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

Resources to explore and learn during Covid-19 & #WATWB celebrates three years!

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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.

This month also marks our third anniversary, we send a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us throughout the years.  We feel now more than ever that positive stories are needed to help balance all of the heartbreaking news we’ve been hearing in the wake of COVID-19. Having the internet is helping to keep us all connected, to ease the isolation and to let people know they are not alone.  For now, I hope to continue sharing on the last Friday of every month. This month’s five co-hosts are Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas, Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion, and myself Belinda Witzenhausen.

If you are interested in joining us please feel free to check us out on Facebook and Twitter


In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we are now all facing a life-changing crisis.  Most of us will survive this, it will be difficult, challenging and many of us will have to rebuild but many of our grandparents and great grandparents endured their trials too, World wars, famine, diseases and the great depression just to mention a few…and yet here WE are. Most countries are implementing drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus, including social distancing, closing schools, public venues, bars, restaurants or even, putting the entire communities on lockdown.  As a result there seems to be a shift that despite our isolation thanks to the internet we are seeing that we are not alone.

Good deeds are being spread online too…we are seeing celebrities and organizations making extraordinary donations to charities that are in desperate need. We are hearing positive stories of people stepping up to help their communities and many celebrities are going online providing encouragement to help people in isolation.  Due to pleas online from frontline workers some big manufacturers are stopping production of their usual products to help provide essential medical equipment and supplies. Big or small gestures we can do our parts by social distancing (if you are able) keeping ourselves, our families and our communities healthy. Reaching out to those who might be lonely, by just checking in.

While in lockdown or self-isolation we need to try and keep engaged yet positive but unlike previous generations, we have this wonderful thing called the internet. For as much negativity we see at times it is also a wonderful way to reach out to friends, we can video chat with those we are missing, share resources, learn, pick up hobbies and console each other when we are overwhelmed. Museums and Artists have opened their doors virtually to brighten up those who are isolated.  Experts are offering free online help to students who are now being educated at home. Musicians are holding free online concerts and Authors such as Deborah Harkness, V.E. Schwab to name a few are reading their favourite books online via Instagram Stories to their fans. So many things to occupy our time here of my favourite links, most free are:


Museums

Ten Museums to Visit virtually (Smithsonian) ~  Click here

Guggenheim Museum, New York ~  Click here

British Museum, London ~  Click here

Musée d’Orsay, Paris ~  Click here

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam ~ Click here

Louvre, Paris~ Click here


Education

190 universities just launched 600 free online courses ~ Click here

NASA has made their entire collection publicly searchable and copyright-free ~ Click here

Scolastic has created a free “Learning at Home” hub for teachers and families which presents 21 days of engaging, knowledge-building learning journeys for different grade levels that can be accessed at home by kids on any device, even phones. ~ Click here

Fun activities and downloadables for kids~ Click here

Teaching kids about coronavirus ~ Click here


Books

Download free books, e.g. Shakespear, Edgar Allen Poe, Frankenstein from Project Gutenburg ~ Click here

Listening books.org  Audiobooks for people with Parkinson’s Disease, visual impairment, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, mental health difficulty or learning difficulty such as Dyslexia, which impacts the ability to read or hold a book ~ Click here

How to access local libraries virtually~ Click here

Neil Gaiman offers tons of cool stuff for free for you to kill your time with ~ Click here


Music 

Austin City Limits Online Archives and live streaming ~ Click here

Canadian band the Arkells fight COVID-19 social distancing isolation with online music classes via Instagram  ~ Click here

Canadian live streams ~ Click here


Cooking

“Kitchen Quarantine” With Michelin Star Chef Massimo Bottura offering free daily cooking lessons at 3pm EST via Instagram ~ Click here

America’s Test Kitchen posts full episodes of its cooking show, and more than 50 of the most recent episodes are free to stream. ~ Click here


Health and Well-Being

The people behind the Headspace Meditation app are offering a free collection for everyone called “Weathering the storm. It includes meditations, sleep, and movement exercises ~ Click here

Yoga with Adriene my go-to YouTube Yoga instructor has classes for everyone and at every level. ~ Click here

Planet Fitness has a free daily class at 7 p.m. ET on its Facebook Live page. ~ Click Here

The YMCA has a variety of resources for FREE online including Tai Chi, Barre, Youth Sports Performance and Weightlifting. ~ Click here

Even those who aren’t spending every waking moment online but are making the best of it…families are spending more time together, books sales are increasing and even from city blocks, while on lockdown, singers and musicians performing from balconies, fitness instructors are running exercise classes from rooftops, local restaurants closed to the public delivering meals to those on the front lines. Everyone is doing their best!

