A ridiculous amount of birthday love.

Was it ridiculous to turn my birthday into a month-long event/campaign/fundraiser/whatever? Yes. I am, as they say, pushing thirty. Women of This Certain Age are not supposed to wear Burger King crowns as “tiaras” and demand an ungodly amount of attention and/or ice cream. I should be embarrassed.

Does this look like the face/outfit of someone who is easily embarrassed?

Does this look like the face/outfit of someone who is easily embarrassed?

Ahem.

First and foremost, I need to thank everyone who donated to my charity:water campaign and helped me exceed my goal of saving 28 lives. To date, we’ve raised over $600! By far the most successful fundraiser I’ve ever had – even better than the time I offered personalized limericks as an incentive (And what an incentive it was – I rhymed “schadenfreude” with “does it annoy ya?” Poetry.).

I also had a lot of fun and some good response with the social media experiment portion of my birthday project – the 28 for 28 Facebook page. I like sharing things I care about, and I care about my birthday! No, I mean, I care about ways to make the world better. Thanks to those of you who got involved with that, too.

I was determined to spend my actual birthday committing 28 Random And Not So Random Acts Of Kindness. I made lists, I set a budget, I made timetables. But because I was excited, I started two days early. And because the birthday weekend involved several Unscheduled Naps, I finished two days late. That’s me all over.

I got the idea to do this by searching online, so I’m presenting this list in no particular order to maybe inspire another internet stranger one day:

Birthday (Weekend) Acts Of Kindness

1. Bought my boss tulips. They immediately folded in half and looked incredibly pathetic. But luckily I revived them (aka cut the stems) before she saw them

2. Stuck a coffee gift card on the door of a very deserving friend

3. Drew something for a friend who needs a pick-me-up

4. Donated my hair to Locks of Love.  The entire ponytail you see up above is now on its way to Florida. Factoid: the first time I did this, I was 14, and it made the front page of my hometown newspaper. I’m just trying to get to that level of fame again.

5. Tipped the stylist of my new ‘do 28%

6. Helped a stranger move a desk (or helped a stranger rob another stranger – either way, helping!)

7. Bought a friend lunch

8. Bought a different friend a beer

9. Helped yet another friend (I don’t want to brag but I have more than two) set up a blog – check it out, especially if you’re a beer fan! Also, I would like to note I agreed to do this before I knew there was going to be a paragraph of nice things about me in it. That just made me more eager to help.

10. Bought a bunch of children’s books to donate to a program I care about

11. Bought a friend tea (I was going to buy coffee for the person in line behind us, but he turned out to be a very cantankerous man, and my friend is nicer)

12. Bought a thank-you gift for someone who was nice to me recently

13. Helped the same cantankerous old man from #11 exit a “confusing” building at the St. Paul Art Crawl

14. Recycled plastic bags and donated food at a grocery store

15. Left money at a Redbox rental machine, along with a note

16. Left a 110% tip at Caribou Coffee. I did the math so that I, like every pro athlete, can say I “gave 110%”

17. Donated books to a Little Free Library (I love those things!)

18. Left money at Nice Ride MN station. I don’t want to talk about the poorly-worded note I also left there.

19. Dropped about thirty online coupons in a basket at Target

20. Donated clothes to Goodwill

21. Gave my neighbor’s dog a treat

22. Recovered a friend’s lost phone

23. Volunteered for Feed My Starving Children at Summit Brewery  (Worlds colliding!)

24. Picked up Target gift cards for The Bridge For Youth

25. Wrote thank-you notes

26. Left money at a vending machine

27. Bid on silent auction items for local fundraisers at BiddingForGood.com

28. Left quarters in laundry room for my neighbors

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So there you go. Twenty-eight mostly small, mostly deliberate acts of kindness to celebrate twenty-eight mostly great years. Thank you, everyone, for making them worth celebrating.

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#26Acts Completed. What’s Next?

Well, it’s taken me almost three months, but I’ve ‘finished’ my #26Acts of kindness. I hope I’ve been nice other times in between then and now, or at least not outright mean…Don’t answer that.

Things like this remind me that a lot can change in three months. Important things can be forgotten, and promises can be broken. I started following the #26Acts challenge to consciously do, in very broad terms, Good Things; they weren’t always the biggest things, and they weren’t always ‘random,’ but they were always done with good intent. It’s my choice to remember those 26 victims through positive actions; they should not be forgotten.

Anyway. The theme of this section is “free,” because I’m saving for a vacation (and kindness doesn’t have to cost a thing).

19. Helped two gentlemen across a parking lot and into Bruegger’s (which is where they were headed, not just, like, where I decided to put them)

This was maybe my first totally random act of kindness, and it was perfect for me, because a man after a sandwich is a man after my own heart. In this case, two older men. With walkers. Even better!

20. Did the dreaded unclaimed dishes

Every shared kitchen has unclaimed dirty dishes in the sink at almost any time. It can cause wars. So for a few days, I did other people’s dishes without writing a passive-aggressive note or acting like a martyr. Just blogging about it!

21. Tucked handmade bookmarks into books at the library (I AM VERY NORMAL)

I love finding things in books.  Hopefully I’m not alone in that.

isthisakissingbook

All the bookmarks I made had a quote from the movie version of my favorite book, The Princess Bride, and several of them wound up in romance novels, which just amuses me to no end.

22. Volunteered at Operation Glass Slipper

Operation Glass Slipper outfits around 1,000 girls for prom at no cost. Lacy and I helped out in the shoe section. Mainly we tried to keep the shelves stocked, but we also got to help a few girls find the perfect shoe. This is as close to being a Fairy Godmother as I will get in real life.

