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    My Birthday Experience Registry

    When Mary Shriver turned 55, she realised she'd most like to celebrate her birthday by sharing experiences with friends. So she devised a plan.

    We have all heard it said that as we age, we come to appreciate intimate relationships above all other things in our life. Indeed, at 55, gratitude for my relationships (in fact, gratitude in general) has become a fulcrum for my being. Whether life skews towards the good or the bad, centering in gratitude keeps me present, balanced and happy.

    What I really want is to share more experiences

    Having leapfrogged my 50th birthday due to persistent post-divorce blues, 5 years later at 55 I finally felt ready to celebrate myself. I began to reflect on what/who is important to me. Throwing a big party was my first consideration but, knowing that I wouldn’t really get to spend any intimate time with any one person, I shot down that idea. What came up for me next, almost immediately, was a keen sense that what I really want is to share more experiences with the people I love or people I want to know better.

    Like so many bright ideas, the one that came next lit me up like a ballroom chandelier: Why not create a list of all the things you’ve been dying to do, list them on an interactive spreadsheet (Google doc) and invite the same friends you’d invite to a party to populate the list and join you in some fun?

    Composing the Spreadsheet

    The spreadsheet came together pretty quickly. Here is what I did.

    In the first column, I listed as many local (Los Angeles) activities as I could conjure which either I have always wanted to do or love to do and would like to do again.

    Experiences, Description, Venue, Date, Capacity, Sign Up, Comments

    Column 1: Experiences
    For me, experiences range from simple but obscure things like an Ayurvedic cooking class to more adventurous things like a 3-day yoga retreat or a weekend in wine country.

    Column 2: Description
    In the next column, I wrote a brief description of each event or experience (if it wasn’t already obvious from the title event)
    E.g. Under “Cabin in the Mountains” I wrote, “Let’s rent a remote cabin in the woods for 3 days, buy groceries and cook and hike and walk in nature, explore and sleep in.”

    Column 3: Venue
    Column number 3 is for the “Venue.” In some cases the venue is the same as the event title, like The Getty Museum, but in some cases, like where the event is “a day at the beach,” the field is empty to be filled in by the friend/s. Laguna or Zuma? You choose. You drive. I’ll pack the picnic. 🙂

    Column 4: Date
    The next column, column 4, is for “Proposed Date/s.” This space is for the proposed date, season or timeframe for when the event might be scheduled. Because I am giving myself a full year to enjoy these experiences with friends, the beach thing is likely to happen in the summer whereas the cabin idea might have to wait till winter.

    Column 5: Capacity
    The next column, 5, is Capacity. Not everything needs to be one on one. For experiences like the cooking classes, dance lessons or museums, up to six people could be super fun and could give my friends who have never met each other an opportunity to meet and bond over a similar interest. Contrarily, hikes have a capacity of two (or three if it’s a partnered couple) because I really like to be able to talk and catch up “one on one.”

    Column 6: Sign Up
    Column 6 is where people add their names to the “Yes, I want to do this with Mary” column. This column also lets others know who else is interested, and allows them to decide if they want to join in or not. Once this is filled in, I can reach out to whomever and start planning with them.

    Comments
    The next columns, 7 and 8, hold the fields: “Your Comments” and “My Comments.” This allows for online asynchronous communication.

    Suggestions
    The bottom of the spreadsheet has room for suggestions. A few people have already made suggestions or have initiated experiences which I have never heard or thought of, like
    The Shambala Preserve! Whaaaaa?

    And, one friend has combined 3 experiences into one day and reserved the whole day for just the two of us.

    Overwhelming Response

    But for the small technical issue of my forgetting to make the document “editable” instead of “view only,”  I think I can declare my idea a complete success. Within 24 hours, I received at least a dozen return emails saying, “What a great idea!” “Let me think about it and get back to you” or “You should make this an app!”

    Today, one month later, half the list is populated and I intend to be proactive in my follow up. I’ll keep you all posted.

    Mary P Shriver
    Mary P Shriver
    A trauma-informed somatic stress therapist with a clinical practice in Los Angeles, she is also a writer and an accomplished cook. Originally from NYC, her storied background includes a stint in Las Vegas as a Big Band jazz singer and Director of Public Relations for the Four Season’s Beverly Hills. Contact Mary here: www.shakeoffstress.com

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