29 Gifts – Again

Some of you may recall that last year I read and then participated in the 29 Gifts project.  For those of you that don’t know what this is, here’s the story in a nut shell:

A woman named Cami Walker was diagnosed with MS shortly after her marriage.  She was feeling pretty miserable – physically and psychologically – when a neighbor, who was studying to be some sort of healer, told her that to feel better she should give a gift a day for 29 days.  Cami thought this idea was absurd at first.  She could hardly get out of bed – how could she go about giving gifts every day?  But one day she decided to try it.  And it was pretty amazing what happened.  So she gave a gift a day for 29 days, and then just kept doing it.  She wrote a book about it.  And started a web site where people, like me, can also give a gift a day and post about it. Because part of the process is to write down the gift you gave each day.  You can write it down in a note book, or on the site.  It doesn’t matter.  But you have to write it down.

A little note about the gifts: they don’t have to be monetary.  In fact, many aren’t.  A gift can be a complement given, a phone call to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, helping out when asked even though you really don’t want to, a thank you note written.

What I’ve found is that the opportunity to give presents itself every day.  Usually more than once.  So I no longer think, “What can I give today?” but instead start my day eager to see what opportunity will arise.

Note, too, that the one qualification is that the gifts must be consciously given.  None of this looking back on your day and trying to figure out what you gave.  If you didn’t do it consciously, it doesn’t count.

And you can’t skip a day.  If you do, you start over at Day One.  Note it took me three tries before I did it for 29 consecutive days.

Anyway, I feel like now it seems you may think there are too many rules.  But not at all.  The idea is pretty simple: consciously give one thing each day.  Write it down.  Watch how your life changes.

I did this early last year.  And I can’t quite put my finger on how to explain how wonderful it was.  Giving also makes you more open to receiving, which is such a blessing to me as I’m not so good at feeling good about receiving gifts from others.  Giving also opens you up to all that is good about your life – even when you think nothing is.  Eh – I’m not doing it justice.

All I can say is this: I’m doing it again.  You can read what I give each day by clicking here.  And you can read other people’s stories by clicking here.  And if you’d like to try it, I’d say order and read the book (it’s short, and a good, quick read) as it helps with some of the trouble you might have as you try to do it.

Today was my first day – again.  I’ve already tried to start three times, but keep forgetting to consciously give.  But there’s something so freeing about saying, “Eh – I failed.  So what.  I’ll just start over.”

You Get What You Ask For

For years I have wanted to become a professional organizer.  Friends and family have heard me talk with great excitement about helping people declutter their houses to the point that one, each time I bring it up, says, “Do you hear how excited you are talking about this?  Get out there and do it!”  For a girl who usually just “gets out and does” a lot more things in a year than most do in a lifetime, it was a mystery to me why this one was so hard to tackle.  I knew it was fear, on some level.  But fear of what?  And then a couple years ago a spiritual director I was seeing got it out of me.  It was a fear of failure.

I don’t mind “failing” in general.  In fact, I see it as part of life.  To the point where, when people ask about my failures, I struggle to think of any as I view them all as what was meant to happen.  I view them from an angle at which I can see that, without them, I wouldn’t be where I am.  Failure has such a negative connotation, so I don’t use it that much.  Things others would consider “failures” I don’t see very negatively at all.

But when it came to starting an organizing business, the idea of failure paralyzed me.  Here’s why:  I had been dreaming of doing this for years.  If I failed at it, what would I do then? I would have no more “What I really want to do….” because I would have tried it and failed.  This idea had always been on the horizon.  If I failed at it, what would be on my horizon now?  This is really a poor argument from a girl who finds new things to do nearly every month, if not every day.  My spiritual director then wondered if I fill my life with all this variety in order to avoid doing that which I’d really love to do.  Hmm.  It’s a thought, but honestly I think the variety is just who I am.  And this organizing idea could fit right into it.

The idea for this business didn’t just come out of the blue.  I’ve moved ten times in ten years and my favorite part is getting rid of all the stuff I don’t need anymore before I move.  I also absolutely love helping other people pack and unpack, figuring out what they need to take with them to the new place and, once they get there, where to put it all so they can find it again.  My closest friends call me with their move date knowing what joy it brings me to help them.  But it’s not just friends and family I like helping.  I can walk into a strangers house and if they happen to mention in conversation something about a spare room that’s unusable because it’s a collection spot for who knows what, my first reaction is to go in there and help them clean it out.

There’s always more to learn.  I’ve read about the psychology behind why we keep what we keep, the processes by which one is able (or not) to part with things.  I’ve watched the organizing shows on the home channels and I want to be the one going in there to help those folks!

So I’ve been in a limbo state with this idea for quite some time.  The entire plan sits in my head.  And if someone asks me about it – how much would you charge, how would you find customers, could this idea really work – I’ve got all the answers.

I’ve said before that some of my ideas I act on immediately, and some percolate for a while.  This one percolated and sometimes the idea would bubble to the surface and I would take some sort of action.  Well, those actions finally got somewhere.  And that’s what I’ll be writing about over the next couple of posts.

(For those of you wanting to know the rest of the “How I Got Here” story, I’ll get back to it sometime!)