Tag Archives: random acts of kindness

The Kindness Habit. It Worked!

The last week of going out of my way to be kind. It was easy and it was a challenge. I found that I tend to do a lot of typically “kind” acts all the time. But going out of my way to make sure I do one act daily?

A challenge.

Day 15 – At Target today, an extremely frazzled mother was trying to keep her cool. With two toddlers in tow, one was being an angel. The other? Was not. She was struggling. People were staring. I found myself getting annoyed with the incessant whining and screaming. But she remained calm and firm the entire time. I glanced over to her a few times and I could see it in her eyes she was losing a bit of confidence. I walked over to her and told her I could see she was having a rough time but she was handling it so well. That I knew it was tough to be firm, especially with this age, but she was doing all the right things. She started to tear up and so did I. We hugged. It’s so hard to be a good mom. Don’t I know it.

Day 16 – Sent out some snail mail. To: my daughter, a Blog World friend, my sister and an out of town friend. Boy, I sure love me some good, old fashioned snail mail.

Day 17 -Made a homemade onion dip (you’ll never buy store bought again!) and put together a little basket of crackers and veggies and dip for our empty nester neighbors across the street. I don’t know if they practice a cocktail hour but at least they have a snack if they do!

Day 18 – Called my aunt. I know what you’re thinking. Jane’s a lazy cheater, trying to use a call to family as a “kind act.” But this particular relative pushes my buttons like no other. So, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to call “just because” instead of having a reason. Don’t judge.

Day 19 - Left a $5 bill in the tip jar at the drive through at Starbucks. The catch? I skipped ordering coffee. There was no line (shocker!) so I just drove through and put some money in. Felt weird and fun, all at the same time.

Day 20 -  Let someone cut in front of me at the grocery store. They had two items, I had half a cart. This “kind deed” was not a stretch at all for me but I quite honestly forgot all about this project until I was racing into the store to grab some things for dinner. How could I forget? I’m almost done.

Day 21 – Another letter writing day. I wrote a glowing letter to the boss of the favorite yoga instructor I told you about here. May she receive a hefty raise.

There you have it. Three weeks of going out of my way to be kind-er. I realized that I already do quite a few things, on a regular basis, that is considered kind by most. I was astonished by some of the “kindness reports” that were shared on the 21 Day Kindness Challenge website. Both in a good way and not-so-good way. But more on that later.

Suffice it to say, my Kindness spilleth over. It was a rewarding experience. It was a challenging experience. It was worth all of my time and effort. It was a challenge to be creative. But that just made it all the more fun.

And the beautiful thing? It IS now a more conscience habit.

21 Days.

It worked!

8 Comments

Filed under RAOK

A Challenge and An Update. Jane’s Twofer Post.

As promised, I present you with my first full week of the 21 Day Kindness Challenge. The difficulty has been in thinking of unique ways to express kindness. As you’ll soon read, I think I’ve failed that part of the challenge. Luckily, I’m the only one who feels my acts need to be unique. That takes some of the pressure off.

Day 1 – Tried to compliment as many people as I could. Cute outfit. Love your haircut. Love your toenail polish. People I knew and saw fairly regularly. And perfect strangers. I reserved the “love your haircuts” and “you look great, have you lost weight?” for people I knew, obviously. I lost track of how many people I made smile. But it was a lot.

Day 2 – The door for swim practice is heavy. Especially for the little ones. So, I stood outside for the first 15 minutes of practice and the last 15, just opening the door for people. Lost track of how many people wanted to hold the door for me so that I could finally go inside. Awkward.

Day 3 – Gave an insanely generous tip for a drive through place that actually accepts tips in the drive through.Was reminded of my pet peeve as she said, “Okay” instead of “Thank You!” when I told her to keep the change. Had to remind myself that this exercise was for others and not just me. Maybe she is mathematically challenged.

Day 4 – Made a conscious effort to learn the names and cheer for the other kids on my boys’ baseball team. I know. I sound horrible. But I rarely know the names of other kids so this was a challenge for me. And, I’m not very vocal. I’m more the strong, silent type of parent when it comes to cheering and by that I mean introverted and shy. My kids know I’m proud of them because I tell them so. Quietly. After the game. But this Saturday was different. And my kids noticed. They can no longer look me in the eye.