23. Proofread homework assignments for a friend

I may not know what your grad school paper is about, but I can tell you if you’ve misspelled “occurrence.”

24. Visited a home-bound friend on St. Patrick’s Day

A meaningful visit on a meaningful day, for both of us.

25. Brought leftover St. Patrick’s day goodies (not whiskey) into work to share

The shamrock cookies went immediately – but the Irish flag veggie tray was a little slower. What does that tell us?

irishflagveggietray

26. Finally bought my coworker a coffee. Then she bought me one back. This will go on forever so at some point the thought just has to count.

There you have it; 26 Acts of Kindness, some random, some not. But just because I’ve met my initial goal does not mean I’m done with kindness and going to turn into a Disney Villain. Although…I am plotting something. Scheming, if you would. Stay tuned.

Deliberately Random Kindness

I haven’t forgotten my pledge to complete 26 Acts of Kindness.  I did kind of take a break to have the flu/never-ending cough, but after working my way through several thousand naps and most of my DVD collection I’m more or less back in action. Aside from continually trying to buy my coworker a coffee or lunch (she keeps insisting on paying me back to the point where I now owe her a sandwich), here’s what I’ve been up to since the last time:

12: Volunteered with kids (on a day other than my usual day)

I hang out with some small people on a weekly basis, and I love it. After a long winter break, I jumped at the chance to pick up an extra “shift” of baby-holding, toddler-talking, kindergartner-laughing goodness (obviously, not while I was sick. That would not be great).

13: Donated cards to St. Jude’s Ranch

While fighting The Sickness, and also The Boredom, I cleaned out my desk and came to terms with one of my personal shames: I’m a craft supply pack rat. I keep every magazine, bit of ribbon, pretty old greeting card and sticker in case I might “need them.”

I don’t need them. So I finally went through the cards, kept only the most sentimental (like the Christmas card my pops signed “Peter (Dad)” because he forgot what he was doing), and popped the rest in the mail for the recycled card program at St. Jude’s Ranch. A few weeks later, they announced they have enough cards to keep them busy through June – coincidence?

14 – 16: Cleaned the closet for good

Continuing with my housebound cleaning theme, I established an “outbox” and divided my donations into three categories: Winter gear for Joseph’s Coat of St. Paul, old glasses to the Lion’s Club, and all other mostly useful things/ridiculous high heels I’ll never wear to Goodwill. (Full disclosure: the Joseph’s Coat bag is still sitting in my car due to the limited donation hours, but I swear it’s going to get there.)

17: Shared some Valentine’s Day love

I made a donation to the Jeremiah Program, which then sent a Valentine’s e-card to my mama and this bit of cuteness to me (CDC = Child Development Center):

jeremiahcard

18: Donated to ChiveCharities

Step one, read this horrible story. Step two, made a tiny donation. Step three, applauded as the entire project was funded in record time. I love it when the internet is used for good rather than evil.

‘Til next time, here is a nice song covered by one of my favorite YouTube musicians. I’m going to go try to do something nice for my coworker again and this time she’s just going to have to deal with it.

#26Acts of Kindness: It’s a Start

Two weeks ago, I was wondering what I could do to help. Most of the world was. There are still so many more questions than answers (although I can think of many things that are certainly not the answer), but one positive movement has come about: Ann Curry started the idea of doing 20 (now 26) acts of kindness in honor of the victims, no matter where you are. It’s gone viral and I’m so happy – relieved, even – to be taking part.

Let’s spread the word: We are better than this. This is a good world after all.

Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1: Sponsored a package through Project Night Night, which will provide a book, stuffed animal and security blanket to a homeless child. I actually heard about this through The Bloggess a while ago; this provided the extra push I needed to make the donation.

2. Donated canned goods to a food drive (hosted at my friend’s Cookie Swap Party, so really a win-win for everyone).

3. Bought coffee for all of my coworkers. This was not an act of kindness for the poor trainee behind the counter at Caribou, however. “I need one medium northern lite hazelnut latte, one large white berry sugar free raspberry mocha with no whip, one regular latte with an extra shot…” She did great.

4. Bought a coffee for the man behind me in line. He was…startled. But agreed that karma is a good thing.

5 – 8. This one is my favorite so far. I went to my favorite children’s bookstore in all the world, the Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, and picked out four of my favorite children’s books in all the world: “Miss Rumphius” by Barbara Cooney (for obvious reasons), “Walk Two Moons” by Sharon Creech (who I also met at the Red Balloon once), “Anne of Green Gables” by L.M. Montgomery, and “Matilda” by Roald Dahl.

Four children's books

I immediately donated them to the Red Balloon’s book-donation program. It felt awesome. I could have spent all of my time and money in this store (er, which is why at least the next few of my Acts of Kindness will be on the free side).

9. Gave out candy canes and cards to everyone in my building. Well, almost everyone. I was shy one candy cane, so…

Have a VERY merry Christmas.

Special moments made…specialer.

10. Helped serve ice cream at the nursing home with my mom. And did not eat all of the ice cream myself. That’s not exactly a good deed, but I still feel like I deserve some sort of medal. I really like ice cream.

11. Made lunch for my family one day over Christmas weekend – nacho bar! At one point I had to stir some sort of meat in a pan and two (2) of my four (4) immediate family members were compelled to take pictures. Yeah, yeah. Laugh at the vegetarian. See if I offer to be nice to you ever again.

The rest of the weekend/early week was spent hanging out with my family, and it’s hard to count any time spent together as an “act of kindness” when I enjoy it as much as they do (probably more, because I only cooked that one (1) meal in four days. Thanks for feeding me, mom).

Back to looking for random acts and random recipients. Any suggestions?