My advice for what it’s worth, take this seriously, adhere to advice but maintain a cautious optimism. If in isolation take this opportunity to take up a hobby or pursue an existing one, spend time with your family, read, write and create. You can’t control what’s going on but you can control how you respond. A cute little infograph I found on Facebook via TheCounselingTeacher.com puts it in perspective…

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For those brave ones on the front lines, the nurses, doctors, essential store clerks, farmers, truck drivers and all of those who are stepping up in this crisis putting themselves at risk I thank you!

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

~Kitty O’Meara

#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, Information, ProfessorOwlsBookCorner, Writing

Wrapping up 2017! #AmWriting #Coaching #Studying #BookReviews

 

“No matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.” ~ Maya Angelou
December

Hard to believe that 2018 is just around the corner.  This past year has definitely had some huge challenges on all fronts, as well as having to say goodbye to some dear friends and loved family members.  There have been days that have seemed darker than others, but there comes a point where you have to take what you’ve learned, pick yourself up and do your best to make your own happiness.  Personally, I am looking forward to 2018 and I am hopeful for what it brings.  Although this year saw some plans change or be delayed,  I have found that challenges often provide windows of opportunity and I am so thankful for those.  I am setting goals and will be exploring those opportunities in 2018!

In the new year, I hope to resume studying, volunteering and writing as well as launching some new coaching programs over at  IgniteYourCreativity.net.   Both of my coaching programs:“Ignite Your Core Creativity” & “Art As Therapy”  will be relaunching and I will be adding several new e-courses in the Spring. 

This year I also beat my 2017 Goodreads Challenge of reading 125 books in the year. I don’t know if anyone else finds reading fantastic therapy, but it definitely helped this year. I also began doing more book reviews for NetGalley and I plan to continue. 🙂

Over at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, we recently published our December 2017 NewsletterThis month features some great book recommendations, literacy tutoring and writing inspiration for our young writers. 

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On November 24th, we celebrated our ninth instalment of the “We Are The World Blogfest” #WATWB.  We are so thrilled about the fantastic response we are getting and send out a huge thank you to all those who have participated.  

My November post was titled It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.”~W. Mitchell #WATWB”  about an inspirational man who overcame two back-to-back tragedies with grace and humour became a motivation speaker helping others.

Wondering what #WATWB is all about? 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 positive stories led by five co-hosts. If you are interested in learning more about this or to join us please click here for details. #WATWB is taking a break this month but we’ll be back on January 26th, 2018!

I would like to thank all those who have been so supportive this year, your love and kindness mean the world to me (you all know who you are).

Wishing everyone a wonderful December and Happy Holidays!

Cherish your loved ones and may you make some new and heartwarming memories! Wherever you may be in your day or evening, I hope you are making each and every moment count.

Live, laugh & love!

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” ~ Christopher Reeve

#amwriting #researching #urbanfantasy #CelticMythology #mystery #historicalfiction #learning #studying #archaeology #egyptology #manuscriptstudies #palaeography  #codicology #history #arttherapy #coaching #WATWB #bookreviews #art #volunteering #transcribing #amreading  #blogging #authorinterviews #journaling

My Spotify Playlist ~#AmWriting #UrbanFantasy ~ Moon of Morrigan Trilogy

#WATWB, Information, ProfessorOwlsBookCorner, Writing

Making it a November to Remember! #AmWriting #Coaching #Studying #BookReviews

“Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.” 
~ Gilda Radner

November Collage

 

November is here, and in Toronto, we are finally getting some crisp autumn weather. Although I’m not participating in NaNoWriMo my main focus will be writing this month. As usual, November also brings with it more, studying, coaching, blogging and books to review but also a few new projects in the works.

Things are busy at IgniteYourCreativity.net both of my coaching programs:“Ignite Your Core Creativity” & “Art As Therapy” are available this month. Both of these programs are designed to help you embrace your passion, put your dreams into action, and ignite your creativity!

