Wednesday, July 7, 2010
The Gift of Giving
I was in bed one morning a couple of months ago, having my cuppa and reflecting on what the day required of me when a news item attracted my attention mainly because they couldn't get the microphone right in the Cape Town studio - typical I thought - but it grabbed my attention. The story was about a woman who was struggling with Multiple Sclerosis and how a healer's unusual prescription of mindful altruism - to 'give away 29 gifts in 29 days' - ignited her energy, her happiness, and invited more abundance into her life.
At age 35, Cami Walker was burdened by a newly intense struggle with Multiple Sclerosis, a chronic neurological disease that was leaving her unable to walk, work, relate to others, or enjoy her life. Depressed after being hospitalized several times in just a few months, she received an uncommon 'prescription' from an African healer. The remedy? Give away 29 things to others in 29 days. The gifts could be anything, but one should be something she felt was scarce in her life or she couldn't live without. 'By giving', Mbali told her, 'you are focusing on what you have to offer others...inviting more abundance into your life. Giving of any kind begins the process of change and will shift your energy for life'. Indeed, Cami Walker was amazed by the wonderful physical, emotional, and spiritual changes that manifested during her 29-day giving journey
29 Gifts is a global giving movement with more than eleven thousand members in 42 countries.http://www.29gifts.org/
So I decided there and then that I would attempt this - believing it to be a worthy challenge. On 4 June I started looking for opportunities to give - and I was amazed that once I opened myself mentally and spiritually to do this, how opportunities presented themselves.
That very first day I came out of Pick and Pay and was packing my groceries into my boot. A young man approached me and my instinct was to ignore him but he assured me that he was genuinely stranded, had missed his bus to Cape Town and wasn't asking me for money but for food. I had bought my husband a pre-made sandwich for his lunch the following day (something I never do) so I gave it to him. A simple action and so rewarding for both of us.
During the next few days similar opportunities arose. I was able to give tickets to a Jazz Show to someone I knew would love the show, a colleague was struggling to meet an urgent deadline and I stepped in, a friend needed a listening ear and time to talk and I gave a bunch of roses for no reason to another friend. Travelling back from a weekend away, a car on the Langkloof Road was driving with hazard lights on and had a "HELP" sign in the rear window - they were short of petrol and had no idea where the next petrol station was - we drove on and returned with a can of petrol for them. It was a joy to do that - even more so when we saw they had a baby in the car.I gave hand-knitted scarves to my two YaYa sisters and gave a lift to someone on their way to the Fan Fest. I gave money to everyone who asked for it - and sometimes I had in the past refused ie. Car-guards, trolley jocks and a stranger who rang my doorbell. The list is long - 29 days long.
The result was a month of joy. I reflected each evening on what I had given that day and felt such peace and at one with my world. I also realized how easy it is to give to others and that the most important gifts are not monetary or material but gifts of time, presence, care and concern.
It doesn't surprise me that the concept originated in Africa – is this not Ubuntu.
So my '29 days of giving' are over but a future of giving awaits. Giving yourself permission to give, to trust and to love is the greatest gift that you can give to yourself.