Teacher Appreciation Week

This morning, I volunteered in my daughter’s class. I arrived a few minutes early and had the opportunity to observe the classroom for a few minutes.

When I walked in the door, the teacher asked the helper of the day to welcome me to the class. This second-grade boy pulled out a chair for me, looked me in the eye, and said, “Welcome to our class, Mrs. Daley.”

She taught him that.

I watched as she helped the students analyze a story they had recently read. They discussed the main ideas and important details. They talked about the message that the author wanted to share.

She taught them that.

I looked around the room and saw not just academic ideas, but inspirational messages. I saw positive reward systems. I saw reminders of kindness. I saw the evidence of a classroom full of children who were learning not just to be smart, but to be kind, and to be courageous, and to be compassionate.

She taught them that.

It is Teacher Appreciation Week. And this week, we say thank you.

Teacher Appreciation Challenge

You might have already pulled together a gift for your child’s teachers, but if you haven’t, I pulled some ideas for you earlier this year. Here are some suggestions for you, regardless of your budget:

My budget is $0. If you don’t have any extra money to purchase gifts, don’t worry! You don’t need any money to show appreciation.
* A thank-you card. I taught school for two years, and let me tell you something: a thoughtful card was a treasured gift! I would save them in my drawer and re-read them when things got stressful. Thank a teacher who has blessed you, or thank a teacher who has helped your child. Be specific – it’s always great to hear what you’re doing right! And let your child help; those little notes are priceless.
* Make a small gift. If you happen to have craft supplies lying around already, you might be able to make something that a teacher would really appreciate. For instance, many teachers write thank-you notes after teacher appreciation week. If you have scrapbooking supplies, you can make handmade greeting cards for the teacher to use. Thoughtful and practical.
* Volunteer to help in the classroom. If you do this, make your offer very specific. A generic “Let me know if I can help” is less likely to be taken up on than an offer like, “I know how busy you are, and I’d like to help! For Teacher Appreciation Week, my gift to you is 2 hours of after-school help. I am happy to cut, glue, grade, copy, laminate, or whatever you need help with! I’m free every Tuesday afternoon – please let me know what day works best for you and I’ll be there.”
* If you have young children and want to make their teachers laugh, this free printable has the potential to be funny! I’m planning on doing this with my kids, and I can’t wait to see what they say!

My budget is tight. Here are some gift ideas that are $5 or less.
* If you enjoy cooking, bake a treat. You can even make a healthier snack, like homemade granola or fruit leather. (Note: I’d only do this if the teacher knew me.)
* I love this idea of turning a bottle of soap into a clever gift. As a teacher, there are LOTS of germs floating around. A nice bottle of soap or hand sanitizer is a practical gift that is guaranteed to be used.
* This Redbox gift basket is such a fun idea! You can keep it simple and cheap, or you can add a few small things to it (like popcorn and soda).
* All kinds of things (from nail polish to a candy bar) can be turned into a fun teacher appreciation gift with a clever gift tag. If you’re not very clever, no worries – me either! That’s why I love sites like this one that round up lots of fun ideas.

I have a little more to spend. If you’d like to spoil a teacher a bit, here are a few more ideas. (Keep in mind – you can always ask around and see if any parents want to chip in and buy a group gift.)
* Gift cards. I can’t tell you how touched I was, as a brand-new teacher, to get a $25 Outback Steakhouse gift card and a $25 movie theater gift card during teacher appreciation week. I was floored! As in intern teacher, I was earning $900 a month and helping support my husband (who was in grad school). To be able to go to a restaurant and to a movie … it was such a treat!
* Buy an experience. Teachers work hard all year taking care of others – it’s time to give them the opportunity to do something for themselves! A manicure or pedicure … tickets to a museum or an exhibit … even something like rock climbing or skydiving could be fun. (I’d only do something like that if I knew the teacher fairly well and was pretty sure he or she would enjoy it.) You could even check out a website like Groupon and find something that looks fun and different.
* Put together an end-of-the-year “survival kit”. Anything you already know the teacher likes (soda, candy, etc.) is great. You can also add items that you know teachers go through a lot of (school supplies, hand sanitizer, etc.). A search on Pinterest will give you lots of suggestions! In fact, I made this Pinterest board to get you started! There are lots of cute, creative, cheap ideas on there to get you thinking.

