CAOK 2014.

CAOK 2014 | Shana Norris Blog

When Kelli asked me to join her, Aimee, and Sarah in CAOK (Calculated Acts of Kindness) 2014, I didn’t even think twice. February kind of kicked my butt. But I’ve always been a fighter. When life hits me hard, I may fall down (I usually do, in fact) but I don’t stay down long.

What that often looks like is this: 1. wait until the kids are at school or asleep for the night; 2. curl up in the fetal position (preferably in my bed); 3. have a good cry; 4. after 10 minutes, get up; 5. wipe away the smeared mascara; 6. go make something – anything – good happen.

So CAOK seemed like the perfect answer to the past 4-5 weeks. It’s that something good on a slightly larger scale. And it’s more deliberate, more purposeful, more collaborative.

Here’s how Kelli describes CAOK:

▲ 40 days between Lent and Easter to do nice things for other people.
▲ A way to share those kind acts, banking them as inspiration for others regardless of faith. All faiths promote helping those in need and being kind.
▲ A time to think about the goodness in your life, and how you can spread it a bit to others.
▲ A perspective reset.

I’ve always been fascinated by Lent, regardless of the fact that I didn’t grow up in a faith tradition that celebrated it. At some point in my 20s, I learned that it meant so much more than simply giving up chocolate, or caffeine, or swearing, or alcohol for the 40 days before Easter.

That the cross on people’s foreheads was a reminder of the brevity and fragility of life. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

It doesn’t matter what faith I embrace, or if I embrace one at all. I need that reminder daily. So 40 days of focus on seizing the moment, living in it, being more intentional, deliberate, and proactive? Yes, please.

And these days love, kindness, and compassion are a huge focus for me. Because you guys, I need so much more of them in my life. I gossip too often, I judge too often, I exclude too often. I really do. That’s not the person I want to be. That’s not the person I want my kids to see me being. It’s not the person I want my husband to share a life with.

So Kelli, thank you, because this came at the perfect time for me.

For now I’m going to leave you with photos of my beautiful daughters performing acts of kindness this week. One was at the table in our breakfast nook, the other was in Limuru Town, Kenya.

CAOK 2014 | Shana Norris Blog

CAOK 2014 | Shana Norris Blog

Kindness can happen anywhere, anytime. It can happen in the very next moment, right where you are. It can be a small, simple action. And sometimes – many times, maybe even most of the time – those little acts are so, so big …

Do you celebrate Lent in any way?
What are your thoughts on the season?
I’d love for you to share an act of kindness you’ve done today – or recently – here in the comments.


  1. I mailed a handmade card to one of my patients because she was so worried about her biopsy results. I thought that meant so much more than a phone call. She did too. She called me at work to say she hung it on her refrigerator.

  2. Totally inspiring idea, I agree!
    Nina recently posted…I’m on The Happiness Project Blog!My Profile

  3. What a great way to embrace Lent. You are so right-we can all use more kindness, both towards other people and ourselves. I’m looking forward to reading more about this!
    Moira @ Hearth and Homefront recently posted…Streamline: Meal PrepMy Profile

  4. I do find myself thinking about Lent this year more than ever! And growing up Jewish, it was never on my radar.
    I’ve also been wondering about people who cry a lot. I wonder if they’re more mentally sound than those who do not? Mine tends to build and turn into anxiety. Uncool.
    I wish I could induce crying.

    • A good cry is a great stress/tension reliever. I’ve always cried easily over books, movies, etc. I’ve finally learned to take tissues with me to the cinema … it’s still embarrassing to walk out of a sad movie having cried – I’m NOT a pretty crier! – but having a tissue makes it a little better :)

  5. I’ve been on the receiving end of other people’s kindnesses an awful lot lately. I plan to pay it forward a bit by putting a few surprise packages in the mail this week or next.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…Why you need a workout buddyMy Profile

  6. What a great project. We don’t do anything for lent but I do think I might adopt this idea- it’s an awfully good one!
    Stacey recently posted…“She’s Being Bossy”My Profile

  7. I love these ideas! What great ways to observe such a beautiful season. I grew up half – Catholic and half- protestant. I gave up things with my dad, but I don’t know that I ever truly grasped the full meaning of celebrating Lent. I will be putting extra thought into my actions this season…thank you for sharing! And what beautiful photos of your daughters!
    Ginger – Just One of the Boys recently posted…Week #6 ~ A Healthier, Happier You – and an Announcement!My Profile

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