The Resilience Tree

resiliencetree

Saturday I went with Fatima, to the land we are planning to have a little Eco-Village of Tiny Houses for Women Refuges and Homeless. The women come from all over, different cultures, places, ages and religions. They gather over a few days, get to know each other, share food, sleep and get to be around people going through the same things as they.

When they have a women’s retreat they go to this tree it’s called “The Meditation Tree’. They’ll sit around it and on it and meditate.

But it’s also called the “Resilience Tree”. Fatima pointed out the tree is broken, like many of the women. It was completely knocked flat. If you look closely you will see that much of the tree is dead, stricken and bare. But there are 3 big fat roots that hold onto and dig deep into the ground – and it still lives. The top branches have reached up again – this tree has been knocked over but she’s not out for the count!   🙂

The women gather round this tree to tell their stories, but it’s a place where they leave the bad feelings behind – broken or not. They get back up, they move on – and they live.

Dear Felicia Day…

“Inevitably when I get the ugliest comments I click the profile and look…oh this guy doesn’t make anything, so like the dude doesn’t make anything so he doesn’t know what it’s like to be vulnerable and create. Because, but at the end of the day if you don’t create and you’re not vulnerable then you’re just a drone, in a sense ’cause you’re not really sharing what is special about yourself…”( See whole talk here) Felicia Day

Dear Felicia Day,

You inspire me. Strangely, you also comfort me. Your insecurities do. You’re the only person I’ve come across that seems to have had a similiar experiences to myself. I wasn’t home-schooled like you. But I went through numerous homes as a kid before 14, so I was responsible really for my own education in everything.

My social skills I learnt from TV; “Get Smart”, “The Brady Bunch”, popular shows like that back then, Sunday afternoon black & white movies and early morning childrens stories on the radio. And of course books. One of the homes I lived in from the age Seven onwards, the old lady I lived with used to buy me a book each week when she went to town, she ended up by getting me all the classics; Little Women, Black Beauty, Oliver etc.  I also got the Encyclopedia volume ‘C’, everything to do with C; clowns, cats, clouds, Canada, you name it, all things starting with C. She couldn’t afford the whole alphabet, so she got me C, as my name started with C; Catherine. If there was ever a quiz show that tested you on C, I would kill it.

For example, I learnt how to punish myself from watching the Brady Bunch. One time, when I didn’t like something I did, I decided to ‘ground’ myself. We didn’t really have that as a punishment in New Zealand in those times. Basically if you did something wrong, you got a hiding. Which is getting hit with a strap around your legs. I could never manage it myself, as I didn’t own a belt.  But the idea of limiting yourself to a place, seemed novel. So I sent myself to my room. Useless punishment though, as I would then read or draw  and quietly end up having a good time. I pinpoint that as the time, that I stopped having absolute faith that tv had all the answers to life.

So as you can imagine, I wasn’t particularly socially skilled, there was too much moving around; 30 plus homes. But I think like you I got to take charge of my own education and didn’t feel limited in what I was supposed to learn. Or how I was supposed to learn it.

But, since I was on my own most of the times, there are a lot of social skills that I never really got good at. People in the business world, would find that surprising. I can sell and that takes people & communication skills. If I’m working full time, I complete 3-4 jobs a month that gets me $15-22 thousand on average per job. That I think is good, but that type of work actually has a game mechanic to it. It’s a numbers game, it’s a recognition of certain scenarios, responding accordingly, funnily enough it hasn’t got much to do with people. It’s very much a bunch of game mechanics, I play a personna and knowing all the scenarios so well, run on an auto-tactics mode to complete a job. And the ‘mechanic’ aspects of all that really doesn’t have a lot to do with me, that’s operating under the persona. Or maybe thats just me because my Aunt said, Doctors said; I was a little bit autistic as a kid. I operate in the world like it’s a game to figure out, discover the rules, rewards and then work out the talents, skills, abilities and tactics I need to play to win.

But getting back to you, what makes me hope, or encourages me in my new endeavors, is that you don’t seem certain about everything, you stress about stuff, but I see you (as much as a stranger can see you) get stronger, more assertive and sure of yourself as time goes on. It’s the continuing on under uncertainty that I find inspiring because I think what that is all about; continuing. I greatly admire you because I’m sure it’s not an act that you have been at times – truly open and vulnerable. I love you for that.

