For the last year, I have gone back and forth on whether or not to post about my birthday last year. For my 26th birthday, I celebrated my birthday by doing 26 Random Acts of Kindess (RAOK). Instead of getting presents or having a party, I got to give various and random gifts of kindness to unsuspecting people.
I didn’t end up doing RAOK for my 27th birthday, and it just wasn’t the same. I knew for my 28th birthday I wanted to do RAOKs again, and so the Boss and I planned out and plotted an entire day of service. It ended up being an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling birthday.
One of my favorite quotes is
“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others… By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.”
~Gordon B. Hinkley.
From my personal life experiences, I passionately agree with this quote. When I am a miserable and unhappy person it’s because I have grown selfish and have lost track of what is important in life. On the contrary, when I have been the absolute happiest it has been during times I am focused on others, like during my RAOK birthdays.
Doing 28 RAOKs last year turned out to be as fulfilling and rewarding as I could have possibly hoped. I think having the Boss there to experience the day with me made it that much more meaningful and intimate. I shared sneak peeks of a few of the things we did on FB and IG, but I ultimately decided not to post about the full day.
Some of the experiences we had were very raw and emotional and somewhat private. I struggled with whether or not I wanted to share those cherished moments and risk having them demeaned by flouncing them off to the public.
A few people had commented about my motives for doing RAOK or accused me of being disingenuous and/or insincere. I didn’t want my very special and personal experiences to be publicly scoffed at. I’ve communicated my hesitations to the Boss over this past year as he has encouraged me to share about our day together. He simply told me that people will judge no matter what, you can’t please everyone, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else says or thinks regarding the matter if I know my own heart and intentions.
Ultimately, he made me realize that the majority of people want to see good in the world and need to be inspired. He, of course, was right, after all, I got the whole RAOK birthday idea from reading about someone else who had gotten the idea from someone else and so on. Better late than never, I guess.
Today is my 29th birthday (yikes). This year, for a very long list of reasons (mostly relating to my pregnancy), I wasn’t able to plan a full day of 29 RAOKs to celebrate getting older, so I thought today would be fitting to finally share about my experiences from last year. It’s funny that even after a whole entire year I remember so many of the details of that day.
It makes me terribly sad I won’t get to make as big of a difference this year. I do, however, still have something up my sleeve because it just wouldn’t be my birthday without some type of RAOK action, so you will just have to wait ’til the end of this post to see what it is. Without further hesitation, here are my 28 random acts of kindness from 2012…
28 Random Acts of Kindness
1. Diet Dr. Pepper
Doing RAOKs (and 28 of them in one day) requires a lot of energy, so our very first stop was at Circle K to get myself a nice big Diet Dr. Pepper. Can’t be productive without momma’s special juice! While I was there paying for my drink, I paid for the drinks of the rest of the people in Circle K as well. I am not the only one who needs her juice!
2. Chocolate Cake!
One of my favorite places to visit is the fire department down the street from our house. We got the grand tour the first year I RAOK’d them, and now I bring them something every year on my birthday and even Valentine’s Day. This time we brought them a big fatty chocolate cake and some ice cold milk. (If you haven’t tried this chocolate cake from Costco, you need to go get one now and eat it, it will change your life!).
The new LDS temple in Gilbert is pretty close to our house, so we drive by it almost every Sunday to see the building progress. How anyone can work outdoors in this Arizona heat in AUGUST, nonetheless, is beyond my comprehension. We paid the construction workers a visit and brought them some cold Gatorade to help fight the heat.
Before we went into a Walmart to purchase supplies, The Boss helped collect shopping carts and return them inside the store for customers. May I just say that men who give service are freaking SEXY!!
This was one of my favorite moments of that day. Crap! I am crying just remembering all of it. We had loaded up our cart with a few treats and things we planned to pass out throughout the day. The elderly woman in front of us kept offering to let us go ahead of her because we only had a few things and her cart was completely full. I hadn’t planned to, but was immediately inspired to pay for her haul of groceries. I asked The Boss to talk to her and distract her while she unloaded her cart so I could slip my credit card to the woman checking her out. The look of shock on the the Walmart employee’s face immediately put me to tears! “Are you serious???” she whispered. “Oh! Oh my gosh!” she whispered again. Knowing that I was about to get caught by the elderly woman I started shaking and probably turned flaming red. The Walmart employee explained to the confused customer that I had just paid her bill. More and MORE tears people! The woman said, and I quote “I’ve never had anyone do anything nice like this for me! I can’t even believe this!” This woman had to be in her 70s and had never had anything like this happen to her…it broke my heart.
