celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘birthday

This morning I woke up giddy about random acts of kindness floating in my brain. A coworker was celebrating her 40th birthday and another friend’s miracle baby was turning one. Birthday celebrations ALWAYS bring me joy (even when I’m not a part of the festivities!) I was hoping to do something special today to honor them both.

I saw this AWESOME community fundraiser where 100% of the proceeds would be donated to a local family whose daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer:

I ADORE businesses that give back like this! And 100% profit? Unheard of. I decided this would be a perfect birthday RAK to not only honor my friends, but bless others as well. 

My plan was pretty simple: swing by the elementary school after work, buy a box of donuts (maybe 2!) then take them with me to my hair appointment and pass them out.  After all, who can resist Sugar Shack donuts?

Sometimes best laid plans go awry.

I got engrossed in my work and left school later than planned. Arriving at the fundraiser, I saw the line was wrapped around the side of the building with only 30 minutes left in the sale.


I got in line, determined to wait it out, then saw a school representative heading our way.

“All they have left is blueberry and red velvet.”

That was fine. Any kind of Sugar Shack donut would do.

“The wait from here might be more than 30 minutes.”

Hmmm. That might be an issue. My hair appointment was in 45 minutes and I still needed time to drive there.

“The max amount of donuts you can purchase is 6 because they are running out of batter.”


My brain started practicing probability. What were the chances I would get to the front of the line in 30 minutes? Would they even have 6 donuts left for purchase? Should I wait or should I stay?

I reached into my wallet, grabbed a handful of bills and tossed them into the donation bucket near the line. My posture was a little deflated as I walked back to my car empty-handed, but I quickly reminded myself of my purpose.

Today is a celebration of two special birthdays. Maybe I could find a different way to honor these sweet gals.

I stopped by Starbucks and decided to surprise my hair stylist, Hayley, with two sweet surprises: a chocolate chip frappuccino and a cute decorated cookie.

Arriving at my hair appointment, Hayley was delightfully surprised, but whispered in my ear as we walked back to her station.

“Does this drink have dairy?”

Oh no. Once again my good intentions were dashed with a detour, this time due to allergies.

“Well, you could always find a friend and pay-it-forward,” I offered.

Within seconds a voice piped up behind us. “I’m a friend!” We turned to see her co-worker smiling, pointing at the dairy-filled drink. Laughing, Hayley passed the drink along, making the other gal’s smile even brighter.

Sometimes our plans simply don’t work out the way we want. Sometimes those plans work out the way they should

It was a positive thing that the Sugar Shack line was so long around the building and they had sold so many donuts. Look at all the money raised to help a well-deserving family!

My hair stylist received an unexpected surprise and got to share in the joy of blessing someone else.

Another hair stylist enjoyed a cold drink as she worked the late shift this evening.

Best of all, my birthday friends were thought of today with love and celebration and others were blessed simply because they were born.

Today was a delightful day! ūüôā

Today is the birthday of my dear friend, Toni, and I wanted to do a special random act of kindness to celebrate the day of her birth! Now many of you may know her as “that Zumba instructor”, and that’s how we first met about a year and a half ago when I started taking her group fitness classes at the local YMCA. I’ve even written about her before on my blog which you can read about here and here.

Well, since that time of doing Zumba with her, I started taking her Body Pump classes, too, because she is AWESOME and actually makes me forget that working out is… well, work! (Except for last night. Those lunges and squats holding weights were enough to make a person scream!)

But I digress; back to my RAKing. I wanted to do something special in honor of her birthday, something that would delight her spirit while staying true to her mission of keeping people fit, happy, and healthy.

I knew just what to do!

I stocked up my cart at the Dollar Tree and headed to the nearest playground. The weather has been cold and dismal the past few days, with melted snow and ice forming puddles alongside the sidewalks and roads. However, the weather is warming up tomorrow with highs in the mid 50’s, no chance of rain, only beautiful, sunny skies.

