May 31,2013
Are You a Martyr?

Are you a martyr? What's a martyr? Someone who sacrifices his or her life for someone else or a cause and expects to be sainted for it.

We think of Joan of Arc as the ultimate example ... giving her life for a noble cause. Perhaps in history, there have been times when it is admirable to stand up and make a sacrifice for humanity. However, most martyrs only hurt themselves.

I've known several people who are everyday martyrs ... some all the time, some occasionally. I've been one myself. The difference between a martyr and a giving person is that the giving person gives from the heart. It is unselfish. The martyr gives, sacrificing him or herself and expecting to be rewarded. It is conditional and selfish and often manipulative and passive aggressive. The martyr is attempting to fill a need ... an empty soul or some other unfulfilled need. They strive for the recognition. They want the feeling that the giver receives having given from the heart. The more they martyr themselves, the worse they feel because it is not from the heart.

But, ah, to give with love ... to do what you want to do because it is your genuine and heartfelt desire ... that is truly rewarding.

Ask yourself your motives. This is difficult ... to ask ourselves why we truly do something and perhaps face an unwelcome truth ... that our motives may not be sound. But, to face this truth and make a change from being a martyr to a giver is far more rewarding than the accolades we sought and may or may not have received as martyrs.

"I see very clearly that I am continually motivated by the fear that I will always be alone because I will be rejected and 'not be chosen.' So I get caught up in 'Pick me, see me, don't leave me out, choose me.' My behavior around others is motivated by the thought 'Who do you want me to be so you'll choose me?' But the irony is, even if someone does choose me, I don't believe they chose the real me because I was never being really authentic in the first place! I was only being a certain way to get their attention (Adrienne, 1998, pp. 221-222)."

Reference:

Adrienne, (1998). Carol, The Purpose of Your Life: Finding Your Place in the World Using Synchronicity, Intuition and Uncommon Sense," Eagle Brook, New York.

(c) Carla Weaver 2013.


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May 30,2013
Tools to Remove Creative Blocks

Lately, it has been very difficult for me to keep up writing my BLOG for two reasons; 1. I have been extremely busy, stressed and trying to keep up with my schedule, and 2. My busy-ness and stress has blocked my creativity.

In order to be creative, I need some downtime to get in touch with my inner self, my "creative spirit." I also need to feel rested and alert and need a good night's sleep. I need to feel connected to my Creative Source. When I get too busy and don't take the time to take care of myself, I lose my connection to that Creative Source from which I get inspiration.

Ironically, I spent the weekend facilitating a workshop to help others get in touch with their creative spirits. Today, I plan to take the time to use the tools that I know will bring me back to my Creative Source. I intend to become grounded and ready to create.

So, what are the tools that help us to stay connected? First, I believe that we need some spiritual belief system – a belief that there is something greater than ourselves – nature, God, energy, the Universe – whatever we choose to believe. Then, we must align ourselves with it, and I think that the best way to get in touch with that Source is by practicing prayer, meditation and mindfulness.

In prayer, we ask our Source for help to create, connectedness, and a sense of well-being. The regular practice of prayer brings us closer to the Great Creator. Here's a prayer to try:

"Greater Than Myself

Higher Power,
The sky over my head,
The generations that came before,
The stars that shine above,
The world and its creatures,
The body in which I live,
The air I breathe,
The order and way of the universe
All these things are greater than I am.
Who am I to doubt you God?"
(12 Steps: A Way Out)

Mindfulness and meditation help us to slow down from the busy-ness of the outer world and to get further in touch with that Higher Power that is God, the Universe, nature or whatever we choose to call it. Mindfulness means being present and focused on what we are doing right now. It does not mean multi-tasking and worrying and thinking about the next 10 things we need to accomplish. If we are washing the dishes, we are completely focused on doing that task with love.

Meditation is finding a time to listen to God, our inner voices, nature and the Universe. It can be a formal meditation practice, such as yoga or Transcendental Meditation, or it can be a quiet spiritual walk in nature. It can be silent or guided by someone else whose voice is in the room or recorded. It can be quietly listening to music. It is whatever works for us to bring us peace and quiet. I recommend googling "mindfulness," "meditations" or "singing bowls." You will find free guided meditations on the Internet to use to quiet yourself to become in touch with your creative spirit.

Reference:

Friends in Recovery. (1995). The 12 Steps: A Way Out, RFI Publishing Inc., San Diego

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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May 16,2013
"Let Your Freak Flags Fly"

A few weeks ago, I was watching the Juno Awards on TV, when K.D. Lang was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Her words … "Let your freak flags fly and embrace the quirkmeister inside of you."

