Posts Tagged ‘group’

Family: Who Makes the Cut

Happy Family
Happy Family Taking Self Portrait courtesy photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I write out my Christmas Cards, I can’t help but think of who I consider to be family.

I am part of many families, you see. There’s my mother’s family, and my father’s family with whom I share a common lineage (adoptively speaking), and my father’s created family (those who have standing invitations to our home), and my created family, which includes a few of my friends, and members of each of my other families, and Dashing and a few of his biological family.

It’s a little like this:

FAMILY CHART

FAMILY CHART – BY MISS HAPP

But how do we get there? When you’re little, your family are those people who take care of you, and by extension any whom they call family.

Over years one develops those existing relationships, growing closer to some, learning to tolerate (or not) others… and as one grows and meets new people one adds to the base from which to draw familial relationships.

That’s fairly simple, and common, thinking.

But when is it that someone goes from being a friend, to being family?

For me, it is that line where I would protect them from themselves. I love my friends, yes, but somehow I know they manage without me. I know they can take care of their own stuff, and I trust them to ask for help if they need it. I feel comfortable telling them when I think their behaving poorly, or when they’ve made a poor choice, but if they choose to disagree, well, that’s up to them.

Family though, family is so much more complicated.

Because somehow, in the idea that my life would be truly altered if this person were to leave or be in hardship, there’s the self-protective reaction that says I should do all I can to prevent it.

If a family member has an addiction, it affects me in ways a friend’s addiction might not, and it’s so much harder to tell them “You have a problem, and I need you to get help” because it’s like telling part of yourself that you’ve been let down by it.

If a friend has financial hardship – I might give them some money to help out, but probably not that much, and I might expect it paid back someday. I can understand that a friend might fall on hard times. And I understand that they will get back up on their own eventually.

If I see a family member heading towards financial hardship, I do all I can – lecturing, giving of funds, subtle and not-so-subtle hints about job applications or savings accounts – because underneath it all, I feel responsible for their well-being.

I recognize that, like my friends, my family is mostly full of capable adults, who manage to feed themselves, and clothe themselves, and get to and from work daily without my constant assistance or supervision – but I still feel connected to them in a way where if they fail, I fail. If they succeed, I am proud of their accomplishment, and happy to have helped in any small way. But when family hits a rough spot, for me, it’s an all hands on deck kind of time.

At least, that is the gut, knee-jerk reaction.

But I’ve come to learn that even family, sometimes have to fail on their own.

After all, it’s through failing that we learn our greatest lessons, right?

But even when it’s a hands off – let-em-fall-down kinda time, there’s still that instinct, that basic desire to come between them and the cold, hard ground, because when they hurt, I hurt.

And that’s how I know who’s my family.

Where’s the line for you? Are you more protective of friends, trusting your family to speak up more? What do you think? Let me know below!

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How To Make Friends: Part 1

Friends

Successful friends courtesy stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As promised…

I don’t know much about keeping friends, but I do know a very little about making friends.

See I spent my childhood with only one or two friends at a time. I had a lot of time to observe.

Then I blossomed. I discovered drama, and theatre people, and figured out how to make friends.

You see, theatre people are a whole other species. Really. Anyone who has been or knows someone who has been a theatre person, knows this.

The actors spend their time observing humanity from the outside in, and performing to feel it from the inside out.

The writers observe and deliberate over nuance and context, seeing plot in every sentence.

The directors find relationship dynamics and power shifts in every movement, every volume level, feeling to pull those strings at the right time to form the right message.

The stage managers see everything. They know all. And they are everywhere.

The tech crew work harder than anyone gives them credit, creating art out of nothing, out of negative space, and for the most part, they do it smiling.

It was here I found my niche. You don’t become a theatre person. You just are one. Even after you sell out to corporate life for drugs and money.

So what are you?

What activity turns you on? What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?

Because if you’re looking to attract new friends, that is where I would start. With something that, even if you don’t make a lasting people connection straight off the bat, at least you’ll have fun swinging.

My father played in a recreational baseball league until he was 50. My sister continues to play volleyball after college. My mother travels. Her spouse joins the Rotary club.

