5 Life Lessons Learned From My Love of “Rockhounding”
My love for rockhounding began while growing up in AZ and exploring the desert, and even though I have lived in NY for the last 25 years, my love for it has continued to this day. Rockhounding is the activity of collecting and searching for rocks, artifacts, minerals, and fossils.Over the years I have found it to be a marvelous stress reliver and has brought me an unmeasurable amount of joy and opportunities for growth. However, these are not the only benefits I have found over the course of my rockhounding days. I have learned many lessons that have helped me with some of the challenges and opportunities I have faced in my life over the years. Today’s blog will focus on the 5 most important life lessons I have learned through my love of rockhounding.
1.)The joy is in the hunt
Many times, we get so focused on achieving the end result or final product, that we forget to enjoy the process along the way. As rewarding as it is to admire all my rockhounding “finds,” the real thrill is in the process of finding them. The joy is in the hunt! I love every part of the process - the search, the digging, the observation and evaluating of if it is a rock I want to keep, and then cleaning my “finds” of the day. So, it is with life. We get so busy in checking things off our “to do” lists that we forget to find and enjoy the process or hunt of what it is we are doing. This is especially true if we are charged with a task or event in life, we do not find particularly interesting or fun. For example, if you are a parent of older children, there is a possibility the stage of the “terrible two’s” is not high on your list of an enjoyable time in your life. However, it is possible to change your thinking about it and by doing so, allows you to experience ” the joy is in the hunt” by looking at that time as an important time in your child’s early development and it helped you to find and develop new ways of interacting with your toddler and probably caused you to become a more patient person and maybe even less judgmental of parents facing the same challenge. Focusing on and enjoying the hunt and process rather than just gritting your teeth until it is over is so important and beneficial while going through and waiting for the end result of events in our life.
2.) Have an open mind, but focus on what is most important to You
Rock hounding is an activity in which it is easy to become so focused on what you think you want or need, that you just might pass up on some beautiful rocks that would have been some real “finds” and possibly even worth money. You go to the same old place, only focusing on your favorite color, size or shape rocks, rather than considering all the many options. Knowing your purpose and what you value is important because it makes it so much easier in almost anything in life you may experience. Life, it seems will always present many opportunities as well as challenges, so knowing what is important to you and what really matters to you, makes decisions, obstacles, and hardships much easier and brings clarity when the way isn’t always clear. Focusing on what is important is crucial, but equally important, is having an open mind and staying open to possibilities, because things aren’t always as they seem. The line between the two is quite thin. Sometimes you do have to dig just a little deeper, adjust your sails, or sometimes you just have to take the good with the bad, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
An example of finding the balance would be in how my family was formed through adoption. Becoming a mom was very important to me, and I was incredibly focused on making this dream come true, yet I had an open mind about how my goal would be achieved. If I had not had an open mind and considered the possibility of adoption, and only focused on having a biological baby, I would have missed out on what has been the best thing in my life: adopting my four now grown children all as infants. Adoption may have been my second choice, but it is definitely not second best! I refused to allow infertility to stop me from my dream of having a family and allowed the possibility of adoption to make my dream come true. I am grateful every day that I had a perspective of possibilities because I can not even begin to imagine my life without my four amazing and perfect for me children!
3.) It’s easy to pick up more than you carry
One of the hardest things for me to learn was to not collect more rocks than I could carry in the backpack or bag I had brought for carrying my finds. I would get so excited about finding all these beautiful rocks that I would not only overload my bag, but I would fill my pockets and even make piles of rocks I couldn’t cram into my bag and pockets so I could come back and get them after empting the rocks out into my car to make room for the ones left in the piles. Then when I got home, I had to carry them all inside and wash them all only to discover many of them were not worth having. Then the hardest part was trying to decide what to do with all the extra rocks I did not want to keep! So, all the extra work of collecting too many rocks to reasonably carry was just not worth it! I ended up making so much more work for myself than what was necessary. So many times, in my life I have found myself guilty of taking on far more responsibilities or tasks than I could reasonably carry and then wondering why I felt so overwhelmed, tired, and resentful. There are a few reasons I have for taking on too much. Although I have greatly improved, I do find it difficult to say no, when asked to do something for someone. I have had the “disease to please" for as long as I can remember, and it has made my life much more difficult than it needed to be. I have experienced the pain and unpleasant realization that no matter how hard I try or how hard I work, I will NEVER please everyone! Someone is not going to be happy with me no matter how many times I bend myself into a pretzel to accommodate, or how many hoops I jump through to try to please everyone I know. I usually end up pleasing very few and least of all not myself. Since all behavior has meaning, I have tried to understand why I feel the need to please everyone. It is usually because I am allowing other people’s opinion of me to define my self-worth. It also involves my fear of rejection and dislike of confrontation. There may even be some religious teachings from my upbringing about the importance of putting others needs before myself. I have read many books on this topic that have helped, with my favorite being Co-dependent No More by Melody Beatie. I have also sought counseling\coaching to help learn some strategies in stopping this destructive behavior. One practical way I have found, is to practice a script in my head with a standard answer for use with anyone who is asking me to do something I don’t have the time or desire to do. I find it much easier to say no when I am not caught off guard and can confidently communicate in a polite and assertive way, that I am unable to do what they are asking of me. An example might be, “I appreciate you thinking of me to help you _____, but I am unable to commit to that at this time.” Or, “I will have to give your request some thought and get back to you with my answer.” You don’t even need to give a reason or excuse. In fact, the less said the better! It also helps if you can change the way you think about what you are worth despite what others opinion of you are and most importantly, not feeling guilty by making yourself and your family a priority.
