Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day 136: Who Am I in a Group? Dancing with a Ghost

In my previous blog I shared my experience in joining a dance company and specifically my experience of myself within the group that I really enjoyed. Nothing would seem to change that, until a week before the premier of our new production. It was a Saturday morning. One of the girls said she wouldn't be able to come because she had planned a weekend to the beach with her boyfriend, they had left straight after rehearsal the night before, all excited. So there we were in the studio and our choreographer told us she had received a phone call from the girl's parents. On the way to the beach, the girl and her boyfriend had gotten in a car crash. The boyfriend was okay, but the girl had been sleeping on the backseats without her sea tbelt and was flung through the windscreen. She didn't survive the crash. No need to say we were soon all in tears after hearing the news - more so because she was only 17, the second youngest dancer in the group.

From being a happy worriless bunch, we started trying to keep it together and pull each other up. We revised the production in a week's time so it could be performed with one less dancer, as well as adding in a whole section in tribute of her. There was one particular moment in the performance where she would normally be standing right behind me - the lyrics going 'Will you dance with me?'. Although I wouldn't be able to see her - I would always feel her presence. And after she died, whenever we got to this particular section, I would feel her absence. Somehow we managed to pull off the premier without problems - until the moment of bowing and everyone applauding - we all burst into tears on stage.

We danced at her funeral at the request of her parents - that time we were already in tears before we started.

Although we all tried to support each other the best we knew how and everyone tried to mourn her loss in their own way, trying to move forward as a group and somehow managing to - her death to me was like a 'stain' on what we had as a group - and without consciously intending to, I became more reserved. I also didn't like how the girl was glorified after she died - there had been some tensions between her and the choreographer as the reason she had joined the company was in relation to a school project where she would merge hip hop with contemporary dance and perform it with the company as her 'final work' for school. She would be choreographing it together with our choreographer and in that process they didn't always see eye to eye - but that was not discussed. She was an angel now.

To be continued.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Day 135: Who am I in a Group? Dance Company Pt2

In a previous post I shared how I danced an amateur dance company after quitting my professional dance training and where - we first got to know and trust each other physically.

So - it is an interesting way of getting to know people - you kind of skip the small-talk and start with physical comfortability. Looking back, there's many I still didn't know much about - in terms of their past, their lives. We would just share moments with each other - the time we spent together rehearsing and performing. But even if we didn't necesarily know much about each other's lives, we would know each other's bodies, from the perspective of what they physically feel like, how they move, where their physical weaknesses and strenghts lie and we would know each other in how we interacted in a moment, sometimes sharing some points that were gonig on in our lives, but there generally wasn't much 'time' to really go into that.

What was also distinct about getting to know people as I did when joining the dance company, is that it wasn't not based upon clothing style for instance. We would only see each other in our 'proper clothes' for a few seconds as we came in to the changing room, but then changed into our dancing clothes - which were just loose pants and comfortable shirts. So - everyone basically looked the same or similar. Another distinction was that in my life, when being in a group, it had mostly been age-dependent - in schools, on camps, music classes, dance classes - you were divided into groups of people of your own age. But in this dance company - our ages ranged from the youngest being about 15 and the oldest in their 30s.

To keep it short - we were tight, lol. No one had issues with anyone - some were closer or 'hit it off better' with certain people than with others. Herein it was fascinating that, initially, I got to know those people with whom I was most in sync while dancing, the youngest guy in the company and a young lady. In the first piece that I was a part of in the company, I by chance also had to work closely with the two of them - the comfortability in movement seemed to allow us to be comfortable in general interaction - even though - if I had met them on the street, I might no thave given them a second glance. Those whose dancing style was different to mine - in terms of timing or intensity or speed, or whatever - took me longer to have conversations with. The choreographer, thankfully, meant to give us the best opportunities to expand, so she would for instance place me in a duet with a girl whose natural dancing style was opposite to mine - it took me longer to become comfortable with her - but as we practiced our duet and each started learning from each other, together creating something new - the communication and interaction also started flowing more.

