celebrate kindness

Posts Tagged ‘starbucks

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!

Photo Sep 30, 6 54 06 AM

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.

Photo Sep 30, 10 44 08 AM

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.

Photo Sep 27, 11 16 22 AM

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:

Photo Sep 27, 11 23 41 AM

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!”

Photo Sep 30, 4 46 05 PM

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!”

Photo Sep 28, 2 32 32 PM

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! 🙂

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!

Think back to your last haircut.  What was the experience like?  Was it a quick trip to the barber “just take a little off the top”, or was it a lengthy cut and style, marked by intermittent chit-chat and catching up?  Whatever the mode or fashion, we’ve all found the need for hair stylists in our lives. (Unless, of course, you’re like my friend Pam who cuts her own hair.)

Last weekend I had my hair “done” (a.k.a. cut and highlighted) and let me tell you, to say I due for a haircut was an understatement. It had been 4 months since I sat in Hayley’s chair (!!!), and despite my guilt over letting so much time lag between haircuts, she just smiled and said, “It’s so great to see you again!” Photo Apr 11, 1 23 22 PM As we were chatting, she casually mentioned that her birthday was coming up and then we talked about our kids, our life events, and yes, even the weather.  Just your normal visit to the hair salon, right?

After my hair had been trimmed and selectively painted in shades of auburn and honey blonde, I sat to the side with my head full of foil waiting for the colors to magically transform my hair.  Hayley started chatting with a new client in her chair as I absent-mindedly thumbed through a magazine, watching the clock.  Before too long, it was time to remove the foil and rinse out my freshly updated locks, but Hayley realized she would need some assistance as she was still working on the new client’s haircut.  “I’m going to let Chelsea rinse you, if that’s OK,” to which I smiled and nodded my approval.

Now I have to stop my story right here, because if you are one of those barber shop patrons, what I am about to write will seem completely absurd.  When you go to a barber shop, you are there for one thing only: Cut. My. Hair. The. End.  However, when you visit a beauty salon… well, it’s no big secret that their job goes above and beyond JUST a haircut.  Their mission is BEAUTY – inside and out!

So here I am, lying on something that looks like a very primitive Lazy-Boy with the back of my head hanging over the ledge of a sink, with my long hair all crumpled up in foil, feet up, a cross between a breathing corpse and a female Frankenstein (sorry, that’s about the best analogy I can think of to describe the scenario, lol.)  I close my eyes and grit my teeth, because I just know at some point in the process of pulling out all that foil, my hair is going to be yanked. And then… without warning, I heard the sound of running water and the crisp crackle of foil being thrown in the trash.  Wait. She’s already DONE?  No yanking or pulling?  No grasping or cringing? REALLY?  What a delightful surprise!

As Chelsea rinsed the chemicals from my hair and applied shampoo, I started to relax, not even realizing how tense my shoulders were with anticipation of the foil removal.   I felt Chelsea’s fingers massaging the back of my head and allowed myself to simply lose myself in the moment of the BEST. HEAD. MASSAGE. EVER.

By the time she was done, I felt like I had lost 10 pounds and found the prettiest prom dress in town.  I felt amazing! I returned to Hayley’s chair where she dried and straighten my long hair, then turned me around to see the final result.  As always, I was estatic – how is it possible for a woman to transform from an ugly duckling to a beautiful princess with just one cut and color?  OK, OK, so maybe I wasn’t quite “princess” material, but I sure did feel pretty in the moment – all thanks to my hair stylist and shampoo girl!

So today I decided to give back with small surprises for the two gals who brightened my day.  Remember me mentioning Hayley’s birthday?  Well, today is the day!  I went to Kroger and picked up a few cupcakes, then wrote her a card thanking her for being the best hair stylist ever.  I also included a Starbuck’s gift card (one for each gal) as a simple “You are Special!” treat.

Hayley's birthday card, made by http://kitkatkards.wordpress.com

Hayley’s birthday card, made by http://kitkatkards.wordpress.com


Hayley's surprise

Hayley’s surprise


Chelsea's surprise

Chelsea’s surprise

I dropped the items off at the front desk of the beauty salon and simply said, “Could you make sure Hayley and Chelsea get these?”  I can imagine in my mind their delighted smiles to know their hard work was appreciated.  🙂

This weekend, think about the guy or gal who makes you look and feel great.  Take a moment to give back and write them a note of appreciation or surprise them with a small treat.  You might even think about surprising a hair stylist you don’t know – just for the purpose of saying “thanks for all you do.”  It doesn’t take much to show appreciation, but the rewards multiply exponentially!

Be inspired and thanks for sharing in my adventures!

This week as I was running errands around town, I stopped by a local Starbucks to pick up a few gift cards for a Random Act of Kindness I planned to do later this week.  There were two baristas in the shop, Angie and Hunter, and both chatted pleasantly with me while I made my purchases.  (For those of you dedicated readers, you might remember Hunter from my 41st birthday RAK where in the process of giving a RAK to a stranger, he went and RAK’d me back!  For those who missed the story, click here and here.)