Bouquets of School Supplies

Does anyone else remember the movie “You’ve Got Mail”, where Meg Ryan talks about wanting a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils? I have always loved that line. So we took that idea and ran with it this year! My children and I love giving gifts not just to their main classroom teacher, but to aides, music teachers, art teachers, etc. They all work so hard to teach our children – and as I learned this year as a preschool music teacher, it keeps you on your toes to have a new group of kids coming in and out of your room every half an hour. They deserve a gift too – and this one was very inexpensive! I have been watching clearance racks, and was able to put these bouquets together for under $2 each. But even if you don’t have time to bargain shop, this is something simple you can put together for under $5. It’s nothing fancy. This isn’t going to sweep across Pinterest. But my kids loved assembling them, I loved getting their teachers a gift that they can use – and as my preschooler proudly handed his bouquet to his teacher this morning, she seemed truly touched that we thought of her for Teacher Appreciation Week.

No matter your budget, can I ask you to join me in this week’s challenge? Let’s thank a teacher! What ideas to you have to add to our list?

An Important Life Lesson Learned from the World’s Ugliest Scarf

Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a rut. Rather unsatisfied with life.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes.

I know that my feelings are partly due to our recent move. We have a lovely new home in a wonderful neighborhood. The schools are great. We have many fun things to do within easy driving distance of our home. We have met so many good, kind, friendly people. But … I am someone who likes having roots. And two months hasn’t been quite long enough for me to put down roots.

So I’ve been going through the motions of daily life, but not very happily. As I wash the millionth(ish) dish of the day, as I vacuum the dog hair off of the stairs, as I dust, as I scrub, as I cook, I have had the same thought over and over.

“This isn’t what I want out of life. I want to be doing something more.”

More.

What is that “more”?

I’m not exactly sure. But as I’ve been trying to figure out what this “more” is that I want to be doing, I can let you know one thing: it does not involve housework. It involves … writing a book, perhaps. It involves sponsoring an orphanage in a third-world country. It involves connecting with people who share the deepest desire of my heart: making this world a better and a happier place, one act of kindness at a time.

And here, somewhere in between of a sink full of dishes and a bookshelf that needs to be dusted, I haven’t been able to find this “more.”

But I’m trying.

An Important Life Lesson Learned from the World's Ugliest Scarf

So yesterday, I took my son with me to run some errands. There is a new Michaels in our town, and off we headed, coupon in hand. As we wandered through the aisles, looking for felt to make our Star Wars Light Saber Popsicle Holders, I ran across the yarn aisle. I haven’t done anything with yarn since college, but I have been thinking about getting some kind of loom so I could teach my kids how to crochet simple hats. These would be great to add to my shoeboxes or blessing bags, and I thought it would be a good fine-motor skill for them to develop. I spotted the most simple loom – four pegs, just wide enough to crochet a scarf on. And it was cheap, and I had a coupon. Done.

I moved on to the yarn, and – yay! – skeins of soft yarn were on a “Doorbuster” sale. 70% off? Done. As I looked at colors, my son got excited.

“Mom, are you going to make ME a scarf?”

Well … I honestly hadn’t planned on that. But seeing the joy and hope on his face, I couldn’t help but say, “Sure, buddy. Pick your color.”

We settled on yellow AND black (“A bumblebee scarf, Mom!”), grabbed a few more skeins for future projects, and checked out. We came home and got busy with other projects, and then nap, and then a play date, and then dinner. And suddenly it was after 8 pm, and my son was asking (for the tenth time), “But Mom, when are you going to start my scarf?”

With a fair warning that I wouldn’t have time to finish it, I had him gather the supplies together for me. My plan was to figure out how to do it, and then let him help. I started working, and within a few minutes, I had the hang of it. And all kinds of ideas were running through my head. I could make scarves for my shoeboxes! I could give them to the homeless! Hey, maybe I’ll get so good, I can sell them, and use the money to buy more stuff for my shoeboxes! This is going to be the best hobby ever!

And then I looked … and I realized something.

