A little over a year ago I was in the library doing research for my last grad class. By accident, or more likely by fate, I stumbled upon on a book with a title that grabbed my attention:
29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life
Curious, I read the first few pages, got sucked in and then took the book home.
The author, Cami Walker, tells the story of how at age thirty-five she was battling multiple sclerosis. Depressed and becoming more and more confined in her small apartment, she takes the words of an African medicine woman to heart. The healer tells her to give a gift each day for the next twenty-nine days.
Walker does. She gives with intention and love—sometimes to strangers, sometimes to friends, sometimes to family. The gifts didn’t need to cost money, but always the thought of giving with purpose was behind it. Through it all, her life does begin to change for the better.
I felt inspired so I decided to try it. It was a low moment in my life when I was having a hard time getting up most days. This made me feel like it was the perfect time to start giving and maybe in doing so I would stop dwelling…even a little.
And so it began.
I never told anyone what I was doing. Instead, with each gift I gave I kept track of who the receiver was and how I felt after. Soon, things did start to change. It seemed the more I gave, the more I got back. By the end of the month I was happier and major things that had been burdening me were no more.
Was it the giving? Maybe. Was it that my energy was more focused on positive moments rather than negative ones? Well, I’m sure that helped too.
Later I saw a video of Walker in an interview. What started out as an experiment changed her life. She told how when the 29 days ended and she simply began again. Not a day goes by where she doesn’t give a gift to someone.
She even started a movement for anyone to join. http://www.29gifts.org/
About a month ago I happened to share Walker’s story with a friend. A few weeks later he texted me to tell me he was taking part in the 29 days of giving. He said he was feeling grateful and happy to be doing it.
That prompted me to tell another friend who also decided to jump on board with it! In fact, I was the first lucky recipient of a beautiful customized frame. And later this owl journal. 🙂
I feel so reinspired that I think it’s time for me to do it again.
I remember how happy the recipients felt and that makes it all worth it.
But even better? I am certain that I got something more out of the giving than any of the people got out of the getting. A deep, loving sense of all encompassing appreciation for the abundance in my life.
It was a reminder that even in dark days, there’s always something to be grateful for.