Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide: 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life by Cami Walker

When she was in her early 30s, Cami Walker was living the dream. A young bride, she was doing a job she liked, living in a city she loved and she could see where all of this was leading. She thought. What began as a few pesky symptoms gradually worsened until she began a series of tests that led to the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

Fast forward two years. Walker was constantly in pain, depressed, suffering from insomnia and battling an addiction to prescription painkillers. She tried everything to help her cope with the incurable disease. Finally, in desperation, she called a South African medicine woman of her acquaintance, hoping for comfort. What she got instead was the advice that would change her life:
“Cami, I think you need to stop thinking about yourself.”

For a few seconds, I’m shocked silent. I imagine Mbali on the other end of the phone, sitting near her unique altar, her silver hair and bronze skin reflecting in the soft light of her apartment. She’s probably wearing one of the beautiful, colorful necklaces she makes and smiling at my stunned reaction.

“Thinking about myself?” I howl. I start in on her about what a wreck I am, what a wreck my body is, telling her I don’t have room to think about anything except myself right now.

“I know, that’s the problem,” she says. “If you spend all of your time and energy focusing on your pain, you’re feeding the disease. You’re making it worse by putting all of your attention there.”
In the same conversation, Mbali prescribes the thing that will ultimately change not only Walker’s life, but many others. The thing that will come to form the very heart of 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life (Da Capo) and along with it begin a movement that has fans comparing it to the secret of The Secret.

In this season of giving, 29 Gifts cuts to the very heart of the thing: giving to enrich and share rather than receive. If it doesn’t change your life, it will at least make you think.

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