Archive for August, 2008

Hope in Bloom

Posted in Bended Bow, Workspace with tags , , , , , on August 28, 2008 by genennis
Roberta Hershon

 Roberta Hershon

Breast cancer has reached epidemic levels in the developed world.  In North America, there are few lives that this disease has not touched in one way or another.  Hope in Bloom was born after breast cancer entered the life of Roberta Hershon.  She founded the organization with the intention of creating sanctuaries for breast cancer patients in their very own garden.  Roberta took time to reflect on this important initiative and balancing running a charity alongside her business, Blue Plate Communications.

Loaded Bow: You are the Founder of Hope in Bloom. Can you tell us a little bit about its story?

Roberta Hershon:  The idea for Hope in Bloom began in the winter of 2005 when my friend Beverly was in the throws of treatment for breast cancer. I brought her a bouquet of flowers every time I visited and saw how she perked up. When spring was in the air, it was clear, Bev couldn’t take care of her own garden. I rallied all our friends to do the work for her. Again, being able to sit outside and admire her own garden provided an escape from the harsh world of cancer. When she passed away, I decided to honor my friend by bringing joy to others going through breast cancer treatment.

Before Hope in Bloom
Before Hope in Bloom
After Hope in Bloom
After Hope in Bloom

LB: Hope in Bloom has set itself apart from many other breast cancer organizations by seeking to support those undergoing treatment through healing gardens. Can you tell us a little bit about the healing properties of gardens and the value of supporting patients in their living space?

RH:  Hope in Bloom does not plant healing gardens per se. That is gardens filled with medicinal herbs. We plant happy places where people can relax, experience color and fragrance and, hopefully, maintain a positive outlook. It’s our way of helping to distance breast cancer patients from the scary world of hospitals and the daily regimented routine they face. Having breast cancer means being surrounded by an endless sea of white coats, chilly treatment facilities and sterile exam rooms.

Studies have shown that gardens provide people with a beautiful haven to experience the calming effects of nature, which increases serotonin. boosts energy levels and wards off depression. In turn these healing benefits elevate morale allowing recipients to be more receptive to medical intervention.

Before Hope in Bloom
Before Hope in Bloom
After Hope in Bloom
After Hope in Bloom

The western medical community is starting to realize how important the mind/body connection is for patients and have a field of study called psychoneuroimmunology that examines how emotions interact with the mind.

We plant gardens for people to enjoy at home because when people are sick, the simple act of dressing to go out in public can be difficult and traveling to a park or an off-site garden is often exhausting. Furthermore, many people who are ill often have no desire to socialize. And, those with compromised immune systems are unlikely to risk infection by visiting a public place unless it is absolutely necessary.

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Amy Osborne: Overseas Midwife

Posted in Workspace with tags , , , , , , on August 22, 2008 by zoepawlak

‘If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other’ – Mother Teresa

Amy in the Philippines

Vancouver native, Amy, has been trained at the National College of Midwifery for her Associates Degree in Midwifery. She then went to UBC for her Bachelor of Science in Animal Biology, and is now completing her second year at Saint James School of Medicine.  Amy has traveled to Australia, Japan, Korea, Thailand, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Kenya, France, Switzerland, Peru, the Caribbean, the U.S. (including Alaska), and Mexico. She has spent time working in the Philippines, Afghanistan, Darfur and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Amy has done over 500 births, with her record shift delivering 10 babies in 24 hours!  Her goals are to return to Africa to work in fistula repairs, work with MSF (aka Doctors without Borders) again, set up clinics in developing countries and train locals in safe deliveries, to go where she’s needed when she’s needed and to live out her life verse (Isaiah 58: 6-14).

Amy is too humble (see the end where I have post all the quotes that are her ‘signature to every email and you will see!) to say she’s a trouper, but she truly is a servant to her calling. Please read and be moved, but note that what follows contains some content that may be difficult (but real) to read.  So, if you are reading this and are supposed to be ‘working on that report’, you may want to wait for an ‘alone moment’.

 Amy in the Philippines

Loaded Bow: So, you were trained as a midwife in El Paso, Texas and then decided to go to the Philippines. How did you choose to start your career there?

