomeration of spheres to change this world. (Bear with me, it’s my birthday, I’m using optimism, superlatives and exclamation points liberally today)!! (see?)!
This series is an idea that’s been floating in and out of my mind and life for the last year and has been confirmed time and time again as I’ve seen the effect that one amazing average person can have when they just “do their thing”- whatever that thing is. I could give you tons of examples, and that’s just what I’m going to do in the weeks and posts to come, as I make this a regular post. I’m going to introduce you to people- my friends and family and people I’ve met once and people I’ve never met- people who are changing their little piece of the world one person at a time. Whether it’s medicine or music, mommy-ing or mamba-ing, mentoring or multi-tasking, I promise there will be someone like you that I celebrate. You will hear about moms and artists, writers and teachers, speakers, doctors and crusaders and everything in between. They are spread out all over the world and doing all kinds of amazing things and they inspire me every day to do better. Not necessarily to do MORE but to do better with what I do, where I am.
Since I’ve started thinking about things in this way, it’s opened up a whole new world of meaning and activity and purpose and I am excited to help connect people with others who are doing what they could do, want to do, like to do- dream of doing. My hope is that you will connect with someone- more than one someone even, and that you will be inspired to BE someone who does the most with what you have. Just to be very clear, I’m talking about THINKING SMALL, about actually avoiding the temptation to think too big. I’m talking about thinking about what you can do, who you can partner with, what small change you can make in your little corner of the world. Then, what I sincerely hope is that you’ll share those things with others. With me and those around you. I’d love to hear about people I should showcase and celebrate and about the ways you’ve found to celebrate your amazing average-ness by doing what you can where you are.
In deciding who would be the perfect first person to showcase, I had my pick from over 25 right off the top of my head and they would all be perfect – so much so that I was stuck on how to even begin. However when I got an email from one of my favorite Amazing Average businesses, who is incidentally also celebrating their birthday this week, that seemed pretty perfect. So, a full 851 words into this post, (which is where I should be ending, right all you awesome blogger friends?), I introduce to you the subject (object?) of my second Amazing Average Post!
Have you heard of them? Yes? No? Well- seriously go and check them out (you can do that by clicking on their name above) and I promise you will be inspired. They are an amazing company started by an amazing average guy- Barrett Ward- who saw how extreme poverty was forcing an extraordinary number of young women in Ethiopia to make awful choices to earn money. He realized that these women wanted to be empowered with opportunity, not dependent on charity, so he created a company with an amazing(ly simple) mission: to create sustainable business for Africans so they aren’t dependent upon charity, but instead earn the dignity of a job.
It’s been shown that when given a job, women spend 90% of their income on their families and the impact of this has an exponential effect on their children’s health, nutrition and welfare. FashionABLE’s initial vision and partnership started with 3 women and has grown to involve 30 women who make beautiful hand-woven scarves and leather goods. Their recent expansion to involve leather crafts enables them to further fight poverty in their local area by supporting fair wages and fair hiring practices for women and by keeping manufacturing local, all of which helps decrease dependence on charity.
I would love for you to take the 2 minutes while your coffee is brewing (and we’ve established previously that EVERYONE drinks coffee, right??) to watch this video they are releasing especially in celebration of their third birthday. If you want the two minutes back afterwards, please let me know and I’ll find some way to make it up to you (that’s how confident I am).
If you feel inspired, motivated or led to share the video or website- please do- share it with all your friends. If you’d like to buy a quality product for yourself or a friend, then by all means do that too. Each product is named after one of the women supported by FashionABLE and comes with a note telling you what your purchase makes her “ABLE” to do. It’s an inspiring addition to your wardrobe or a perfect gift with a truly deep meaning. I know that every time I wrap one of my FashionABLE scarves around my neck, I think of the life it represents and the person who gave it to me (love you Renee’)!! I think about my work and the purpose and dignity it brings me (I’m not just saying this- I really have committed to doing that).
Just to be clear, I get absolutely nothing if you watch the video, share the link, buy a scarf or buy the whole dang supply of scarves. In fact, I would argue you SHOULDN’T do any of those things unless you want to. In fact THE WHOLE POINT of this new series (how cool! I officially have a series!) is that each of us can do what we can do, where we are, as we feel motivated and inspired. I won’t always be sharing a product for sale with you, but my hope is to have some small way you can partner with the featured Amazing Average subject. That’s because I have a suspicion many of you- like me- have not done a lot you COULD do because you are thinking too big. Thinking if you can’t do something REALLY monumental or life-changing or news-making, then what you CAN do doesn’t matter much. But the truth is, every scarf we buy, even hour we volunteer to tutor a kid, every dollar we give to a charity that speaks to our heart, every prayer we send up and every conversation we stop to listen to can make a difference that can change a life- and many times it’s OUR life that is changed by the action.
So how about it, for my birthday present, will you do something amazingly average- or celebrate someone who does, in some way? And then be sure and tell me about it!
Happy Birthday FashionABLE!