Friday, March 30, 2012

Brain Injury Awareness Month

Me, Jane LaFazio, and my husband, Don Strom

March is Brain Injury Awareness month. My husband, Don, has a brain injury as a result of a brain aneurysm in 1992. Don has aphasia (Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing.)

A friend of ours, Dave, also has aphasia and spoke about it last year to a group of students. I asked Dave for a copy of his talk and he generously shared it.
My name is David, and this is a new me.
For no apparent reason, in March 2008, a clot reached my brain, giving me a stroke. As a result...
My right side didn’t work at all and couldn’t speak at all for a while. Back then, I figured this wasn’t permanent, that soon I would snap out of it. But I was wrong. It’s been a long 3 years.  But I can walk again, and I can do a lot of things with my right hand now.
But I’m here to talk mainly about my speech and the hurdles it presented to me at first…
Imagine if you had any the following 3 conditions:
·       First, imagine knowing what you want to say but you can’t think of the words to say it, to have every thought be at the tip-of-the-tongue. There, but unreachable. This is called expressive aphasia.
·       Second, imagine not being able to remember how to make your mouth say the words you want to say, groping to find the right mouth positions to say a word. This is called apraxia of speech.
·       Third, imagine not being able to say words clearly or loudly enough. This is called dysarthria.
Now imagine suddenly having all 3 of them at once. This was me in 2008. Try to imagine what it was like when I tried to speak back then.
1.     First, I had to form the thought in my mind. So far so good.
2.     Then I had to see if I could remember the exact words for that thought. Sometimes that was hard due to my aphasia.
3.     Then I had to see if I could remember how to move my mouth to make the sounds for those words. Sometimes that was hard too due to my apraxia.
4.     Finally, I had to speak loudly enough and without slurring to be understood. Sometimes that was hard due to my dysarthria.
5.     And if the person said “Huh?” I had to figure what I did wrong and start the process all over again.
When I had my stroke, everything changed …
I was a professional writer – but now I was being asked if i knew the difference between yes and no, and had to relearn how to make every sound.
I had always been a good talker – but now I was being praised because I could sing Happy Birthday.
I had always loved being around people – but now I was afraid to answer the phone or to order anything at a restaurant.
I had always been good at word games – but now I confused he with she and will with would.
I had a PhD – but now when I tried to speak in public, people sometimes thought I was retarded.
I had always been able to write quickly and easily – but now it took me ages to make even the simplest email without leaving out small words like the and of.
I had lived with my partner for 30 years – now I couldn’t say his name...or even my own.
Of all the types of aphasia out there, I’m glad I had expressive aphasia. They say that this type is very hard on the person who has it because they are aware of their difficulties, which can lead to emotional problems like depression. This may be true, but I would not have had it any other way. Because …
·       Being aware of my problems gave me the fire to work hard.
·       Being aware of my problems gave me the ability to see my own progress.
·       Also, my comprehension and reading were not affected. And it made it possible for me to make complete sentences -- with effort.
And with lots of effort, I am here 3 years later... the new me is a quieter me, but it’s still me. I’ve made lots of progress – thanks to my therapists, my family, and my husband. They have been my cheerleaders, and I love them all.
Thank you.
Dave Valiulis
You may wonder why I didn't publish something my husband had written. It's been 20 years since Don's brain injury and there's no way he could write something as clear and articulate as Dave did. It's not for lack of trying though!

March is National Brain Injury Awareness Month. Don and I have been involved in the San Diego Brain Injury Foundation for nearly 20 years.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

from my sketchbook

layered postcards
layered postcards layered postcards
layered postcards
Yes, more layered pages with vellum! This time, smaller (5x7") and destined to be sent in the mail (in an envelope.) I machine stitched the vellum on.
layered postcards layered postcards
layered postcards
layered postcards layered postcards
layered postcards
If you missed them, more layered journal pages here, here, here and here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Upcoming workshops

on the road
Packing up to go on the road and teach and sell my wares.
Pink & Orange recycled circles
Recycled Circles ~ in cloth
April 9, one day workshop in San Diego. Recycled Circles. Details click here.

CREATE mixed media art retreat in Irvine, California 
May 31: Sketching & Watercolor: Journal Style   
blue and orange
June 1: Recycled Circles ~ in paper and cloth on paper
more vines ~ in progress
June 2: Free spirited Free motion  
oak detail 3
June 3: Sketch and Stitch  

Sunday, June 17: Animal Portraits on Cloth

marmalade greenhouse ~ detail
Monday, June 18: Monoprinting on Cloth or Paper
 You can see the rest of my teaching schedule by clicking here.

My new DVD
can't make it to a workshop? order my workshop dvd.

brush holders
brush/pen holders 

Scoop: The zippered bags (first photo) are made from my small art quilts and the brush/pen holders above are made from my spoonflower fabric. Totally cute, huh? I didn't sew them (I don't do functional) but the talented Judy Applegarth over at her etsy shop did all the sewing for me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Dreaming of San Miguel de Allende

project for mexico retreat

Jane LaFazio's

project for mexico retreat
Remember, I took that workshop from my friend, Laurie Mika, last month? Here's the finished book cover. It's part of the progressive project for our Tesoro del Corazon art retreat in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in October. (The retreat is full, but we are planning another in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2013.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cupcakes and kindness

Yesterday, I made these cupcakes, as a little surprise for my Mundo Lindo kids. And frankly, The Kindness Chronicles have reminded me to do simple, thoughtful, little acts like this. And now, I'm reminding you. Read about The Kindness Chronicles here. I'll be posting on the first Sunday of the month.
the kindness chronicles

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Geography of Loss workshop

Life is made up of moments, many of them precious.
On March 17, I had the pleasure of co-teaching a workshop, "Geography of Loss, creating an art quilt map"  with Patti Digh, author of "Life is a Verb" and other books. You can see the description of the workshop here. We plan to teach this again, together, so stay tuned.
Our students wrote...
 and they composed with cloth...

 and they stitched...
and listened... 
and heard each other's stories...
Art does heal. 

Even Patti learned to stitch!

Thank you,  glorious women, for coming to the workshop
with open hearts and participating fully.
Thank you for spending your precious time with us.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

from my sketckbook

detail 1
bebop and vines
from my sketchbook from my sketchbook
Another layered journal page with vellum and more with my current vine obsession.
from my sketchbook
from my sketchbook from my sketchbook

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