Amy: The school where I trained as a midwife was set up so that the students did their school and book-work in El Paso andthen their practicum in a free maternity center that the school had set up in one of the worst slums in the Philippines. It was a pretty amazing place to train as a midwife. There is a strong Catholic influence there so it’s a culture where birth control is rarely practiced and the women have pregnancy after pregnancy. For us, this meant that we were able to get the experience we needed in a much shorter time than it would take in North America. It also meant that we would see rare complications due to the sheer number of deliveries we attended. For the women there, it meant that they were often high-risk pregnancies. The pregnancies were too close together, which is hard on a healthy body never-mind a malnourished body.  

Frequent pregnancies result in the death of 60,000 mothers and children each year in the Philippines. Pregnancy and delivery complications comprise the 6th leading cause of death of women of childbearing age. 63% of women are considered to be at high health risk…. In fact, 50% of pregnant women in the Philippines have anemia and 45% suffer from malnutrition.”

Many of these women were dying unnecessarily, simply because they were delivering with untrained birth attendants and they couldn’t afford to go to the hospital if a complication arose. Our clinics served two purposes. We were learning how to save lives during deliveries, and the women were provided with a safe, clean place to deliver their babies.

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WORKSPACE – Where we Work

Posted in Workspace with tags , , , on August 21, 2008 by zoepawlak

This month Gen and I will be featuring many amazing stories and interviews for and about women working in radical, controversial, unorthodox and innovative work spaces. (In the interview that follows you will read about Amy who has done over 500 births as an overseas midwife!) We are looking at how the current workspace is changing and how work is getting done in this new generation of women who use technology, travel and are working from their homes.

Office Ready

How has the workspace changed? Who are working where? What is the best workspace for you? What does your workspace have that we would envy? Is the contemporary worker more efficient or completely distracted and scattered because if technology? All these questions have been on our mind. Enjoy this month with us as we uncover some of the answers and, as always, if there is anything you would like to see us post about, please write us at or


On Getting Interviews and Being Interviewed

Posted in Loaded Bow: Following Our Story with tags , , , , on August 20, 2008 by zoepawlak

Today I was featured on Ofifteen, a blog by a lovely lady named Olan whose focus is on design, DIY and trendcasts and so forth.  There are two thing I want to mention about inerviews. 

Focus on the task at hand

One, is that to secure an interview you must propose your business or article idea to many publications or blogs.  If you look very closely at who would sincerely be interested, you will have much more success.  Time is most valuable to people these days.  To send a mass email to too many non-related publications or blogs is not only a waste of your time, but is considered amongst professionals to be rude.  I was once applying to galleries in Calgary and got a reply back from a lady that said “If you look at our site, you will see that we only show photography.  Please only apply to that for which you are relevant or eligible.”  Cold, yes. Fair, hell yes.  Had I looked at her site?  No, not really….but I had bbc’ed her to a list i was compiling without respecting her by even looking at her SITE!  How rude!

I spend about 15 minutes per day looking up information, applications or grants.  I apply to things like blogs, Western Living, radio programs and home design TV shows with my paintings regularly, but especially when I have a new bosy of work or an upcoming show.  In an average week I may apply for about 6-10 things.  This takes time and sorting, but has proven well worth it!  Authentically networking online is a great way to promote your business, it is free (apart from your time) and can reap some worthwhile rewards!

The second piece of information I wanted to mention was that when you do get interviewed for something special, but sure to be yourself.  Pre-prepared answers don’t always fly and people want to hear about your STORY.  Focus on what sets your business apart.  Leave them something memorable and before you get interviewed remind yourself what the business was founded one, the spark that ignites it and something funny or wild to mention about your business that makes you approachabel and real.  Also, read interviews that strike you as fantastic and ask yourself why this interview spoke to you.  There you will find your authentic voice.  Remember your rights and don’t ever let the interviewer manipulate your word.  If they are trying to corner you just keep repeating the same truth. 

