Saturday, January 22, 2011

Project 31--One Week, 31 Random Acts of Kindness

I had a fantastic birthday week. Probably the best ever. It was amazing what a difference changing my focus and continuously looking for ways to serve made on my attitude and outlook. This was a challenging week in many ways-Zak was turned down for a job, we learned that we were going to have to shell out $2500 to get our car fixed (we got a first and second opinion and both confirmed that we needed a new transmission), and I could have felt pretty miserable that things still don't seem to be going our way. But instead I was consumed with wondering who around me could use a kind gesture. It was truly a spiritual experience.

And then we experienced a modern day miracle.

Thursday afternoon, I noticed that the check engine light had turned off. We were set to get a new transmission on Friday morning, but I decided to take it to our regular mechanic just to have him check the car really quick and see why the light went off. He hooked it up to a machine and ran a few tests. When he turned to me and told me that there didn't seem to be anything wrong with the transmission anymore, I could have kissed him (but I didn't-I try to avoid scandal as often as possible).

Truly, when God closes a door, he always opens a window .

A complete list of all of the random acts of kindness for Project 31.

  1. I don't know many of my neighbors, but I do have one that has been really friendly to us since we moved in. I dropped treats off to her.

  2. Our bedroom had become the place to dump stuff we didn't know what to do with. I cleaned it all up, made the bed, and hung pictures that had been sitting on the floor for six months while Zak was at work.

  3. I love getting blog comments-so I gave away an envelope of fabric to a blog commenter.

  4. Our church's childrens' class was asking for toy donations. We purged unused toys right before Christmas, but I asked the kids to each pick another toy to donate.

  5. I taped a coupon for free Excedrin Migraine to the package in the store for someone to find.

  6. I went into the grocery store with the intention of buying a $10 gift card to give away. As I was walking through the store to get the kids a free cookie, I saw the mom I knew I should give it to. I decided I'd just buy one in the bakery and find her. Unfortunately, the bakery couldn't create a gift card. By the time I got in line at the front of the store, she was standing in line three lanes over. Even the regular grocery line couldn't help me, so I headed up to customer service. At this point, I was pretty sure I was going to miss my opportunity. As soon as I turned around with my card from customer service, she was checking out (while wrestling three kids-I think this is what drew me to her). I handed the bagger the gift card and asked her to make sure it was used for the girl's groceries, then walked away. It was one of the most fun things I did this week.

  7. I made a donation to our friend Matt (a young man with autism) who has been selected to compete at the Special Olympics in Athens this year!! He needs to raise enough money to cover his trip ($5,000). You can help him reach his goal too by donating here.

  8. After hearing about the flooding in Australia, I decided to host an auction as part of the Queensland Flood Relief Appeal Auctions. If you feel so inclined, you are welcome to bid on the custom baby clothes quilt here.

  9. Zak wears a suit at least once or twice a week and normally he is in charge of getting his own suits cleaned, but I noticed that there were spit up stains on his pants from when Storey was an infant. Gross. So, I took two of them to be dry cleaned.

  10. I made mini-loaves and took them to the kids teachers.
  11. I gave away 31 free patterns on the Make Along blog.

  12. I sent a fun package to two unsuspecting friends. They probably still haven't received, so SURPRISE! It's always so fun to get mail.

  13. A good friend was having a sucky day. I sent her a little iTunes card to dance her cares away. I just hope she looked as awesome as these silouhettes while cutting a rug.
  14. I offered a friend whose husband is deployed a free photo shoot so that she can send some pictures to him.

  15. I joined the Pound for Pound Challenge and pledged to lose 20lbs, which means 20lbs of food will be donated to the Utah Food Bank.

  16. I left flowers anonymously at the door of another mom in my neighborhood who has a son with autism. *And I got to thinking-the flowers cost me all of $5. Wouldn't it be wonderful to leave flowers at a random person's doorstep a couple of times a month?!? Only $10/month for something so wonderful. Flowers brighten anyone's day.
  17. At the Dollar Store, we hid dollar bills among the toys with little notes on them that said "Surprise!!" for other children to find. The kids are still talking about how fun it was.
  18. I stuck a gift card for the mail carrier in the mailbox with a note that said, "Have lunch on us!" P.S.-My mail lady wrote me and expressed how happy she was to know she was appreciated. I wonder if mail carriers get thanked very often-I certainly have never done it before...
  19. Gave away a couple of gift vouchers to people on the Screamin' Deals page.

