29 years - 29 acts of kindness Part II

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

As I mentioned on my birthday, I was going to spend my special day participating in The Birthday project.  I created a list of 29 acts of kindness - one for each year I've celebrated a birthday.  The original idea came from a woman named Robyn who celebrated her 38th birthday by completing 38 acts of kindness.  Then her blog post was shared through email, facebook, and pinterest until she realized there needed to be a blog solely dedicated to the project that she had inspired.  It is an amazing story and I am happy to now be apart of it:)

I did a lot of prep work before my actual birthday to make sure that we would be all ready to go on the day.  I created the list over the course of a few days by using some inspirations from Robyn's original list and coming up with some tasks on my own.  I wanted to incorporate my family and my personality into my tasks. Then I mapped it all out, thinking logistically how to get through each one the most efficiently (considering driving, stopping to eat, naptimes, etc).  I emailed my family and told them - no presents this year!!  But that they were all obligated to join me in my day of kindness (hah).  I bought my supplies and created tags to hand out during my day of kindness so that my random stranger recipients wouldn't think I was a total crazy person (and so they could come find my post to see how they were a part of my birthday!)

So, without further ado - Here was my day of 29 years of Tab - 29 acts of kindness

Act#1:  'Make Waves' - post birthday project as my facebook status and ask people to join.

I wanted a chance to use my overload of facebook friends for the good.  So I posted my project first thing in the morning and periodically sent pic updates of some of the acts.  My intent was to inspire other people to join in on the kindness distribution.  I hoped I was going to get a response - I didn't expect the response to be as amazing as I got.  Thank you so much to everyone who helped me celebrate my birthday by acting out random kindness.  I could not have asked for a better gift and I am so proud and honored to know so many good people.

text pic I got from my sister
donation to Beverly's Birthdays - an organization that throws bday parties for homeless and at-risk kids

Act #2:  Buy myself a birthday gift at Oxfam America Unwrapped.  

Visit their website to see a whole list of gifts that allow you to buy things that help other people around the world.  For example you can help train a midwife, or purchase a sheep, or help restore a preschool.   So instead of buying a loved one a physical gift (who needs more stuff anyway?) you can purchase a gift in their honor.  I bought myself a gift of 'a school meal program for one child.'  Happy birthday to me:)

Act#3:  Plant our hanging basket, finally.

We have had these plants for almost 3months waiting to be planted.  Its a disgrace actually, since we are in a competition (haha, with just our family) as to who can grow the biggest, most beautiful basket by the end of the summer.  Alas, I don't think we'll win (can we get a sympathy vote?  hahha), but at least our plants finally have the home they deserve.

Act#4:  Surprise for my mumma (since she did all the work 29 years ago today)

My mom arrived early in the morning for my day of kindness, but little did she know she was part of my list!  I surprised her with flowers and a thank you note for all the work she had to do 29 years ago to get me out into this world.  It might be MY birthday, but I always feel like SHE should be the one getting the celebrations.

Act#5:  Leave a thank you note & treat for the mail person. 

And then we got this in the mailbox the next day!

Act#6:  Drop off cookies at our neighbor's house

In today's day and age of technology and facebook and busyness, I feel like I just don't take the time I should talking to people face to face enough, especially the people that are the most physically near me.  So Grey and I stopped by our neighbor's house to drop off some cookies and say hello.  Our neighbor Sue was so sweet and surprised and said, "Boy, nobody in the world does this anymore!"  

Act#7:  Leave a message and dog bones for Baby from 'Bully and Trixie'

We dropped off some doggie treats and a little note from our dogs to our neighbor's dog, Baby, in their mailbox on Sunday morning.  Bullet and Trixie spend part of their day bark-talking back and forth to Baby across the field and tree line that separate our houses up here on the hill.  They are long distance friends because Bully and Trixie are big, horse size dogs and Baby (aptly named) is only slightly bigger than a guinea pig.  She's possibly the tiniest, sweetest dog on the planet.  (hi, Mikella & Alexis!)

