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

Chronic Illness, Information

A Reason To Never Give Up #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, Eric LahtiInderpreet Kaur Uppal Roshan Radhakrishnan , Emerald Barnes and Lynn Hallbrooks

Many people who face physical challenges often lose hope and accept that where they are at in their life is where they will always stay.

Arthur Boorman, a disabled veteran of the Gulf War was told by his doctors for 15 years that he would never be able to walk on his own again. Arthur had all but given up hope when one day while surfing the internet he came across a yoga site and decided to contact them. Although I have watched this many times, it never fails to amaze me. To me, this is a perfect example of the amazing resilience of the human spirit. Through perseverance and believing in himself, Arthur changed his life.

Check out Arthur’s inspirational transformation.

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

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.