I read, and swim lengths, and go for walks and movies – all things that can be done in groups, but I usually end up solo.

Why? I don’t know.

I think that acting is my thing. I am an actor. Even though it’s not lucrative (for me), and it’s time consuming (like you wouldn’t believe, unless, you know… you know), theatre people, they are my people. That is the one social circle I’ve ever felt like I fit into.

Who are your people?

If you don’t know, if you’ve never had that “Aha, click” moment of just sliding into place, start with an activity you’ve always wanted to try.

But mostly, I’d think of the things you remember doing as a kid. My sister, and father, and mother, and stepmom all played sports – competition is their thing.

I’ve liked reading and imagining myself in stories and imagining stories around me since I could read. Having an audience’s attention without having them staring at me, myself, is all I could ever ask for out of life. It just is. But I would go nuts if I had to talk about fouls and technicalities and scoring averages. I just don’t care about winning or losing in that sense. I see the beauty of sport, but the competition part just misses me.

So – do you like talking sports? See if you can join an adult recreation league in your area. Or hang out on game night at your local watering hole instead of in your own den.

Enjoy the arts? Join your local community theatre, or volunteer to usher at performances.

Is food or cooking what gets you going? Take some classes in a cuisine that’s unfamiliar to you, or learn how to frost cakes with all those flowers and leaves.

Love languages? There’s usually “X” as a second language courses at your local college or university.

Whatever it is, once you’re there, find one person who you find approachable, and strike up a conversation. It may be difficult at first. But just start with one person. Listen, and share your thoughts. It will get easier.

There is something about surviving something – even something as small as a play, a season, an exam – that bonds people together. You stop being a collection of individuals and become Mme. Leclerc’s 6:00 class. Or the cast of Footloose. Or the Flaming Weasels, most improved team of the season…

Whatever it is, as long as it’s an activity you enjoy, and you can do it with others who enjoy it, you will find a community, and you will find that you belong.

Choices and First Impressions

Hands Creating A Star by creativedoxfoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image “Hands Creating A Star” courtesy of creativedoxfoto/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

OK, so clearly if you look at the blogs I follow, without visiting those sites, you can assume that I am a hopeless romantic, with a desperate, perhaps obsessive need to marry and procreate, chasing all things stereo-typically feminine, relationships, home, children…

Would it surprise you to know then that I’m actually quite the pessimist romantically? Or that, contrarily, in no way do I feel like if I don’t get married and have children my life will be unfulfilled and signify nothing in the grand scheme.

See if you actually visit these blogs – and you should, these are sassy, smart, strong women, did I mention the sass? If you actually visit these blogs, you will find these talented writers show their battle scars proudly, and openly discuss choices – and how it’s not really about the choice you make, it’s about making the choice, and knowing that there are other choices that could have been made, that others will take, that it’s about humanity and figuring it out and embracing the mess, and feeling the pain, and creating your world through your choices. And building your community. It’s about finding people who support your choices and who will push you to make the choices that are right for you.

So. Pessimist me reads wedding blogs because like Meg says, it’s about hope. And growing up. And pessimist me reads mommy-blogs because they’re about struggle and innocence and growing up and the funny things kids do and about how mommies don’t stop being people just because they created people. And they help me work through my issues with my own mom.

What I’ve learned in my years of blog reading (and yes, I’ve read all the archives of 7 out of 9 of these blogs and I’m working on the other two), is that just as I like my Adam Sandler with some Drew Barrymore, I like my oh-my-goodness-love with a little bit of reality. I like my tragedy with a lot of existential irony. I like my comedy with some poignant revelations to the bigger truth of human existence. And I like it all with wit and conversation.

That is what they offer. That is what I’m trying to build here. That is what I’m bringing into my life, and putting out to the universe, because as people we don’t always look beyond ourselves to consider the other choices out there. We don’t always take the time to laugh at ourselves. To think about what we believe, and why. To look back on what we told the world we believed and say, “Now, I’ve changed. I’ve tweaked, I’ve grown, I find this to be true for me now.”

Because I am still growing up. And these people, I choose them as part of my community as I continue to grow into who I will one day become.

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