Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Bead Journal Project - March 2014

I was lucky enough to take a class with Anne Marie Desaulniers at beadFX on Intuitive Bead Embroidery in early March. I have done bead embroidery before and even taught classes in the basic of peyote bezelling a cabochon, but this class opened up a whole new world to me. A world of freedom with beads. The permission to play with beads, a needle and thread in a whole to way. The freedom to express myself, my thoughts and feelings through bead embroidery. 


This is the piece that I started during the class that just had to come out. I think it is very representative of who am I. Bright, happy, exuberant with just a little darkness. 

I have been accepted in to Robin Atkins' Bead Journal Project on Facebook. Thank you, Robin, for providing a safe and supportive environment for my explorations. Your comments on my pieces and the comments of other members has made me realize that I have found my voice. Thank you all for the encouragement. 

The second piece I made in March (cause I can't stop!) represents my head injury. 


In December, we had a bout of very bad weather here in Toronto, including a vicious ice storm. On Friday nights, my husband plays hockey with the boys, so I am left to my own devices. I suddenly had a hankering for Haagen Dazs Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream. If you haven't tried it, well, don't. You will have a new addiction!! I laced up my winter boots, bundled myself up and got set for the 5 minute walk to the store. 

Sadly, I didn't make it. 

As I was walking in the driveway of my apartment complex, I slipped on the ice.  My feet flew out from underneath me and I ended up flat on my back and smacked my head of the pavement. My glasses went flying. I just lay there looking up to the heavens completely discombobulated wondering how did I get here? I was helped up by a gentleman who was slipping and sliding his way over to me. 

Needless to say, the ice cream would have to wait. 

I dragged myself back upstairs and got undressed to inspect the damages. One bruised ego and a whole lot of soreness. I grabbed some ice and started a wee pity party. Home alone. No ice cream. And a lot of pain and stiffness. I beat myself up for being such a dingbat. 

Well, the hustle and bustle of Christmas and New Year's came and went along with more bad weather. It wasn't until the second week of January that I started getting these excruciating headaches. It was as if someone was pulling my ponytail really hard and jamming a screwdriver into the top of my head at the same time. 

I headed over to the emergency department at my local hospital. I was seen pretty quickly as head injuries are not something to mess with. After a series of tests and answering lots of questions, I was told I had suffered a concussion and now has post concussive syndrome. What?!?!

Post-concussion syndrome, also known aspostconcussive syndrome or PCS, is a set of symptoms that may continue for weeks, months, or occasionally a year or more after aconcussion – a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) ~ from Wikipedia. 

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-concussion_syndrome

I was shocked to say the least. I was ordered to have immediate bed rest and not work. Not only that, but as I needed to "rest" my brain, I was banned from all sources of visual stimulation. No TV. No computer. No iPhone. No beading or crochet. No reading. It was horrible. 

I am still suffering from cognitive disfunction, occasionally vertigo, and headaches. Ugh. 

In my BJP piece, I chose a cabochon made by Maku Studios to represent the head injury. A nail in the centre sums it up!


I just started beading and it began to take on a life of its own. 

Some elements include:
- a chipped Swarovski skull bead
- some rough lava beads
- a pyrite bead that has some serious dents
- a routilated quartz that represents the ice. 

It all looks pretty, but is not quite right, which pretty much sums up me at the moment. 

See the circles on the left? They don't meet properly. 

See the baby spike beads? They aren't laying properly. 






The mint green and the white opal colour combos represent the ice. The coolness of winter. There is some brown times in the lower right hand corner to suggest the colours of my beloved ice cream. 

I will get better. It just takes time. If you know someone who has a brain injury, be kind and patient with them. Certainly don't reprimand them. It really does amaze me how some people don't seem to understand that I've has a traumatic brain injury. 

If you bang your head or fall and smack your head, seek medical attention immediately. It's not something to be dismissed. Just think of poor Natasha Richardson, Liam Neeson's wife. Bumped her head while skiing. Was fine, talking to people. And then she was gone. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

Still Here!

