Mental Health Drop-In Center

9Muses is the place I go to just be. Feeling fickle today, but there I am okay. Driving there today was somewhat challenging. These racing thoughts interfere with my focus. Right on University, I go North and cross Oakland, puzzled and frustrated; the time ticking, tick, tick, tick. Am I going to be tardy to one of my favorite meetings? I arrive during the introduction. A deep breath brings composure. I am looking forward to learning something new. My thirst for enrichment and knowledge must be quenched. I am here.

Nancy Cerant

Inspiration doesn’t always hit, but when it does it invigorates the soul. As I found myself sitting In Wham Lab (whole health action management) early Tuesday afternoon I found myself struck with inspiration. After watching several short clips on the power of positivity, hopes, and dreams, I knew then what my group from South University would be doing their group project on; a mission of hope.  

As I sat there listening to these wonderful people from all walks of life sharing their stories I knew that this was the project needed to instill a little hope and a lot of dreaming into these defeated souls. I was told most people run from the idea of hopes and dreams because it’s scary. They don’t want to get excited over a possibility just to have it ripped out from under them. I completely understood.   

So, Thursday morning my team and I walked into 9 Muses Art Center and presented our hopes and dreams with the people of the art center. Each individual was given an envelope to decorate however they chose with what made them happy. On the inside, each person had a hand stencil and a thought bubble stencil. On the "Hand of Hope" we had each person write five of their hopes, no matter how big or how small. Then on their thought "bubble", we asked them to illustrate their dreams and they proceeded to draw or write about their very own personal dreams. So dreams were to become a wife and mother, to become a singer, one lady wrote of finishing school, another had hopes of seeing his granddaughter graduate. By the end we pulled together their hands and bubbles and pasted them onto a board and stepped back to look at the bigger picture. Upon this board, you saw the heart and souls of these amazing, one of a kind people. That despite their shortcomings, and tribulations, and fears; each of them had a song to sing, A dream to dream and the hope that one day these things will come to fruition. It was beautiful.  

This week spent at 9 Muses Art Center has opened my eyes to a new unseen world. Coming into this Mental Health semester I knew little to nothing about the actual background of Mental Health. Chris, the supervisor of the art center was the most passionate man I have ever come across. His passion clearly showed for these people and the community outcry.  

Mark Twain wrote, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” This is a quote I heard today while sitting in Peer Zone. During a group session we watched a TED Talk on overcoming hopelessness by Nick Vujicic. I found myself asking that very question, why was I born. And as I sat there and eternalized I came to the conclusion that maybe just maybe, I was put here to do more for these amazing people life had somehow forgotten about. I will never forget the people that I met here, or their stories, or their beautiful personalities. I will also carry with me the outcry for support in Mental Health and in the community. I will march forward with a flame igniting the way. 


Occupational Therapy Student​ ​​

Limits Are Not Necessarily Stops Signs

In our mental health community, the subject of limits often comes up. We consumers often talk about our limitations. The larger community either tries to understand our limits or dismiss us because of them.  In other words, limits are perceived as a negative label. Limits mean we can only go so far. Is that so?

To use driving as an example, limits are not stopping signs. The journey may be longer, may wind about so much we might feel lost, but we are still moving toward our destination.

Physical limits may not mean we stop. Jean Dominique Bauby was the Editor-in-Chief of French ELLE magazine who suffered a stroke. He woke up from a coma with Locked-in Syndrome.  He was mentally aware, but he was completely paralyzed.  He could blink his left eye, move his head, this was the only motion he had. But he wanted to tell his story of his everyday experience. Working with assistance he wrote his memoir The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by blinking his eye over 250,000 times to indicate words. The book was a best seller and the movie received acclaim around the world.

Finances may be limiting, but not always. Composer Irving Berlin grew up poor in New York City in the late 1800’, begging on the streets. He had very few skills, very little education, but he could sing. By age 18 he was a singing waiter at a bar where, after closed, he taught himself to play the piano. He only learned one key but that was enough to start a career in music. He needed help he could not read nor write music, there was an assistant to write down the songs he created, among them White Christmas. Later he had a piano built that could shift keys for simple modulation. Berlin asked composer Victor Herbert if he should study music. Herbert’s reply was that it was not necessary. Irving Berlin had the skills he needed. He died at the age 101, one of the most successful songwriters of the 20th century.

There are far more stories about overcoming limitations and perhaps more will be told on this site. What is more important is for our community not to see mental health issues and physical disabilities as the end of the road. Despite challenges we still have the freedom to explore, to challenge ourselves to go beyond hardships. We have the right to try and make life better, the right to recover. So why not ride past the limit signs and see where the road goes.

By Richard Aldret

Amazing things happen every day at 9Muses Drop-in Center on Oakland Park Blvd. 

 On my very first visit, I sat in silent awe as Rick and Pat (Music Therapy instructors) engaged, encouraged and ignited a small gathering of vocalists and musicians that were also mental health consumers. Strumming guitarists were finding the right chords, a pair of young singers were discovering the beauty of their own sweet songs, an accomplished vocalist serenaded us with a poignant, expressive melody -heartfelt in its delivery.

This scene invoked in me a feeling, that which can only be described as...holiness. What came to were the words of a Nuevo gospel song "no one is a stranger here, everyone belongs..."

