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.

Poetry/Songs and Lyrics

Maggie Rogers and Rural pop

Born in rural Maryland, Rogers started playing harp and piano at the age of seven, and wrote her first song by the time she was 13.

“It became this thing that was just how I processed my life,” she says. “I would write a song about however I was feeling and then just play it over and over again to make myself feel better, until I was feeling something else and then I’d write another song.”

For Ola, June 9 is a cathartic day. The Faces of Recovery panel member and Riverwalk volunteer was 18 years old when she ventured to Europe for a study-abroad program in 2011. As she left for her adventure, she left behind a girl – while struggling with an eating disorder. The experience was vital to Ola’s recovery process as she invested time for deep personal reflection while pursuing her journalism career in a foreign environment. Here’s a piece she wrote about taking a big leap abroad, choosing life over death and finding thyself.

NOVE GIUGNO | by Ola | June 9, 2015

The soundtrack was Moby’s “Porcelain,” lyrics and all.
I’ll never forget the feeling, our flight taking off.
No change of mind, no ticket refund, no regrets.
“This is it,” we affirmed, ascending into the air.
YYZ to FCO, I left behind a girl.
Sick, tired and frustrated.
Hungry in more ways than one.
In fact, starving.
For a change of pace, space and the will to overcome.


Six time zones away and two continents later.
Embarking on a new journey, with a lifelong friend.
A soul support system, unconditional and true.
A good listener with wisdom and experience.
Strongly tied to her faith and freedom to be,
A person of talent and curiosity, like me.


But I didn’t know that until I crossed over.
The other side of woe purgatory.
Sometimes you can walk through a door.
Sometimes you need to walk up and down hills.
Skimming cobblestone from the soles of your feet.
The material steeped in Renaissance history.
Stories embedded in every crevice.
Kind of like wrinkles on skin.


“In my dreams, I’m dying all the time,”
At least that’s what Moby sings.
And for a while, I lived in that verse.
I breathed it until I was present.
I was revived, my life and dreams combined.
Crafting images and words from every peripheral.
Soaking it all in like limoncello on cake.
Consuming it all till I’m full.
For the first time in my life.
A soul beyond satisfied, completely at peace.


Amidst piazza chatter, deep conversations ensue.
Be it in languages familiar or foreign, old or new.
A sense of vulnerability from sharing our thoughts.
Ideas for the future. Ambition on fire.
Above the clay-coloured houses and many shades of green.
It’s obvious that this is what life is all about.
It is what I’ve seen.


Now the soundtrack is “Ceremony,” by New Order.
Because I celebrate all the time.
This is my testimony.
Forever June 9.

On January 1st, Michael, a Riverwalk Wellness Centres Board Member, discovered nature poetry clipped to some trees while walking with a friend at the Richmond Hill Mill St pond!

“Eating disorder is a perfect subject for slam poetry typical style and tone:  questioning; angry; honest; ironic; critical of society’s values”.  Poet, Michael Ferrel

“I Won’t Give Up”
Jason Mraz

Someone shared this link with us: Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Canada!

Tribute to Maya Angelou, ‘a big piece of American history’

“She was without a voice for five years and then she developed he greatest voice on the planet. God loaned her His voice,” Clinton said. “She had the voice of God. And he decided he wanted it back for a while.”

Toronto Star article:

May 20th – 23rd – Aboriginal Awareness Week

Aboriginal Awareness Week (AAW), first introduced in 1992, is held on the four days that follow the Victoria Day long weekend. It was designed to increase awareness of Aboriginal peoples within the Canadian mosaic and the public service. It has evolved into a week to honour the many Aboriginal cultures in Canada, including the Métis, the Inuit and First Nations. (From

Sunrise Ceremony: First Nations Drummer Honoured
Six eagles flew overhead as Bill Stewart, a member of the Ahousaht First Nation performed at a May 15 Sunrise Drumming event during which he was honoured (
Stewart has written a ” Travelling Song” which he first performed, in 2008, on a drum made by his own hands.  In an article in the May 20th edition of Lookout Newspaper, Stewart says, “We are all as one people.  I believe this song brings a message of hope for the future.”

