Archive for Arts And Medicine

Houston’s Award Winning Columnist | Alisa Murray’s “Living the Sweet Life” June 2015 | #alisamurray

Living The SweetLife : Thinking about your Transition          June 2015
So I want to get you thinking about something that most of you will not want to do. I want you to start thinking about what you want to happen when you are no longer amongst the living. Recently I got a call from one of my AMP families asking me if I could produce a piece of art for their mother’s service. They had always known that when she passed she would want my capture of her to be what people remembered. Everything that needed to be done had already been planned and her transition was a beautiful one. By complete contrast, when my own mother was killed it was a hectic time. You can imagine, I am sure what a sudden death looks like…chaos and confusion. Mother did not want to be buried but she was because my grandparents couldn’t go through with cremating her and my father wanted us to “see” our mother in her casket. No one was prepared for her to be just “poof” be gone. When my father exited his stage I was in a photo shoot and at lunchtime I called to wish him a happy birthday only to discover that he had promptly and with out warning dropped dead at home.
Death is something that we all do and yet for almost everyone it is a subject that few wish to discuss. I think the reason for this is that it scares us to think about not being the only thing we really “know.” We don’t remember being a floating soul in heaven waiting to be given our earthly casings i.e. bodies. It’s one of the things I need to talk to God about when I get there. I think if we did remember there would be way less worry about leaving here. We would all know that it’s a transition to where we have already been and it’s a cycle. It’s in the missing of the other souls…the one’s we love, have loved and have a history with that scares us more I think. We just don’t want to think about it at all.
I know that this comes across as very matter of fact and quite frankly it really is. I’ll also state that it should come as no surprise the aftereffects of my experience in death and the business of dying are like tremors after an earthquake and will last over my lifetime. I am alas what the psycho therapists call damaged goods. (not really but it helps others understand where I am coming from). More importantly, I feel somewhat of an expert in this subject. Many people have transitioned in my life and I have some thoughts about the transition, more specifically about planning the rest of your family for the inevitable.
Everyone needs to write down what they want to have happen when they go. I know… you don’t want to think about it. Pretend that you are packing for a trip and you are not going to ever be the same again then…. Think about your favorite things that you have acquired in your life and make a list of who gets what. My Aunt Elizabeth was super smart about this and actually sent her diamonds to us and gave us specifically what she wanted us to have before she no longer remembered who we were. I like that. The last thing I want to have happen is all of my hard work acquiring beautiful things being rummaged through and fought over by those left behind. Nobody can argue if you wrote it and after all these things are yours. Don’t you want to have a say in who gets what? Next you need to think about your service and write that down. Do you want to be cremated? Do you want to be buried? Find a reputable funeral home and get all that done and paid for. When Nana transitioned she had all of this done. She lived to 102 and nothing was left unsaid, unloved or undone. I like this too. It’s actually why I always hug and kiss my family and clients and make sure that my last contact with everyone is something that if I were to transition it’s “all good.” Crazy but true.
I want to be cremated and have a large party. Afterwards, I want to be placed in my Louis Vuitton bag. On my birthday each year the remaining generations are required to enjoy a martini and must pass down some beautiful story of my life to the younger generations. I have measured the space and there’s enough room for two in there and my love has no argument in being placed in there with me. My son, who is 12, has decided that he will have to purchase a Louis Vuitton trunk because he really wants all of us to be in one great big Louis Vuitton and used as a piece of furniture amongst our family. Gotta love the way he thinks!
Take Care of YOU! Houston Family Photography Alisa Murray #alisamurray

Houston Award winning columnist | Alisa Murray’s Living the Sweet Life March 2015 | #alisamurray

