Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Book Review: 29 Gifts--How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life
Cami Walker is a woman who lived a fast paced life. She was a young, high powered advertising executive who worked long hours and pushed herself to the limit professionally. She got married to her husband Mark and went on her honeymoon. Everything was perfect...until it wasn't. Upon the return from her honeymoon, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Her health declined to the point she could barely get out of bed. Walker, a former addict, got hooked on prescription pills again. Her marriage was at its breaking point. When she was at rock bottom, she got an unconventional prescription from her neighbor Mbali---stop focusing on yourself and give. Give everyday for 29 days.
29 Gifts is a memoir of Walker's effort to give everyday for 29 days after years of focusing on the decline of her health. The book is written diary style and tells about each day and what she gave. She gives a plant, treats a friend to a massage, gives extra money in the offering plate at church, gives a homeless person a meal and some money, does some pro bono advertising work for clients, and more.
The concept of giving to release you from focusing on yourself is not unique. Lots of books advise giving. Pay It Forward immediately comes to mind. What makes this book different is the narrator and the concept of giving everyday for 29 days and to start over at the beginning if you miss a day. Cami Walker struggles. She struggles more than the average person. She's looking for a way to stop writing about only her health and addiction issues and write about more positive subjects. She's so focused on Mbali's 29 day prescription that she founds a website for others to share their 29 Gifts stories (you can check it out here if you like). My first thought was did she do this to make some money off this concept? I know --- so cynical. But so what if she did? Giving and encouraging others to do so can only do good in our broken world. In the end, I found Cami's personal 29 day journey to be inspiring. Reading about her struggles with MS made me more grateful for my good health and the opportunities that affords me. I can walk around the block without a cane. I'm not in constant pain. I'm strong enough to wash my family's dishes. What can I give today?