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29 Gifts by Cami Walker

I’m going to switch gears this week and write about an adult book that has impacted me.

Cami Walker has multiple sclerosis.  At the point of devasting illness and deep depression,  she was challenged by her South African healer, Mbali Creazzo, to give away 29 gifts in 29 days.   29 Gifts: How A Month of Giving Can Change Your Life is her story

29Gifts

Cami Walker has a very different worldview from me.  She embraces lots of new age philosophy, acupuncture and yoga.  She is comfortable with all religions and visits a garden with statues to all the major religions of the world.  Cami has lived in San Francisco and now lives in L.A.

I live in Greenville, South Carolina at the heart of the Bible Belt.  I believe in one God, the Bible and Jesus Christ as the only way to salvation.  When I meditate, it’s on the scripture  For me to be too ecumenical detracts from the God I worship-the God who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.   I am  leery of vegan diets, alternative health plans, acupuncture, and idols to other gods.

Yet, I have been profoundly impacted by 29 Gifts.    Cami is unflinchingly honest.  She shares her bouts with self-pity and squabbles with her husband as freely as she shares her acts of generosity.

Cami’s  gifts  often do not involve  major planning. Nor is the giving out of obligation- .  Don’t we all know people who give out of martyrdom rather than joy?  Cami’s kind of giving is motivated by giving others delight, like making a  meal for husband or finding that just right present.  She also talks about receiving gifts graciously from others.

It’s clear that setting out to give 29 gifts changed Cami’s life.  Her health improved, she was able to get her business going again.

Lest anyone thinks I have donated a kidney to my ex-husband, my two main gifts to others have been handling out water bottles and picking up trash in my neighborhood while walking the dog.  I haven’t even focused on doing something daily just being open to opportunities. (like carrying a cooler in my car.)

I have had a difficult year of facing unemployment and limited resources.  This book has challenged me to live out my Christianity,  be grateful and to get over myself.  It has aided me in my spiritual struggle to leave the past behind and put away negative thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy 100th Birthday Beverly Cleary!

(April 12)  Today is Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday!

In case you haven’t heard, Beverly Cleary is the author of over 40 children’s books. including the popular Ramona and Ralph S. Mouse books. These books are still popular in 2016.  Cleary seemed quite spunky when she was interviewed by Jenna Bush Hager on the Today Show last month. http://www.today.com/parents/99-author-beverly-cleary-beloved-generations-readers-t82256

I was first introduced to Beverly Cleary’s books by my childhood buddy, Nancy Clements. Nancy was a year and a half older than me and  introduced me to many things.  She first told me about Otis Spofford, a modern day Tom Sawyer who was always picking on Ellen Tebbits because she was so neat and clean and well behaved.  We were horrified when Otis cut Ellen’s hair.  We played games where we alternated being the “evil” Otis and his favorite target, sweet well-behaved Ellen.

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After Otis and Ellen, I read all the Henry Huggins books.  Henry was a little nicer than Otis, but he always found himself in trouble.  Ramona Quimby began as a fairly minor character in the Henry Huggins series.  She’s barely mentioned in Henry Huggins.  When my fifth grade teacher at Walter Bickett, Mrs. Cason, read  Henry and the Paper Route, we all howled at Ramona’s antics as she created havoc in Henry’s life.  So it isn’t surprising that she got her own series.

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Ramona seems to be Cleary’s most endearing character.  She’s always a little baffled by the world around her.  Why won’t her kindergarten teacher tell her how Mike Mulligan used the bathroom?    Why  can’t she be a paper boy like Henry Huggins?

CCF24032012_00011  Cleary’s books are timeless.   In the later Ramona books, she deals with some heavy issues when her father loses his job and her favorite Aunt Beatrice gets married.  Ramona’s struggles are seen from a childhood perspective. They don’t go out to eat anymore and the adults are grumpier than usual.

Just as Otis Spofford hated the goody two shoes children in his basil reader,  Beverly Cleary had no use for moralistic literature:

 I was so annoyed with the books in my childhood, because children always learned to be ‘better’ children and, in my experience, they didn’t. They just grew, and so I started Ramona… and she has never reformed. [She’s] really not a naughty child, in spite of the title Ramona the Pest. Her intentions are good, but she has a lot of imagination, and things sometimes don’t turn out the  way she expected.