#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…

90400940_814505308959093_3742759322073956352_o

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, Quotes

Quadriplegic #Photographer Reconnects with his Passion. #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 McGrath, Peter Nena, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti, and myself, Belinda Witzenhausen.

Our next post will be on March, 27th 2020.

If you would like to join us please click here!


 “If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.”~Roy T. Bennett


For many, their dreams of pursuing their passions get derailed for one reason or another, often tragically. Many however, find their way to reconnect with their passions and often in unexpected ways.

Loren Worthington at 21 years old dreamed of being a professional athlete when his future changed in an instant. An elbow to the spine during a game left Loren with an injury to his C5/6 vertebrae rendering his legs paralyzed and limited use of his upper body,  Loren knew his athletic career was over.

Almost two decades after he abandoned his dream, he found a way to pursue his passion for athletics, but this time from behind the lens of a camera. Though confined to a wheelchair, he taught himself to adapt using special equipment and he chose to capture others with disabilities to capture their strength, determination and abilities. Worthington has distinguished himself with his photographs of para-athletes and was requested to photograph the Rio 2016 Paralympics.

The video below tells Loren’s story…

 

Check out Lorens’s website to learn more about this incredible photographer. https://www.worthingtonvisuals.com/index

#WATWB, Art, Chronic Illness

#Community instead of Competition #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 Biswas, Lizbeth Hartz, Shilpa Garg, Mary J. Giese, and Sylvia Stein,

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


“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” ~ Coretta Scott King

When one of the owners of The Local Coffee Company, Dave McAdams went into hospice care following a terminal cancer diagnosis a competitor in his Oak Grove community stepped up.    The future of The Local Coffee Company and his wife Tina’s livelihood seemed up in the air after hearing the tragic news.  McAdams, a well-loved and respected member in his community owns a non-profit, worked with youths,  was a baseball coach, and even a member of the Portland Ghostbusters group. The heartbreaking diagnosis prompted support from his community, including the owner, Pixie Adams of a nearby competitor, Moonlight Coffee House.  Adams closed down her own shop on the one year anniversary of The Local Coffee Company in order to run her competitor’s business for free.  But Adams didn’t stop there, being a breast cancer survivor herself  she used Facebook to create an event which turned it into a fund-raiser. In five hours, the business earned $3,300, all of which will go toward McAdams’ medical expenses and supporting the Local Coffee Company.

“It’s always going to be about friendship over business, community over competition,” Pixie Adams via Washington Post. 

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.”~ Herman Melville

#WATWB, Art, Chronic Illness

#Art for #Recovery ~ Using Art to Help Heal #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 McGrathLizbeth HartzShilpa GargMary Giese, and Belinda Witzenhausen.
To learn more about #WATWB or to join us click here!


“Art is the meeting ground of the world inside and the world outside.”~ Elinor Ulman

Establish in 1988, the University of California, San Francisco’s Art for Recovery (Ernest H Rosenbaum Art for Recovery)Program,  is a creative arts program introducing art, writing and music to adults living with cancer and other potentially terminal illness. To date, it has helped thousands of patients find a voice to express their feelings about their illness.  By being able to communicate they build confidence in themselves and finding a way to cope with life-changing illnesses. 

Approximately 200 patients participate in Art for Recovery’s weekly, three-hour Open Art Studios workshop. Other activities they offer include writing workshops and visits by musicians at Mount Zion and Mission Bay. Volunteer guitarists, harpists and madrigal singers also perform in hospital lobbies. Both inpatients and outpatients may attend and participate.  Program director, since it’s inception, Cynthia Perlis  discusses the benefits of the program in the video below:

“Expressive art therapy integrates all of the arts in a safe, non-judgmental setting to facilitate personal growth and healing. To use the arts expressively means going into our inner realms to discover feelings and to express them through visual art, movement, sound, writing or drama. This process fosters release, self-understanding, insight and awakens creativity and transpersonal states of consciousness.” ~ Natalie Rogers

#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:

#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…

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#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

Overcoming Adversity to Pursue Her Passion ~ Meet #Artist Mariam Pare #WATWB #Mouthpainter

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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 Lizbeth HartzPeter NenaShilpa GargEric Lahti, and  Inderpreet Kaur Uppal. 

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

From when Mariam was young her passions always revolved around art and it was her dream to be an artist when she grew up.  This passion for creating art continued throughout her teenage years, and she began attending college for art.  She was focused on pursuing her dream when in a split second her life changed for good. In 1996, at the age of 20 years old, she became the innocent victim of gang gun violence. While stopped at a stop sign in the driver’s seat of a friend’s car, gunfire erupted on the adjacent sidewalk and a stray bullet went through the door and struck Mariam in her neck paralyzing her instantly and changing her life forever.

So began a new life for Mariam, she was now a quadriplegic and would be spending months, if not years, in rehabilitation, painfully having to relearn how to do everyday activities that like most people, she had previously taken for granted.  Now in a  wheelchair, she had to learn to manoeuvre throughout her day, fighting to do simple things. One of the more difficult things for Mariam was to learn new ways of holding things with fingers that did not grip. She learned to use her mouth for daily tasks that required precision. Greatly missing her art, when a therapist taught Mariam to hold a pencil in her mouth she began by learning to write her name, sparking a revelation that perhaps this would be a way for her to paint as well. This revelation exposed Mariam to a way to pursue her passion, determined to paint, she worked hard, became an artist and is enjoying a successful career.

Watch this to get a glimpse of Mariam’s incredible talent…

Watch to see her meeting with her favourite actor and fellow artist Pierce Brosnan:

Check out her website here: http://www.mariampare.com/

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”

~Henry Ford

#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