As I was leaving the store, a small pamphlet caught my eye titled, “Share your thoughts with us.”  Now I’m sure you’ve seen similar comment cards in businesses you frequent, but for whatever reason, it occurred to me that I rarely take the time to share my thoughts with a business.  Good experience or bad, I tend to continue about my way without a second thought.

Today was different.  🙂  What better way to show my appreciation for great customer service than letting their boss know?  So I took the pamphlet and wrote an email to the District Manager.  I also left a few extra dollars in their tip jar, too!

Starbucks Thank You Email

Starbucks Thank You Email

My next stop was OfficeMax and I had to laugh at the sign outside their door:  “Now Hiring.  Friendly.  Happy.  People.”  It made me chuckle at the placement of the periods, emphasizing each word individually.  My visit there was quick, I only had one item to buy, and as I made my way to the checkout, there was no one in sight.  Obviously there’s not a mad rush of people buying office supplies at 4:30 in the afternoon, lol.  I walked towards Customer Service and the lady working there caught my eye.

“Do you need to checkout?” she asked with a smile.  I said I did and she immediately stopped what she was doing to walk towards me.  “I can take you on this register over here.”  She continued to chat pleasantly as she rang up my purchase, then when the receipt printed, she circled the back and wrote her name.  “Here’s a survey you can complete if you like to let us know how we’re doing.”

A survey to complete.  How many times have I heard THAT phrase?  Seems like everywhere you go, someone wants information from you.  How do you like this, how do you like that.  If I was a pessimistic person, I might have crumpled the receipt in my pocket, refusing to share any information at all.  But thankfully, I’m a Pollyanna.  🙂  Despite never having completed a survey before, I took the time to complete it today.  I was thrilled to have an open text box where I could compliment Ms. Rae on her great customer service, too!

OfficeMax Survey

OfficeMax Survey

Was this random act of kindness difficult to complete?  Nah, not a bit.  Did it cost any money?  None at all! (Excluding the money I already spent on my purchases, lol.)  Did it take time?  Yes, but less than five minutes.  I spend more time trying to shut down my computer and place it in my laptop bag than I did completing both of these RAKs.  So in that regards, it really didn’t take much time at all!

I hope you will look around you as you complete your errands this week/weekend and take the time to say “thanks” to those in the retail industry who work tirelessly to make our transactions a pleasant experience.  It may not seem like a big deal to many, but those employees have been smiling ALL day long… it’s the least we can do to give them a reason to keep on smiling!

Be blessed my friends and pay it forward!

Well, once again I found myself at Starbucks performing another RAK.  (I’m sure you are convinced I have a coffee addiction by how many of my posts reference Starbucks, lol.)  I met up with a friend during our once-every-four-years coffee break (I am not kidding.  It really has been four years since we’ve seen each other!)  While standing in line, I remembered that Starbucks was having a buy one, get one free special. Yay!  What an easy way to bless someone else!


While my friend was drinking regular coffee (not one of the frou-frou drinks shown on the advertised special), I decided to bless the gal standing in line behind us.  “Excuse me,” I began, “I’m getting one of those drinks up there.  It’s buy one, get one free.  Would you like my free one?”  She smiled back in surprise at my offer.  “Are you sure?  That’s really sweet of you!”  I returned the smile saying, “No big deal!  Just let them know what you want!”

I didn’t get a photo of her, and I didn’t have any RAK cards with me, so she may never see this post.  But it was fun to bless a stranger just the same!

The next time you have a buy one, get one free offer, think about blessing someone else with your freebie!

Be inspired and pay it forward!  🙂

I have some of the best coworkers a person could ask for. There are nine of us on a small, select team and we work together with such efficiency you would swear there were 30 of us!

This morning as we arrived for our weekly team meeting, one of my coworkers walked through the door waving a small, brown, rectangular item that looked like a piece of decorated cardboard. “I was trying to figure out who to give this to, and I decided that this should be for YOU!”, she declared, handing the brown item to the coworker beside me. “What? What is this for?” I peeked across the table and saw it was a Starbucks gift card! How sweet!

My coworker then proceeded to hand it to me saying, “Here, you take it. You can use it for your Random Acts of Kindness project.” No, no, no! I pushed the card back to her. “Oh no! I am not going to take that! It’s YOUR gift! Enjoy it!” We all started laughing at this point, and I begged them to allow me to take their picture for a blog post.

“No! I don’t want my picture taken! I’m a mess!” was the immediate response, but I convinced them to smile for the camera just the same.

Then I went into my iPhone apps and blurred out their faces so no one would ever know who they were.


The blurred photo alone sent us in another fit of giggles as we laughed at the absurdity of it all.

What a fun way to start my workday – having a front row seat to a random act of kindness. I can’t think of a better way to be inspired!

(Did I mention how much I love my team? They are the BEST!). 🙂

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!  🙂


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!

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