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Posts tagged ‘friendship’

GETTING MY GROUP ON AND FLYIN’ SOLO

I had an awesome experience this week.  My friend Andrew teaches a course in “Advanced Group” at Laurier University.  It’s a postgraduate course teaching Social Workers to facilitate groups…everything from parenting to addiction.  He asked me to come and talk about my experiences as a member of various groups that were lead with different styles – some great – some…not so much.

I always love talking about myself so Andrew and I drove to Kitchener where I met with the most amazing group of people.

Before Andrew asked me to come and speak, I wouldn’t have thought that I had been much of a resource on this, I tend to work solo, especially on things like personal growth.  Then I got thinking.  I realized my growth both as an artist and as a person has been constantly involved working with other people, sometimes in a group situation, sometimes one on one.

This interplay between working with others and working on my own has been playing with my mind ever since.

We think of the great artist of the world as individuals who worked on their own, and they did (generally), but it can’t be a coincidence that so many of the world’s greatest artists worked in the same cities and had overlapping careers: Mozart and Beethoven, Michelangelo and Leonardo.  It extends outside the find art community, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison both said their friendship with each other was a tremendous increase to their creative and industrial output.

The interplay between working together and working alone is essential for our growth. We develop our skills, hone our craft and find our true voices alone, together we push each other to greatness, encourage each other to do better and keep each other grounded and sane.  We need both.

Finding Nemo-Finding my Flow

It’s been a difficult emotional week.

Yah see, I have this deep fear of confrontation and there was one coming up.  Two highly creative and opinionated people are going to have some issues when they chose to work together.

I decided to avoid it altogether for a bit and write a Post here.

What to write? What to write? What to write?

What deep truth or life lesson can I find in one of my favorite pieces of art.

I kept thinking about Finding Nemo.

“So” I say to myself.  “What’s the truth about Nemo”. Fish goes looking for a fish with another fish.  I was thinking about tarter sauce.

Then it hit me.  It’s about fear.  Why does my subconscious keep trying to tell me stuff?

Marlin is afraid.  Of course he is; his whole family’s been murdered except Nemo.

Here’s what Nemo taught me.

1) THERE’S VERY LITTLE FEAR WHEN YOU’RE LIVING IN THE MOMENT.  Why do so many people LOVE Dory? It goes way beyond “she makes me laugh…especially when she’s speaking whale” People LOVE her…so do I.  It’s because she’s the most “in the moment” character ever created.  She has no past and no future, she only has now and she’s blissfully happy and happily blissful. She can be in the mouth of a whale and have a wonderful time, because it’s a great ride.  There’s very little to be afraid of in the present moment.  I was tying myself up in knots and losing sleep about something that had not happened yet.  I read Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth years ago but I don’t think I really understood it until I looked at Dory.

2) YOU’VE GOT TO GO WITH THE FLOW DUDE.  Crush, the Turtle, knows his Zen.  I don’t know if the oposite of fear is bravery or not, but I think the antidote is trust.  Stop fighting so much (I am speaking to myself here – I know you’ve got it all together on this one).  No one ever became great, or successful, or peaceful fighting against the flow. When you’re in the flow, things move easily, you’re working with your strengths and not your weaknesses, you’re trusting your instincts your intuition and your inner wisdom.

Here’s what I did with what I learned.

Nothing.

Not until I could relax and see things as they were…not as they might be.  I realized that I’m NOT good at confrontation; I am good at connecting, it’s authentic for me. I rejected all the hard, self protective and defensive e-mails I had composed in my head and I wrote an honest, simple, supportive note to my friend.  She responded with an honest, simple, loving note back.  We’re meeting tonight to work together.

There are times when we need to make a stand.  There are fights we need to fight. If we fight when we don’t need to, we can miss the important fights and even if we don’t, we’re exhausted by the time we do face them.

Breakin’ out with my favourite Ogre

Story telling (animated or otherwise) depends on character arcs.  We’re all on some kind of journey; life is never static (even when we want it to be).  The character arcs we are most drawn to are the ones we need to learn from to help us on our own journeys.

My favourite is Shrek.  I’ll tell you why at the end, but you’ll probably figure it out before then.

Shrek starts his journey as a loner, he’s built some pretty serious walls around himself to keep everyone out . . . quite frankly, from the way the locals treat him, I don’t blame him.  People can be so freakin’ mean sometimes it seems that life would be better without the whole nasty stinkin’ lot of them.

He finishes surrounded by community, married and singing some rather rockin’ karaoke.

It didn’t happen by magic.  He took some very definite steps.  He had his trip forced on him, we don’t have to.  We can make decisions and take action that will take us to real friendships and love before the fairy tale creatures invade our swamps.

Sooooooooooo what did he do and more importantly, what can we do?

He accepted a deeply flawed, irritating, friend – who didn’t judge him.  Let’s face it, Donkey’s irritating, he has no concept of personal boundaries, or social norms and he doesn’t have a clue when he’s not wanted…but he’s a friend.   If you’re looking for a perfect friend/partner/spouse, you’re going to be very lonely.  There’s a difference between dangerous toxic people and people who can drive us crazy at times.  One of them needs to be avoided at all costs, one of them is . . . human (or a Donkey in Shrek’s case).  Some brilliant voice work here by Eddie Murphy By The Way.

He leaves his comfort zone.  Shrek doesn’t go willingly, he’s forced out, but he goes.  He moves into places that are uncomfortable, places he’s avoided in the past.  Do I have to explain this one? Nothing changes if nothing changes.  We can’t grow if we keep doing the same things we’ve been doing all along.  Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.  Get out of your comfort zone.

He wins.  He lands in Duloc just in time for a tournament and he wins (with the help of his irritating friend).  We all have something we’re good at.  Often it’s something we dismiss because it’s so easy . . . for us.  Even small successes will yield amazing results to our self-esteem if we don’t totally dismiss them.

His journey continues and includes some really important points that I’ll come back to at some point, but I want to keep the Blogs short.

Accept people for the deeply and beautifully flawed individuals that they are, while you’re at it accept yourself for the same reasons.

Get out of your comfort zone.

Celebrate small successes.

I grew up feeling deeply alone.  I had very few social skills and suffered from a magical combination of pretention and low self-esteem.  I convinced myself I was happier alone and put a LOT of effort into proving I was right.  It’s taken decades to learn what Shrek learned.  I wish I’d learned it earlier.  I wish for you a whole community of irritating, loving friends . . . are there any other kind?

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