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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Anorexia Recovery Tips from Someone Who’s Been There

Making the decision to start the journey of recovery from an eating disorder (ED) can be one of the most important, yet scariest decisions of your life. It can be hard to think of a good starting point when it comes to addressing ingrained thoughts and behaviours. Here are some tips from Michelle from Riverwalk’s Faces of Recovery campaign:

It can be difficult to try to go it alone. Share your struggles with a trusted supporter and let them know that what you are going through is serious. Educate yourself and refer trusted supporters to information from NEDIC to help educate them. Let them know that you are thinking about making a change, but that it will be very difficult and you’ll need their help. Offer specific suggestions for things they can do to help you and let them know about things they do/say that aren’t helpful. Here is a helpful article about readiness to change that you can read and share with your supporters.

Some people have found treatment programs to be helpful. Waitlists for OHIP-covered treatment programs can be long so if you think you need intensive treatment, talk to your family doctor and seek a referral ASAP. For info on what you can do while you’re on a waitlist, check out this article. Here are some more helpful links. Medical monitoring can also be important, which is why I made regular appointments with my family doctor.

These are some strategies that worked for me: In order to normalize my eating, I made small, manageable changes to my food repertoire. I added things that were challenging, but doable. I tried to add one new thing each week, without taking the previous week’s thing away. If that’s too challenging to begin with, try giving yourself a limited time (eg. 4 weeks). But after that amount of time, try to start normalizing your eating by adding one new thing each week. You can also try to make small, manageable changes to your exercise routine by lessening your amount of time/intensity by small increments each week. Do 5 minutes less each week, or do 5 mins of stretching/cool down instead of more intensive exercise. (Please note: This is not intended to act as medical advice – these are just some strategies that worked for me.)

Give your scale to a trusted supporter and try to cut down your use of it. Limit to 2 or 3 days a week and make it so you have to ask for it from your supporter in order to use it. If possible, just stop using it! It’s just a number and it is not an indication of health or self-worth.

Things I did and kept in mind to make these changes more tolerable:

  • Use the mantra! Health = Freedom.
  • Focus on health and nutrition. You are fueling your body with healthy nutrients so it can have energy to do the things you want to do.
  • Remember that if you continue to work out like crazy and not fuel yourself, your body will start consuming your muscle to survive.
  • Remember that if you don’t fuel yourself, your concentration and memory and energy will continue to diminish. Next, your body will start consuming muscle and bone. Then your body will start consuming your organs. Next is death. This is not speculation, this is FACT. Anorexia is THE MOST lethal mental illness.
  • Remember that when you start normalizing your eating, the urge to binge will diminish. The urge to binge is your body’s survival mechanism.
  • Remember all the reasons why you’re making this change! If it’s helpful, write them on a bright, colourful piece of paper and stick it up somewhere visible. This could be:
    • Wanting to be able to enjoy food and cooking again!
    • Wanting to be able to enjoy social events and time with friends again!
    • Not wanting to be deceptive any more!
    • Not wanting to spend your whole cognitive energy on counting, obsessing, tallying, etc.!
    • Wanting to have energy and be able to concentrate!
    • Wanting to be fit! You need fuel to be fit, otherwise your body will start consuming your muscle, bone, etc.

Check out Faces of Recovery member Wendy’s video for some more strategies on how to normalize eating in recovery and how to cope with difficulties using wellness activities. You can also explore occupational therapy support through Riverwalk to learn about how making changes to your daily activities can help with mental health.

YOU CAN DO IT! It will be really hard but remind yourself of the reasons why you want to make a change, write them down and stick them up around your house! Think of all the wonderful things you can do with your life when you don’t have your eating disorder! Imagine a future without your ED and allow yourself to conceive of this future as better, healthier, more free, happier, more fulfilling than the life you’re living now. Because I guarantee it will be.

Keep fighting the good fight!

In Solidarity,


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Home-made and Found Instruments!

Last month we had our Music as Expression group in Newmarket. We got together each Saturday to play music together – sometimes we just did free jams, but we also looked up pop songs online to play and sing together.

