My friend Lori Bane texted me out of the blue one night this past summer: did I need someone to read my current manuscript? I stared at the screen, amazed at the words. Lori was the answer to a prayer I hadn't even uttered, and she helped me get back on track, one chapter at a time. I knew about her summer filled with random acts of kindness and personally felt the loving kindness she shared with me by reaching out. Now I'd like to share her story with you.
What gave you the idea to focus on random acts of kindness? I heard on K-Love radio several years ago that a young woman chose to do 21 acts of kindness instead of shots on her 21st birthday. So for my 37th birthday, I decided I'd do the same thing - 1 act of kindness for each year. I had my sons help. Isaak kept a list and what they did counted, too, because I wasn't sure I'd be able to get 37 done in a day! It turned out to be a LOT of fun and easier than expected when you count little kindnesses, too. I researched ahead of time so I was prepared to give cold gatorades, thank you notes, etc. and then we also just kept our eyes out for random acts. I did it for birthdays 38 and 39. For 40, I wanted to make it bigger, so I decided I would invite friends and family to join me for a beach cleanup or something and then ask them to do more kind acts throughout the day.
Then I realized my birthday fell on the first day of preplanning this year and I was so bummed! I considered doing the 40 acts the Sunday before, but I try to rest on Sundays. Then Becky Pappas led me to a fun book she'd read called The Summer I Saved the World... in 65 Days. Solutions! I started planning 40 days or 40 acts over the summer, or whatever it would turn out to be. I still wanted to include other people, so I toyed with the idea of posting on Facebook and inviting people to share their acts, hoping we would document a universe-changing movement! I hesitated to post online because I didn't want it to come off as "Look what I am doing! Look at ME!" I wanted to point the focus back to God, so I made a website on which I explained my motivation and invited people to document their own acts anonymously, and kept a list of my own acts as inspiration for others (in addition to posting picture-worthy acts). 40daysofkindness.weebly.com
What was one of the most memorable experiences? Okay, I was going to say how much we all giggled when we paid for someone's meal behind us in a drive-thru, but reading back through the acts listed on my website, I'd have to go with taking stevia leaves and cool lavender rags to share with my church softball team. One of the players referred to the stevia leaves as "chaw for the church league," and one of the players' middle-school sons exclaimed, "Who is this lady?!" I really liked the anonymous acts the best overall, though.
What were some of the ways you helped people? All of my acts are listed on 40daysofkindness.weebly.com. Some are also on Facebook/Instagram and there are pictures of them there. Also, one of my friends got a group of our friends together for a surprise birthday dinner and they gave me a sign with all of the things they'd done in my honor. I was so touched!
Did you ever feel helped by others when your goal was to help them? Totally! I've made some new friends, slowed my own pace, gotten many hugs, and definitely felt God's presence in exchanges. It's helping me focus on what REALLY matters and that is the greatest gift of all. I just need to remember every day...
Did more opportunities to help present themselves to you the more you helped? Did you feel like you were in the flow? Yes. One thing led to another and I enjoyed the summer more than I could have imagined. I had worried it would become "one more thing to do," or a big checklist I'd wonder why I'd signed up for. Because I wasn't working (except for a few weeks of summer camp and a week of vacation bible school volunteering), I was able to balance everything and didn't feel overwhelmed. I chose not to do a few things that would've put our family over the edge budget-wise or time-wise, but mostly things worked out really naturally. We got to enjoy quality time with each other and wonderful people as we blessed them, and I treated us intentionally here and there.
Would you say this has been a life-changing experience for you? If so, how? Over the years of doing this on my birthday and then spending this entire summer being mindfully kind, I'm more aware of people around me and their needs. I do try to keep in mind that I can't do everything, but I can do some things sometimes and it may mean the world to someone else. Being kind is always possible, and not very common sometimes. I had joked that once my birthday was over, I was going to go back to being mean again. LOL! I wish I could maintain the quantity and quality of kindness my kids and I were doing, but working and having kids back in school makes it harder. I think I'm more personable with the students when they are having a bad day now, though. Oh yeah! And my kids are more aware of little things they can do for others. They haven't decided to do this on their birthdays, but they are very helpful and supportive of my birthday goal(s). It's just "what we do." That makes the biggest impact!
Thanks Lori! This was fun!
Thank you! Reminiscing about this has been good for my soul. :)