You're invited
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You’re Invited!

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Tomorrow; February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day and later this month, I will be celebrating my birthday and you’re invited to celebrate with me, wherever you are!

I have shared a little of my passion for kindness in prior posts and since my birthday falls on February 25th, I have prepared a list of 25 opportunities to throw “kindness confetti” to help me celebrate my birthday. You don’t have to do them all in one day of course and in fact; you don’t even have to do them all (although that would be amazing!). Some of these are things you do anyway, and there are inexpensive, easy ways to give a gift to the world. By the way, when you do something for others, you’re also giving yourself a gift.

So You’re Invited to celebrate with me using one, some or all of the ideas below:

Let them in: It’s a simple act; let that person with one item in front of you and your overloaded grocery cart. Let the person waiting to get into traffic in. Does it really take that much longer for you to get where you want to go if you’re one car back from where you were a second ago? Hold the door for someone else (and if someone holds the door for you, acknowledge their presence and thank them!).

Stand up!: Speak up when you see someone being mistreated. Teach your kids not to be bullies and to surround those who are being bullied with support. Do your best to include and support others. You never know who may be suffering in silence. Absolutely no one deserves to be treated with disrespect in any form. We all know and love someone who doesn’t believe what we believe, act or look like we do – extend this same respect to those outside of your circle. Embrace our differences and learn what you can about other cultures, beliefs and walks of life and then do what you can to teach others what you’ve learned. Share the facts, leave out the emotions.

Donate: You can always donate old coats or blankets to a shelter, or if you keep them in your car and see someone who might need it, just give it directly! You can donate those jigsaw puzzles you worked on during lock down to a shelter. There are plenty of women’s shelters that also house children who would love to have them! Animal shelters are always happy to take old sheets, towels, etc. Be creative in matching items you have but no longer need to a worthy cause! If you already purged your extras, then find a GoFundMe or Charity that speaks to you and make a monetary donation if you can.

You can also consider becoming a blood, marrow or organ donor. It might not fill an immediate need, but it sure is a kind thing to do!

Volunteer: There are lots of places that you can offer to volunteer. While some of our opportunities may be limited with our social distancing guidelines right now, don’t for a minute think that you can’t still help when you have the time!

Ask how you can help: We are more likely to accept an offer of help than to ask for it when needed. We want to be independent or we don’t want to appear weak or give up control. The easiest way to be kind is to offer help when you see someone struggling. The important next step is to actually do it! If they need something that you can do, then do it in a timely manner. If you can’t actually do it yourself, try helping them find someone who can!

Offer to..: Drive, run errands or shop for someone. If you’re going out anyway, maybe you can check on a neighbor or a family member and see if they need to go too or if you can pick something up for them. Perhaps you have that Costco or Sam’s Club membership and buy something in bulk and divide it up with someone else?

Kindness Quote Scott Adams

Help without asking: Shovel, plow or mow if you can take that off their plate. My dad is in his 80s, but if he’s out cleaning the snow off his driveway with his snowblower, it’s not unlike him to also take care of a neighbor’s driveway if the snow is piling up and they haven’t gotten to it yet. Former neighbors of mine would often mow my front yard while they had their riding lawnmower out or bring my trash cans up from the curb before I got home from work when the weather was bad. There are so many simple ways to help if you pay attention to those around you. Which brings me to the next few opportunities out there…

Kindness rocks: It does, but that’s not what I mean in this instance. Now that you’ve shoveled or mowed or whatever to help someone without asking, let them know that it was a random act of kindness (and encourage them to “toss the rock in the pond and create ripples”) by leaving a decorated rock or note to let them know that it was done in kindness. Or, maybe just make a bunch with a positive message and leave them somewhere as you travel.

Pay it forward: Do what you can for others without expecting anything in return. When you do what you can, when you can for others, you are cultivating a culture of kindness and when you do need help one day, you’ll be amazed at how many people will step up and do what they can for you.

Exercise patience: From time to time, we all experience something that’s outside of our control. Recognize that when you see it happening to someone else and be patient. Maybe there’s a extremely long line at the store, your local vaccination site – whatever it is, know that the person who is taking care of you is doing their best under a situation beyond their control and don’t take your frustrations out on them.

Get to know: Who among us hasn’t been the new kid in school, the new coworker, neighbor or family member? Take the time to get to know them and make them feel welcome. Do you know the story of your family? Talk to your parents, grandparents and extended family and let them tell you their stories, their struggles, their accomplishments.

Check in: For those that live alone in particular, the pandemic has been especially hard. The same is true for those who have been furloughed or let go from their place of employment. Take the time to check in on them, let them know that although you may not be able to physically be with them, you are still there for them. Trust me when I say, there is someone you know who would really appreciate a phone call or video chat.