Over at Professor Owl’s Book Corner, we recently published our November 2017 NewsletterThis month features some great book recommendations, literacy tutoring information about NaNoWriMo and writing inspiration for our young writers. 

On October 27th, we celebrated our eighth instalment of the “We Are The World Blogfest” #WATWB.  We are so thrilled about the fantastic response we are getting and send out a huge thank you to all those who have participated.  My October post was titledMagic Wheelchair, Putting a Smile on Children’s Faces! #WATWB about an incredible organization that creates fabulous Halloween costumes for kids in wheelchairs.

Wondering what #WATWB is all about? 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 positive stories led by five co-hosts. If you are interested in learning more about this or to join us please click here for details. Next post is November 24th, 2017!

Wishing everyone a wonderful November and may you make some new and exciting memories! Wherever you may be in your day or evening, I hope you are living in and loving the moment.

Live, laugh & love! ❤

“I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn’t arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I’m going to be happy in it.” 

~Groucho Marx

#amwriting #researching #urbanfantasy #CelticMythology #mystery #historicalfiction #learning #studying #archaeology #egyptology #manuscriptstudies #palaeography  #codicology #history #arttherapy #coaching #WATWB #bookreviews #art #volunteering #transcribing #amreading  #blogging #authorinterviews #journaling

My Spotify Playlist ~#AmWriting #UrbanFantasy ~ Moon of Morrigan Trilogy

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

The Art Of Converting Adversities Into Opportunities #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, Inderpreet Uppal, Lynn Hallbrooks, Eric Lahti, and Mary J Giese. 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.

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via Twitter @muniba_mazari

Muniba Mazari AKA “Iron Lady” is currently living an inspiring life with her husband and son in Pakistan. She is an incredible artist, writer, singer, social activist, motivational speaker, model and ambassador for UN Women, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. Life hasn’t always been easy for Muniba, at the age of 21 while a university student working towards her BA, Muniba was involved in a horrific accident which left her paralyzed from the waist down and wheelchair-bound. Some people would have given up on life and wallowed under the circumstances, but not Muniba. After a period of frustration and hopelessness, Muniba found the strength to move forward realizing she had so much to be grateful for. Tired of staring at white hospital walls Muniba began to find her escape by creating bright colorful art which helped rejuvenate her spirit and brighten her days. She used art to break through the pain and find the beauty in her life. Muniba is much more than an artist though, she has become an advocate for turning adversities into opportunities.

After viewing an advertisement, Muniba began to realize how society objectifies disability, seeing it as a shortcoming. Muniba decided to use her voice, her art, and her spirit to change society’s perceptions of what it means to be disabled. She has carved a wonderful life for herself embracing the positives and not letting anything stop her. Muniba went from being a victim of her fate to being a fighter in life.

As a motivational speaker, Muniba shares her story and is a wonderful role model who teaches us that limitations are just an illusion we create for ourselves but with passion and perseverance nothing can stop us from achieving our goals.

Full TED Talk

“the wheelchair cannot be an excuse for not doing anything……… be grateful for what you have, and trust me, you will end up having more……… learn the art of converting your adversities into opportunities, so be happy, be grateful, be alive and don’t let anyone ‘dis’ your abilities.”~Muniba Mazari

To learn more about Muniba or her artwork check out her website: www.MunibaMazari.com

Chronic Illness, Information, Writing

We’re The Superhumans! #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, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Inderpreet Uppal, Damyanti Biswas and Sylvia Stein.We are also looking for bloggers to help co-host. If you are interested in joining our team please contact me here!


I’m always interested in hearing stories about those individuals who break stereotypes, especially when someone is labelled disabled. Instead of feeding the stereotype many decide to follow their passions and do what they love despite what people “expect”. These individuals believe and achieve!

A Cannes winning advertisement to promote Channel 4’s broadcast of the 2016 Summer Paralympics  “We’re the Superhumans” features disabled people of various backgrounds performing various activities. Set to a performance of the Sammy Davis Jr. song “Yes I Can” by a band consisting of musicians with disabilities the video proves that in fact with the right attitude anything is possible!

We’re The Superhumans

“The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.” ~ Tony Robbins

Chronic Illness, Information, Writing

Writer/Director Doesn’t Let ALS Stop Him #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 Lynn Hallbrooks, Michelle Wallace, Sylvia Stein, Sylvia McGrath, and myself. We are also looking for bloggers to help co-host. If you are interested in joining our team please contact me here!


