#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

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#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/

#WATWB, Art, Chronic Illness

Giving Artists with Disabilities a Place to Thrive! #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 Garg, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Peter Nena, Andrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas.
To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


Although, due to health and personal reasons I had been taking a brief hiatus from #WATWB this video passed through my feeds and I just had to share.

As many are aware I am a huge advocate for art as therapy. Art can help us make sense of our lives and ourselves, can uplift us on the darkest of days, can be healing and transformative but most importantly it can give us a voice. At Creative Growth Art Center a non-profit in Oakland, California it does just that. Since opening their doors in 1974 the centre has worked with hundreds of artists with developmental, mental and physical disabilities providing them with tools, space, inspiration and support to thrive as artists. Serving approximately 162 artists a week they cater to a multiple of mediums from painting and drawing to wordworking and fashion. Although many of the clients are non-verbal, here, art is the common language.

Today, artists represented by Creative Growth have been invited to the Venice Biennale, have had their works acquired by MoMA, and remain are making a wonderful name for themselves among collectors around the world.

To learn more about the centre and their programs click here: http://www.creativegrowth.org/category/news/

#WATWB

Armchair Archaeologist~ Helping piece together the puzzle. #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, Sylvia Stein, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti and myself. To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


Talk to those who know me and they can tell you how passionate I am about history and archaeology. I study archaeology, read about it and even write fiction about it. I also include the term “armchair archaeologist” in most of my bios, so when I found this video…well, I just had to share it. 😊

Meet Sarah Parcak, a modern-day Indiana Jones whose job title is space archaeologist. Space archaeology uses satellite imagery in order to find hidden ancient sites throughout the world. With GlobalXplorer, an online platform, which uses everyday people working together online to protect and monitor archaeological sites. Through GlobalXplorer Parcak is empowering others who might not be able to run off and “play Indy” to become “armchair archaeologists”. One such person is 90 year old Doris Jones. Doris is one of the leading contributors to GlobalXplorer, having mapped out thousands of sites using her home computer she has helped Parcak gain valuable information to help the archaeological community. Thanks to people like Jones and Parcak, more and more pieces of our human history are being put into the puzzle that is our past.

Please check out this video…

To learn more about GlobalXplorer or join the mission click here: https://www.globalxplorer.org/

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” ~ George Eliot
#WATWB, Quotes

The Power of Forgiveness #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 Garg, Peter Nena, Eric Lahti, Roshan Radhakrishnan and Inderpreet Kaur Uppal


In 1995, Ples Felix’s 14-year-old grandson, Tony Hicks, as part of a drug and alcohol-fueled gang initiation shot and killed Azim Khamisa’s son Tariq in cold blood. Losing his son was perhaps one of the worse tragedies any parent could endure. It could have spawned more hate, more anger which under the circumstances would be expected. However that is not what Azim Khamisa wanted for his life, or his son’s memory. Azim decided that anger would not be the solution, both boys were victims. In the same vein Felix had to face the fact that his grandson was responsible for killing another person, an innocent teen. Both teens had a life ahead of them, that would no longer be. Felix and his grandson met with Azim from there life changed for all of them. Khamisa and Felix both had to travel down paths of deep meditation and prayer to focus on forgiveness, instead of issuing blame and both chose to become part of the solution. In a courageous act of these two men are working together, using their story to cultivate a more empathetic, peaceful and compassionate society showing victims of tragedy that they can grow and heal. They started the Tariq Khamisa Foundation to educate, counsel and support children and teens on how to live life with peace and empathy. The video below tells their story….

“Peace is possible,” Khamisa says. “How do I know that? Because I am at peace.”

Visit The Tariq Khamisa Foundation website: tkg.org

#WATWB

Five Incredible Tales of Human Kindness! #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 Shilpa GargSimon FalkLynn HallbrooksEric Lahti, Damyanti Biswas and Guilie Castillo. To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


After a break last month, #WATWB is back and ready to start 2018 with not one, but five stories of incredible human kindness!
Many of us in North America are experiencing a very bleak and cold winter, what better way for us to warm our hearts than to hear about five incredible tales of human kindness! This video introduces us to five amazing individuals who use their passions to help others.  We hear about a theatre company that views disabilities as special abilities, a retiree who makes socks for the homeless, a surf instructor who teaches others to ride the waves in and out of the water and a dance instructor helping refugees express themselves through dance.  We also hear more from Magic Wheelchair who I featured in my October #WATWB post. 🙂