So - this is the process that I walked with each of the dancers - where eventually, I was comfortable with each one - our interaction was easy, flowing. Everyone came to dance in terms of what they enjoy doing - so we didn't bring our personal worries or troubles into the group - we were there to have a good time. Many nights, I would dread getting out of the couch and out to the train station to a rehearsal, for some reason thinking it might not be fun that night - but every time I did go - and every time I was so glad that I did, because it was just so AWESOME, lol - where I couldn't remember why I doubted that it would be anything different. I suppose I had gotten used to the fun being drained out of things after a while - and that was something that didn't happen in the dance company - at least not until something drastic happened.

To be continued...

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 135: The Desteni of Living - My Declaration of Principle

I hereby commit myself to live the following Principles:

  1. Realising and living my utmost potential
  2. Living by the principle of what is best for all – guiding me in thought, word and deed to always in all ways direct problems to the best possible outcome for all
  3. Living by the principle of self honesty – to ensure I am pure in thought, word and deed: that my within and without is equal and one. Who I am within is who I am without and vice-versa
  4. Self Purification through Writing and Self Forgiveness – the action of realising I am responsible for my own thoughts, words and deeds, to forgive myself for transgressions and change myself to ensure I take responsibility for who, what and how I am and through this know that I can trust myself to always be honest with me and so others
  5. Living the principle of Self Responsibility – realising only I am responsible for what I accept and allow inside of me, my relationships and my outside world and so with this responsibility: only I have the power and ability to change that which I see is compromising who I am, what I live and how this affects others
  6. Realising that who I am in thought, word and deed affects not only myself – but others as well and so with Self Responsibility in thought, word and deed – I take responsibility for myself and so my relationships to be Self Aware in every moment, in every moment and live in such a way that is best for me and so others as well
  7. Living the Principle of Self Awareness – to be aware, to see, to recognize my own thoughts and Mind, to be self honest to the extent where I can take responsibility for when I see my thoughts / Mind is not what is best for me / others and commit to immediately take responsibility and change for myself and so for others
  8. With taking responsibility for myself, becoming aware of myself – take responsibility and become aware of others in my life, to assist and support them as I am assisting and supporting myself – to give as you would like to receive and do the extra bit every day to see where I can contribute to other’s lives and so my own
  9. Living the principle of self trust – as I commit myself to remain constant in my living of self honesty, self responsibility and self awareness, I stand as an unbending trust that I always in all ways know who I am no matter what I face and that in this I know, as proven in the constancy of my living that I will always honour and stand by what is best for all and so best for me
  10. Making Love Visible – through me not accepting/allowing anything less than my utmost potential, I support those in my life to reach their utmost potential, to love them as I have shown love to myself by gifting to me my utmost potential, the best life/living experience and show others as I have shown myself what is means to LIVE
  11. No one can save you, save yourself – the realisation that the tools and principles of Desteni is the guide, but I must walk the path myself. We are here to assist and support each other in this process from Consciousness to Awareness/LIFE and what it means to live – but the process itself, where you are alone with yourself in your own Mind: is walked alone
  12. Not waiting for anything or anyone to take responsibility for me and this world – but that I realise I have created who and how I am in this moment, therefore I have the responsibility to change who and how I am and so the realisation that we as a collective created how and what this world is today and so it is the responsibility of the collective to change how and what this world is today
  13. Honouring the life in each person, animal – everything from the great to the small of earth, that we expand our awareness and responsibility to creating the best possible life for everyone and everything and so ourselves
  14. Relationships as Agreements: individuals coming together using agreements as a platform to one-on-one expand, grow and develop as individuals in life and living to support/assist each other unconditionally to reach their utmost potential where the agreement is a coming together of individuals understanding what it means to stand as equals and to stand as one
  15. Sex as Self Expression – where sex is an united expression between individuals in honour, respect, consideration and regard of each other as equals, two physical bodies uniting in equality and oneness – a merging of two equals as one physically.
  16. Realising that by the virtue of me being in this world – my responsibility does not only extend to my own Mind / my own Life, but to the minds and lives of everything and everyone of this earth and so my commitment is to extend this awareness to all of humanity to work together and live together to make this world heaven on earth for ourselves and the generations to come
  17. I must in my thoughts, words and deeds – but most importantly in my living actions, become a living example for others in my world that is noticeable and visible when it comes to the potential of a person to change themselves and so change their world. So that more people can realise how we can change this world, by standing united in our self change within the principle of what is best for all to bring heaven to earth
  18. I am the change I want to see in me and my world – to bring heaven to earth is to bring into being, into living the LIVING PROOF of a PRACTICAL HEAVEN that can be seen and heard in our actions and words. We are the Living Heaven that must come into creation in this living world.
  19. Through purifying my thoughts, words and deeds – my inner becomes my outer, so I bring into creation me as heaven into earth, realising it is not enough to ‘see the change / be the change’ – for change to become REAL it must be a constant, consistent living of me through the words I speak and the actions I live visible and noticeable to all in every moment of breath
  20. Realising that my physical body is my temple – my physical body is the living flesh through which and in which I will bring into being and create / manifest heaven on earth as me in my thoughts, words and deeds and so I honour, respect and regard – nurture and support my physical body as I would nurture and support me as equals: my body is me
  21. We are the change in ourselves and this world we have been waiting for: and so I commit to dedicate myself and my life for each one as all to realise this as nothing will change if we don’t change in all that we are within and without
  22. The realisation that for me to be able to change myself in thought, word and deed to the most effective living being that I can be and become – I first have to ‘know thyself’ and so commit myself to investigate, introspect and understand how I became who I am today, to prepare the road before me into self creation of a responsible, aware, self honest and trustworthy person for myself and so for all
  23. The realisation that for me to be able to contribute to change in this world – I have to get to ‘know thyself’ as this world and so commit myself to research, investigate and introspect the inner and outer workings of this world and align the systems of today to present and give the best possible life for all on Earth.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 134: Who Am I in a Group? Dance Company - Pt1

