29 Gifts – A Book, A Prescription, A Movement, An Opportunity
Earlier this fall, I stumbled across and read the autobiographical book, 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, by Cami Walker. Cami became very ill and subsequently received the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis when she was 30 years old. As she shared in the video I link you to below, this experience changed her life forever. At the same time, through hard work, serendipity, and the prescription of giving away 29 gifts in 29 days, she also found a way to come back to herself and back to others.She connected with what she can give and do, to what gifts she has to offer, while also facing and working with the very real, significant limitations multiple sclerosis had created. I read the book admiring her determination and care, the care of those who supported and assisted her, and appreciating the many stories of courage — courage to give, courage to persevere, courage to receive, courage to offer graciousness and spaciousness to others and to oneself.
Inspired by the book, I thought one recent other morning, “Why not offer 29 gifts here on this blog?” There was an energy about this idea, something I thought would be a nice project to engage in, a hobby of sorts. And then, fairly quickly, there were some “doubting,” not-so-confidnent thoughts, the kind of thoughts that say, “okay, but what if you miss a day, or many days, or run out of things for the 29 days to share….? Then what? What if you publicly say you are going to do this but then don’t?” If you were a participant in one of the mindful compassion groups, I might be describing these last set of thoughts as belonging to the anxious self, that part that by definition is always anxious, always generating content like this. And I might also be encouraging you to connect to another part of yourself—your compassionate self. What might it be saying right now? What might it be offering? When you connect to a sense of wisdom, what might that wise part of you be saying and feeling?
Importantly, there is not one global answer to these compassionate self, wise self questions. Your compassionate self knows you better than anyone. It knows your story and your strengths and your challenges more than anyone in the whole world. And so, with deep wisdom, your compassionate self has answers based on what might be helpful for right now, for you specifically in this particular moment.
Whatever the answers, the compassionate self does instill and involve courage. This may be courage to do something, courage to not do something, courage to listen, courage to proceed.
And so begins day one—the gift of introducing you to 29 Gifts and permission to turn toward and don courage.
Here is a link to where you can watch a short video of Cami Walker talking a bit about her experiences and her book.