So to celebrate a break from the doldrums, I left a few surprises for any children who may happen to visit the playground tomorrow:




Hula hoops. Paddle balls. Footballs. Bouncy balls. Bubbles. Lots of new toys for kids of all ages to enjoy as they stay active playing outside.


Toni, I hope you enjoyed your special birthday RAK, and I hope whoever received these surprises shared in your joy. A special thanks to Jen Hicks whose donation to Celebrate Kindness helped to purchase everything you see here.

Be blessed and think of creative and fun ways to celebrate your friends’ birthdays this year! I promise it will make you happy, too! ūüôā

Today has been an amazing day! I woke up to birthday blessings from my family which included presents and a huge rainbow chocolate chip cookie on our You Are Special plate with coffee from Panera – what a delightful surprise!

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Knowing how I love to do random acts of kindness, my family purchased a dozen bagels from Panera for me to pass out to my buddies at work – what a PERFECT gift! I was so excited to share the culinary delights with my coworkers, taking time to set everything out with a handwritten note in our teacher’s lounge.

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Best of all, when I returned to the lounge at the end of the day, this is all that remained.  Joy!

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One of my favorite things about birthdays are the stores who celebrate you, too. Michael’s Arts and Crafts store sent me special coupons for my birthday, but I thought it would be fun to pass them along to someone else with birthday joy, so I drove to Michael’s and left them to be discovered in the kids’ section.

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My personal note

My personal note

Coupons ready to be redeemed!

Coupons ready to be redeemed!

As I was walking out the store, the stamps below grabbed my attention and made me smile, so I took a photo of them to remind me of things that make my heart happy:

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Photo Sep 27, 11 23 25 AM

Photo Sep 27, 11 24 15 AM

10 things that make me happy... 4 things that make me ESTATIC!  Love this!

10 things that make me happy… 4 things that make me ESTATIC! Love this!

I also went to Starbucks and was delighted to receive a free drink for my birthday. Thank you Starbucks! I ordered my favorite Salted Caramel Mocha and relished in the happiness of sitting down without interruption to write this blog post.

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How do you like to celebrate YOUR birthday? The old adage “‘Tis better to give than receive” is so very true – I love to bless others unexpectedly with kindness. Interestingly, birthdays are the one occasion where friends and family come together to celebrate YOU; it’s a humbling time of year where laughter and memories come to the surface as you are the center of attention. I know several people who would prefer to hide in the shadows of their special day, but I like to think of it as an opportunity to share in the joy of others. Of course, if I had my way, I would have a sign in my house that says, “Celebrate Everything!”

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Today one of my students asked me how old I was and I told him to guess. ¬†When he replied, “Thirty?” I smiled and whispered, “Add twelve more years.” ¬†His reaction was priceless – his mouth gaped open in shock and disbelief. ¬†“You’re… OLD?!?” All I could do was laugh! ¬†

Yes folks, it’s true. ¬†I’m old. ¬†But old is simply a state of mind. ¬†Ask my forever friend, Lisa, how old we are and the response would be slightly different: “You’re only as old as you feel!”

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Photo Sep 28, 2 39 05 PM

So with that mindset, dear friends, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing in my celebrations EVERY day, no matter how “old” I become. ¬†You have blessed my life beyond measure!

Today’s blog post is quick and concise – I celebrated my forever friend’s 42nd birthday by surprising someone with a free coffee at Starbucks! It was an easy RAK to complete; so easy that you, too, can replicate my steps below:

1. Drive to your nearest Starbucks with $5 in your pocket.
2. Write a quick note on a piece of paper (or even a napkin at the store!)
3. Get in line and purchase a $5 gift card.
4. When the barista hands you the gift card, pass it back to him/her and explain that you want to bless a stranger with a random act of kindness. Allow the barista to pick who will receive the gift card.
5. Leave the building and continue your day with a huge smile on your face!


