Sitting in the corner of my writing desk is a rock cairn that I bought at a mining supply store.  I didn’t buy it right away.  I came home, thought about how ridiculous it was to actually buy a stack of rocks, and then went back and got it.  It’s my favorite writing desk accessory, though my Einstein doll is a close second.

The rocks remind me to stay the writing course while Einstein, the guy who developed theories related to time, reminds me to be patient about it, not one of my strengths.

Hikers use rock cairns to mark trails and let fellow hikers know where to go. They are especially helpful when trails traverse giant slabs of granite, like they do in the Ruby Mountains near my home.  If you lose the trail, just look for a cairn, and then head toward the next one.  They keep you on the trail, or at least heading in the right direction.  They’re also kind of fun to build, to find rocks that will actually stay on top of each other and stay standing for any length of time.

Next to my cairn on my desk, I also have random rocks that I have picked up on walks and hikes.  I am no geologist or archaeologist; I just tend to look down while I walk, so I find rocks I like. I bring them home and set them my desk or in my classroom.

One friend who loves rocks and crystals told me that any type of rock will help break up negative energy. I have no idea if this is true, but it sounds great.  As a result, I have rocks scattered in every corner of my high school classroom.  I figure I need all the help I can get to help build positive energy in there.

When I first brought home a rock years ago, my husband asked me if I’d found another leaverite.  I was completely impressed with his geological prowess and got all excited that he actually knew what kind it was, until he explained himself. “Yep, that’s a leaverite,” he said.  “You should ‘leaverite’ where you found it.”

I was crushed.  My plain gray rocks were just that, a plain gray rocks.  Bummer but at least they now had an official name.  My rocks are all leaverites, and I use them to guide me, to remind me of where I’m going.  I am a writer, or at least I’m on my way if the cairn in the corner of my desk is guiding me correctly.


  1. themiddlegeneration on November 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    What great inspirational tools! Writing is hard work and requires patience and perseverance. It seems like you have found some good reminders to keep you on track. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. Pauline on November 17, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    I can hear Gary saying that! But i do the same thing – I have rocks from all sorts of odd spots (including a wide assortment from a year in Cuba!).
    Keep writing, Amy!!

    • Amy Isaman on November 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm

      Hey there friend!! I have the biggest smile on my face from seeing your name! It’s good to know that I’m not alone in picking up random rocks. The funny thing is that the ones I have on my desk are so smooth because whenever kids come to my desk, they almost always pick one of them up and roll it in their hands. I don’t know what it is about them, but people like rocks.

      I hope all is well with you and your family!

  3. Sharon Rosse on November 17, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Love the “leaverite” rock identification. Verne just pointed out how many rocks we’ve collected that are here in our yard. We have an eleven year old in the family that also needs to know about the “leaverite” rock id.

    Excellent essay. Again, you are very generous.
    Dare I say: rock on!

    • Amy Isaman on November 18, 2011 at 3:39 am

      Thanks! And yes, you can say “rock on”! Made me laugh.

  4. Debra Mae on November 18, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    There is a cairn on my writing desk too Amy. I got it on my last trip to Sedona. Right beneath Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing there is a landscape where cairns of all kinds are scattered everywhere. There are even some built on the branches in the trees! I have many rocks gathered from my trips that I treasure. It’s good to know I am not the only one out there with a rock fetish.

    • Amy Isaman on November 21, 2011 at 1:39 am

      It seems that there are lots of out there who like rocks. That’s great that you have a cairn too.

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