#WATWB, Quotes

When A Negative Turns Into A Positive #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are  Susan Scott, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese and Damyanti Biswas.  Our next post is on September 27th, 2019! To learn more about WATWB or to join us click here. For updates, news and monthly reminder notifications please join us on our FB page here or follow us on our new Twitter account: @WATWB


“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” ~ Wendy Mass

This is a quote that I love and it rings so true especially in the case of Randa Ragland. When young Mom of five Randa Ragland received a letter in her mailbox from a neighbour calling her house an “eyesore” because the grass and shrubs were so overgrown she was understandably upset.

Complaint Letter to Randa

Ragland whose three-year-old non-verbal autistic son Jaxsen had recently been diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a form of cancer had her hands full. Between taking care of her other children and hospital trips with Jaxsen she didn’t have the time or energy to do much work on her lawn. Frustrated the then took to her Facebook page to explain the state of her house and why it looks the way it does. Little did she know that post, venting her frustration would prompt kind volunteers to unite together and help Randa.

A dedicated group of volunteers including a landscaping company, came to her aid cleaning up her lawn, purchasing supplies for Jaxsen and banding to form a support network for her.

Joey Harding was one such volunteer who showed up to pitch in. He lost his own daughter, Lulu, to the exact same type of cancer that Jaxen is suffering from.

“Words can’t describe what this means to me right now,” he told ABC 7. “It’s helping me cope with losing my daughter, to help another family in need.”

via https://globalnews.ca/news/5735747/mom-son-cancer-gets-spiteful-note/

To see what her neighbours did, watch the video below:

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#WATWB, Quotes

Overcoming Failure #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Shilpa GargSimon FalkDamyanti Biswas, Lizbeth Hartz  and Eric Lahti.


Life is all about learning, growing often facing failure and adversity along the way. For many we give up, abandon or avoid following our dreams because we are scared to fail. As a writer, I have to admit I have done this too. I have actually destroyed manuscripts in haste because of rejection or self doubt. I have given up on more than one occasion for reasons ranging from not having enough time, to health issues which in all honesty weren’t as much reasons as excuses.   Yet each time I have given up or failed, I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and have tried again, possibly because I am stubborn but more simply because I love writing. 

On one of my “giving up” phases someone once mentioned a quote that was blunt, but rung true:
‘If you’re not failing, you’re probably not trying as hard as you could be’ ~ George Church (Harvard)

I am not the first writer to face rejection and I won’t be the last Stephen King’s first novel “Carrie” was rejected something like 30 times before it was accepted. King gave up and threw his first book in the trash. His wife, Tabitha, retrieved the manuscript and encouraged King to finish it. Now, King’s books have sold somewhere in the neighborhood of over 350 million copies, he’s become a household name, with almost every book making various best-seller’s lists not to mention  many have been turned into major blockbuster movies and television series.
No matter what your dreams are I can pretty much guarantee that someone who is a role model in that field has failed and had to overcome adversity multiple times. Check out this infographic from www.invaluable.com for more inspiration…

creatives-overcome-failure-1-768x7413

#WATWB, Personal Development, Quotes, Writing

Never Too Old to Learn: Durge Kami’s Return to School at 69 #WATWB #NeverTooOld #LifeLongLearner

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrathSusan ScottShilpa GargEric Lahti, and myself, Belinda Witzenhausen.

To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


Those who know me well can tell you how much I love learning.  Always interested in improving myself, and to satisfy my love of learning, I am what some may call a “perpetual student”. Often, I have scraped and saved, worked multiple jobs and gone to school part-time just to have the opportunity to learn, but to be honest I have never regretted a second of it.  I have graduated from college, finishing multiple programs over the years:  Art, Counselling, Life Coaching, Writing & Art Therapy.  Each time I have loved and used what I have learned in my professional life most recently by trying to help people heal and find solace through the arts. At almost 50, I am still taking courses, this time to follow a lifetime love of Archaeology, History & Palaeography. When I came across this story about Durge Kami, both his enthusiasm and sheer will, inspired me to keep pursuing my love of learning.

Durge Kami, a 69-year-old widowed father of 7 from Nepal, worked hard all his life to look after his large family. Unable to attend school as a child, after his children grew up and moved on, he decided, finally, to pursue his lifelong dream of formal education. Although old enough to be many of his fellow student’s grandfather and mocked regularly for daring to try, Durge’s hunger for knowledge has driven him to walk for an hour and a half each way just for the opportunity to attend school. Below is Durge’s story, proving you’re never too old to pursue your dreams. I hope you find it as inspirational as I do.

 

“With the wisdom of age, I want to show the light of knowledge to everyone.”

#WATWB, Art, Creativity, Personal Development, Quotes, Writing

Bringing the #Healing Power of #Art to Sick #Children #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Damyanti BiswasSimon FalkShilpa GargMary J. Giese , and Dan Antion.

