Last weekend I fought the urge to write about exhaustion. Who wants to read about how tired I am on Thanksgiving weekend? So I took a safe, and potentially boring route, and wrote about food. Beyond the notion that others would not want to read about how wretchedly fatigued I have been was the fact that I was just tired of talking about. Those who have had some in- person, phone, email or Facebook time with me lately know I have been very tired.It’s not a run of the mill, got to bed too late, dog woke me up in the night, tired. It’s the MS tired. And it kicks my butt sometimes. So tired I frequently napped in my car on my lunch break. Reclined the seat, put my office sweater over me like a blanket and pulled my orange stocking cap low over my eyes to block the light and hopefully passer-bys’ ability to recognize my slack-mouthed, sleeping face. So tired that I took ‘second naps’ (not as much fun as second breakfast!) when I got home from work. So tired that I nearly fell asleep walking up a flight of stairs, rested my eyes at stoplights, wandered into wrong rooms tripping over my groggy feet, nodded off at the pharmacy and did not hear my name called. So tired that I declined invitations to multiple fun activities that I would have forgotten to attend anyway, because I was too tired to remember. And because I did not want to write about it last week, that is as much as I will give it today!
Almost a year ago, when our local Borders store closed its doors, I purchased a dozen discount books. Among them was the treasure “29 Gifts- How a month of giving can change your life” by Cami Walker. I did not pick it up because I was feeling a philanthropic urge. I picked it up because the jacket said that Cami Walker had MS. I never get tired of hearing from others in the multiple sclerosis club. The idea, in my best attempt at a nutshell, is this- When you are feeling crappy, low, deprived, unlucky, sick, tired, and sick of feeling tired…that is the time to give. Cami received her prescription from a spiritual healer. The prescription was to give something, any small thing, to someone each day for 29 days. The original prescription has some other specifics that I invite you to check out on the website www.29gifts.org or pick up the book (it’s a short, easy, and inspiring read).
I have attempted this prescription 5 times and never totally completed it. It’s harder than you’d think. Because there are those days, like these last few weeks, when I feel so completely drained that I think there is nothing left to give. The giving does not need to have a monetary value, though it can. It may be a bought gift, a re-gift, a gift of time, listening, compassion. Help someone who drops their groceries. Give a grumpy store clerk a smile and some kind words. Call up a friend who hasn’t heard from you in a while. Pick up your neighbor’s garbage cans that rolled away in a windstorm. Stop what you are doing to help a frazzled co-worker. Babysitting, baking, the ideas are endless.
The trick is to start each day intentionally watching for an opportunity to give. I try not to plan too far in advance. Giving, especially when I am feeling low, somehow fills me up. It takes my focus off of what is wrong with me and what I cannot do, and turns it to things that I can do. It allows me to be more comfortable asking for and receiving help where I need it. Cami does a great job of explaining how it helped her. There are hundreds of great stories on the website.
I plan to share more about my experience with this over the next month as I make my 6th attempt at the 29 days of giving! And I challenge each of you, just as I have challenged my family, to join me in this effort. What better month than December to start each day with the intention of giving? It’s not just about December 25th after all. So check out www.29gifts.org or pick up the book! My family will be talking about our giving experiment over dinner each night, in the hopes that we might inspire and learn from one another. Feel free to share stories in a comment here on my blog, or join Cami’s website to learn from, and share with, a worldwide community of givers.Have fun! I wonder if I can start by giving myself an extra two hours of sleep tomorrow morning.