This scarf. Was. UGLY.

Beginning a scarf

The thing is, with a loom this big, you’re supposed to use REALLY fluffy yarn. The thought had vaguely occurred to me, but, you know. 70% off. I thought if I doubled it, it would work out just fine.

I stared at the few rows of hideousness, all visions of crocheting fame flying out the window. It doesn’t even look like a scarf! It looks like … well, something that my 5-year-old would have done. Certainly not something that could be considered clothing. I sighed.

And then I heard a gasp.

“Mom. Look! LOOK! It’s … it’s a BUMBLEBEE SCARF!”

And I looked.

Not at the scarf.

At my son.

He was absolutely thrilled.

Apparently, I was making his dreams come true.

I smiled. And I kept going. Because apparently, this ugly scarf … it’s going to be enough.

I did a few more rows, then put it away as my husband and I put the kids to bed and worked on a few things around the house. I forgot about our new project.

But my son didn’t.

This morning, as I began preparing breakfast, he asked eagerly, “Mom, while you cook my eggs, can you finish my scarf?”

I started to chuckle. First, that he thinks that I’m coordinated enough to handle a hot pan, flipping eggs, AND a crochet hook all at once without scalding or impaling myself. And second, that he feels so secure in my love for him that he didn’t think I had anything better to do with my time than to cook for him and to make him a scarf.

And then I stopped in my tracks.

And tears came to my eyes.

And I realized something.

In this search for “more” … in this quest for fulfillment … in this desire to change the world … in the middle of this passion to make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time …

I had forgotten.

I had forgotten that there is really, truly nothing better for me to do with my time than to cook for my son and to make him a scarf.

Because if I could change the world … this is what would be happening. In every single home where a child lived, there would be someone who has nothing better to do than to cook breakfast and to make a scarf. Every child would know this. Every parent would know this. And with that love, with that security, with that confidence, that parent and that child would walk out the door together, ready to bless everyone in sight.

I began to look around my kitchen, and I began to see things. The dishes left in the sink from last night were a remnant of the meal that I had prepared. My family had eaten. We had discussed our day, we’d made plans, we’d set a family goal. We’d left that table full and happy. That time in the kitchen, those chores that I often dread – they were an investment in my family.

Fruit bowl

The fruit bowl on the counter was full. And it was full because I had taken the time to grocery shop with my son the day before, teaching him about healthy food choices that give our bodies energy. And as I peeled and washed and chopped, I was teaching my children to invest in their bodies and their health. I was giving them the strength they needed to step out the front door and change the world.

Every meal. Every dish. Every hug and kiss and song and prayer. Every story. Every tangle brushed out of long hair. Every ride to school, or to swim lessons, or to a play date. Every shopping trip to buy clothing or food for growing bodies. Every bit of unpaid, unnoticed, thankless service.

They all matter.

Every single one.

This message is for you, exhausted new mom who feels like you do nothing but feed and clean and burp and rock.

This message is for you, young dad who has forgotten what “free time” feels like because every extra minute you can find is dedicated to your children.

It’s for you, teacher who spends day after day after day trying to instruct and correct and protect and guide children who are not your own, but who you love with all of your heart.

It’s for you, who spends your days brushing tangles out of hair, breaking up arguments, folding piles of laundry, bathing little bodies, and cutting food into tiny pieces.

This message is for you.

What you do every day: it is enough.

You are enough.

By all means, take a break when you need it. Reach outside yourself to serve and to make a difference. Find your passion and pursue it. Do what you can do to make yourself strong and happy. Because if you are strong and happy, your family will benefit.

But then come back. And fry another egg. And know that in that small act, you are changing the world.

And maybe … just maybe … you can even crochet an ugly scarf.

Ugly scarf

The Shelter Challenge (Updated)

I’m back, y’all!   

(Only I’m in Colorado now, not Texas. Am I still allowed to say y’all? I hope so!)

These past few months have been busy. They’ve been chaotic. They’ve been a little bit rough. And I am so, SO excited to be back to writing and sharing with you! Life still isn’t 100% settled, but I’m hoping to be able to share weekly service challenges with you once again. And frankly, I’m ready to stop thinking about myself and start looking for ways to make a difference in my new community.