Day 5 – Completely forgot the challenge. But, and this is a big “but,” the All-Day-Compliment-Day that I did on the first day has already spilled over and I find myself complimenting people much more often than I did in the past. Must have told 5 strangers today I loved their smile, handbag and Ooooo, your baby is just precious. Does this count?

Day 6 – Wrote the Pool Committee, the most thankless volunteer position ever, an open letter thanking them for a job well done this season. Hopefully, my undying gratitude will keep me off that committee for another year.

Day 7 – Finally wrote to my 4th grade teacher and thanked her for inspiring me to be a teacher one day. According to Google/Superpages she’s alive and well and still living in my hometown. Fingers crossed she gets it.

How about you? Are you in? Share a comment below or link us to your post. We’re not picky. As long as everyone is being kind to one another. That’s the main thing! Click the button over to the right for more info and more ideas on this amazing challenge!

5 Comments

Filed under RAOK

It IS Selfish. But I Promise. It’ll Do Your Heart Good.

You all know I’m a huge proponent of Random Acts of Kindness. I’ve written about it here, here and here. And I practice Random Acts of Kindness. In my real life. Not just in the one I lead here, in Blog World.

But I have to admit. I practice it rather randomly.

I wish I was more mindful of the practice. While it is not unnatural for me to be kind, I don’t go out of my way. My random acts tend to be spontaneous and convenient and easy. Easy because the situation screamed, “Be Kind!!!”

Waitress having a bad day = leave an amazing tip

Person seems sad in the car behind you = buy their coffee

Neighbor just lost their cat = leave a potted flower on their porch

So, when I came across the 21-Day Kindness Challenge, I knew it was something I had to push myself to do.

And I’m encouraging all of you to at least try. Join me in the amazingly simple yet challenging task.

Admit it. When you give someone a gift, big or small, and it makes them smile, you feel pretty good about yourself. Am I right? In a way, this seems a bit selfish. Doing nice things for people in order to make you feel good. And it is selfish. But in a good way.

They say it takes three weeks to adopt a new habit. For three weeks, each day, we will find something that brings a smile to someone else’s face. Buy someone’s coffee. Let someone cut you in line. Crack someone up with your kid’s latest knock-knock joke. (Ok. Maybe they won’t crack up. At least make them smile. Big.)

After 21 days, the habit will be in place and hopefully, all of us will be better for it. You make other people smile, then your heart will smile. It’s a win-win!

On Wednesdays, I’ll check back here and report my progress. In the comment section or your own blog, you can report your progress. Or not. No pressure. And if you start late, do 2 or 3 or 7 kind acts each day until you catch up. No biggie.

21 Days of Kindness.

C’mon.

Make the world smile.

It’ll be fun!

challengelogo

8 Comments

Filed under RAOK

Old News But News To Me. And It’s Feel-Good-Friday!

Apparently, this is old news. Three months old, to be exact.

But it’s news to me. So I’m sharing.

The Allegheny Window Cleaning company, in Pennsylvania, surprised a client (a local children’s hospital) with this:

superherowindow

 

Not to be outdone (honestly, I don’t know who went first…it just fit my internet surfing timeline) the window washers at La Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennesee did this:

spi

 

And this great idea is now a movement. If you Google “superhero window washers” you’ll find similar stories popping up all over America. From Pittsburgh to Memphis to St. Petersburg, Florida and beyond.

Bringing joy to these children’s faces, allowing them to forget about their illness for even just a moment is such a precious and amazing thing.

Now, that’s my definition of a Superhero.

 

6 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, Be-Causes, RAOK, The !!!

I Think My Neighbors Are Stalking Me. And This Time, They Have Just Cause.

Or at least they’ve found me out.

You know my obsession with clean trash cans? (No? Read about it here. It’s ok. We’ll wait.)

And you’re well aware of my fascination with Google search terms. (Here and here. Again, take your time. We’re a patient bunch.)