April: National Poetry Month

From Toronto Star, Tuesday, April 22, 2014, A3

Michael Ferrel

Michael has been writing poetry for over 20 years.  His writing developed as a form of playful and thoughtful self expression. He has self-published four chapbooks and has a poetry blog, feels that even though poetry has been a neglected art form, it is more accessible, now, than ever.

“There are many unique voices, forms, and styles in contemporary poetry. It is a very liberating art form.  Mature poets may strive to play with words in more complex forms, but the novice poet can write for themselves, discovering their own authentic voice. It is a way to explore their own thoughts and feelings in a intimate way.  It can also be a way to tell the world (or one person at a time) who you are.”

Michael works as a rehabilitation counsellor with disabled adults in the Toronto area. Here are some of his poems.

The Soul Seeks Itself

The soul is curious.
It berates itself with questions.
“Who am I? What do I want?”

It is afraid because it lacks the discipline of love.
Often it seems that it has only itself to run to.
A shame of secrets may hide it from view.

As a child, the soul was fearless.
Its questions were simple.
Now they must be lived.

The soul wants to proclaim itself,
But may be unsure of how to speak.
A listener must have skill beyond words.

Even a small conversation can liberate the soul,
One person a perfect mirror for another,
The soul in-camera, recognizing that it is known.

We hold ourselves back.
Sometimes it is hard to unburden ourselves,
To ask, dearly, to be heard.

Conversation exposes our vulnerability and fear,
As well as our wisdom and our striving,
Our tenderness for each other.

It is how we mature out of our loneliness,
And how we forsake it, standing in the mystery
Of knowing and being known.

We are beginning to ask the same questions.
If they seem new and unfamiliar,
we may feel an emptiness, a solitude.

Each of us learns them incrementally.
We are becoming reacquainted with ourselves,
The mirror of our ignorance softly prompting.

As we change, answers go out of focus.
We may doubt what we once believed.
What seemed ordinary and true can become a lie.

Yet if we speak to one another
Our consensus will change.
The poverty of our ignorance will not seem so bleak.

What you love already is an answer and a beginning:
What you can recite without words;
What brings you timeless hours of undivided meaning.

We can praise ourselves for our resilient hopes,
Hopes that will shelter and lead us
Through the secret passageway of self.

We are not broken,
And the world is not loveless.
Can you find the will to love it back?

If I can not yet answer you
Because of distance, real or imagined,
Let me say that we will find that ripe meeting
Sometime, when the right moment comes.

The Summer Of The Mind

I ask my God for a summer of the mind.
It’s the season I most want again,
Though the breeze may turn and become fierce wind,
Or afternoon be nearly spoiled by tumultuous rain,
The sun brings light, and warms.

There the soul is always bright,
Steadily in bloom, it constantly flowers,
And the sun will still come out at night,
The mind happily busy, even in wee hours,
Untroubled that it once seemed alone.

Blizzard storms may come and bite the skin,
But the mind will rise and laugh it off.
The body may shiver (the veil is thin),
But the sun still holds the world aloft.
It blesses, and does not divide.

Seeds of love will sprout like songs,
Sung in chorus to the proper pitch.
None will proclaim that anything is wrong,
Or best, or better, saying which is which.
Harmony rules the summer of the mind.

And no one will say (as if confused),
That the sun must be shining somewhere else.
The mind will stop tinkering with words; the ruse
That heaven hoards and guards its wealth.
Our gratitude will be full.

Let that season last a thousand years,
And dance in time with heart and soul.
Upside down are all our fears,
No longer naive, that summer for fools
Will remind us always of the sun.

Children Know Why They Get Out Of Bed

Mornings often make plans while you sleep.
Messes and spills later appear out of nowhere.
Things get out of hand.
Events have an unfamiliar rhythm.
They go against your will.

Evenings may be dreamy,
but mornings are abrupt and in-your-face.
They can go all-out or full-stop.
It’s nice if you have someone watching your back.

