As some of you already know, my mom passed away July 31st. I read 29 Gifts in August, and decided to begin the challenge on my 40th birthday in September. I struggled with this birthday, not because i turned 40 (i actually enjoy getting older), but because my mom was no longer with me - in her physical form to which i had become accustomed. So, when i first started the 29 days challenge, i began on my birthday, with a bit of a heavy heart, knowing that this challenge would be a really good thing for me even though i wasn't fully in the spirit, so to speak.
I began on my birthday and went for 7 days, and then got distracted for a few days and jumped back in.
Interestingly enough, looking back over my journal, my gift on the first day of "the second attempt," was to dedicate a little time every day for myself to do this, the gift entries- i also decided to go help my dad sort through some of my mom's belongings- the gift of time and support. A nice routine developed of waking up, getting my morning coffee, sitting in my favorite little nook of our house, and writing in my journal- deciding what would be my gift for the day. I missed a day, and practiced generosity with myself- instead of starting over again- realized that morning is the best time to set my intentions for the day-so i'd have to commit to my morning time, and as i believe Cami said on her video, "it's about progress, not perfection." How liberating! I like that
Through this process, i've seen the positive results of beginning with myself in my gift giving. From setting aside my morning time, to carving a half hour of relation to do my nails and chill, letting myself rest and go to bed early when exhausted. I then found that in taking care of myself, i was eagerly looking for ways to "take care" or help, nurture, others.
The gifting to others took many different forms, from practicing deep listening to offering meditations. My daughter and I went out to lunch one day, and i consciously practicing active listening with her, being truly present with her. Well, guess who really ended up receiving the gift? My daughter commented at least two times about how much she enjoyed our lunch. I've given the gift of my time, volunteering to teach in children's church, helping my Dad and sisters sort through my mom's belongings, practicing positivity, buying coffee for a friend, treating friends to lunch, giving away this book, reaching out to friends with whom id been meaning to reconnect, finishing thank you notes from my mom's passing, making pumpkin bread to share with neighbors, and on and on...
What do i take away from this challenge? Well, it is indeed a challenge.
Not to sound cliche, BUT, it is important to begin with oneself,
treating oneself as a gift. I even invented "Laura Day" I gave myself and declared, "National Laura Day!" I woke of feeling yucky, headache, stuffy nose, i decided that i wanted to read some of my mom's papers, grieve a bit- accept that i wasn't feeling great, and be good to myself and do only what i wanted. Loved it!
Often times the best gifts don't involve money. The neat thing about this giving challenge is that it forces me out of my own little world. I'd be feeling all "poor me" about something or i'd be feeling some negative state, and then i'd remember my giving challenge for the day and i'd be feeling better - focusing on gratitude instead of my own little negativity.
Increased introspection and consciousness: my journal entry from 9/30 reads, "Okay- well, yesterday's gift- i was not successfull- although i was successfull in noticing that i wasn't being successful. So, i guess that's good? yes, the increased awareness and presence is a gift indeed!" The challenge for the day was to practice positivity- i was only going to talk about things that i love, that are my passion, that are positive. Try that for a day! That challenge led to the "well-being" buddha meditation-"May all being be safe, free from suffering, etc...." That's positive :)
I also noticed, in doing this challenge, that even if i have picked out what my gift is for the day, i am often giving gifts during the day, and looking for ways to be positive, make someone else's day better- and that often this involves being better to me- very interesting.
In this day and age, to carve out time to be intentional is paramount to personal happiness and fulfillment. I have started my second round of 29 day challenge. My life is richer for it. I thank Cami for her courage and insight, and for sharing her life with all of us. I thank all the people in this group who have so kindly and generously reached out to me.
Onward, with a heart filled with gratitude!
Blessing to all!