Well, apparently, people are still finding my blog when they search for: random acts of kindness (A number of posts on this topic as it is near and dear to my heart), burka (Just one post on this topic, I promise), traffic signals, josef albers, joy suckers (Hey! That’s just mean!), wrinkled boobs (Even meaner!), hornyteens (Written just like that, all one word — and I’ll say it again. Ewwwwww!) and now……..

Wait for it……

wait for it…..

OCD About Trash Cans.

Wait! I can explain.

It’s just that we recently had another incident. And this time, it was my husband’s fault.

You see, I’ve turned #1son into an OCDer. Fingers crossed that he’s come by it honestly. He’s my son through adoption so I’m hoping it’s nature, not nurture. Because I know how debilitating OCD can be. And I shudder to think that I’m the cause. And I don’t want to see him on Dr. Phil in 20 years, shouting to the world that it’s all my fault. But I digress….

We, meaning my #1son and I, had just cleaned the trash cans last week. He was helping me pull them to the house and he said, ever so sweetly, “Mom? These cans are stinky. Maybe we should clean them out?”

Ahhhh. He warms the cockles of my heart.

So, we got to it. Spraying. Lysoling. Spraying some more. Air drying. It was heaven.

Sparkling clean trash and recycling cans tucked safely away in the garage.

Check.

This week, I went to the curb and grabbed the trash can handle.

Ouch!

Something bit me.

I look down and the handle, the ridge of the can and inside the can is covered with red ants. Upon further discovery, the bottom of the can is swimming with sweet, sticky liquid. Could it be……beer?

I don’t drink beer. My kids don’t drink beer. My husband. He drinks beer. And he broke rule # 173: Do not put loose trash in the trash can and rule #92: Put recyclables in the recycling bin. (Duh!)

So, two weeks in a row, I’m outside, cleaning the trash bin. And my neighbors saw me.

And the very next morning, in my WordPress Site Stats, I find that someone has found my blog by searching: OCD about trash cans.

Oh. I am so busted.

11 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, funny, How We Roll

No Gift For My Birthday? Don’t Worry. I’ve Got The Perfect Idea!

Guess what?

It’s my birthday!

No. Really. It is. Today. My birthday.

Awww, don’t feel bad that you didn’t get me anything. I just sprung it on you – I gave you no time to shop. But you can make it up to me. I have an idea for a really awesome gift for yours truly. Hang on until the end of this post and I’ll let you know what it is.

You have to suffer through this little story first…

I was at the grocery store. Again. My cupboard is bare. (Little old Mother Hubbard that I am.) I have participated in 3 (count ‘em, 1-2-3) canned good drives already and it’s only the first of December. So, I was at the grocery store buying “spare” canned goods for the drive this weekend. And I pulled up to a stoplight.

A man is standing there with a cardboard sign, “Stranded. Need Help!”

A woman a few cars up, rolls down her window and hands him a small wad of cash. He takes it. Nods his thanks. I’m sitting in my car with bags of canned goods. I can’t hand him a can. (I’m guessing he doesn’t have a can-opener on him) And I can’t hand him cash.

Well, I could. But I’m a Give-A-Man-A-Fish-He-Eats-For-A-Day-But-Teach-A-Man-To-Fish-He Eats-For-A-Lifetime kind of girl.

And I’m on my way to Starbucks, right across the street. (Spoiled little suburbanite – that’s me!) So, I’ll get him a coffee. It’s cold, wet and rainy. A cup of coffee will warm him up a bit.

I’m waiting in line. And it’s a scene straight out of “Animal House.”

Angel Jane: A cup of coffee? Don’t be such a cheap skate. Get him some food!

Devil Jane: Food? What he really wants is cash to support his meth habit. Put your money away.

Angel Jane: But what if he really needs help?

Devil Jane: There are two churches right down the street. Goodwill around the corner. And a whole host of other charitable organizations just itching to help someone this time of year. AND – you’ve already donated to a bunch of them already. If he needs help, it’s easy to find.

Angel Jane: A little food. What’s the harm in that? Now…how about the protein plate? Apples, cheese, hardboiled egg and grapes. It’s only $4.75!

