September 30,2012
Walk On It

It's the end of September! EEK! OH NO! Are the rains coming? Like a bird, I feel the need to fly south, but I can't go yet. The leaves are falling, but so far, so good. The weather is the most perfect that I can remember for this time of year. I have been walking every evening.

Julia Cameron talks about walking … "Most of us spend life on the run, too busy and too hurried to walk anywhere. Beset by problems and difficulties, we feel walking is a frivolous waste of time-our valuable time. 'When will I do it?' becomes one more problem, one more question for our busy mind. The truth is that walking holds our solutions (Cameron, 2002, p 10)."

"'Walk on it' is good advice, whether the problem is a persnickety plotline or a persistent personality clash. Native Americans pursue vision quests, Aborigines do walkabout. Both of these cultures know that walking clears the head. Too often in our modern culture we mistake the head for the source of all wisdom rather than the manufacturer of malcontent. (Cameron, 2002, p. 11)."

Walking is a time when we can let go of the stress of the day and enjoy nature. We can let nature inspire us and be open to new or old ideas.

Reference:

Cameron, Julia. (2002). Walking in the World: The Practical Art of Creativity, Penguin Putnam, Inc., New York, NY.

© Carla Weaver 2012


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September 29,2012
KEEP YOUR SHORTS ON, LADY!!!!

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I got a $200 ticket for speeding through a school zone. That was a loud reminder to me that I need to be aware of that school zone (which is on my way to everywhere) and slow down. So, on Saturday mornings, I always drive by there on my way to have a coffee and read the paper. As I approached the school zone, I wondered if the school zone speed applies on Saturdays? I couldn't see it on the sign if it's there, but I decided that it would be a good idea to get into the habit of ALWAYS slowing down through that school zone to avoid making a mistake and getting another ticket. Always best to err on the side of caution, I thought.

Well, I'm only guessing, but based on how the driver behind me reacted, school zone speed limits may not apply on Saturdays. First, she got right on my tail and leaned on her horn all the way through that school zone. Then, when I reached the red light at the end of the school zone, she sat in her car yelling at me and giving me the finger (at least twice that I saw). I was starting to get a little scared of her anger and was pretty relieved when the light turned green. A bit of an overreaction, I'd say… my caution caused that lady to slow down for a block and she didn't like that one bit. KEEP YOUR SHORTS ON LADY!!!

I'm sure that the Universe placed her right behind me today to slow her down.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 28,2012
Get Off at the Next Stop….Roll Into the Roundhouse

Last weekend, I attended a painting workshop taught by one of my favorite artists and teachers, Rick McDiarmid. During the workshop, Rick said that sometimes he is too busy, and that "busy-ness" shows up in his paintings. I have recently been thinking the same thing about my own paintings. I lead a busy life and painting takes time. One night when I was getting into bed, I glanced around my bedroom where I have some of my favorite paintings hanging, and thought to myself that when I really take the time to relax and focus on my art, I can make some nice paintings.

I guess if we don't slow down and go at a normal pace, the Universe helps us by giving us messages. First, my own realization that I am too busy…then, I injured my hand and couldn't use it for several days. Then, Rick McDiarmid observed that our "busy-ness" shows up in our work. This morning, the Universe yelled at me to slow down … literally … I got a speeding ticket for $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS!! That's a loud message. Slow down and smell the roses. Listen to the messages of the Universe and take heed.

"In his book "Timeshifting," Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D., writes about entrainment, which he describes as an unconscious "process that governs how various rhythms fall into sync with one another." For example, if you were to place two out-of-sync pendulum clocks next to one another, in a short time they would be exactly in sync. "The same principle works," says Rechtschaffen, "with atomic particles, the tides and human beings." With human beings?" That's quite a remarkable idea. We pick up each other's rhythms and the accumulated rhythms of the world around us. If most of the rhythms around us are fast, so are ours, automatically. That's entrainment. The word can also mean 'getting on a train' (Kundtz, 1998, p. 18)."

"We have all boarded the train, the fast train on the fast track, and the process of entrainment is not under our conscious control. That's why trying to slow down doesn't slow us down. It's not because we're weak willed or quitters; it's because we're on a fast train where we're the passengers and not the engineers (Kundtz, 1998, p. 18)."

