Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Rock and a Walk

I love taking walks.  Walks are not only good for exercise of the body; for me they are a way to work out things that are causing me distress.  When I am in need of such therapy, I take something along with me that helps focus my thoughts on positive outcomes to my worry. 

Worry stones have been around for a long time, but I have taken the concept a step further. 

As a rock collector I have an assortment of rocks of different shapes, sizes, colors, and origins. 

In many of the places I’ve visited I will look to the ground in search of a rock that “speaks” to me, one or more that really catches my eye and pocket it.  I’ve brought home rocks from my paternal grandfather’s village in Sicily, rocks from Native America Indian lands I’ve traveled through, rocks from my hometown in New York.  When people I know are going someplace I’ve never been, I ask them to please remember to bring back a rock for me; I may never get there myself.  I collect rocks that will remind me of a moment with someone I’ve shared a place with; in my collection is a rock that reads: Aiden Red Rock, March 2005,” gathered during a hike I took with Aiden when he was just 3-years-old. 

I feel an odd connection to things of the earth and you can’t get more “earthy” than a rock.  When I’m walking, I hold a rock that represents to me the person I am worried about or the thing I’m trying to work out. 

After my walk if I feel I need to concentrate even more, I will slip the rock in my bra, close to my heart and walk my day and sleep my nights with it there.  It helps me to focus my positive thoughts and energies to the thing I wish to change.

The pink rock was with me when I was praying Adrian would get away from the situation that was putting her and my grandchildren in danger (A Woman's Fight, A Woman's Grace); the rock with holes is a touchstone for anything I am concerned with; the striated one is helping me send grandson Aiden encouragement to make better choices.  The heart-shaped rock is just cool so I thought I'd share it. 

As I walk I rub the stone and I send a mantra of positive thoughts into the wind, hoping that my words and my intentions reach the ears and the hearts of those I am worried about.  I don’t know if my “magical thinking” works, but I have to say, it helps me cope.  And, I have seen my daughter come home safely; many of the worries I’ve had about work, money, life in general have worked themselves out (honestly, I didn’t put those holes in the rock with my rubbing!); and after a brisk rock and a walk I sleep better at night.  So, for me this method works.

More of my collection of rocks – these are just a few of them.

Anyone want to send me rocks from their location?  I’d love to receive them.

Anyone have a similar coping method?  I’d love to hear what you do. 

And, let me know if you try my “rock and a walk” idea and if it worked for you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Things We Leave Behind

When was the last time you peeked into your past?

Where are all your treasured mementos:
  • photographs of ancestors, your childhood, your children growing up
  • the scrapbook you created as a high school student filled with movie ticket stubs, a clipping of your best friend’s hair, a love note from your boyfriend
  • the cross-stitch or quilt you started but never found the time to finish
  • the antique dresser or bed handed down to you from great-grandparents that just never fit into your home d├ęcor
My friend shared with me a story about a woman she knows that is overwhelmed by the things that her parents and grandparents left behind when they died. As executor of the estate she is undertaking the task of removing generations of collectibles that fill, from floor to ceiling, the house and several outbuildings on two acres.

For two years I have been begging one of my cousins to “get up in the attic” of her parent’s home because I am told there are movies and photographs that were made during the time my own parents were alive and of all us kids growing up. Her mom and dad refuse to allow it because there’s no way to sift through the mountain of stuff, saying it can be dealt with when they are gone.

My own mother-in-law has filled every one of the bedrooms left behind by her five grown children with a doll collection that spills out into every other room in the house.

Spot the "real" doll
That, too, will have to be dealt with when she passes on; unless of course we want to pay the mortgage to keep them where they are.

I am left with some interesting thoughts about this practice of collecting: One, I completely understand the need to hang on to treasured mementos. I have written about it in Treasures Lost and Found and Touching the Past.

I love revisiting my past by opening a box full of them and reliving the moment in time. On the other hand, I think it is asking a lot of your children or other relatives to have to take on the chore of organizing, storing, or selling the things collected over the course of years and years. I also think it’s sad that a third party, an auctioneer or estate buyer will end up making a profit from the service they provide. Lastly, I think that people like my aunt and uncle are missing an amazing opportunity by ignoring the chance to go through their collectibles; think of the joy it would bring to remember long-ago moments, as well as (and perhaps the most important of all) to share the memories and stories with their kin – lest they be lost forever.

