year of kindness challenge: week 7

year of kindness button

Happy Monday! Hope your week is off to a great start!

Last week’s challenge was a fun one: deliver Valentines to a nursing home, Veterans Hospital or assisted-living facility. I got this idea after I delivered holiday cards and cookies to a nursing home this past Christmas, and it was such a wonderful experience. I wanted to celebrate Valentine’s Day by spreading love and kindness to people in my town who may otherwise be forgotten.

So I went to Target and scooped up some terrific Valentines-making supplies from their $1 section: blank pink and red cards, colorful stickers, and fun ribbon. Then I spent an evening last week getting my craft on while watching Downton Abbey! Here is the finished pile of 20 Valentine’s Day cards:

valentines cards

Then {because I am always looking for an excuse to bake!} I made a batch of red velvet crinkle cookies to deliver with the Valentines. {And, okay, I admit it — a couple of the cookies maaaay have made it into my Valentine’s Day lunch. Gotta taste test!} I’ll post the recipe on here tomorrow.

red velvet cookies

Next year I think I’ll make these adorable red velvet marshmallow bites that my friend Sarah posted on her fabulous food blog The Pajama Chef. Y-U-M!

I arranged the cookies in an upcycled pie tin, sprinkled in some Hershey’s kisses, wrapped the whole thing up with plastic wrap and tied it with pretty ribbon. Ta da! Cookies + valentines, ready to be delivered!

valentine's day

It did not take long to drive to the nursing home on my way to school. The woman at the front desk said she would pass the cards and cookies out to the residents during an activity later in the day. Perfect! Meanwhile, my whole day was brightened as I thought about the residents smiling to receive Valentines.

Here are some good things that happened in my world this week:

  • My precious Gramps successfully underwent knee replacement surgery on Friday. He is now recuperating in the hospital but I talk to him often and he is doing great!
  • I received a mailbox full of lovely Valentines from my mom, dad, Gramps, and my brother Greg {who is having a fantastic time in Sri Lanka — he’s keeping us updated via emails and his group’s blog.} My family makes me feel so very loved!
  • Greg also sent me an amazing mix CD full of songs that are special to our childhood and also more recent memories … it was the sweetest, most thoughtful gift and such a treasured surprise to find in my mailbox! I’ve been listening to it on repeat.
  • A little boy held the door open for me when I was coming inside from the cold one afternoon.
  • I overheard a fellow MFA grad student complimenting my plays to another student — her offhand comment made my whole week. 🙂
  • One of my good friends just announced she and her husband are expecting their first baby, a boy, in August. I am thrilled for them!

Now on to the Week 7 Kindness Challenge: drop off a donation of canned goods to a food pantry, homeless shelter, or soup kitchen. This idea came to me when I was thinking about how we often hear a number of opportunities to donate food to the hungry during Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it seems donation efforts die down once the holiday season has come and gone. I am sure there are many people who would be SO grateful for our food donations right now. Why not go through your cupboards and pantry and fill a big bag with nonperishable food items to help feed those who might otherwise go hungry? Or stop at the grocery store and pick up some of your favorite canned food or dry goods to donate!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home

year of kindness challenge: week 6

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was quite lovely and filled with friend time, which was SO nice. In grad school often everyone is so busy that it can be difficult to find time to get together, even on weekends. This weekend turned out to be the perfect timing for lots of social get-togethers. I had lunch with friends on Saturday, saw a movie with a friend yesterday afternoon– the new release Side Effects which was a terrific, twists-and-turns-filled thriller! — and had more friends over last night for dessert and many rounds of a very addictive Chinese card game called “Da Fa.”

My brother Greg has been in the forefront of my mind all weekend, because he departed for his month-long goodwill trip to Sri Lanka with a group of Rotary ambassadors. I am going to miss talking to him every day, but I am just bursting with pride and excitement for him. He is giving away 70 new pairs of shoes and socks through his nonprofit organization Give Running. You can follow his team’s travels on their blog at http://ustosrilanka2013.org/

me and greg shoes

Here’s a picture of me and Greg with a mountain of shoes he has collected and cleaned!

Last week’s Kindness Challenge was to do something kind for a neighbor. I have new neighbors who moved into the apartment below me back in November, and most of our encounters have taken place at 3 in the morning, when I go downstairs and knock on their door to kindly ask if they could turn down their bass subwoofer that is shaking the walls. {It is ridiculously hard to sleep when there is a rap beat thumping loudly and incessantly below you!} However, they are typically nice about turning it down when asked, and I thought I would try a tactic of kindness to let them know it is appreciated.