K.D. has always been a little outside the ordinary and never feared being different. She's accepted an award in a wedding dress and boots, worn cow girl costumes to entertain at the Olympics, put on a concert in her bare feet and effectively combined music genres to make an outstanding contribution to the music of our generation.

So, while KD's words were strange and strong, "Let your freak flags fly and embrace the quirkmeister inside of you," I think that she was saying that we need to express who we are proudly. That's how we live a creative life. Gay or straight, musician or artist, rock and roll or country, black or white, introvert or extravert, corporate employee or entrepreneur, young or old, be who you are from the core out. It doesn't matter if you're different because we're all different, just like the snowflakes – no two alike. It's really a myth when we start to think that we're all alike. Brand marketing tries to make us all alike by appealing to our fears of being different and trying to make us think that if we wear their brand or chew their gum or drive their car that we'll fit in. But, that's just not true. We're all unique.

Our uniqueness is our gift to the world, so don't clothe it in camouflage brand clothes. Stand out and let your freak flag fly! Embrace that quirkmeister within (K.D. Lang, April, 2013)."

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 14,2013
The Creative Organization

A culture that supports creativity and innovation can only be created from the top down. That means that the Board of Directors and CEO must lead and pass down the seeds of creativity and innovation to their managers, who in turn pass it down, and so on, and so on, and so on.

But it isn't enough to set an example and lead with creativity and innovation if you don't provide the tools, training and environment for a motivated and empowered work force. That's a loaded statement! What do you need for an organizational culture that supports and fosters creativity and innovation? A board of directors, CEO and managers that incubate the seeds for an innovative and creative organization through mission, vision, strategic plan, example, action … and tools, processes and systems to support the organization in its creativity and innovation.

You also need a motivated and empowered workforce that is trained and an environment in which creativity is nurtured.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 13,2013
Awareness - Acceptance - Action

Old patterns are hard to change. Often, we do the same things over again because we don't know what else to do or how to change our behavior. We go 'round and 'round and 'round and 'round…hoping for different results. But that's one definition of insanity … doing the same thing over again expecting different results. After all, we all want the best for ourselves, right? So, we wouldn't intentionally sabotage our lives. But, until it gets so miserable or so uncomfortable that we can't stand another ride on that merry-go-round, we'll do it again and again and again and again.

I've heard it said that we can have a creative breakthrough by painting the same thing over and over and over … and then we get so tired of that subject that we do something remarkable and paint it differently … a red sky, a purple wheat field, an upside down house, and it works! All those times that we painted the sky variations of blue and we got more and more bored and eventually, we painted it pink or red or orange, and it worked! It was wonderful…we move beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary, the remarkable, the courageous.

But, we couldn't get there until we were ready … until we were so bored or uncomfortable or tired of the whole thing that we were truly motivated to change.

Sometimes, we keep doing that same old thing and we aren't even aware that we're doing it … then we notice … AWARENESS! We can't change something if we don't know what it is. Then, we have to take ownership … yup …. I've been doing that same old thing over and over and over. ACCEPTANCE. Finally, we decide that it's time to move on. You know those famous quotes …

"I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore (Patty Chayefsky, Network, 1976)," or

"No more Mr. Nice Guy! (Alice Cooper)" or

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.(Anais Nin)"

Time for change… ACTION!

Acceptance – Awareness – Action. That's how we change things.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 09,2013
That's Creativity!

For the last few weeks, I have been dealing with a crisis – a serious illness that my dog contracted. Fortunately, it is curable, and he seems now to be on the road to recovery, but until the last few days, I did not feel confident that he would survive. Caring for him and dealing with my own worry and grief took all of my energy. Instead of writing and painting, I needed to focus all of my creative energy doing what I could to help the situation – prayer, positive thoughts, meditation, caring for my dog, feeding and medicating him, getting him the proper medical care and making related decisions, and taking care of myself.

In life, we are not always creating art. We must create our whole lives, which means dealing with all situations in the best way that we can. Whether we or a family member have an illness or we are looking for work or cleaning up the yard – doing so creatively means connecting to our source and listening for guidance. It means acting from a place of calmness, gentleness, and love, and doing the next most important thing.