(Example:  I was interviewed about my controversial show Profession of Hurt and a nasty lady from the Prov_n_e newspaper (not shown here) tried to get me to say some really harsh things about why I had done the portraits of the women killed by Pickton.  I just kept repeating that “My focus for the work is commentary on how media presents us with one set of beliefs or ideas about types of people in society.  The show is largely about how the marginalized poor often bear the brunt of these stereotypes.”  She twisted my words and when the article was printed, she had quoted me on much of what we had talked about ‘casually’ after the formal interview had ended.  Don’t be afraid, but just be aware and confident.  Less is more if you are suspicious of the interviewer or afraid of being misquoted.)


Loaded Bow Hits the Metro as a Mentor

Posted in Loaded Bow: Following Our Story with tags , , , , , , on August 20, 2008 by genennis

This morning I woke up to a big spike in our number of visitors.  It was a nice way to start the day, but I didn’t have a clue where the sudden interest was coming from.  It turns out that LOADED BOW was featured in the Smart Cookies’ column in the Metro

Smart Cookies

The Cookies are a force to be reckoned with.  This group of 5 young friends formed a money group, pulled themselves out of debt and built an impressive list of assets in under 2 years.  They were featured on Oprah, and have gone on to have their own television show, newspaper column, and book.  They are breaking down the taboo of talking about money, and provide solid advice on how to take control of your finances.

So where does LOADED BOW figure into this?  Well, besides the fact that the Smart Cookies’ tag line is: be smart. be rich. be fabulous. (kidding!), the latest Cookie column was focused on factors to think about when you are searching out a mentor.  In addition to advising seeking out a traditional mentorship program and tapping into your network, they also suggested turning to blogs – in this case LOADED BOW – for information and inspiration.  I agree. 

I believe that mentorship relationships can exist on multiple levels and in multiple directions, and that we can – and should – turn to different people for different needs.  I also feel that the value of peer mentoring is often overlooked and undervalued.  By hopping online and searching for blogs that are relevant to your interests and industry, you can often find the advice that you are looking for.  If you find a blogger that you really connect with, don’t hesitate to contact them and say as much, because virtual relationships frequently go “offline” and you never know what doors may be opened for you.

I was honoured to be able to interview Andrea and Robyn of the Smart Cookies earlier this year, and will stay tuned for the launch of their blog, because lord I could use more of their advice!


This Partnership of Mine

Posted in Your Othe Half: Biz Paternships with tags , , , , on August 18, 2008 by zoepawlak

This Partnership of Mine 

Last night Seamus hosted a funeral party for a 48 year old father of two at his restaurant.  When he got home at about 1 am, he squeezed my hand so hard and would not let go.  I said, “You really don’t need to hold onto me that hard.  I’m not going anywhere.”  He said, “I just never want to loose you.”

Having fun helps!

No other partnership compares to that of a marriage.  A bad marriage can be the worst thing and a good one, conversely, can transform your days for the better, bringing out the best in yourself and your business.  If someone were to tell me that there were one person for you in this world, a true love, so to speak, I would have (even on the day of my wedding) laughed and said, “Yes, you find one, that much is true, but there is no ONE for you; Perfectly designed and destined to be yours alone.  I don’t know all the people of the world and so therefore how can I know that no other one is for me?  Of all the ones I have met, you, so far, seem to be the best.”  That now seems crude and not very romantic.  Let’s just say I did not include those exact words in my vows.  I avoided all confrontations with questions related to ‘the one’ with my husband since he has been adamantly convinced of my ‘ONE-ness’ for him since the day we first met!

It is this conviction I see most common in men.  When it comes to many matters of business or relationships or the kind of food they want or their preference in clothes or beer, their conviction is evident.  To say that women change our minds or consider all sides of multiple options may be painting women with a broad brush, but of the partnerships I know, there seems to be a trend in men to know when they know and a convicted trust in that which is right for the partnership or otherwise. 

