CAOK 2009

Little birdie

For the last few years, I’ve promoted doing calculated acts of kindness during Lent. Today is Ash Wednesday, and so the fun and secrecy of COAK begins.


The idea behind COAK is to spread anonymous kindness in your community. This may start with family and friends and spread to previously unknown neighbors, strangers, etc. There have been some pretty amazing CAOK projects in the past and I’m certain this year will be no different.


I’ve received some pretty horrendous email and comments about COAK in the past, if you can imagine. Some folk seem to find the project a lame attempt at self-glorification. Needless to say, secretly doing good acts to brighten someone else’s day does make me feel good. Actually, it makes me feel incredibly powerful and really, really happy to be bringing someone else joy — no matter how minor the act may be. Talking about those acts here is a way of encouraging others to hold the door open, put a few extra coins in a needy meter, leaving a hefty tip at the coffee shop and writing a love letter or two to your aging grandparents.

If that’s selfish, so be it. I absolutely love the clean slate Lent brings, giving us a chance to take a closer look at how we can be better versions of ourselves and providing a perfect opportunity to do so. I have a lengthy list of changes being made and kind acts being calculated. I’d be honored if you came along for the journey.



28 Replies to “CAOK 2009”

  1. BEAUTIFUL pictures! When did you take these?? Happy Lent to you. (I remember the CAOK projects you do. Wow, it’s always during Lent? So, that was really a YEAR AGO when you last posted them? WOW, time is flying by!)

  2. That was a VERY polite “up yours”. πŸ™‚ Honestly, we should all be so generous. Remember the Amy Butler tunic and the welcome to sewing kit? Every time I see/wear those items, I think of you and your kindness. Not in a “Wow, Kelli is a goddess.” way, but in a “Wow, I should really work on being kinder to people.” All because of your example. What better way to spend a life?

  3. I am totally in. No negative comments from me : ) And Lent is a really good time to focus on being kind and generous… although, I think you practice CAOK all year round.

    Love the birdie pictures!!

  4. I’m a relentless self-promoter, so my challenge will be not so much in the doing (which I love) but the keeping secret (which is an extreme challenge).

    I’ll try it out. πŸ™‚

  5. Aww. I’ve been thinking about this for about two weeks, because now Lent and CAOK are permanently linked together in my brain. Now, if only I can manage to take the next step and do something during these here 40 days! Or even think of something to do. That would be a good starting place, no? πŸ™‚

  6. I think your CAOK project is wonderful and have always thought so. I keep it in mind when trying to do something nice for others. I just don’t share or take pictures of my efforts as I try to stay anonymous. Here’s one I did recently just to show I do remember your CAOK effort. The Heritage Foundation offers free pocket-size copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. I ordered 20 of them and dropped them off at a neighbor’s house as she leads a group of Girl Scouts. I figure they can use them for their Citizenship or other type badge efforts. Now I just blew my anonymity.

  7. I agree with Colleen, I feel like you practice CAOK all year round! How disappointing that you’ve gotten negative comments about it in the past, I’ve always thought it was a really nice way to help others in a focused way.

  8. Great post. Thanks for the reminder πŸ˜‰

    BTW – those pics are so nice…and remind me a LOT of one I took a year ago in Tucson. I’ll find it and email you so you can see. Too funny!

  9. I think your CAOK project is an inspiration to all of us. I will be joining you, however, you may not see pictures of what I do. Don’t give a thought to the negative comments…those people don’t know what kindness and generosity are about. Its nice that you feel good about your acts of kindness and the people you bless must feel good too!

  10. So many people think of Lent as “drudgery” with giving up everything. It is really so much easier to give to others in the small ways you suggest. Giving up chocolate really doesn’t make the world a better place. It make this body of mine a smaller place, but it doesn’t do a lot for others. Your ideas are so Christ like. Bless you.

  11. Of course I’m in:) I’ve already been making some little goodies to send out while I’ve been enjoying some marathon sessions of CSI at my desk:):) CAOK is one of my favorite things about springtime now thanks to you:):)

  12. You know, I was just thinking how I need to do some catching up with correspondence. It is as though I “knew” this was coming, even though I forgot πŸ™‚ Yea! Thanks for the reminder, Kelli. I am sure we can all do some good for others! Even those who write negative comments (good lord, I can’t even believe that!).

    Talk to you soon πŸ™‚

  13. I’ve not heard of it phrased this way before but I like it and I’m in. I, too, can’t believe people think you are self-glorifying. You just seem like a totally wonderful, altruistic person…something we should all attain to.

    And, I agree, your bird photos are gorgeous!

    Count me in…although I can’t swear I’ll always remain anonymous-just cuz it’s too hard sometimes.

  14. I don’t know how some people could even send you emails like that. Any kindness large or small is something to be proud of. I admire you Kelly and love how you are an example to all.

  15. I was just thinking today about the CAOK. I’m glad it’s time again – yay! Such an inspiration to others. Thank you.

  16. Some people will always bring you down for see themselves in a better light, don’t mind about them. This is a great project, and I’d like to join in. I’ll let you know how I will be kind at this time.
    Btw, those pics were only meant to test your strong will…………..

  17. I was not here last year, but I think it is a great idea and I am already looking forward to participating in this years CAOK. Thanks for sharing and allowing us to participate!

  18. I LOVE this, as you know and have been thinking about it for the past month or so. I’m going to try my hardest even though March is a tough & very busy month for me. But I have a few ideas….This is a great idea. Selfish? If this is the definition of selfish, we should all be more so!

  19. kelli, i am continually inspired by your example. your kindness and generosity has brought a smile to my face more times than i can count! and i am very excited by COAK πŸ™‚ xo

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