Living the Sweetlife : Study the facts
So ya’ll can call me old school but I am really having a hard time having patience with this measles thing; as a mother, as an educated person and as a doctor’s daughter. I am wondering why no one is demanding that in any public space if you have chosen to not get vaccinated then you are not allowed to be there. We certainly have isolated smokers to the point that there is barely a public space where that behavior is possible because we as a society have  learned that smoking endangers lives and you can not impose your bad choices on the rest of the population. What part of spreading a very dangerous communicable disease is any different?
When it is preventable and has been irradiated it’s even more aggravating. When I was a child it was unheard of to question getting vaccinated. You could not go to public school if you did not have your shots and in the light of this latest tragedy it makes me pause to ask why have we not demanded the same rules of a place such as DISNEY? Here’s a little history lesson about this disease.
Measles was identified in the 3rd -10th century by Asian and North African physicians. In 910, Dr. Rhazes published his diagnosis of the disease. Christopher Columbus brought it to the New World and killed as much as 95% of the Native American population over the next 150 years. The 1800’s saw it’s effects as it continued to kill, most notably the King and Queen of Hawaii, who both died within a month of getting it as they were traveling to meet King George IV. “In the late 1800’s the HMS Dido brought it to Fiji and it killed 20,000 people.” We here in the US began to require doctors to report instances of the disease in 1912 and Dr. Thomas Peebles finds the disease in an 11 year old boy named David Edmonston and through his studies he pioneered the vaccine. In 1963, just a few years before I was born, it was made available to each and every child as a regular program for preventive care. I got one and so did Brian and hopefully you did too. In 1998, the year that Victoria Ann was born, there was a report claiming to link the vaccine to autism and later the report was pulled, the doctor lost his license but the public had been ill informed. As a result in 2014, the worse outbreak in two decades erupted with more than 600 cases and now this thing at Disney. This disease killed 145,700 people in 2013.
This is a childhood disease that is preventable. I feel like it is the responsibility of the parents to be informed and to make the best choices for our children. I can not tell you how many conversations that I have had in my studio and amongst other mother friends regarding vaccines and the pros and cons. But seriously, this is out of control. I am, and it is no surprise to my readership, very pro medicine. I am that way for a variety of reasons and in this case it seems imminently obvious that the only choice is to get the measles vaccine. The World Heath organization stated that measles is “one of the leading causes of death amongst young children even though a safe and cost effective vaccine is available.” As a mother, as an educated person and as a doctor’s daughter I want you to make informed decisions especially since the general public seems to be lazy to study the history of a disease that is absolutely preventable.
Take Care of YOU!
Facts and data credit to History of Measles by: Matt Pearce

How to have Peace on Earth December 2013

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Over the past several months I have been listening to family and health radio. One afternoon, doctors were discussing genetic mutations and how what we do to our bodies actually genetically rewires our DNA. Did you know that? They stated what we put into our bodies actually alters how we react and respond. They were discussing the e-cigarette and how it uses antifreeze to vaporize tobacco making the e-cigarette way more dangerous than a regular cigarette. The hookah bars we see popping up where teens are socially gathering and smoking are actually more dangerous than cigarettes because of the carbon used to light the hookah. The point though that came across alarmingly clear was that what we do to our bodies genetically modifies us and will pass to our offspring. Yes…. I know what your thinking.. Reread the last sentence once more! What we do now changes what kinds of people we are creating. BINGO!
I started contemplating the possibilities. Can you imagine what was going through my head? We know our minds are the timekeepers and destiny makers of our time. We know that what we think we actually become; this is the most important lesson to learn in post Freudian psychology. Our minds are so pliable, this is why parenting is of course the most important job we have to accomplish in life. Passing the good stuff to our children and hoping they don’t suffer too much because we have never done it before and we will and do make mistakes. None the less, if we know that what we put in our bodies genetically transforms the system, effectively rewiring it for future generations; then we can not deny the grand possibilities of what passing on views and overall concepts towards mankind will influence future generations.
We can see through generations that racism and equality change and sometimes disappear over time. Why then cannot all of the hate be wiped from the earth? How can we as a whole in humanity make a genetic rewiring of man and woman and their views of each other, the way they choose to mate, the way they choose to disagree? I’ll tell you… every parent and every adult has to make a conscious decision to what their minds feel, and act with love. They have to teach that it is the only way to a peace like we have never seen on earth.
It is easy to decide to never smoke again if a doctor can genetically prove to you that you are disrupting your DNA by doing so and what’s worse actually mutating your genes to pass to the next generations, making them more susceptible to cancer and disease and addictions. It should be very clear then that our mindsets are absolutely no different. Each family affects their next generations by teaching hate and non tolerance and that is why there is no peace on earth.
My wish as we celebrate the beautiful joy of Jesus’s birth and we hold dear to our loved ones; that we choose to in 2014 become finely tuned as humans to our greatest potentials and ways to influence the next generations. Every new year brings new years resolutions. By conscious modifications we have the greatest potential to create Peace on Earth!
Take Care of YOU!