So this week, we repeat a previous challenge. And since we’ve done this before, I’m going to give you a few options: Easy, intermediate, and difficult. Are you in??

This week, we’re going to reach out to a local shelter and see what we can do to help! And for me, being new in my community, I’m starting from scratch again. I am so excited!

Simple Ways to Serve Your Local Shelter

To begin, everyone has the same assignment. Are you ready?

Find an empty box.

(Seriously. That’s it.)

Just get an empty box and leave it in a closet somewhere. As you find out what your local shelter needs, this will be where you’ll put your stash. When the box is full, time to donate! So simple.

And now, our three other ways to help a local shelter. Easy, intermediate, or difficult – what are you up for this week?

So first, the easy plan. If this is your first time participating, you just have two things to do. First of all, do an internet search: simply type in your zipcode and the word “shelter”. Then find something that touches your heart. Homeless shelter? Shelter for families? Temporary housing for teens? An animal shelter? Just pick one. And then step two: find out what they need! Often, you can find a wishlist online that you can simply print. If not, make a quick phone call and ask what the items are that they need the most. Write them down and stick the list somewhere that you’ll see.

That’s it!

I am a firm believer that the first step to making a difference in our community is simply knowing what our community needs. From there, helping will be much easier!Serving as friends

Okay, ready for the intermediate plan?

If you’ve participated in our shelter challenge previously, you already know what your local shelter’s needs are. So this week … time to do something about it! Here are my ideas for you:

* Set aside a cash budget. Then start bargain shopping! Does your shelter need new bedding? Check your local department stores (with coupons, of course) for sales and clearance deals. Do they need canned food? Scour your weekly ads and see how far you can stretch that budget.

* See what you already have in your home that you might be able to donate. Have a surplus of canned food that you probably won’t use before it expires? Share it with someone who is hungry! Have clothing that no longer fits? Let it go, and let it bless someone who does not have the means to buy new clothing. But please, please be mindful that you are not donating junk. Secondhand clothing? Totally fine. Terribly ripped and stained clothing? That will likely end up thrown away. I read this powerful article (and the buzz it stirred up on Facebook) almost two years ago, and it stuck with me. Donating things that our families would use if we still have the need for them – awesome. Donating garbage that we just can’t stand to throw away though – that just causes more work for the volunteers who sort through donations. When in doubt, give the organization a call and ask! Some organizations will accept tattered clothing to cut into rags, and some will have to take time to sort and throw it away. Just be mindful of what you are giving and take a moment to be sure it will be a blessing, not a burden.

* Get your friends to help you. I can’t think of a better way to make a difference than to reach beyond your own influence and let others help! As I’ve shared with you before, my friends and I have done everything from throwing a baby shower for charity to making blessing bags, and it has been so awesome. Tell your friends what you are gathering together, and see if anyone has anything else to donate.

* Advocate. Even if you have no money and almost no time, you can do that! Just let people know what the needs are in your neighborhood. Chatting with a coworker or a neighbor? Mention your local shelter and their needs. Are you on Facebook? Share a link to your local shelter’s Facebook page or wish list and encourage people to check it out.

Even if you are not in a financial position to help right now, you might be able to share the information with someone who can help.

The Quarter Challenge 005

Okay. There are our easy and intermediate challenges. Are you ready for the advanced challenge??

Volunteer.

I know that time is precious. I know that you might not think you can commit to helping a local organization on a regular basis. But often, their most desperate need is for volunteers. Women’s shelters need babysitters so the moms can attend work and training classes. Homeless shelters (and youth shelters) need mentors. Animal shelters need people to play with and walk the pets. Food pantries need volunteers to stock shelves and fill orders. Many organizations need people to do simple tasks like answer phones and help with paperwork.

They need your time.

If you are in a season of life with a few extra hours a week, make a phone call and see who you can help!

New mom care package

So there is your challenge for this week! Here is my personal plan:

* Find a local women’s shelter, homeless shelter, and animal shelter
* Start a “donation box” to collect needed items
* Donate at least one bag of items

What about you? Have you done our challenge before? How are you going to participate this week?

On a Writing Break … Sort Of!

