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For My Birthday


This year, for my birthday, I wanted to write up a list of charities and foundations and organizations that I wish I could donate money to, like: Alley Cat Allies, North Shore Animal League America, The Anti-Defamation League, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and on and on. But I feel overwhelmed by all of the rights I want to protect. I’ve been exhausted lately and maybe that’s why the fear hit me so hard after the election. I know how little energy I have left, to fight for my rights and my safety, and I just wanted someone else to take care of it. Some people are out protesting, and others are donating money to good causes, and still others are signing up for newspaper subscriptions online, to support actual journalism over the fake news we’ve gotten used to in our post-factual world. I want to do all of those things, except the protesting. It just looks so exhausting to have to walk through the city like that. Maybe if I had a golf cart…


“I’m good here, Mom. You go without me.”

I’d love to support an organization that helps people of all ages learn how to volunteer in their communities. This has been a lifelong difficulty for me. Where can I volunteer? Who wants my help? How can I find them? More often than not I feel rejected before I even apply, because the brochures are so complicated, and the application process makes me feel unqualified. I know there are groups for kids and teenagers that encourage them to volunteer, I just wish there were more of them, and that they were more sensitive to the less outgoing and confident among us.

I’d love to support an organization that brings pets to home-bound seniors, as well as seniors in nursing homes and rehab centers. Not everyone can take care of a pet full time, but everyone deserves the chance to absorb some of the joy my dogs bring to me.

I’d love to see better education, for everyone, about the services available at the local, state, and federal level, to help people in need – so that you don’t have to be at the end of your rope before you find the supports our society has to offer.

I’d love to see Human Rights and Social Justice classes at the high school and college level instead of just in social work school, so that we can learn the history of oppression in our country, and how we have worked to combat it, and how we can continue to work to move our country forward. Then maybe we could reach a point in our society where we don’t have to deny the history of one group’s suffering in order to take on the suffering of another group as well.

What else do I want for my birthday? I want to lose weight. I want a very long nap. I want to feel hopeful about the future. I want people to stop checking their phones every two minutes while they are talking to me. I want chocolate frosting to be good for my health. I want my dogs to be healthy and happy. I want my Mom to live forever. I want a Harry Potter coloring book. Better yet, I want to go to Hogwarts, or at least get a letter, delivered by an owl, telling me that I have all of the qualifications to go be a witch.


“Mommy’s a witch!”


I’m pretty sure that Cricket and Butterfly have already received their letters. Cricket’s is probably hidden under the couch in the living room, and Butterfly may have eaten hers (she loves the taste of quality card stock). I have to say, I’m flattered that they have chosen to stay with me instead of going off to become mini-witches themselves. It’s just not the choice I would have made myself. I mean, magic wands? Spells? All kinds of new creatures to meet, some of them fluffy? Who could say no to that?



“You can’t come in here, Mommy. Moose will stop you.”


“Did you know that this one tastes different from the TV Guide? Not better, just different.”


“I’m sorry, Mommy. I was desperate.”


About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

155 responses »

  1. Happy Birthday Rachel! I always enjoy your writing and messages. Enjoy your day!!!!

  2. Hope you get everything you want for your birthday!!

  3. Happy Birthday 🙂 x

  4. Happy birthday. I want many of the same things. 🙂

  5. WhimsicalWhiskBakeShop

    Happy Birthday! I can relate about the volunteering for sure. I always want to volunteer as well but finding the outlet for it is always the hardest part. I am right there with you.

  6. Happy Birthday Rachel. I hope you get some of the things you want. The long nap at least should be doable. I am sure the girls can help show you how to achieve it.

  7. Three Pups and a Couple of Kitties

    Belated Birthday Greetings! I hope you had a great day. It is difficult deciding where and how to volunteer and it doesn’t have to be big. Just smiling and saying hi to someone you pass can change their whole day. Your blog brings smiles as well. Follow your heart Rachel you’ll figure it out. Take care ~Margret

  8. Happy birthday. I am also tired. But we are the ones they need the most- the wise women who will keep these young protesters focused. 😀

  9. Happy Birthday Rachel. If you donate to Planned Parenthood, do it in Pence’s name. People all over America are doing this so at the end of the year he will be listed as the top donor. I set up an ongoning monthly contribution to my local shelter of a few dollars each month. Also money to my favorite environmental group and local PBS affiliate which is mostly independent and doesn’t spead fake news.

  10. Haha! I didn’t realize dogs could have such a discerning palate when it comes to paper. That Butterfly is pretty paper savvy!

    I wish you very well, Rachel, on your quest to volunteer or to find a long nap. And I am SO with you on the health of chocolate frosting!

    Happy Birthday from me and by canine companion, Jess 🙂

  11. Happy birthday! I hope you can find an outlet for your volunteerism! And yes on the phones being checked every 2 minutes. How on Earth did we survive before smart phones? (Rolling my eyes…)

  12. I think these are some lovely birthday wishes to have. I hope you had a lovely day! P.S. I picked the Environmental Defense Fund, NRDC, Planned Parenthood, and WWF. And I’ve been thinking of attending a rally, although volunteering locally is probably a lot easier in the NYC area than less populated areas, I believe.

  13. Great post and a Happy Birthday. May all or some of your wishes come true (from a fellow would-be-witch) 🙂

  14. You could probably just call a local nursing home and ask them about bringing a dog around to cheer up the residents. That always worked for me when I used to be a 4-H leader. Sometimes at Easter I’d have the kids make Easter baskets to bring there and I’d call and ask the nursing home and they would say when to come and what sort of things would be good to put in the baskets. Another time I called them and we brought pets around which really brightened their day. The biggest hit was a sugar glider that one of the kids brought. It’s similar to a flying squirrel except it is a marsupial from Australia. They like dogs too though and your Butterfly sounds like the perfect dog for that sort of thing.

  15. Happy Belated birthday! Hope you had at least half of the things on the list 😉

  16. Happy belated birthday! Hope you got at least some of your wishes. Did you get to do other regular birthday things as well?

  17. Happy belated birthday. A beautiful and thoughtful post.

  18. So behind, but belated best wishes for a healthy year.I too, share your wishes…it’s being in a position to try to get some involvement, but Zush still is number one on my watch list..your kids are awesome with the paper…maybe I’ll try that for fiber with my girls?**joking***

  19. A bit behind in my reading, but happy belated birthday wishes to you. You have a lovely sense of humour. I do hope you find a place to volunteer that appreciates your talents.

  20. Pingback: For My Birthday — rachelmankowitz – MP Barkery Organic Dog Treats

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