Impact a Hero November 2011

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Remembering September 11th

I remember the morning of September 11th as crystal clear as if it had been just yesterday. We were staying in Conroe with my in-laws and my sleeping the night before had not gone well. I have a history of a sixth sense if you will about life, and I had been dreaming of a large storm. I was running around trying to gather, of all things, pieces of art from a museum and chaos was everywhere.

I awoke to Brian yelling at me to get downstairs and see what was happening on the television, and a small, then three, Victoria Ann was intently watching as well. After a while of processing what we were actually seeing, Victoria Ann said in her small voice, “What did you do to my country?” To this day, that will always be my question and the question raised by countless others as well.

Over the past ten years, I have seen and photographed many a soldier and shared with them my thanks for creating a sense of safety where as I mother, I know deep down there is none. Hope for a world that has gone awry and a fight between two sides of mankind that will never be decided or won. It is a battle that has gone on for centuries bubbling up more or less in the ages of time to wreak havoc
on those standing innocently in its wrath. The fight is not a new one. The firemen, in particular, have always been the hero on a local front as well. That day, and in the days following the bombing, we as a country lost 343 outstandingly courageous men. The fireman is a special breed of a man, and his fearlessness to save others while sacrificing himself is like our soldiers – someone to be held in high esteem.

When the Sugar Land Firefighters called me last year and asked if I would dedicate my time and talents to a calendar, I, of course, said yes. All of you know about my Art and Medicine projects with the Hope and Inspiration calendars for breast cancer, The Small Miracles calendar for the Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Cancer Center where I utilize my talents to create a product that gives back to our community. The firemen were a perfect fit, and their beneficiary, Impact a Hero, could not be more fitting or deserving.

Impact a Hero is an organization that provides emotional and financial support for our disabled war on terror veterans and their families. The calendar to benefit this phenomenal organization was shot at the fire field in Richmond, and ladies, it was hot! When they turned on the gas and lit up the sets, the walls of fire nearly melted my lens and singed my wig off! Ahhh…you thought I meant “HOT!” LOL It was all of that too, I assure you.

The Sugar Land firemen went through a program they devised to get their department more fit. When all of the guys started working out, they figured they should make good use of all their hard work in the gym, and so, the calendar idea was born. I got the lovely pleasure of deciding who made it in the first of many calendars, and I am pleased to present to you our first Sugar Land Firefighters calendar benefiting Impact a Hero! The calendars can be purchased for $15.00 and the proceeds go to Impact a Hero. I speak of behalf of all of us who have created this special project that we appreciate your support!

On November 4 from 7 to 9 pm, I will be signing calendars along with the guys at Baker Street Pub and Grill in Sugar Land Town Center. We look forward to seeing you there!

Take Care of You!

Find a Small Miracle! Part Two

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If you wanna know about life, just find a small miracle!

Last month I interviewed my son, James Edward and got his perspective on the universe and his place in it. I asked him some pretty tough questions and what I got back was sometimes predictable and at other times suprising. Many of you are aware of my work through the years with children who have cancer. I have had such an amazing opportunity to be able to meet and capture so many children, but perhaps some of the most inspiring and difficult to shoot are these small miracles. Last fall, I offered to take on as part of the series of projects in my studios Art and Medicine collection, the Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital.

I am a member of the Business Referral Network and this year’s bash benefits these organizations. I am pleased to present to you my second calendar benefiting cancer patients, resources and reseach. For the past 7 years I have dedicated part of my talent to giving back and making a difference in my community through the “Hope and Inspiration” Surviving mothers of breast cancer calendar. The latest project entitled “Small Miracles” pediatric cancer calendar has proceeds going to The Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital.

