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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Seeking Support While You’re on a Waitlist

It takes a lot for someone with an eating disorder to seek help: It takes a lot of courage and can be one of the most terrifying, yet important turning points in an individual’s recovery journey. Making the decision to consider letting go of the eating disorder as a coping mechanism and seeking treatment can be very daunting.

So when someone does reach out, and is told that there is a long waitlist to access a treatment program, it can understandably feel like a huge setback. Oftentimes, the point at which someone is spurred to seek treatment is a very critical time, and not having support during this time can be extremely challenging. Unfortunately, due to a lack of adequate resources in our healthcare system long waitlists are a sad reality for many.

It’s extremely important that individuals who are seeking treatment do not go completely unsupported during this time. Oftentimes there is a forward momentum generated by making the decision to seek treatment and it’s important to nurture and sustain this momentum. While waiting, other forms of support can be incorporated into an individual’s Circle of Support during this time.

Online Support

There are many pro-recovery social media groups and online forums out there that can be a great source of support for individuals dealing with eating disorders and for their supporters. Online forums can also be a low-pressure way for individuals who are still in the contemplative stage of recovery (that is, thinking about recovery but not yet having made a concrete decision to work towards recovery) to explore the idea of seeking support. Some helpful forums include the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC) forum, the Looking Glass forum, the We Bite Back forum, and the Recover Your Life forum. The Anorexia, Bulimia, and eating disorder not otherwise specified (EDNOS) Recovery Support Group on Facebook is a great online space as well and has vigilant admins. Please note that there are a lot of pro-eating disorder (usually called Pro-Ana or Pro-Mia) sites and forums out there that can be extremely unhelpful so please be careful when seeking online support.

Telephone Warm Lines/Information Lines

A Warm Line is a phone line for people who are seeking support but are not currently in a crisis situation. NEDIC has a great information support line listed at the top of their webpage. The Krasman Centre also has a 24 hour Warm Line available for people seeking mental health support (which can be reached at 1-888-777-0979).  

Peer Support Groups

Peer support groups are facilitated by a Peer Support Worker (or Peer Recovery Facilitator, hereafter referred to as a Peer). Peers are individuals who have lived experiences with mental health issues and use their experiences to help people progress in their recovery journey. Peer support groups are a place to share personal histories, successes, and struggles, and to learn strategies for combatting mental health issues. They can be unstructured conversational groups, or they can be more structured and include  support materials, such as Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) groups.For more about peer support groups at Riverwalk visit our support page. The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has various locations all over Ontario and Canada. Visit their website, click the “Find your Local CMHA” button to visit the website of your local CMHA and see what programs they are currently offering. Mood Disorders Association of Ontario (MDAO) also has a comprehensive list of their location-specific peer support groups. The Krasman Centre has locations in Alliston and Richmond Hill and regularly offers peer support groups. 

Other Mental Health Support Groups

These are groups that are not facilitated by peers, but rather are facilitated by mental health professionals. These groups still offer the opportunity to connect with other people with lived experience and share recovery strategies. Support groups are offered at Riverwalk  and Sheena’s Place in Toronto also offers many different types of support groups focused on a variety of recovery topics. CMHA also offers many different support groups focused on different mental health issues and recovery topics. Again, visit their website, click the “Find your Local CMHA” button, and visit the website of your local CMHA to see what programs are currently being offered.

Expressive and Therapeutic Art

Expressive and Therapeutic Art programs can be a great option to be connected and receive support from people with lived experience while also participating in a constructive, creative activity. Engaging in art groups can be a low-pressure way for people to discover constructive ways to rebalance mental health concerns. Many art forms, such as Zentangle or knitting, have documented positive effects of reducing anxiety and increasing mindfulness and a sense of wellbeing. It can be wonderful to connect with others and engage in creative pursuits in a safe, non-judgmental, beautiful environment while receiving support from clinicians such as art therapists or occupational therapists (OTs) as well as others who are working through their mental health issues. Riverwalk offers many different types of Expressive and Therapeutic Art programs in York Region. Sheena’s place in Toronto offers Expressive and Therapeutic Art programs specifically for people with eating disorders.

