August 31,2013
Ethel Kennedy

Recently, a documentary about Ethel Kennedy, which was created by her youngest daughter, Rory, has been playing on TV. I watched it the other night, and was inspired by the strength, courage and resilience of Ethel Kennedy. She has suffered a lot of loss in her life with the untimely death of both of her parents in a plane crash, the assassination of her brother-in-law, President John F. Kennedy, the tragic shooting of her husband, Bobby Kennedy, and the loss of two of her children Most people would be broken by just one of these untimely loses, and yet Ethel Kennedy has endured the pain of so many losses.

My observations from watching the documentary are that she managed to survive these losses through her strong faith and love in God, her strong sense of purpose to raise her children, her sense of humor, and her ability to get on with things. That is what we must do when the world lets us down, when we experience tragedy or loss, or when we are blocked or discouraged. Get on with things. Find a purpose. Have faith. Keep on going. Find inspiration in others, like Ethel Kennedy.

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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August 30,2013
Don't Be An Accomplice

Bullying is not acceptable in any situation whether it is bigger boys bullying smaller boys in the school yard, or it is a boss bullying an employee at work, or an adult volunteer bullying another adult volunteer at your local hobby or sports club. It is all wrong and it all has a major impact on the person being bullied.

Lately, there is a great deal of focus on the bullying of children, and this is important because children are probably less likely to stand up to bullies, to protect themselves, or to know how to seek help. But, bullying also takes place among adults and it can be as damaging. Adults who are being bullied may not know how to deal with the situation either. They may fear losing their jobs or damaging their reputations if they speak out. In fact, adults may be more inclined to not take the victim seriously or want to deal with the situation.

When we watch it or are aware of it and we don't do anything about it, we are as guilty as the bully. I know from personal experience what it is like to be bullied, and it is shattering. Be aware of the signs.

What is bullying? "Bullying is persistent unwelcome behaviour, mostly using unwarranted or invalid criticism, nit-picking, fault-finding, also exclusion, isolation, being singled out and treated differently, being shouted at, humiliated, excessive monitoring, having verbal and written warnings imposed, and much more. In the workplace, bullying usually focuses on distorted or fabricated allegations of underperformance (http://www.bullyonline.org/workbully/bully.htm , retrieved on August 27, 2013)."

When you observe bullying behavior, you can do something. You can say something to the bully about his or her inappropriate behavior to let them know that it isn't okay. You can report it to someone in authority and/or you can reach out to the victim of the bullying and ask if you can help. Often, the person being bullied doesn't know where to turn.

Don't turn a blind eye. It makes you an accomplice.

If you are the victim of bullying, seek help. Tell someone you trust. Tell your boss. Talk to your human resources department. Tell someone at home. Look for a support group or therapist. Tell your family doctor or your church pastor. Tell a teacher.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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August 25,2013
Cookie 303861

Since the loss of my dog, Tequila, I have felt very lonely. It is hard to get used to an empty house and I was considering whether it is time to adopt another pet. I do not really think that I am ready – it would not be possible to replace Tequila. They are never replaceable, but one can find a new friend to care for and to love.

I was perusing the SPCA website and came across the photo and description of a little dog named Cookie. She is 14 years and 2 months old, and is a Poodle-Maltese cross. Her story says that she had a home for 13 years and was then given away. Somehow, she has found her way to the Burnaby SPCA and no one has claimed her, so she is available for adoption.

My heart was touched by Cookie's story and I connected with her sweet little face. But is it practical to adopt a dog in the last year of its life? The adoption fee at the SPCA now is several hundred dollars and experience has shown that veterinary bills are likely to be significant toward the end of a pet's life. I researched the lifespan of a Poodle-Maltese cross and found it to be approximately 15 years, so the odds are that Cookie will live another year or so. Still, I couldn't get her sweet face out of my mind. Will most people think like I do? She's not going to live long, so they will experience loss soon and she will cost a few thousand dollars in her last year(s). I couldn't bear the thought of Cookie sitting in a cage at the SPCA for the rest of her life, or worse, be euthanized before her time because no one loves her. I don't know if they do that there. But, I thought that Cookie and I could be a match – she could help me recover from the loss of Tequila and I could provide her with love and a good home for the remainder of her life.

