Today Shannon is here to tell you all about her unconventional birthday celebration. Although normally your birthday is the day that evolves around you, Shannon decided to put the focus on others. The idea: to do the number of RAK’s (Random Acts of Kindness) of the age you are turning. I love it! And I bet you will be planning your own RAK-birthday too after reading this interview. Enjoy!

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How did it feel to share on your birthday instead of to receive?

It felt wonderful! Let me tell you the story behind my plan so you can understand WHY I did this. We had moved to a new state 6 months prior to my birthday and that point I didn’t have a single friend. I love, love, LOVE birthdays and in the past I had a wonderful group of girlfriends who I would always celebrate with. But this year it was 100% likely that no one was going to acknowledge or even know about my birthday. Rather than sitting around feeling sad and depressed about that, I decided that the best thing to do was turn my thoughts to others by sharing service and kindness. I once heard that the best way to get through your own struggles is to serve others and I whole-heartedly believe that is true!

Did the experience meet your expectation? How was it similar or different?

Yes. I knew that this challenge would require a lot of work, time management, and thinking beyond myself – and that was all true. I wrote out 33 tasks (to mark my 33rd birthday), but with my schedule that day I knew that most likely I would not get to all of them. But I would do my best and I was able to complete 21! One of the most surprising things was the exhilaration I felt as I went from task to task. It really was thrilling!

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You brought your daughter on (part of) your mission as well. Do you have advice for parents on how to teach children kindness? What does or doesn’t work?

Yes, my daughter joined me for part of my mission after she got out of school. She absolutely loved it! And I loved sharing these acts of kindness with her. To see the shy smile on her face when she handed a balloon to a child in the store was priceless. I think the best way to teach your children kindness is by example. Treat people well. Let your children see you serve others. Whenever I volunteer to deliver a meal to someone who is sick, I make sure to bring one of my children along. Next, encourage them to show kindness to those they interact with at school, church, etc.. My daughter attended a wonderful activity at church recently and she enjoyed it SO much. I encouraged her to write a thank you note to the leaders who organized it and tell them how much fun she had. By doing this, your children will be more aware of opportunities where they can show kindness and they will know how to do it.

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I love how you said that during this day, your mind was constantly thinking of more and different ways to do RAK. Do you think there are ways to encourage such thoughts so they will become a constant state of mind instead of something only during a special occasion?

I wish this sort of kindness-focus WAS a constant state of mind for me, but I know that it is not. {sigh} Even now, as I go back and remember this wonderful experience I am kicking myself for not doing more things like it since! Maybe a good plan (and I’m writing this plan for myself as well!) is to write down one kind thing you can do each day. Or designate a time at the start of the day when you take a moment to think “How can I brighten someone’s day?” I’m thinking that the 2 minutes I spend brushing my teeth in the morning would be perfect for this! The kind things we do don’t have to be huge or elaborate. Sometimes – a lot of the time – it’s the smallest things that touch people’s hearts. A compliment, sharing a cookie, a hug, a quick phone call to say I was thinking of you, a postcard in the mail . . .

Did you found some RAK more difficult or fulfilling to do than others? How so?

The most difficult RAK to complete was handing out balloons to children shopping with their parents. So many parents looked at us oddly or even asked, “is there a catch?” I thought that we looked friendly and happy and a balloon is a pretty harmless gift. But keep that in mind – if you intend to share gifts or treats with children you may encounter protective parents.

The most fulfilling RAK was passing along a $10 grocery store giftcard to another shopper. Many of the other RAKs I did were anonymous – things or notes that were left for others to find later. But this was the one RAK that involved conversation & interaction with a total stranger. And you know, something about that made it feel incredibly touching & personal. I almost teared up and she gave me a hug. It was pretty amazing.

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Would you have any tips or recommendations for someone wanting to do a RAK-birthday?

If you are trying to accomplish more than 15 RAKs in a day, be sure to plan ahead! Have your notecards, post-its, and pens ready. Pre-purchase giftcards, candy, stamps, gather loose change or dollar bills, etc.. Gather everything you need in a basket so you are ready to go. Even planning out a route is a great idea so you can make the most of your limited time and maximize your RAKs. Grab a friend or family member to join you for part of the day too. But most of all have fun and I dare you to wipe the smile off your face!

Anything else you would like to add or say?

I wrote the following quote on the top of my RAK checklist: “Never get tired of doing little things for others. Sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts.” Isn’t that wonderful? Sometimes we just need to be reminded that our little efforts can mean so much.

Thank you Marielle for letting me participate in your month of creative kindness! What a wonderful heart you have. I know so many people will be inspired by all of these wonderful ideas.

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Anyone feeling inspired to do a RAK-birthday too? Be sure to hop on over to Shannon’s blog for more daily adventures.

If you want to be featured in ‘Spread the love’ too, read this and email me!


  • Reply

    Shannon Brown

    March 27, 2014 at 16:18

    Thank you so much Marielle for interviewing me on your blog! This was a blast!

    • Reply


      March 29, 2014 at 16:21

      Thank you! I loved hearing about your wonderful birthday. Keep shining!

  • Reply


    March 28, 2014 at 20:13

    Awesome idea….I need to do this for my next birthday.
    Thanks for posting.
    Have a wonderful day

    • Reply


      March 29, 2014 at 16:22

      You could! (and should? :p) nothing will stop you but you ;)

  • Reply


    March 29, 2014 at 13:55

    I’ve heard of people doing random acts on their birthdays a lot, lately! Shannon has so many good ideas–and I love that she had her daughter as a partner in kindness crime! ^-^


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