Those who know me can tell you how passionate I am about living a creative life.  I believe any creative art form has the power to heal, motivate and empower us.  Having the power to lose ourselves in our creative world and to have the ability to make meaning is a gift that so many overlook.  When my husband shared an interview about Simon Fitzmaurice, I was so inspired.  Many of us make excuses for not following our passions, our lives get in the way, we don’t have the time, money, ability etc.,  and we push it to the back of our minds.   Simon despite his challenges decided he needed to pursue his passions and is not letting anything stop him from reaching his dreams.

In 2008, writer and director Simon Fitzmaurice had a perfect life; a wonderful wife, supportive family and was rising star in a promising career his film premiering at Sundance.  The same day Simon and his wife found out they would be expecting their third child they received devastating news about Simon’s health. Simon was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s) and was told he would probably only have four years to live.

Simon could have done what so many of us might have done…given up, accepted our fate, surrendered, but he wouldn’t. Simon loved life too much to just let go and it was important for him to share with his children the importance of never giving up.  Simon lost so much but he chose to take something back, to follow his creativity and live his life to the fullest.  Simon with the support of his family decided to keep pursuing his passion for writing and filmmaking.  Simon lost his mobility, speech and ability to breathe without a respirator but he refused to surrender his creative dream. Simon wrote and directed his movie  “My Name is Emily” which has won worldwide acclaim.

Trailer for My Name Is Emily

In addition to the film, he has written numerous short stories and penned a memoir called “It’s Not Yet Dark” which was made into a documentary, narrated by Colin Farrell and shown at Sundance this year.  With passion, determination and using a Tobii eye gaze software which allowed him to use his eye movements to communicate via voice and writing.

Although life is a constant challenge for Simon he has not let anything stop him from living and loving his life.

Trailer for It’s Not Yet Dark

“Although the world is full of suffering, it also full of overcoming it” ~ Helen Keller

Art, Creativity, Information, Writing

#Music and Memories~Helping #Dementia patients find #Joy #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, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Mary J. Giese, Peter Nena and myself.

I am a firm believer in the healing power of creativity whether it’s in the form of art, writing or music.  Music has always been a part of my life, although I am totally tone deaf and can’t play or sing a note, I grew up with music in my home and it’s still a big part of my life. Growing up I had musicians in my family and our weekends were often filled with friends, family and music. My Grandmother lived with us and although deceased, stories of my Grandad’s musical endeavours were a told with gusto. Now I’m married to a musician and true to tradition most of our get-togethers revolve around music. Although listening to music is very different from playing music, I think music triggers something in us, it has power, it brings alive memories and transforms us.


I came across this video a while back and it resonated with me.  My Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s twenty years ago.  She lived through WWII in London, married my Grandad, the love of her life and had two beautiful daughters.  Although I never met Grandad, through her stories I felt like I knew and loved him. Some of my earliest memories of my Grandmother revolved around music, she would dig out her old vinyl records to play the songs my Grandad performed and she would always end up singing and dancing.  By 2003 the Alzheimer’s had progressed and our family had no choice but to place her in a nursing home. Most days my grandmother would be non-responsive and no longer recognised us.  We would visit regularly and often the home would host a music night for patients where an oldies band would come to entertain. We would often visit on these nights. As soon as the first note was played my grandmother sat straighter, took notice and for the first time in a long time…smiled. Then when the singer would start, my grandmother would jump right in and sing along. She was happy, she still wouldn’t remember us or even my grandad’s passing, but remembered the lyrics to almost every song. It brought her back to those days listening to the love of her life on stage. As family members, we mourn the loss of our loved one’s memories; they forget almost everything and everyone, both the good and the bad. Throughout life she had endured more than her fair share of tragedies but what rang true to me that day was perhaps this disease was a blessing in disguise. Gone were the losses and hardships and her good memories were accessed by something as simple as a song.  Although she passed nine months ago, seeing her smile those nights was perhaps the best gift I could have ever received, it reaffirms that sometimes during difficult times there are always hidden blessings if you look for them.

 For more on how Music and Memory helps elderly residents and facility patients, to volunteer or to donate iPods, please visit www.MusicandMemory.org Get FREE resources on the project! Volunteer an iPod drive! Find a local facility you can help!

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