As I'm still paying the thousands of dollars in vet bills for my dog, Tequila, who passed away on July 31, I thought that I could offer to foster Cookie – to provide her with love and a home to live out her remaining life. I sent an email to the Burnaby SPCA and made my offer. I received a swift reply – the SPCA has already spent a lot of money on Cookie – blood work and dental care – they are not interested in fostering animals for life – they are a not-for-profit society. A line below that, "OUR MISSION: To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in British Columbia." A slight disconnect, I thought. You'd think from the tone of the note that I was trying to get a free dog for life. I was only trying to do what I am able to do for what I perceive to be a not very adoptable dog. But, maybe she is adoptable…I don't know.

If you or someone you know has a lot of love to give and can afford to take on a dog in Cookie's circumstances, you can find her on the web at http://bcpetsearch.com and search for her by name or number. Or, contact the Burnaby SPCA. Maybe she's been adopted by a good home already. That's what counts and what I hope. And, I hope that she lives much longer than 15 years.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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August 17,2013
I'm Painting

I'm painting. I've made some choices to allow myself more time to paint, and I am trying to challenge myself to do new and interesting work.

I have returned to oils, my first love.

I have decided to participate in a collaborative show in the fall with my artists' guild and members of a local photo guild. Painters will interpret the photographers' work. I selected a photo that inspired me. I am challenged and a little scared, I must admit, as some of the guild's best painters have also selected the same photo. But, I love flowers, the subject of the photo, and I am filled with love for my recently departed dog, which I am channelling into this painting to keep my mind, spirit and body busy and inspired.

I have two other paintings started; they are "family portraits." I was inspired by a painting of a woman and her dog by Bev Binfet, so I decided to adapt the idea. I am painting a woman with her cat and dog, and a woman with a man and dog. They are somewhat melancholy and lonely paintings, which express my losses on the recent passings of my cat, Dave, and my dog, Tequila.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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August 17,2013
Doggy Dates, Artists' Dates and Different Streets

Walk down a different street. That's what I do when I feel lost, lonely, depressed or bored. I get up and do something different that day.

Today is one of those days. Instead of having coffee at my usual haunt on Marine Drive, I am on Crescent Road in a charming outdoor café. This is the place where my recently departed dog and I had our last "doggy date." Sometimes, when I thought that my dog, Tequila, was bored by my routine, I would tell him that we were going on a "doggy date," and I would take him down a different street, too.

Walking down a different street today has actually inspired me to write. For several days, I have been clouded by the sadness of losing my dog and I have not written. But, today, putting myself in a different environment has helped me to break through that block.

When I leave this coffee place, I intend to literally walk down a different street by walking on the nearby beach. And then, I plan to take myself to my favorite gallery to look at paintings. Creativity writer, Julia Cameron, talks about artists' dates – taking ourselves somewhere to inspire ourselves. That is what I will do today. I am walking down a different street to look ahead, to feel positive and to be inspired.

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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August 17,2013
Expressions From the Heart

Sometimes it is in our deepest saddest moments that we are best able to express our creativity from the heart, and often our expressions are motivated by a deep love for someone. Some of the best poetry and love songs have arisen from deep despair, others from deep love at the loss of a love. Country pop singer, Taylor Swift, has said that the only love worth pursuing is the kind that you want to write about.

In my own experience, I have painted three portraits of lost loves and friends to express my grief. I have a portrait of my cat, Dave, who passed away in December 2011, a portrait of an old school friend who passed away and one of a former love. These portraits were expressions of my deep love and feelings of loss at the passing of two of them and from a broken heart and relationship in the third case. I also have a collection of poems that came through me on the occasion of another broken relationship many years ago.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote "How Do I Love Thee?" as a tribute to her love, Robert Browning. The song "Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton and Will Jennings expressed Clapton's pain after the death of his son, and it is one of his most beautiful and loved songs. More public examples of works inspired by loss are the Taj Mahal, built as a memorial to a beloved wife, the poem, "In Flanders Fields," and the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, DC. All of these works are infused with the feelings of their creators.