Of late, I’m doing a lot of stuff that I don’t know how to do. I was supposed to die a few years back. Not surprisingly as these things go, it was something that made me decide to just give in and die if my life had to stay the same. Or live a life doing things that gave me a reason to want to be here. Things I have a passion for. One of those things is having kids learn in real world settings – rather than book ‘learning’, rote ‘learning’, template ‘learning’. All those things I don’t think have much to do with learning at all.

So one of the projects I’m involved in right now is going into that unknown – to make that happen. Although I am bringing to the role a lot of my skills, I’m very good at. I’m on a different terrain to what I’m familar with and I care intensely about the outcomes, I have goals that I think are quite epic but I haven’t figured out the rules of this new game. I don’t really have a persona to rely on. It’s  scary, sometimes as I have no other option other than to show up as me, not someone I know or like a lot really. Therefore success or failure isn’t distant from me anymore.  Sometimes if I think about it, I feel really vulnerable and wonder who I’m kidding. I can feel lonely, but reading, watching experiences that you and other women I have as heroes share (Janet Tamaro, Jane Espenson, Sylvia Ashton-Warner) I recognise patterns and I intuitively know things will be okay.

You’re a complete stranger, I don’t know you. But, it doesn’t matter. Being you is encouraging me to be me (sort of). Hopefully that works out, or I figure out a new persona, either way – I’m cautiously confident that everything will work out okay.

(There was an hour twitter challenge given by Jane Espenson to write something in one hour, above is what I wrote, If btw, you don’t know who Felicia Day is do yourself a favour and go here: http://feliciaday.com/about/ )

Seeing the real you…

Have you ever been put in a corner by a friend? They ask you to give them your honest opinion? Sadly you’re dumb enough to give it to them?

Don’t say something that reveals a character flaw.  Don’t. Worse yet a flaw that’s true.  I can be philosophical about it and say; pointing out a negative trait is like a pointing out one dot on a piece of white paper.  There so much more white expanse than that small dot. So why should that small mark matter? But hold up that piece of paper and ask people what do they see, they’ll always say “a dot”. It seems most people including yourself just home in on the flaws to the exclusion of everything else.

I do believe that our weaknesses are as necessary as our strengths because they give us a  world where we have a need of one another. We’re flawed. Everyone has something to learn and something to share. It’s others that teach or inspire us not only on what we can become but how to become it. If you believe that then your biggest weaknesses can with openness and a desire to learn become your biggest strengths. And those people who have been a part of your growth usually you bond to.

But if I think about what I suck at I feel small. I focus on a flaw like a dot is the whole page. I label myself based on a few sucky traits. Good or bad though all labels fail. Labels belong on boxes, on static things, not on living, changing or growing people. No label can represent all the things we are now or will ever become.

So, I was stupid with a dear friend in giving them what they asked for an ‘honest opinion’. I hurt them. And it hurt me to hurt them. I spent the next day crafting this poem and put it in a friendship card and stuck it in their letterbox.
‘Seeing the real you..’
“ I view the world through a camera and you’re caught within my lens,
 an ever changing image…caught second to second..in single frames.
 A face of you is attractive. I’ll catch that frame in joy,
 I’ll remove it, enlarge it and soft focus I’ll employ.
 I may choose it over the others it’s to me the essential you, to separate and develop and draw out for me to view…
(And I’ll look, And I’ll say, …I love )
Yet others are blurred.
Images my lens can’t catch.
The inexperience of the eye – can’t place the angle.
The novelty of the movement – can’t place the light.
And in frustration, I’ll lose it, And put the film aside. Losing many precious moments, through the darkness of the eye.
But I’ll move on catching others as they come also to view..
As if in the greater collection. I’d have in composite – you.
And then if I take a moment to study what I’ve seen. I have a kaleidoscope of moments, a myriad of reflections. And yet rare, a whole being.
It’s as if my lens is my understanding hence why the pictures not right,
experience focuses the range of vision,
learning the degree of light.
And it’s a friend though I’d develop..
And hold up for my own. The rare sweet moments of clear seeing..
When I don’t feel alone.
Would my heart in trust, open, and catch God, me and you as One.
To that sweet moment striving please come…and know…Love.”