Life in Balance

Through this online art blog/gallery we can encourage, inspire and share hope with one another…We invite who you to share your “NAPS” (News, Art ,Poetry, Songs) or inspirations. Email if you would like to share inspirations. Please note we can not post advice with regards to nutrition and exercise.

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Love Leaves Its Foot Prints

Dog who helped owner battle eating disorders set for Crufts

Vanessa Holbrow with her dog Jack.

Vanessa Holbrow with her dog Jack.

A woman whose dog gave her a new lease of life after she suffered with eating disorders is hoping her pet will win an award at Crufts.

“To even think I am a person of worth is unimaginable for me, so I can’t put it into words what it would mean to me if we won.”

Vanessa Holbrow, from Berrow, and her dog Jack have made it to the final of the Kennel Club’s Eukanuba Friends for Life competition at this year’s prestigious canine contest.

The four-year-old border terrier has been nominated for the huge impact he has had on Vanessa’s life.

Vanessa, aged 44, has battled with eating disorders throughout her life and has suffered from dissociation and depersonalisation – which affect a person’s sense of reality.

But when she adopted Jack as a 13-month-old puppy Vanessa’s life changed for the better.

She said: “I love walking and I noticed that when I looked at a dog it would make me feel warm inside, despite feeling very low.”

Vanessa Holbrow with her dog Jack.

Vanessa Holbrow with her dog Jack.

When she first adopted Jack he had serious behavioural issues and Vanessa said it took her a year to ‘turn him around’.

She added: “He has taught me some invaluable lessons and the most important thing he has taught me is how to love.

“I’ve had quite a traumatic upbringing and I’d never really attached to anyone before, but Jack is my family.

“He helps me in unimaginable ways, and enables me to be sociable with people.

“I just can’t fathom our journey together and where I have got to in my personal journey.

“To even think I am a person of worth is unimaginable for me, so I can’t put it into words what it would mean to me if we won.”

Vanessa is now a keen fundraiser for Border Terrier Welfare.

Kennel Club spokesman Caroline Kisko said: “Vanessa and Jack are thoroughly deserving of this nomination.

“We have been honoured to hear about the hundreds of dogs throughout the UK who are making a profound difference to people’s lives.

“Each and every one of the finalists has helped to change and save lives in their own unique and special way.”

Article re-posted from

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EDAW Day 7: Facing Fears

Hello All! Michelle from Faces of Recovery here again. Thanks to the Faces of Recovery Members for sharing their messages. I have one final personal message to round off our week of recovery and resilience inspired posts in recognition of EDAW.

Music has always been a big part of my life. I have always loved listening to music and in my teens I started experimenting with playing guitar, piano, singing, and writing songs. I have written a number of songs in my life and sang in a band for a few years in my early twenties, but as far as playing an instrument and singing in front of people went, I was always too scared to play in front of crowds. It wasn’t until recently (at one of Riverwalk’s Songs to Recovery spring concerts, in fact) that I finally got up the nerve to perform in front of people solo – just me and my guitar. It was terrifying and exhilarating in equal measures. I got up there and just closed my eyes and tried to immerse myself in the performance rather than thinking about what other people were thinking of me. And it worked! The performance was not perfect by any means, but I was okay with that. I put my heart and soul into my performance and that was all that really mattered.

For me, a big part of resilience is being able to face your fears. I was terrified of playing music in front of people because I was afraid of failure. I was afraid that if I made a mistake, it would reflect poorly on my worth as a human being. Nowadays I know this to be a false belief. FAIL = First Attempt in Learning. Personally, if I don’t take risks and go out of my comfort zone, even just a little bit, I don’t grow and learn. This is easier said than done but I am working on living this philosophy a little more each day.

Long story short is, I now am a little more comfortable with playing my music in front of people. It still terrifies me, but not to the extent that that fear will stop me. I get too much joy from playing music to let a little thing like fear hold me back. I’d like to share with you a video from a concert that a friend and I played in my backyard for friends and family. The song is called I Will Not Be Taken In and it’s about not allowing yourself to be strung along by unrealistic expectations that others/the media/whomever may have of you. You can find the lyrics below.


A single wave makes its way

Into the universe, a smile that never hurts

The miles you make are etched into your skin

You wear your past like the brand it is

Lost in the barrel of a gun, the spark ignites your sun

The space between the trigger finger and the hammer thumb

I am running from the ones who carry poison on their tongues

I live with knowing this cannot be undone


But I will not be taken in, I will not be taken in by them


There is a notion that I often entertain

But the tide is strong and I can feel it carry me away again

I’m surrounded by an ocean filled with eager eyes

A wasted gaze upon the pavement, ignoring open skies

Anything that you can possibly sink your teeth into

Any word to justify the hate that emanates from you

Any action to unfasten your blame from this abuse

Another fool will live to lose, another tool to use


But I will not be taken in

No I will not be taken in again


You gotta hold on

Don’t let it slip from your grip, Don’t let those colours run

The universe is in your blood

Can’t you feel it rising up, it takes strength to rise above

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EDAW Day 6: Ola’s Resilience



This photo was taken in the summer of 2011. It represents the start of my recovery and a time of immense, deep reflection.

