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25 for 25 – How It Went

25 years, 25 acts of kindness.

It was really uplifting to try to do something good with my time for my 25th birthday, but as my Aunt Lisa said when she heard about my project, “It’s better to do something nice just because and not have to tell everyone about it.” I agree. 

The reason I did 25 for 25 (and blogged, tweeted, Facebooked, and Instagramed my little heart out about it) was to try to spark others to do something nice in the spirit of celebration, but I do think it’s important to keep that kindness train rolling without having to tell the entire world. So, I will continue to do good turns without being found out and in the meantime, I’d like to share with you my journey through 25 acts of kindness. It’s overdue, but now seems like the perfect day because it’s the start of that feel good season when you just want to smile whenever you feel that warm sun on your face.

25 acts of kindness for 25 years


My 25 for 25

1.) Right around Valentine’s Day, I left a bouquet of flowers on the car next to mine at the grocery store.

2.) Held the door for 10 people – no one quite knew how to handle that one.

2 and a half.)  I made fresh squeezed orange juice for Brent while he was in the shower. He only counts this as a half a good deed since I left the juicer in the sink.

3.) Wrote a long note to someone I haven’t talked to in awhile.

4.) Left a post it note of encouragement in a book at the library.

5.) Sent a bouquet of flowers to an old friend from high school that always finds ways to make me smile.

6.) Filled a row of bouncy ball and prize machines in the mall with quarters. Some kids will be happy!

7.) Smiled and made a “Hey There” gesture or said, “Hello!” to everyone I encountered that day.

8.) Donated $10 in the library donation jar at the Festival of Ice.

9.)  Brought my grandfather ice cream and had a nice visit.

10.)  Paid for the person behind me at the drivethru at Starbucks.

11.) Gave a really chubby cat in a bookstore a 3 minute back scratching.

12.) Brushed snow off of the car next to mine.

13.) Put a $20 bill into a donation bowl to support a cause I truly believe in.

14.) Helped a classroom on DonorsChoose.org

15.) Gave valentines and little Dove chocolate hearts to my coworkers. Because they’re awesome and they make every day I go into work a little brighter.

16.) Bought a coffee for a friend.

17.) Surprised a teenager waiting for her ride in the mall with a $15 iTunes gift card.  She smiled.

18.) Sent job listings to people I thought would be perfect for those positions.

19.)  Donated blood.

20.) Left a 50% tip.

21.) Wiped off my machine and the machine next to mine (after the person who left forgot to) at the gym.

22.) Gave 25 compliments to friends, family, and coworkers one week. Just because.

23.) Found a dollar in the parking lot and put it under someone else’s windshield wiper.

24.) Paid for a friend’s lunch, just because that person is super awesome.

25.) Gave a thinking of you card to someone who was having a rough start to her week.

26.) Filled the apartment with some fresh blooms. Just to make everything feel more sunny. This was more for me, but it made the world feel a little lighter whenever I stepped into my kitchen.


Creativity Tool: Story Starter

Story Starter

I don’t really do much with fiction writing, but on the occasion that I decide to dabble (or if I just want to get my creative juices flowing), I turn to my regular swipe file of things to write about.

But sometimes, I run out of ideas. Or maybe I want to try something different. That’s where Story Starter comes in.

Simple, effective, and outrageously fun to use, Story Starter is a tool that gives you a prompt that you can frame a scene or story around. Just a line to get you going, but that line is chock full of details that can spider outward into a work of art.

Also, if you’re looking for a good laugh, the prompts can be quite funny.

Go ahead, give it a whirl: http://thestorystarter.com/



Photo By: Sophie Thumser

I really suck at hobbies.

I tried painting, but I don’t have the patience.

I tried poetry, but I prefer reading it over writing it.

I tried crafts, but I just plain suck at those.

I aspire to be a hobbyist. Just ask my friends. I speak longingly of being a lady of leisure and hobbies, with plenty of time to learn programming, sewing, French, and piano.

However, like most of us, I work a 9 to 5 and actually, I’m quite happy with that at the moment.

But, there is the itch to have a hobby. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far to reconnect with a hobby that I’ve stuck with before.

A few weeks ago, I auditioned for a play – and I got a part.

In high school and college, I ran with the theater crowd and got to take part in quite a few productions. My fondest memories of high school involved the auditorium.

Whether it was a play, a practice, a rehearsal, a poorly choreographed rendition of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”, the auditorium was where I made my friends, fell in love, felt heartbreak, connected with something bigger, touched the fringes of being confident, and discovered more about who I was and what was important to me. Formative years, indeed.