To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


I am a huge believer in the healing power of art and when watching the video from the CHILDREN’S HEALING ART PROJECT (CHAP) I am convinced. An art program in Portland Oregan designed to help children impacted by a diagnosis, disease, or special needs lose themselves in creating.

 The Children’s Healing Art Project was founded by artist Frank Etxaniz in 2006. Frank was in a serious bus accident in 1989 left his consulting firm, and returned to school to for art, healing himself by doing what he loved. In the 90s  he was involved with AIDS organizations in LA, New York and Berlin and was co-publisher of “100 Legends,” an art portfolio containing the work of AIDS patients. Initially Frank began visiting the hospital’s cancer wing for a few hours a month with a case of art supplies. As of 2017 CHAP provides 40 hours a week at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital and Oregon Health & Science University’s Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center, Knight Cancer Institute and Pediatric Neurosurgery Clinic. CHAP also hosts art clubs for children with chronic illnesses or medical challenges.

To learn more about CHAP please check out their website: https://chappdx.org

#WATWB, Art, Creativity, Personal Development, Quotes, Writing

#Painting with Light, #Blind #Artist Finds his Artistic Voice & Celebrating Two Years of #WATWB🎉

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). This month we celebrate our two-year anniversary and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful co-hosts who help share, visit and promote all of the positive stories our bloggers share. I would also like to thank Lynn Hallbrooks who volunteers to manage our Facebook page. The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation between myself and the wonderful Damyanti Biswas discussing how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath,Damyanti Biswas, Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion, and myself, Belinda Witzenhausen.
To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


If you follow any of my blogs you’ll no doubt notice that I am always sharing stories about individuals who turn their adversities into something positive. Today I’m going to share another one of those stories.

Artist Steven Erra’s vision is slowly deteriorating due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. When he was in college, Steven had no idea he had a disease that would rob him of his sight, in fact, it wasn’t until he was nearly finished his art degree. But Erra was determined to make the most of what sight he had left. Receiving that diagnosis only motivated Erra to further pursue his passion. He began taking photographs and using flashlights to paint images into his work. Personally, I find his work brilliantly creative and unique. These days, he works with The Seeing With Photography Collective, a group of sight-impaired artists who specialize in “light painting.” Watch his story below.

To view Steven Erra’s work online, check out these links:

http://www.literal-latte.com/2015/12/steven-erra/

https://nothingperipheralasightimpairedartist.blogspot.com

#WATWB, Quotes

“Magic table” helps patients with #dementia #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Uppal, and myself, Belinda WitzenhausenTo learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


Working in social services and having had dementia touch my family, I am aware of the path this dreaded disease takes.  Watching a loved one waste away, lose all joy and become apathetic disengaging from life can be incredibly heartbreaking.  Thanks to a Dutch invention, the “magic table” or Tovertafel currently in over 500 nursing homes in the UK  is helping dementia patients engage again with their minds and bodies. Hoping that these become a staple in many long term care facilities and like most technology perhaps eventually a smaller and more affordable option will be available for caregivers everywhere.

Watch here to learn more about Tovertafel:

&

https://www.bbc.com/news/av/stories-45642031/magic

Poem by Stacey Cirillo via Alzheimers.net

Alzheimer's ~ As She Sits

#WATWB, Quotes

Inside the #Library Fighting #Homelessness #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by six co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Sylvia Stein,Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas and Simon Falk.

Our next post will be on February 22nd, 2019. If you would like to join us please click here!


“Sometimes it’s easy to walk by because we know we can’t change someone’s whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.” 
― Mike Yankoski

Who would have guessed that finding refuge in a library would lead one woman to find her purpose, help herself and others in the process?

Many communities in many countries are facing a crisis with regards to the number of people who are homeless.  Working in social services in the past I witnessed first hand the challenges many faced, be it mental health issues, escaping bad situations, substance abuse or a combination of factors, often out of their control. In many cases, I got to know, care and like so many I met. Each had a story and I learned so much from just sitting down and speaking with them.

Cuica Montoya experienced homelessness herself after her husband left her, her home went into foreclosure, she even did a stint in jail as well as having addiction issues. When living rough she would gravitate to the library, being a public place it is often a haven to many on the streets. When Cuica finally realized she couldn’t go on that way, she got help.  Cuica was approached by Elissa Hardy, a Community Resource Specialist with the Denver Library and asked to become a Peer Navigator which gave Cuica purpose and helps her effect change in her community on a daily basis.

Watch Cuica’s story here…

#WATWB, Quotes

Truth and Reconciliation #OrangeShirtDay #EveryChildMatters #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by six co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein and Peter Nena.

Our next post will be on October 26th, 2018. If you would like to join us please click here!