So I baked them cookies!

cookies

I baked a sampling of double-chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip, and oatmeal butterscotch. {And yes, I may have eaten a few myself!} 🙂

Then I stacked the cookies in this clear plastic container that I washed and upcycled {it originally came from a package of pineapple that we used last week when I made bbq pulled-pork sandwiches.}

pb cookie

cookie stack

I taped a thank you-note to the front of the container and dropped it off in front of their door.

thank you note

When I returned that night, the cookies were gone, so I assume the neighbors found them and brought them inside. I have not seen them in the hallways or anything, but I also did not have a problem with their loud subwoofer this past week, so maybe the two things are connected! 🙂 Here’s hoping we continue to have lovely quiet sleep-tastic nights around here.

Have you ever had a positive experience trying to “kill someone with kindness”? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below!

Here are some other good things that happened in my world this week:

  • Someone is posting kind notes in the bathroom in the English department! They kept popping up all week and totally brightened my mood. Here’s a favorite that I came across on Thursday:

kindness note

  • I have managed to stay healthy so far {knock on wood} despite a flu bug that is making its way around campus. 
  • My students are being extra attentive lately — always a bonus in my book!

How did the Week 5 Kindness Challenge go for you? What good things happened in your life this week?

Now on to the Week 6 Kindness Challenge: deliver Valentines to a nursing home, Veterans Hospital or assisted-living facility. I got this idea after I delivered holiday cards and cookies to a nursing home this past Christmas, and it was such a wonderful experience. The residents were beyond grateful and it warmed my heart to make them feel like someone was thinking of them and sending them good wishes during the holiday season. Celebrate Valentine’s Day by spreading love and kindness to elderly people in your town who may otherwise be forgotten!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor

year of kindness challenge: week 5

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, everyone! I’ve heard that it takes four weeks of a behavior before it really becomes a habit. Perhaps that is true, because these kindness challenges are becoming a habit — one that I am loving! It is brightening my everyday life and way of thinking. Concentrating on doing kind acts for others has made more aware of the kindnesses that are done to me. Quite simply, even after just one month, it has made me a more grateful and happy person!

This past week was my favorite yet for the #yearofkindness challenge! The Week 4 Kindness Challenge was to give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth. I immediately knew who I wanted to reach out to: the kind older man who works as the parking lot attendant for the local public library, which is just a couple blocks from Purdue’s campus. He reminds me a little of my Gramps and whenever I go to the library, I always wave hello to him.

Last week was a cold, snowy week in Indiana, especially on Wednesday. I woke up and thought, “Today’s the day! I’m doing my act of kindness!” During my lunch break, I walked to the Einstein Bros. that is right next to the library. I had a coupon for a free coffee or frappuccino, but I wasn’t sure if my friend would want caffeine, so I opted for a hot chocolate instead. My act of kindness was a team effort because the nice people working at Einstein Bros. let me use my coupon for a hot chocolate instead of a coffee. {Of course, I *would* have paid for the hot chocolate if need be, but I thought I might as well use the coupon that I had. It’s a frugal act of kindness!} 🙂

I felt a little nervous as I carried the warm cup of hot chocolate over to the parking garage. Doing acts of kindness can feel like putting yourself out on a limb, and I hoped he would like it.

Well, I should not have worried one bit! He smiled and waved hello when he saw me walking over. I said, “I thought you might like some hot chocolate on such a cold day” and handed him the cup, and he just lit up. It was such a neat moment! He smiled the biggest smile and said, “Thank you so much, dearie. That is so nice!”

I beamed the entire cold, snowy walk back to my office. It was the best part of my day and surely a highlight of my week!

Here are some other good things that happened in my world this past week:

  • I received a beautiful card from my dad telling me he loves me and is proud of me. I am incredibly lucky to have the best dad who tells me those two things all the time, but I could never get tired of hearing it! I miss him so much and it is always a wonderful surprise to see his handwriting on an envelope in my mailbox.
  • A waitress gave me a to-go glass of the tea I’d ordered in the restaurant so I could enjoy it on the drive home.
  • A kind maintenance worker came out to my apartment one evening when the heater stopped working. He not only got it working again, he also brought space heaters just in case and could not have been nicer. 

Now on to the Week 5 Kindness Challenge: do something kind for a neighbor. This might mean bringing the newspaper up from their driveway to their front door, shoveling their front walk after you shovel your own, taking their trash barrels up their driveway after the trash is collected, striking up a conversation in the hallway of your apartment complex, baking cookies or making a casserole to bring over … or whatever idea strikes you!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold

year of kindness challenge: week 4

year of kindness button

Happy Monday! How did the #yearofkindness challenge go for you this past week?