Actually listen: So, you’ve reached out to that person. Okay, now what? It’s simple – listen. Really listen. What are they saying? More importantly, what are they not saying? Do they need help finding a new job? Do you know someone who can help? Are they struggling with getting an appointment to get their vaccine? Do you have time to hit the sites and try to make one for them? Try to listen without judgement – especially right now. A person who was making 40K a year was probably already struggling to make ends meet, and if they’ve lost their job, it’s even harder as the bills haven’t changed but their income has. Keep in mind that their situation isn’t always a result of their actions and be supportive however you can.

Schedule a watch party: Maybe what your friend or family member really needs is to just not feel so isolated. Many streaming services offer an option to have watch parties. Take turns picking a movie and host a watch party with a friend or a group. Keep in mind, this does allow you to chat while watching, so you probably don’t want to include those who talked through a movie at the theater!

Kindness Quote Margaret Mead

Send food: So you’ve scheduled a watch party with your grandparents, go the extra mile and find a pizza place near them and send them a pizza to enjoy while you watch your movie. Or maybe, you’ve seen that couple across the street who work from home while balancing homeschooling their kids. You might be able to give them a break if you drop a gift card for a restaurant or food delivery service so they don’t have to make dinner.

Likewise, a sick friend or the caregiver of someone with a serious illness could always use the extra hand with cooking, so send a lasagna or a pot of soup or something to just give them a few minutes back in their day.

Share your extras: BOGOs, this is my favorite way to share extras. My local grocery store is always full of BOGOs, so if I’m buying something I would anyway and the store is offering the get one free, I set the free one aside. Once I’ve gathered a good amount of free stuff, I take it to my local food pantry. Likewise, those “free samples” of things you get from time to time can make great donations for shelters!

Write a “thank you” note or letter: Not a text, not an email – something in your handwriting and your words that tells someone why they have made a difference in your life. So often, we take for granted that people know how we feel, and maybe they do – but it’s still really great to hear from time to time.

Share your “gift”: If you’re really good at doing something, find a way to share that gift. Surprise a friend with a limited edition piece of artwork painted by you, put your acting skills to work by reading to kids or send someone a video of you singing happy birthday. Better yet, teach someone how to do what you do. Even if it’s as simple as teaching someone to cook, sew, sing, play an instrument – use your talents to help others find peace, learn a skill, whatever you can. You are planting the seeds, continuing that chain of knowledge, skill and kindness.

Send flowers for no reason: This is probably something we don’t think of outside of special occasions, which makes this unexpected gesture so much more appreciated. There are those of us who don’t celebrate all those special occasions where someone might give or send flowers so we don’t get them as often as others. If your friend or family member prefers not to get live flowers that “are only going to die anyway”, consider a live plant or better yet, a silk flower arrangement or “real feel” artificial plant.

Leave a gift card: Sometimes, stores like Target offer a $5 gift card when you buy however many of something – Here’s how I look at it – if I needed that item or that number of items and I would’ve spent the money anyway; did the gift card really make my decision to make that purchase? If the answer is no, is it really costing me anything to leave that gift card behind somewhere in the store (like under the can of baby formula or package of diapers)? Likewise, if I “win” a gift card, I might hide that somewhere in the store or restaurant for someone else to use.

Shop small: Do the best you can to support your small business in your area. Small businesses are struggling more than ever and really need the business/support. Which brings me to my last few ideas..

Compliment/review: This costs you absolutely nothing but a minute or two of your time, but it really can make someone’s day! I don’t know if it’s really true that we are more likely to complain that to compliment – but whenever possible, we should try to compliment or post a good review.

I frequently hear people complain about a particular company that I have never actually had a bad experience with. So it’s likely from the sound of it that they receive more complaints than compliments. Well, who the heck wants to hear that all day!? Make a point to get that servers name or that customer service rep’s name and if you can’t take a minute to speak to their supervisor or write an email to let the company know what a great job they did – consider an @ on social media or leave a good review with a comment on Yelp or Google or wherever.

Thank you for making my day! Need a rainy day project for the kids? Gather your spare ribbon, note cards, whatever and have them make cards you can leave behind for your server or the staff at your doctor’s office or wherever you want to thank someone for making your day! It doesn’t have to be fancy, as long as it’s recognized – it will mean a lot to that person who did everything they could to make your experience with them a great one!

Tip extra: When you receive really great service or your hairdresser squeezes you in for that “emergency” hair appointment, leave a little extra in the tip for them to show your appreciation.

Share: Talk about your favorite local shop or promote that Etsy shop with really unique finds with friends or family. If you have “the best” place to go pizza, “the best” mechanic, realtor or hairdresser, use social media to give them a little free advertising and tell others what you like about them.

And finally, share this post. I’d love to have as many as possible help me celebrate my birthday and throw around some “kindness confetti”! So feel free to tell the world, “You’re Invited!” – the more, the merrier!

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