July 26,2013
Creating in the Middle of Things

I am currently reading a book by one of my favorite creativity gurus, Eric Maisel, in which he describes twelve skills that we need to motivate and inspire ourselves. It is skill six: creating in the middle of things, which has stuck me the most.

"You must learn how to create in the middle of things. You must learn how to create when wars are raging and when your hormones are raging. You must learn how to create even if you hate your country's policies or your own painting style. You must learn how to create even if you are embroiled in a bad marriage or living alone and lonely. You must learn how to create even if you work eight hours a day at a silly job or, sometimes worse, find yourself at home all day with time on your hands (Maisel, 2005, p. 94)."

"If you wait for a better time to create, better than this very moment, if you wait until you feel settled, divinely inspired, perfectly centered, unburdened of your usual worries, or free of your own skin, forget about it. You will still be waiting tomorrow and the next day, wondering why you never managed to begin, wondering how you did such an excellent job of disappointing yourself (Maisel, 2005, p. 94)."

I was particularly struck by this skill because I often find myself putting off my own creative projects because I feel that I need a four hour block or a whole day to tackle them. When working full time and pursuing higher education, it is infrequently possible to set aside large blocks of time to paint, sew, write or garden. But, to achieve my creative goals, I must find a way to create "in the middle of things."

Maisel describes three ways that people react to creating while being in the midst of life's activities: either they don't create at all, or they isolate themselves from life to create, or they "sporadically and accidentally" create.

While I think that I employ all three of these strategies, the one that I most employ is the third: "sporadically and accidentally" creating. Every so often, I find a weekend or a couple of days or a few hours and then I paint or write, and every so often I look at my painting or writing and think that I have created something good. I have often thought that I could be a very good painter if I dedicated more time to it because I believe I have some potential. My writing gets exercised more regularly because I use it in my daily work.

Maisel goes on to describe strategies for creating in the middle of things. "You get a grip on your mind. You articulate and then honor your life mission statement. You convince yourself that meaning must be made, not sought after or waited for. You learn how to generate (and modulate) your creative fires. You become an excellent creativity self-coach, someone who understands the rigors and contours of the journey and has learned how to rappel down cliffs and to ford raging streams (Maisel, 2005, p. 96)." He then mentions several other strategies with catchy names, such as "suit up and show up," "don't snivel," "avoid anticipating," "imagine a flawless ignition system, " and "dropping everything (Maisel, 2005, pp. 96-98). Essentially, all of these strategies come down to simply making the effort, making the time, getting into a routine, having a vision and just doing it. Good reading and a good reminder that I need to make my creativity my priority every day if I'm going to live a creative life and complete the creative projects that I have in mind.

Reference:

Maisel, Eric. 2005. Coaching the Artist Within, New World Library, Novato, CA.

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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July 26,2013
Working with the Passive Aggressive

Perhaps the most difficult personality disorder to work with is the passive aggressive. The book about Toxic Coworkers by Cavaiola and Lavendar (2000) refers to them as the "ultimate obstructionists." In my experience, that is so true. They can delay and be uncooperative to obstruct the progress and creativity of anything. I once had a supervisor who I would describe as passive aggressive, and she managed to "not have time" to review most of my work, so it sat in her inbox or on her desk for weeks and months, while others on the project assumed that I wasn't accomplishing anything. In fact, ultimately, it was true that I wasn't accomplishing anything because my work came to a grinding halt at the point when it needed my supervisor's input or approval to proceed further.

People with this type of personality disorder drive slow to control the traffic behind them, don't have time to review your work or provide the input that you need to proceed with what you're doing, can't find the time to write the cheque that you need to accompany the other documents that you're submitting, forget the thing you need at home for several days and can't seem to remember to bring it in when they come to work, can't find the piece of information that you asked for and don't have time to look for it now, and a host of other excuses that seem legitimate on the surface, but are their way of aggressively obstructing others' progress and controlling the situation.

I regret that I did not know how to handle this personality disorder before in my work life, as I could have made my life a little easier. According to Cavaiola and Lavendar, "These are individuals who have difficulty in expressing their feelings, especially expressing their anger. Therefore, the more confrontational you try to become, the more resistant they will become. You will be better off by developing some strategies for helping yourself cope more effectively with this type of boss. For example, if you're asked to produce a document by a particular deadline, you can make certain the date you submitted the document to your boss is cited in the document itself so you can't be perceived as a slacker if your boss decides to sit on it (Cavaiola and Lavendar, 2000. p. 130)."