Phone Support by Mental Health Professionals

Some mental health professionals offer phone support as well as in-person therapy sessions. Please note that private practice clinicians are not often covered by OHIP. NEDIC has a comprehensive resource list of health professionals and organizations that offer support for eating disorders. Get in contact with NEDIC to inquire about professionals/organizations that offer phone support by calling the number at the top of their webpage.

These are just some of the resources that are available. While the above resources do not replace intensive medical treatment that may be required, they can be a great option for bridging the gap that can occur while on a waitlist. Even if you’re not at the point where you are ready to or need to seek intensive medical treatment, adding some of the above resources to your circle of care can help nurture your recovery journey.

If you have some great recovery resources that you’d like to share, or if you’re interested in any of Riverwalk’s programs, please get in contact with us at

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Where We Are by Michael Ferrel

Where we are is a moment in time
Where we are is without precedent
Where we are is a dangerous place
Where we are is troubling and lonely
Where we are is an ongoing struggle
Where we are is a tragedy and a comedy
Where we are has been brought on by success
Where we are is a trial and error
Where we are is what the moment demands
Where we are is an ongoing dialogue
Where we are must not be left behind
Where we are is everyone’s business
Where we are, God only knows
We are with the world above us, beneath us
We are with the living and the dead
We are with the beasts and the angels
We are with the silent, patient earth.
We are with one another
We are with enemies and friends
We are with the seen and the unseen
We are going onward, backwards and forwards,
We are going to decide the future
We are going to make amends
We are going to start all over
We are going back to where we came
We are going to grow together
We are going to where we have never been.

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Nature’s Antidote by Greg Scott

A Personal Journey

A number of years ago I was visiting a friend attending art college in Munster, Germany.  This is a beautiful city on the Rhine with lots of wonderful examples of contemporary and historic architecture, parks, bike paths and many other things you would hope to discover in a European city.  The unique thing about my visit was that it took place while their regular, (every ten years), installation sculpture show called ‘Sculpture Project’ was being held. My friend set me up with a rental bike and sent me on my way with a packed lunch and a map.

It was exciting to travel through the city and come upon sculpture after sculpture of architectural proportions.  Each one grabbing hold of me and shaking me free of my concept of reality, in it’s own unique way. There were giant spheres overlooking a pond, a path that lead you below street level and back again, and a surfboard turned into a giant sunflower with a screen in the center that scrolled a story that pulled  the character’s names from the local phone registry.  Finally, in the courtyard of a magnificent Baroque villa, there  was a great ball made up of crushed plastic animal mascots opposite the compactor that did the job.

I spent that day visiting sculpture after sculpture, with one after the other challenging my concept of reality in different ways.  Each artist was exploring the world and trying to expose our limited sense of our reality.  However, at a certain point I found myself overwhelmed.  It was as if I was being pulled into a thousand different blocks and someone was trying to see what other shapes they could make with them.  I was like a giant box of Lego but, as with most Lego collections, the original building instructions had long been  lost.  As I reflected on all of these alternated realities I had just experienced, I asked myself the question ‘who is remembering how this all goes back together”.

It was at this point that I found myself on one of the many bike trails that intersected the city which are  lined with tall overhanging trees and beautiful gardens.  It was here that I found my answer.  It was Nature; Nature, herself, is the great blueprint of the world, and the natural world is where we must look to bring harmony, balance and healing into our lives.

As an artist and educator, I have come to see that human beings have a deep connection to the world and everything living around us.  Our bodies are made up of the substances of this planet and in this way we are connected to all other life.  However, we can often find ourselves feeling isolated and alone, separate from everything around us.  Why is this?  As when ancient human beings were building their stone circles, all we have to do is look up. There, surrounding us in all directions, are the stars, the planets, the sun, the moon and the vast emptiness of the universe.  These influence everything on the planet yet are not of this earth.  They became aware that they were apart of something much greater than this planet and from then on they started to map the night sky. It is this awareness that makes us unique and gives us a sense of freedom and imagination, yet it can also leave us at times feeling separate and alone.  

From the perspective of evolution our bodies have not changed much over the last 10,000 years; however, over the last 7,000 years, how we live on the earth has been changing rapidly.  Our bodies are effected by our environment in the same way it was 10,000 years ago, yet our influence on the earth has been accelerating at almost exponential levels.  In our excitement and creativity, we are creating wonderful new environments that in many ways are proving to be toxic for us.  It’s like we have been given the keys  to the candy store; our eyes popping out of our heads with all the possibilities and our bodies reeling from the sugar rush.

