Dad and his Girls

My dad has been is on my mind today as this is the anniversary of when he passed away 20 years ago. My dad was larger than life. That may have been because I was his little girl along with my other two sisters. But it also was because he was a large man with hands that could crush rocks. No exaggeration!

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Dad and my older sister, Stephanie 30 years ago

You can see how his hand engulfed my sister’s in this photo, but they were hands that held us when we were hurt, threw us into the air when playing, and carried us to bed when we fell asleep.

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Dad and I at the same wedding. I was 21.

As comfortable as my dad was in his jeans and t-shirt with a tool belt strapped around his waist, he was a sharp dresser when it came to stepping out on the town. In addition to being a classy guy, he was a great and fun dancer. He and my mom, who at 4′ 11″ was tiny compared to my dad’s 6′ 1″ height flowed together seamlessly.

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My baby sister, Michele (Mush Mouse to my dad)

Warm and cuddly as a teddy bear, my dad was also a ferocious protector of his family. Meeting my dad was the deal breaker when it came to boyfriends. If they couldn’t handle the bone crushing handshake, then they were out the door. He had a gentle heart, but not when it came to anyone wanting to hurt his girls and our mom.

I wish my boys got to know their grandfather. Just like my son, he had so much to do and give, but life often has other plans. My dad is in all of us. My brother looks a lot like him and has the same mannerisms. It’s the De Tillio way. All our kids have his gentle heart and the older ones were blessed to have known him longer, but it’s never long enough. I share his stories, because stories have power, memory, and hold the spirits of those who have gone before us. We never forget. We hold them in our heart.

Words Have Power

Last night was my monthly journal workshop at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. It was a large group despite the cold weather. Some seasoned and some new people ventured in to see what was on the agenda for the night.

I have been enjoying my December Gifts to Gratitude. Check out my previous blog on the steps involved with this. I shared it with the group and had them write letters of gratitude to someone they loved. I have been choosing one word to describe the people in my life and words like Vibrant, Strong, True, and Joy have come up for me.

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Mary’s word for her loved one.

Words have power. They can lift someone up when they have nothing to look forward to and knock the wind out of you when flung in anger and pain. Words can be a weapon, but they also can be a balm and source of love.

I was very impressed by the letters that everyone decorated to give to someone. There was a peaceful and festive feeling to the room as everyone put their heart into the work. Their gifts of gratitude will have a major impact.

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The card that went with strength. 

The power of positive memories can give us strength when we need it most. Letting people know what they mean to us is a great gift. I know I don’t do it often enough. I have enjoyed receiving surprised texts from my family and friends when they get their letter. One friend said that she gives me the gift of laughter, but she cried reading her letter. It was a good cry!

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Paula’s letter says it all

Some of the letters didn’t need anything more than the picture on the front page. The happy and positive feeling of this card said it all.

Next, we began journaling on our dreams for 2018 and beyond. I call them dreams instead of goals, because they encompass our purpose and who we are.

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This is my template that I will use to work on my dreams for 2018. Everything I do is instilled with hope. That is my mission, and how I decide to spend my time. Stay tuned for another post to explain this process.

I have truly enjoyed meeting new people, being inspired by their journaling techniques and creativity. I look forward to another year of journaling together.

Mark your calendars for the 2018 workshops at The Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library:

January 10, February 7, March 14, April 11

Sign up for my mailing list at www.janinedetilliocammarata.com to keep updated on all my events.

November in Review

novemberJournaling is a practice. As with anything else, you only get as much from it as you put into it. Committing to journaling every day can be daunting, but when you see the difference it makes in your life and how more self-aware you are, it becomes an integral part of your day.

I track my calendar, my dreams, daily journal entries, creative writing, research, and notes in my journal. It’s basically my whole life on paper. I looked back at the month of November to check in. See how the month went, what journal techniques are working, what isn’t working. It sets up the following month and what I want to focus on or let go.

November was chaos.

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I know this is a math image of fractal chaos, but it visually described last month. The beauty, the colors, the chaos, the out of control actions that all make up who I am and what I do.

First thing I noticed was that I was all over the place. Physically, mentally, project-wise. This is nothing new, but there was a great deal of stress making sure I was getting everything done. I had signed up to do the NaNoWriMo challenge where you write 50,000 words in a month. I started off great, but died out before Thanksgiving. I did write 16,000 words, which probably would not have happened otherwise, so for that I am grateful.

I was selected to be part of the Nuts, Bolts, & Business Artist Entrepreneurial program through the Troy Arts Center from a grant that I wrote. This is a seven month venture and will require a great deal of my time, and it began in November. I had homework and a presentation to prepare, but I am very excited about growing my business.

