One of the disappointments of my fairly happy childhood was not being allowed to have a bicycle.
Year after year I begged Santa Claus for one but it never came. I was greatly blessed with books and toys and dolls and lots of other things came my way, but no bicycle.
I suspect my parents were protecting me from hurting myself, or straying too far. They made it up in so many ways – after I started playing the flute at 8 years of age I used to receive wonderful musical gifts. Metronomes, fancy music stands, and instruments. Those wonderful flutes I was given took me much further than a bicycle ever would.
And yet I feel the loss in a couple of ways.
Now that I live in Ireland, I look around at a land that begs for bicycle exploration. And now that I am 67 with two knee replacements, I cannot risk injury of learning it now.
Not having a bicycle made me a little less fit, coordinated, and healthy than my friends. I was naturally sedentary with a nose for books and gardening. But I would have explored on that bicycle.
So I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. I tried to learn in later years but kept falling off and I do NOT like to bleed. It was just not to be.
It is something I look forward to in heaven. I want to take a lunch, wave goodbye to God, and go exploring with young legs pedaling and young eyes looking.
I used to think that if you weren’t doing something for someone else, your life had no meaning. Those were interesting times, because that was most of my life.
I’ve changed my idea now. Age! It happens. I’ve discovered now that if I don’t put myself first, there will be nothing for anyone else.
In the past however….
I lived for love. And I’m lucky – I have a good husband that I enjoy living with every day – even locked down days. But I don’t live for him any more.
I lived for family, though I’m sure my sons would laugh at that thought. I raised them to be strong and independent – I was not a smothery mother. I knew from my own experience you have to take care of yourself. So they learned to cook, clean, wash clothes, and follow me around on their best behavior during my field work days with the tribes. They turned out to be strong, talented men. But I stopped living for them while they were in high school.
I lived for “my career” which should be careers as I’ve had so many. Careers take a lot of thought, time, and energy but they don’t give back much for the price they extoll.
I lived “for God” – which I still do – but differently.
Self-care is a form of living for God. You do the right things to take care of the body, mind, and spirit you were given, and lo! You have things to give out to others.
I have created a little set of Bylaws of my own corporation – that is, ME. I am the Chief Operating Officer of ME and here are the bylaws of said firm:
1. The concern shall be called SELFCARE, INCORPORATED; the purpose will be perpetual self care (of and in the corpus) as the sole activity of life. There follows a list of standards and procedures.
2. Avoid vexations of the spirit, also known as occasions of sin, but mostly aka things that piss me off.
3. Move as much as possible every day. Goal: walk 1 hour per day.
4. Dance at every opportunity.
5. Laugh at every opportunity – out loud.
6. Sing and play instruments.
7. Breathe and be thankful for breathing.
8. Enjoy water often – drinking it in and swimming in it.
9. Avoid responsibility for anything, particularly leadership opportunities.
10. Say no with a smile and don’t look back.
11. Smile in the mirror – always. Always.
12. Rejoice in bathroom visits.
13. Practice self-compassion.
14. Meditate – that is, spend dedicated time practicing being in the here and now – daily. In so doing I will give myself the gift of my own wholehearted presence.
15. Bathe mindfully. Spend money on bath products and don’t be stingy in using them.
16. Wear things I am happy in and have style!
17. Take care of my feet. Spend money on them. Keep toenails trimmed and see podiatrist/chiropodist and reflexologist regularly.
18. Enjoy haircuts. Keep it simple.
19. Moisturize. A lot.
20. Floss. See dentist twice a year.
21. Nap without guilt.
22. Ignore the phone without guilt.
23. Rest on my laurels; inventory laurels as needed.
24. Start a formal gratitude practice, e.g., notebook.
25. Make art. When it’s not fun, stop.
26. Recognize God is between every inhale and exhale.
27. Recognize the spirit of God in animals, look them in the eye, and affirm it.
28. Recognize that all these things are the best things I can do for everyone else in my life. But don’t do them for that reason. Do them for ME.
So all this is to answer the question why am I here and put forth a plan for the future.
I figured that before delving into the memoirs, it would be a good thing to ground myself in a firmly thought-out present.
My name is Virginia Giglio. I have had a wonderful life – a life full of wonders. That does not mean that my life has been easy. In fact, my life has been full of pain. It was pain that taught me that I’m a pretty nice person.
Once when I was suffering a great deal of pain while undergoing a medical treatment, I had to put in a mouth guard to clamp my teeth on – the pain was that severe. I would sing or hum or play little mind games during these four-times-a-day treatments. One day I played a silent game of “who would I change places with?” I began to think of people I didn’t like and whether, if I had the power to do so, I would put them in my place to suffer my pain. And one by one, I thought, no, I couldn’t let the people I didn’t like suffer this pain. So I let my imagination move on to people who had hurt me – would I swap places and make them take my pain. Again, the answer was no. Then I began to think about people who had been cruel to others, and imagined the worst person I could think of: Hitler.
I thought for a moment I might have found a replacement for myself and that I could put the pain on Hitler. Then I thought, NO. I couldn’t do it even to Hitler.
Then, a little voice inside me said with a giggle, “I must be a pretty nice person!” And then, despite my pain, I had to laugh out loud. I discovered something wonderful. In the depths of my pain I discovered an unconquerable kindness within myself.
Welcome to knowing me. It might be safe to make my acquaintance.