When I began planning the project I knew it was going to be just like all the others and fall into place, what I did not expect was just how perfectly aligned everything would be. If I had any doubts, they were soon dispelled because at every step of planning and creating this I got confirmation or what you know I call “ a God wink!” It all started with the inital decision to take on such a project, whereas in the past I have always captured portraits of survivors… this would be a great deal more difficult; in that the participants woud be children, some of which were still receiving treatment and as it were not classified as a survivor “yet.” In addition, the calendar woud have to be completed by our Sugar Land Bash May 15th, not allowing me a full year to process and mentally flesh out the greatest impact such a project could have on our community. None the less… I apparently did not need much time to go through all of the usual tedious rigga ma roll!

In the process of pulling together the project, I was so touched by my own son’s answers to the interview that I wrote about last month that I decided it would be a wonderful idea to ask those same questions to these children. I had no idea what I would get; and while so many were so young to be able to understand what I was asking them, for those that did…whoa… well just get a tissue ready…I’m just saying!

Christian Alfonso at age 11, the cover of the 1st edition, when asked if he believed in heaven; at first looked at me like I was crazy to ask such a thing. He said: “ Heaven is a place that there is no sickness or pain, or distractions of any kind. There is nothing left to do but praise God!”

Morgan LaRue, age 9; when asked what she wanted to eat for breakfast, lunch and then dinner, while holding her teddy bear named Chocolate just smiled and said “chocolate.” When asked what heaven was like, she said “ there’s lots of clouds and stuff whizzing around and of course they eat lots of chocolate!”

Lexi Nichols at age 5 is a big horse riding, cattle roping gal and when I asked her what she was afraid of she giggled and said “nothing!” The interviews were taped as well and those will be presented at the Bash.

If I had not had the thought to do it I would have never done it but I had the idea and what an idea it was! So here I spent countless hours shooting and interviewing all these children and it dawned on me that I should write a song. Yes…. a song. I know… I know already what you’re thinking. Alisa Murray is not a song writer. And up until just a few weeks ago I would have agreed with you, but stuff fell into place and I just sat down and wrote it and my good friend, Rudy Rios, a member of a band 80 proof and Collateral Damage just happens to also be the videographer and one of my clients. He and I in about an hour put together the melody and viola… a song was born! Small Miracles will be performed by my daughter, Victoria Ann, Denise Rios, Crystal Laman, the children in the calendar and yours truly accompanied by the band 80 Proof and presented as well in Sugar Land Town Square at the Bash.

Then I had the issue of not having a place to record it and within minutes of asking I got the call that George Darsey, owner of Texas Music Marketing had offered to record it and mix it gratis! Can we say God Job?!

The children and I recorded the song and everyone was wearing my special hats designed and donated by my good friend Hanne Rickert of Fleurs et Bisoux! We all looked pretty snazzy and the hats, all done by hand drive the design of the Small Miracles calendar project each year!

So here’s the thing, on May 15th there’s a Bash put on by the Business Referral Network. The evening will have face painting and a cake eating contest and we are even raffling off a car! Around dusk I will present the interviews and rock video of me and the kiddos singing my new song Small Miracles along with the latest calendar entitled the same. The calendars and CD will be for sale, and all proceeds go to The Snowdrop Foundation and Texas Children’s Hospital. If you need a raffle ticket they are $15.00 and you can contact Brian Covalt @ 832-655-8836 for that.

I am excited about doing this and I think you will find the event to be a great evening in the Sugar Land Town Square for family and fellowship! I hope to see all of you there!

Take Care of You!

Also!!! Drop over to Amici restaurant anytime and from now on, because this is an ongoing project and will be available year round, and order the new signature Alisa Murray Small Miracles Martini. For every signature martini sold Bruce and Jeff at Amici will donate $5.00 to The Snowdrop Foundation! Gotta love combining drinking vodka for a great cause!