We can decide how we effect the world around us, but we cannot always decide how the world will effect us.  We must understand this relationship and work with it for we are  a part of it. If we reject this, we can find ourselves disconnected with our environment and ill; if we work with this, we can bring balance and harmony back into our lives.

A teacher of mine once said that if we were to study only one thing it would be the human being, because within the human being is contained all of the forms of the world around us.  All of the beauty, harmony and wisdom of the natural world around us is living within our bodies.  We are a living manifestation of the natural world and can experiencing this at every moment.   Developing a strong and intimate relationship with the earth, through its forms and rhythms, helps us to understand who and what we are and how to live in harmony.  Even in the most hostile environments, we can draw upon this relationship to find harmony and balance.

However, many people today were brought up within an environment that did not expose them to the natural world and they are finding themselves without the inner compass to help them navigate through the hazards of modern society.  By working with natural forms, like plants, or animals, we can experience anew the wonders of creation that live in the world and within us. We can see the simple beauty and the vast wisdom that exists simultaneously in all around us.  The gesture of each living thing which we attempt to draw, paint or sculpt comes to life within us as well.  As we focus our attention on their forms, more is revealed to us that we normally would have missed in our busyness.  A world reveals itself that we never knew existed as new capacities unfold within us.

This exploration continues as we start to look to the inner gestures.  How do these things live and react within their environment, in relationship with other plants and animals?  By sculpting or painting these, we start to bring forth experiences within us.

This now exposes us to another level, a deeper level that is at work within the world, and also within us. It shows us that life is not passive, but has an effect upon and a reaction to everything around it.

A final step we can do is to observe the world as it unfolds, not in little snapshots, or sound-bites, but as an epic tale filled with great wisdom  Guiding the unfolding of every living thing on earth are great archetypal forms that we may see when we bring an open imagination over a period of time.  If you observe a particular plant once a day, or visit a certain place regularly, you will begin to recognize patterns in how things unfold and to develop a sense for how these rhythms can be found within us.  When we can see the world in this way, with all it’s magic and wonders before us, we can experience the world not as a lonely place but as a great celebration.

Through these practices we can bring ourselves back into a relationship with our environment, and ourselves, that is more harmonious and insightful.  This relationship  can help us to understand what is making us ill and what we need to do to bring healing.  This is important for everyone – healers, educators, the sick, the healthy and humankind as a whole.  We need to understand who we are and how we are effected by the world around us, then maybe, we can create a healthy world again.

Greg Scott

Greg Scott has been an educator in the Waldorf School system for the past fifteen years and involved in the Fine Arts for over twenty-five.  He holds degrees in History, Sculpture, Waldorf Education as well as many individual trainings.  His experiences have taken him to over four continents, and he is currently living in British Columbia where he is developing programs for adolescents, youth at risk and other therapeutic initiatives. 

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Movement Teacher Replaces Instinct with Consciousness: Disease Slows Him Down but He Keeps Going


Photo Credit: Natt McFee

Copyright 2016, Mark Judelson

From his earliest memories of childhood, Will Crane’s body was moving in space. He rode surfboards and skateboards, walked tightropes, balanced on stilts, juggled balls, climbed and repelled down cliffs, achieved the rank of San Dan (third degree Black Belt) in Aikido and Menkyo (first degree Black Belt) in Japanese  Sword. For 26 years, he has taught gym and was the Director of Physical Education and Athletics at Green Meadow Waldorf School. Today, at age 64, because of an illness called Peripheral Neuropathy which impairs the transmission of his once finely-tuned nervous system, he has lost significant sensation. His balance and stamina are compromised. Simply remaining upright is a challenge that requires more than he ever imagined as he gracefully surfed big waves of Hawaii, Mexico and California. Others might collapse into the gravity of depression, denial and anger. Not Mr. Crane. After all, his first name is Will and this is one human being who keeps moving.

Born in 1952 on a U.S. Naval base in Guam (where his father was stationed), he remembers “always being interested in the world around me. I was a wanderer, drawn to what was over that next hill. My father was a mechanic and he was deeply interested in the world of machines. His first words were, ‘Go car.’ He was interested in what made them move and how they work. I was drawn to the world of nature and what moved in that world.”

