Friday, August 23, 2013

35 Random Acts Of Kindness

Yesterday was my half birthday and I realized that I never posted about what I did on my actual birthday.  In February.

So six months and one day we go.

I decided about six or eight months prior to my BIG birthday that I needed to do something really different to save me from slitting my wrist in a corner.  I was not looking forward to this birthday.  I still hate that it came and went.  So I decided to do 35 random little acts of kindness in celebration of my 35 years of life.

And as is the case with nearly everything I do in life, it did not go off without a hitch.

Which still sort of stuns me because I planned out these "random" acts for months in advance.

But it turns out it is hard for our world to accept unsolicited kindness without rhyme or reason.  And I sort of get that.  I mean, I can barely accept that my friends love me, despite my endless list of flaws.  So sure...a stranger doing something nice is probably a big pill to swallow.

My 35+ Random Acts of Kindness to celebrate my (gulp) 35th birthday...

  1. Blessings bags to pass out to homeless.  Include things like razors, shampoo samples, granola bars, mouthwash, etc.
  2. Home baked muffins to fire station, signed “A Grateful Citizen.”
  3. Write sweet notes and drop off at retirement home to be given to residents needing a little extra love.
  4. Tape change to vending machine.
  5. Bring grocery carts back inside.
  6. Bring treats to sorority house.  Red, buff and green hair ties and a sweet note.
  7. Bring coffee and s'more treat to someone who has been a support for me lately.
  8. Mail fun cards to friends, including my childhood favorite teacher.
  9. Drop off donations.
  10. Tape microwave popcorn to Red Box movie bin.
  11. Leave dollar bills secretly in books at library.
  12. Drop dinner off for family.
  13. Make and give out homemade grocery bags at grocery store for $0.03 discount.
  14. Give away wrapped PCD baby bibs at shelter for women and children.
  15. Laundry detergent and quarters tied up and left in laundry mat.
  16. Pick up items on floor and put them away at grocery store.
  17. Tape lotto tix to bathroom stalls at Target and gas pump with note saying “Today is your lucky Day!”
  18. Put quarters in toy/candy machines at grocery store.
  19. Leave happy notes on mirrors at grocery store and Target.
  20. Leave a wrapped gift with tip for server.
  21. Leave gift for mail person.
  22. Leave diapers and wipes on changing table of public restroom.
  23. Smile at and say hello to strangers all day.  Offer sincere compliments.
  24. Hang up in a public space a sheet full of compliments like those trying to rent apts use with the vertical tags to pull off.
  25. Put $ in meters about to expire.
  26. Give someone coupons for free things in the grocery store.
  27. Take get well balloons to a hospital and give to a nurse to deliver to someone who is alone.
  28. Pick name from phone book and mail them a cheerful card and $2 bill.
  29. Put together a salon kit- nail polish, lotion, etc- and leave for a young girl at hospital or shelter.
  30. A set of paper plates, napkins and cups tied up in a bow so a friend doesn't need to wash dishes that night.
  31. Make and deliver homemade bread and jam to a neighbor.
  32. Leave feminine products in restrooms. 
  33. Wipe down public bathroom with Clorox wipes for next woman who enters.
  34. Let someone go ahead of me in line.
  35. Leave fuzzy socks and nail polish on a car with a baby car seat in it- they deserve a little pampering.
  36. Donate cat food to local cat rescue.
  37. Mail small gifts to a few friends, just because.

Make your own hair ties instructions here

I did more than 35 because several were small and I wasn't sure they should fully count.  Like #16, #23 and #34.  I really wanted to show that one could do kind acts without having to spend a small fortune.  It was important to me to highlight that you can be kind for FREE.  So many are small acts.  Plus, y'all know I coupon.  #1, #35 and #36 were free for me to do because everything was acquired free with coupons.  #15 was like $0.50/each after coupons.  

Many were done multiple times. #1, #3, #4, #10 and several others were done more than once.  I did #8 times 12.  #37 times three.  That became so fun, actually!  I had a ball with the acts that involved people in my life.

I also really struggled.  It took me several tries to give away those grocery bags.  I think I made four and only successfully gave away two that day, one later that week and one I gave to a friend as I wrapped her gift in it.  It was hard to give away the homeless blessing bags too (#1).  Which actually didn't come as a huge surprise to me as I am familiar with so many homeless citizens in my area.  They have a lot of pride and honestly, if I was in their shoes, who's to say I wouldn't have the same attitude.  #26 was nearly impossible.  But that too should have been expected (it wasn't...but it should have been) as it's not my first attempt to give away coupons for free things I don't need at the grocery store.  Everyone assumes there's a catch.  #20 took me a week to accomplish because as luck would have it, I kept getting male servers and the gift was very geared towards a female.  So for a week, every time I went into a restaurant, I looked like an idiot toting around this gift bag that then left with me.  By the end of my actual birthday (before going to dinner with Super Nice), I was pretty frustrated.  I had a lot of unkind looks at my efforts to be kind.  And I really struggled to give and share with so many people resisting.  I was all, lean into the hug, yo, I won't bite!  

So the unexpected side effect of this experience is realizing that there is a severe lack of kindness floating around the world.  Because when someone offering to let you go ahead of her in line or give you a free, cute grocery bag that will save you $ every single time you use it is cause for being disgruntled, it just has to mean that the concept of unsolicited kindness is foreign.

The day of my birthday and the week later when I finally finished everything, I wasn't particularly pleased with my experience.  I felt like it royally backfired on me.  And I was super frustrated.

But six months later, I reflect back and think that it was in fact a good experience.  

I worked hard for what I believed was a worthy cause: kindness.  I took a lot of time and care to be creative and broad in my acts.  I picked acts that were free and available to every single one of us on a daily basis.  And acts that were free because of my couponing powers.  And acts that were not free but fun anyway.  Acts that touched those closest to me.  Acts that touched people I will never meet.  

I had a list nearly twice this long and narrowed it down to this list of 35+.  So perhaps another birthday might see a re-visit of this experiment.  

Have you ever participated in a day doing random acts of kindness?  I know it became popular after the CT school shooting so I'm curious to learn if others struggled as much as I did.  Or was it a raging success?  Were any surprises to you?  I mean, I could have just shown you the list and a few photos and not admitted how defeated I felt on several of the acts.  But where's the truth in that?

*I printed the ROAK tags from another website.  I saved the link but it comes up empty.  So if you know where I really got it from, please leave a comment and I will be sure to give a link and proper credit.


Violet Clouds said...

What a lovely list of things to do. It is sad that we have become so suspicious of people's intentions that we cannot accept kind acts but how wonderful that you persevered!

MCW said...

#11 and #17 are great!!! I once made bags of food (cheese sandwiches/apple/etc) in college to hand out to homeless people in DC. Some people actually said no. WTF?

Flo said...

A neat idea, but I hear you on people not being so receptive. Something I've always wanted to do is at Aldi, give my cart with the quarter in it to someone coming to shop, then see if they do the same and so on. I'd have to sit for a while but I think it would be interesting to see how long it got passed on, and just who took the quarter.

Katiellirb said...

WOW - What an AMAZING list! I brings tears to my eyes that you did it all, and tears because people didn't accept your kindness. Overall, kindness conquers all because there are wonderful, caring, honest, amazing people named KK who would do this :)

Ruth said...

That is so amazing. You are a truly wonderful lady


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