Cranniversary Surprise

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It’s been a while since I posted but this past week held an event that brought back a lot of feelings that inspired me to blog in the first place. I felt the need to post again.

Thursday was my 7 year cranniversary (that’s the cute term for the anniversary of your brain surgery on the brain tumour support Facebook groups I belong to). Ironically, the evening before my cranniversary, I was out for a run when I was hit by a delivery van. Thankfully, although very sore and a bit scratched up, I have no broken bones and needed no stitches. I do, however, have a concussion.

It has brought back some difficult post brain surgery memories of the healing after and how, even to oneself, it is very difficult to understand you are not well without having a physical injury to point to. A brain injury is very interesting thing to try to wrap your mind around.

If you are like I was and have never had a concussion before, I’ll share some of the symptoms and hope they are enlightening (while also hoping they don’t sound like a litany of complaints):

The spins. Moving my head too quickly causes the world to need a moment to catch up to my eyes. Movement continues even when my eyes are closed. Remember when you were a kid and went on one too many roller coaster rides? That’s what it feels like when I close my eyes.

Bright lights. I’ve never noticed how strong my kitchen lights are, for example. I want to wear sunglasses in my house! Even writing these notes has taken several sessions because, though set on a dark setting, the light from the screen is so fatiguing.

Carbs are brain food. I’ve been advised to eat carbs as they supposedly help heal the brain. Sounds great to me, I’ve been enjoying tortellini and grilled cheese sandwiches for every meal. The down side is that every time I eat, I have post meal nausea.

The above are all symptoms that are different from healing from brain surgery as far as I remember. But here are some commonalities I have noticed:

Lethargy, It takes an awful lot of energy to get motivated to do anything. I find myself zoning out on the couch which is something I normally never do. It’s simply that I don’t currently want to do anything. For me that is a very rare statement. I am a multi-tasker to the core. It is driving me crazy that a morning will have passed, for example, and I will have not done anything in it.

Word loss. I’ve been searching for words more than usual. “You know, the thing” has made an ugly recurrence. I can visualize what I want to say but I can’t necessarily find the name for it immediately.

Fatigue. I had a three hour nap this morning. It isn’t even dinner and I could have another. You’d think I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night then but evenings are the worst for body aches and by bed time, I am happy to be crawling back in to bed.

Feeling overwhelmed. It reminds me of my first day back home after my brain surgery. My husband had to work so a friend was coming over to keep me company. My eldest was only 8 or 9 weeks old and we were behind on laundry so I was trying to get it started and clean up a bit. By the time my friend arrived (only an hour or two after my husband had left), I was a sobbing mess who was overheating and hadn’t even realized I needed to take off my sweater or answer the buzzer. It was too much too soon.

Shock. I was HIT BY A VAN. Whaaaat?! In many ways, it’s almost comical to think that it actually happened. Saying I had a brain tumour/surgery still holds the same impact too. “You had what?” is the most common response. Even in my own head, it is something I am struggling to grasp. A van literally hit me and I actually remember bouncing off it. Or that a doctor cut and removed a circle of my skull, like a plug, to access the tumour which he then plucked out of my brain – he actually touched my brain.

In summary, it’s been a surreal last couple of days where the biggest things I’m remembering are to be gentle with myself, that life is precious, and that just because a wound is not visible, doesn’t mean its impact is unfelt.

(Image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-brain-image2569107)

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The Creative Life Project: May

Going to the Birds

Birds cards done by the kids. I gave them a bare bones picture to guide them after complaints of “I want to paint a bird but I don’t know how to make one”. They added the rainbow colouring all on their own. The top two are C’s and the bottom one Q’s.

Drawing Days in May

This month I’m going to keep it realistic and plan to work on catching up with some illustrations in the kids’ baby books. Each month (ideally), I write an entry into their books and add little decorations to make it fun. However, in the time crunch of life that has been the last year especially, I’ve fallen behind on the illustrations and yet they are my favourite part to think up and to do. So this month, I’m aiming to play – even if just in this little way.

Monthly goals:
Remember birthdays.
Write in the kids’ baby books. 1 page monthly update page for each child.

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Minimum of 15 minutes drawing, writing, experimenting.
Draw at least two illustrations in the baby books a week. This is a low goal but probably most realistic:)
Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
Exercise three times a week.

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The Creative Life: April Review

April Review

An art journal page from when I last played with paint in March.

The start of 2017 has held a doozy few months to date. They’ve been work focused toward a specific goal which was worthwhile (and thankfully ended in results I was aiming for) and resulted in a learning curve that is still on-going. I haven’t played as much as I’ve wanted lately. In fact, most of the time, I’ve been too tired to play at all.

I’m working on figuring out the balance but it’s proving to be quite the struggle. I fantasize about playing loud music and letting loose. I want to lose myself to everything but the paint, to be honest. Realistically I think that’ll have to hold off until summer.