Devil Jane: A protein plate? Are you kidding? He wants another beer I’m tellin’ ya. Now put your money away!

(I put my $10 back in my wallet and pull out a $20)

Angel Jane: She’s right. A protein plate is silly. And the Turkey/Swiss sandwich is only $5.95. Get that. It’s more filling.

Devil Jane:  He wants cash. For drugs. Put that money back in your wallet!

This goes on for quite a while. The drive-thru line is long. And I’m honestly pulling out a $10, putting it back in my wallet and then pulling out a $20, putting that back and pulling out the $10 again. On and on it goes.

Finally, it’s my turn. I hand the cashier my $20. (Angel Jane won!)

“The woman ahead of you paid for your drink,” the barista says to me, “She wanted me to wish you a Merry Christmas!”

Someone pulled a Random Act of Kindness on Jane! Me! Lil’ ol’ me! Three days before my birthday! Woo-hoo!

“Then I’m really supposed to do this,” I say to the cashier. “Can I please have a turkey sandwich, as well?”

I pay for the sandwich. (Still so stunned that someone bought me a coffee that I don’t think to pay for the car behind me until I’m driving away. Doh!)

And as I’m waiting at the light to cross the intersection I see the police car picking him up. Apparently, stranded beggars are not allowed on this street corner.

So, I tried. And after that whole exchange between Angel me and Devil me I’ve decided Angel me should win. With a sandwich, at least. I will still not hand out cash but what’s the harm in handing someone a sandwich?

And did I tell you it’s my birthday?

Can you guess what I want for my birthday?

(Ah. You know me so well!)

Yes. I’d like all of you to spread a random acts over the weekend. Yes you, Angel Joe, Angel Wendy, Angel Shannon, Angel Elastamom and Angel Steven! No hiding Angel subwow, Angel Lisa, Angel Mel, Angel Jeanne, Angel Rudrip and Angel Gale. C’mon Angels Kenzie and Katybeth and Kristen and Carol. Calling Angel Thoughtsappear, Angel Aiden, Angel Teachergirl, Angel Lynn, Angel Beary, Angel Lies. And even two of my favorite, lovable (and self-proclaimed) curmudgeons Angel Shout and Angel Kitch. No ducking out on this one! (Boy. Aren’t you all sorry you welcomed me back? ;) )

ALL of you Angel Jane readers out there - c’mon. It’ll be fun! A little joy for a stranger. It doesn’t have to be a cup of (overpriced) coffee. It could be a sandwich. Or loading their groceries while they buckle their kids in the car. Or purchasing a little poinsettia plant and leaving it anonymously on your elderly neighbor’s doorstep. You could make cookies for your local firefighters. Pay the toll for the person behind you or put quarters in the parking meter. Bring some books you’ve already read to a nursing home. Or one of your brilliant ideas. Any charitable act will do!

That’s all I want for my birthday. Because you all know how much I love a little Random Act of Kindess. Nothin’ big. Nothin’ fancy. But something that is sure to put you into the holiday spirit, too!

35 Comments

Filed under Be-Causes, Completely Random, Holiday, How We Roll, Observations

Jane Comes Out Of The Closet And Then, She Confesses

Wait.

Reverse that.

First, I’m going to confess. Then we’ll get to that other thing.

Remember that RAOK post that garnered so much attention? And then I commented on the comments and challenged myself to take it a step further?

Well. I slept on it. And in the morning my challenge sounded a bit….impossible. And improbable. 

Let me explain.

I decided, in my spontaneous and do-gooder charged wisdom, to attempt a random act of kindness every day (or at least weekly) and then post about it on a separate tab on my blog.

Sounded good at the time.

And then I thought…how random is random if I’m planning on doing it?  And what if, by 10 o’clock at night, when I’m tired and spent and ready to go to bed, I haven’t done anything especially random? What about all the other kind activities I do daily, without even thinking about it? Helping a woman with a stroller or holding doors open or reaching something high on a shelf for someone in the grocery store or the random snail mail cards I send to friends and family far away or letting that poor woman with five kids go ahead of me at Target because I’ve managed to procure a blissful hour alone to shop?

That’s my life. I do little bits of random every single day.

