year of kindness challenge: week 51

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Today I brought some chocolates and cards to the local nursing home in honor of my dear friend Jewell, who passed away in 2011. I miss her every day, but especially at Christmastime. She was one of the most genuinely sweet and kindhearted people I’ve known! I’ve started a tradition of bringing holiday cards to the nursing home every year as a way of remembering her.

me and jewell

To make the cards this year, I upcycled wrapping paper scraps by cutting out holiday designs — Christmas trees, gloves, snowmen, snowflakes — and gluing them down to blank white notecards. Then I wrote holiday messages on the back, such as:

  • Hope your holiday season is filled with joy and laughter!
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
  • A friend is sending you lots of love and blessings this holiday season.

candy for nursing home

upcycled cards

It made my heart happy to think of the residents smiling when they receive the holiday cards.

I finished wrapping all my presents yesterday, so I’m all set to go! The rest of my Christmas Eve was spent visiting with relatives, taking care of my poor brother who is sick, and baking! I made a pumpkin pie and funfetti cookies.

funfetti cookies

Now … on to the kindness challenge! We’re down to our final two weeks, can you believe it?

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to donate a toy or book to a child in need this holiday season, and/or to drop off a donation at a local animal shelter. I dropped off five boxes of new books {donated through my annual Holiday Book Drive} and three new basketballs to the local Boys & Girls Club.

The timing worked out perfectly — the manager told me she was expecting to get a large donation of children’s books from another source, but then didn’t receive nearly as many books as expected so she was left scrambling to pull together enough gifts for all the children. And the holiday party was that very afternoon! I could tell from her tone that she was feeling pretty desperate.

“I was hoping you would come,” she said as she helped me unload the books from the car. “I remember you from last year. You’re our book angel!”

I can’t put into words how joyful and fulfilled the experience made me feel. The universe is magical and things truly work out for a reason!

book drive

The Week 51 Kindness Challenge was inspired by Martha Richards, the Executive Director of the WomenArts Foundation. In a recent newsletter, she wrote: “If you are like me, you are being deluged with funding requests at this time of year. If you are able to make cash gifts to women artists and women’s organizations, I hope you will do so. Most of us {including WomenArts} are working on a shoestring, and your cash gifts will really make a difference.  But I also believe there is a currency of kindness that we can use to lift each other’s spirits whether or not we have any spare cash on hand. I have seen it over and over again at WomenArts and in other parts of my life — you can often give someone the courage to keep working or try something new just by listening to them carefully, acknowledging their hard work, and finding kind, supportive things to say.”

So this week’s kindness challenge is to reach out to an artist whose work touches you and tell him or her what you love about their work.

As always, 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.

Merry Christmas!

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 50 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you doing to celebrate Christmas?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?

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!


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

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!


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!


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

saturday upsides: special delivery to the nursing home


Happy Saturday, everyone! So we all survived the end of the world … hooray! There’s an upside right there. 😉

Another upside: today is my brother’s 23rd birthday! Happy birthday, Greg!!

happy bday gb

We are going out to brunch, per our special sibling tradition, and we’ll be going out to dinner as a family. I’m excited to celebrate the birthday of my amazing brother! My first-ever memory is when he was born. I was two-and-a-half years old and I just remember standing in the living room of our old house, telling my mom to “Call Daddy, call Daddy!” My dad was at work and my mom was home with what she thought was the flu {it was two weeks before her expected due date} when her water broke … my dad rushed home and we just barely made it to the hospital in time! My family always jokes that I almost delivered my brother that day!

do good feel good

My final upside for this lovely Saturday is based on the idea “Do good, feel good.” There’s nothing like those warm-fuzzies you get when you feel like you did something nice for someone else — I find it especially powerful during the holiday season. It means so much to feel like I could make someone’s holiday a little brighter!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of my friend Jewell, who passed away two years ago in February. She was an incredibly sweet and compassionate person and I used to visit her at the local nursing home, where we shared many meals and long conversations. Here we are about a year before she died:

me and jewell

And here she is wearing a scarf I made her for Christmas:


I used to enjoy making Jewell homemade Christmas gifts and cards, and last Christmas {the first once since her death} I really missed her. This year, I had an idea: I could still give a gift to Jewell by doing something kind for others in her memory.

So I whipped up a batch of sweet treats {my butterscotch pudding cookies & holiday white chocolate pretzels!} and spent an hour making homemade cards. I used crayons, stamps, stickers, and markers to make my own designs, and I also “upcycled” some Christmas cards we’d received in previous years by cutting off the front picture and gluing it to a new piece of cardstock to make a new card.

more cards

more cards 2

I made sixteen cards in total. Then I packed up some treats on a plate, gathered all my cards together, and headed out to the nursing home for a Yuletide delivery!

special delivery!

I could feel Jewell’s warm spirit with me as I delivered the cards and cookies to the nursing home residents. They were so happy and waved and hugged me and said, “Thank you!” and “Merry Christmas!” I hope Jewell was looking down and smiling.

Want to do a similar project in your town? Here are some examples of notes I wrote in the cards:

  • Hope your holiday season is filled with joy and peace! Love, a friend
  • Someone is thinking of you this holiday season and sending warm wishes your way!
  • Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful season filled with warm memories, hope and love!

Now I’m off to finish wrapping Greg’s birthday gifts! 🙂 Have a fantastic day!