@aussietony’s 20 gift suggestions for #life-long learning

Wrapped in living

Today I share with you a book by a passionate educator and life-long learner, Tony Ryan. I have shared material by Tony before. Here I wrote about his book The Ripple Effect, here I wrote about his Thinkers Keys, and about his seminar on Future-Proofing Kids here. In this post I nominated him as an educator I find inspiring.

The book, Wrapped in Living! 20 Gifts for Creating Passion in Your Life! is now in its twentieth year but has lost no relevance with the passing years. Its gifts are perennial and I find myself dipping back into it for reminders from time to time. With one of the busiest gift-giving times just around the corner you may consider the book as a gift for yourself or for someone else, or perhaps taking one or some of the ideas to make a gift of wishes.

Wrapped in Living is described as

A highly innovative approach to effective living and learning. Twenty special metaphorical gifts for re-discovering passion in life. Each of the gifts represents a vital principle for creating enthusiasm in life-long learning experiences. Full of entertaining stories and quotes.”

The gifts include such things as A Set of Sparklers to “unleash your imagination”; A Tapestry to “Become a life-long learner”; A Potplant to “create a peaceful environment”; A Hammock to “learn to relax; and An Hourglass to “take your time”. There are gifts for setting goals, for telling stories, for listening, for finding the magic in the everyday, and for knowing that you can make a difference, and more.

Tony describes each metaphorical gift, explains why it is important, and suggests how it might inspire you, how you might implement the gift in your daily life. He includes stories and quotes that add meaning and inspiration. For example I opened the book to a page at random and found a story by Anthony De Mello about a man sitting in a marketplace strumming one note on his guitar. A crowd gathered. Soon he was asked why he didn’t vary his playing like other musicians do. His response: Those fools. They’re searching for the right note. I’ve already found it.”

Tony’s message from this:

“You do not always have to search elsewhere for the information that you require. It already may be within you.”


Tony’s third gift, a tapestry, “offers a perspective from start to finish, and reminds you that you must Become A Life-Long Learner.

He says,

“Many famous tapestries display a long–term historical perspective on different cultures. They allow you to view events from beginning to end. You also should look at yourself in the same way. Think of life as a learning journey from start to finish. You are born to learn, and you should continue to learn until the day you die.”


Tony’s tenth gift is a jigsaw to “encourage you to Look For The Big Picture”.

He says,

“When you play with a jigsaw, you often use two strategies to finish the puzzle. The first is to assemble the parts. The second is to view the cover of the jigsaw packet. Your life needs both of these approaches, namely, to place the parts together, and also to look for the big picture.”


The final gift in Tony’s book is a very important one today when the problems around the world can seem insurmountable and overwhelming. It reminds us to look at what we can change rather than what we can’t; to find and focus on the positives, rather than seek out the negatives and allow them to destroy us; to focus on those things we have the power to influence.

It is a globe to “help you to Know That You Can Make A Difference”.

Tony says,

“When you look at your globe, you can see more easily that this beautiful planet is a single entity, rather than an infinite collection of people and problems. Suddenly the world does not appear quite so overwhelming. This can help you to believe that you actually can make a difference with your daily actions. In fact, because everything on this ONE planet is connected in mysterious and special ways, your actions can ripple out and benefit others around the world every day.”


He includes a story that takes place on a beach dotted with thousands of starfish which had been left stranded by the receding tide. A man was picking up the starfish one at a time and throwing them back into the sea. A passer-by questioned what he was doing and remarked that there were so many starfish he couldn’t possibly make a difference. As the man picked up one starfish and threw it into the water he replied,

“Made a difference to that one!”

As an individual we sometimes feel that we can’t make much difference to the world. But looking at it another way, we realise we can make a world of difference to another. How will you make a difference today? Tony has many suggestions in this book and other publications including The Ripple Effect.

Tony Ryan's 20 gifts

Which of these gifts have you received? Which would you like to receive? Which would you gift to another?

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

16 thoughts on “@aussietony’s 20 gift suggestions for #life-long learning

  1. Pingback: The Ripples of Life | Norah Colvin

  2. Sherri

    I think right now I would like the hammock, very much indeed 😉 Loved this post Norah, and I also love the story about the starfish. I’ve never heard it before, but it really is about starting here, now, with one person or thing at a time. Otherwise, we cave and do nothing. Sometimes when I feel overwhelmed I stop and tell myself that, that it is the actions in the small, everyday that causes the ripple effect you write about here. And how important that is. Great post Norah, thank you…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sherri. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.The starfish is a great story for showing that each little action we take can mean the world of difference to someone else. Just like all your wonderful comments that help to keep me going. Thank you. I appreciate them. #SMAG ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sacha Black

    I love this sentiment:

    “You do not always have to search elsewhere for the information that you require. It already may be within you.”

    That is something I am a firm believer of. I think it’s a meaningful mindset to have and a reminder sometimes we won’t admit the thing we already know to ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Charli Mills

    I didn’t realize the starfish story came from Tony’s book! I knew a mayor who used to give out the gift or starfish to those in her city who made a difference. I suppose time would be a great gift, but I do have it, truly. But stopping time might be a want! 🙂 Fascinating post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      What a lovely thing for the mayor to do! How lovely would it be to receive a starfish, along with a copy of the story, and a note saying that you had made a positive difference to someone’s life. And what an incentive to continue. Not that actions are done with the expectation of thanks or reward, knowing that your actions are appreciated is affirming and empowering.
      There are probably other stories similar to this starfish one. Tony doesn’t credit it to anyone else, so I assume the version included is his. Googling “starfish story make a difference” brings up a lot of entries.
      The hourglass is actually a reminder to take your time and not rush. Perhaps the ‘not yet’ philosophy fits here quite well. You have shown that ‘not yet’ can soon become ‘now’, when you persevere and work hard.


  5. Sarah Brentyn

    I love this. The post, the book, the excerpts… This is fantastic. I remember your other posts about Tony but not this book. Thanks so much for sharing it!
    The Ripple Effect also sounds promising. You know I love that stuff. It’s the big things that make a big difference but it’s the small things that make a difference you can’t measure. You never hear back about the little kindnesses you put out into the world. You have no idea what the little act of kindness did, how it made another feel, what they did in turn… ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Norah Post author

      This book and The Ripple Effect are very you, Sarah. You show in so many ways every day, those “small” acts of kindness (is that why it’s sometimes referred to as ‘largesse’?). That your boys do the same shows how powerful is your example. It’s true that you may have no idea of the effects of an individual action, you do know the overall positive effects they bring. A small act of kindness can keep on giving. 🙂



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