Or what about the bigger acts of kindness that I participate in? Volunteering at my kid’s school. Making dinner for someone who: had a recent death in the family, had a baby, extended illness, just moved to the neighborhood or is moving away. Watching out for an elderly neighbor. Or, how, whenever we bake I always split it and share with a neighbor or friend.

A dear neighbor recently said to me, “I can always count on you!” And she’s right. I may not always have my full heart into it (because I’m human and have a busy, full life) but I find it very difficult to say “no” to someone in need.

And then I started thinking about the two or three comments (out of 200) that criticized my good deed. (Isn’t it funny how we always focus on the negative no matter how inconsequential they may be?)  They felt that forking over $3.18 to “help” someone who was already prepared to fork over $3.18 for an overpriced coffee was self-indulgent and frivolous. That it only made the giver feel good about giving something that wasn’t necessary in the first place. Do I really want to invite more criticism, no matter how far and few between?

And that mildly annoyed me. Because we ‘re talking about kindness. Bringing a smile to a stranger’s face. Who cares if the person was prepared to pay for it anyway? I know, when it happened to me in the drive-thru – when some sweet woman paid for my coffee three summers ago and the cashier handed me  a “Moms Rock!” scribbled on a napkin as way of explanation from the anonymous giver, I looked in the rearview mirror at my feisty, fighting 3 and 4-year-old boys and thought, “Thank you, dear sweet woman for a little joy today!”

Which brings me to this.

Joy.

One of you out there once told me that some weeks, it’s hard to find joy. I thought, oh goodness, how sad. A whole week without joy. I find joy in every day – no matter how small. I’m not saying it’s easy. Some days I have to look. Real hard. But I find it. So, I challenged myself to document joy every day.

And I’m doing that……here. At Every Day Joy. Have been for 251 days now. I’ve kept it very, very quiet. I’ve been doing it for me. To make sure that every day I stop and recognize the bounty that is my life. I’m only sharing it here with you now to say….

Random acts of kindness should be random. I shouldn’t plan for it. I shouldn’t schedule them.

And that challenge to myself helped me to take stock of my life and realize each day is chock full to the brim. With taking care of children and a husband. With lots of dear friends and some family. I try, each day, to be thoughtful, compassionate and considerate.  I practice kindness. Both deliberately and randomly. Both have their place and purpose.

There it is. Out of the closet.

I say things I sometimes have to take back.

And.

I have a quiet, secret little blog about celebrating joy.

That’s not so secret anymore.

26 Comments

Filed under Growing Up, Lessons Learned

Al and Tipper? Old News. Apparently, RAOK Is All The Rage.

The first time I was ever featured on WordPress’s Freshly Pressed page I had written a post, two months ago, on the fly, about the Tipper and Al divorce. Just a quick little observation about my impressions of marriage, divorce and media attention. Hits to my blog sky-rocketed. And a whopping 61 comments. 61! I had never generated so much buzz.

Then, I go away for the weekend. Not wanting to let my blog sit dormant, I re-printed a post from December. Just a sweet, little post about my commitment (or lack thereof) to Random Acts of Kindness. Freshly Pressed picked me up again as a featured blog post.

The attention has been astounding.

Simply.

Astounding.

And by astounding, I mean mind-boggling.

I’m standing here speechless. No, make that flummoxed.

The hits? Off the charts doesn’t even begin to describe. And the comments? 209 at last count. And that doesn’t even include all the spam or comments I deleted. (But will make for excellent post material at a later date. Stay tuned!)

A little post about how I tried to make someone’s day with an unexpected surprise. And how I felt guilty not doing it more. Or giving more in that particular moment.

People crawled out of the woodwork, threw down their lurker status and commented in droves. Or they commented on their own blogs and linked back here. Or they cut and paste my post and used it for their blog. (Which I’m still wrestling with the ethics of that, but again, a topic for another post.)

Or they criticized my actions. (But that, too, will be for another post.)

A simple, $3.18 gesture and I’m sitting high on the shoulders of my fellow bloggers and being paraded around Blog World.

A hero.

