In the months before I turned 40, I knew I wanted to do something special.
My mother died in her early 40's and I've always had this sinking feeling that I wouldn't make it past her age.
It's completely and totally irrational, I know.
But I've asked other "motherless daughters" about this concept, and I've had it confirmed by them every single time.
So, if the only thing you read from this post is this...
Every. Day. Is. A. Gift.
Now that we are in the blogging world, I was busy one night in October, networking and commenting on blogs, and came across this blogger about what she did on her 38th birthday. She celebrated by doing 38 random acts of kindness. All the hairs went up on my arms, and I knew instantly that's what I wanted to do.
Could I do it? All in one day?
Would Michaela want to do it with me?
I called her immediately.
She started crying and of course said yes.
This is why I love her.
I've taken her on some crazy adventures, and she always says yes. I even made her do a cleanse with me one time, (not one of my best ideas) but she still did it.
(It didn't work.)
Within about 2 days I had seven of my close friends and family along for the day. I'm a Christmas baby, born on December 23rd. Asking people to come along for an entire day right before Christmas is crazy-talking. But each person whole-heartedly said yes. The best part was my teenage daughter asking if she could come.
My heart was bursting with joy.
How would I pay for it?
As I wrote out my list of the 40 things, most of them would cost money. As I added it all up, we would need around $1000, and that seemed impossible.
I thought about asking my Dad to contribute as my birthday gift. On my way to have lunch with him, I prayed that he would have an open heart. I also prayed that if my Dad wasn't the answer, that other doors would open to do this.
As I showed my Dad the list, I could tell his heart was softening to the idea.
He said immediately, "I'll give you a thousand dollars."
If that wasn't an answer from God, I'm not sure what was.
We were in business. The kindness business.
Michaela made this beautiful logo so everything we would give away had this on it.
After weeks and weeks of planning and countless hours put in by our "giving crew",
we were ready to go.
I'm a little type A, so everything was numbered and Michaela's sweet husband mapped it all out for us. We had 39 planned, and intentionally left one open.
We just knew it would come to us sometime during the day.
Here is the beautiful "Giving Crew".
Loaded and decorated the cars!
1. Held a Giveaway in our Etsy Shop.
The Giveaway went out at 6am on our Facebook page and we gave away four items
from our Etsy shop for free.
2. Gave a gift to each member of the "Giving Crew".
3. Wrote 10 handwritten letters for people who have made a difference in my life.
4. Left our mail person a surprise in the mailbox.
5. Paid for two cars behind us at the Drive-Thru at Starbucks.
The second car we were in went inside to order their drinks so they could watch the reaction of the two cars receiving their gift. They told us that they were just looking at the Starbucks girl (who was adorable) with a dumbfounded look on their face.
We got that same look many times throughout the day.
6. Bought and delivered two dozen donuts to a support group in town for their 8am meeting.
7. Gave a woman at the recycling plant a truckload of cans and bottles.
The "Giving Crew" collected cans and bottles for a month and Michaela's husband met us at the local recycling plant with an entire truckload full. A woman was there with just one grocery bag. When we approached her, she wouldn't take them at first, and we had to do some convincing.
When she finally did, boy did her face light up!
8. Made 20 containers of playdough and delivered to the local food bank.
We bought the containers at the dollar store and made play dough and attached a cookie cutter for the kids who visit the local food bank with their parents.
I hope they brought a smile to a child's (and their parent's) face at a time when they need it the most.
9. Left laundry detergent at the laundromat.
I wish I could have hidden cameras everywhere we went. I would love to see the look on the person's face who opens that washer and sees that waiting for them!
10. Walked into the Dollar Store and gave away and hid 25 $1 bills.
This was one of the favorite stops. Not only did we hide them in the toys, but some of our "giving crew" walked up to kids in the store and handed them a dollar. It was precious to see the perfect joy in their face by such a small act.
11. Delivered crayons and coloring books to the pediatric wing of our local hospital.
12. Donated my favorite book to the local library.
Daring Greatly is a book that changed how I view others...how I parent my children, and how I love with my whole heart. To learn more about the author, visit here.
13. Visited an assisted living facility and handed out Felt Flower pins to the residents.
I didn't expect this stop to be as magical as it was. These women were simply my favorite part of the day. They kept trying to pay us, and we kept telling them it was a gift. They were so gracious, so lovely. Some of them cried. We cried. We wished we could have stayed all day visiting with them.
I won't ever forget the joy I felt there.
14. Went to the animal shelter and donated dog treats.
15. Went to the dog park and left 2 cans of tennis balls.
16. Adopted a family and showered them with Christmas gifts.
We got word of a family in our school community that was in need, and we all came together to buy the 3 kids warm clothes and toys.
17. Passed out cold water bottles.
We found joggers, construction workers, gardeners, and came across some homeless men who we were able to give water to.
18. Place 40 "happy notes" on cars in a parking lot.
There's a lot of negative, angry people at Christmas time. They're the stressed, the financially strapped, the lonely and the broken.
Maybe one of these notes changed someone's day.
19. Delivered pizza to the local fire station.
My wonderful friend that does my hair is married to a firefighter.
