Healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum…but through our interactions with other people. By giving, you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance in your life. Giving of any kind is taking positive action that begins the process of change. It will shift your energy for life.
Readers, I don’t often share with you details about my personal life. Today I’m making an exception for this book because it is so intricately intertwined with my chronic illness. You can learn more about that here.
One day I was lying on the couch reading. Normal, right? This scene is a common one, but the circumstances surrounding it were not. In the weeks prior I had gone from 100 miles per hour teaching full time, volunteering around the city, and galavanting with my friends to completely bedridden. I was bitter, scared, and confused as to why this was happening to me. So I spent my time reading (when I felt well enough to do anything). This day was obviously no exception. Reading seemed to help and honestly it still does; it immerses my mind in another time and place so that I do not think about how terrible I may feel or how different life is from before.
Anyway, that day my mom walked up next to me and handed me a giant white envelope with “Read This On Saturday” written with black marker on the front.
“This is for you. I’m conducting an experiment,” she declared with a mischievous smile on her face. “You and some others I know are getting one of these a day. You’ll get your second installment tomorrow.”
Well, folks, it’s no mystery as to what was in the envelope. The prologue to Cami Walker’s 29 Gifts was there waiting for me to jump in and see how looking beyond my current circumstances to help others would truly help me feel better. As I began to read, I learned the author, age 35, who has been diagnosed with MS. Like me, she was miserable, in pain, and wanted it all to end. She described her situation, how much she’s suffered, the anger and the pain she feels, her trips in and out of hospitals and doctors offices, and her myriad of drugs. Eventually, her doctors decided she needs to detox of all of medications and start from scratch.
I promise you this isn’t a depressing read. Enter Toni: self-proclaimed “medicine woman” from South Africa. Walker describes her as having a “’wise woman’ way about her: quiet, peaceful, insightful.” She is a very spiritual person and after a spiritual trip back to South Africa she returns with her new name, Mbali. Mbali tells the author she needs to stop thinking about herself in this situation. She gives her a prescription to give away 29 gifts in 29 days and to journal about it each day. The gifts do not have to be tangible. If she misses a day, she is to start over-a clean slate. Walker was hesitant at first, resistant in fact. But as you can guess, she does commit to the experiment. She gives gifts for 29 days and documents her thoughts and feelings along the way.
And so my journey with 29 Gifts began. I did receive a chapter a day, which added an element of suspense to the whole experiment. I would highly recommend reading a chapter a day in your personal reading as well. In reading the book, I found a way out of my “vacuum” of being at home, away from my friends, my students, and my normal life.
Ultimately, this book shared a raw look at the reality of chronic illness. Walker is rightfully full of bitterness and anger at the loss of the life she once loved. I could totally relate as I read it. As time progresses, Walker begins to look beyond her own situation to see the possibilities she still has within her reach. Her story taught me that a thought, a phone call, a smile can be a gift in itself. She shares stories from others who have participated in the challenge so you can see other perspectives on this “experiment”.
When I first shared this adventure, I invited readers to join in the 29 Gifts challenge as well. I’m going to go a bit further this time. I challenge you to both read the book to see Walker’s journey and participate in the challenge. Walker’s website has great resources to get you started if you need some ideas. This is a perfect read as we head into the season of giving!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
TL/DR: Need a little inspiration to help you look beyond your current life situation? Pick up 29 Gifts.
The way to Alexandra's heart is through a great book recommendation.