A person shouldn’t go the majority of her life without receiving some type of service or kindness, it makes me sad! I was overwhelmed and thankful that we were able to pay her bill and knew that God had intended for her to be right where she was that day. At this point, we had caused a scene and backed up the checkout line, so The Boss helped her load up her groceries and we made our exit.
At Walmart, we purchased a bunch of snack foods and goodies that most young men would probably like. We left it on the porch of the full time Missionaries serving in our ward. No doubt they get sick of ramen noodles and mac and cheese all the time, so I figured some cookie dough, gum, chips, drinks, etc. might be a pleasant change for them.
During the school day, we arranged to talk to a class of high school students at the seminary building by my house. I told them what we were doing all day for my birthday and that if they wanted to give me a present, they could go and do an act of service to a peer during school. After the class was over, we passed out ice cream treats to everyone and made them promise to pay it forward. Teenagers doing service and being kind to others is one of those things that makes me EXTRA happy!
After making routine daily and weekly drops of Whippy Cake orders to my local post office, I have gotten to know and love the staff there, so we HAD to take them some of my favorite lemon cake bites (also from Costco) and a note to tell them how much I have appreciated their positivity and patience through all the Whippy Cake shipping chaos. Plus, they were among the very first to start calling me “Whippy,” and I just love that!
We went to the maternity unit where I had Dempsey and gave out headbands for the new moms and baby girls. We left lots of extras for future moms and babies as well.
Oh my, another very intimate and very real experience I will never forget that day was delivering flowers. We had asked the front desk at the hospital if they could refer us to a floor with long-term patients who might not receive visitors very often. We went to 3 different floors that day trying to find a patient who might be lonely or one who may have been having an especially rough time (not that anyone has a good time at the hospital).
We visited with a few patients along the way and met some very pleasant and positive elderly patients, but alas, the ones we met were not permitted to have real flowers because of the medical risks associated with the dander (who knew!). We finally resolved to leave them at the nurses’ station with instructions to give them to a patient in need and then headed to the elevator.
A middle-aged man held the elevator door open for us so we could make it in. I must have been feeling excessively happy and talkative because I started up a conversation with the man and asked him how his day was going and who he was visiting. It turned out he was visiting his wife who was diagnosed with cancer. I asked him if his wife would like some flowers and maybe some visitors. He was kind of thrown off a bit, but I didn’t give him a chance to decline, I just pushed the button to the floor his wife was on and we hunted down the flowers again and headed towards his wife’s hospital room.
Along the way the man explained to us how his wife had survived breast cancer a few years prior only to fall victim to another type of cancer after her breast cancer went into remission. You could see he was tired and concerned, but holy cow, did he admire his wife!
We stepped into the wife’s room and introduced ourselves. I offered her the flowers and commented on how beautiful I thought she looked. (She really did look stunning for someone who was known to be quite sick). The Boss started to explain to her that we were out doing RAOKs for the day when we bumped into her husband and forced him to bring us to her. I told her I thought she was strong and that if she could beat cancer once she would do it again, especially with such a supportive and loving husband.
I held her hand and then we all just remained there in silence, crying together. I honestly can’t remember if anything else was said between the four of us before we left the two of them alone together, but I know nothing else needed to be said.
I was touched, inspired, and completely changed somehow. The elevator ride and the walk to the car was long and quiet… just a whole lot of sniffling. I felt blessed to have The Boss with me for that experience, to witness love like that during such an awful thing made me want to try harder to love him better.
We drove just around the corner to my OBGYN and provided cupcakes to my doctor and some Whippy Cake headbands to the staff. Hands down the best OBGYN and physicians office I’ve ever been to.
We also stopped by our pediatrician’s office to give her some chocolate and jewelry. Maggie is such an amazing doctor to my kids and is just so down to earth and personal. Our doctor appointments feel more like visits with a friend.
Throughout the day, The Boss and I looked for opportunities to give compliments to people around us. This is a couple we stopped to talk to during the day. The husband had escorted his wife to her doctor appointment and was patiently helping her walk. I just love it when a gentleman takes care of his woman so tenderly. We told them we hoped to work hard enough to stay together for as long as they had.
I wrote a note accompanied with $20 and left it inside a washing machine in a laundromat for someone to find later.