Can clinging to tangible links to our history be a burden or a gift? How are you dealing with the items left behind by your family? How are you preparing for your own passing of treasures?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Got Nothing............ to say, that is

Can it be that I’ve run out of things to say?  For two days now I’ve sat with an open screen staring at a blank white page just waiting for an inspiration to write about.  The few times this has happened I have felt an obligation to write a post long overdue and checked out previously written posts in order to recycle one, figuring no one would notice.  But every time I’ve tried I just couldn’t bring myself to cheat like that and I’ve always come up with something to write about.  Seems I’m stuck right now with a post to write and nothing to say!
I’ve always been that kind of writer; when something strikes me I am inspired to write about it.  My past posts have often been written on the spur of the moment or when an idea yearns to get out of my head.  I’ve written about my childhood, parents, children, husband, getting older, garden, and the many idiosyncrasies that make up “Me.”  I almost feel as though I’ve said it all.  I even, for a brief moment, considered closing my blog up and putting my efforts into other formats of writing – maybe even ones that would actually make me some money, but I’m not ready for that step just yet.
So, dear readers, bear with me as I post this boring message as I await the inspiration that will prompt another delightful installment of This Gioia’s Chronicles.  In the meantime, allow me to share a photo or two to make your stopping by a little worth it. 

Sometimes this is just how I feel!

Until I think of something really funnny!

And remember that I have so much, and so many to be grateful for

That it's okay to have an off-day once in a while!

Because seriously, Life is Good.

Until next time…… Peace and Happiness to All.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Just Say "No!" It's Not As Easy As It Should Be. Why I Need To Learn To Be Assertive.

My husband doesn’t think I’m assertive enough.

I shared with him an incident that took place just a few days ago that really set him off.  A colleague of mine became enthralled with my exposed, toenail painted feet.  I was so taken aback by his interest and his gall in touching them when I had my feet propped up on a chair that I assumed it was an impulsive act so I said nothing.  Nor did I say anything when the action was repeated; I just moved my feet to the floor, stood up and said it was time for me to go.  He did another out-of-character act that I allowed - he hugged me.  Again I did not protest the encroachment into my personal space. 

My husband says I should have spoken up immediately and let this man know his actions were most inappropriate, but I did not.  I said it was because I didn’t want to be rude nor did I want to make him feel bad. 

This, I know and my husband has made loud and clear, is a problem of mine.

You’d think at my age I would have developed the skill to assert myself by now.  I am assertive in many other aspects of my life; just try and mess with my family and see what happens,
but to stand up for myself has always been a challenge.   The above-mentioned scenario has happened over and over in my life and I can say that I can recall perhaps only a couple of times where I have stopped a man from going too far, but never have I vocally (or better yet physically) expressed the outrage I should have. 

Is my reaction common in women?  Is it a result of childhood abuse or conditioning?  Whatever the reason, one time I set out to try and develop an appropriate reaction to such inappropriate advances. 

When I was a university student I experienced an incident that caused me to question my ability to be a good role model for my daughters.  I allowed myself to be in a situation that while it was happening I knew should be stopped, yet I didn’t want to make a scene so I instead removed myself from the situation as soon as possible.  Once on my own I scolded myself for being so gullible and not wanting to confront the man who made me so uncomfortable. 

I went to classes later that day and headed to the Women’s Center on campus.   I asked if there were programs available to help women become more assertive and when they said there was not, I asked if I could start one. 

For that entire semester I facilitated group meetings with women who felt as I did, that they needed to be more assertive in their lives.  It was a wonderful program and one that I am proud of. 

However, the lessons learned have been all but forgotten, as is evidenced by my most recent encounter.  It’s hard to admit these failing in myself, especially as my husband said, I present myself as being so empowered and strong.  Why do I allow my feelings to be placed aside in order not to hurt the feelings of a man I have no obligation to protect? 

My good friend Celeste is someone whom I have admired for her ability to be outraged. She told me a story once about being in a drive through and the person in the car behind her began to honk their horn in impatience. As they became increasingly rude, she reached down below her seat and pulled out a crowbar. She got out of the car and headed to the one behind her. Apologies came fast and furious from the occupant and without a word Celeste had stood up for herself. I often think about that and wish I could think in the moment on how to act.

Maybe I need to start holstering a crowbar....