33 random acts of kindness, a.k.a. happy birthday to me!

Hi Reader (readers? is there more than one of you?),

Guess what!? Today is my birthday! In celebration, I’ve decided to take the day off work* and try to accomplish 33 acts of kindness. I’m going to blog about all of them in this post (hopefully updated throughout the day) so you can check back here to hold me accountable for completing all 33.

I have a list of about 25 acts of kindness that I’m hoping to complete today, and the rest will be truly random acts of kindness that I’m relying on the universe to present to me. Here’s hoping I don’t get to number 20 and decide to throw in the towel and get a margarita.

Time’s a wastin’, so I’m running out the door now to knock out my first act of kindness. If you want to help me celebrate my birthday, you can complete your own act of kindness today. Leave a note in the comments if you do!!

*decidedly not an act of kindness towards my coworkers, who will have to pick up my slack

1. There is a longer story behind this, but the man who lives I this apartment has to crawl on all fours to get his paper in the morning (unfortunately I’ve witnessed it while on a run – he lives about 4 miles away). Today I tucked the paper inside his door so he doesn’t have to bend (crawl) to get it.


2. Picked up donuts on the way home and left the nugget behind the counter a nice tip.

3. Dropped off said donuts at the firehouse near my house.


4. Took the neighbor’s dog for a walk. I know, this dog is so fat that it’s actually an act of cruelty that I don’t walk it every day.


5. Raked the neighbor’s leaves.


6. Picked up all of the trash (read: Halloween candy) from the block.


7. Went to my fave coffee shop. Left a note on the mirror in the bathroom Operation Beautiful style.


8. I got my favorite barista at the coffee shop! yay! I ordered my latte, then told him I wanted to pay for the next person who came in too. While I was waiting for my latte, a girl came in and ordered. The barista told her that her coffee was on me. She just looked at him and said “what do you mean by that?” it was hilarious and adorable.

9. Left a large tip for my fave barista, and told him he had to keep it because it’s my birthday, and traditionally I get whatever I want on my birthday.

10. Mini tune-up for the bikes parked at the nearby high school: pumped up tires that were low and greased all the chains. (Ruby helped)


11. Wrote and mailed a note to a family friend in the armed service.


12. I finally got a Yelp account and gave 5 star reviews to my favorite neighborhood places!

13. I sent flowers to my mom, with a note thanking her for pushin’ me out 33 years ago today. Oh, and some other pain I might have caused her (more or less every day during the years 14-17). Love you, mom!

14. DR-Dad just called to remind me that “kindness starts at home” (I know, what would I do without him, right?). All joking aside, I’m not quite sure what I would do without him, so I called up Great Harvest and had some of his favorite cookies delivered. That should keep him quiet for a while.

15. I donated to WBEZ. I’m already a member, but I listen so much that I probably still owe them more πŸ™‚

16. Refilled the poop bag holder at the dog park.


17. Dropped off some fresh new tennis balls at the dog park. This was the best – the dogs went wild!


18. Found the first person in line at Bed Bath & Beyond without a coupon and gave them mine.


19. Donated my retired running shoes to the Back On My Feet drop center at Fleet Feet.


20. Handed out water to runners on the lakefront. This was much more popular than I expected.


21. Went to Watertower and took pictures for tourists. This was like taking candy from a baby, there were so many tourists. I could have been there all day!


22. Went to the Chicago red line stop and have directions to tourists. Again, candy from a baby. I think I gave 4 people directions to the Sears Willis tower.

23. Waited for people at the el stop to use the CTA card vending machine and offered to pay for their ride. While I was waiting, my friend Emily showed up on her way to the dentist! She had forgotten her card so I was able to pay for her ride too!!!


24. Went to the Jewel. Returned carts for old ladies.


25. Again at the Jewel. Handed out two coupons, and complimented my cashier to the manager.


26. Donated Ruby’s old crate and several other items on Chicago Canine Rescue’s request list (we adopted Ruby from here!)


27. Walked a dog that is up for adoption. This is Reinhart. Super sweet, but I wouldn’t say he has the best leash skills ever.