Hi there, friends! I wanted to take a moment to check in with all of you and fill you in on my life a bit.

My family is getting ready for a move to another state. It is exciting, it is terrifying, it is BUSY. My stress level has been very high for the last month or two, and I have found myself constantly sick and tired. So for the next little while, I’m backing off of several things … including writing. As much as I LOVE this little website and sharing new ideas with you, I truly need to take some time to focus on my family, my health, my sanity … and selling a house. And settling into a new one. And learning a new area. But before that, spending some quality time with my Texas people. (Sob.)

So what does that mean? Less posts around here for a while. But I’ll still be on Facebook, and if you would like to hang around, look on the right-hand side of this page. Scroll down a bit, and you’ll find a handy spot to enter your e-mail address. It will automatically send you an e-mail when I post.

Thanks for joining me on this journey, everyone! I can’t wait to come back less stressed, more rested, with a clear head and a heart ready to give and serve with you.

P.S. Please feel free to keep asking me questions! Need an activity to do with your kids? Looking for a way to spread kindness in your community? I always welcome your questions and your comments!

On a break

What’s Your Word for 2016?

So sorry about the late New Year’s post, friends! I got pretty sick last week and thought I’d spare y’all the rambling thoughts of a feverish woman, slightly loopy from medication. This week, luckily, I’m feeling great, and so excited to share some thoughts with you.

For those of you who have been around here for a year, you might remember last year’s New Year’s post. For the last several years, rather than choosing New Year’s resolutions, I have instead chosen a word.

That’s it.

One word that I’d like to focus on for the entire year.

And it has been AWESOME.

I have never, ever stuck to a New Year’s resolution. I am not terribly great with goals. But a word? Just one word to focus on? Even I can do that!

In 2014, my word was “hope”. I began the year facing a scary surgery, and hope was something that I desperately needed. And during that long and difficult year, I clung to hope like an anchor. As I continued to battle challenges (both physically and emotionally), I kept hope in my mind and in my heart.

In 2015, my word was “savor”. I felt a bit silly choosing that word, but after a year of challenges and struggles and pain, I desperately wanted to begin to enjoy my life again. I particularly wanted to relish this season of life with young children. The years are flying by SO fast, and somehow my baby is almost kindergarten age. So I wanted to make 2015 a year to savor. And I did. Not every day, certainly. But many days. I stopped to savor moments. I paused to create memories. I said “yes” when I would have rather said “no” to one more book, one more song, one more goodnight hug. And it was a beautiful way to focus my year.

2016

So 2016 is here. And I’m going to get real here, y’all: I am a little bit afraid of 2016. My husband and I decided to accept a job opportunity that he received. It should offer a much better quality of family life, and I am hopeful that we will get to spend more time together than we have in years past. But it means a move. It means saying goodbye to my friends who have become like family. It means leaving my new home. It means leaving my wonderful job teaching preschool. It means starting over in a new place. And guess what I don’t like doing? Starting over.

But I’ve realized that I get to choose.

I get to choose if I am going to dread this move. I can decide that I’m going to hate my new home. I can loathe the weather. I can whine about all of the changes in my life. I can mourn the loss of my friends. I can throw a pity party when I leave my job.

Or I can make another choice.

I can choose to be happy, wherever I am.

Is it going to be that simple? Goodness, no. Am I going to be successful at this every day? I highly doubt it. I anticipate that I will struggle with this. A LOT. In fact, this is likely going to be a real stretch for me many days this year.

But I have made a choice, and I need you to help me stick to it.

I have chosen that wherever I am, I will be happy.

And not just that … but wherever I am, I will find a way to make the world a better place. I will find someone to bless. I will find a way to brighten and cheer. I will not just survive, but I will flourish. I will learn more about myself, I will become more confident, and I will use my strengths in ways that will make life better for others. I will love myself, and I will help others to love themselves, too.

Bloom

In 2016 … my goal is to bloom.

And I can’t wait to see what opportunities await.

Are you joining me in choosing a word for this new year? What is your word for 2016?

Christmas Decoration Apprecation

Hi there, friends! I apologize for the two week gap in writing. I have been very busy, as I’m sure you all have. This is a wonderful time of year, but SO busy! I hope your holiday season is a beautiful one.