It is vital to know and believe that recovery is possible. There isn’t only light at the end of the tunnel, but a vast range of possibilities. Focus on your life’s greatest passions, reclaiming who you are and where you want to be. Acknowledge the needs of your mind and body. Treat it with respect.

This photo captures genuine connection – one of the simplest pleasures in life. If we can take the time to connect with one another, as tolerant, inclusive and open human beings, we can reduce the stigma and walk a common ground to better understand our collective needs, in turn creating better methods of support. We are better together, but recovery starts with you.

Stay tuff.



Read a poem I wrote about my time in Urbino here.

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EDAW Day 5: Wendy’s Resilience


R – Resilience:  the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity or the like; bouyancy, to spring back/rebound

E – Educate yourself: Learn about your  body…what it’s made up of, how it works and what foods and activities are good to help it thrive.

S – Sustainability: Your recovery plan must be sustainable an9d realistic.  Make lifestyle choices and chose behaviors that you can follow through with for the long term.

I – Informed: Make informed decisions, learn about and be prepared for triggering situations.  Know which environments are safe/unsafe for you and choose accordingly.

L – Life Quality:  focus on the things that you love to do such as hobbies, sports and activities and enjoying time with loved ones.  Remember that all of these things will be compromised in order to sustain an eating disorder.

I – Illness:  Eating disorders are diagnosed, recognized mental health disorders with many contributing factors.  Be kind to yourself, remember that you are not alone and that with support and treatment recovery is possible.

E – Embrace: Embrace your recovery…do whatever it takes to make it happen.  ‘Fake it ‘till ya make it’!!!  Lie to yourself about how great you feel if you have to…if you do it long enough you will start to believe it.  Post positive affirmations where you can see them every day.  Use a toolbox.   Call a friend.  Journal.   Whatever you have to do to get through each moment…DO IT.

N – Nutrition: Learn about nutrition and develop a positive attitude towards food.  Food is fuel that the body needs to function.  Cook with creativity and experiment with new ideas.

C – Control :  Eating disorders are based on control.  Concentrate on managing the things in life that are within your control, and find healthy ways to manage or cope with the events or feelings that are out of your control.

E – Enrich:  Redirect the energy you commit to your eating disorder towards positive change instead.  You will be amazed at just how much energy you actually  have to invest on the things you love when you are not wasting it all on your eating disorder.  Family time, relationships, work, and all other aspects of life are enriched when you have the time and energy to enjoy them 😊

I struggled with an eating disorder for almost 17th years and I know just how hopeless recovery and seem, and how scary the thought of recovery can be.  The journey towards recovery is never an easy one; there will be steps forward and steps backwards, progress and relapse.  There will be friends lost and friends found.  You will remember sadness’ long since buried as well as forgotten joys.   You will experience feelings you would rather not and feelings you didn’t think you could.  At the end of it all though, if you can push through it you will experience so many other things; love, happiness, fulfillment, strong relationships and inner peace are all waiting for you. It will never be easy and it will never be forgotten, but in time the eating disorder and the thoughts that come with it can be more and more like fleeting thoughts replaced by moments of joy and growth.

I remember bring so afraid…I didn’t know who I would be without my eating disorder.  Do not be defined by such an unworthy companion.  Always remember that you are worth it…never give up.

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EDAW Day 3: Affirmations

Hey All! It’s Michelle here from the Faces of Recovery. I would like to share one of my strategies that I used in my earlier stages of recovery to develop resilience. They’re called affirmations.

affirmation 1


Basically they’re positive reminders that I can use when I’m not feeling my best. In my case, I have lots of little messages from my friends reminding me of all the positive things that I have going for me in my life. In my earlier stages of recovery, I had my friends write me positive messages because I felt that it was to difficult to write myself positive messages.

affirmation 2.jpg


I stuck these all around my room and in my bathroom, so that whenever I looked up, I’d remember that I have a lot of good things going for me (including having some wonderful friends who cared enough to write me all of the messages in the first place!). The positive messages would be stuck in my mind without even having to do the work of thinking them up.

Riana's Art

Little by little as I continued on my path to wellness, I was able to write positive messages for myself. Not long after that, I started internalizing the positive messages. Now I’m at a place where I can combat negative self-talk with positive self-talk, and I don’t even need to look at the affirmations to do it! Using affirmations is a great step in combatting negative self talk. Give it a try yourself!