28. Food donation to Lakeview Pantry.


29. Produce and food donation sorting at Lakeview Pantry. This took about 3 hours, which is why you didn’t hear from me for a while!


30. Filled the Huz’s gas tank.


31. Volunteered at Bethel New Life to teach a cooking class to 3rd graders. Best 2 hours ever. We made veggie pizzas. Coincidentally, it was another girl’s birthday as well. I asked her how old she was, and she said 9. Then she asked me how old I was, and I told her 33. She said, “Oh, you are young. My mom is older than you.” Then I kissed her. (For now let’s ignore the fact that when asked what her favorite vegetable was, this girl shouted out “Chicken!”)

32. Gave rides home to two other volunteers from the cooking class. <fist bumbs with universe>

33. Huz took me out to dinner at Handlebar (yay!). My very last act was to buy a round of drinks for some adorbs hipsters sitting at the bar discussing the meaning of life. Because these discussions should always be encouraged, especially with alcohol. Cheers!

Thanks to all of my amazing friends and family for their encouragement – it was a long day but really fun knowing I had people cheering me on πŸ™‚ XOXO

Tagged ,

72 thoughts on “33 random acts of kindness, a.k.a. happy birthday to me!

  1. Stacy says:

    Great work, Molly! Rooting for you all day today, birthday girl!

  2. Anne says:

    Hi, Molly – My sister, Sarah, clued me into your little project. This is making me cry it’s so sweet! Way to go and happy birthday!

    • Molly says:

      Hi Anne!
      I’m so glad you are following along! Also, I just have to say that your wedding pictures were beautiful!!! I feel like I know you since Sarah talks about you so much!!

  3. RJ says:

    Oh, God, this is so sweet. Will try to do a few of my own today in honor of your BD.
    And I’m thinking that you are already having a very Happy Birthday. Love you much.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Love, love, love it Mols!! I feel so proud to call you friend, and very inspired too!! (Which is needed today in the “Juror Lounge” where the only action in 3 hrs has been an orientation video from 2009 and an uppity woman yelling at some other potential juror, “hey lady, no phone calls” with a response of “mind yo’ bizness”). Feel the love…

  5. Stacy says:

    Molly — you are so inspiring! You’re more than a third of the way through and are making amazing progress (and entertaining your readers — that should count too!). Just think how many of us you’re getting to do our own random acts of kindness today (and hopefully everyday). Keep it up, girl!

  6. ling says:

    yeah- i’m gonna do it, as i head to nordstroms for their big sale:)

  7. Emily says:

    Happy Birthday, Molly! You are so inspiring!

  8. Kevin says:

    Dear Molly,

    There is a jeep wrangler on May St.that could use a car wash and tires shined.

    The Universe

  9. Sarah says:

    We are all so proud and inspired by you, Molly! Today you are practicing one of my favorite mantras – “by giving you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.” Happy birthday dear friend!

  10. Colleen says:

    Have a wonderful day! You’re doing amazing things! Looking forward to reading throughout the day.

  11. rebecca says:

    Miles just pooped. When should I expect you?

  12. Erica A says:

    Wow – Molly! Not even noon and you are more than 1/2 way done! You go. I bought a Powerball ticket for Sapna so she can dream (and be in it to win it). (Maybe you need to do something kind for Bri??)

  13. Katie Andrew says:

    Molly you are awesome!! What a great way to spend your birthday! Very inspiring!

  14. Erica A says:

    Tried to buy my very nice colleague lunch, but he already had some….

  15. I am so inspired! I loved reading through your list. What a fantastic idea.

  16. Bethany Bak says:

    Can’t believe you are almost done and it is not even two o’clock in the Windy City! Want to fly to Memphis and take care of one crabby teething baby so this tired Momma can sleep? LOVE the positive vibes you are puttin’ out there today! Happy birthday dear friend.

    “B” πŸ™‚

    P.S. Bringing cookies to my salon this afternoon as a “thank you” for donating to the Memphis Farmers Market silent auction. Random act of kindness performed by moi… Check!

  17. I’m soooo inspired by your acts!!! All of a sudden I feel like I know you a lot better now. I think it’s a brilliant idea, totally awesome, totally proud of you! will tune in for more stories.