Mornings can be intimate or adventurous.
They can make love or make war.
Mornings are bad times for arguments.
It is better to wait until things have settled,
–You may say something you regret.

Mornings tell you:  ‘Get ready. Prepare yourself.’
But heavy mornings, when you can not sing or dance,
Will still carry you forward to noon.
Then you can make lunch, or do something sensible.

Mornings are for joy.
They want to test you, then convince you that you can do it.
If you go back to bed, don’t feel defeated.
Life, as they say, goes on.

Poetry and Personal Transformation                 Michael Ferrel

I was invited by Janice to read some poetry at the  2nd Songs of Recovery in March.  Poetry can be a powerful medium for self-expression.  I read poems by two poets, Joy Harlo and Jimmy Santiago Baca that I heard last year at a poetry recital near New York City,.  They both are from the America Southwest, and are partly native American Indian.  Each fell into drug and alcohol abuse when they were young. Their discovery of poetry, and of their own voice helped them to dramatically change their lives and overcome feelings of hopelessness.  I would like to do poetry workshops/drop-ins/classes later in the year for the Arts program.  I believe that anyone can write a poem.

Born in New Mexico of Indio-Mexican descent, Jimmy Santiago Baca was raised first by his grandmother and later sent to an orphanage. A runaway at age 13, it was after Baca was sentenced to five years in a maximum security prison that he began to turn his life around: he learned to read and write and unearthed a voracious passion for poetry.Baca has devoted his post-prison life to writing and teaching others who are overcoming hardship. His themes include American Southwest barrios, addiction, injustice, education, community, love and beyond. He has conducted hundreds of writing workshops in prisons, community centers, libraries, and universities throughout the country.

Who Understands Me But Me      by Jimmy Santiago Baca

They turn the water off, so I live without water,
they build walls higher, so I live without treetops,
they paint the windows black, so I live without sunshine,
they lock my cage, so I live without going anywhere,
they take each last tear I have, I live without tears,
they take my heart and rip it open, I live without heart,
they take my life and crush it, so I live without a future,
they say I am beastly and fiendish, so I have no friends,
they stop up each hope, so I have no passage out of hell,
they give me pain, so I live with pain,
they give me hate, so I live with my hate,
they have changed me, and I am not the same man,
they give me no shower, so I live with my smell,
they separate me from my brothers, so I live without brothers,
who understands me when I say this is beautiful?
who understands me when I say I have found other freedoms?

I cannot fly or make something appear in my hand,
I cannot make the heavens open or the earth tremble,
I can live with myself, and I am amazed at myself, my love, my beauty,
I am taken by my failures, astounded by my fears,
I am stubborn and childish,
in the midst of this wreckage of life they incurred,
I practice being myself,
and I have found parts of myself never dreamed of by me,
they were goaded out from under rocks in my heart
when the walls were built higher,
when the water was turned off and the windows painted black.
I followed these signs
like an old tracker and followed the tracks deep into myself
followed the blood-spotted path,
deeper into dangerous regions, and found so many parts of myself,
who taught me water is not everything,
and gave me new eyes to see through walls,
and when they spoke, sunlight came out of their mouths,
and I was laughing at me with them,
we laughed like children and made pacts to always be loyal,
who understands me when I say this is beautiful?

Joy Harjo began drinking at the age of 14.  After many lost years she discovered herself and her heritage.  She is a member of the Mvskoke Nation. Her seven books of poetry, which includes such well-known titles as How We Became Human- New and Selected Poems, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses have garnered many awards She also is a songwriter and has 5 CDs.

Remember      by Joy Harjo

Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is. I met her
in a bar once in Iowa City.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe. I heard her singing Kiowawar
dance songs at the corner of Fourth and Central once.
Remember that you are all people and that all people are you.
Remember that you are this universe and that this universe is you.
Remember that all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember that language comes from this.
Remember the dance that language is, that life is.

Joy Harjo shares her life experience.


We deeply appreciate the opportunity to share all of this at the Justin Hines Thanksgiving concert benefiting our Riverwalk Wellness Centres.

Thank you, Justin!

