So my 29 days of giving based on Cami Walker’s 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change your Life comes to an end. Some thoughts:
As the Monkees (circa 1966) said, I am a believer. I do believe daily giving can change your life. Whoa, big fella, let’s take it down a notch, you might be thinking. I really do. I believe active giving can get you out of your own way and make sense of your world, your purpose.
I got more than I gave. Reading to my friend Vin or saving the elliptical machine at the gym for Hannah are examples of the glow that lives in me when I give.
Rather than money, my gifts often have been a giving of myself. Something we can all do, even if we have little money. Going to visit a friend in the hospital or seeking out a friend for connection were more the norm for me than gifts that cost money.
I have to be intentional to give. There’s this private time of joy I have in bed early in the morning when I think about my upcoming day and where giving might occur.
Giving helps me build my connections and sense of community with my friends and family.
As I look back I found that being a member of church gives me many opportunities to give beyond putting money in the collection plate.
The subtext for this experiment was to have you consider taking on the 29 Days of Giving challenge in your home town. Giving can be a meaningful, seamless part of your daily life. Maybe it already is. If not, think of the 1971 Alka Seltzer catch phrase: Try it; you’ll like it.
It just may change your life.
My first gift today is really quite simple. It’s the Sports Illustrated with Dave Ortiz of the Red Sox with three first responders from the Boston Marathon Massacre on the cover. Tomorrow I am going to visit my friends, Jean and Vin, now living in Massachusetts. As died-in-the-wool Red Sox fans, they watch every game to the bitter end, even the ones that start at 10P on the West Coast. When Jean goes to a game at Fenway, she follows the dictum that she never leaves before the final out, no matter the score. My gift for Jean is to finish the Sports Illustrated tonight so she can read the feature article about her beloved Sox.
My second gift is to surprise Hannah. It’s easy to just get caught up in the day-to-day of life and forget the love of my life. Having 29 Gifts in 29 Days in mind makes me more cognizant of gift giving for Hannah. You may not know this about Hannah but she likes her bananas green so they don’t ripen too quickly. I check them off on my “To-do-for-Hannah” list. Strawberries, a treat in November, are added to my cart.
Lastly Hannah likes a glass of wine in the evening, but she doesn’t like to spend too much. She goes for the pounders (1.5 liters) because they are a good deal. So my gift this morning is to buy the least expensive wine on sale at Hannaford’s Grocery Store. If she knows it’s a bargain, she will love it even more. She’s my low maintenance sweetheart.
Last night before I fell asleep I thought about my upcoming day and when giving opportunities might present themselves. Cami Walker, author of 29 Gifts, encourages giving to be spontaneous, not planned. For me, I have to have the mindset that I am looking to give. I need a plan, or otherwise I can just muddle through my days. My pre-giving thoughts are kind of my plan B if the spontaneity doesn’t happen. And then just before 7A this morning, spontaneity happens. Is this really a gift? In my heart I think so. You tell me.
Durgin Pines Nursing Home where Hannah cuts hair on Fridays
Here’s the picture. Hannah has left her hair cutting bag at a friend’s house three miles away. Since today Friday is Hannah’s day to cut hair at Durgin Pines Nursing Home in Kittery, Hannah asks me to pick her bag up. But driving to support Hannah is not the gift, though I guess it counts as mini-gift 2A. Then her friend calls to ask Hannah if I’d like a cup of coffee when I get there. I decline, just wanting to get there and back. And then I think, Am I missing the chance to give Hannah’s friend a gift?
Here’s my gift: To linger if the opportunity presents itself. If her friend asks me in for a cup, I’ll take the time and hang out with her for ten or fifteen minutes. My morning routines can wait; I’ll still get to my York Hospital advisors meeting on time. Without the conscientious attention of gift giving, I would have missed this chance. As I pull in, her friend hands me the hair cutting bag and a Styrofoam cup of coffee for me “to go.” My gift to spend time with her friend does not happen. Is it a gift if it is not literally given? Can you have gifts of a willing heart?
After reading Cami Walker’s 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change your Life fourteen months ago, I tried giving a gift every day for 29 days to change my life. I thought by establishing a gift giving habit that I would continue to make daily gift giving a regular part of my life. The jury is out whether I’ve really changed. I can be generous; not Hannah generous, but I have my moments. I need to have gift giving in my frontal lobe (i.e., having gift giving on my daily “to do” list.). So these next 29 daily blog entries (three paragraphs each day) are a record of my second chance of becoming a daily gift giver. Come along for the ride.
The inspiration behind my 29 Days of Giving
As I sit with coffee in my comfy swivel chair in our living room, I look out on Chases Pond Road and think about my opening day of giving. Stacy comes to mind. She is relocating and leaving her position as manager of the Coastal Fitness gym in Kittery where Hannah and I have been going four to five times per week ever since I retired from teaching two years ago. I pin my day around pumping on the elliptical, high stepping on the inclined treadmill, and pedaling the recumbent bicycle.
More times than not, Stacy is there with a welcoming, “glad you’re here” smile. I feel less anonymous. With modest culinary talents, I dump flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, a little salt and yeast into my bread machine and make a pretty fair loaf of oatmeal bread. When I deliver the warm, fresh-baked loaf, she smiles, thanks me, and we hug good bye. Off and running on my gift giving quest.
Homemade oatmeal bread at its finest