Much of our stress and emotional suffering comes from the way we think. Thoughts are the foundation that helps to create our lives. When there are a myriad of distorted, negative and unrealistic ones, the foundation cracks and we end up feeling crazed and humorless. Much of the way we think is akin to a plane on autopilot. We forget that we can take the controls and navigate ourselves, but it is so much easier not to. Years of conditioning have created automatic responses. Think of some of the situations you’ve encountered. You’re in the parking lot looking for a space. You can’t seem to find one so you begin to assume that “something is going on”. You don’t know what it is, but why else would you be having so much trouble finding a spot. The more you ride around the more frustrated you get. Since you’ve convinced yourself you will probably not be able to find a space, you’re only focus is to continue to” not find one”. Even if there was one right in front of your eyes you wouldn’t see it. Let’s say you go to the movies and your intention is to make sure you find a seat with no one in front of you. Let’s face it, everyone is looking for the “right seat”. A young couple with children sit in front of you and they all have big heads and lots of hair. You start thinking, ”Oh no!, not again!, This always happens to me. It never fails, I always get people in front of me with fat heads. You could move if there are other seats, but sometimes we become so trapped by our distortions that we can’t focus on looking for another seat. We would rather continue the drama by escalating the negativity. “Now my night is ruined”. “That’s it, I’m never going to the movies again”. We lose total perspective and make announcements that are geared to enhance our inability to make rational choices. The chances that you will never go to another movie until the day you die is ludicrous. I do less of the above, but every once in awhile I get into my “stinking thinking”, especially when I can’t find something. The other day I found one of the pair of shoes I wanted to wear. I was convinced someone took the other one, but who could that be? I don’t think my partner Kenny is interested in wearing one black high heel. But then who knows. I finally found it under the bed, but not until I drove myself nuts. Oh well, I’m not perfect!
I have often talked and written about my Italian grandmother Francesca. She was so much a part of my childhood and was the quintessential Nona; flowered house dress, sensible black oxford shoes, and her hair done up in a bun at the back of her head. She always smelled clean and her ways of expressing herself had a calmness that seemed to permeate the atmosphere.
She kept her weight down by eating moderately and by taking a brief stroll every day around the neighborhood. She wore no makeup and rarely spent a lot of time worrying about what she looked like. She existed primarily for her family, making delicious meals and spending time praying for individuals who needed spiritual help. I’m sure there are still a percentage of these types of grandmothers somewhere here in America and abroad, but they are fast becoming a part of the past.
Today’s Nona’s are much more hip looking and involved in all kinds of activities. Many of them also work full-time. I know because I’m one of those working grandmas. I often wonder if my grandmother was better off even though she had to deal with fewer modern conveniences and communicating with family and friends was either an old-fashioned telephone or a letter? I know that she never discussed how stressed she was. Life was pretty simple aside from occasional bouts with dysfunctional family members, which in retrospect I believe brought drama to her life and made her feel perky. She didn’t have to wake up and worry whether her highlights or her haircut was going to work. Hair products were a non issue. A bar of brown soap was used for everything including washing her hair. Olive oil was the conditioner as well as a salad dressing.
No push up bras or thongs. I’m sure she would have laughed at the thought of pushing up her breasts. I can just see her face looking at a thong and exclaiming ”What happened to the rest of the underpants.?” She had no need to buy sexy nightgowns to entice my grandfather. I think her night wear was probably woven with steel thread so that removing it would be a major feat. In fact I would bet she had very little information about sex and perhaps was under the illusion that her children were miracles, since she would have had to shield herself from sinful thoughts. I loved the fact that I never heard her talk about dieting. She seemed to have an innate understanding of what well-being meant and knew that being over-weight was not where it was at. Perhaps our relentless need to do more and be more should be tempered by a little bit of old-fashioned Nona mentality. We just might live longer.