See? Easy! ūüôā

I hope you find small moments in your day that make you smile, and may you find creative ways to pay it forward in celebration of life!

As a continuation of the previous post, I was at Starbucks getting a few moments of peace from a crazy hectic day (which just happened¬†to also be my 41st birthday).¬† I used my registered Starbucks gift card to receive a free drink of my choice (God bless the person who decided salt, caramel, and coffee would make a good drink combination – pure heaven for me!)¬† After ordering my drink, I handed the barista a sealed envelope which contained a note and a $5 bill to allow a complete stranger to enjoy a free tall pumpkin spice latte on me in celebration of my birthday and to honor the memory of Alyssa O’Neill.

As the barista passed my drink across the counter, I gathered my purse then looked up to see him reaching into the pastry display case and placing something in a to-go bag.¬† As I started to walk away, he handed the bag to me stating simply, “Your birthday cake!¬† Enjoy!”

WHAT?!?!¬† Did I just get RAK’d by a barista?!¬† No way!!¬† All I could do was laugh at the joyous surprise by such a sweet, kind gesture.¬† “Really?¬† For me?”¬† He grinned from ear to ear (such an infectious smile!)¬†as the other barista chimed in from the other end of the counter with “Happy Birthday!” greetings.

It was a priceless moment that literally was the icing on my cake.

I frantically dug through my purse trying to find my RAK business cards as I knew this was worthy of one of my #26acts.¬† Did it matter that it was a RAK received instead of given?¬† Absolutely not!¬† A RAK is a RAK no matter the type!¬† ūüôā


So I found a card I was saving for Avielle Richman, age 6, and explained to the barista that he actually completed my #23 random act of kindness.¬† I had seen a video clip showing Avielle’s parents talking about¬†their daughter’s¬†infectious smile and knew this RAK belonged to him because his smile matched hers. ¬†I’m hoping that he will visit this website and see that he is part of an amazing journey to remember those sweet children lost from Sandy Hook Elementary.¬† Here is the barista with my business card:


What joy!  Such a simple act of kindness, yet so powerful.  So important.  So meaningful.  A true blessing indeed.

It wasn’t until I was back in my car that I opened my to-go bag and saw what delicacy he had chosen for me to enjoy.¬† A beautiful pink cake pop with tiny white sprinkles,¬†molded firmly to a solid white stick made to look like a delicate lollipop.¬† I almost cried at the pureness of the moment.¬† My birthday cake indeed.


Thanks to Starbucks for offering free birthday coffees to pay it forward with kindness and for hiring such kind-hearted baristas who take opportunities to make a difference in someone else’s life.¬† My day may have started off as a hot mess, but it ended in peace and joy.

Be blessed my friends!  Thank you for sharing in my first complete year of blessing others with deliberate acts of kindness!

It’s hard to believe that a full year has passed since I began this journey of blessing others with kindness and publicly documenting my journey through words and pictures.¬† What a year it has been!¬† WOW!¬† I am constantly amazed and humbled by the sheer power of kindness.¬† It makes people smile.¬† Laugh.¬† Blush.¬† Cry.¬† Such an endless array of emotion wrapped up with a sparkling bow of joy.¬† Simply indescribable!

Today was a CRAZY busy day for me.¬† My family and I had returned from a week long vacation (remind me to post a RAK from that trip tomorrow night when I’m more coherent, lol)¬†then were catapulted into the start of a work week surrounded by mounds of dirty laundry, sour milk, and a basil plant that was parched by a week of sunlight with no water.¬† My 41st birthday began with the morning hustle of returning to the daily grind of getting dressed for work and kids ready for school.¬† Of COURSE today would be picture day for my favorite teenager, so an additional 15 minutes was built into my schedule to style her hair in a waterfall braid¬†with wand-shaped spiral curls worthy of any fashion magazine at the checkout stand.

Because that’s what moms do.

