Given the date today, I felt for a moment that I should be posting something more solemn or at the very least, more...patriotic? But when thinking back on the events of September 11th, 2001, what I really feel is that we need a lot more kindness in the world. So I have chosen to coincide my report on my "Random Acts of Kindness"-themed birthday with a date that a lot of people need healing on.
I stole this idea from my friend Carrie, and decided to make my own little "Random Act of Kindness" cards to leave as we tried to spread joy around town. I made a few extras to keep in the car/my purse for future clandestine service. And clandestine service? A BLAST. Jacob pointed out that it's kind of like being a criminal, except with no moral implications...you get the thrill of doing something secret and sneaky but you don't have to worry about being arrested. I suggested we start a "Random Acts of Kindness" Rehabilitation Group, sort of as a prison-release program. Give people the thrill of a robbery without harming society.
The only challenge we had in the day--besides fitting everything in--was that in Rexburg, we had to leave notes specifying that whoever found an item could keep it. The town ain't perfect, but there are enough people who would just return a found gift card to the service desk instead of using it. =) Those little cards helped, too, I hope.
Wanna hear what we did? Jacob's sister Anna joined us for some of these, and we had a blast running around town together. It took us from 10 am to 6 pm, but it was worth it.
WHAT JACOB AND I DID, or Twenty Seven Random Acts of Kindness/Service to Celebrate My Twenty-Seventh Birthday
1. Recycled (thereby saving the earth, thereby being kind to the entire human race)
We do this all the time, but it's important and we believe in it and it's one of the kindest things you can do for humanity!
2. Smiled at someone
A little thing, but we made a conscious effort to do this for someone we felt needed it.
3. Let someone cut in front of us in line
This one was tough for a second...when we got to the front of the store, the lines were tiny! No one was waiting very long. Jacob came up with a solution. He found two guys who were waiting in line and directed them to a check-stand that was open with no one waiting.
4. Left $1 in the toy section of the dollar store
Tried to do this at eye-level. This was one we definitely had to leave a note with...especially because we WANT kids to learn to return money when they find it laying around.
5. Supported the local library by buying a book
The library has a little used book store to help its revenue. We will gladly support our community in this way. =)
6. Left two "book testimonies" in books in the library
This was fun. It's a pretty indirect little act of kindness, but I agree with Carrie's reasoning on this one...this is something I would LOVE to find.
7. Left a $10 Walmart gift card to be found by a lucky person
Left this at the library, next to the DVD's. I see a lot of parents of young children flipping through the DVDs while their kids are looking at books, and I hope a young parent found this.
8. Taped popcorn to a Redbox
Well, the last one we just handed to a guy at the Redbox.
9. Left a poem among the nectarines at the grocery store
"First Lesson" by Philip Booth. Jacob was fond of my use of the word "among" when telling people about this act later.
10. Left a yellow rose on a car in the parking lot
We thought about getting a dozen daisies and leaving them on multiple cars, but we decided to go fancy for one person instead of simple for many.
11. Cleaned out the family cat's litter box
This one almost didn't work out, because someone had recently done it! We just sort of re-did it.
12. Took some time to chat with neighborhood kids
This seems like a small one, but it's a pretty big deal for me. Chatting with strangers is really hard for me...I get all tongue-tied and awkward and scared. Jacob's always been a good example of friendliness, and I've tried to emulate him. Taking just those few minutes--sacrificing my comfort to be friendly--felt terrifying and wonderful.
13. Did some temple work
Our kindness reached beyond this life and into the next! =)
14. Left a mixed CD in a stranger's mailbox
We did this once before for FHE and it was a blast. For a while, we were being really selective about what neighborhood to leave it in, before we decided we should just give it up to the fates and/or let the Lord guide us to the right mailbox.
15. Left party poppers in a public park
Along with a note saying "Because you're worth celebrating!"
16. Left a good book in a public place to be found
"The Dogs of Babel." It's kinda weird, but I hope whoever finds it enjoys it!
17. Dropped coins in a children's playground
This one was fun, even though I kept fearing that wary parents would catch us and somehow...get us in trouble?