After high school I pursued an education to become a professional dancer. Dancing was my passion - what I loved to do and what I wanted to do forever. I quit towards the end of the first year, because within this training, within this school - I felt I no longer enjoyed dancing the way I used to. The training was intense of course and the school was competitive. Dancing for me had always been something I did in my free time, for me - where I 'got away from it all'.

In movies they romanticize what it means to get in to a professional dancing school, and so had I. The physical reality was different from what I had expected. The group I started in seemed to share the same expectations - we were all excited initially, but it didn't take long before we were all continuously exhausted and struggling emotionally to make it through the week. The weekend, when I wasn't dancing, was now the time we would get 'away from it all'.

After I quit the school, I joined an amateur dance company. I had seen them perform while I was still in the professional dance school and remember being impressed by the choreography, their level of technique/ability and the passion of the dancers.

There were several new dancers in the company when I joined. The group was obviously 'tight' with each other and so the newbies would mostly hang with each other - but this didn't last for long. Within the choreographies, there was a lot of partnerwork - where two or more dancers have to work in absolute harmony in order to pull of a particular part/section of the choreography - and for no one to fall or get hurt. Your timing, your positioning, your intensity, your speed has to be absolutely specific - and you have to trust the other to do the same. And if for some reason you get out of sync, you have to adjust yourself in a moment - and trust that the other would do the same. Trust on this level is quite interesting - because it is a decision that has to be made - where you allow yourself to place trust in another - to catch you, to hold you or to release you.

To be continued

Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 133: Who am I in a Group? - Nothing Left but Memories

This post is a continuation to the blog post Day 132: Who am I in a Group? Clashes of cultures and so continuing with the memory on my High School Group.