Some of you may have been wondering where I've been as I've not been posting much in 2014. Funny story...

Living in Toronto, we were subjected to a terrible ice storm before Christmas where hundreds of thousands lost power for more than three days. We were among those affected. Not fun, let me tell you. 

Just prior to the blackout, on a Friday night while my husband was out playing hockey, I got a hankering for some Chocolate Peanut Butter Haagen Dazs ice cream. It was around midnight, but the tummy wants what the tummy wants!

I bundled myself up warmly as it was darn cold outside, and set off to walk the whole 5 minutes to the 24 hour convenience store basically across the street. As I was walking out of my complex's driveway, my feet flew out from underneath me and I fell. I fell hard. Flat on my back and my head hit the pavement. 

Next thing I know, there is a man standing beside me helping me up and I'm reaching for my glasses that flew off my head. Battered and bruised, the ice cream would have to wait. I made my way back up to my apartment and grabbed some ice. I quietly chastised myself and nursed my bruised ego and head. 

I was sore from head to toe, but pushed through the pain. Not really thinking too much of it. Christmas holidays and New Year's came and went. Midway through January I started getting really bad headaches. I'm prone to migraines, but these were totally different. It was as if there was a screwdriver in the top of my head and someone was turning it trying to dig deep. 

I turned to the medical opinion of the masses on Facebook. The response was fast and furious. "Get to emergency!!!" "You can't fool around with head injuries!" So off I went to North York General hospital. The triage and admitting staff all got a good chuckle at my ice cream jonesing story. I could tell that the examining doctor wanted to laugh too, but luckily he was professional enough not to. I suspect there were giggles after I left. 

I had my head examined. (Keep your comments to yourself.) I really thought I was going to pass out when Dr. Krishna was feeling my head. I was scared I had cracked my skull, the pain was so unbearable. 

Diagnosis: Post concussive syndrome

Treatment: no computer. No TV. No iPhone. No reading. No beading! No crochet! No visual stimulation. 

One unhappy Stephanie. 

It was nuts! I cleaned. I listened to podcasts. I listened to audio books. I was bored out of my mind and I slept a lot. 

I was dizzy a lot. I had to move from a sitting to standing position slowly or the world would spin. 

I had to get better fast as I was traveling to Tucson the first week of February for the gem shows. I had commitments!!! I went to work for a day and couldn't make it through without nearly passing out. 

I took more time off and was serious about my recuperation. I now know how Sidney Crosby and anyone else with a concussion feels. It ain't fun!

I'm thanking my lucky stars that I was able to fly down to Tucson. I think I scared the bejeebus out of the flight attendant when I told him I had PCS and I had no idea how it would manifest during the flight. Just a heads up, I said. I was alright. 

Next post will be about my Tucson adventures. 

Saturday, January 04, 2014

Grateful Day 3

Books. 
I'm grateful for books. 
Fiction
Non Fiction
Beading
Crochet
Wire work
Knitting
Sewing 
Crafting
Empowerment 
Classics
Books

I love them and can't get enough of them. 






Thursday, January 02, 2014

Grateful Day 2

In Toronto, it's -27 Celsius with the windchill and there's a cold weather alert in effect. 


From Environment Canada:
Environment Canada extended its wind chill warning to much of the GTA late Thursday morning, including the city of Toronto, because severe wind chills of -30 to -40 are expected in many parts of Ontario through Friday morning.

When the wind chill is -28 to -39, exposed skin can freeze in 10 to 30 minutes and people risk hypothermia if they are outside for long periods without adequate clothing or shelter from the wind and cold, Environment Canada warns.



From CTV News:

As the wind chill dropped to a bitter -28 overnight, street outreach workers patrolled the streets and encouraged homeless and other vulnerable people to go to a shelter or find a different warm place to stay.

In Toronto, people are asked to call 311 if they see someone who they think is in need of street outreach assistance. If it is an emergency, call 911.