Act#8:  Write & Leave thank you notes at the local volunteer fire department

Before heading out on our kindness trail, we all created thank you notes to drop off at the local volunteer fire department.  We just wanted to let our local heroes know we appreciated their bravery and dedication to keeping our community safe.

Act#9:  Road clean-up between Greenhouse Park and Scooters (.5 mile)

I drive by our favorite local park at least three times a week on the way to Grey's daycare, so I wanted to include some community beautification to my list of kindness.  My family and I (while Gigi & Pappy Butch watched the kids in the park) took to the roadside to clean up the litter in the half mile between the park and a local restaurant/bar.  The stretch was littered with the normal roadside garbage (soda bottles, plastic bags, snuff cans (we collected 5 big garbage bags of stuff!) - as well as some interesting items including a full size mattress and a dollar bill (score!).  This was probably the most time-consuming and difficult task on the list since we were all sweating and smelling like garbage by the time we were done.  

[we are road clean up veterans - we do this at least once a year with my family reunion in a different part of town - but if you are thinking of doing your own road clean up - please make sure to be safe, you are very close to driving cars, and young children should NOT be involved in this task.  We had garbage bags and gloves for each of us for hygienic purposes.  We also picked up all of our own garbage bags off the road when we're done - you can't leave them there.]

Act#10: Stop by, weed, and leave new flowers at all grandparents' graves

no matter how much time has passed, we miss you everyday.  your great (great) grandbabies will know your name and recognize your face.  your memory will live on forever.

Act#11:  Have a mini birthday party with Amy (&the Mayers)

We stopped by my Aunt's house to have a mini birthday party with my cousin Amy.  Amy is a 'happy birthday song' singing extraordinaire and loves parties and cake.  (Amy has actually forever re-wrote the way we sing happy birthday.  Because of her enthusiasm, we always say "SING" after each verse, because Amy knows every person should be singing and as loud as possible during a birthday party).  We had a nice little break during our mini party from all of our kind tasks and somehow (as it usually does in Johnstown) it turned into celebratory shots at noon.  You'll have that in our family.

Act#12: Deliver fruit to the maternity floor nurses at Conemaugh hospital

The nurse who greeted us was so sweet and gracious in accepting our fruit tray (pre-packaged).  She thanked me and gave me a hug!

that's not the nurse - HAH, that's my mom.  we were on our way to deliver the fruit
Act#13:  Leave coloring books and crayons in the waiting room at labor&delivery for big bros & sisters

Act#14:  Tape quarters to a vending machine

Act#15:  Send a care package to my goddaughter, Mallory

it has lots of little goodies and surprises in it like stickers and crayons:)  

Act#16:  Send a care package to the Jurichs and baby Colton.

its filled with special surprises fitting for new parents and hand-me-down boy clothes for baby Colton from Greyson.  

Act#17:  Deliver flowers to Aunt Helen

My great Aunt Helen received some scary medical news last week, so we stopped by to give her hugs and flowers and let her know we are thinking about her-everyday, but especially now.  

Act#18:  Buy a gift card, turn around, and give it to the person behind me in line.

this was actually the most nerve-wrecking task on the list.  It was crazy because we kept seeing families with young kids in line, but they were already in front of us and we weren't about to get in there and be all 'can we skip you in line' because who does that?  After hopping lines for about 5 minutes, finally we just let fate take over.  The family that got behind us was buying school supplies for their little man in the cart.  When I turned to the family and gave them the card they were completely confused at first and said thanks?  more like a question than anything else.  But luckily for me, my cousin Nicole was our cashier and she sent me a fbook update on what happened after I left the store:)

Act#19:  Help load groceries in people's cars

Lesson learned, this was just weirding people out.  I asked two different people if I can help and they were both like, "um? no thanks" like I was trying to swipe some of their goods.  hah!  So then instead, I decided to just offer to take people's carts back to the cart rack in the parking lot.  Three people quickly took me up on that.  