As for goals, I have kept up with the birthdays (yes, often late but sent out just the same). I have knitted some and written some.  My body’s been pretty much insisting on the minimum of 7 hours sleep – it’s been exhausting lately, truth be told. Workouts have gone flying out the window. I’ve been MAYBE working out once a week. Although I have been going for walks and bike rides with the kids whenever we’ve been graced with sunshine (or just no rain), they haven’t been strenuous.

My focus has been on work and the kids and, although those are very important aspects of my life, I have felt a little lost in the mix. Something to work on.

This balance thing is very tricky.

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One total aside: Happy Birthday Gramma. I miss you. xo

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Creative Kids: Taped Cards

Tape Cards pic

Our cards this month were inspired by a link a friend sent me, I think it was off Pinterest but I’ve searched for half an hour and can’t find the original link. Search: “tape art kids” on Pinterest and a whole bunch of options will come up. We did our tape art as cards, of course.

The one thing to be mindful of if making taped cards is not to push the tape down too hard. There may be slight seeping under the tape but if it is pushed down too much, the tape can be tricky to peel off. Catch 22.

Tape Cards

This was an easy art project for all of them to access at their own levels. C was more careful with the paint, Q a bit more free, and M just smeared paint all over in her fashion. All three styles and access levels resulted in great cards.

Tape Cards M

Of course, I hate wasting supplies and so have them use every drop of paint until it is gone. These are the “bonus” cards done with remaining paint.  C did blotches of paint and handprints and then folded for symmetrical designs (top R and bottom L). Q painted and then drove cars all over her card for texture (top L), and M finger painted (bottom R).

Left over paint cards

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Creative Capers Creation I

Capers I Title

Here’s my first creation. I’ve actually got a couple others in progress but just have been too busy to post. The colours of this piece were inspired by a social emotional retreat I attended.  I also took creative inspiration from the following quote:

“She is clothed with strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 3:25)

Capers I Details

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Power of Now Reflections and February Review

picmonkey-collage

Zen sketch I am currently working on.  A little too realistic but I’m having fun with it.

Power of Now Reflections

For some reason, I feel great resistance while reading The Power of Now. His focus on living with constant “deep trouble” and “sadness” doesn’t resinate with me. However, my flat resistance to the book isn’t helping me access the underlying message so I’ve decided to instead focus on what he says that does resinate.

I know what he means when he talks of trees being more vivid in colour when you allow yourself to fully embrace their beauty. I never thought about it as being “fully in the now” but I can go with that frame of reference. For me, there are days the sky is so beautiful or a drop of rain on a leaf so enchanting my heart feels it might burst. And I love looking for colour within colour. I think of it as “artist training” but it’s when you look at a tree, for example, and see other colours within its browns and greens – such as purple in shadow or blue on the underside of a branch.

I especially appreciate his message about the importance of focusing on the current moment and being very present. This is something I have been trying to keep in the forefront of my mind lately especially when interacting with my kids. The message of being in the now here resonates with one of my favourite quotes by Gretchen Rubin: “The days are long but the years are short.”

There are days I feel I may lose my sanity in diapers, laundry, and sibling rivalry, but then I try to switch focus.  I focus on the little hand I am holding or the chubby arms thrown around my neck or the high pitched voice telling me all about his or her dreams. And in embracing that moment, the colours in the world do actually amp up a little and I try to train my brain to remember this interaction because this is what matters.  This is the Power of Now (for me).

***

As for my February goals, I didn’t paint as much as I would have liked this month but I do feel I was successful in being more mindful. I am especially proud in my efforts to be more mindful in my interactions with my kids. Life can get so busy that somedays I can let myself get wrapped up in the busyness and forget what is actually most worthy of my time. The Zen painting I did manage to do was very fun. I still have some projects in mind to complete with this technique.

Monthly goals:
Write in the kids’ baby books. -done
Remember birthdays. -done
Read The Power of Now. -most complete so far:)

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. -only about 50% successful this month
Go at least seven hours of sleep a night. -mostly successful:)
Exercise three times a week. -only about 50% successful

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The Creative Life Project: March

 

march-title

January and February were a bit of a doozy of a couple of months. They were work focused toward a specific goal which was worthwhile (and thankfully ended in results I was aiming for) but this month, I need to make more room for fun. I want to play with paint. I want to play with ideas. I want to play loud music and let loose. I want to lose myself to everything but the paint for a guaranteed couple of hours a week. This is my plan for March.

Monthly goals:
Write in the kids’ baby books. 1 page monthly update for each child.
Remember birthdays.

Daily/weekly goals:
Do one creative thing daily. Minimum of 15 minutes drawing, writing, experimenting with a mixed media focus for the month.
Paint. The aim here is to paint for a minimum of two hours once a week for the duration of this month.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
Exercise three times a week.

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