    “Happy Birthday, Molly!” πŸ™‚

  18. Johanna says:

    In case there was a single person left on this planet that doesn’t know what a SAINT you are, this should clear that up. I love you and this idea so much, it brought tears to my eyes, and has convinced me to do this for my birthday next year. Or maybe I’ll have to start with 12 for the new year. I love you so much. I am incredibly, ridiculously proud of you, and love you SO much!!!

  19. Jeff Fine says:

    this is so awesome and inspiring! πŸ™‚

  20. rebecca says:

    too funny that you ran into emily!

  21. Elizabeth Nguyen says:

    Molly – It’s Elizabeth Kendall (from GHS! πŸ™‚ – such a great idea! I read about a woman on pinterest that did this for her birthday and I thought what a great idea! I am going to start this with Ryker this year for his 3rd birthday and then I thought we would make it a yearly tradition and add one each year! Looks like you had a terrific and inspiring birthday! way to go!!
    Take care!

  22. Lynn says:

    You amaze and inspire, Molly! Most productive birthday I have ever seen – so impressed! Thanks for bringing us all along on your journey. Happy Birthday!!

  23. Jessica says:

    Happy Birthday to the best sister in law in the world! I can’t believe you are already done. If I could, I would buy you a big old margarita tonight and get you a pedi to celebrate:).

    Our act of kindness….took in a family of four plus one dog for the night. Provided dinner, coffee and warmth. They are still without heat from the storm!

  24. Jessica says:

    BTW- I meant to write almost done….but as usual I’m not so effective with the multitasking.

  25. Jami says:

    Happy birthday, Molly! What a great way to spend your day – love your stories!

  26. Vari says:

    Fingers crossed to the finish line!! Well done!

    Happy BIrthday!

  27. Fred Simmons says:

    Awesome. Happy Birthday!

  28. ling says:

    i donated money to a friend of a friend running for a friend who has brain cancer! Then I ordered dinner to my sister since she’s having a rough day! She loved it!
    thanks for the inspiration Molly!

  29. Kim Favor says:

    Wow!!! You are amazing! The one random act you forgot to mention is how much you inspired everyone today. Please count that as the next one on your list. Miss you tons! Happy, happy birthday! Sadie, Jonathan, and I send you lots of hugs and kisses.

  30. mia says:

    Happy Birthday! That is so fun. I should do this too and soon or my list will be way too long.

  31. Erica A says:

    Wow! I agree with Kim- #1 or #34 was inspiring all of us to be kinder and better!! Thank you for sharing! I hope the b-day dinner is delish! You earned it!!

  32. alipremo says:

    Happy birthday and great job!! I had so much fun reading about all your deeds – it’s like a real life Liberty Mutual commercial, only way better!!!!

    Can your parents write a book on raising children, so that mine can turn out to be just like you!!!!???? I’m serious!!

    • Molly says:

      Um, pretty sure I’ll be looking up to your kids by the time they are like 3.
      Regardless, here’s the top 3 parenting dips from DR-Mom and DR-Dad:
      1. Don’t call your kids in sick to anything, ever, even if they are dying. (If they are truly sick, they have the option to call themselves in, but this is frowned upon)
      2. Finish everything on your plate, always. (I think I learned this one a little too well)
      3. Vote for Ross Perot. (I think they seriously did this)
      Got all that?

  33. anonymous says:

    any random acts of kindness sitting by your front door?

  34. Jane Martin says:

    Wow! Your are truly one of the living saints. What a wonderful way to let the world know what a beautiful person you are inside and out. It sounds like a few days worth of wonderful acts. You were a very busy gal today. I wish you could package your energy!
    I loved reading about all of the ways you brought happiness to those around you.
    You certainly put me to shame. I’m going to share your idea with my Bunco and Bible groups. It would be great to do this during the Advent season.
    I hope you have a wonderful dinner with Bri. You deserve it, that’s for sure.
    Happy, Happy Birthday. Love, Jane

  35. Stacy says:

    Absolutely amazing, Molly! What fabulous things you did all day. And another nod to Kim — a bonus act for all the inspiration you provided to so many people today! Enjoy your birthday dinner and revel in the awesomeness of you! πŸ™‚

