Creating a Tradition of Good Deeds on Birthdays

I believe in Karma.

The word Karma comes from Eastern religions such as Hindu and Buddhism. The literal translation is "action" or "deed," but it is understood as that which causes an entire cycle of cause and effect. Although its origins are ancient, it has been solidified in popular culture as a single word to imply--you get what you give, you reap what you sow, or for those (like me) who speak fluent Beatles; in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

This philosophy makes perfect sense to me. I believe deep within my core that everything we do (and even think) has an invisible force or energy attached to it. I believe that energy affects the entire world in ways we will probably never understand.

When my first child was born I decided to jump through hoops and endure the extra blood tests so that I could donate the stem cell enriched, umbilical cord blood to a local university. I did this for three reasons. The first, is because I believe in modern science and its abilities to save lives. I know that the stem cells found in umbilical cord blood are some of the very best for people who need stem cell transplants for cancers like leukemia. My greatest hope was that this byproduct of the birthing process would give someone else a second chance at life, and that was essentially my second reason--a wish, really. I hoped that the biological tether that tied me and my daughter together, the thread that gave her life could be woven back into all of life's fabric as something positive, renewing, and life-sustaining; that the moment she entered this world, she would be a force for good, an act of kindness, an energetic spark of good deeds and good karma.

This year my daughter turned three and I threw her a butterfly themed birthday party.  I ordered live caterpillars from an online company three weeks prior to her party. Over those three weeks we watched them grow into fat caterpillars, form their chrysalids, and then emerge as butterflies. At her party, in spite of the grabby, sugar-fueled grasps of toddlers, we released them safely into the sky. It was an impossibly adorable, highly memorable moment that left the girls in awe.

We also had a pinata, face-painting and butterfly-shaped snack bags. It was all a little indulgent for a three-year-old but you're only three once, right? In the midst of the frantic preparations I ran to the store for last-minute items. When I got there, there were teenagers out front collecting food for a local charity supporting homeless families. Although I was in a rush, I took their flyer with a smile and promptly shoved it to the bottom of my overflowing handbag.

As I darted up and down the aisles I was struck by a profound thought; a whisper in my ear, really. One of those moments of shear clarity. Here I was buying organic blueberries for rainbow-colored fruit skewers for a gaggle of three-year-olds who were probably only going to eat the cupcakes anyway, when there were entire families in need of basic things like toothbrushes and soap. I bought the soap. I also bought many other items on their list.

As mothers often do on their childrens' birthdays, I had been remembering the day my daughter was born. I remembered the first donation made in her honor; the spark of good, the act of kindness. I decided then and there that this was going to be our family tradition.

Each year, on my children's birthdays, we are going to find a way to give back. We are going put forth a conscious effort to honor the gifts we have been given in this world by giving of ourselves to others. We are going to give, sow, create and produce positive energy and good karma.

Later that day when the five butterflies fluttered away above our heads and into the sky I said a silent prayer. I prayed that the good deed of donating food to those in need, and the action of caring for and releasing the little butterflies into the world, would find its way back to us, to my daughter, really. And when it did, she would continue to do more good deeds and perform greater acts of kindness. That as a family we could create a never-ending circle of giving and getting love in the world.

Isn't that what every parent wants for their child? A legacy of goodness?   (click to tweet)

Yes. I believe that everything we do matters. And even if we never understand the reason, there is always a reason. Because I believe Sir McCartney when he sings, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

And if you're wondering what my third reason for donating the umbilical cord blood was... recycling. I also believe in recycling.

It's good karma.

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