In my previous posted I ended off talking about the group weekend that my math teacher had organized and how within only a few days we already saw some individuals 'crawling out of their shells' - allowing themselves to participate in ways they hadn't before.

One of the individuals whose behavior had started changing was the 'leader of the macho-guys'. Instead of becoming louder/more expressive/more visible, he had become more quiet, more serious, more 'down to Earth' - more genuine I suppose. There was one moment which kind of became a 'symbol' in our group. Closeby the building where we were staying, there was a very thick horizontal tree branch where we'd hang out once in a while. In that specific moment, I was sitting on the tree brach, my legs on either side. At some point the 'leader of the macho group' came sitting behind me, in the same position, facing the same direction, so that i was facing away from him and he was facing my back. I had my hands behind my back on the tree brach. And then with a simple movement, he took my hands and started fiddling with them. I'd had a moment of 'huh?' because I hadn't expected him to do something like this, but when I looked at it, I wasn't uncomfortable, so I let him. The fact that I wasn't uncomfortable may have been what I was suprised about, lol. This was a person that so far I'd utterly resented every time he'd shown his face or made a remark - as though he represented everything that was 'wrong' with this world - but in that moment, there was nothing - I didn't mind at all. We also didn't speak. It was a simple quiet moment and for the first time in his presense I was really comfortable and just here enjoying myself with the others around us. At some point people stopped and looked and later I found out some had taken pictures - because here was a scene that no one had expected. We ended up sitting there for quite a while, eventually just holding hands - still in the same position. It was turned into a symbol of how two apparent opposites were able to share and enjoy a moment together - and became a symbol of how as a group we had moved from separation to harmony.

Of course - when I say 'moved from separation to harmony' - it was more a perception, an experience - it was not so in an absolute way as this would require each one to remove the separations within themselves first.

As I wrote about this moment, I experienced nostalgia and sadness. I had come to define this moment as 'magical' within myself - it marked the end of me trying my best to avoid this person and wanting to have nothing to do with him, which was only based on superficial indicators of 'what kind of person he is' and 'what kind of person I am'. And at the same time it marked the beginning of a new relationship - one that lasted for a long time and was quite... well, that's for another blog, lol. I just had a realization about how my interpretation of this moment defined the rest of our relationship - so will definitely share it in a blog later on.

So - back to that weekend - the last evening, we had a specific activity that also left quite a 'mark' on the group so to speak. I don't remember the specifics of it - but we were basically all sitting in a circle. The room was quite dark with only candles, it was quite cozy, yet serious and focused. We each had a pice of paper and were asked to answer several questions. I remember one of them was how we saw ourselves in the group. It was meant as a moment of honesty and vulnerability. One by one we would sit in the middle of the cirlce and share what we wrote on the piece of paper, after which the group would then give us feedback. I don't remember anything in particular that was discussed - only that each one really tried to be 'as honest as they could' and put themselves on the spot and shared with the group on a level of intimacy that we had never done before. Many had gone into tears and there was an overall experience of support towards each one that shared their story. For myself, I remember being disappointed with the feedback I received. I ended up not saying what was on the piece of paper as I found the answers was not what I actually wanted to say. I shared that I felt that no one really knew me in the group and that I didn't know who I was in the group, because I was different with different people, where some knew me one way and others knew me in another - but felt that no one REALLY knew ME and that I had never really been myself or even knew what it would mean to 'be myself'. When people gave me feedback it was as though they had blocked out everything I had just said and instead said things like 'I see you as this carpe diem girl - every day just taking it as it is'. To me this feedback only confirmed what I had just said - because the person they were describing - that wasn't me, not really. And I saw at the same time that this wouldn't be changing any time soon. I saw that within and as this group, we could change up to a point - but there was a limit. Nonetheless, I adjusted myself to that and accepted the limitations we would be working with - and instead focused on what we did achieve, what did change, the people I had gotten to know or had gotten to know in a different way.