  36. Love it Molly – you are an inspiration! You had a very busy birthday!!!

  37. moryan22 says:

    Happy Birthday Molly!!! What a wonderful idea:) So much fun to read about your adventures and acts of kindness. Love it!! Love it!! Love it!! I hope you had an amazing dinner. Wishing you all the best! Happy B-day:)

  38. Seanathan says:

    Just got home from work and Emily had your blog up on the computer – and I thought I had a long (albeit much less productive) day. Congrats and happy birthday. By the way, I can’t beleive Brian tried to spoil your day of doing good for others by taking you out to dinner, jerk.

  39. Eric says:

    First time reading your blog, but Courtney sent me here…

    A little tip: Sean and Emily are broke. She begs her way onto the L every single day!

  40. Jen W says:

    I really love this idea. Hope you had as much fun doing it as the people who received your kindness.

  41. Jenn says:

    You’re an inspiration, Molly. A colleague forwarded this to me after I heard her rave about your blog, and I asked her to send to me. Happy birthday by the way…you gave me inspiration for my birthday in February, although it will take me two days to complete all those RAOKs.

    RAOKs shouldn’t be just a birthday thing though….it should be an everyday thing. Maybe the world will be a better place because of it…cheers to your birthday!

    • Molly says:

      Nice to “meet” you, Jenn! Good luck in Feb – maybe you can do one RAOK every day leading up to your birthday? I thought about that too, because I agree, it should be an everyday thing. Thanks for visiting and for the birthday love!

  42. Julie Perusse says:

    Way to rock it, Molly! I hope it was a great birthday! It must have felt fantastic!

    – Julie P. (former Chicagoan, Dana’s old roommate and general hanger-on to all things related to the Conti clan).

  43. Meg Vlach says:

    Oh wow, Molly! I’m trying to hold back tears, I’m so moved by your kindness! Your 36th act of kindness was to blog about it so the rest of us can stop whining and do something for others. I think I’m going to challenge myself to try to do one thing every day that’s very unexpected, like what you did. (It’s like there are 36 hours a day in your world. How do you DO it?!). You’re one in a million.

  44. joman says:

    You and your sister have always been my heroes , now people know why.

  45. CCC says:

    Most people pamper themselves or look to be pampered on their birthdays. You’ve thrown birthday pampering on its axis. I was inspired and thinking about following your example for my upcoming birthday in January but then thought at my age, it would take me two days at your rate and 60+ days with the difference between your energy rate and mine… Glad you (and lots of unsuspecting strangers) had a fun day. You make friends and family smile all year round on your birthday and the other 364 days.
    Happy Birthday,
    Craig & Linda

  46. TracyAT says:

    Great post! Thanks to Jessica Herold for sharing it on her blog. Really wonderful…

  47. […] this week. They’ll help you find that corner of your heart. And then write those notes! 33 Random Acts of Kindness by Doughing Rogue Ric Elias: Three Things I Learned While My Plane Crashed How I Changed My Life, in four lines by […]

  48. […] doing them, and I love witnessing them. I’m thinking for big birthday number 25 I will do this. Whose with […]

  49. Arielle says:

    This is Awesome! Thank you. I was inspired to do a similar thing. Here is my story on it http://livedeap.blogspot.com/2013/06/26actsofkindness-sharing-stories.html

    And Happy Bday!!!

  50. Even though you posted this over 2 years ago, it was one of the first (and best!) posts to turn up on my search engine when I was looking for birthday RAOK ideas.
    Thank you so much for the inspiration. Your list of random acts is my favourite of all the ones I read on the Net because your dog Ruby was included in at least some of them. I didn’t get to complete everything I wanted on my list (I’d love to have done the mini bicycle tune-up one) but there’s always next year.
    Here’s wishing you a very happy belated birthday and seasons greetings!
    (p/S: Ruby is a darling and your neighbour’s dog is a cutie-patootie too)
    (P/S: My blogpost is here: http://covertoperations78.blogspot.com/2013/12/project-35-on-my-35th.html)

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