And isn’t that a little sad? I’m glad a story about paying it forward garnered more attention than a high-profile divorce, don’t get me wrong. But the shock and awe of how a small act of kindness can make such a difference surprises me.

And makes me pause and think and wonder…what if I were more deliberate in my good deeds? What if I challenged myself  to commit at least one RAOK a day, every day. How hard could it be?

So, forget about the challenge I posed to everyone about committing a random act of kindness over the weekend. I’m upping the ante. This isn’t going to be an “every once in a while thing” for me anymore. I’m going to challenge myself to commit a minimum of one RAOK each week. I will post about my successes and inevitable failures (because, contrary to popular opinion right now, I AM human) on a separate tab section of this blog. (No need to start another blog about this issue. There are plenty out there.)

You can join me. You can read and see what I do. You can be inspired all over again. Or, you can criticize what I deem a RAOK.

I don’t care.

I do know that whatever happens I will be a more fulfilled, positive force in this universe.

And a better example to my children.

And that’s all that matters.

Don’t forget! Write your post about blogging to help me celebrate my one year in Blog World. We’ll all meet back here in 3 days (August 13) to link, learn and maybe have a few laughs!

21 Comments

Filed under Be-Causes, Blogging, RAOK

Pay It Forward, Random Act of Kindness – Whatever You Call It, Let’s Do IT!

(We’re taking a last minute hurrah before our summer ends. Yes, our children go back to school on August 10th! I will be without a computer for 5 whole days. For the next few posts, I’ll share with you some of my favorites. The post below is a great reminder and was originally posted on December 18. I will miss you all! See you when I get back!)

By now I’m sure you’ve heard of the Philly couple that bought a stranger’s meal at a diner and for 5 hours customers continued to pay it forward. It reminded me that I hadn’t bought someone’s coffee in a while now.

About once every two months or so (I wish it were more often but quite honestly I don’t always think of it) I pay for the order of the person behind me in the drive-through or pay the toll for the car behind me when we go to “the big city” (as my daughter likes to call it.) Suddenly, this morning I remembered that it had been awhile so when I got my coffee this morning I paid for the car behind me, as well. Her bill was only $3.18. Hmmmm, I gave the cashier a $20. I looked in my rear view mirror and there were no more cars to pay for. So, $3.18 for my good deed of the day felt a little lack luster. I suppose I was expecting a little more grand gesture – not that I’m made of money, mind you, but I’m a few months behind in my good deeds. I was atoning for my neglect.

When I make these gestures I rarely look back to see the reaction. I hope to make a quick get-away, quite frankly. But this time? No such luck. I was stopped by two traffic lights in a row and she caught up with me by the second light. She rolled down her window. She searched my face for some recognition. She found none. “Thank you for this,” she said, “You don’t know what this means to me. I’m on my way to an interview. I lost my job a month ago and I HAVE to find work. I’d given these up,” and she raised her cup, “but I decided to splurge today for a little boost of confidence. Your kindness has done so much more.”

I could see that her eyes were brimming and she was fighting back tears. I was stunned into silence. I never said a word to her, just listened. The light turned green and she smiled and drove away. $3.18. Here I was feeling guilty I had only payed it forward with 3 dollars and 18 cents. But that $3.18 provided a much-needed boost for a woman in a desperate situation – looking for work just before Christmas. It meant more to her than I ever imagined it would.

So this weekend I want you to do me a favor. Pay it forward with someone else. Whatever you can afford. If it’s a meal, a cup of coffee, a bus token…for a stranger. Someone you never expect to see again. Then come back here to this post and comment about what you’ve done. Or post about it on your blog- but be sure to come back here to link to it so we can all read about what you’ve done.

Random acts of kindness spread joy like wildfire. I think they have more power than negativity. Together we can make the world a little happier this weekend with our small gestures. (Borrowing from Bender in The Breakfast Club) If he does it, then we’ll all do it and it’ll be anarchy! Let’s start our own little version of anarchy! Are you with me?

 

Don’t forget! Write your post about blogging to help me celebrate my one year in Blog World. We’ll all meet back here in 7 days (August 13) to link, learn and maybe have a few laughs!

220 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, Be-Causes, People, RAOK