Personal acceptance, warm encouragement and a healthy shot of good humor is the order of the day at 9Muses.

Persons living with mental illnesses gain hope and do enter into recovery. 9Muses is a healing place.

Thank you to Chris (Director of 9Muses) and his awesome staff.

 Donna Linn

Articles for Behavioral Health


at 9Muses Art Center - Written by, Members and, Volunteers

The wonderful poet Mary Oliver wrote, “Instructions for Living a Life” in 3 lines – short & sweet.

“Pay Attention


Be astonished


Tell about it”


I would like to expand on her recommendation. Recently I heard someone say, “Our entire lives are lived between our ears!” Wow, that thought really hit me. Yes, we live our lives in our minds inside ourselves. That’s where our thoughts are. So if our thoughts are telling us “Life is terrible, I am sad, lonely, depressed, anxious” or “No one cares about me”, we may act on those thoughts. If we approach the world thinking those thoughts and acting them out, we can expect them to become true. It’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

When we awake in the morning we have choices to make, choices as simple as “Shall I get up and out of bed?” or “Shall I stay in bed?” If we’ve had a good night’s sleep, have goals to accomplish,  appointments to keep, fun and interesting things to do, we will probably want to arise and begin our day. Sometimes we awaken with butterflies in our stomach, usually caused by anxious thoughts. I did the other day, and when I told my husband, he said: “I do too”. I immediately felt better because I realized it’s normal to have a nervous, fluttery stomach some mornings.

 My 88-year-old yoga teacher says “All of us are like spiders. Spiders spin their webs and then live in them.” We make our world by our thoughts and actions and we then live in the world we have created.  When I wake up anxious, I ask myself “What am I fearful about?” Perhaps I thought I said something that may have been hurtful to a friend and regret it. If I face the problem and decide to apologize to her, I will feel better. Sometimes it’s a fear I will do something wrong. Beating up on ourselves is lot’s more prevalent than beating up on others. Whenever you think “I must do this or I shouldn’t do that,” we say, “Don’t should on yourself.” And ask yourself, “Where is it written I must do so and so.” Most of us are really hard on ourselves, especially if we are perfectionists. Realizing that this emotion will change in a few seconds or minutes, helps me to feel better immediately. Self-talk is therapeutic. We can talk ourselves in and out of negative thoughts. By getting up right away and going on as though we never had had that thought, will prevent that thought from being an obstacle. We say, “Give me the body and the mind will follow” or, like the Nike ad - “Just Do It!”

When you are feeling anxious or depressed, there are hundreds of stress busters to take those feelings away. Exercise is one of the most important stress busters. Taking a walk in nature and enjoying the trees, flowers, the ocean, the breeze, the birds and animals, will immediately relieve your stress. Running, swimming, biking or any other strenuous physical activity, immediately brings nature’s tranquilizers, endorphins into our system and calm us.  
 

Other stress busters are: Call a friend, plan a picnic, do moving meditative work such as yoga or Tai Chi. Sing, enjoy your breakfast, hug a baby, pat a dog, take long slow deep breathes, find a therapist or peer counselor to speak with, do body stretches to take the tension out of the body, go to a movie, read a book, visit an art museum, volunteer helping the homeless, children, anyone who needs you. All my Life I was involved in politics, but lately, I stopped looking or listening to the news as I found it overwhelming. Since avoiding this onslaught of depressing information about problems around the world, I find my life a great deal more peaceful. In 2020 I plan to become an activist again.

 Years ago I stopped multi-tasking. It’s greatly overrated. When I take a walk I just walk. I don’t distract myself by talking on the phone. I don’t turn on the TV in the daytime. My house is quiet as a tomb and I like it that way. I rarely give my cell phone number out because I don’t want to be called when driving, meditating, working, singing, painting, eating or doing any other activity. People can leave messages and I’ll get back to them. I will allow none of this to hurt my mental health and well-being. I also set limits with people and not get overburdened by doing everything everybody asks me to do. I schedule in quiet time to be alone just with myself.

 

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer about 16 years ago, I was terrified I would die. I was so scared that I had a major panic attack, couldn’t eat and lost 13 pounds in one week. I didn’t want to cry all the time in front of my husband, so I would cry taking my walk every day. One time I heard a bird singing about 20 different songs. I looked into a tree and there he was. He was a tiny little bird and was singing his heart out. I stopped to listen and then thought “If this tiny bird can sing his or her heart out, I can go on.” That day I decided to make a list of things I was grateful for and in my head on the way home from my walk, and I listed about 40 things I was grateful for including my parents, my friends, living in sunny Florida, the fact that I could walk, and on and on. Now I add to my gratitude list daily. Recently I added The 9 Muses to my list of things I’m grateful for. I feel uplifted and inspired every time I’m there.

 

Please practice compassion with yourself. Remember that you are perfect just as you are. Take good care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be a beacon of hope to others, practice peace and let no one or nothing take away your peace. Just be. Let go of fear and worry and life will take care of itself.

 

Lynn Edinoff, Licensed Clinical Social Worker & Volunteer at The 9 Muses

When I first came to 9Muses, I was a little bit scared. As time went on I started to enjoy myself.
What I benefit from is relaxation and meditation class and Music class on Thursday and Friday. I enjoy singing very much. I also attend support groups and participate in other activities. This is how I spend my time at the center.
Julie M.

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