Partnership meeting time

Seamus’ trust and conviction help me immensely in my business.  He is literally my no. 1 fan.  His conviction in my work and it’s inevitable success pick me up on the dullest of days and his belief in my abilities are so heartfelt that I see no other alternative than to rise to his praise.  He has an undeniably more traditional taste than I which really helps in making paintings that appeal to a larger, more mainstream audience.  There’s only so much ‘eccentric’ on client can take, and for the balance, there’s Seamus’ sound opinion always within my reach.  Seamus reminds me that there are markets that can afford well beyond what I charge and he is so excited to see me sell my paintings for more money.  The Leo in him tells me to go bigger.  I see an increase in profitability and a sincere response from my galleries and clients when I put in place his suggestions.  He is always networking for me and is so proud of how I work, trusting when I take breaks and pushing me to get out to the studio when he sees me avoiding a particular project.  His willingness to help in our home, take Cienna whenever my schedule demands and give up recreational time to be where I need him during busy times are a true show of his commitment to our business. 

His conviction in my ONE-ness and adoration of our lives together are the outcomes of a Great plan that has shown me again and again that he is the partner for me.  I don’t need to meet everyone in the world to know that my world is daily founded upon the Truth of his perfect partnering with me and with our children.  As for business, I wouldn’t be where I am without his ongoing support which manifests itself in so many ways. 

Two things are certain.  1)  It would take a long time to get to know everyone in the world and even then, I’m not guaranteed that any of them would like me, let alone put up with me for a long period of time and 2) there’s really no one like ‘the ONE’!

Conclusion for Partnership month:

Partnerships are difficult and demand sacrifice (see Tranquillo Bay post).  They seem to be the most rewarding businesses in many aspects since there is always someone there to bounce ideas off of and enjoy the fun with (See Rad post about Ral and Danelle).

Partnership month has come to an end and though we are sad to see it go, we are really, really excited about this upcoming month of looking at the Workspace.  This month Gen and I have lined up some great interviews about people who work in unconventional environments and women whose workspace often takes them out of the office setting.  We will look at how workspaces have changed over the years and what this generation expects in a work environment!  We always look forward to hearing from you, so if you work in an interesting space or know anyone who you’d like to see featured, your comments are always warmly welcomed.



An Unlikely but Remarkable Partnership: Israelis, Palestinians and Canadians Peace it Together

Posted in Your Othe Half: Biz Paternships with tags , , , , , , , on August 18, 2008 by genennis
Peace it Together

I still have goose bumps.

I just arrived home from the Peace it Together 2008 World Premiere Film Screening.  In the month leading up to this event 30 Israeli, Palestinian and Canadian youth were brought together on Bowen Island to collaborate on a series of short films in the hope of building a culture of creative leaders.  The results are nothing short of amazing.  You can check out the 2006 films here.

Peace it Together

Partnerships are often rift with challenges but few come with the baggage that these kids brought to their teams.  The roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict run so deep it can be difficult to imagine an end in sight.  Many of the students came to Canada preparing to have to work with – in their own words – their enemy.  It was often their first time meeting someone from the other side of the conflict, and they had to face their preconceptions and their fears.  Intense dialogue and discussion was facilitated between the three groups, with emphasis placed on listening.  The status quo was challenged as powerful friendships developed during the course of this program.

Peace it Together

Through documentaries, dramas and animations, these films explore fear, security, freedom, reconciliation, and peace.  In one film, two young men painfully describe how they lost a loved one at the hands of the other’s country.  Their stories are personal and emotional.  It is easy to empathize with them both and you begin to feel the tug-of-war that exists between these two groups of people.  They then talk about the friendship that they have developed, and the understanding that they have reached between them.  At one point, after the Palestinian has recounted what it is like not to be able to travel within his own country, the Israeli remarks, “I would rather live in fear, than have you live without freedom”.  After the film, the guys came on stage to briefly speak to their experience.  About his Israeli friend, the Palestinian declared, “I love him”.

Powerful stuff.

Peace it Together

The film will be shown to hundreds of thousands of people around the world.  I was happy to open up my wallet to support this project, and I encourage others to do the same (they even accept air miles!).

Major, major kudos to Reena Lazar and Adri Hamael for founding Peace it Together and for pouring their hearts into this amazing program.  They can expect to be hearing from me soon!