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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

https://nothingperipheralasightimpairedartist.blogspot.com

#WATWB, Quotes

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, 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, Quotes

“It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.”~W. Mitchell #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 Stein, Susan Scott, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Andrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas.


Meet W. Mitchell a former US Marine, San Francisco cable-car gripman, small-town mayor and now a well-respected keynote speaker. W. Mitchell has endured a great deal in his life but lives and breaths his motto: “It’s not what happens to you, it’s what you do about it.”

In 1971 he had a horrific motorcycle accident, the first of two life-altering and tragic events. While driving home he was involved in a blazing motorcycle accident leaving him to cope with devastating burns to over 65% of his body. After a painful rehabilitation, a plane crash four years later left him with a spinal injury, unable to use his legs and confined to a wheelchair.

W. Mitchell didn’t let his challenges stop him, he was determined to gain control, adapt to his new situation, and thrive. Since his accidents, he has become an internationally acclaimed mayor, responsible for saving a mountain, a successful businessman, a highly respected environmentalist, an author and an international keynote speaker. He even continued to be a commercial pilot and a whitewater rafting enthusiast. Today, through humour and compassion his message empowers others to accept challenges, embrace change and take action and is living proof that life is what you make it.

Check out W. Mitchell on YouTube:


You can also visit his website: http://www.wmitchell.com

#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