After the various health issues my husband and I have had to face all of a sudden and practically at the same time, from the beginning of the year, and after all the acts of kindness we have received from family, friends, people we just knew a little, and even complete strangers, I just knew that I needed to do something to give back...
I decided to make my birthday a day of Random Act of kindness, possibly one for each year of my life.
In the beginning it was going to be just something between me, my husband and my children, but then I thought that it would be even more wonderful if friends and family members could join us in this adventure.
A couple days before my birthday, I decided. I created an event on facebook and invited as many friends and family as I could, at least the ones I thought would be more willing to do it.
I told them I did not want a party, I did not want a gift, what I really would have appreciated was that they would do even one little RAOK on my birthday.
Of the 300+ people I invited, only about 50 joined, but I was really happy that they were willing to do it.
I started a couple of my act of kindness a couple days before, because I did not know if I would be able to haul all my 4 energetic boys around all day, so I made some of the acts that required some kind of "delivery" during the few days preceding my birthday, just in case I run out of time.
Also, since I was born and raised in Italy, I considered my birthday to start at midnight, Italy time.
Since I promised my friends and family that I would give a report of the RAOK I was able to do, here it is:
1) Wrote a thank you card for my wonderful therapist, for all that she has done and is doing in helping me recuperate the use of my shoulder.
The boys made some sweet thank you cards too:)
(I also thanked in different ways my chiropractor, my surgeon and my friend who introduced me to doTerra essential oils because they all contributed to my ongoing recovery).
2) While I was making dinner, my sweet aunt from Italy called, and I offered her my listening ear (it was past midnight in Italy, she couldn't sleep). I truly enjoyed listening to all of her stories about her late husband and her children. I miss her a lot. We spoke for about 1/2 hour. Dinner was a little later than planned, but totally worth it.
3) We put a gift for our mail lady in the mail box, with a card to thank her for all of her hard work:)
I was surprised at how many of them really appreciated this gesture, and some really seemed to need those words that day.
9) Brought some bread and cereal to the ducks in our subdivision's pond.
10) We brought nice cool water on our way to the park, to give to anybody that seemed too hot and thirsty.
11) On our way back from the park there was this whole family looking very tired from working on their lawn all morning. They all had some big jugs full of iced drinks, so no need for the water bottles, but we gave them a bag full of cookies. They were very surprised that we would give them the WHOLE bag, and we didn't even know them :)
12) We also stopped by the house of a policeman in our neighborhood and delivered our last bag of cookies to thank him for his service. He wasn't home, but we took time to talk a little with his father in law, who recently received a liver transplant. I was glad he was doing relatively good.
13) I prayed for everyone I saw on our way to and from the park.
14) I brought my 3 year old's scooter on my shoulder on the way home, even if I had told him that if he chose to bring it, then he would have to go on it all the way to the park and then home, since I had to push the baby's trike. He looked too tired, my heart just couldn't bear seeing him like that. Nice thing, my neighbor saw me half way, and offered to haul the scooter in her car the remaining way home:) So she got to do her RAOK too:)
15) Once home, since my boys (especially the 3yr old one) had asked about the cake non stop all morning, even if I wasn't planning on making one, I made a birthday cake.
16) Then I decided to make a second one to bring to someone that needed some "cheer me up"
17) The boys and I wrote 40 post-it notes for their daddy, and stuck them on the front door, so that he would be surprised when he came home from work.
(He then proceeded to substitute some of the yellow post-it on the door with pink ones for me, while I had crashed exhausted for about an hour... I noticed them when we went out of the door to do more RAOK all together, and I had to strive to keep the tears from flowing down my eyes...)
Since there were egg whites left from making the 2 cakes, I looked for a recipe requiring egg whites, and made my first ever coconut macaroons. They came out a little big, but they tasted pretty good, so I decided they could brighten somebody's day.
19) Brought organic home grown tomatoes to one of my kid's friend and her family. They were pretty surprised :)
20)Brought more coconut cookies to another school friend's family. The boys really loved doing it.
21)Stuck coupons on products at the grocery store:)
22) Left dollar bills on toys that were a dollar or less at a drug store.
23) I made my boys' bed, even if that is their chore. They deserve a RAOK too :) (beside the cake).
24)We smiled at everyone we saw, and made a conscious effort to say hi and/or ask "How are you doing?", and mean it.
25) I called the Temple to have the names of two people that are having serious health problems on the temple prayer roll.
26) I clicked "like" on a friend business page, even if she didn't ask me too, to show her my support.
27) We pulled weeds from a neighbor's yard. I am pretty sure some other neighbor might have thought that our yard was the one that really needs some weed pulling! :)
28) Brought some Italian soda to a friend that had asked us to buy it for her, so that she didn't have to drive to our house to get it.
29)We picked up trash everywhere we went, park, store, church etc.
