I’m throwing it back six whole weeks here, with a blog that I’d been unable to post on the old site. Enjoy!
Yesterday was my birthday. My 45th birthday, to be precise.
For whatever reason, this one felt different – like a milestone. But, really… who considers 45 a milestone? I certainly hadn’t, but personal assessments aside, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a significant number. Still can’t quite put my finger on it, but since it felt big, I wanted to do something worthwhile. Enter the Internet, and it’s copious amount of general awareness. I’d heard of people marking their birthdays (usually 30th or 40th) by performing Random Acts of Kindness all day long. You know, 30 for your 30th birthday, 40 for your 40th. Last week I sat down and broke everything down: given an 18-hour day, I was looking at carrying out five RAKs per two-hour time period. OK. That sounded doable. Then I started listing said RAKs. Planning out 45 Random Acts of Kindness is a lot harder than it seemed. I figured out the five I could do first thing in the morning before leaving for work; then the five I could do on my way to work, and upon arriving. So it went, in two- or four-hour blocks, until I had the entire day planned out. Perfect.
When my alarm went off yesterday, I was excited to get started. One of my RAKs was to make coffee for Jeff, so it would be ready when he woke up. Little did I know, he already had plans to get up and make ME a birthday breakfast (which was PHE-NOM-NOM-NOM-ENAL, by the way), so he actually beat me to making the coffee. Oh, well… I’d just find something to do later in the day to make up for it. On my way to work I paid for the coffee of the person behind me in the Starbuck’s drive through. I got into my office, and proceeded to leave boxes of homemade cookies in my department and one other. Later, I left coupons and freebie vouchers in the cafeteria, coffee bar and convenience store within our building. Near lunchtime, I walked over to the Fitness Center and left bottles of water at the check-in desk for people coming to work out. Then I went into the women’s locker room and put up a few small inspirational/motivational signs. Before I left for the day, I taped a dollar to a vending machine and a quarter to one of the parking meters. From work, I stopped at the bread store, where I left a $5 on the table with all the muffins and bagels. After that, it was off to the Red Cross to donate blood.
When I finished there, I had to stop and pick up Jack, Charlie and Sam from a friend’s house. It was getting a bit later in the afternoon, and I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t had time to get to almost half of my list. Clearly, in my case, an entire day was necessary for all the RAK-ing. I got home to find Jeff had made the most awesome birthday cake, and was ready to leave with the boys for a quick trip to the store. I resigned myself to accept that completing half my list of Random Acts was going to have to be good enough. I realized, as I sat snuggled up with Bobby for a little while, that simply doing that – spending time with him – was an act of kindness. And sincerely thanking Jeff for his great efforts in the kitchen was an act of kindness. Accepting and squeezing extra tight when the boys gave me unexpected birthday hugs was an act of kindness. For the rest of the evening, I realized that while half of my list had gone un-highlighted, my acts of kindness – both given and received – hadn’t stopped.
The perk of having a birthday right before the start of a new year is that you have two prompts to start anew. In addition to my personal and professional goals, (hello running and writing… I’m looking at you!) I think another goal will be to continue the kindness. And when I celebrate my 46th birthday in a year’s time, I hope that performing acts of kindness, both random and expected, will be a part of my everyday life. But I’m still going to take the day off work and plow through a new list of 46 Random Acts of Kindness.