After this weekend - we felt like a group - and we behaved like a group. Every break the people we would spend time with would be different, we didn't stick to the previous 'clicks'. We acknowledged that some people we were closer to than others and that there are still 'subgroups' of people who share specific views and values - but we were all part of the same group and within that everyone was able to interact and have fun with everyone. The dynamics in the group had changed completely and we would feel it when someone wasn't there for a day - it was like the group was not whole - someone was being missed.

The person that had opted not to go with on the second weekend regretted it after seeing how the group had changed - nonetheless, he was 'absorbed' within the same group so to speak without a problem.

For the rest of that school year and the year after that we continued to be this one group - we were strong together despite our many differences and we were grateful for each other. In our final year we decided that we would meet up every year on the first of May, because it would be a holidy for the rest of our lives - labour day - everyone takes that day off. We vowed that we would ensure that we would keep in touch this way and wouldn't let what we had built wither away or fall apart.

After graduation, each one went their separate ways, different colleges, universities or jobs - different cities. Our paths would cross - some we remained good friends with and spent a lot of time with - but others we rarely saw. I think we met up twice on the first of May, two years in a row - where in the second year there were already less people showing up. After that, I don't think another first of May gathering was even attempted to be organized - because it was clear to everyone that the group was no more.

During the last gathering too much effort had to be put into trying to bring back memories and I was disappointed in how much people had changed - developed personalities, mannerisms, postures and behaviors that I found betrayed who they were - they were no longer the same people, as they had adapted and changed according to their new environments, their new 'place in life'. I was saddened because I felt I had lost those people that I had shared an amazing time with, I was sad because I felt that they had lost themselves and I was said that the connection we had sworn would remain forever, was just gone, was just given up on.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Day 132: Who am I in a Group? Clashes of cultures

This blog-post is a continuation to the blog-post Day 131: Who Am I in a Group?

Memory 2: High School Group

My high school was quite a small school. Partly because after grades one and two we were split over two different locations dependent on the direction of study we chose. General Secondary Education students would remain in the same location, whereas Technical, Physical and Professional Secondary Education students would from third grade onwards go to a different school in the same town. (We count grade 1 to 6 for primary education and then again grade 1 to 6 in secondary education) Yet, even within that, the amount of General Secondary Education students was so small that we would all be merged together as one group for certain classes. So those doing Latin, Natural Sciences, Languages, Economics - would all be together and form a group of about 20 to 30 people. I can't remember exactly how big my group was, but it was more towards 20 or less.

Anyhow - as a group we got along quite well - there weren't really any issues between anyone, but there were 'clicks' of friend-groups - where some people you hung out with a lot, other sometimes and others you barely knew. Until in grade 5, I think, 4 guys from the grade above us had to double after pulling a stunt of trying to calculate their end-grade before the final exams and then somehow coming to the conclusion that they wouldn't need to study for those exams - that they were 'safe' - so they had to find out their calculations were wrong and had to double. When they came into our group - there was a complete change, because their attitude was completely different from ours. As a teenager you kind of choose what kind of style of teenager you want to be - the alternative, the good student, the macho (I suppose that would align with 'the quarterbacks' in the US), etc. As you pick your style, you tend to hang out with the people of the same style and kind of create your own little sub-culture based on clothes-style, music preference, values, etc. I picked the 'alternatives' group as a teenager - which about half of the group would be part of - and then the other part was mostly the 'good students' type. Both didn't clash though. Then the kids that doubled were added to the group - and they were the 'obvious macho' type - loudmouthed, showing off, making stupid jokes about girls vs guys. And none of us were impressed with it. We thought our mellow group experience was ruined by the addition of these 4 'clowns'.

