To Cami Walker, being asked if she is experiencing abundance in her life since she became a best-selling author, is routine. In her book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life, Cami writes about how giving even the smallest gifts to others led to more in her own life: more work, better health and answers when she needed them.
Cami spoke at a Meet the Author Event sponsored by the Allegheny County Library Association in partnership with the National Multiple Sclerosis Society this month in Pittsburgh, PA, relating her story of how she was diagnosed with MS a month after getting married at the age of 32 in 2006.
The MS symptoms she experienced were virulent, leaving her unable to get out of bed most days. At a loss as to what to do to help herself, she talked with her spiritual advisor Mbali Creazzo who gave her a prescription: Give away 29 gifts in 29 days and see what happens. Mbali's theory was that Cami was thinking about herself too much and needed to focus on others in the world around her instead.
The wise and simple prescription which seemed foolish to the gravely ill Cami began to help once she embraced the concept (which, she laughs, took a while). She decided to launch a website challenging others to adopt the 29 Gifts practice and eventually she wrote the book about her experiences.
When someone asked why 29 gifts, Cami said that was what Mboli had told her to do. Since Mboli is a believer and practitioner of indigenous African traditions, it may have something to do with the cycle of the moon. Also, in numerology, 2 plus 9 equals wholeness and completeness, another possible reason. But the number doesn't mean as much when you continue on as Cami has done, giving gifts each and every day.
As to her take on abundance, she said it isn't about money, admitting she has had financial problems for years, and is only now taking her first royalty payment from the book sales. But she said, "if I am living purposely, I feel fulfilled and can deal with the hard spots in life," including MS relapses, which can leave her using a wheelchair for awhile. Standing on the stage this month at the Pittsburgh talk she was wearing heels, but said she had to rest up for two weeks so that she could stand for three days.
Cami says that one thing she has learned over the past few years is "Don't ever do anything alone." People need people, she says, and it's OK -- and often necessary-- to accept help from others. Women make up about 90 percent of the thousands of people
who have taken the gift challenge, most of whom are over 30. "I love all Grandmas," she says, because the twenty volunteers who help her with her website, and Q and As etc., fall into that category.
She says she is open to life now and will see what comes along for her. "I'm a lot happier than I was, and excited to face each day". Cami, who worked in the advertising field before getting sick, is writing a second book and has written a screenplay about her story too. Her personal goal is to jump from about 14,000 current members at www.29Gifts.org to 29,000 by 9/29/2011. To help Cami achieve her goal, visit her website at www.29Gifts.org and join the challenge.
By Teresa K. Flatley