These are but a few examples of how a deep love or tragedy can inspire creativity. The viewer, reader or listener is able to sense and feel the deep feeling and emotion of the creator. During my last Creativity Workshop, I took the participants into the gallery and asked each attendee to quickly choose a painting that called to them and stand in front of it. In each case, when I asked them to describe what lured them into the painting, it was not the structure … form, color, line, texture. It was the feeling that the work evoked in them. I am not saying that structure is unimportant. I am saying that what sets one creation apart from another is the way that it speaks to the soul of the viewer.

So, how do we infuse a painting with feeling? First, we must feel some affinity for the subject matter or process of making the work. It does not need to be a feeling of love, although that is a good feeling to express in art. But, we may want to make a statement – to draw attention to a matter that is important to us. A feeling of passion for the subject matter is a good start to creating a work that will express feeling. If we feel passionately as we create, then it will come across to the viewer.

Choose your subject matter passionately and express your feelings during your creative process. If you feel anger about acts against human rights, write about them. If you love flowers, paint them. If you are deeply spiritual, paint it or express it in music….

Consider these beautiful words from Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese

XLIII

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men might strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!–and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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August 11,2013
A Night Time Ritual

For the past twelve years, the last thing I have done at night before going to bed was take my dog out. While it was a necessary biological break for the dog, it seems that it became an important ritual for me also. I would gaze at the stars, the moon, and the sky and think about how my day had been, what tomorrow might bring … it was lovely to be outside in the late night air to feel the cool fresh air on my face. I was not even aware that this outdoor sojourn was so important to me.

For the last few nights, as I set out to get ready for bed, I have thought about going outside – It's been my routine for all these years... Then, I remind myself that the dog is gone and I don't have to go out.

Last night, I realized that I miss these late night breaths of fresh air and gazing at the sky. Most of all, I miss my star gazing companion, but I have decided that I will continue this ritual even though he's gone.

It reminds me that the 10th step of the 12 step programs is "Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." It is healthy to take inventory of the day that has passed and to look forward to the next with hope.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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August 08,2013
Life Goes On

Last Tuesday, I set off on a trip with my dog to visit my parents for a few days. Since my dog has been ill, I thought that perhaps he would be happy for the change with more people around and no stairs to climb. I shopped for groceries for his special diet. He seemed happy and well when we arrived, but he passed away the next day.

So, today, I loaded my car for the return trip … an empty kennel, an empty dog bed, his toys, his untouched food. I am filled with sorrow. I have heard that the reason why we feel pain and sorrow is to appreciate and know joy and vice versa. I am trying to transform this into some higher lesson to transmute the pain into something more worthwhile.

I believe that the pain and sorrow I feel in the loss of this special spirit is because he brought so much joy and happiness into my life, but now he's gone and there is an empty place in my heart.

He was always in my shadow – when I woke up, he bounded down the stairs ahead of me and sat tall and proud to say, "Please give me my breakfast." When I arrived home, he greeted me at the door, tail wagging, dog smile on his sweet face. His love was unconditional. At the end of my work day, he shared happy hour with me. I would pour myself a glass of wine and fix a plate of cheese and crackers or pate or hummus and pita. If my snack wasn't sharable with a dog, then I would put a few dog cookies on my plate, and we'd watch Larry King Live. First Larry King went off the air, and now the dog is gone, too. Life goes on.

© Carla Weaver 2013.


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August 04,2013
Without a Map...

Several days ago, I wrote the following, but did not have a chance to post it, as my dog was ill…

This morning, as I was drinking my coffee, I picked up a book that I borrowed from the library and began to read. The book is "Coaching the Artist Within" by Eric Maisel, one of the most interesting authors I have read on the subject of creativity. The book begins with a few short descriptions of coaching sessions with various types of artists: singers, musicians, writers, painters, sculptors…. As I read these scenarios describing various artists' creative challenges, I realized that I am unfocused and without creative goals at this time. In my workshops, I emphasize the importance of setting creative goals, and yet I had reached a point where I did not have any of my own.

