Winters, especially January, have been difficult for me living in the Pacific Northwest. January 24th or the third Monday in January, referred to as Blue Monday, are often known as the most depressing days of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, my birthday happens to be January 20th and falls right smack in the middle of the dreary depressing doldrums I have frequently experienced. I do not inherently dislike my birthday, but I do dislike how I feel during Januarys in Portland. Over the past few years, I have done numerous things to celebrate my birthday throughout the month of January in an effort to stave off the Seasonal Affective Disorder that can take over my life. Staying engaged and connected has become a huge part of my survival strategy. Last year, I turned 40 and I had a fun birthday party at a local pub with a huge game room full of free games and supportive friends. I've held roller skating gatherings several years in a row at Oaks Park, our local wooden floored rink and one of the largest in the country. I've hosted New Year's vision boarding sessions, wine, chocolate and crafting parties, and other events, plus planned a myriad of gatherings for tea or Thai food with friends.  Then there's the little fact that every four years my birthday falls on Inauguration Day. Given the current hate-filled political environment in the US, my mood has been on the rocks even earlier and longer than typical. This year I have been feeling the need for something more to help pull me out of the quagmire. Something EPIC in its positivity and connection boosting potential! A conversation with one of my bestie's Christine, who is ever striving for positivity and connection and a role model of mine, led to this idea - SPREAD THE LOVE!

The idea is simple; an effort to be the change I want to see in the world - I want to see more LOVE! More COMPASSION. More UNDERSTANDING. More CONNECTION.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”  
— Mahatma Gandhi

So my ask for my birthday and for 2017 and beyond is that we make an effort to BE LOVE and SPREAD LOVE.

Simple - Be nice. Do good deeds. Whether small random, anonymous acts of kindness or ginormous, visible acts of love. Recognize others being and spreading love. And if you would like, share the story with me, I will share it with the world. But just knowing that others are out there looking for opportunities to be loving and kind is enough. I know people will take part even if you don't report back. Or better yet people I know are already doing this daily without fanfare. To that I say YES!!! The goal is not recognition for recognition's sake. The purpose is to share more love and uplift our collective energy. I know that I am not the only person who struggles.

Once-upon-a-time I was much more involved politically. An out spoken advocate and ally, especially in college, but over the years I have realized that my health and tender-heart cannot always undertake advocacy in the same way today. Or even in the ways that I often would like. Sometimes I have a difficult time with that reality. Yet, instead of feeling bad about the things I cannot do or cannot change I am choosing to do something I know that I can. This is a small, but powerful way I can create change; where I can take my power back and help others at the same time.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead

I can live by example. I can be grateful. I can be loving. I can give compliments. I can use my privilege to stand up for others. I can use the internet and social media to lift people up. I can use my life and my relationships to bring understanding and connection.

So join me! Spread LOVE! For my birthday and beyond. And if you feel so inclined share your story with me. You can also check out the movement on Facebook and Instagram.