We are all riding on a very fast train that is travelling down a predetermined track, gathering speed as it goes, and we have been on it for a long time. We can't get to the engineer because the engineer is protected by loyal guards. Or perhaps there really is no engineer; the train is run by a computer. Many of us want to slow down; some want to get off the train. Others are so used to the speed that they don't notice it. A few love the speed and want to increase it. The few who love the speed are the only ones who get their way. Most of us stare blankly out the window, barely seeing the world flying by and feeling helpless (Kundtz, 1998, p. 18)."

"Fortunately, there is something we can do about it. Stopping can get us off the train, can separate us from the speeded-up rhythms of those around us, and can bring us into rhythms of our own choosing, which, it's important to note, may well include some time on the fast train. Stopping can roll us into the roundhouse for refreshment and cooling off so we can make sure that, when we take off again, we're on the right track, going in the right direction, and have a very intimate working relationship with the engineer (Kundtz, 1998, p. 19)."

Reference: Kundtz, Dr. David. (1998). Stopping: How to be Still When You Have to Keep Going, Conari Press, Berkeley, CA.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 20,2012
Valuing Your Self, Your Service and Your Creations

Robert Fritz wrote that part of completing a creative project is valuing it and letting it go out into the Universe so that you can reap the rewards of creating it. A good example of this is a farmer who has harvested the crop then takes it to market and sells it to earn an income. As artists, we often do not set our expectations the same as the farmer does. Many of us have been led to believe that we get an idea and follow the creative process to create a painting, a sculpture or a quilt, but we stop there. We don't always expect to sell it or have someone else value it. Does the farmer plant a crop expecting people to just look at and enjoy the wheat field blowing in the breeze? Nope. The farmer expects to sell his crop. In fact, the farmer even expects to earn an income if the crop doesn't mature. He has insurance in case the locusts, drought or hail destroy the crop. And, if the market doesn't want his wheat, the farmer expects s the government to subsidize him. We artists could take a few pointers from the farmers.

Reference:

Fritz, R. (1989). The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life, Fawcett Columbine, New York, NY.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 20,2012
Empathy

How many times do other people hurt us without even knowing it? Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in another's shoes and see how it feels. Of course, we cannot really know what another feels, but we can be sensitive to how our words and actions can be felt by another. Many people do not have the characteristic of empathy and don't try to cultivate it. I suppose life would be easier if we never really thought about how what we do and say affects others, but to be truly kind and considerate of others, a little empathy is a good characteristic to develop. Of course we need to consider our own needs and wants, but it is important not to go through life leaving a trail of hurt people in our paths.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 18,2012
Hope Springs Eternal

Tonight I went to see the movie "Hope Springs" with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. It is a wonderful movie. Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones portray their characters' vulnerabilities so well. The movie makes you wonder how many people in the world are in relationships where they have stopped communicating with each other?

I'm really proud of Meryl Streep for making movies like "The Bridges of Madison County," "It's Complicated," and "Hope Springs," in which she plays older women in relationships. She gives us older women hope that it's not over yet. Of course, there's a double standard. For the most part, men Meryl's age are making movies with much younger women. Look at George Clooney, for instance – he's over 50, yet he gets to date much younger women in real life and the movies. We can only hope that all of those younger women are boring! Now, if Meryl could team up with some handsome younger man like Ryan Gosling that would give us older women even more hope.

Hope springs eternal….

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 17,2012
If

Well, it's easy enough to theorize and plan to live a life based on Universe, Self, Love and Service, and to know in your heart that the Universe will take care of all of our needs. Then, I open up my email, and there's a note from a fellow volunteer that is anything but cooperative, and one from a client expecting me to do work outside our agreed upon contract for free, and a phone call from someone trying to make me feel guilty, and I turn on the TV and there's rioting everywhere, and a cat bit me and my hand is all swollen, and I can't work, and I am reminded of Rudyard Kipling's poem, If…

If

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

(Rudyard Kipling)

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 15,2012
Internalizing the Idea

Yesterday, I had an idea for a painting. I worked out my sketch and composition. Then, I set it aside with every intention of getting out a canvas and getting it started. I did other things; I went to bed.

Today, I looked at the sketch and thought I'd add another figure to it, and then start to paint it. I went for coffee, read the paper, went for a walk, phoned a friend, puttered. "Maybe I'll start it after lunch, I thought." I had lunch. I don't remember what I did. I thought, "Maybe I'll start it after dinner." I had dinner. I went to a movie. It's still sitting in the same place I left it yesterday. It's bedtime.