I'm glad that a Good Samaritan is checking in on this person. Most people would just walk by. 

There are homeless people in my neighborhood. I don't know where they sleep at night, but they seem to have regular spots to hang out during the day. I don't give money anymore, but I do say hello and will buy gift cards for Loblaws for them every now and then. I did crochet a hat and scarf set in navy blue for one gentleman. Although he was appreciative, I never saw him wear it. I finally asked what happened to them. I found out he had given them as a gift for a homeless woman. At least someone is a little warmer. 


Today, I'm grateful for warm clothes, a cozy home with heat and a hot cup of coffee. 

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Trailing Pearls Necklace

I was at That Bead Lady, Canada's only CREATE YOUR STYLE recommended store, on Sunday for the celebration of Canada's newest Swarovski Ambassador Alison Layton. (More on that in a future post.)

Cathy Lampole is the owner of the store and is her Goddess Bead pattern was my first foray into bead weaving.  Her store is full of inspirational pieces and for many of them, there is a pattern available for sale. 

I was taken with the Trailing Pearls Necklace in mauve, burgundy and green. More often than not, I am attracted to pieces that match what I'm wearing that day. Maybe it's just a colour mood I'm in. 

This pattern calls for seed beads, Swarovski pearls in 3 colours and Swarovski crystals in 2 colours. It's a rich and sumptuous looking necklace. I couldn't wait to get home to start on it. 


You can buy the pattern for this and many more gorgeous pieces at http://www.thatbeadlady.com/

Monday, November 04, 2013

Creativ Festival Recap

The Fall Creativ Festival in Toronto is an annual pilgrimage for crafters of every ilk: jewellery makers, knitters, crocheters, quilters, sewers, scrap bookers, felters, cross stitchers and so many more. I remember going to my first show many years ago with my Aunt Penny and Aunt Min. Penny is a weaver, beader, sewer and knitter. Min makes the most glorious quilts. Obviously, I come by my craftiness honestly, it's in my genes. 

It was also the first place that I got introduced to beading. I took a class with William Hodge. All about beading around the world. He showcased so many different types of beading including needlework of which he had made a beautiful vest and he also showed some Mexican beading such as gluing beads onto a skull. Little did I know what an impact this first foray into the world of Creativ Festival would have on me and my career. 

Fast-forward many years when I was the volunteer coordinator for the Toronto bead society and had to organize our booth at the festival. At the time I was crocheting with wire to make beautiful necklaces with beads and wire. I was lucky enough to meet Laura Timmons who also was crocheting with beads and wire. We hit it off immediately and my life was forever changed. Laura invited me to be her assistant in her classes at Bead&Button in Milwaukee and what a grand time we had. I was lucky enough to room with her and the inimitable Kristal Wick. My eyes were opened to a entire new world of beading. 

Since that serendipitous meeting with Laura, I've taught at the Creativ Festival numerous times and even taught at Bead&Button. In fact, I've never missed either show since. 

This year's Creativ Festival saw the debut of my fellow CYS Ambassadors in Canada, June Beach, Pat Reisenburger and Fernando DaSilva. Added to this mix was Calgary's Jamie North and Newmarket's Alison Layton. Although it wasn't formally announced until after the show, Alison is the newest addition to the talented group of CREATE YOUR STYLE with Swarovski Elements Ambassadors. 

I had a grand old sparkly time demoing for Dreamtime Creations and Silver Dawn Jewels. I think I did a good job of spreading the sparkle love and enabling a whole new group of people. 

As a CYS Ambassador, I attended training in Rhode Island, the headquarters of Swarovski North America. I've kept up with my training and try to learn as many different ways to incorporate Swarovski into my work. This came in particularly handy when I had to temporarily step in to start teaching Pat's class as she encountered travel difficulties. I was happy to be able to teach her class how to make a felted bar of soap and embellish it with Swarovski. 

I love what I do and hope I get an opportunity to inspire more people at the next show.