I was greeted at work with more than 300 emails demanding attention, a list that would be whittled down little by little like a sculptor carving a masterpiece from a block of ice.  And that was in between teaching the lessons I had scheduled throughout the day.  The evening was just as busy.  Pick kids up from daycare.  Make middle child a sandwich while he worked on homework and got dressed for soccer practice.  Fill his water canteen and send him to soccer practice with dad while concurrently making dinner for the other two children left home with me.  Serve dinner.  Clear the table.  Wash dishes.  Take oldest child to dance class.  Welcome to my Monday night routine.

Oh wait – was today my BIRTHDAY?!?

Yes folks, my life is crazy busy.¬† Some might even take the leap to say, “Girl, you are insane!”¬† But you know what?¬† Even among the nonstop hustle and bustle of my world, I can still find time to bless someone else.¬† Which is exactly what I did tonight!

Did you know that you can register a Starbucks gift card on their website then they will bless you with a free coffee of your choice on your birthday?  True!  I have a gift card that I registered who knows how many years ago that brings me joy each year as I delight in the warm aroma of a free gourmet coffee.  I could almost taste the Salted Caramel Mocha melting on my tongue as I dropped my daughter off at dance class and headed to my nearest Starbucks for a late night moment of sanity.

I wanted to celebrate my birthday by blessing someone else, and with God’s perfect timing, I had a dear friend send me this article describing Alyssa O’Neill and the RAKs her parents performed in her memory.¬† Perfect!¬† I wrote out a note on pretty stationery, added a $5 bill and included both in a sealed envelope to pass along to the Starbucks barista.



As I claimed my free birthday drink and passed along my envelope to the kind barista, I had a surge of joy knowing SOMEONE would be the lucky recipient of my “pay it forward in memory of Alyssa O’Neill” gift.¬†¬† This was one birthday present I couldn’t wait to give away!

Make sure to read my next post to see what happened next… I ended up getting RAK’d by the barista!¬† What a fun way to end my crazy birthday!

First, let me apologize for my delay in keeping up with¬†my blog.¬† This time of year is always crazy busy in my job and there are many days where I don’t know if I am coming or going!¬† I am sure many of you can relate.¬† Each time I do another random act of kindness, I want to shout it to the world and celebrate the joy!!¬† But alas, the reality of working full-time, being a mom, and keeping up with a non-stop schedule prevents me from taking the time to elaborate on each and every RAK I complete.

But here I sit, looking through photos on my phone, carving out time to remember, reflect, and rejoice.  Yes, rejoice!  RAKs make me happy!  How can I keep this all happiness to myself?!

So it’s with that spirit that I will be posting several RAKs in a row.¬† I was tempted to just lump them all together in one blog post (after all, that would be MUCH easier and quicker, too!) but I was reminded yesterday that EACH random act of kindness I complete is special and deserving of its own page.¬† A humbling reminder that quick and easy isn’t always best.

RAK #8 happened¬†a few weeks ago, on a bright Sunday afternoon.¬†¬†I was¬†changing purses (I love to carry cute little handbags when the weather gets warmer) and I discovered a gift card for Subway I had received as a birthday gift that had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle of other items in my purse.¬† (In full disclosure, it was wedged at the bottom of my bag in between a sheet of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle stickers, a sticky, red Matchbox car,¬†and a 20% off coupon for Kohl’s that had expired in November.¬† Needless to say, I carry the same purse around all winter and it becomes a traveling toy box as well, lol.)


How exciting!  And perfect timing, too, because I was STARVING and the kids were hungry, too.  Perfect!  I packed the kids in the car, drove to the nearest Subway, and delightfully placed my order.  Normally I get something inexpensive like a 6 inch veggie sub, but today I decided to splurge and got a 6 inch chicken teriyaki, a drink, a bag of chips, the works!  Oh, how fun to discover a forgotten gift card Рit was almost like giving myself a RAK!  Ha!