Percussion instruments were available for people to play, but some folks got really creative and made instruments out of things around their houses! It just goes to show that music can be found anywhere!

Keep an eye on our Expressive and Therapeutic Arts page to find out when the next Music group will be, and to learn about upcoming arts groups in your community!


A souvenir harmonica from the Rock n Roll hall of fame, a shaker made out of a container filled with dice, a shaker made out of a tupperware container filled with rice, a package of bells used for sewing, and an old phone charger + small flag used as a block to hit!

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Art Heals

Art Heals challenges viewer to see the world through new eyes

March 15, 2017
By Brock Weir
Reposted from The Auroran

People spend so much time thinking, ‘If only I had more time, I would…” and, according to Shannon Leigh Phair, they invariably have a list of things to fill in that blank. But, what if the real question was what you would do if you had less time?
That is the question Ms. Phair started weighing when, in February of 2014, she was diagnosed with colon cancer aged just 32.
Still fighting the fight, the Beeton resident says she has always known deep down she is an artist at heart, but her diagnoses gave her the opportunity to explore deeper that side of herself, a side which had taken a back seat to her nine-to-five job.
The results of this exploration form part of the Art Heals exhibition now on at the Aurora Cultural Centre featuring artists from York, Durham and Simcoe Regions whose works are the end result of their healing process. Curated by Clare Bolton of the Aurora Cultural Centre, the Art Cures project is spearheaded by Allan O’Marra who saw several instances of the healing power of art while working with Mental Health Sciences in Whitby.
“In 2015, I conceived the idea of asking fellow artists to create works of art with emotional healing in mind,” said Mr. O’Marra in a statement. “The premise of the show was for each artist to create a work of art that, in its creation, deals with, and hopefully helps in the healing process of personal issues such as past discrimination issues, marital or family problems, past-life issues, serious disappointments, and so on.”
Ms. Phair, who attended high school at Dr. G.W. Williams Secondary School with her now-husband, didn’t have far to look for inspiration. Her creation, “Mixed Feelings” is a series of mixed media blocks bearing various thoughts that came to the artists’ mind in the earlier stages of her cancer fight.
“My genes made a deal with my life to have a crystal clear perspective at the highest cost,” she says of the dialogue she has with herself through these blocks. “In some strange way I feel lucky to have been diagnosed with a terrible disease because it has given me the gift of perspective. The perspective we have in life can make all the difference. Maybe I am naïve or too positive, but this is what keeps me going.
“My feelings have changed a lot over the past three years. I do whatever I want when I want with who I want. I become picky about who I spend my time with. I hear people say, ‘If I had more time I would’ and fill in the blank, but it seems that no matter how much time we have we still don’t do the things that we want: learn to play the guitar, meditate, see the people you love more, spend more time looking into the eyes of the person you love. Maybe what we should be saying is, ‘If I had less time I would do all of those things and more.’”
Each lovingly crafted block is stitched together with thread, symbolic in Ms. Fair’s eyes as it represents traditional materials, “women’s work”, the craft movement, and, in the motion of weaving in and out, the art of meditation.
“It is a contemplative way of working, but it is a soft material, so it is peaceful,” she muses. “The text on the blocks are thoughts that came into my mind pretty much unedited. They were statements or questions pertaining to my struggle and the healing process and I think people can relate to them.”
She glances down on the floor to one particular block bearing the word “Alone…”.
“The funning thing is there was more to that statement, but I forgot it due to one of the side effects, so it stayed as ‘alone’ and it worked really well because that is how you feel sometimes dealing with difficult struggles. But here, I am just trying to create [for the art lover] a different way of seeing things.”

Art Heals runs through May 6.

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Mixed Media Program with Susan

Tuesday nights have become a creative and inspirational time in our art gallery in Aurora. Susan Stortini leads the Mixed Media Program, where participants are encouraged to express themselves with different types of media each week. This week – watercolour 🙂 Check out the lovely artwork below, thank you for sharing!

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