Sunday, January 8, 2012

29 gifts: an update

I began the year on a mission to give more and in new ways.  Discouraged by feeling flat after the Christmas giving season and inspired by an entire issue of Ode magazine dedicated to the subject of giving, I thought that a personal giving challenge may be just what I needed to get back in the spirit.

Writer Cami Walker, who developed and chronicled 29 gifts in 29 days, IS inspiring.  I love her story.  I love that she talks about how giving to others helped them, but also helped her improve her health and live a better life.  I love that she reinforces the ideas that if you give a little each day, you can make a big impact.  I love that she talks about ways to give that cost zero dollars. I  totally subscribe to her model and think it is a great fit for what I need.

My own pursuit of 29 gifts began in good fashion.  I felt good about my progress.  Then, my schedule returned to my non-break/non-vacation routine and I fell off track.  I still approached each day looking for ways to give.  I felt more generous, but guilty for not having given something that seemed worthy each day.  I recognized that even little things mattered - kind words, simple gestures (like returning shopping carts to the store for someone), smiling.  Finding a daily gift that "counted" (whatever that means) just didn't seem to work out some days.

Here is an example.  I ran to the grocery store and had every intention of finding a "gift" moment.  The check outs were full, so I was ushered to the floral area for check out and was out the door quickly.  In the parking lot, I had an inadvertent stand off with a lady who was trying to turn into the same row of cars in the parking lot.  There were some near misses and start/stop moves to get out of the parking lot.  It was all part of the post-five o'clock rush.  After escaping, I did not feel generous or in a giving frame of mind, just lucky to not have a fender bender. Disappointed.

And, another example is Saturday.  I woke up early and made cookies for a person we planned to see that morning.  We had some scheduling challenges and ended up not seeing him.  Not easily discouraged, we put the cookies in the car with us as we took off for our Saturday plans thinking we would find an opportunity to gift the cookies.  We did not give away the cookies...they returned home with us. Disappointed.

Yet, if I were keeping score, the number of moments in the giving column would be more than I am giving myself "credit" for.  Things are good.  I might not have a perfect "worthy" (still working on that definition) gift each day, but there are plenty of moments when kindness and generosity have been present.  Progress is being made; others are being helped.

Back to Cami Walker.  What I love the most is that she gives permission for people to be imperfect in their giving and in the 29 gifts and 29 days effort.  

The mission continues!

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