I tend to handle things straight on and to express my opinions and concerns. This strategy is not effective with the passive aggressive. Instead, one must continue to remind and follow up in a gentle and non-confrontational manner. One must also communicate with other stakeholders who may be affected by delays in your work to let them know that you've completed your work and are waiting for approval or input.

In my own work and volunteer life, I have encountered several passive aggressive types. I cannot say if these people all had Passive Aggressive Personality Disorders, but I certainly recognize the passive aggressive behaviors, which I found stifling to my creativity and progress. If I have encountered several people with this behavior, then I am sure that many people have had dealings with passive aggressives and that it has presented challenges in their lives, too. I highly recommend the book referenced below.

Reference:

Cavaiola, Alan A., and Lavendar, Neil J. 2000. Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job, New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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July 25,2013
Working with Dysfunctional People

"[…it is not the psychologically healthy coworker or boss who keeps people up worrying all night; it's the psychologically unsound boss or coworker who one worries about, talks about, and obsesses over. It is those situations in which one feels trapped, abused, demeaned, and powerless that keep one exhausted, angry, and frustrated. There are bosses who harass and treat individuals unfairly, often picking as their "favorites" some poor, hardworking employee whose life becomes a wreck as a result. And yes, there is also the employee who is stifled by a difficult administrator who will not allow a new idea to generate without either stifling it or somehow taking credit that is undeserved, and this can be just as frustrating. And it is not just our bosses who drive us crazy. There are also those administrators who spend countless hours dealing with troubled employees who refuse work assignments, who undermine the overall well-being of the organization, or who sabotage anything productive. Human Human resources staffs spend countless hours trying to come up with strategies to deal with personality conflicts between coworkers or between management and staff. … These problems caused by difficult people at work can create enormous disturbances and disruptions in our lives. Some are really amazing in their cruelty, self-centeredness and lack of compassion (Cavaiola and Lavendar, 2000, p. 2)."

Most of us would like to think that we make a difference in the world, and all of us do make a difference. It is just that sometimes we cannot see what difference we are making or have made. We may feel that we are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When we are working with others, sometimes egos are in play, and for some it is more important to win, to have power, or to be in control than it is to do what is right, what is fair, what is in line with a mission, or what is for the highest good of the most people or for an organization.

Organizations, teams and groups are reflective of those who manage them, so when people with dysfunctions, addiction problems, or personality disorders are in charge, the whole organization becomes dysfunctional and problematic.

We tend to assume that the people we meet in the workplace or in other organizations are all what we term "normal." The truth is that addiction and mental health issues affect many people that we encounter in our everyday lives. We may attempt to do our work and find that there are people who are difficult, dramatic, obstructive, abusive, passive aggressive, or bullies in our midst. What then?

The bottom line is that these people stand in the way of our creativity and in the way of their organizations meeting goals and carrying out missions and visions. They may even interfere with our creativity in other areas of our lives if we let them upset us.

Our creativity is our means of making a difference in the world, so we must not let the egos, dramas and dysfunctions of others get in our way. We have choices. We can forge ahead toward our mission with passion and resolve, or we can move on to a culture and organization where our creativity will be supported. One must decide on the best path and follow it. I sometimes wonder if God or the Universe uses dysfunctional people as markers on the path to guide us in a different direction or down a new path?

Reference:

Cavaiola, Alan A., and Lavendar, Neil J. 2000. Toxic Coworkers: How to Deal with Dysfunctional People on the Job, New Harbinger Publications, Inc., Oakland, CA.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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July 23,2013
Choose those who dream, love and create....

I have made a choice to live amongst those who believe in possibilities and those who dream, those who create and those who love. Those who have empathy and caring hearts. Those who have left their egos and live in a place of love.

Everyone wants their own needs met, but how do we balance it so that people take care of themselves and the world still goes around in a spirit of love and community?

Many people don't seem to have the empathy gene. A lot of people got the entitlement gene. Those who feel entitled don't seem to care about others. They have their own best interests at heart. If the world was made up of only these people, there wouldn't be any negotiation, compromise, empathy or understanding. The only way to settle things would be via warfare and conquering.

Well, those who are self-centered, narcissistic, entitled or lacking in empathy may not be able to learn to live in community, but perhaps they can try to learn to compromise, try on the empathy cloak and do their best to compromise. Sadly, many of these folks may not get that this would be a good idea. Maybe when they become so isolated and lonely that they want a way out, they will want to learn to live in community with others.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who constantly try to make the world go around at their own expense by walking too far toward compromise and giving up too much of themselves. We must seek balance. Meet in the middle…don't give up your own serenity for the sake of the entitled. Find collaborators, partners, community leaders, compromisers, negotiators and people who believe in possibilities to hang out with. These are empowering souls who live in a place of love and possibility and work together to make our communities and organizations thrive and grow.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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July 22,2013
Self-Care

Periodically, we must stop and listen to the Universe and quit talking. Meditate and listen. Lately, this has been the best course of action for me. I have been meditating, walking, journaling and listening.