Our interaction was then mostly in terms of snide comments towards each other and making fun of each other - or just plainly trying to ignore each other - that was the best way we could interact. Interestingly - when alone with one of the 4 guys, I was mostly able to talk to them quite okay, find a point of connection or a topic to have some kind of a conversation about. But with two or more - the macho-pose would be assumed and the connection would be 'broken' again.

In that same year, we went on a 'reflection' weekend (Christian school...). So - for these two days we went to some other location and an outside-person would be leading the weekend, guiding us through activities and trying to get us to open up about ourselves, reflect on ourselves and our relationships with others in the group. There was one exercise where we were sitting in a circle and he asked each one to put one object in the middle of the circle that we hold dear and to explain why that object and what it feels like to let go of it for a moment. Most people picked something silly/superficial - an object they like for sentimental reasons. Then it was the turn of one of the macho-guys. He was considered the 'leader' among the macho-guys - the 'uber-macho' - lol. When it was his turn, he said "I always wear a mask, and it's not me - and for this weekend, I want to put that mask in the circle and not wear it." The person guiding the activity made some comment about 'how deep' that was, but didn't further go into it. The group, me included, had a point of 'yeah right, he's just making fun of this whole 'reflection' thing' and didn't pay much attention to it. Anyway - the weekend was quite fun, but nothing really changed.

Our math teacher went with on the week-end as well. He was a young teacher that somehow we became friends with. In a conversation with me he talked about the week-end and how he saw that more could have been achieved - that there had been moments of opportunity, such as the 'I will not wear my mask' moment - that the leader of the weekend didn't use to open things up properly. This teacher was also a basketball coach and out of interest into the topic of group dynamics related to that, he had studied the subject and learned skills in terms of changing group dynamics. So - he offered the group to organize a second weekend - one for three days - it would be optional, no one would be forced as was the case for the reflection-weekend and he said he would specifically work on group dynamics. In the end - everyone but one guys signed up to go and so we went.

Our math teacher was far more skilled and educated on the point of group dynamics and organized all kinds of cool activities with challenges, after which he would share his observations. He really astounded us in terms of what we were allowing ourselves to participate in within the group without even being aware of it. During this weekend - we also saw people that had always remained on the background - literally not saying a word, except for a whisper to their best friend - suddenly open up. In one of the activities, we were divided into small groups and were supposed to solve some kind of mystery where we were given tools and some clues. It is within this activity that I was with two of those people. A guy that I had already known to be very funny as I had found a point of connection with him before about a funny series we both watch. He would often sit behind me in class and then once in a while I would lean back and we would exchange some quick laughs. He was not part of the 'alternative' group, but of the 'I am a good student' group - which I suppose you could call the 'nerd' group. He was very shy, got harrassed sometimes and apart from some friends, kept to himself. The other person was the girl that never spoke a word. Within this exercise - she started suddenly making jokes. We were struggling with the solving of the mystery and none of us really cared - I was so shocked by the change in the girl's behavior and the guy joining in - that we left the assignment altogether and just started having fun and ended up laughing our asses off. From that moment - these two people never crawled back into the background - but were visible and actively participating within the group.

The 'highlight' of this memory is still to come - will continue in my next blog...

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 131: Who Am I in a Group?

Recently an interesting point opened up for me in relation to: who I am in a group. Within walking process, as a Destonian, we become part of a community, a group of individuals based on the principles we commit ourselves to live by - a group of individuals that walk and apply these principles individually, yet together. The group is a continuous point of stability, support and cross-reference for each one that is part of the group - yet the group cannot exist unless the individuals within it continue to participate within the principles of the group. Within being part of this group, I've had experiences of anxiety come up in relation to the group suddenly being 'gone' or disintegrating. In speaking to my partner, I realized that these anxieties were memory-based - fuelled by memories of previous experiences of being part of a group. So, I'll write about the most prominent memories that define my expectations and fears in relation to being part of a group and walk the Self-Forgiveness and Self-Corrective application process on each one, so that who I am in a group is no longer defined by memories and so that I don't create unnecessary expectations, anxieties and fears that would influence my experience and participation in the group.

