Health Through Movement: How Nia Changed My Life

By Jennifer Hicks

After 34 years living in my body, I became an expert. That is, an expert in myself. And I discovered, after all that time, that I am not ordinary.

I have Bipolar Disorder. But that’s not what makes me different. I am unique because of how I have learned to manage my Bipolar Disorder. Yes, I need medication and psychotherapy, but there’s more to my wellness plan. I use Nia – a fitness practice which not only offers me physical fitness, but also a lifestyle, and now a profession.

Looking at me, you’d never know I have a mental health issue. Spend a little bit of time with me and you still likely wouldn’t guess. Ask my family or friends about its impact on my life, and they probably wouldn’t be able to pinpoint anything “abnormal”. In fact, people would actually describe me as engaged, ambitious and driven. Looking at me from the outside, this mental illness thing appears to be rather invisible in my life.

Still, appearances, as they say, are deceiving. I do swing between abnormally elevated and depressed moods.

It’s difficult for folks to appreciate the considerable amount of energy I use every single day to level out my moods. [...] continue the story

The Portrait: Simple Yet Complex, Obvious Yet Profound Part 1: The Eyes

By Judith Leitner

Over a century and a half ago, most folks were unable to create tangible visual links to their past. Many lacked the financial means necessary for creating pictorial inventories of themselves and their ancestors through the pricey art of Portrait Painting. Then, in 1839, Charles Daguerre in France and Henry Fox Talbot in England both announced that they had devised a way to ‘fix an image’, and the art and magic of Photography was born. With its affordable price tag, this clever novelty would enable everyman to express a primal, compelling need: to record, share and collect memories in pictures.

Cityscapes and still-life studies were the focus of the earliest photographic endeavors, as both subjects tended to be immobile during long exposures. Portrait photography evolved swiftly and concurrently, as technological advances in optics and chemistry allowed for less extensive exposures and richer images. Studios burst on the scene to accommodate the torrential parade of everyman and aristocrat alike. Since then, we’ve been voraciously crafting portraits and positioning ourselves in the ‘decisive moment’.

In spite of his deep ambivalence towards modernity and middle class values, the bohemian poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire allowed himself to be ‘mechanically reproduced’ by a [...] continue the story

How Did I Quit Smoking? I Just Stopped!

By Sean McDermott

I had quit smoking so many times that I decided not to use that word ever again and now when I hear people say that they have “quit”,  I take it lightly and reserve comment.  Quitting is something that you fear, something that you approach slowly and have a plan in place to overcome the odds, the mood swings, the cravings.  I had no such thing.

Let me give you some untypical background.  In July of 2007 I arrived at Toronto Western Hospital in an ambulance dying of Liver Disease from Alcoholism.  I know this because they told me next morning that I had been dying for about two weeks. I wouldn’t have made it through the night if my sister and Mother had not insisted as I lay in my sweat-drenched Queen bed, throwing up repeatedly, that I had to go to hospital.  Even then I kept thinking,  “if I could just rest” but I went as they say, kicking and screaming.  The Chief Physician the very next morning visited my bedside, told me that I was very lucky and that my life was about to change, that is if I wanted to live.  There is always the [...] continue the story

Seeing Light And Shadow

By Judith Leitner

It all begins with light and shadow: opulent daylight softly slipping through a window and illuminating a lovely face, deep shadows stretching across wide valleys and cavernous crevices, dazzling light glistening on ice or crafting strange forms along sand dunes, elongated shadows within dawn’s emergent light and dusk’s fading glow, dense light within grey fog, mellow open shade on a bright summer day, harsh and calculating flash light in a dark room: these and an infinite array of other expressions of light and shadow are the primary shapers of meaning in a photograph. Indeed, the word ‘photography’ literally means ‘writing (graphy) with light (photo)’.

The first time I taught children to ‘write with light’ I quickly understood that all they needed – after a very basic intro to the camera and film – was a few lessons in exploring light and shadow. Outdoors, we wandered and observed how time of day, weather, open air and rooftop canopies informed qualities of natural light and shadow, and we played with the flash in daylight. The children were amazed when they perceived the ways their hats blocked light and cast dark shadows on their faces. Indoors, we looked at diffused window light, [...] continue the story

Rosa: A Story of Love and Memory

By Judith Leitner

July 27, 2012

I’d like to share a story with you, a splendid story.

I began crafting this journal years ago, when I was searching for a way to understand my mother Rosa. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and I was coming home from ‘Away’ after a long absence. I remember that moment of insight when I understood, with sparkling clarity, that my camera would be my paper and my eyes would be my pen and Rosa would be my story’s artful hero.

 

 

I made pictures of Rosa for 10 years. Her story became, through my camera’s lens, a richly textured narrative about family, everyday life, relationships and home and hospital landscapes. Love, memory, change, mind, beauty, the photograph, light and shadow, hands, windows and space and time- above all time- became themes and questions that wove themselves in and out, over and under in my visual journal; indeed, these themes were natural metaphors for Rosa’s illness. Throughout my story, the camera held my hand, allowing me as daughter and artist to stand back and to step in – the duality of detachment and intimacy.

In my next entry I’ll tell you about the beginning of my journey as daughter [...] continue the story