50th Birthday Miracle

by Casi Callaway

My recyclable AARP card.

My recyclable AARP card.

I know 50 is here as the AARP membership application ominously arrives in my mail box and it finally occurred to me to put moisturizer on my face.

Even with the obvious aging signs, I’m a celebrate-rather-than-worry kind of birthday person, so I would like to share a review of my Joys, Challenges and a Birthday Wish for us to band together to focus on what the next 50 years can bring.

The Joys –

  • My family is here, healthy, and makes me stronger every day – especially that smart, brave, beautiful 11-year-old, Coleman Callaway. An added bonus is that he has incredible friends whose parents I adore;

  • My besties know when it’s time for the spa, a strong cocktail and/or a day in the Delta/at the Beach/at TRue Rest;

  • I get to work with the most incredible people every day – in the office, serving on the Baykeeper Board and Young Advisory Council, working in neighboring or connected organizations, and the business and industry folks one would assume are our enemies, but in reality, are often allies;

  • I am passionate about saving the world in some small or large way; and

  • I know (almost every day) that I am making a difference.

The Challenge -

50 also marks that I’ve been an environmental advocate for just shy of 30 years, so you can guess that there have been big challenges throughout this work for clean water: sewage spills and lawsuits, roadway projects, oil and gas development and pipelines, that BP Oil Disaster you may remember, now coal ash and sewage again. Today, however, the work seems a little harder – is that because I’m 50 and everything is a little harder when you’re older? Is it my (not so new) lack of patience? Or is the real problem today’s divisiveness and disconnectedness?

Government Street Presbyterian Church Pastor Rebekah Abel Lamar preached last Sunday that it is time for us to be more devoted to what is right than what is easy. Her sermon was the reminder that when it is not easy being kind in the face of hate or anger – be kind anyway. We all know that God challenges us to be better people, to love one another, and to care for all we have been given. We also know that plastic straws are neither liberal nor conservative, that we're not fighting to move coal ash because “we’re mean” and/or “they’re greedy”, or that only one person alone can solve all the environmental problems.

So… Could we behave that way?

My son, Coleman, and his friends playing around on the first night of Ballroom.

My son, Coleman, and his friends playing around on the first night of Ballroom.

Here are my 50th Birthday Requests:

  • Be kinder, listen a lot more, and assume the best in people. DO NOT assume ulterior motives.

  • Commit to working together. Even when it’s hard, find what you have in common and work for it.

  • ASK questions and LISTEN for the answer/reason/rationale and believe/trust what they tell you.

  • Look for the love, joy and compassion we need in each other and, guess what – we just might find it.

And make a donation to Mobile Baykeeper, Waterkeeper Alliance and/or your favorite important local church or non-profit – we have more work to do now than has ever been needed and fewer resources to make it happen. Give generously of your time, talent and treasure to the causes that move you.

Assume kindness and be prepared to receive it. And laugh like you were an 11-year old boy on the first night of Ballroom.

This year I was featured as one of 20 Waterkeeper Warriors worldwide with my photo in Times Square: not a bad gift for 50!

This year I was featured as one of 20 Waterkeeper Warriors worldwide with my photo in Times Square: not a bad gift for 50!