I recently read a book called 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving can Change your Life by Cami Walker. As a new bride in her early thirties, Cami Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Feeling overwhelmed with negative thoughts, Cami filled an unusual prescription from a friend, an African medicine woman named Mbali Creazzo: Give away 29 gifts in 29 days.
“By giving,” Mbali told her, “you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.” The gifts, she said, could be anything, but their giving had to be both authentic and mindful.
When Cami inquired about the significance of 29, Mbali didn’t know, but offered to dig up the answer from another source. But Cami chose to keep it a mystery…so a mystery it remains.
Even though many of her gifts were quite simple (a phone call, spare change), the positive effects were dramatic…and a movement was born: 29Gifts.org.
A few days ago, I decided to embrace this challenge. Thankfully, I don’t have a disease; but I do have a desire to live a life of gratitude, and I am always seeking new ideas and tools to fill me up. Please follow my journey…a few gifts at a time. If you would like to join me, please be in touch!
I am dedicating my 29 gifts to Ramona Blinick. While she faced countless obstacles, her giving was infinite. May we all bring as much Light into this world as she did.
Gift #1: Saturday, February 25
My husband and I have 3 kids (10, 8, and 5) and we are often giving kid stuff away to clear the clutter. But today I wanted to offer something specific to someone special. I chose to give a once-loved-but-now-tucked-away-on-a-shelf Journey Girl doll (with my daughter’s permission of course…she hasn’t played with it in a few years) to a little girl I just met yesterday. Her name is Whinslet.
Whinslet is the 7-year-old daughter of my nanny’s friend. Yesterday, when I came home from work, she was at my house with her mom, as her mom was asking my nanny for advice on paperwork she needed to complete for her upcoming maternity leave – Whinslet is going to be a big sister! Whinslet was shy at first, but within minutes, she was playing soccer, tag, and “horsy” in the basement with my 5-year-old son. They hit it off right away…so silly, goofy, and cute together! I love that about kids – they can click and have the best time within minutes of meeting each other!
So today, I found the Journey Girl (and her wardrobe and accessories which, thanks to my nanny, were neatly packed away) and asked my nanny to invite Whinslet and her mom to come over again. They live just a few minutes’ walk away and were available…perfect! I added a puzzle, a book, and some crafts to the bag. Whinslet was so appreciative…she even called me Tita, the affectionate Filipino word for Auntie. And when she left (not before more goofing around with my kids) she embraced me with the sweetest hug.
I could not be happier that Whinslet will enjoy this adorable doll, instead of Ms. Journey sitting on a shelf longing to be loved.
Gift #2: Sunday, February 26
Yesterday, I was in full (early) Spring cleaning mode and I came across a bag full of Bar and Bat Mitzvah invitations from my days as a pre-teen. I knew I had them and in fact just peeked at them a couple of months ago, showing off the sparkling, glittering, and oh-so-90s collection to my own pre-teen daughter.
I snapped a picture of the invitation from a girl named Jessica who I’ve recently reconnected with as I am staring to think about planning my own daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. Jessica works for a company that provides music entertainment (and more!) for events – with Bar and Bat Mitzvahs being their kosher bread and butter. I texted the picture to Jessica. Her reaction: “NO WAY!!! That’s unbelievable!!!” I proceeded to take photos of her Save the Date card and Kids Party invite and shared them with her. It turns out she has her own copy of the main invitation but not the other two pieces.
Today, I woke up and texted her saying the two pieces are my gifts to her! She was thrilled! Later in the afternoon, I dropped the precious pink cards at her house. While I’ve seen her on Facebook throughout the years, clicking and liking don’t compare to a real, live hug. And I was excited to hear that my gift inspired her to frame all three pieces and display them on her office wall. The perfect “art” for someone in her biz! I wonder what other random items I have stashed away that could make someone’s day?
For privacy reasons, I’m sharing a piece of the invitation only – umm…did I mention it was in the 90s?
Gift #3: Monday, February 27
I live in Toronto and I take the subway to work downtown. Most days, when I emerge from underground, there is at least one homeless person sitting in the walkway where men and women in suits walk past, headed to their corporate jobs. Often these homeless individuals are in the same spot when I return at the end of the day, as I am heading home to see my family.
I often keep granola bars in my bag to offer, hoping this small gesture will help in some little way. Today, I went a bit further. Before I left for work, I assembled a package in a large Ziploc bag consisting of a challah bun, 2 granola bars, a delicious scone from our favourite bakery, an apple, and a hand-written card. Just as I was about to zip the bag and head out the door, my 10-year-old daughter, who knows about the 29 Gifts project, asked me to wait and rushed upstairs. She returned with $4 from her allowance to add to the gift. What a proud moment!
On my way home, I offered the bag to a man who I’ve seen many times – he sits outside the same subway station each day. I can only hope the package added a bit of light to his day.
I regret not asking his name…but I think I will ask him the next time I see him.
Please stay tuned for Part 2…