Joe’s Real BBQ in Gilbert gives you a free meal on your birthday, so we went there for lunch, and since my lunch was free, I paid for the couple’s meal behind me.
We went to get Kingston from school early, but not before we passed out cupcakes to his whole class. I’m telling you, everyone loves cake!
17. Cold drinks to the Teachers and Staff
I always feel so bad for the teachers and staff who have to wait around outside for an hour directing parents and kids so everyone can get home safely, so we brought them some ice cold Gatorade to help cool them off.
18. Bracelets for Lucy
Kingston had a classmate named Lucy who is disabled. We used to bump into Lucy and her mom when picking Kingston up from school, and London would always comment on how beautiful Lucy’s hair is. London made some of her original bracelets for Lucy, her mom, and baby sister, and then Kingston gave them to Lucy at school.
At some point during the day, we got change back from one of our purchases that included this dollar bill that had writing on it. Whether the guy is actually poor or just curious to see how many times the dollar would end up in his mailbox, I just couldn’t resist, so I mailed it back to him with a few extra bills as well.
Throughout the day, I texted my sisters a series of my best selfies. My sisters have a special appreciation for the ability to make pretty faces.
I offered a big ol’ discount to my customers on all of my Whippy Cake collections, and The Boss stayed up late every night for a week to ship all the orders.
22. Acts of Service
Instead of presents, I asked that people do acts of service on my behalf and then share them with me in a comment. I sent Whippy Cake packages to three followers who shared their RAOKs to thank them for their giving and serving and especially for sharing about them publicly!
23. Classroom Supplies
Someone I know is a single mom who teaches preschool out of her home. I’ve always looked up to this person and admired her strength and positivity and strive to be more like her. We purchased a bunch of classroom supplies and activities for her preschool and then Ding Dong Ditched them on her porch. Surprise!
24. More Cake!
We made a pit stop at the Gilbert police department and provided them with…more CAKE! (I really like cake people. I think everyone should have cake).
25. Thai Food
We ordered my favorite Thai food and delivered it to a friends’ who just had a brand new baby so they wouldn’t have to make dinner. Bonus! I got to hold the most precious and tiny baby girl!
I donated Maize through Heart for Africa to feed children in Swaziland. It’s staggering what kind of impact just $50 can make in Africa. One maize donation can feed up to 250 children!
27. Anonymous Notes
Throughout the day, I left hand-written anonymous notes on cars and doorsteps in hopes to inspire a few smiles.
By the end of the day, I was insanely exhausted, and more importantly, I was starving, so we ordered ourselves dinner to go. I left a fatty tip for the chef… I really like food, and so I really REALLY like the people who make my food and thought it would be nice to let someone know that I appreciate his food making skills.
I can’t express enough how rewarding it is to have had the opportunity to spend my birthday like this every other year. It’s quite an investment physically, emotionally, and financially, but as I’ve said, the blessings and experiences I’ve had are things I will never forget.
Reminiscing over last year’s RAOKs had me really sad I wasn’t able to do an RAOK birthday this year. I decided I can’t just do nothing, so instead of an elaborate day of events, this year I’ve decided to do something I haven’t done in a few years which is a Glam for a Day Giveaway! If you haven’t been following me for very long, or don’t know what Glam for a Day is, you can read about past winners Rachel, Sydnee, Aubri, and Tammy.
Glam for a Day is an opportunity for one lovely lady to escape from reality and life in general and step into a world of pampering and makeovers. I have some special ideas in mind for the winner of this giveaway, but first I need help finding a winner. You get to nominate a friend, family member, co-worker, or someone you know who you think could really use some glam and attention in her life.
I would love it if you would write to me and tell me all about this person who inspires you and why you feel she deserves to be spoiled and pampered. You can submit your entries to me via email at becki (at) whippycake (dot) com. Because this giveaway is a prize that will be redeemed in person, the people you nominate need to live in Arizona or Utah in order for me to be able to coordinate spending the day with her in person. If they don’t live in AZ or UT and you still want to share a story, please do, because I love learning about amazing people!
It’s been far too long since I’ve made myself available to do something like this for someone, and I look forward to reading about your loved ones and selecting a winner. I will announce the winner on my blog next Friday, September 6th, so be sure to submit your nomination by Thursday the 5th so there is time to consider each entry. I’m so very excited to plan this Glam for a Day sesh!