Basically, I wore many different hats including book sales, writing my application for BOCES arts in ed, which was accepted, and I can’t wait to get more involved with teaching writing in the schools. Stephen was home, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him, Thanksgiving, yoga. And if that wasn’t enough, I had my bedroom painted and redecorated!

Good stuff in November, but also high stress, which ramped up my poor eating habits. The one change I did implement in November was a weekly Stay at Home day. Because I am always out and running around, I needed to be more grounded. When I plan my week, I schedule a day to work at home and not go anywhere during the day or night. I absolutely love it. It forces me to get paperwork and business done and reduces my stress.

So what did I learn from November? I am most effective when I remain true to myself, my purpose, and I sit and do the work. Also by daily writing what I am grateful for, my attitude changed, and I focused on what nourished me.

For December I will:

Continue the weekly Stay at Home Day

Track my exercise, eating, and water intake for better personal health, which includes kicking gluten out of my life once again.

Daily December Gifts to Gratitude letter writing (see previous blog)

Focus on promoting Shimmer’s Eggs and writing Saving Atlantis (Book Two!)

Enjoying my family during this festive time of year.

If I hadn’t written everything in my journal I wouldn’t have remembered all the wonderful activities I did in November or how hard I worked or how stressed out I really was. It takes a toll on my health. Now I am more aware of what I need to do going forward.

Can you commit to 5 minutes of writing daily in your journal? Then review it weekly or monthly to see what is working and where you want to go next. It’s a path to healing and living a full and wonderful life!

December Gifts to Gratitude

Oh December! As much as I love this month of holiday giving, shopping, baking, decorating, and constant chaos, I miss the simpleness of being with those I love. It’s been tough getting excited for Christmas, and I think it’s because of the commercialism, the stressfulness of finding gifts for people who may not need anything, but there is that sense of obligation to buy gifts because it is that time of year. Boy do I sound grumpy!

I reflected back to October when I shared my daily gratitude journal. That month made me realize what I have in my life and how much people give me every day.  I don’t mean gifts in the physical sense, but what they have given me from their heart. I’m talking about what they have taught me and how I am a better person because they are in my life. For December I am focusing on what people have given me and how grateful I am for that.

My gift to them? I want to let them know. So each day I am sending a letter to someone in my tribe with a word that describes them to me. So far I have come up with courage, determination, laughter, honorable, and enduring. Sitting down and thinking about what my friends and family bring to my life is the best gift I can receive.

If you’d like to join in with my December Gifts to Gratitude, here is what I’m doing.

First, I write a letter to that person. Yes, a written letter addressed and mailed to them! Personal mail is a pleasure to receive, especially when we are inundated with catalogs! I’m personalizing them with some fun stickers and the word I associate with that person. Then I write a letter to them explaining the gift they have given to me, what they mean to me, and why I am grateful to have them in my life.

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Letter with the ornament I write the person’s name and word on.

Next, I write their name on an ornament that I purchased at Michael’s (which are half price right now). I write their name on one side, then their special word on the other. I want them to remember why they are special to me, and it can be displayed in their home if they like.

Finally, in order for me to keep perspective this month and remember why I am grateful, I am writing their name on my own ornaments and placing them on the tree in my library. This tree is topped by an angel that my son, Nick, made so it’s a special tree that also reminds me of the amazing gifts he has given him.

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Another option is to cut out a tree or Menorah from paper or write in the people who have given the the greatest gifts of their time, their heart, and their love. Decorate in your tradition. Ornaments could be strung from lights with people’s names or photos. What an amazing visual that would be!

No matter what we believe or how we celebrate the holidays, it all comes down to sharing your love with others and letting them know how much you care every day of the year. That is the greatest gift and makes me grateful.

Combating Self-Doubt

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Photo by Alyssia Thomas

I strongly dislike the days when self-doubt takes over. When no matter what I try that feeling of I have no business doing what I’m doing lingers over me and grows like black mold. That was my day today. Despite the fact that I stayed home, sat my butt in the chair and did work, nothing felt right. I was frustrated by my lack of spark. Finally, I took my dogs and walked away.

Removing myself from my self-doubt is like walking away from a dangerous situation. If I stay in it, I may not be able to get out whole. I needed to protect myself, my self-esteem, and my energy. I decided to work it out. The physical exertion of yoga pushed me out of my head and into the moment and the power of me. By physically releasing my frustration, I beat at that self-doubt. How can I not be enough when I am physically challenging myself and kicking butt?

I gave myself the space and stepped away from what wasn’t working. I wrote about why I do what I do and what I want to give and share with others. For whatever reason, I couldn’t see it today and that’s OK. Sometimes that self-doubt actually serves to ignite the fire in me so it burns off my darkness and lets my light shine through.

Write down why you do what you do, what you want to share with the world, and how you will let your light shine. Burn that self-doubt away.