(Michaela's husband is also one, so they are close to our hearts!)
So, we had this one planned ahead with her husband's station with an order of their favorite pizza.
20. Donated new stuffed animals to the fire station.
Firefighters like to give something to scared or hurt children they come across on their calls. We donated 60 brand new beanie babies that a wonderful lady at a craft fair gave me a HUGE deal on when she heard what I was doing.
After the picture, they sang Happy Birthday to me, and surprised me with a birthday gift from my sweet friend who does my hair.
21. Donated 90 cupcakes to a Christmas party.
My daughter and I volunteer each month at an organization that works with developmentally disabled adults. With perfect timing, they were having their annual Christmas party, and we delivered cupcakes for them to enjoy.
22. Volunteered washing windows at the Rescue Mission and donated food cans.
This was hanging up at the mission. Something we all need to hear.
23. Handed out blessing bags to homeless.
We filled these with socks, gloves, crackers and cookies, wipes, toiletries, combs, and bottled water. What was so touching to us, was how gracious each homeless person was to receive that bag.
They were so sweet and so appreciative that someone took the time to pay attention to them.
24. Bought 40 $1 lottery tickets and handed them out.
You would think a lottery ticket would be an easy thing to give away. It wasn't. People would look at us like there was some kind of catch. We had to "sell" them on the idea!
25. Gave a woman in the grocery store a $100 gift card.
This is the one we were all looking forward to.
We "staked" out the grocery store for about 10 minutes looking for the perfect person.
One of the "giving crew" had given this woman in the meat department (who we lovingly referred to as "chicken lady"), a lottery ticket.
Her reaction was so genuine. She was so grateful for that $1 lottery ticket, and started crying.
We gathered back together to make our decision and settled on "chicken lady".
My friend Lynn yelled "I LOVE chicken lady!"
We couldn't wait to give it to her.
As she came around the corner, we all approached her and I handed her the card.
My apologies for these pictures.
Because we were all so excited, we were shaking!
Here she is telling us...
"we better not be pranking her, because she was having a really bad day!"
Here come the tears....from all of us.
It was such a beautiful moment.
We forget that everyone is fighting some kind of battle...and everyone has a story.
At that moment, we were able to change her story.
It was clear that we were led to the right person.
26. Collected all of our loose change in a "Kindness Jar" and randomly chose a family to give it to.
On our way to the park, Michaela stopped the car, and felt led to this house.
She walked up and gave it to the lady who owned the house,
who skeptically looked at her like she was nuts.
We would giggle throughout the day at the looks from people.
They want to know WHY. Why would someone give it to THEM?
27. Gave out Christmas gift boxes.
We put together 5 Christmas boxes for boys, and 5 for girls.
My church hands out boxes for you to put together and put toys and needed items for a little girl or boy. Instead of sending them out to another country, you are encouraged to hand them out to someone in your community.
If we had 50 of these, we would have been able to give them all out.
We ran into many needy kids that day.
28. Cleaned up a local park and hung bird seed balls.
29. Taped the exact amount to Vending Machines.
30. Made 40 cinnamon ornaments and placed them in a random neighborhoods' mailboxes.
31. Left 10 diaper bags in public restrooms.
32. Gave money to a stranger.
This was the unplanned act of the day. On the way to our next stop, we spotted this beautiful lady with her baby and saw her sign. We knew we had to stop.
33. Passed out 40 pom pom bookmarks at the bookstore, and held the door open for customers coming out.
34. Gave a movie gift card to a couple walking to the movie theater.
Turns out it was also HER birthday! They were thrilled!
35. Left quarters in candy machines.
Can you imagine being 7 years old and walking up to a row of machines with money already in them?
36. Gave two families $25 to Chick-fil-A.
I have a serious love for Chick-fil-A sauce.
(and their nuggets)
(and their peppermint chocolate chip milkshake)
Our local Chick-fil-A gives so much back to our community, that it seemed like a perfect fit to have them part of our day.
We chose a couple walking in with their grandchildren,
and a dad walking in with his kids.
37. Returned shopping carts at Target.
38. Handed out 5 Rosemary Wreaths to customers coming out of Target.
39. Left our server a generous tip.
We were almost done!
But I knew there was one person left to show some kindness...
My wonderful husband.
Who endured losing me for weeks in my craft room planning and prepping this day.
He has a serious sweet tooth, and is a lover of pie.
Especially his favorite bakery's pie.
40. Bought a pie and brought it home to my husband.
We showed kindness to hundreds of people that day. We can't put into words how it made us feel to touch that many lives in one day.
The joy I felt and the love that surrounded us that day was immeasurable.
Throughout the day the "giving crew" was posting on Facebook, and many people were cheering us on, and some would comment to let us know they also did an act of kindness that day,
because we inspired them.
And that's what it's all about.
Imagine what our world would be like if for just one of your life's birthdays,
each person chose to do this.
Kindness inspires Kindness.
We hope this inspired you.
***1/12/13 We recently recorded a podcast with The Power of Moms about this incredible day. If you'd like to hear more, here is the link.