So, while there's a fire to put out in the living room, or a sick pet or family member, the government still expects us to file our income tax by April 30th, and the bank still expects that there will be money in our accounts on the day the mortgage is due, and we still need to fill the cupboard with groceries and feed ourselves, and ICBC won't license the car without a trip to Aircare and the work deadlines still exist .. so, find the next most important thing and get it done. That's creativity…

As one of my favorite poems says…

"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!
By Rudyard Kipling"

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 04,2013
Can You Feel the Love When You Create?

The core of creativity is love. Whenever we create something, we love it into existence. Love is an action verb in the creative process. God created the Universe in an act of love. Pro-creation is the result of an act of love. Gardens, books, paintings, plays, houses, sculptures are created by love. Even when we create something as a statement against something, the act of creation is from love. For example, I know an artist who often makes paintings about sexual abuse. While she doesn't love the subject matter, she is passionate and loving about telling her story to change the world. Her work is created from love.

If you're having trouble creating, look for the love. Where's the love in your project? Do you love the subject matter or feel passionate about telling the story? Do you love the work of creating it? How do you feel when you're working on the project? If you don't feel love, think about how you can infuse the work with love.

Michelangelo said, "I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free." Having viewed some of Michelangelo's work in Rome and Florence, I can only believe that his work was an act of love. His David and La Pietà are so delicate and sensitive that they can only be a result of love. Michelangelo also said, "Many believe - and I believe - that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him."

Get in touch with your core of love to explore your creative spirit. As Elton John writes, "Can you feel the love tonight?" Can you feel the love when you create?

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 03,2013
Work with Heart

Every so often, we run across someone who is so competent or so caring or so comfortable in their work that it is both inspiring and gratifying. It is inspiring to see people doing their work with love, passion and kindness. And, unfortunately, it is not usual to see this these days.

Take for example the last two times I went through the Starbucks drive-through in my neighbourhood. The first time, the person on the speaker wasn't listening and asked me to repeat the same information more than once. When I got to the window, she didn`t acknowledge me or even look at me … just reached an arm out the window and passed out the coffee without so much as a "hello" or "have a nice day." The next time, I asked the server for a receipt, and she said, "yes;" then passed the coffee out and turned back to her conversation with her co-worker as If I had been a major interruption. No receipt. These people clearly are not doing what they love and bring no heart to their jobs. This seems to be the norm most places I go.

On the other hand, three weeks ago, I visited the White Rock Animal Clinic with my very sick dog. Dr. Hare tended to him with love and care and immediately put him on the right medication. Over the course of the next three weeks, Dr. Hare and Dr. Wood provided loving and compassionate care, calling me at home to find out how my dog is recovering. My Mom joked that she was thinking of transferring her own medical file to the White Rock Animal Hospital because she was so impressed by the care. My dog is now also being treated by a specialist veterinarian, Dr. Mircovic, who has demonstrated the same care, compassion and love of her work.

One might question my comparison of the Starbucks workers with the highly trained professional veterinarians, but I believe that we can all bring love, compassion and caring to our work, no matter what our profession. When we can`t, then maybe we need to look at why not. Are we in the wrong job? Can we change our attitude? Can we change our career?

While it may appear that the world is operated by money, and thus we might think that it`s okay to take work "for the money," the truth is that the Universe is fueled by love. When we do not fill our lives with love, we go nowhere.

What can I do to bring passion and love to my work? I must operate from my heart.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 02,2013
Silence

Sometimes we must simply sit in silence. There is nothing to be done. Nothing we can do. Nothing to say. At times, life throws us a curve or we need to wait before taking action. We must simply BE. Our world focuses on productivity, taking action and busy-ness, but these are not always the way. Sometimes, it is best to just BE.

Sit in silence – process, meditate, commune with God or the Universe and BE.

Take care of yourself. Take a walk. Have a bubble bath. Read a book. Watch an inspiring movie. Take care of the important stuff. Leave the rest. It will all take care of itself in the right time.

Thank you to my friend, Dell, who reminded me last week of the poem, desiderata, by Max Erhmann…

desiderata - by Max Ehrmann

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy. (Max Ehrmann c.1920)"

© Carla Weaver 2013


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May 01,2013
When All Hell Breaks Loose

I'm not really sure where that saying comes from, but it's one that I remember my Mom using from time to time. It is a saying that perfectly describes that chaos that ensues when you have a practicing alcoholic in your family who's on a binge. That's where I came from, and I can say that bad things happen when an alcoholic goes out drinking.

But, hell can break loose at other times, too. It doesn't need a drinking alcoholic. Sometimes, it just happens. Unexpected crises occur at the worst possible time when we have no extra time or energy to deal with them. Perhaps a gift of living with alcoholism in your family is that you learn to cope with the unexpected.