Memory 1: Best Summercamp Ever

From when I was about 6 years old, my mother sent me on summer camps. I say 'sent me' because it was her initiative and I would sometimes feel that she forced me to go so I would learn to eat more than just rice, sausage and eggs, but I remember that when she suggested it to me initially, that I was actually quite excited to do this. It would always be right before the trip that I would experience a sudden resistance to go and then I would plead my mother to please just keep me home, and not make me go - but then she'd say that there was no choice because she had already paid for it, I had told her I wanted to go and so now I had to go. Anyhow - with these camps I would always be so shy initially - just one girl among a bunch of strangers, strange kids and strange adults. I would generally get annoyed with the adults who would act exceedingly excited about going on this trip - acting happy and nutty when most of us, the kids, were just uncomfortable and scared. I knew they were trying to 'lift our spirits' and destract us from leaving our parents, but I would always think it made it worse.

First, on the bus - each time it was hoping that I would end up sitting next to someone 'nice' - so that I had someone to talk to and immediately could make friends - that way, by the time we'd arrive to the camp site I was already not alone anymore. I would hate it when they would ask if there is someone we wanted to make sure to share our room with, and everyone had friends they wanted to bunk up with except for me and some other 'alone' kids - so, I made it a point to make sure I would already have someone I could say I wanted to share a room with by the time we arrived at the camp site. For the first few days, I would then spend time mostly with that one person. It didn't actually matter if we really got along or if we would really become friends - it was just to have someone by my side. Often, as days passed, I would part from that person more and more and start spending time with people I found I could be friends with.

These camps then generally followed the same pattern in terms of 'group dynamics' - initially we were all just individual children or little groups of children being in one place, doing things 'together'. But this 'togetherness' was more each one agreeing to 'play along' as though we were a group - without actually being one. As time progressed and we would all get to know each other better and start having fun - this 'group-feeling' would start growing - like, suddenly it is no longer just individuals - there are the individuals and then there is the group. By the time the camp was reaching its end this 'group-feeling' would reach its peak - where we all felt that we were part of something, together had been through something. The bond between the individuals and the group would be different/stronger it seemed than those I had with my friends from school - because with school-friends, I would see them in school, then go home and then only the next day see them again. On the camps, you lived with the other kids and adults for over a week - waking up together, having breakfast together, doing all kinds of activities together, having lunch and dinner together, showering at the same times, brushing your teeth together, going to sleep together. All the moments that you usually go through in a private way - that your school friends are not part of - I would share with these kids on camp. So - in a way I would feel a lot more 'at home' after about a week, among a group of children and adults that I barely knew, then among my school-friends.

Then right at the peak - the 'height' of this group-experience, the camp would be over. We would all exchange addresses and promise to write letters to make sure we keep in touch. Then it was on the bus and back to the parents. Fascinatingly - no matter how much the kids had expressed that they wished the camp would never end, because it's so much fun and the group is awesome and we should stay friends forever - by the time we were in the parking lot where the parents were waiting to pick up their kids - the kids would say to the adults: "okay bye, thanks so much" - the kids turn their backs and run off to their parents and go home.

I would always be 'heartbroken' after a cool camp and generally would be sick for a few weeks afterwards in having to suddenly adjust to normal life - where everyone that had made part of what I had come to call 'home', was suddenly gone. I would want to tell everyone about all the things I did and what happened, but most would only listen with half an ear and it seemed like I never could really bring across what it had been like - what I had experienced - what I had lost. And that made me feel extremely lonely. Initially I always tried to keep in touch with the kids I had become closest to on the camps in a desperate attempt to hold on that feeling of belonging, of togetherness from camp, so I would write them letters, but then I either wouldn't hear back from them, or when I did, they would talk about all the things they are doing in their life now, which I was not a part of and it just made me feel even more disconnected from them.

So all of this was 'generally' the case - lol.