But it’s not my first love or what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s fun. It’s an escape. It’s a chance for me to flex a different set of creative muscles. It’s a hobby.

Much like my attention span, this is a hobby that will come in short, focused bursts. It’ll eat up a lot of time, but will have a finite duration.


Tonight is the first rehearsal.

Old friend, I’ve missed you.


My First Phone Number Request

Photo By: Alan Mays

So, I’ve never actually been asked for my phone number by a complete stranger before. It’s never happened.

The closest I got was when I was 14 and I went to Medieval Times with one of my good friends and the guy working the souvenir counter slid a sheet of paper across the glass with his name and number on it. He had long hair and wore tights with Converse shoes. I dug it. I actually ended up calling him too, which got really creepy. Never mind the fact that I was in PA and he lived in MD, he has a girlfriend who he gave some sort of crystal gift to that he felt the need to tell me about, I was the most awkward teenager ever, I still hadn’t hit puberty and wasn’t aware of how to be a female, he said he didn’t like school and wanted to drop out, but I digress. It was only one phone call because it was too weird, by the way.

My dating history is vanilla at best, so imagine my surprise when I got asked for my number in the grocery store this week.

It started in the bread aisle, as these things often do, as I had glanced down at my list. I didn’t need bread and wasn’t entirely sure what I needed in the same aisle, but I figured I’d make a pass to jog my memory. As I pulled my cart to the side and started to dig into my pocket for the list, a boy approached. He couldn’t have been more than 13 or so.

“Excuse me, miss?” he asked.


“Do you go to Scranton High?”

“I’m sorry, no.”

[Insert long awkward pause]

“Oh, so, um…are you a grown up?”


This was now turning into one of the most awkward experiences of my life. What did this kid want? Maybe he thought he knew me from somewhere, which is fine, but the whole exchange was just so unexpected.  After that, he walked to the end of the aisle and turned the corner. I went further down the aisle, then he returned.

“So, um…do you mind if I get to know you better?”

I thought for a second. I didn’t know what to say, so naturally, I said, “Okay, sure!”

What am I getting myself into?

“My name’s Jamal. I like to play basketball, go to the movies, read a lot, stuff like that.”

“Nice! My name’s Mandy. I like to read and watch movies also.”

Another long awkward pause.

“So, do you think you could give me your number and maybe I could call you some time?”

Oh. My. God.


I had to have turned about 50 shades of red. This whole situation just screamed uncomfortable. How do I let him down easy so that he doesn’t get depressed and drop out of school and blame the girl  that he got up the stones to ask for her number but she said no because she was a grown up?! (This is what happens in my crazy brain. I still feel terrible about this whole thing.)

“I’m sorry, but no, as I’m quite a bit older than you, but it was very nice to meet you!”

He looked heartbroken.

I felt terrible.

I still feel terrible.

I wish I would have said something motivating before he walked away.

“Hey Jamal, keep your chin up! Keep reading!”

I really do hope he keeps reading and watching movies, though, because he seemed like a nice kid. You’re too young to be picking up girls at the Giant, buddy. Focus on school and you’ll find the right girl some day.




25 Years. 25 Acts of Kindness.

In a few days, I’ll be 25. I never really thought 25 was a big deal until I got closer to it. 25 seems like such an “official” age. I’m able to rent a car in some states at this age. It also puts me at the middle of the road between 20 and 30. All in all, it’s pretty cool to be turning a quarter of a century. To ring in 25, I wanted to do something a little different.

Now initially, my first idea was to create a site called, “What Should Mandy Do for Her 25th?” or alternately, “What Should Mandy Do for Her Quarter Life Crisis?” where people could submit tasks for me to complete or ideas for activities (within time, budget, and geographic constraints, of course). I still may put this idea into action yet!

Anyways, I’ve read about this before, but I got to thinking that I should do something for others to celebrate. I took a page out of #26acts and settled on #25for25. For the rest of the month, I’ll be performing 25 acts of kindness for friends, family, and strangers. Part of me really believes in karma and what you put into the universe will come back to you, so I feel really good about being able to do something with my birthday than just get schwasted and eat cake.

I’ll be documenting my 25 acts, but feel free to give me ideas! Comment! If by some stroke of luck you participated in an act of kindness, fantastic! Better yet, I hope this inspires you to give a little extra kindness to a stranger or to put more good into the universe.