Sometimes, I blame myself for procrastinating when I do this, but I have come to accept that it is part of the creative process. We must internalize the idea or vision before we can start to paint it.

"As you form your vision, you simultaneously teach it to yourself. There is a transition from concept to vision during this period. At first you are trying ideas out for size. You are playing the field of ideas. You are learning more and more about what you like and what you don't like. You may fall in love with a certain idea for three or four days and find that by the end of the week you are completely bored with it. You may think little of an idea at first, only to find that it grows on you and you eventually like it. As you conceptualize, you learn. And what you learn is directly useful in creating your vision (Fritz, 1989, p. 129)."

Reference:

Fritz, R. (1989). The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life, Fawcett Columbine, New York, NY.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 15,2012
Universe – Self – Love – Service

For longer than I have been intrigued by the concept of creativity, I have questioned what my life purpose is. I have believed that all of us have a purpose, but I've never quite been sure of mine. I seem to have many interests and could never decide which of those interests I should be pursuing and developing as my life purpose. Eventually, I concluded that we are all here to create and to express our unique selves, which I still believe. However, I still have trouble figuring out what my unique self is supposed to be doing.

Last week, my unique self sustained a cat bite, which turned into a painful infected wound on my hand, leaving me unable to type, drive, and generally rendering me pretty much useless to accomplish anything for a few days.

Well, I don't believe in coincidences, and for some time now, my inner voice has been shouting at me, "STOP," because I just keep going and going and going like that pink Energizer bunny in the battery commercials. I even have a fuzzy pink fleece housecoat, and the other night when I was outside with the dog before bed, my neighbour exclaimed that he thought he was seeing things when he saw a giant pink bunny on my front step. But I digress….

The hand injury forced me to STOP – I didn't accomplish anything this week. So, yesterday, while quietly sitting waiting for inspiration for my BLOG, I was given a diagram from the Universe. It showed me a framework for living my life … at the base of this diagram is God or the Universe, above it is Self, then Love and then Service (or work). Surrounding this framework is the energy created from the Universe, taking care of myself, living and doing service to the Universe through work. This energy creates health, wealth, relationships, security and all that I need to live my life.

This suggests that our society is perhaps upside down in its approach and priorities, since most people focus first on money and security. What if all of us were able to first focus on an abiding faith in the Universe, nature or a God of our understanding, and then within that belief system, treat ourselves well by exercising, eating healthy foods and getting rest and loving ourselves? Then, we would all be fit to serve the Universe to its highest good by expressing love to all and by expressing our unique gifts in our work.

What do you think?

I've been pondering this now for a few days, and it seems to me that maybe many of us are spending too much of our 24 hour days working. If we sleep for 8 hours, we have only 16 hours a day left to work on our relationships with God/The Universe, ourselves and others, and then to serve through our work. Maybe we should be dedicating 4 hours each to God/The Universe, Self, Love and Service/Work.

"Whenever, in the course of the daily hunt, the red hunter comes upon a scene that is strikingly beautiful or sublime-a black thundercloud with the rainbow's glowing arch above the mountain; a white waterfall in the heart of a green gorge; a vast prairie tinged with the blood-red of sunset-he pauses for an instant in the attitude of worship." (Ohiyesa).

"Whatever the event, you are its origin. It is through you, through your will, that God manifests Himself." (The Maggid of Mezeritch).

"Ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question-Does this path have a heart? All paths are the same; they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush or into the bush. … Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn't it is of no use." Don Juan (Carlos Castaneda).

"Work is love made visible. " (Kahlil Gibran)

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 13,2012
The Vastness of Creativity

For many years now, I have been intrigued by the topic of creativity and I have studied it – formally and informally; taken a Master's degree in psychology and written my thesis on it; read countless books – academic and not; practiced it through art, writing and business; taught workshops, and observed it. The subject still intrigues me and I believe that it is like understanding God, the Universe and nature ... it is a vast topic that we may never fully understand. However, I believe there are certain things that I have come to know about creativity. It is about furthering the Universe, the power of Love or our collective knowledge. It is a natural process, based in spirit. It Is NOT about ego, competition, being first to market, or making money, although some of these things occur with creativity. Creativity happens through thoughtful devotion, cooperation, collaboration and inspiration. It gently unfolds just as the flowers bloom and rivers flow. It ebbs, it flows, it builds. Creation occurs through thought and action. An idea germinates and takes hold. It grows. The idea comes to fruition and the process is complete. Along the path there may be obstacles to guide and redirect the process.

