Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read here about a woman who decided to celebrate her birthday by performing random acts of kindness around town....one for every year of her life.
So it was, that I realized that while we may not be wealthy, we certainly aren't destitute either. I decided to copycat her idea and celebrate my 37th birthday by spending the week performing 37 random acts of kindness. I hesitated sharing this special experience here in a public forum, but decided that since I had been inspired by someone else, that perhaps I, too, may inspire someone else to start their own ripples of kindness, thereby perpetuating the good going forward.
Here is my report:
1. Let Emma and friends hold a cookie and water stand in the front yard, despite me being busy and not really wanting to have to clean up from a 9-year-old cookie baking spree--it sure made their day though when they each earned a couple dollars from nice neighbors who humored them and their latest foray into the business world
2. Let the preschool kids come over for a last minute playdate when the teacher had sick kids
3. Took a walk around the neighborhood and picked up 2 bags full of trash--I was shocked at how much trash we found, especially in the area near the busy road. We decided we need to do this on a more regular basis.
4. Made homemade bread and brought it to the kids' teachers for no reason
5. Sent a surprise package to unsuspecting recipient
6. Paid for car behind me at Chick-fil-A drive-through--this was actually one of the first "jobs" of my kindness spree and I was totally unprepared for how choked up I got when I looked through the rear-view mirror and saw her previously somber face turn into a big grin at being told that her bill had been paid
7. Visa gift card set on the front seat of a car with an open window
9. Forgave Cami and didn't ground her for 25 years when she announced my actual age from the pulpit during her sacrament meeting talk today--I figured since I was announcing my age here for the world wide web to know, I couldn't get too mad at her
10. Taped a grocery store gift card to the windshield of car in elementary school parking lot--I found I really liked the anonymity of putting things on people's cars.
11. Gave balloons to a family with 4 kids--This was a good lesson on sharing for Ellie, who was insanely jealous that I had not gotten her a balloon as well.
12. Brought an unexpected dinner to a family who is moving soon
13.Taped exact change onto 3 vending machines
14. Gave money to a homeless person in DC--it sounds small, but it's definitely something I don't do on a regular basis
15. Taped goofy candy bar notes onto 2 people's windshields
16. Paid for someone's dinner at McDonald's
17. Donated generously to Gifts of the Heart (a church sponsored clothing and household item exchange)
18. Taped packs of gum with nice notes onto 2 car's windows
19. Carried bulky bags for a friend while she ran in a race
20. On the way out the door after eating my birthday dinner at Chevy's, dropped a gift card onto a neighboring table
21. Brought an unexpected dinner to a friend having a crazy day--this is one of those things that I need to do more often. While I'm always willing to sign-up to bring a dinner, sometimes I don't think of the people who haven't asked for help.
22. Sent an old friend a "real" letter. You know the kind you have to put a stamp onto.
23. Taped a Barnes and Noble gift card to the windshield of car
25. Dropped a basket of flowers off at a random person's house
26. Taped an Itunes gift card onto the windshield of a car
27. Brought treats and cards to local fire station to say, "Thanks for serving our community."
29. Found a lady walking in the park and handed her an Itunes gift card
31. Gathered stray carts scattered around a parking lot and returned them to the store--this one was something that was actually noticed by the store manager who was quite happy and expressed his gratitude.
32. Left kind notes in random places
33. Brought a bottle of laundry soap with several quarters taped to it and dropped them off at the local laundromat
34. Paid for car behind us at McDonald's drive-through--this probably ended up being one of my favorite ways to surprise people. I got to see their reaction through the rear-view mirror, but did not have to talk to them.
35. Handed out lollipops to children after church was over--sorry if I sent your kids home on a sugar high
37. Said yes to the kids when they wanted to eat spaghetti and meatball dinner outside in the yard--I'm quite sure our neighbors think we are a little on the strange side, but, hey, it made the kids happy and kept the meatballs off our floor!
Although, there's no way I could keep up this frenetic pace of handing people gift cards and candy, I do hope that in the future that I will better be able to recognize opportunities for reaching out to others...in large and small ways. It truly was an experience of a life-time and I want to thank my family for being supportive of our crazy adventures that took us all over town. It truly was the best birthday ever. :)
Acts of kindness are like pebbles tossed into a reflecting pool. The ripples radiate outward long after the deed is done.