  20. Sent a card to the troops via this site.

  21. Took myself out for a morning parfait at McDonald's (have you had one? So good!) and paid for the order of the car behind me in the drive through.

  22. I bought a stroller for really cheap last week knowing that I would be doing Project 31 and could find an organization to donate it to. I ended up at LDS Family Services, the agency that I was adopted through 31 years ago. The stroller will be given to an adoptive family (many times placements are unexpected and parents aren't ready with all of the baby supplies they need). This was such a wonderful experience-I was able to talk to the women there and tell them my adoption story. It reminded me how grateful I am to an unselfish birth mother and for my eternal family.

  23. Zak and the kids went with me to the nearby hospital to tape exact change on the vending machines. I figured of all places, people there need a pick-me-up. Unless they are having a baby. But then, I am buying them a celebratory Sprite!! This was a great family activity--right up until we were leaving and Jakson freaked out-running through the hospital screaming, I don't want a shot!! over and over. At least the doctors walking past us thought it was funny.

  24. I got my sister tickets to a So You Think You Can Dance taping in Salt Lake. I really liked doing anonymous acts of kindness this week, but her reaction to the tickets was priceless.

  25. Last year, the ladies in my congregation made blankets to donate to Project Linus, but I could never get in contact with the representative in our area to drop them off. I made an extra effort this week to get her email and phone number and was able to get them to the right people.
  26. I went through my closet and donated a bunch of clothes to D.I. (the local charity thrift shop).

  27. Don't you hate it when your kid has a messy diaper and you realize that you don't have an extra diaper or wipes? Maybe that only happens to me.... So that someone else can possibly avoid that misery, I left a diaper and wipes on a public bathroom changing table.

  28. I got a very thoughtful, unexpected birthday gift from a friend in the mail on Thursday. It made me feel really special. With that in mind, I left anonymous flowers on the front doorstep of a girl with the same birthday. So nice to be remembered-thank you Kit!!

  29. Jakson and I took cupcakes to Erin, his therapist.

  30. My beloved children were extra awful yesterday. C'mon kids, it's my birthday!! They wouldn't stop fighting, Storey threw herself on the ground every time I asked her to do something, and Jakson was all over the place. My good deed? I didn't exile them to their rooms for the entire day.

  31. Zak and I love Indian food. And definitely the best place for Indian food in Utah is India Palace in Provo. They have awesome food and incredible service. A couple of months ago, our date started later than we had intended and by the time we got out of our movie, most of the restaurants in the area were closed. We drove over to India Palace and, even though they had technically closed, the owner still let us sit down and eat a delicious meal. Last night, we had India Palace again and left a (very) generous tip to thank them for another fabulous experience.
I plan on making this a yearly birthday tradition. I cannot say enough good things about this experience. It was uplifting, amazing, and humbling. It made me pause and slow down long enough to see the people around me. So often I get caught up in the craziness of life and focus inward on my challenges. Project 31 reminded me again what David O. McKay meant when he said, "Man’s greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others."

I read this talk about service during the week and was very touched by its message.


Mrs. Doodle said...

:: Happy Birthday to you!!!! You are awesome and thoughtful and inspiring!
:: I know you made so many people so unexpectedly happy... me included. I got your pouch sling pattern.
:: you thought of so many things to do... you so gave all of us some really great ideas to carry this on when our birthdays roll around. Although I think I might start doing some random acts of kindness way more often. I have been meaning to make our trash pickup guys something yummy! I WILL do that this week and let my girls help me surprise them:)
:: THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT YOU DO! this blog, your photography blog, screamin' deals. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!

Rebecca said...

What an inspiration! Wow. You impacted so many people for the good--and most of them don't even know it was you! I want to try this sometime. Thanks for the great idea. Truly touching...

Shenna said...

You are such a wonderful person, Beth! I don't doubt that this was a great birthday for you. I don't know that I could have thought of 31 things to do for others...a sure sign that I should probably do more service. Thank you for being such a great example!!

Anne said...

First of all, I don't know where you found the time to even write all this up. And second,I think you should write it up and submit it to the Ensign. Wonderful!

Amanda said...

That is so cool, Beth! What a great birthday week. Also, I don't think I knew you were adopted. Have you shared your story on this blog? I'd love to hear it if you ever decided to share.

SpartanGirl said...

Happy Birthday to you!!!

I can't tell you how much fun I had reading about all of the things you did for others. It really inspired me. I'm going to take my kids to the dollar store to hide $1 bills amongst the toys. What a great, great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Momma bear said...

I LOVE reading your random acts of kindness you have really inspired me to do the same!!!