The week 3 challenge was to send a kind note to brighten someone’s day. I sent quite a few handwritten cards this week — I aimed for one per day — and it put me in such a good mood! There’s something about sending good old-fashioned snail mail that seems extra-special these days. I slid the stamped envelopes in the mailbox and thought about the recipients opening their mailboxes in a few days to find a card from me, and it was the best feeling! This kindness stuff is addicting! 🙂

kind notes

Here are some good things that happened in my world this week:

  • I was alerted that one of my fellowship applications was incomplete with enough time to send in the required materials to complete it … they definitely did not have to take the time to email me about the incomplete materials, and I am SO very grateful they did not just throw my application out! {Whew!}
  • Funnily enough, I received some happy surprise mail this week — a letter and clipped cartoons from my Gramps! He is not very computer savvy and I am pretty sure he does not read this blog {I don’t think he knows what a blog is!} so it was serendipity that he participated in last week’s kindness challenge!
  • One of my best friends got an exciting {and very much deserved} job promotion. Woo hoo!
  • I bumped into a professor I had last semester, who thoughtfully told me that one of her current undergraduate students took my creative writing course over the summer and had great things to say about it. What a nice compliment that totally made my day!

Okay, now on to the Week 4 Kindness Challenge: give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth! Some possibilities: a construction worker, a toll booth operator, a crossing guard, a bus monitor, a mail deliverer … or I’m sure you can think of others!

Blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note

year of kindness: week 3

Happy Monday, everyone! I made it back safe & sound to snowy Indiana. Today’s high is a whopping 12 degrees {yes, that’s Fahrenheit} … I feel like I’ve hopped straight from summer to winter! While I do miss the Florida sunshine, it is wonderful to be back home.

year of kindness button

How did last week’s kindness challenge go for you? I thought it was a quick and simple way to hopefully make someone smile. It made me feel great to think about someone lugging their laundry bag and soap down to the cold and cramped apartment basement, and then finding this note and quarters waiting for them on the communal laundry machines:

kindness challenge week 2

A couple bucks has never made me feel happier!

As I mentioned in last week’s post, this year of kindness challenge is already making me feel more attuned to acts of kindness done to/for me. Here are some lovely things that happened to me this past week:

  • a man helped me lift my heavy carry-on bag into the overhead compartment on my flight to Key West
  • I got to meet the incredibly kind and sweet Judy Blume, a literary icon of mine
  • a fantastic writer and person — and new friend who I met at the Key West conference — Gigi Amateau surprised my conference roommate {a fellow grad student} and me by generously picking up the check for dinner one night
  • everyone at the conference was so warm, friendly and welcoming

My dad also wrote a terrific column for the Ventura County Star newspaper this week featuring three beautiful acts of kindness! You can read it online here.

Now here’s the challenge for this week: write and send a kind note to someone who could use a bit of cheer. This could be a friend, relative, acquaintance, neighbor … anyone who pops into your head who perhaps you haven’t talked to in a while or who is going through a tough time.

Have a marvelous week! I would love to hear your stories of kindness in the comments section below, or feel free to email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Till soon,
Dallas ❤

year of kindness challenge: week 2

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your week is off to a marvelous start!

year of kindness button

How did last week go for you? Did you join me in the #yearofkindness challenge? I was surprised at how much FUN I had combing through my closets for items to donate! Never imagined I could enjoy cleaning/organizing so much. I’ve donated clothing in the past, but something about looking through my closet *specifically* for items to give to others made the endeavor feel different — waaaaay more rewarding. Maybe also because in the past I would purge items from my closet solely in order to make room for new items. Not this time! Simpler is better for this girl. Less clothing means I can better appreciate the items I do have!

I ended up packing up a small box of four bras in great condition to ship off to Free the Girls, a fantastic organization I featured in a post last summer.

bras to donate

I also brought a box of about a dozen clothing items — t-shirts, sweaters, pants, and a pair of shoes that never quite fit me right — to the local Goodwill.

donation box goodwill

It made me so happy to give these things away to others! An added bonus is that my closet feels neater and less cluttered.

And maybe it’s a coincidence, or maybe I’m just more attuned to kindness around me, but the karma was returning my way this past week! Just a couple examples:

  • I went to Starbucks on my way home one evening, about half an hour before they closed, and ordered a green tea {I’ve been battling a cold this week and am guzzling green tea like nobody’s business!} … I went to pay with a gift card I’d received for Christmas, but the barista just waved my card away, smiled, and gave me the tea for free! 
  • My super sweet friend Chidelia sent a box of delectable chocolate-covered strawberries. What a wonderful surprise to come home from school and find it waiting on the doorstep!

strawberries

  • My students are already participating in class, volunteering to read their writing when I ask for examples, and even laughed at my feeble attempts at humor, which is pretty much unheard of so early in the semester! {Normally it takes a few weeks to break down their shyness and get them “on my side.”}

I’m already jazzed up about this week! Okay, here’s the Week 2 Challenge: leave a stranger a nice note and quarters for the laundry machine. If you live in an apartment complex with a laundry facility {like I do} you can easily leave quarters and a note there. If not, go to a laundromat and leave a note and quarters on one or two of the machines there.

Take pictures and blog about your experience, or email me at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com, and I’ll be delighted to link to and share your experiences in my post next week!

In joy & kindness,
Dallas