Scary new challenges = Skill + Empathy

I study learning how to learn and set myself challenges to learn things that people have said to me are out of my reach.  Either due to my age, sex, race or lack of talent or brains that is inherent in some but said to be lacking in me or most people. For example, to the left is my first oil painting, I learnt to paint at 40 years old. These challenges are critical for the work I do, train and help marginlised young people to break through limitations they have about themselves or the limitations others have of them, that they’ve internalised.  So, I’ve learnt singing, speed reading, memory techniques, building houses, coding, various technology and most recently I wanted to write my own songs and sing them in public.

I’ve started pretty late in life on the singing and songwriting and have written two songs so far.  I fret a bit watching my performance I can see lots of flaws and things I need to improve on. And that’s a good thing, I, therefore, empathise more with the youth’s feelings when they present their work for the first time. Sometimes you can’t fix someone’s issues, but knowing what they’re going through, helps them through. Learning something new, or breaking a limitation you’re never perfect, but it’s a milestone met.

So, this is my second song. It gave me an outlet for my grief after losing a close friend, I wrote it for her husband to help him articulate his feelings: “Grief is the price of love”

Grief is the price you pay for love, you pay it every day
One moment you were here, a moment you’re gone away
Leaving but a gaping hole, that no one can replace,
It’s not just the past we grieve, but each new day we face

CHORUS
Oh they say, time will heal all wounds,
Move along, chin up and you’ll push through
Oh they say, they’re in a better place,
They did on earth, what they were meant to do

VERSE
Maybe t ‘was, time for you to go,
Somewhere you’ll be pain-free
But where does it leave, Our friends, our dog and me?
Your voice greetings still on the phone, we listen from time to time
But if I start to cry, Our dog begins to whine.

VERSE
You used to annoy when you slammed the doors when you came on thru,
but now I bang them once or twice, to remind me of you
The silly, stupid, dumb, funny, sunny stuff of our every day,
the gaping hole where you are gone has pulled that sun away

LAST CHORUS
Oh they say, time will heal all wounds,
Move along, Chin up, and you’ll push through
Oh they say, you’re in a better place,
You did on earth, what you were meant to do
Says who? Grief is the price you pay for love

 

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/ )