What is our role in creativity? We recognize and act on our intuition. We may generate the ideas, guide and flow with the process, make decisions, redirect, decide when the creation is complete. As a fellow painter once said to me,

"No painting is ever really finished. It is about finding an interesting place to stop (Bill Megrail)."

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 09,2012
Cooperation, Collaboration and Compromise

The other night, I watched President Bill Clinton speak at the US Democrats Convention. I saw the speech described in the next day's paper as "fiery." Well, if they meant "fiery" in the sense that he fired up the democrats in the auditorium in Charlotte, and perhaps some TV viewers at home, too, it was all of that. He is an excellent speaker and he spoke with passion. He covered many things, but the point that caught my attention was that it takes cooperation and collaboration to get things done. I can't' tell you how many times in a day that I get frustrated due to a lack of cooperation from others. Either people are interpreting a set of rules or just generally too apathetic to give a damn and that is so frustrating. I've had to call the cable company, the electrical company, a contractor… and the person at the other end of the phone seems to have all the power. If they decide not to cooperate you simply can't' get anything done.

There is a sense of anonymity when dealing over the Internet or telephone, especially with call center workers who don't have to treat you like a human being because they don't have to look you in the eye or be responsible for their words and actions. You're just a phone number or email address to them and there's no reason for them to go out of their way to treat you like a human being. But, the fact of the matter is that at the end of every telephone number or email address, there IS a human being who needs help, service, or information. There's a co-worker working for the same company, goals and vision, or a customer who should be treated with respect or a stranger who isn't sure what number to call and could use some guidance. One of the most upsetting days of my life was 10 years ago when I was called to go home because my Dad was dying. It was a Sunday, and at that time, there were virtually no human beings available at the airlines on Sundays. And, when I finally did get through to someone, I was told that you couldn't reserve and fly within 24 hours because it was in the aftermath of 9/11. I got home on time, but I didn't need that additional stress.

Yesterday, I talked to a stranger on the phone about a work matter. Talk about uncooperative. She did not offer one possible idea to help solve the situation about which I was calling, but she had a rebuttal for every possible idea that I offered.

Ask yourself if you are cooperative and collaborative when problem solving, or if you are the gate keeper standing in the way of potential solutions. The only way that creative solutions are reached is through cooperation, collaboration and compromise.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 08,2012
Remembering a Great Cook!

Last Saturday, I attended the funeral of a long-time family friend, Louise. It was a day filled with emotion about the passing of a good friend, celebrating a life well lived, spending time with family and friends and renewing many old acquaintances and friendships.

Many good things were remembered about Louise, but I thought later that I do not remember one person commenting on what a great cook she was. She was one of the best! My family celebrated many holiday dinners at Louise's house over the years … Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and other occasions. Louise made the best cabbage rolls, awesome chicken wings and many other delicious foods. So let me just celebrate her creative expression now! In fact, earlier this year, I collected recipes from family and friends into a recipe book and dedicated it to the best cooks I know, Louise being one. (Note to self…must send book to her kids.)

It was good to return to my hometown last weekend. I spent the weekend at my brother's cottage, where I spent most of my childhood and early adult summers. I saw several school friends and spent quality time with my brother. So, while the occasion was to celebrate Louise, it brought back together many people, and it was a very satisfying and rich weekend.

© Carla Weaver


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September 06,2012
OOMPH AND GUSTO!

How do we motivate ourselves on those days when we just don't have the OOMPH to get it all done? Some days, we're tired, bored or not motivated.

If we're tired, we should take the day off or do something to take care of ourselves … go for a walk, get a massage or a manicure or pedicure, read a book, play with the cat, meditate, sleep, go to the beach or the gym. Do something for yourself.

Sometimes, we're bored. What is on our "to do" lists must be done, but it's not what we feel like doing. There are those responsibilities that need to be taken care of … paying the bills, vacuuming, taking training that needs to be completed before we can take the next interesting step … Whatever these activities are, there's no way around it; they must get done. It requires self-discipline and applying yourself to tackle them one at a time. The longer they stay on the "to do" list, the longer they steal your energy and motivation, so one at a time, do them and stroke them off the list. Intermingle them with more interesting activities.

We are motivated by our own needs, goals and reactions to our environment. "Motivation refers to the forces either within or external to a person that arouse enthusiasm and persistence to pursue a certain course of action" (Daft, 2005). "Motivation can be defined as the direction and intensity of effort. The direction of effort refers to whether an individual seeks out, approaches, or is attracted to certain situations. The intensity of effort refers to how much effort a person puts forth in a particular situation" (Weinberg & Gould, 2003).