Read the Auroran article “Musicians hope to take “vehicle” international!
Read the Aurora Banner article “York Region’s Justin Hines to play in Newmarket

Check out the wonderful SNAP video of the Justin Hines featuring Ash and Bloom concert on October 11th here:!

Justin Hines “Vehicle of Change Tour” Benefit Concert

A recent CBC Story says that music has huge potential in our healthcare system:

Two seminal books about music and the brain, “This is Your Brain on Music” and “The World in Six Songs” were written by Daniel Levitin. Here’s his website — tons of interesting articles and news there:

This poem was shared with us by William.


When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way,
you are trampling on my feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem,
you have failed me, strange as that may seem.
Listen! All I ask is that you listen, not talk or do—just hear me.
When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself,
you contribute to my fear and inadequacy.
And I can do for myself. I’m not helpless.
Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless.
But when you accept as simple fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, than I can quit trying to convince you and get about the business of understanding what’s behind my feelings.
So, please listen and just hear me, and if you want to talk, wait a minute for your turn, and I’ll listen to you.

*Adapted from a poem by Ralph Roughton, April 1981
(As quoted in the Hartford Conneticut Meeting newsletter.)

I never thought I would defeat the monster inside.

A few more pounds and I would have died.
It was hard to get over the fear.
But I’m better because my loved ones brought me here.
EDOYR helped me you see.
And I’ve made friends here who are a lot like me.
There is one thing that would help me more.
Assessments and a therapist with an open door.
Now I smile again and for good reason.
Because you saved me EDOYR.
– Samara

Matt Gerber is a singer-songwriter who contributed his talents and voice in support of “Songs to Recovery”.


My thoughts at the time were about trying to compose a song that had different levels of meaning.  At first I was only thinking of external changes, and ways that we can make the world better for ourselves and for others.  Now I think that it also is true for internal changes, because all change comes from within to begin with anyway.  What we decide to do, or not to do, will always make a difference.  To borrow a phrase, the longest journey starts with the first step.

“The Smallest Change” – listen to it at (click play on the player at the very top of the page!)


I count my pennies, my nickles and dimes,
To see me through, leaner times.
And I am lucky, they've been few.

I can't be blind, and claim to care,
When there's enough, with more to spare,
And when the balance, sometimes fails,
I can tip the scales.

The smallest change.....

One by one by one by one by one by one,
It all adds up to something amazing.
Every little bit, every little bit, every little bit helps.
It don't take much, but it goes a long way.

The smallest change, the smallest change.
The smallest change, the smallest change.

The smallest change, the smallest change,
Can make all the difference in the world to someone else.
The smallest change, the smallest change,
It don't take much but it goes a long way, it goes a long way, a long way.

The right word, at the right time,
Reaching out with a helping hand.
Taking a moment to listen,
Taking the time to understand, to understand.

The smallest change, the smallest change
The smallest change, the smallest change.

Performed and recorded live at EDOYR’s “recording studio”!

“My Time”

Inspired by the stars as I watch them from afar
I want to be where they are
I know it’s going to be hard

And I know what I see
They might be…
They might be better than me

But put up walls and I will climb
Give me odds and I’ll defy
I’m on a roll
It’s my time to shine
And I will fight
I will shine

You can tell me anything
Bring me down, but I’ll push further
Try to blind me but I see past the lies
I’ll need more convincing

And I know what I see
They’re not much…
They’re not much different from me

So put up walls and I will climb
Give me odds and I’ll defy
I’m on a roll
It’s my time to shine
And I will fight
I will shine

Funny how things change so quick
Bet you never saw this coming
In the driver’s seat this time, moving fast

I put my time, blood, sweat, and tears
Everything is on the line now
Go ahead and close the door
I’ll fly through the window

I’ve worked so hard, sacrificed
Just to see my dreams come to life
If you think they are impossible
Then be ready to witness a miracle

So put up walls and I will climb
Give me odds and I’ll defy
I’m on a roll
It’s my time to shine
And I will fight
I will shine

Lyrics and music by Ravyn Red

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