Act#20:  Pay for the person's coffee order at Starbucks behind us

When I got into Starbucks no one was behind me in line all the way up until I started ordering.  If it was going to come down to it, I was just going to buy a gift card and tell the cashier to give it to the next person.  But luckily, someone came in right while I was ordering.  I told her that it was my birthday and I'd pay for her order - she was so confused and surprised.  After she read my little bday tag, she said, "thanks so much.  I just turned 30, I promise its not as bad as it feels."  Kindness given, and a spoken kindness returned:)

Act#21:  Tape poetry to the bathroom stall doors in the mall.

Brandon and I did our own little covert operation at the mall bathrooms.  We taped up Billy Collins poems (he's my favorite poet) in the stalls and next to the mirrors.  It was the first time in our relationship that I was waiting for him in the hall outside a public restroom.  Apparently, I am one trillion times faster at using a tape dispenser - must be the teacher in me.  (quick thank you to my husband who seriously might be the only man on the planet that would do this.  boys are so strange about bathrooms, but there was my man agreeing to go in there and tape up poems.  honestly.  i'm the luckiest.)

Act#22:  Get Cara to Mimi via facetime

Brandon's cousin Cara is currently stationed in Washington state with the army and she hasn't been home since the beginning of the year (before Gemmi was even born).  So we introduced Mimi to facetime and surprised her with a 'face to face' visit with her granddaughter.  Mimi's face was priceless when she realized she could actually see Cara.  This was my absolute favorite task of the day.  (hi Cara, miss you<3 p="p">

Act#23:  Drop off 'Pamper Yourself' kit for Aunt Marge

Brandon's Aunt Marge works her tailfeathers off everyday at the family store and has a very much deserved week-long vacation coming up as all the Studer/Gilmore men will be bear hunting in Canada.  So I put together a 'pamper yourself' kit (lotions, body wash, etc) for her to relax during bear hunt week.  She was so surprised and thankful.  

Act#24:  Drop off sandwich supplies and cookies at Pap's house

We paid my grandpap a visit and dropped off some sandwich stuff (lunchmeat, cheese,etc) and his favorite cookies.  He was so sweet and thankful.  Pap and I are both August babies - only 2 days between our birthdays- he just turned 83 yesterday! 

Act#25: Visit and deliver sugar-free candy to Cliff

Cliff might as well be one of my honorary grandpas.  He is my parents' next door neighbor and my mom takes him coffee and dinner every night.  He is one of the sweetest men on the planet and loves visiting with my kids.  We stopped by for a visit and to bring him some sugar-free candy.  He was happy to have the company and the sweets:)

Act#26:  Make dinner for our family

After all our tasks were completed, we all headed back to our house to enjoy dinner (I didn't help too much actually - Brandon was the master chef).  We had Frogmore Stew - which was delicious and perfect after a long day of hustling around and offering good cheer.  Then we sang happy birthday and consumed copious amounts of sugar icing.  best dinner ever?  yes.

Act#27:  Make Bullet & Trixie treat filled ice blocks

they went bananas over them.  this needs to happen more often.  (fyi - I literally just froze dog treats in tupperware containers).  happiest dogs of all time.

Act#28:  Edible paint with the kids

We ended up doing this task a day after my birthday since we were all exhausted when we finally got back home on Sunday.  The edible paint (flour + water + food coloring) came from this pin and looked like a great idea.  And at first it was, what with all the sun shining behind the kids and happy, busy children focused on a task.  

and then things started to go down hill.  but in the spirit of kindness - I just sat back and laughed while the blanket had flour paint spilled all over it and Gemmi ate her weight in soggy paper, and my beloved children turned into crusty little multi-colored messes.  It was bath night anyway.

Act#29:  wine & dessert in bed :)

who was I kidding?  we're a little more country than that.  we settled for beer and cake in front of the tv, catching up on 2 and half episodes of True Blood.  Not exactly the kindness, but better.

It was an awesome way to spend my 29th birthday.  I am so grateful that I have been given this charmed life and it was amazing to spend my final 20's birthday sending out love and kindness into the world as a thank you for all the good I see everyday.  

I wish I could say how much it means to me that my family literally followed me around, caravan style, celebrating each kindness with me.  I am all I am because you each have helped me grow and learn and experience.  I already know, but it was never more apparent, that I am the luckiest girl in the world.