4 reasons why the remaining days of August are special

The month of August easily wins the title of the month with most birthdays. This last week of the month I am one of those blessed to have appeared on the world stage in August, well over half a century ago. Growing up in a village on the slopes of Kilimanjaro our birthdays were different from what I am observing this week. In those days, birthdays were baptism anniversaries grounded in church observations and celebration. Many years later, I still remember with nostalgia that first birthday when I switched from a church-oriented observance to today’s more temporal indulgencies.
 It is not my golden birthday. That too was many years ago. Neither am I particularly ready to exit the world stage on my birthday even though that would put me in that special group with William Shakespeare. But there are four things I am looking forward to that will shape my worldview on my birthday and moving forward.

1. Women’s Equality Day

I regard it a privilege that my birthday is on Women’s Equality Day. It’s been 98 years since the adoption of Women’s Suffrage. 98 years is a long time and women’s equality appears to me as elusive as it was between 1840–1920. My prayer on this day — my birthday — is for change of mindset that will help speed up the time when women, half the human population, assume their rightful position in society. In this part of the world, I am inspired on this birthday, by all the women who have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate that they are no longer accepting being relegated to subordinate (and sometimes subservient) status.
 But, this is humankind’s aspiration. I look forward to join in solidarity with all who are committed to the aspiration. A luta continua.

2. National Safe at Home Week

For my birthday, I am connecting in a more practical way with the spirit of the National Safe at Home Week {August 22–26). It’s easy to be negligent or even languid in the belief that home is the safest place — and it is. As special caution, beginning this week, I am resolved to practice daily the recommendations set out in various guides for the National Safe at Home Week. One caution in particular, according to the National Safety Council, falling, mostly at home, is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among all age groups, but it is the number one cause of death for people 65 years and older. During the past six months, a friend from bible study has become an even closer friend because of moments of visitation while she recuperated at a rehab facility after she fell at home. Research shows that aging itself does not cause falls. Furthermore, it is not seniors alone who are prone to injuries and fatal risks at home. Accidental poisoning and drowning in the home swimming pool are among the major risks for children. And it is good to remember everyone faces the risks of house fires and the banana peel.

This is not to say that I’m adopting an attitude of premonition. On the contrary. Seniors who live in fear of falling simultaneously reduce their quality of life. But awareness should not translate into fear. I’m looking forward to encouraging living courageously and in awareness. In particular, the experience with my bible study friend shows that something positive can come out of difficult and even painful experiences. It is a lesson I’ll share with anyone challenged by experiences like my friends, whether they are victims of accidents or family members and friends who will step up to be available for various needs.

3. National Humankind Week (August 25–31)

So, the week of my birthday challenges me — and I hope, you too- to be kind to humankind. Yes, be kind to humankind, not only family members (even though more so with family) but I’m striving to see all humanity as family. Beginning with being, kindness is also active. If I can project kindness to another human being, who knows, it may cause a ripple effect that spreads to all of humankind. It will be terrific if on this occasion, I fully embrace Mahatma Gandhi’s advice to be the change I wish to see in the world. I need not be apologetic admitting that, as human beings, we are becoming more and more fragmented. Maybe we belong to groups of people who think like us and share similar ideologies. May be the people we pray with are exactly like us. Yet that is not representative of humanity.

As I observe my birthday I am resolving to adopt a more inclusive worldview that celebrates diversity of humanity. That is possibly the only perspective that embodies kindness to humankind.

4. National Cherry Popsicle Day {August 26}

Now, that is sweet, is it not. Cherry popsicle happens to be my favorite summer treat. I salute the wonderful popsicle lovers who conceived the idea to designate my birthday a special day for the treat. More than that, the cherry popsicle, accidentally invented by an 11 year old, serves to remind me of the many sweet surprises of life. That every day is a potential for something new, something truly amazing, something great and not pre-planned. Furthermore, we are coming to the end of summer. If you are not running already, you’ll probably be joining the rat race soon. Bu that is no reason not to have fun and be cheerful. Enjoy a popsicle on this special day and keep the summer memories fresh. What if you are not an August 26er? No problem. You don’t have to be, but the season will change and change of seasons triggers mood changes, including a kind of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I am at risk for depression even without change of seasons. I’m going to face the change of seasons prepared and motivated by a mindset of the four influences.

Regardless, nobody wants the experience of depression in the fall. Not with all the demands awaiting. We need energy and adequate sleep. We don’t want depression to steal that away. We want to be active and being who we are made to be. Enjoy a cherry popsicle for the journey ahead.

Originally published at joelmlayblog.wordpress.com on August 21, 2018.