4.) Hunting/collecting with another person can be challenging
Involving another person can potentially inconvenience us or complicate our hunt. We all have our own likes, styles, and ways of doing things, so we must evaluate whether involving another person is in our best interest. We need to clarify what the purpose is for involving someone else in our hunt is. Do we want companionship? Is this person more knowledgeable and we can learn from them? What does this person have that will make hunting with them enjoyable or beneficial? It is also important to know the purpose of our hunt. Is it for fun or do we just need some alone time? Each of these answers will determine whether we should hunt with another person or need to hunt on our own. If we are hunting for answers for help with a difficult relationship, we may find it necessary to have a skilled or more experienced person help us in our hunt for answers and solutions. If we are struggling to trust our decision-making abilities, it may be beneficial for us to hunt alone and enjoy our process.
5.) Sometimes it’s hard to let go even when you know it’s for the best
For me, letting go of something whether it is rocks I have been collecting and I now find I have more rocks than I have room for, outdated clothes, or a relationship that has run its course, is painfully difficult. I will hold on beyond the bitter end even when I know letting go is the right decision and in my best interest. When weeding through my unmanageable collection of rocks, I will agonize and justify for days vacillating between trying to make keeping all my rocks possible by reorganizing, or getting new storage containers and telling myself they are all beautiful and possibly worth money so I should keep them, and making yet another pile of rocks that have to go. Why do we find it so hard to let go even when we know it is for the best? For me, no matter what I need to let go of, it usually becomes a worry that I am making a mistake or that I will regret my decision, or that I will need it someday and won’t have it. It may even be as simple as I really like all the rocks I have collected and want to keep them all, yet I know it isn’t realistic as my collection continues to grow, or I am running out of closet space for my clothes, or I have outgrown a relationship or realize we are growing in different directions and no longer share the same interests, want the same things in life, or even the relationship is unhealthy and or toxic. I also believe no matter how uncomfortable or painful a situation becomes; we don’t want to make a change because we are familiar with what we have, and, we fear the unknown. We may know our marriage is toxic, yet we fear being alone and worry we can’t survive financially or emotionally, so we stay in an unhealthy or even an abusive relationship rather than having the courage to take the steps to let go and move on. When I find myself struggling to let go of something, I find it is helpful to simply make a standard list of pros and cons of keeping or letting go. Many times, just seeing it in black and white well help bring clarity. I also write a best-case worse case list and then evaluate the probability of those things actually happening. I also make a list of possible solutions for the best/worst case scenarios. Somehow sorting it out in my mind and seeing it on paper, plus having a plan, makes it far less overwhelming and much more doable. Seeing the possible solutions also helps me decide which decision and solution seems more realistic and of the likelihood of me following through with the plan. If I find myself still unable to let go, I have had success talking to a trusted, objective friend or a counselor or coach. A skilled counselor or coach, is able to help you discover YOUR truth, as well as identify steps needed to implement the letting go of something, and more importantly, guiding you to understand and accept your value and worthiness to create space in your life in order to live a more fulfilling and productive life, full of possibilities.
Looking at challenges and opportunities we face in life with a possibility mindset is valuable for several reasons and worth the extra effort required. The universe will continue to present lessons and experiences in different ways and times in our life until we learn the lesson life has for us, in order that we may grow from it and practice the skills that will help us manage obstacles and opportunities that are inevitable in our daily life.