“Peace does not mean an absence of conflicts; differences will always be there. Peace means solving these differences through peaceful means; through dialogue, education, knowledge; and through humane ways.” ~ Dalai Lama XIV

Those who know me know I am a proud Canadian and a huge history buff. There is, however, a shameful and deplorable period of history that spanned over a century and not many Canadians are aware of.  Between the 1870s and the 1990s, the Canadian government was financially responsible for Indian residential schools. These residential schools were found in most of our Canadian provinces and territories with the exception of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.   Indigenous children were sent to these schools, taken from their homes, separated from their families, stripped of their culture, beliefs, and language while enduring horrific mental and physical abuse which many did not survive; all in order to assimilate them to “fit” with European Christian ideals.

To some, this might not seem like an uplifting post but to me, it is, it’s starting a dialogue which will hopefully bring awareness, offer hope, healing, reconciliation and a level of understanding so events like this will never be part of our history again.

Orange Shirt Day began in 2013 as a result of residential school survivor Phyllis Jack Webstad sharing her experience of the day she arrived at a residential school. Webstad shared her story at a legacy of the St. Joseph Mission (SJM) residential school commemoration event held in Williams LakeBritish Columbia, Canada. On her first day at Residential School Phyllis’ had her new orange shirt taken away from her which was just the beginning of what she would lose. The date of September 30th was chosen for the annual event because it is the time of year in which Indigenous children were historically taken from their homes to residential schools. Phyllis’ experience is used today to teach students about residential schools and their assimilation practices. In 2017 Jane Philpott, Canada’s Minister of Indigenous Services and Carolyn BennettIndigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Minister encouraged people across Canada to participate in this commemorative and educational event.

On September 30th by wearing an orange shirt, you are recognizing the survivors of residential schools and helping to bring communities together in the spirit of reconciliation and hope.

For more information about #OrangeShirtDay: http://www.orangeshirtday.org/

#WATWB, Quotes

Never Giving Up on a Dream #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Simon Falk, Andrea Michaels, Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein and myself.

Our next post will be on September 28th 2018. If you would like to join us please click here!


“Take a limitation and turn it into an opportunity. Take an opportunity and turn it into an adventure by dreaming BIG!”
Jo Franz (via Goodreads)

At 18 years old singer and songwriter Mandy Harvey lost her hearing due to a connective tissue disease.   Born with near perfect pitch, Mandy had dreams of one day becoming a choir director and was working hard towards her goal. Without her hearing Mandy resigned to her situation, thought her reason for living and dreams for the future were gone.  But that’s not what ended up happening.  Mandy found a way to “hear” music, just not through her ears, but through vibrations.

Having my husband, several family members and friends be musicians I know how to most of them music seems almost as necessary as eating. It nourishes them body, mind and spirit and without it they struggle or feel as though something is missing.

After years of giving up and accepting her situation Mandy’s love of music, optimism and determination helped her find a way to still pursue her dreams. Although not a choir director, Mandy has garnered a great deal of attention and it doesn’t look like her music career is slowing down anytime soon.

The video below tells Mandy’s story…

Mandy’s Original Song “Try”  (P.S. Get the tissues ready…)

Mandy Harvey’s Official Website: https://mandyharveymusic.com/

#WATWB, Quotes

Overcoming Obstacles by Finding a Way #WATWB

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Welcome to the “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ). The #WATWB was inspired by a simple conversation about how all the negativity on social media was weighing on us. Wanting to make a difference we decided to try to do our part to infuse social media with all the good stories that are out there. We hope to share the stories that show kindness, compassion, hope, overcoming challenges and in general, the impressive resilience of the human spirit. For every dark, negative story out there, there is a positive, heartwarming story that will add some light and lift the human spirit. The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by six co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Peter Nena,
Inderpreet Kaur UppalShilpa Garg, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Sylvia McGrath and myself.

Our next post will be on August 31st, 2018. If you would like to join us please click here!


 

“If it’s important you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.” ~ Ryan Blair

In life, many face challenges that to some would seem impossible to overcome.  Whether it’s health-related, situational, financial…sometimes many just give up. Not Thirty-three-year-old Laurel Burns though. Laurel recently graduated from college with a degree in Medical Administration. Laura did it as a single mother of two children who attended night classes towards her degree, helping her children with homework, driving them around, doing her own homework and understandably multitasking in order to accomplish her goals. Although there are many single-parent families who face the same rigorous lifestyle, Laura faces another challenge, she was born with no arms.  Laurel doesn’t let anything stop her and although she admits at times she faces anxiety she also tries to push herself to find a way to overcome obstacles.  She has learned to type quickly and has also found time to draw and paint and she sells her artwork on her Facebook page (see link below). Laurel is one of those people whose enthusiasm and determination inspire all those who face challenges they think are insurmountable.

The video below tells Laurel’s story…

Check out Laurel’s Facebook page to learn more about this incredible woman. https://www.facebook.com/laurelshome/