30) I pushed a few carts that were left around in the parking lot back to the store, so that they wouldn't be a hazard for other cars, since the cart boy was not out there.
31) Called my mom to say thank you for giving me birth. She loved especially hearing the boys striving to say in Italian" Grazie per aver fatto nascere mamma!" (thank you for giving birth to my mom).
32) I made sure to acknowledge each and every act of kindness my family and I would receive. Sometimes we tend to overlook what others do for us, and we don't realize that something that might seem small to us, was indeed important for the person that did it for us. Letting everybody know that we appreciate them, does good to everyone.
33) Gave a couple friends some of my essential oils to help them with some health concern they were having.
It was getting too late plus I got stung by some bug on my eye, so I had to extend my birthday to the whole weekend; went home then straight to bed.
34) I left a huge grocery bag full of coupon inserts for another coupon-aholic like me :)
35) Left some diapers and wipes in the mother's lounge at church. If there is any mother like me, someone will find that they have no diapers left in their diaper bag, and will be relieved to see that there are some right there.
36) Gave a babysitting for a day coupon to a friend that I feel could use some time with her husband during a very difficult time for her family.
37) Brought an organic home grown basil plant to a friend at church, since she expressed her desire for it, but never made it to my home to pick it up.
38) We were able to bring dinner (and the cake) to my kids' 3 year old 3rd cousin, who has had brain surgery to fix her seizures and is now in a rehabilitation center 30 minutes from our home. This was the dearest thing we have been able to do, it has done so good to our heart to know that we could help them, and that we didn't have to see each other at a funeral for once! Her mom and grandma were really happy to see us, and the boys fell in love with the little girl, in fact they have been asking to go visit them again, and we soon will.
39) On the way home, we stopped at a rest stop and I left a package of disinfecting wipes in the women bathroom. Somebody will surely use them!
While I wasn't able to do all my different acts of kindness in one day, and I didn't get to do all the possible acts of kindness on my list, for a reason or another, I believe that I was able to touch at least 40 lives on my birthday, and that is enough to make me happy.
Also, I made sure that these acts of kindness did not require spending a huge amount of money, because I wanted them to inspire anybody else to do the same, and in this economy, I know many people think that they don't have the means to help others.
I really need to thank my husband for all the support he has given me, and my children for their good heart, and why not, for the challenges they have given me while trying to bring this project to life.
In particular I want to mention some of the RAOK I have been blessed to receive from them:
picked up in the living room
Gave his dollar
Jacob(5 yrs old):
Came in my bed and waited for me to give signs of life to then say “ Happy birthday mamma!”… at 6:10 in the morning!
Gave his dollar
Luca (3yr old)
Tried to be extra nice with his brothers
Gave me lots of hugs
Mattia ( 1yr old)
Gave lots of hugs, shared his cup and giraffe blanket with me.
Gave me big cheesy smiles
Chris (my husband)
Tried to tidy up in the kitchen for me before going to work
Wrote me a beautiful letter
Put cards on the door in place of the ones we put for him
Let me sleep when I was exhausted
Helped me with my RAOK, never complaining, ready to do everything that was needed.
Gave me words of comfort when I was getting too stressed because not all the people I wanted to do something for were accepting my offer to help.
I don't know what I did to deserve these guys, but the Lord has seen fit to bless me with them, and I hope to be able to bless them every day more.
I am also glad for my awesome extended family and friends that shared this adventure with us, and I want to mention some of the RAOK that have been reported to me:
Nilla: brought dinner to a family whose mother had just undergone surgery
Mary Lou: made brownies for a neighbor
Mariantonia (my sister) walked a friend's dog for the day
Sabrina: "Spent 3 days helping 2 of my sisters in law clean and re-organize their apartment. It took a lot of work, but in the end it was worth it, and they were thrilled at the result!"
Timalee: "Something simple. In passing I noticed a person who looked as if they could use a little help, so I helped."
Phil: " I shoveled snow....which is a sad thing to be doing so close to summer, but I did it anyway."
A long lost cousin of mine: " My daughter wants to make the 40 RAOK her summertime thing.. and write down each one in a journal throughout the summer" (Isn't she the sweetest?)
Alessandro :" I went and picked up an old lady , helped her do her grocery shopping, and brought her back home. Is that a good RAOK? " (Sure it is!).
I know there have been many silent acts of kindness, and I am immensely grateful for those too.
I hope they might be contagious as they seem to be for my children, since I have seen them do some RAOK each day, from cleaning the car on the spur of the moment to giving up a balloon to give it to a crying little brother who just lost his, to cleaning the bathroom to just being a little nicer to each other.
It really takes a little Random Act of Kindness to make someone's day, and that someone might be so happy that he/she will be kind to someone else, and that could start a chain reaction that will benefit many lives.
My birthday has been the longest, most exhausting, busiest, craziest birthday ever, but it has been probably the most memorable one, and I hope it will especially stay in my 4 little boys' memory for years to come.