Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Best Birthday Ever

 I've thought many times about how cool it would be to be wealthy and to be able to go around and do random nice things for people...like paying their rent.  Or buying their groceries.  Or starting a scholarship fund.    But for as cool as it sounded, it always seemed too hard.  We're not wealthy and my life is crazy busy.

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
8.  Gave a friend an unexpected gift

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
 24.  Walked into Target and handed a lady a Target gift card--she actually didn't seem very excited about it, but still I felt strongly that she was the right person to give it to.

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."
28.  Didn't yell at the kids when they were grumpy and quarreling on my birthday

29.  Found a lady walking in the park and handed her an Itunes gift card 

30.  Brought treats and a note to someone who just moved in

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 
36. Put an Itunes gift card on the front seat of someone's car

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.



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25 comments:

Dad-Mom said...

Wow!! Sounds like you left a lot of surprised people in your wake. The world certainly could use more random acts of kindness and less hostility.

What an unforgettable birthday!!

Thanks for sharing.

Denise said...

wow! wow! wow! i totally want to do this. how wonderful. happy birthday lara.

K said...

Were you giddy all week with excitement? Sounds like a great way to spend your birthday week! I was one of the lucky recipients of one of Lara's acts of kindness. I received a cookbook in the mail this week. Thanks again Lara! (o:

Andie said...

This is awesome! I want to do this, too! You are amazing, and happy birthday! :)

Arlan Berglas said...

Golden 7,

For your review, please take a look at www.aunitedworld.org/37.asp and let us know what you think so far? "37 Random Acts of Kindness Birthday".

The concept is www.aunitedworld.org is your website and your link above is your web page on YOUR website!

There are currently 1,992 people and organizations that have created a free web page highlighting their mission to help make the world a better place.

Currently, your sample web page is #30 as of 4:00 a.m. (PST) on April 26, 2010, but that number may change on a daily basis as this movement is growing exponentially! You can find your program by going to www.aunitedworld.org/movement.asp.

Now you can Pass Your L.O.V.E. Forward by going to www.pifmentor.org and find out how you can Learn your purpose, Organize your passion, Volunteer your gift, and Engage your heart. It's all free, and after 30 minutes you will be trained to do the same for others so that you can then Pass Your L.O.V.E Forward too!

Karey said...

Such an awesome thing to do! I'm so glad you decided to share! And I love the package you sent! Thank you!

Deanne said...

What a great example you are. Thanks for the inspiring post! I'm so glad you shared it with us.

Happy Birthday too!

Andrea said...

Happy Birthday, Lara! I'm so impressed with all the ways you thought of to help people. What a great idea!!

MixMingleGlow said...

Lara,
What a beautiful post! I continue to be overwhelmingly blessed by the people who have continued to pay this forward all over the world! Reading your post not only brought tears to my eyes, it helped me to relive my birthday as well. (thanks for the shout out, by the way!) What a blessing it is to be a blessing to others! Happy birthday and I pray that you continue to reap blessings from this beautiful day!
Warmly,
Robyn Bomar

Aitch said...

What a wonderful idea Lara! Sounds like it turned out to be a great experience for you and your family.

Hope you had an amazing birthday!

Mirien said...

This blew me away! What a week! The idea is very intriguing and I think I'll have to try it, although I don't know if I could pull it off as well as you did. Thanks for posting all 37 ideas, and Happy Birthday!

shannon said...

So, so cool! I am totally doing this (better start on my next birthday before the number gets too big). Thanks for sharing. Cool ideas!

Meeks said...

HAPPY BELATED BIRTHDAY! I too have wondered if it would be "weird" if I blogged about doing charitable stuff...but your post has shown me that it isn't weird at all, but really inspiring! Great ideas! I bet it felt realllly good! (and it would have been a great lesson for the kids to see!!)

annalisa said...

You're awesome, Lara!

Julie said...

I was another recipient of Lara's kindness! Thanks, Lara! :) My package came just at the right time- as my family is battling the stomach flu and we are supposed to leave in 2 days to fly to my brother's wedding. It was a nice pick-me-up! Right when I opened it I called my husband at work and said, "You know, I should really try to do more thoughtful things for others". The idea really does spread kindness!

Maybe I'll have to try this idea for my next birthday (10 months away, so I have plenty of time to plan)!

Katherine said...

Happy late birthday. What a great idea, and I say that not just because Simone and I benefited from your kindness. You're super cool!

melissa said...

That is awesome! Wow! I am inspired...

Charlene said...

Happy birthday Lara!! What a wonderful idea! don't forget to add to your list, "helping out a friend in need of a place to live and listening to her whine out her frustrations to you!":)

Becky said...

Hi! You don't know me but a while ago I found your blog when looking for FHE lessons. Since then, I have added your blog as a link on my family blog. You are inspiring and I just wanted to thank you for sharing the things that you share. You can visit our blog if you would like. I love this idea for your birthday! Keep up the awesome and inspiring blog! Becky

Carol said...

Lots of great ideas. Fun way to bring a smile to the faces of many. I'm sure some of them were also a bit puzzled :)

Clarinda said...

Wow, Lara! You're awesome!! This post actually brought a little tear to my eye. So many people were touched by your kindness. Glad you had such an awesome birthday.

Jocelyn Christensen said...

This is sooooo oh, so fantastic! I am DEFINITELY going to do this when my birthday rolls around...not sure if I can wait until October to blog about this though. I might just have to give you a shout out soon. I'm at http://beinglds.blogspot.com

Lisa said...

What a great idea. How wonderful that your family could see you serving and helped participate. Such a good example for them and for the rest of us. Stopping by from MMB.

Annette said...

I also read the blog post a month or so ago on mixmingleglow and was touched by it.
http://mixmingleglow.com/blog/?p=1358

I am impressed that you followed through and did something about it, and involved your kids. Great teaching moments.

Aubrie said...

Wow, I don't even know how I got to your blog or to this post but I have to tell you it brought me to tears. AND I WANT TO DO THIS. My birthday isn't until March but I am writing this in my day planner for my birthday next year. How special for you AND your kids! P.S. You share a birthday with my sweet daughter who is upstairs napping and I think right now I am going to do a random act of kindness for her. Thank you for posting this and inspiring others!