Our world is fast, busy and demanding, and every so often, we must get off the track and take a break.

Self-care is important … caring for ourselves on all levels. Self-care in the spiritual sense means taking the time to meditate, pray, reflect, and get in touch with our inner selves to hear our inner voices. This is how we rejuvenate spiritually.

Self-care in the physical sense means taking care of our bodies … caring for our health by getting enough rest, exercising, eating a healthy diet, refraining from physical addictions, taking time for massage, a pedicure or other physical or aesthetic treatments. This is how we rejuvenate physically.

Emotional self-care means taking care of our feelings – getting or giving a hug to someone we care about, maintaining healthy friendships, spending time with supportive people and discerning between the real friends and those who are too emotionally unhealthy or self-centred to be able to offer healthy friendship. It means spending time with family. It means giving a call to a friend not heard from in a while. This is how we rejuvenate emotionally.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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July 16,2013
Go With the Flow

Recently, I have had to learn to surrender to the flow of the Universe.

I have learned that it will rain if it wants to.

The dog will get sick even if I don't want him to, and his recovery is in God's hands.

The cat will die, even if I don't want him to.

Organizations, clients, employers and employees will make decisions that affect me and they may not care how I am impacted.

People and organizations have their own best interests at heart and they may not know how to, be able to, or want to compromise.

Accidents in the tunnel will happen and I may not get where I'm going.

Getting angry doesn't change much, neither does crying.

The only person who puts me on the top of the priority list is me, so I need to consistently do that.

Learning to accept what the Universe throws at us and taking it in our stride is part of life. These times are times when we can grab onto some of those annoying slogans that people bandy about … "Go with the flow," "Let go and let God," "Easy does it," "One day at a time." What can be annoying about these slogans is that people just spew them out sometimes like clichés without really thinking about their meaning. But, if you really examine the meaning of these short phrases that have become clichés, you see that they are packed with wisdom and are deeply meaningful.

"Go with the flow," for example….a simple command to direct us in the direction of God's will or the Universal flow….it's easier to go with the flow than to try to paddle upstream against all odds and against the direction in which we are being pushed. Accept what's happening and make the best of it. Go firmly in the direction to which you are being guided and life will unfold for your highest good.

Or, "One day at a time" …. We only have the present…tomorrow will be another day and it's not here yet. Stay in the present moment and deal with what you have. If you thought that all of the days would be like this, it might be overwhelming, so just deal with today's issues and don't worry about the past or the future.

What I've learned is to go with the flow….and accept the things I cannot change.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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July 01,2013
Making Amends

Some weeks ago, when I had just returned from an extended time out of the country, I wrote a BLOG called "When All Hell Breaks Loose" describing the many problems that had occurred when I returned home. Specifically, I complained about Canada Post, Aircare and ICBC, and "my bank."

I had paid Canada Post to forward my mail, which was done inconsistently, causing me several inconveniences related to returned cheques that I then had to follow up on and returning my hydro bill causing me to have to explain to BC Hydro why my bills were being returned, and leaving me wondering what other mail might have been returned that I didn't know about. I called Canada Post and voiced my concerns and they refunded me a portion of the fee that I had paid for the forwarding. Thank you.

In the same BLOG, I complained about "my bank," which I did not name. I wrote to their client care centre and was reimbursed for interest and delivery expenses that I incurred when my cards were compromised while I was out of the country. Thank you.

I would like to note that I did not get any satisfaction from either Aircare or ICBC, however.

I write this now to make my own amends to "my bank" and Canada Post, as I am pleased that they did what they could to make the situation right.

It is always important to make amends for our wrong doings. This applies to both businesses and individuals. Making amends does not just mean offering an apology, although that is often called for. Making amends also means amending or changing our behavior. For example, if someone is perpetually late, constant apologies are empty and meaningless. What is called for is changing the late behavior and being on time. If a business consistently offers poor customer service, to make amends they need to revamp their customer service policy and process.

Amends are for us. They make us responsible for our behavior and help us to be better citizens, friends, businesses, employees and family members. They repair broken relationships, and they free us from guilt allowing us to move forward.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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