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!

For more information or to join our #WATWB please click here! 

Art, Creativity, Information, Writing

Creating Art Gives Autistic Boy His Voice #WATWB

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Welcome to my first official “We are the World Blogfest” (#WATWB ) post. 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, Simon Falk, Sylvia McGrath, Damyanti Biswas and myself.

My story this month focuses on a young man who despite autism is making a positive name for himself through his art. Those who know me can tell you how passionate I am about the life-changing power of creative expression. Throughout the years, working in various aspects of social services as well as being a writer and artist, I have seen first-hand the healing, empowering and transformative power of expressing oneself in a creative way. Creative arts can give you an outlet, a way to communicate, confidence and the freedom to just “be”. It can help us be the best version of ourselves. There are so many stories of the benefits of creative expression however, this one story, in particular, caught my attention…Meet thirteen-year-old Niam Jain, who is autistic and only able to speak a few words. Watch his story about how his art not only impressed art experts everywhere but also gave him his voice!

Credit: The National ~ CBC News, Toronto, Canada

Check out Niam’s website niamjain.com

If you would like to learn more about art therapy and its benefits please check out: CATA/ACAT Canadian Art Therapy Association or Art Therapy Alliance (Global Resources)

For more information about #WATWB or to join us and help spread positive stories like this click here.

Information, Quotes, Writing

One of my favourite quotes on #writing…

Sometimes I think we all need some inspiration, something to remind us that no matter how old we are there is always a chance for a new beginning. 🙂

Writing Quote

Photograph © Belinda Witzenhausen 2016

“Writing is not like dancing or modeling; it’s not something where — if you missed it by age 19 — you’re finished. It’s never too late. Your writing will only get better as you get older and wiser. If you write something beautiful and important, and the right person somehow discovers it, they will clear room for you on the bookshelves of the world — at any age. At least try.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Writing

My favorite book on Writing Craft by Corinne O’Flynn ( @CorinneOFlynn )

I love to read books on craft. I have many of them, and continue to marvel at the ways these books weave advice about writing in so many ways and yet all hope to get a writer to the same place.  One of my very favorites is The Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson. Read More…My favorite book on Writing Craft by Corinne O’Flynn (@CorinneOFlynn).

PlotWhisperer Cover

Information, Writing

Wednesday Wallpaper for Writers ~ December 18th, 2013 via www.BelindaWitzenhausen.com

Hemingway Wallpaper

“A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

Information, Writing

Wednesday Wallpaper for Writers ~ December 11th, 2013 via www.BelindaWitzenhausen.com

Morrison Wallpaper

“I can’t explain inspiration. A writer is either compelled to write or not. And if I waited for inspiration I wouldn’t really be a writer.”
~Toni Morrison

Information, Writing

Wednesday Wallpaper for Writers ~ December 4th, 2013 via www.BelindaWitzenhausen.com

Alexander Wallpaper

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”
~ Lloyd Alexander

Information, Writing

Wednesday Wallpaper for Writers ~ August 28th, 2013 via www.BelindaWitzenhausen.com

Peck Wallpaper

“We write by the light of every story we have ever read.”
~ Richard Peck

Information, Writing

Wednesday Wallpaper for Writers ~ August 21st, 2013 via www.BelindaWitzenhausen.com

Bradbury Wallpaper

“Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what
you write. The key word is love. You have to  get up in the morning
and write something you love, something to live for.”

~Ray Bradbury

Information, Writing

Wednesday Wallpaper for Writers ~ August 14th, 2013 via www.BelindaWitzenhausen.com

Lewis Wallpaper

“It is impossible to discourage the real writers ~ they don’t give a damn what you say, they’re going to write.”

~Sinclair Lewis