My First Official “Random Act”

I won’t be so overly dramatic as to insinuate that I wasn’t a kind person before I encountered the phenomenon known as Random Acts. But I will tell you, they provide a great structure for being more intentionally kind, more often. For today’s blog post, I want to tell you about the first thing I did “for” Random Acts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the major events Random Acts organizes each year is the Annual Melee of Kindness. People across the world make time on that day to do an act of kindness for someone else. Some collected food for homeless shelters, while others gave flowers to people they met on the street. Since I was doing this for the first time, and by myself, I chose to something smaller and a bit more anonymous. I bought a bunch of simple notecards, and wrote short affirmations on them. Then I headed out to a local bookstore and hid the notes inside random books there. I narrowly escaped getting caught by the booksellers, which I considered a personal victory.

When I wrote out the cards, I chose what I thought were fairly general sentiments. But when I found myself holding a book about learning a new language, I knew the right card was “You are smart enough”. When I found a book aimed at first-time parents, I could say, “I believe in you”. And on and on. Obviously, I have no idea who found any of those cards, or what happened next. But I like to think some are still hiding in a book somewhere, waiting for the right person.

At the end of each AMOK, Random Acts asks participants to fill out a form describing what they did. I figured it was mostly for research or statistics or whatever. And it probably is. But I also got a really sweet email response, specifically about what I did–not a form email or “canned” response. I was floored that such a small act of kindness received such a personal response. It truly made me feel valued as a person, not as a number, or a source of income, or whatever. I’ve given a lot of my time to a number of organizations over the years, and I can honestly say that Random Acts is where I feel most appreciated.

And to say thank you, I’m donating my birthday to Random Acts through CrowdRise! From now until September 21, you can give a little to help a lot. Just visit my page on CrowdRise.com – any amount is appreciated, and sharing is appreciated too.

It’s the Little Things

One of my biggest takeaways from my involvement with Random Acts over the past couple of years is that every act of kindness matters. Huge global projects are wonderful, but sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. That means it can take a long while to conquer the world with small acts of kindness. But I believe it can happen. It IS happening.

When I was putting together my Pecha Kucha talk about kindness and Random Acts, I went where a lot of people do–to the internet! I have a lot of online friends who are also Random Acts supporters, so I asked them to tell me about something creative they did to show kindness. Some were creative in a proactive way, like a young woman who builds shelters for stray cats in her neighborhood. Like, builds them. By hand. I would never have even though of that, much less been able to do it.

The photo above is the one I ended up using for my presentation. Here’s what she told me:

A work friend’s husband has been battling cancer & my friend collects rubber ducks so to cheer her up, I made wings from a Kleenex for my Meta! Misha/Cas & put him next to the ducks to “tend” them.

I love that she took inspiration from something her friend already loved, and chose that as her way of sharing kindness. Along with being creative, I thought it was really sweet. (Thanks, Bridget!)

There’s a particular phrase that turns up in business leadership, in sports, in a number of places: “Help the Helper”. There are plenty of times when we can’t directly help a situation, or reach a person or a group of people. But we can support those who can. That’s what I’m doing right now, on CrowdRise. Random Acts inspires me to spread kindness where I can, and to give support to people who are helping others in places I just can’t reach. I would love it if you would consider donating to my CrowdRise fundraiser, which is running until September 21. Helping others spread kindness is exactly what I want for my birthday.

Thanks for reading, and for sharing.

The Kindness Train Continues

It’s week two of my Crowdrise birthday fundraiser for Random Acts and to celebrate, I’ve been expanding on the recent presentation I was privileged to give for my local Pecha Kucha community a few weeks ago.

GISH-wha…?

One of the craziest things I’ve participated in–which just happens to benefit Random Acts–is G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S., otherwise known as the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen. Teams of fifteen people all around the world spend a week creating weird art, doing random acts of kindness, and just generally making the world a little nicer. One of my favorite things about G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. is that I get some great ideas for creative acts of kindness. Some past scavenger hunt items have involved lost-long relatives or childhood role models; others have been opportunities to collect massive donations of needed supplies for strangers. The item above, created by Team Odd Little Ducks, fulfilled such an item. Could you imagine being the recipient of something so lovely? And in the actual mail, no less?

Pictures like this serve as a reminder that beauty can be found in seemingly humble things. Simple things. Things sent with love. Kindnesses like these are easier than you might think. We just need to stop and think of them.

Random Acts provides funding and support for acts of kindness, large and small, all over the world. I would so appreciate it if you would consider donating to my birthday campaign, in order to help spread a little more kindness in the world. Thank you.

Taking Another Shot…Sort Of

I’m going to donate blood today.

That may not sound like a big deal to some, but I’ve never been able to do it. I’ve tried numerous times over the years, but something always happens. Usually it’s my veins collapsing. I have the same problem taking an IV if I’m in the hospital. And after trying for a few years–a LONG time ago–I just gave up.

I’m not really sure what possessed me to try again. Admittedly, I’m really nervous. But I’m going to try anyway.

Think happy thoughts for me, friends.

My Birthday Wish: Day Five – Everyday Kindness

Before I jump into today’s post, I just want to thank Brittany Badami for being the first to donate to my birthday campaign for Random Acts. Thank you, Brittany!

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll remember that I’ve spent a little time each day taking apart a little piece of my recent Pecha Kucha talk about Random Acts and why kindness matters in the world. My goal is to talk a little bit about each of the 20 slides in that presentation (which you can watch right here). Today’s slide is about everyday acts of kindness.

What would we do without our cell phones? They’re so small and yet so powerful. They keep us organized, they entertain us, they give us directions when we get lost–oh, and you can even communicate person-to-person with them! It’s so, so tempting to let this post devolve into one of those “call your mother” kinds of posts, but I’m going to resist the temptation. I will, however, remind you of a little thing called texting.

I used to be really neurotic about texting. Like, if I texted someone and they didn’t text me right back, I got anxious. Why didn’t they answer? Did I write something that they misunderstood? Do they not want to talk to me? But most of my friends and family use read receipts now, so that anxiety is gone for the most part. And you have to admit, texting can be pretty fantastic overall.

For a long while, a friend of mine was in the habit of texting me almost daily. We didn’t live near each other at the time, and we were trying as hard as we could to stay close in spite of the distance. Every day, at almost the same time each day, I’d get some random text. It might have been a joke, or a grumble about a bad driver on the commute, or just something silly. But those texts made me feel good. Special. Valued. And while my friend may have put serious effort or intent into texting me daily, he made it look and feel effortless. Which it totally can be! Think about it: you find yourself thinking about someone, you take a minute or two to fire off a text message, and you’re done. Even a quick “hi, how are you?” can go a long way. The trick is that you might not always be aware that the recipient truly appreciates your message. But as they say, it’s the thought that counts.

There’s never a bad time to let someone know you’re thinking about them. That they matter to you. That you thought of them and it made you smile. Take a moment today and tell that person. Chances are, you’ll make them smile, too.