18. Left an anonymous letter of encouragement on a whiteboard tray for a Sunday School teacher
I was just intending to leave this somewhere random, which I guess I did, but I hope it helped whoever was teaching Sunday School, especially. That can be nerve-wracking.
19. Taped a joke on the inside of an elevator door
"What's black and white and red all over?" "A penguin with a diaper rash!"
20. Left a self-esteem boosting note on the mirror in a public bathroom
I can't remember exactly what it said, but something to the effect of reminding them that they are beautiful because they are daughters of God, no matter what the world says about them.
21. Taped quarters to a laundromat washing machine
22. Left an anonymous positive comment on a blog
Also discovered some fun blogs in the process! Clicking "Next Blog" up on the top is a fun way to find all kinds of things.
23. Took time to visit with family
This one goes along with #12. While talking with family isn't scary, I've grown to be selfish with my time, preferring to spend it in my own way instead of just enjoying time with others. Definitely a habit I want to break.
24. Personally responded to each birthday wish sent to me on facebook
Generally, I just post a mass "Thank You" status for the birthday wishes, but in my continuing efforts to use my time to lift up others, I tried to give a little individual shout-out.
25. Made and posted a "Welcome Home" sign for Dave and Camilla
They've been married ONE WEEK, and they live around the corner. They got home from their honeymoon on September 9th, so we made 'em a colorful greeting!
26. Donated 1000 grains of rice through freerice.com
Have you heard of this website? From the site: "Freerice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme. Freerice has two goals: Provide education to everyone for free. Help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free. This is made possible by the generosity of the sponsors who advertise on this site." You basically go on the site, pick a subject, then answer test questions. For every question you get right, the site uses advertising/sponsor funds to purchase 10 grains of rice. So awesome. So I quizzed myself on Art History while feeding people in need! How cool is that?
27. Gave a loan to a young woman in Bolivia to fund her purchase of a photocopy machine for her bookstore, through www.kiva.org
I can't remember how I discovered this website, but I think it's a great idea. Kiva is a non-profit group that orchestrates microfinancing all over the world. It is a loan, so you do get paid back, and your money provides opportunities for those in need. On the website, you can search for individuals and causes by attribute, such as gender, Conflict Zones, Vulnerable Groups, Youth, and Green. I was thrilled to help someone in Bolivia, since that's where my dad served his mission! And I'm always for furthering the cause of women anywhere in the world.
WHAT YOU GUYS DID:
You all were so awesome and inspiring! Many of you let me know that you joined in without giving specifics, so just know that these are just a few of the things you shared.
- helped an elderly lady at the grocery store reach something she couldn't
- drove a rent check over to the landlord's house (because the wrong address MIGHT have been written on it...)
- gave a homeless man some money
- did a roommate's dishes
- helped a girl carry groceries out to her car
- bought peach cobbler that supported the Mental Health Association of Utah (double win there...)
- gave some food to a homeless man with a sign
- held the door open (with a carseat + 20lb. baby in arm) for a woman walking with a cane
- babysat four kids for a lady whose husband is a firefighter and whom she hadn't seen in over a week
- paid for a friend who couldn't when a group went out to dinner after stake conference
- volunteered at the temple and tried to help, smile, and talk to everyone who passed
- sat next to a girl who was sitting alone in a meeting
- anonymously left flowers on a stranger's car
- paid for the person behind in line at the entrance to a National Park
- dropped money off at a ticket office, with instructions to pay for the next person's ticket
- kissed some guy out of pity (Ha ha! This is one of my favorites! )
All in all, it was a pretty great birthday. Service, family, and in the evening, cake and ice cream with our friends the Taits. At the end of the day, I was reminded that when it comes right down to it, we don't really need any more "stuff." Family members got me some chocolate and a few little things, but I couldn't think of any material thing I really needed this year, and that fact alone is enough cause for humble gratitude and celebration...in a world of 7 billion people, there aren't nearly enough who can say that all their material needs are met. So with that in mind, I'm so grateful that Carrie for her Random-Acts-of-Kindness-themed birthday, which inspired me to have my own! I'm so grateful for all that you guys did.
One little ripple can grow into a wave. I like to think our collective ripple of kindness is still going round the world.