Dawn said...

WOW! I never thought of doing this, but you have totally inspired me! I want to try to do this for my birthday too. I have been on the getting end so many times and now I want to be on the giving end.

The Frosts said...

you're amazing!

Cami said...

I don't know if reading the article I posted on FB gave you the idea for this project or if you already had it in mind but I am definitely planning to do this for my birthday this year. When you asked about the photography, I was so blown away and then when I read in this post that it was part of your project, it made perfect sense and I almost started to cry with gratitude. I hope we can work that out soon. Since I know I want to do this later in the year, I already think differently... any extra money I get I want to save for my project instead of using on myself like I normally would do. I am already excited to come up with things to do for my birthday and it's not until October! Oh, and I also got one of those cheap strollers and plan to give it away and think LDS Family Services is a perfect place to take it. Thank you for the inspiration.

bethany said...

If you are considering doing this for your birthday-I cannot encourage you enough. It was seriously one of the be experiences of my entire life. I loved it.

And I didn't want to spend a whole lot on it (we are on a tight budget), so the gift cards I gave weren't pricey (around $5/$10) and a lot of the stuff that I did I either got a really good deal on or used a coupon or Groupon. I've already started planning for next year so that I can spend even less and do more good!!

Leanna said...

number 24 is the BESTTTTTT

but i also like numero 6

Katherine said...

I loved seeing all of these great ideas in one post. My fav might have been the dollar store surprises! Happy Birthday! Mine is today, and last year I delivered soup and a handmade gift to a friend with was the best thing I had ever done on my birthday.

Beth Ann said...

Happy Birthday, Beth!

Vanessa said...

wow, Bethany! This is a mighty impressive accomplishment. I'm glad it made your birthday so great. Happy birthday!

shauntel said...

That was awesome Beth. Seriously, it made me tear up. Happy Birthday.

Lizzie said...

I am SOOOO glad you wrote this post. I knew you were doing this, but it was very inspiring to read about the actual projects that you did (I'm sitting at home right now with my sick son instead of being at church. I feel spiritually lifted, so I'm counting this as church for the week...)
All week I've thought "Wow, what a great idea for a birthday week, but I just don't think I could pull it off myself. For one thing, it would cost a LOT of money, but more importantly, I don't know where I would find the time to do so much service and I have no idea what I would actually do". You've made such a great idea seem very, VERY achievable. My birthday is at the end of next month, and it looks like it's 'Project 28' this year...

... oh, and can I copy the majority of your service ideas? You are my favorite leeching victim, after all. : )

Bridget said...

Ok, that sounds like so much fun! What an amazing idea. I'm sure it was so fulfilling--not to mention, it set such a good example for your kiddos. Thanks for doing this and sharing it with all of us. I get so caught up in my crazy life that I often forget to look outside myself and our little family! Thanks again. We miss you guys! I

Nan said...

Super inspiring birthday tradition! Thanks for sharing the idea and your week.

Raegan said...

You are truly amazing and an inspiration to all. It is amazing how much the little things matter. I am going to strive for 31 random acts of kindness on my 31st bday in May!! Thank you for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

I loved seeing all of the wonderful things you did to make life a little bit happier and more joyful for others. I know that it's the small things that count - Mother Theresa said "do small things with great love", and I believe that it's the small things that make life beautiful.
Have a wonderful day girl!

Sarah said...

I loved this post Bethany. I actually felt a little bit teary reading through all of those little acts of kindness. What an impact you've made. Not least to your children - you're teaching them wonderful lessons in how to be a better person.

Cheryl said...

Wow! That is amazing that you did all of that!!!! You are amazing and I am sure made a lot of people feel loved and happy! I am hoping to do this when my birthday rolls around in May...

Melissa said...

You are so inspiring! <3 you

cj said...

Wow! What a great idea! I have multiple favorites but I think I like the Dollar Store idea the best. That would totally make my day!

whoopsadasie said...

That was the most wonderful idea I have heard of in a LONG time! What a thoughtful, generous person you are! I wish there were more of you in this world! It would be a better place! Thanks for being such a wonderful inspiration to us all!

Natalie said...

Just found this post through pinterest and I just love it. What a beautiful way to celebrate your birthday! I may even try to do it for my kids birthdays too. Thanks for inspiring me! Blessings to you!

3in3mom said...

wow, that just lifted my day! Way to go! I am impressed by your 31 project! I'm 34 next year and I want to do this too!

ps. We have an adopted son through LDSFS and are so grateful for the miracle his birth mother provided us.

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