His family ended up in San Diego, California where Mr. Crane lived for most of his childhood. “I was fascinated by what I saw in the clouds. I looked for what was on – and beyond – the horizon. I had a love of nature and somehow knew there was something more than just the physical element of nature.”

When Mr. Crane was nine, he got a bicycle for Christmas. “I jumped on this bike and rode for hours. That allowed me to move farther, with a different dynamic – my activity plus the bicycle. “We lived close to the ocean and I was always drawn towards that element. That was where the horizon was. I’d go and just watch the waves. Once in a while, there were people who were carrying these long, heavy boards. They’d put these boards in the water, paddle out and turn around and ride the waves. I was really fascinated.”

When he was 11, his fascination outgrew observation to actual surfing that involved temporary larceny. “Surfboards in those days were big and heavy. When surfers took a break, they’d leave their boards lying on a pile of seaweed close the water so you didn’t have far to go to get in the water. One day, I couldn’t help myself. Nobody was around. There was this pile of surfboards. I grabbed one and paddled out and turned around and caught my first wave. I was standing and the whole world was going by me! Awesome! I turned around, paddled out again and rode my second wave. As I was coming in,  this giant guy came charging at me. He was angry and ready to beat me up for taking his board but I was so little he just took his board back.” Aside from the near thrashing he almost received at the large hands of his offended victim, surfing took on a huge role in his life. “That joy became an obsession for the next 30 years of my life,” he said.  “I knew I needed to get a surfboard. My first one cost $15 that I earned from delivering newspapers from my bicycle. I took it to the bay but it was so waterlogged that it sunk. It was a learning experience. I saved more money from my paper route and bought a $35 board. It was something I could paddle out with and not rob a board from somebody else,” he chuckled.

Surfing served as a vehicle for Mr. Crane to develop what he refers to as “Sport-Art.” ”For me,” he said, “surfing bridged the gap between the human being and nature.”

In his early 20’s, he began training in Aikido.  “I developed a fascination in the economy of movement of different martial arts. I walked past an Aikido dojo (school) and saw people flying through the air and landing on the mat gracefully. Standing with grace and strength. There was harmony of that movement that fascinated me. And there was a spiritual element. I needed to consciously extend my forces in the spaces around me.”

In 1977, Mr. Crane married and their first child was born shortly after. “I held my newborn son and knew that I had to do something to make the world a better place. He and his wife became interested in Waldorf education.” Waldorf integrates a strong artistic component in all aspects of learning, something that spoke to Mr. Crane. He completed a two year training to become a Waldorf teacher. In 1986 he accepted a teaching position at Green Meadow Waldorf School in Chestnut Ridge.

Three years later, he began training in Spacial Dynamics® in which the moving human being is envisioned as a fluid continuum of body, space, and awareness. “It was the first training of this type in North America. I felt I met my sisters and brothers and this was movement I totally connected with. From the training, I re-connected with my childhood pictures of movement of forces manifesting and streaming through the physical and in the space around us. It was a movement education, a fundamental and essential basis for physical education. I taught movement, games and physical education to grades 1-12 through developmentally appropriate games, exercises and activities. These included running, tagging games, jump rope and rhythmical hand-clapping games, ball games of all sorts, track and field, wrestling, gymnastics, tumbling, acrobatics and physical conditioning exercises and activities.” In the course of his teaching day, he demonstrated what he was teaching. For the past 26 years, he was busy and he was moving.

Over the course of the last eight to ten years, subtle symptoms began to appear such as a change in gait, referred to as “drop foot”. He saw a neurologist, who diagnosed his condition as Peripheral Neuropathy. “In a healthy person, peripheral nerves feed information from our limbs,” he said. “The nerves are saying, ‘This is your location. This is where your weight is bearing. Pay attention – You’re stepping into a hole!’ That information wasn’t getting through to me. What I was able to do before, out of instinct, had to be replaced with effort and consciousness. Without that awareness, I might fall. My studies of Spacial Dynamics® help me tremendously.  It showed me how my awareness and engagement into the space around my physical body can support my movement.”

