Posts Tagged ‘brain’

My Beautiful, Altered Brain | Altered Book

November 18, 2012

Here are some altered book pages I’ve been working on for My Beautiful, but Altered Brain series.  I transformed a children’s board book with some of the photos I had made of the digital art I created of my MRI scans with some text content from the recent issue of Momentum Magazine, the quarterly publication of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Altered Book Pages | My Beautiful, Altered Brain

 This altered book includes 10 years of my MRI scans and shares my experience.

I’ve also been creating more digital art with the most recent MRI scans that I just had:

During my neurology appointment this month, I gave my neurologist one of Elizabeth Jameson‘s beautiful catalogs that I received from her a few months ago to keep sharing her inspiring work and the grateful impact her art has had on me throughout this year.  My altered book is dedicated to Elizabeth and her reminder that “the brain- even a brain with a disease- is beautiful, complex, and intriguing“.

MRI Digital Art for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

June 13, 2012

Here are the first eight digital art images I’ve created with my MRI scans for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain:

First I photographed some sections of my old MRI films, then used photo editing software to transform the photo into digital art.

I really enjoyed the creative process of altering these scans. The process of experimenting & transforming each image provided me with an openness and freedom to explore different themes in a way that I couldn’t before.

As I faced each image and reflected on my experiences, I started to focus on those personal strengths that I believe have helped me the most in times of need related to managing illness: hope, bravery, learning, perseverance, and gratitude.

To my surprise I started to view these images, my driving need to create them, and my overall experience as a celebration of so many important things related to support, treatment, trying to stay healthy, active, being positive, gratitude, and balancing life.

I thought about everything I’ve been able to do, enjoy, create, give back to, and appreciate since my diagnosis 10 years ago.  While it hasn’t all been easy and can surface feelings of denial, isolation, frustration, worry, and uncertainty, there’s still lots for me to be thankful for.  These images are a reflection of that.

 My experience has inspired & contributed to making choices & doing things I didn’t think I could do, but I did- and it’s all good!

A big part of helping to be able to start this process of art-making with my MRI scans has been the inspiration of Elizabeth Jameson and her art, so this is definitely worth another mention. I’ve so admired her work, story, and advocacy from a distance via the Internet for awhile, but throughout the last few months I’ve enjoyed an e-mail correspondence with Elizabeth which continues to motivate me even further, has helped with additional reflection about how one views illness & has put much into perspective for me. Very grateful for this connection and support!

I hope to continue to develop this series further through perhaps using the images to create an altered book, a video or maybe use for some digital storytelling content. Making progress… 🙂

More from My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain: Hindsight + Foresight = Vision | Gratitude Collage

May 5, 2012

The month of May over the last five years always reminds me to pay special attention to the concepts of hindsight, foresight, and vision. 

As part of the art and narrative I’ve started to work on for My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain, it was five years ago this month that I experienced my first encounter with optic neuritis.  Optic neurtis can be a relatively common flare up for those living with some autoimmune diseases, but this was my first introduction…arriving overnight and sticking around for about three weeks.  

Lots of doctors appointments, a batch of IV steroid treatments, and some new MRI testing ensued while I lived in a world where initially I couldn’t even read the giant “E” on my neurologist’s eye chart with either eye.  Thankfully, my vision slowly restored to normal in about a month and the inflammation didn’t leave any serious permanent damage to the myelin surrounding my optic nerve fibers.

During this time of year, this experience especially offers me a constant reminder of appreciation.  This 5 x 4 gratitude collage on chunky stretched canvas provides an important visual reminder, acknowledgment, & celebration for hindsight + foresight = vision.  And on the back of the canvas I have written my many, many thanks with a little touch of kindsight.  🙂

hindsightforesightvision4.jpg

Hindsight | Understanding the nature of an event after it has happened.

Foresight | Providence by virtue of planning prudently for the future.

Vision | The act or power of sensing with the eyes; sight.

My Own Beautiful, but Altered Brain

March 24, 2012
brain11.jpg

my brain: circa 2002

A few years ago I came across the art and story of Elizabeth Jameson and was so very moved and inspired by her work, research, and interpretation of taking her own medical imaging and brain scans as a personal expression and inquiry to understanding and coping with her diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, as well as to help others with the disease and educate the medical community through her art.

It was 10 years ago this month that my life changed forever when my own central nervous system, myelin, and brain wiring first started to misbehave.  In recognition of this year’s 10th anniversary, I think I’m finally up to the challenge of reflecting on my experience of living with a chronic illness and to make some art using the MRI films my neurologist handed to me in 2002.

Jameson’s call for people living with brain inflicted illnesses to “feel how ugly it is and how beautiful it is”, really speaks to me to explore this dichotomy further through art-making with my own beautiful, but altered brain scans. I need to think more about what I want to make or how (perhaps an altered book?), but I do know it is really important that I create something.  This year’s milestone and re-visiting Jameson’s work gives me the motivation (and courage) to finally get started on something I have always wanted to do.

I even included this intention as part of my 2012 revo’lution as something to pay attention to this year.

You can check out more of Jameson’s art and research available online through the Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, The Beautiful Brain, and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society if you are interested in seeing/learning more about her amazing work.

Post Conference Resources: 2011 TLC Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly

July 15, 2011

I just returned from attending The National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children’s 2011 Childhood Trauma Practitioners Assembly and wanted to highlight some of the program offerings:

This year’s theme was Trauma-Informed Resilience-Focused Practicesand kicked off with a keynote on The Adolescent Brain by Jeffery M. Georgi. Georgi’s all day offering included a lot content and considerations to better understand the development and structure of an adolescent’s brain functioning, especially related to trauma exposure and substance abuse.  An emphasis on implementing sensory based approaches when working with traumatized teens was highlighted to support that the adolescent brain develops from the “back to the front”. Interventions such as art, music and smell can have a stronger impact on brain functioning, regulation, and control.  You can learn more about Georgi’s work here and check out these recommended book resources here.

Another Assembly offering I attended  that I found helpful for my shelter work with youth and families included Jean West’s workshop about facilitating trauma work with homeless children and adults using TLC’s SITCAP Model. Some  of the resources and ideas offered during this workshop included implementing a trauma informed approach with this population through sensory based interventions and grounding individuals in crisis through the senses to cope with overwhelming experiences, losses, and strong emotional states. Some helpful trauma informed resources and publications recommended during the workshop included information available from the National Center on Family Homelessness.

This year it was a pleasure to conclude my TLC Assembly experience with facilitating a workshop about group strategies with youth exposed to domestic violence.

In addition to having the honor of being a presenter this year, I also want to sincerely thank TLC for including me as a 2011 award recipient for Consultant Supervisor of the Year.   TLC’s certification training, courses, tools and resources have been so very valuable in my professional development and commitment to become a trauma informed therapist and to better help the youth, women, and families I work with who have impacted by trauma and loss.  Thanks to TLC for all their work and dedication to help traumatized children everywhere.

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