I am very behind in my posting but I really want to do some catch-up before moving on to what’s been happening more recently.
I posted previously about my plans for spending Katie’s 35th birthday doing random acts of kindness–one for each of her 35 years. (Read about it here)
The day turned out to be… well, pretty much perfect. My parents had been in town for Thanksgiving, so I asked my mom to help me with my adventure. She was more than happy to help, and I’m so incredibly glad. I feel really lucky that she wanted to share the day with me—without her I never would have had everything ready in time. I tend to underestimate how long it will take me to prep things like this, so I couldn’t have done it without her.
Prepping all the notes and packets for the day.
Looks like a mess, but we were almost ready to roll.
I added a note to the back of these, but these were the notes we handed out.
It also turned out to be REALLY important to have someone to share all the experiences of the day with. Katie taught me that, and I’m so very lucky my mom was such a great partner in crime for the day!
Normally I wouldn’t create an entire post like this for fear of sounding like I’m looking for a pat on the back or something. The point of this point is simply to share the joy of the day–the joy of honoring and celebrating Katie, and the joy of realizing that doing such little things can mean so much to others.
So, without further ado, more or less in order, here’s the list of what we did for Project RAOKK:
- Write letters to family and friends: I started this one early so mailed notes would arrive by December 1. It was a really good for my soul to thank some of the most important people in my life and remind them why I think they’re awesome.
First of the letters, ready to go.
A couple of extra special people got hugs with their notes.
- Give at least 5 sincere compliments (throughout the day): This was beyond easy. People are doing amazing and beautiful things all around, if I just take the time to notice!
- Be nice to EVERYONE today: This turned out to be one of the most powerful and meaningful experiences of the day. So much so that I’ll dedicate a post to it soon. Stand by.
- Leave Post-It notes for co-workers: We had to get to campus super early for this (like 6:30 a.m. early) but it was totally worth is. I wrote a little thank you/you rock note for all of my team members and stuck them to everyone’s office doors. I felt like one of Santa’s elves sneaking around campus leaving notes then scampering off before anyone saw me!
Little yellow notes, waiting to be discovered!
- Deliver coloring books/crayons to the advising office: Just a little something to offer impatient kiddos that accompany their parent/student to appointments.
- Hang signs with treats in each building: We left some seasonal treats for the lucky first few people to come by!
Monday morning candy canes!
- Buy coffee for the person behind us in line at Starbucks: We picked up her blueberry muffin, too. (side note: this barista is the one I usually see weekday mornings, and her smile and energy are contagious!)
We asked her to pass on our note with our target’s free coffee.
- Leave a treat and “thank you” for our mail carrier
- Take bag full of old towels to the Enoch City Animal Shelter: They were SO grateful! There’s more to this story, too, which I’ll explain in an upcoming post. I had no idea that our stop here would change our world in such an amazing way. I can’t believe I forgot to take a photo!
- Drop off yummy bread and jam to the folks who work at The Grind, my favorite coffee shop (and second home/office) in town.
- Drop off yummy bread and jam to Clint’s office. I finally remembered to take a photo again.
Morning snack for this cute boy and his coworkers.
- Drop off yummy bread and jam to the pharmacy staff at Smith’s (the grocery store we go to). With all of the med changes I’ve gone through in the last few years, I’m on a first-name basis with most of them. They’ve gone out of their way to offer awesome and caring service from day one.
- Leave microwave popcorn on the Redbox: A couple and their daughter were picking out a movie when I walked up, so I gave one to them and taped the other two to the machine to be found later.
- Put quarters in kiddie toy machines: Loaded up and ready for some lucky kid!
I used to love getting toys from these things.
- Deliver anonymous flowers: These went to a colleague who doesn’t get thanked nearly often enough.
- Deliver encouraging notes to teachers at local elementary school: Originally we were going to put these under windshield wipers in the teacher parking lot, but since Clint works with the local schools, he offered to deliver them to mailboxes at a school where teachers might need a pick-me-up. He also added a gift card–he asked the principal who might be most deserving or most in need and left it for that mystery person.
The different notes we left for teachers.
Clint’s extra donation to this RAOKK.
All tucked away, waiting to be discovered.
- Leave nickels on playground for kids to find: We had a lot of fun with this one. Mom carefully walked the playground and placed nickels one by one in kid-friendly spots. It was fun to explore the playground together! Mom had a minor incident with a surprise moving bridge, and I may have ruined my shoulders forever learning that I’m no longer cut out for monkey bars. But it was still a hoot!
Mom canvasing the playground for the best hiding spots.
The infamous moving bridge.