The neurologist told Mr. Crane that Peripheral Neuropathy is a slow-progressing, degenerative disease and there’s no cure. “He told me, ‘There’s nothing you can do.’ I just couldn’t accept that. My research has become to discover how to regenerate the life forces that are decaying in my own body and restore function.”

Mr. Crane acknowledges the frustration of his condition. “When I’m walking, my balance, mobility and stability are challenged. When the things you love to do, that you’ve done naturally and instinctively for so much of your life, you can’t do – that’s something lost, something taken away. But when I look at the big picture – the degree of human suffering on the earth, I see my condition as something to work through and to learn from. Although I am unable to demonstrate running, jumping and vaulting, I understand the movement with a growing clarity and can lead others to their own experience and understanding of those activities.”

“My research, beginning with my own experience, is to deepen my understanding about these nerve pathways – which are also the movement pathways. To discover how conscious movement can strengthen, support and enliven the life forces of these neural pathways. There are more than 250,000 people in the United States alone who suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy. The most common treatment being offered is pain medication because it can be painful. I want to make progress so that I don’t just help myself but help others. That’s my mission.”

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When Being “You” Is Not Enough


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As a graduate student entering my final year of post-secondary education, I have finally come to accept that it’s okay to not be perfect, not please everyone, and to ask for “me” time without feeling guilty. It took over eight years of battling my inner critic and an eating disorder recovery program to come to this realization. In the past, there were days where all I wanted was to be alone, to avoid having others judge what I ate, to avoid feeling the need to mold myself to fit in, to avoid forced small talk or awkward silences that might come up. The paradox is that all this time spent alone my inner critic was screaming: “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want friends, a boyfriend? You’ll never be good enough for them”. So began the cycle of not being able to appreciate time alone because of harsh self-judgment, but not being able to truly enjoy time with others because of self-doubt and trying to guess what others wanted me to be. Many relationships ended up lacking authenticity and depth – if I let people in too much, they might actually see the real me, imperfections and all.

Now, looking back, I can see that my eating disorder and over-exercise symptoms were a way of coping with the difficult thoughts and emotions related to loneliness, self-criticism, and self-doubt. I internalized the belief that if I looked and acted a certain way, people would like me more. But constantly performing, pleasing, and seeking approval from others was draining and made socializing anxiety-provoking rather than enjoyable. In the worst years of my eating disorder, I spent most days focused on studying for school, thinking about food and planning “meals” (if you can even call them that), and going to the gym (which also involved stepping on the change-room scale). Maybe you are thinking this doesn’t sound that bad, but I was at the gym in first year university every single day. It didn’t matter if I had a hockey game later in the evening, if I had a cold, or even if it was a holiday – I was there on Christmas day, a day meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. I look back on these days filled only with regret – these patterns became ingrained, and soon the time alone felt comfortable, even preferred to being with friends and family. At the time I thought this routine was helping manage my anxiety and stress, but in hindsight it was fuelling it – deep down, I longed for connection and meaningful relationships, but did not know how to develop them while truly being myself.

I just completed a 12 week eating disorder recovery program, and feel that all the pieces of my puzzle have finally come together. I have a caring boyfriend, friends who I see regularly, and a family who has supported me through the ups and downs of my eating disorder. I still have to constantly remind myself that it’s okay to ease up on the rigid rules, habits, and standards I set for myself years ago. I have learned to separate myself from my destructive thoughts and emotions, but I fear that many children, teenagers, and young adults in our society do not have the support or skills to do this for themselves. I have heard countless stories of teasing, bullying, and harsh or helicopter parenting, all which send youth the message that who they are as a person is not enough to be accepted or appreciated by others. It is difficult to form or develop meaningful relationships when you have internalized the idea that your acceptance is conditional, based on what you look like, do for others, or accomplish in your life. For anyone who finds themselves relating to these ideas, I highly recommend reading Brené Brown’s book “Daring Greatly”. In her words, “Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance…True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world”. As I work towards greater self-acceptance and allowing myself to be “me” around others, I challenge you to do the same. Show off your vulnerabilities, imperfections, and fears, and accept others for who they are, not what they look like or do. The innate need for connection and meaningful relationships is a key part of humanity, and no one deserves to feel that being their true self is not good enough to belong and be accepted.

Jessica, Masters Graduate and ED Survivor