Lately, my kids and I have found ourselves taking the long way home when we’re driving in the evening. They LOVE looking at all of the Christmas lights and decorations in our neighborhood – and so do I! I am so grateful for those who take the time (and the money) to make the neighborhood look beautiful. So this week, we are going to repeat one of our challenges from last year: we are going to tell our neighbors thank you!

Thank you treat

It’s pretty simple: just print off our free printable tags (or make your own cards and tags). Attach a treat of some kind. And then drive around your neighborhood, looking for beautiful decorations! You can doorbell ditch the thank-you note (that’s what we did last year, and my kids LOVED it). You can leave it in a mailbox. Or you can knock on a door and meet a new neighbor. How you choose to do it us up to you; just take a few minutes to say thank you. I am willing to bet most people do not expect any thanks, but will probably be delighted to get a small token of appreciation. Because we ALL like to be appreciated, don’t we? So go out and make your neighborhood a little bit happier tonight!

Christmas decoration challenge

Giving Gifts that Make a Difference

It’s that time of year again. So many fun things are going on: Christmas lights, holiday parties, baking days, spending time with loved ones, standing in endless lines to check out at the store to buy gifts that you’re not sure if people will even want.

I love it all!

Well … except for maybe that last part.

Changing lives with your holiday gift budget

I really love gifts (I enjoy receiving them, and I LOVE giving them)… but have you ever sat down to make your Christmas shopping list and just been tired of all of the STUFF? I sure have. So this year, as you’re preparing to shop, I’d like to encourage you to think outside the box a little and to look at Christmas shopping a different way. Let’s shop with purpose this year. Let’s let those dollars in our Christmas budget count.

This week, will you join me in my simple service project? Just take a moment to look at your holiday gift budget, then consider this: is there anyone you’re shopping for who really doesn’t need STUFF? Or is there anyone on your list who would love to receive a gift, knowing that the person who made that gift is being given the opportunity for a better life?

If the answer to that is yes … or even just maybe … join me this week in using those holiday dollars to change lives. Come see the work of The Mercy House, Compassion International, and many more, and see if you get any ideas. And then come back and share your thoughts with us!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Normally on Thursdays, we have a service/kindness challenge. But today, I’m not going to spend much time writing. I’m going to be cooking delicious things (I have a dark chocolate sea salt caramel pie in my fridge, y’all), eating wonderful food, and spending time with my people. That’s about as good as life gets, isn’t it? I hope you get to spend today doing the same thing.

But not everyone has that opportunity, do they? So today (and this week), my challenge to you is simple: reach out with kindness to someone who might not be having an ideal holiday. Someone who has recently lost a spouse, a parent, or a child. Someone who is having financial difficulties and might be feeling the stress of the holiday season. Someone who is spending Thanksgiving working, or someone who has to go to bed early tonight so they can be at work at 3 am tomorrow, getting ready for a storm of impatient Black Friday shoppers. Show a bit of extra kindness. Be a little more patient. Be thoughtful and considerate to one extra person.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. It is a privilege to be a part of this community with you.

Happy Thanksgiving

The Birthday Kindness List

Hello, everyone, and thank you SO much for joining me in celebrating my birthday with acts of kindness! I am going to keep updating this list throughout the day. I would LOVE it if we made it to 100! If you are able to go our of your way to do an act of kindness for a stranger, would you please let us know what you did? You can comment here or on our Facebook page, or e-mail me at [email protected] If you want to include your city and/or state, that would be awesome, too! Thank you for celebrating with me – you have no idea how happy this makes me.