Taking time to play (can you find the nickel in the photo?)
- Pick up trash at the park
- Leave baby wipes and encouraging notes to moms: We did this at a couple of stores–never know when they might save the day for someone.
- Drop off a treat for my amazing therapist
- Drop off a donation to Catholic thrift store
- Leave notes in books: I found a few of my favorite books at the local bookstore and left notes in them that said, “I don’t know you, but based on your choice of books, I bet we’d be friends!”
Loved this book–hope someone else does too.
- Hand out stress relief kits to my class: I had to work that day, so my parents went with me to class for presentations. I told my class what we were up to and then handed out a small sheet of bubble wrap to each for their stress-relieving, bubble-popping pleasure. I love this group. I just wish I’d have handed these out at the END of class instead of the beginning. Oy!
My awesome class with their bubble wrap.
- Let go of the need to be right: This one was personal, so I’ll leave it at that. I’m glad I finally did this, though, in this particular situation.
- Feed parking meters: This was apparently the one day of the year when everyone on campus paid up on their meters… So I taped quarters to a few of them so the next person to park could do so, my treat.
- Take donation to Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center: A good friend mentioned that this time of year the Center gets a lot of donations for the kids but not for the women. We delivered several sets of cute hat and glove sets with hopes someone would be a little warmer through the winter.
- Put stamps on envelopes: We stopped at a local drugstore, found cards we liked in the “friendship” section, and pre-stamped the envelopes (and left a note in each, of course). This one was SO easy but, again, made me feel like a sneaky elf.
Sneaking stamps on to cards.
- Leave dollars in dollar store books: I found several $1 coloring books I liked and paper-clipped a note and dollar bill in them. Hope some lucky kids found them!
Obviously I chose a monkey book as one of my surprises!
- Angel Tree: My mom and I both took a tag from the Angel Tree on campus early in the morning. After our trip to the dollar store, we swung back by campus to deliver two bags full of the requested school supplies.
Selecting our angel tags
- Take coloring books/crayons to the hospital: We bought some huge coloring books, split them up into packets of about 8 pages each, and attached a miniature box of crayons and some random stickers–voila! Individual books to keep kids busy. The surgical unit at the hospital was SO thrilled to get them. They said they’re always running out… This was SUPER easy to do, so I’ll keep this one in mind for future projects.
- Leave change on vending machines: Decided to leave these on the machines outside the emergency room at the hospital while we were there. Figured that was the kind of place someone might really, really need a snack.
- Take out the trash cans: When we got home, I took out both trash cans so Clint wouldn’t have to (I brought them back in the next day, too). This was an act of kindness to him, obviously, but also to me. Number 32 on my list felt daunting at that point in the day, and I decided to cut myself some slack and replace it with something that would be appreciated but doable after a long day. Kindness to ourselves is important, too!!
- Give a gift to a friend: We went out to dinner that night with a couple of friends to celebrate Katie’s birthday. At dinner, I gave a special gift (little baby super hero socks) to a friend who will be a mom soon. There was a special connection between her, the socks, me, and Katie that had hit me a week earlier, so this one felt really good.
Clearly I’m going to be his favorite fake aunty.
- Donate to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary: Katie and I had planned a visit to Best Friends when she came to visit, and we never got to go. I knew I wanted to donate something to the dogs, since clearly that’s what she’d want. Clint was going to deliver these adorable little puppy collars on RAOKK Day, but he ended up not going that way for work. I mailed them off the next day instead.
Hooray for the puppies!
I mean, seriously. How adorable are these tiny little things??
- Deliver tennis balls to a dog park: These are still sitting on the kitchen table, waiting for us to be near a dog park where we can leave them. Either St. George or Flagstaff, we’re thinking. I hope they bring joy to some dogs who love tennis balls as much as ours do!
There you have it! All 35!!
The official list, all crossed off!
We were tired by the end of the day, but it was so, so worth it. We met so many grateful people, so many people who wanted to hear about Katie, and so many people who wanted to pass along the kindness. It’s really amazing just how easy it can be to make someone’s day… and in the process, make your own.
I cried a few tears on RAOKK Day, but almost all of them were happy tears. Talking about Katie that night while my mom and I reflected on the day brought a few tears of sadness in realizing how deeply I miss my friend. But otherwise, I cried tears of happiness over being able to help others and tears of gratitude in hearing about all of the amazing things people did that day in Katie’s honor.
I know that’s the way Katie would want it. Happy Birthday, my dear, sweet friend. Your spirit is alive and well, still making a difference in this world.
THAT is truly a gift to us all.