After paying for my meal and my children’s meals, there was still a little bit of money left on the gift card.¬† I decided to bless someone else with the store credit.¬† I wrote a quick note on a napkin and asked the cashier to give it to the person behind me in line.


It wasn’t a lot of money, only a few dollars, but I figured it could still be a blessing anyway.¬† And, in a way, it was like sharing my birthday with someone else all over again!¬† Fun!

As I was grabbing napkins for the kids¬†and putting straws in plastic drink lids, a gentleman about my age approached me with a smile on his face.¬† He pointed to his bag and said simply, “Thanks so much.¬† That was very nice!”¬† Even as I watched him walk out of the door, his smile still lit up the room.

Being kind doesn’t have to cost money and it isn’t always about 100% self-sacrifice.¬† Sometimes I feel guilty when I do something for myself that I could have done for someone else instead.¬† But this RAK reminded me that it’s OK to enjoy the generosity of others (my Subway birthday gift card) because sometimes there will be enough for two blessings instead of just one.

Random Act of Kindness #8 is dedicated to Dylan Hockley, age 6.¬† According to Dylan’s family, “his beaming smile would light up any room and his laugh was the sweetest music.”¬† Seeing the smile of my RAK recipient in Subway was almost like catching a glimpse of Dylan’s smile, too.¬† It simply warmed your heart and made you happy.¬† I hope Dylan’s family will know that his memory, and smile, will live on through the random acts of kindness shown to others.

Be blessed, dear friends, and share your joy!¬† Check back soon because I have more RAKs to post!¬† ūüôā

Today’s random act of kindness is inspired by my husband’s grandma’s 89th birthday!¬† Because she lives out-of-state (and unable to travel), we decided to celebrate her milestone by blessing a complete stranger with birthday surprises!¬† The kids spent the morning making handmade cards to let our special someone know that we were thinking of them.

We remembered that Great-Grandma loves to play Scrabble and lo and behold we had an extra Scrabble board in our game closet (hey, we love Scrabble, too!) so we wrapped the game and made a dedication label for the outside.

We also knew that Great-Grandma loves flowers, so we bought the prettiest white roses we could find and added a bright ribbon around the vase to spread sunshine for someone’s day.

Great-Grandma lives in a retirement community, so we went to the closest retirement center near us and began our adventure.  Who would receive our blessings today?

Well, it didn’t take long at all to find our special someone.¬† As I was signing in to the center (and trying to explain to the receptionist that I really had no idea WHO I was visiting, but that I just wanted to bless someone, anyone) a delightful lady spoke across the hall, “My!¬† What gorgeous flowers you have!”¬† I spun around and lo and behold, my heart just knew.¬† She was our special someone.¬† Before I could respond to her observation, she leaned in closer and said, “Someone is going to be¬†very happy to receive those beautiful flowers!”¬† It was almost like a script from a movie!¬† Laughing, I said, “Well, I think that someone is YOU!¬† Would you like to have these flowers?”¬† She gasped slightly, a bit confused I’m sure, so I jumped in and explained our purpose.

“Today we are celebrating our Great-Grandma’s 89th birthday.¬† She lives far away, so we thought it would be fun to bless someone else as if we were blessing her!¬† Would you like to receive our blessings today?¬† We have handmade cards, flowers, even a present!”¬† She could not stop smiling.¬† “Are you sure?¬† Oh my!¬† How lovely!¬† Yes!¬† Yes!¬† I would love to have these!”¬† She then did what every wonderful grandma does:¬† she ooohed and aaahed over all the cards (making note of the personalized messages), she complimented the children for their time and effort (each child personally handed her their card), she thanked us for the game and then… she stopped to smell the roses.¬† Literally.

We took a picture, gave hugs, then went about our merry way.  Blessing others can be such fun Рespecially when you extend blessings on a birthday!

We can’t wait to share our adventures with Great-Grandma.¬† We love her to pieces and we hope she enjoys being the inspiration for today’s random act of kindness!¬† ūüôā

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