When meeting people for the first time do you get nervous? Do you feel like your whole life is being reduced to a location, a job, a family role and you don’t know what to say?
We can use the Genesis Cards to break out of this rut and make self-introductions fun and truthful, especially in small groups or larger groups where one-on-one partnerships are about to take place.
I owe this technique to a friend here in Tokyo who brought together her girlfriends for dinner and an informal chat. We were set to talk about our multicultural lives for a thesis she had to write. We would be talking abut marriage or work circumstances that caused us to uproot and live thousands of miles from home.
Whenever we speak about ourselves, we are facing the pattern of seeing ourselves in a fixed way that is part of the truth, but not the whole truth. As multidimensional beings, we show different sides of ourselves depending on circumstances and pesonalities who stand before us. Rarely do we go deeper to express the constant in our lives, the true self, the great navigator or soul that takes on roles and challenges in order to experience free choice.
We each took our own Genesis Card deck, all 44 cards, and began arranging the cards in a sequence. The way you arrange the cards is spontaneously decided. You know what cards are the priority, the ones most fitting in the telling of your life story up to now. You could use as many or as little of the deck as you wished.
The self-introductions were astonishing for tearing down walls, bringing me close to a group of women whom I otherwise had little in common with. I found common ground through their passions, their life challenges, the direction they wanted to be heading in. Thank you Diane Endo for coming up with this wonderful exercise.
Flash forward five years to November 11th, 2012. While in Kyoto to do a Genesis Art Workshop, I offered this new version of the Self-Introduction exercise.
This time we’re using art supplies to tell the Who I Am story:
Necolor crayons, origami paper, scissors, glue, white background paper and the Genesis Cards.
The Self-Introduction Exercise
Step 1: Think about who you are. Do you immediately reach for an activity in your life to describe the ‘doing you’? Or are you more likely to describe yourself ‘being’? Flash on one aspect that decribes you and then let it go as you reach for the art supplies and draw with a free mind. No prefixed images. Just let the hand move across the paper freely on B5 (approx 5 by 8 inch) sketchpaper. You can draw abstract or realistic, whatever comes to you, whatever colors from the rainbow palette catch your fancy. Draw quickly without pausing.
When completed, shuffle the Genesis Cards and pull a random card. Now look at the drawing, look at the card, back and forth until you see connections between the two.
Step 2: On B5 paper, draw another quick sketch integrating elements on the first drawing with the selected card. The sketch still need not look like anything in particular. Think of this work as another free play at self-expression. Work quickly with whatever images or colors that come to you.
Step 3: With each picture you’ve drawn, you’ve refined the way you are choosing to represent yourself. You can start to see that you’re focusing more on certain colors and their placement, certain elements that feel like ‘you’.
Now let go of the sketching. Pick up origami colors, any in the rainbow palette that you find attractive, and place them on a square base color of origami glued to a larger white sheet of paper. Cut and play around with the placement, gluing down as an end step when you are sure you’ve got the cut pieces arranged in a pleasing way.
The collage and your selected card can now begin a dialogue.
Please introduce yourself says the card. ..
The collage answers . …
In this way, a deeply revealing portrait of who you really are — in all your strength, your ambition, your full passion for life — is revealed.
Originally I represented myself in this family scene, a mother with 2 kids and a husband. While this is true, it’s also not the whole story. In the second rendering, I drew the more abstract spiral image and again, I felt frustrated that this wasn’t really expressing the ‘me’ that I would want to convey at first encounter. The Setting Off card gave me a useful clue that I used in the final sketch–this ‘me’ is someone riding in a chariot driven by a mysterious driver called Fate. Inside the chariot is my family. We are traveling in this wagon together and unlike the Setting Off card I wanted to make sure all wheels were on terra firma. Finally, in the collage version, the fourth rendering in this Self-Introduction exercise, I’m a passenger in a chariot that is crossing a bridge.
This fits with what I am experiencing now in my life, the attraction to travel, to moving across borders, toward setting off in a new direction. Now this is a Self-Introduction most befitting on November 11th, 2012. Another day–another layer of this experience toward movement and travel would surely surface.