After being out of the country for several months, I just returned home with a full schedule of workshops, classes and work projects, a trip planned to a conference in Seattle and the general resettling after being away. May I say it again? All Hell Broke Loose!

The major crisis was that my precious dog and best friend became mysteriously and seriously ill. Three veterinarians all said, "This is a complicated case." So, this became my priority – giving him the best care possible and staying with him. And, I love that dog with all of my heart, so I have been very worried.

In the meantime, I was faced with continuing to function in work and life. The first thing – put license plates back on my car. Well, that was not as straightforward as I expected.

First, I asked to continue my ICBC insurance on the monthly payment plan, as I have done for many years. My bank information is on file at my local insurance office. However, the agent refused to use the account number from the screen right in front of her – she wanted me to walk home and back to get my bank account number. I don't have it memorized, and I failed to bring it with me when my friend drove me to the animal hospital with a very sick dog and then dropped me at the insurance office after.

Then, even though our provincial government's cash cow Aircare program has been cancelled, I was told that I could not purchase plates without a trip to Aircare. I left the insurance office in tears. I had no time to go to Aircare on Friday. My dog was sick and I needed a car to go back to the vet to get him and I was supposed to be leaving for Seattle on Saturday for a conference where I was presenting. As I was walking away, I thought that there must be a temporary permit that would allow me to drive my car until I could get it to Aircare. Why didn't those "insurance specialists" try to help me out? I went back and asked and sure enough…I could get a temporary permit. It cost me $122 for 4 days. On Monday, I drove to Aircare and paid my $45. They didn't do the same thorough check of my car as I have experienced on previous trips through Aircare with an older car. They took my $45 and gave me my receipt that said I had passed. Later, when I got home, my mail that had been forwarded to my brother while I was away had arrived by courier. I found my renewal notice from ICBC and clearly written on the bottom of the form was AIRCARE NOT REQUIRED.

I then went to the bank. Well, it seems that criminals are more advanced in bank card technology than the banks are and that bank CEO who gets $9 million a year (plus PERCS) hasn't yet figured out how to provide clients with secure access to their money. In the five months that I was away, my client card was cancelled twice and my VISA once. It seems that someone went shopping on copies of my cards in Columbia. And, guess what … it took a month, yes a MONTH to get a new client card from a bank that claims to provide customer service. Now, I just have to ask myself if that $9 million (plus PERCS) CEO had been out of the country, would it have taken a MONTH to get him a client card? A MONTH and many conversations with bank personnel. Then, a week before I came home, the same client card was compromised a second time, and this time, both client card and VISA were cancelled by the bank, as was my access to online banking. Now, I was told that the only way to get replacement cards and access to my online banking was to visit my branch. Good thing I was planning to come home because I would have had to now, since I could no longer access my money.

Now, you're probably thinking that I must be doing something wrong to have this much bad luck with my bank cards, but I was in a well-known destination and most of the people I know in that city experienced the same problem. And the only place that I used these cards was in bank machines in legitimate banks. When I commented to one of the many bank personnel to whom I spoke, I got a speech about how it isn't the bank's job to fight crime. Well, no, I didn't say that. But, if the bank has a safe full of money, they make sure that it's locked securely and the bank is locked at night so that the bank robbers can't come in and take the money. So, no, it's not their job to hunt down he robbers after the crime, but they have to do their part. If the robbers have keys to that kind of safe, then the bank has to get a new one. So, if the robbers can copy our cards, then it IS the bank's job to find a new way for us to access our money and to try to be accommodating and take less than a MONTH to replace a compromised bank card.

Canada Post took $175 from me to temporarily forward my mail while I was gone. It would have been nice if they had forwarded it, but instead, they sent back almost as much as they forwarded. For example, they returned a number of cheques that I was waiting for and hoping that my assistant would deposit in my account while I was away. Instead, they were returned to sender, so I had to contact the sender, have the cheques resent and wait twice as long. Canada Post returned my BC Hydro bill and Hydro called to find out why I'd moved and not left a forwarding address or disconnected my hydro. So, I've been making calls to straighten out the confusion caused by Canada Post not living up to its obligation to provide the forwarding service that I paid for.

So, as I said, "All Hell Can Break Loose," and I've been trying to cope … making calls to straighten out stray mail problems, licensing my car, taking care of my dog….Thank God, I now think that my dog will survive, and that is what is most important. But who needs all of these other frustrations caused by a society that has given over power to technology and bureaucracy and lost its heart?

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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