1981 physics Nobel Prize Winner, Arthur Schawlow said that "Creative scientists are especially motivated by a curiosity that compels them to pursue the answers to a scientific puzzle (Matlin, 2009, p. 387)."

Motivation is what moves people to action and influences them to continue to take certain actions. What are these "forces" that arouse enthusiasm and persistence? It is an interesting question….what arouses our curiosity and enthusiasm to tackle some things with great gusto while we don't want to do other things at all? Each of us is different, and therefore curious and enthusiastic about different things. In a regular day, how many things are on your "to do" list that arouse your enthusiasm and curiosity? If the majority of things that you're doing, don't do this, perhaps it's time to take a look at your life's direction and realign it to include more of those activities that arouse your curiosity.

References:

Daft, R.., (2005). Management (7th Ed.), Thomson, Cincinnati, OH.

Matlin, M. (2009). Cognition, 7th Ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.

Weinberg, R. and Gould, D. (2003), Foundations of Sport and Exercise Psychology, Third Edition, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL.

© Carla Weaver 2012


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September 01,2012
Embrace Change

September 1. Summer holidays are over for most. Its Labor Day weekend, and people are back to school and work on Tuesday. Where I am, the wind is blowing and the leaves are falling. EEEK! It is a sign that everything changes and moves in cycles. How do you deal with change? Do you dig in your heels and say, "No, not me. I'm not going to change." Or, do you happily go with the flow and meet change head on, with enthusiasm? Change in all things is inevitable and nothing in the Universe is static. Everything is made of energy, which by its very nature is change. Plants grow, caterpillars turn into butterflies, leaves fall, soil erodes, water flows, people age and die. So, digging in our heels and resisting change only leaves us behind in the flow of the Universe and we miss out on opportunities while we're stuck with our heads in the sand. Move forward with whatever change is occurring in the Universe around you and enjoy the change. Swim in the river of life. Soar on the clouds of opportunity. Walk in the walk of hope. Play in the game of growth. Embrace change.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 01,2012
Express Your Unique Ideas

When we create, where does the inspiration and direction come from? We may get an idea from the Universe, our intuition or looking at something else … a scene, a flower, an object. Perhaps we hear something that gives us an idea … a song, a news story, something said in conversation. What we do with that idea depends on our own unique experience, education, intelligence, ways of looking at things and emotions. What I do with an idea will be different from what you do with the same or a similar idea. Have you ever taken an art class where the entire class paints or draws the same model or still life arrangement? If there are 20 participants, there will be 20 unique and original paintings created from the same idea. Some will paint only the basket of fruit; some will paint only the plant. Some will paint the whole set up including the table, while others will paint the whole set up close up. Some will use square canvases, others will use rectangular. Of the rectangular canvases, some will paint them in portrait format, while others in landscape. So, if you have an idea, recognize that how you will interpret or express it will be different from how anyone else will interpret it, and that is what makes your idea special. Don't discount it or say that it's already been done before. Do it your way. Make it uniquely reflect you by putting your emotions and experience into it. And whatever you do, don't procrastinate. Get on it right away, so that you can reveal your unique creation to others and inspire them.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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September 01,2012
Once in a Blue Moon

Last night, there was a blue moon. We didn't know it was a blue moon, but my brother and I were sitting on the deck at his cottage enjoying the beautiful quiet and peace of being at the lake, and we were intrigued by the moon. It kept interrupting our conversation with its beauty. It was as if it was speaking to us directly. First, it was peaking from behind a soulful arrangement of mysterious clouds. Then, it revealed its fullness to us and shone brightly on the water, its reflection sparkling back at it. Then, the halo around it grew and glowed bright, framing it majestically. It was behind the tree shining through a silhouette of branches and leaves. Next, it popped up to the right of the tree and appeared as interlaced circles. Each time we took notice of these changes, we photographed it. This moon was elusive … not all of the photos turned out, but a couple of them were keepers.

Later, we went inside and read that it was a blue moon. The second full moon within a 30 day period. It never looked BLUE, but it was a full moon in the fullest sense … a moon filled with personality and energy that commanded us to pay attention.

Don't wait for the blue moon. Pay attention to the Universe around you, as it reveals itself to you in many ways.

© Carla Weaver 2012.


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