Normally, I am focused and driven by goals, and lately, I had many projects to complete … all with demanding deadlines, so outside of these projects, which are currently winding down, I had to let go of some of my creative work. (And, no doubt, the concern that I might lose my dog left me unfocused.) As it dawned on me this morning that I didn't have goals related to my creative work, I was able to make a list of creative projects that I would like to complete, and then I prioritized that list.

Without a map, we do not know which road to take; without goals, we flounder and do not know where to focus our energy.

Make a list of the creative projects that you'd like to complete. Then, prioritize the list and start on the most important project.

Reference:

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

© Carla Weaver 2013


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August 01,2013
Tequila 2001-2013

Yesterday, my precious Tequila passed away at the age of 12 dog years. I am heartbroken and devastated that he is gone and did all that I could to save him. Now I hope that the legend is true that he is waiting for me at the rainbow bridge.

Tequila was my best friend (along with his cat brother and sister, Dave and Pepper) for the last 12 years. Now, they have all passed on, and I can only hope that when Tequila crossed the rainbow bridge to heaven yesterday that Dave and Pepper scampered toward him to greet him and all tails wagged happily.

I saved Tequila's life twice, and he saved mine twice. I met him in Puerto Vallarta, while I was out walking with a friend, in January of 2002. I brought Tequila home to Canada then and we've been pals ever since. That was the first time that I saved his life because I don't think that he would have survived long living on the streets in Mexico. And, that's the first time that I credit Tequila with saving my life….not in the literal sense, but because he came to me at the time when we were losing my Dad, and he brought me such joy throughout his life.

Tequila and I have travelled back to Mexico together many times. On one of those visits, he had the opportunity to save my life a second time. I had rented a small studio apartment at street level on a corner in a neighbourhood away from the tourist area and there was a neighbour who drove a dump truck. The dump truck was parked right outside my front door and its owner had been tinkering with the truck for several hours in the early morning. The truck was left running for a long time. I was semi-conscious – aware of the noise of the neighbour and his truck, annoyed because I wanted to sleep, and I kept dozing through the maintenance mayhem. I was unaware that my apartment was filling up with the exhaust from the truck. Had it not been for Tequila aggressively trying to get me up, he and I and my cat, Dave, might have succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning. When Tequila finally dug me out of bed and I sat up, I realized that my apartment was filled with a blue haze of exhaust fumes. I was confused and lethargic, but managed to get out of bed, get the windows open and flee the apartment with Tequila and Dave. The dump truck was still running spewing out exhaust while its owner had gone to his home down the street. As I called for help and then yelled at the truck driver about almost killing me with his fumes, I felt a warm wet sensation as Tequila quietly peed on my foot.

Tequila came on a few business trips with me to Victoria, where we stayed at the Waddling Dog hotel, which was very dog friendly, and he was glad to be able to accompany me rather than going to the kennel. He also had a couple of trips to the Spa at The Pier in Sidney.

This spring when I returned from Mexico, Tequila became very ill. He had a disease called erhlichia, which he got from a tick in Mexico. He's struggled with that disease since April, and this is the second time that I saved his life. While some vets had seemingly given up on him, others had the faith and persistence to help him fight the disease. He seemed to beat the ehrlichia, but was left with an auto immune deficiency and other complications that took him yesterday. We appreciated the loving care that Tequila received from Dr. Rob Ashburner, Dr. Jessie Hare, Dr. Alberto Schlicht, Dr. Steven Wood and our special friend, Dr. Wayne Hollingshead.

I remember how much he loved to run on the beach, chase squirrels and birds, play ball, play with Dave the cat, and let other dogs know that he was no pushover. He was so gentle….he had two baskets full of toys and he never destroyed one. We still have the first little stuffed black and white dog toy that I bought him when I brought him home in 2002, and it is intact. Always the beach dog, he once stole 4 loaves of bread out of my grocery bag while I wasn't paying attention and had a picnic in the backyard, and then buried his left overs in his secret hiding place under the cedars. He even had a feast on styrofoam cups in the garage one day.

He left this plane, and I am devastated that he's gone, but I know that he had a great life with lots of great friends and a family who loved him. I believe that Tequila was always grateful to me for giving him a home and I am grateful to him for all of the joy he brought to my life.

© Carla Weaver 2013


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