Now there was the one camp - and this is the actual memory I meant to write about - it was a camp in Bruges (Belgium) where we all took our bicycles and every day would go cycling to different places and then play games in cities. That to me was the best summercamp ever. I think I was about 13 at that time. I remember in the beginning looking at the adults that were joining us - there were 4 - and based on what they looked like - already deciding that I hoped to be with two specific adults in the group. It would usually be 2 adults for a group of about 10 to 20 children. The decision was based purely on their looks - they were a guy and a girl that looked 'pretty' - they conformed to the picture of what 'cool people' apparently looked like. The other two adults were women, clearly older and they were also quite heavy - so it seemed that the most dynamic duo would be the young girl and boy. When I arrived at the campsite and we were devided in to the groups - I ended up in the group with the two women. So - I was immediately quite disappointed and thought this would be the worst camp ever, lol. But oh my, was I mistaken - those two women were amazing with us and after a few days it was clear that I was lucky being in their group. They would act nutty and funny, but would also be directive and stern when needed, yet fair. I found that often with the very fun leaders, they would not be very directive and would also mostly interact with the confident kids, not worrying about the more shy ones leaving left out. These two women, though, were able to strike a perfect balance - attending to every child and pulling each one together in the group-feeling.

At some point during this camp I actually sprained one of my ankles quite badly. On a different camp, I would have probably used it as an excuse to not have to participate in some of the activities, but this time, I refused to have a cast put on. One of the two women responsible for my group was a nurse and when she looked at the ankle, she'd said that I'd need a cast. I'd had a cast before and I'd absolutely hated it, so I told her no - I didn't want it. She insisted a doctor should come out and when he came, he luckily had a solution - it was relatively new at the time, but he suggested a cast made from plastic with air cushions that I would be able to take off. It was quite expensive then, so they called my parents to find out if it would be okay if they bought it and sent them the bill. My parents agreed and I was so glad that I didn't have to skip on any of the cycling rides and, apart from running, was able to participate in everything quite well. Towards the end of the camp, the same women, the nurse - fell. It was during a 'party' where we all got to dress up and dance to music. She was dancing with someone, mis-stepped, fell to the floor and dislocated her hip. She immediately forced the hip back into the joint and was then taken to the hospital. The pain had been quite intense, so she had been lying on the floor screaming and crying. Most of us kids were in shock to see her in that pain and the party ended in tears after she was taken to the hospital. When she came back, it was her wearing the cast and walking on crutches.

When the camp was at its end and the bus took us to the drop-off point - one of the organizers of the, well, organization, that, well, organizes these trips - lol - was present at the scene and this person had not been with on the camp, but just assisted in that moment. The person was flabbergasted, because instaed of the usual site - the kids running off to their parents and slopily waving goodby to the camp-leaders, all the kids kept standing by the bus and didn't want to leave - half of the kids were crying that the camp was over and kept clinging to the camp leaders, not wanting to go home with their parents. The person asked the camp-leaders 'what the hell did you guys do with these kids on this camp??' Lol.

And still now I find it hard to explain what made this camp so different from other camps. Maybe it was how each one in the group really pushed to be part of the group and 'show themselves' so to speak. Maybe it was the tactfulness of the camp-leaders in how they structured the activities to always be a success and always fun. Maybe it was the fact that this was the first camp where everyone in the group would actually get along with each other, despite how 'different' we initially seemed. I cannot put my finger on it.

After this camp, we had a 'reunion' a few months later - and barring only 1 or 2 people, everyone had shown up - and despite what I had expected - during that reunion day we felt as much as a group as we had on camp and having as much fun together. I had expected that I would be disappointed, that the group feeling would be gone and that this reunion day would only be a bitter aftertaste of a delicious treat. But no - it seemed like an extension of it.

In the next posts, I will first continue laying out the other memories after which I'll walk them through with SF and Self-Corrective statements. Stay tuned...