Wednesday, January 5, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 1 and 2 ~ Learning Universal Laws and Celebrating Friendship

Several years ago, after participating in Cursillo (a church retreat) I had the opportunity to serve other attendants. During the retreat in which I was a participant, we were lavished with love and attention. The sense of community was palpable and comforting. I came away from that retreat a changed person...more loving, more compassionate and certainly my faith had grown. I felt so blessed...and I jumped at the opportunity to serve as a volunteer and prayer partner in the next retreat. I had no idea the amount of work that had gone into preparing and carrying out such a lovely event. We worked for months prior to the retreat and day and night throughout the long weekend of the retreat. It was the hardest I had ever worked. We cleaned, cooked, prayed with, and attended to every need of the participants. We contacted family members to ensure that their loved ones were supported. And during the last evening, we prepared the most lovely candlelit dinner.
I'm telling you this, because during the time that I served, I came to know, really know...that it was while I was in the service of others that I really received the greater gift. I was witness to so many beautiful moments and gained cherished friendships and I was truly overwhelmed with the idea that I could feel even more gratitude in serving than I had in receiving (which was overwhelming in itself).

That was more than a decade ago and many changes have taken place that have brought me to this point in my life. My giving has largely consisted of donating clothing and household items and sending checks to our heart felt causes as well as supporting family members in crisis. All of this is good...and needed and I feel blessed to be able to do it, however, it has felt more rote and obligatory than joyful...and giving should be joyful. So when I read this post from Angie of Living Aloha about the 29 Gifts Challenge, it touched my heart, it sparked a renewed desire, and an awareness that giving back can be a way of life. I recalled those precious moments on the Cook Team for Cursillo and realized that it was a gift...that keeps giving back.

So, after reading Angie's post, I clicked over to the 29 Gifts website and joined the challenge. I knew right away what I wanted to give as my first gift.

Day 1 ~ I drove over to Lowe's and purchased 2 boxes of outdoor lights that mimic lightning bugs. They were a huge hit with my parents at Christmas and I know that they will be with my good friend Candace. I bought 2 boxes so that she can give one to her grandson, Vince who is a precocious, life-loving 4 year old who lives in the LA area, about a six hour drive away from Nana. Anyway, Candace loves spending time with this little guy and she has a beautiful backyard with lots of fun spaces and I thought this would be a nice addition to her magical space.

Day 2 ~ This one is for my husband. I am so blessed to be able to work with a very flexible schedule and in the normal course of our lives, if I am home at dinner time, when Rick walks in, the aroma of something cooking is usually in the air. However, lately...not so much. In fact, yesterday was the first time that I can remember in several weeks that I actually cooked dinner. So today, I'm setting the table, and roasting a chicken so that when he walks in, the aroma will hit him, and he won't have to say, "Where are we going for dinner?" There will be a little glimmer of hope that the life we've designed, our peaceful evenings have not been lost. :-).

Thank you Angie, for inspiring me to get back to the heart of giving. I am so excited and I already have the gift ready and waiting for tomorrow.

There is plenty of room at the 29 Gifts site for more friends, so if you are feeling the urge, take a minute and check it out. Look at Eileen Bradley's beautiful Mandala's as well. They are absolutely gorgeous!

I am also taking Angie's lead and posting a gratitude list as I feel it is so important to acknowledge those bits of grace that are so abundant in our lives.

Today's Gratitude List

1) Angie ~ You are amazing!
2) Michael and Minnie (all the giggles they inspire every day)
3) New Keurig Coffee Maker (it is helping me cut down to one cup a day :-)


  1. Janet, I'm so happy to see you participating! I love what you've done for Day 1...and what a lovely surprise for your husband tonight, especially since home-cooked meals for your Love trump a dinner out any day of the week!

    I'm so happy that I can play a small part in inspiring you to revisit a different way to give back. :)


  2. I read about this challenge last year in an issue of Whole Living. I did it during the holiday season. I loved it. It was nice to think about what I could do that day to give.