Birthday Acts of Kindness

  1. Left a gift for the waitress at breakfast (Grand Prairie, TX)
  2. Making dinner for a friend whose husband recently had surgery
  3. Bought a gift for P.E. teacher (Grand Prairie, TX)
  4. Packed a care package for a friend who will be in basic training over the holidays
  5. Sharpened pencils to make school kits for kids in need (done by a 5-year-old)
  6. Sent flowers to a friend fighting cancer (Ripon, CA)
  7. Donated baby items to a family who lost their home in a fire
  8. Sent a “just-because” card to a friend
  9. Bought extra toiletries to donate
  10. Gave out coupons for free cookies from the cafeteria for 40 students and staff members to find
  11. Sent a card to a friend who is having a tough year
  12. Gave treats to a friend at work
  13. Wheeled in a neighbor’s garbage can (Manteca, CA)
  14. Handed out stickers in a store (done by a 2-year-old)
  15. Donated 8 inches of hair to a program that makes wigs for kids with hair loss
  16. Send a Hanukkah care package to brother and his comrades on an army base
  17. Spent time talking to a woman who was eating alone
  18. Clicked to donate for free at The Hunger Site
  19. Clicked to help homeless animals at The Greater Good
  20. Clicked to donate at The Breast Cancer Site
  21. Clicked to donate at The Animal Rescue Site
  22. Clicked to donate at The Veterans Site
  23. Clicked to support therapy services at The Autism Site
  24. Clicked to donate at The Alzheimers Site
  25. Clicked to support research at The Diabetes Site
  26. Clicked to help give a book at The Literacy Site
  27. Clicked to help protect wildlife at The Rainforest Site
  28. Brought treats to the staff at a care center for adults with disabilities (Duncanville, TX)
  29. Left a note and a gift card for a new mom to find (tucked inside the diaper changing station in Target)
  30. Shopped for Operation Christmas Child
  31. Sent care packages to military personnel
  32. Sent care packages to college students
  33. Anonymously sent a gift card to new parents
  34. Gave a waiter a gift card to give to another diner
  35. Bought toys for kids with cancer
  36. Sharpened pencils for school supply kits for Operation Christmas Child
  37. Donated a pumpkin pie to a family
  38. Had a shoebox packing party
  39. Helped someone with plumbing questions
  40. Chose a child’s wish list from Salvation Army angel tree
  41. Cleaned up trash in the park
  42. Bought candy for the next person in line at the movie theater

It’s My Birthday!

So you know how some people are like, “Yeah, it’s my birthday. No biggie. Let’s not talk about it.”

Yup. That’s me.

Only the opposite.

Tomorrow is my birthday, and for years, I’ve wanted to do something like Robyn from The Birthday Project. On her 38th birthday, she completed 38 random acts of kindness for strangers. Friends and family joined in, and the idea spread like wildfire. Countless people celebrated that day by being kind to strangers.

What an amazing day.

I haven’t attempted this on my birthday because it’s pretty busy packing shoeboxes. But this year, I thought I’d try.

And I’d love your help.

Birthday Acts of Kindness

Do you remember in May, how we joined together for the Random Acts of Kindness challenge? Together, we completed 65 acts of kindness for strangers. It was a wonderful day. And tomorrow, I’d like to do it again. Will you help me try to hit my big, crazy goal of 100 acts of kindness?

There are only a few requests I have for this challenge. The first: Do something that you would NOT normally do. We’re going out of our way to bring happiness to the life of a stranger. And my other request: will you please come back tomorrow and let us know what you did? (You can leave a comment on the post that will be up, you can comment on our Facebook page, or if you want to be totally anonymous, you can e-mail me at [email protected]) There are two reasons for that. One, it’s awesome to learn from one another’s ideas. And two … there’s such an awesome sense of community that forms when people from all over come together to do good things. It’s amazing. And I’m SO excited already.

For some ideas, feel free to check out our original 100 Acts of Kindness Day results – there were SO many awesome suggestions from members of our Let’s Do Some Good Today community! Here are a few of my very favorites:

Sometimes when I’m doing something kind for a stranger, one of the most awkward things is explaining what I’m doing in a way that makes it clear that I’m not trying to get anything out of them. If this makes you nervous, this might help: Often I print off a little handout (like these free Butterfly effect printable tags) to hand out to people. So if you wanted to give a stranger a gift card, you could just smile, hand them the gift card and this little printable card, and say something like “I’m participating in a kindness challenge today. This is for you. If you can, do something nice for a stranger and pass it on. Have a great day!” Smile again and walk away. And that’s it!

Butterfly Effect

So how are you going to be participating in this challenge tomorrow? I would LOVE to hear! Thank you so much for celebrating my birthday with me, and thank you for spreading kindness!