Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Busy Little Elf

Life has been very busy lately.  I've had a lot of school work to do.  This has been compounded by a super-migraine that has surpassed all other migraines.  You have never experienced a migraine until you have had one in your eye.  I now have a greater understanding for headache pain.  

The best part of the last month, however, was getting to design Christmas cards for two good friends, Taiya and Sandy.  It was nice and relaxing to work on something creative.

A view of my workspace.  I really do know where everything is.
I've been wanting to do something with this stamp for several years, so when Sandy told me she wanted a wintery scene with snowy trees I knew exactly which image to use.
Taiya asked for something Zentangled, so I drew this Christmas tree for her. 
I was really pleased with how the cards came out.  And Sandy was so pleased with her's that she ordered some birthday cards.  I'm ├╝ber excited about the chance to excercise my creative muscles.  I'll be sure to share a few along the way.

I wish everyone a Merry Christmas.  May you experience the warmth of the season.

-Jennifer Gayle

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What A Summer!

This past summer has been a doozy.  I can't say that I'm sorry to see it go.  In addition to the stress of my second semester of grad school I continued to struggle with my migraines.  Early in the summer I went back to see my headache specialist in Chapel Hill.  So far the changes he made in my medication regimen have been helpful.  Except for a few minor setbacks I have slowly continued to improve.

Given all the stress that I have been going through I have been doing what I can to relax.  In addition to my Zentangling I've started to do some art journaling.  It's nice to sit and focus on nothing but the page.  And the best of it is that I am learning to let go.  Normally I would freak if I messed something up, but with art journaling I've learned to go with the flow and figure out how to make it work.

Making mistakes is the theme for this page.  It was born out of a mistake that I made on another page.  I am really excited with how it turned out.

"I've learned so much from my mistakes I'm thinking of making a few more."

The photo on top shows what the page looked like before I added some homemade shimmer spray. I really felt like it was lacking something so I added the gold shimmer.  It's a little hard to tell in the picture, but it really added that finishing touch that the page needed.

Here's to a great fall!
-Jennifer Gayle

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's Official!

I was so excited this past Monday when I opened my email and saw my tangle, Floor Too, featured on TanglePatterns.com by Linda Farmer, CZT.  I had submitted the tangle back in November and wasn't sure if it would ever make it.  It's such a wonderful honor to be included among so many talented artists.

Like many others, I was inspired by a pattern that I saw while I was out and about.  One day in early November I was riding an elevator when a woman walked in.  She had the most interesting shapes on her sweater.  As soon as I got home I started playing with the pattern in my sketch book and my tangle was born.

I hope you enjoy Floor Too!
-Jennifer Gayle

*Linda Farmer prefers to swap steps 1 and 2 for better alignment.  
Try it both ways and see what works best for you.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month #15

For today's Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge post I am using one of the alternative prompts- Temple Grandin: "A school bell sounded like a dentist drill going through my ears."

There are many side effects that occur because when one experiences a Migraine.  Not everyone experiences them all, and not everyone experiences the same ones.  One that is very common, however, is phonophobia, or noise sensitivity.

When experiencing phonophobia the slightest whisper can sound like someone screaming is in your ear.  You suddenly begin to notice every sound in your environment.  Every sound you hear is amplified so much so that the pain in your ears begins to match that of your Migraine.

I usually get that acute super-sonic hearing that phonophobia causes along with my Migraines.  It varies in intensity along with the intensity of my Migraine.  At its worst I cannot even stand the sound of the fan in our bedroom.  Also, for some reason, it always seems that the neighbor chooses to mow his lawn when I have my worst Headaches.  When this happens I will pop in my earplugs and pray for sleep.  

On other days, when the pain is not so severe that I lock myself in my room curled up with my earplugs and face mask, I am able to lay down on the couch and watch TV.  My husband usually abandons his TV watching when this happens.  The reason is that the volume that suits him sounds like the actors are screaming through megaphones to me, and in order to sound normal to me I have to turn it down so low that he can't hear it.

It is also possible for the phonophobia to make the Migraine worse.  (It's a sort of chicken or egg thing.)  I remember one time we were at a concert when I started to get a Migraine.  I had left my Maxalt in the car, so we decided to leave.  Before we could get out of our seats the band began to play and my pain level skyrocketed.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Phonophobia is a difficult side effect of Migraine.  Unfortunately, since we can't turn down the volume of the world, we must learn to adapt and create our own silence.

-Jennifer Gayle

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month #12 - The Box

The prompt for today's Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is The Box- You are the experiment.  What situation in your Migraine treatment has made you feel most like a guinea pig or lab rat?

A few years ago I was fortunate to find an amazing headache specialist, Dr. Kevin Kahn.  I love my neurologist to death, but once my Migraines became chronic she just didn't know what to do.  Unlike many doctors, Dr. Kahn has what I like to call the anything but the kitchen sink approach.  We started out with a common regimen for Migraine treatment.  When the conventional treatment didn't work he started to get creative.  We must have tried five or six different things, from nerve block injections to a glaucoma medication.  I got some relief from the injections, though they made me feel like a human pincushion.  Unfortunately the other medications were a fail.  One caused a rash, while another made my feet and ankles swell so badly I couldn't put shoes on.  The frustrating part was that one worked.  But, as I couldn't go around with elephant legs, I had to stop it.  In the end we backed off of any preventative medication and just stuck with the nerve blocks.

Although I felt like a medical experiment for a little while, I really did (and do) appreciate Dr. Kahn's approach to things.  Most other doctors would have tried the standard medications, and when that didn't work they would have said "oh well."  Recently, since my Migraines have gotten worse (I've only had one Migraine-free day in the past three months) we decided to give beta blockers another shot.  I have had some relief so far (that one Migraine-free day and a reduction in the duration and intensity of the Migraines) so I have hope that things will continue to improve as the medication builds up in my system.

-Jennifer Gayle

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month #9 - Mama Mia

The prompt for today's Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is Mama Mia: Money Money Money, How does living with Migraine affect your financial situation?

According to the American Headache and Migraine Association Headache Disorders cost the U.S. economy $31 billion every year.  This sum not only includes the cost of treatment, it also includes the number of man hours that are lost due to Migraine attacks.  Ninety-one percent of Americans cannot function during a Migraine attack.

Chronic Migraine has had a profound impact on my financial situation.  I have lost four jobs due to Migraine.  In each case my employer did not understand what it meant to suffer from Migraine.  They either had no personal experience with Migraine, or they played the "I get Migraines and I can work" card.  In both cases it was impossible to adequately explain how my Migraines affected my ability to work.

After losing my fourth job I applied for disability.  I was extraordinarily fortunate to have been approved on the first try.  While I do receive a small amount of money each month (and I do mean small), the most important thing that disability provides is Medicare, and in my situation Medicaid as well.  The reason this is so important is that Migraine treatment is expensive.  I went nearly a year without insurance after I became unemployed and as a result I had to pick and chose how I treated my Migraines.  I had to limit the number of times I saw my specialist.  I also had to stop several medications because I could not afford them.  It was very stressful.  And while stress is no longer considered to be a Migraine trigger, it certainly did not help.

Lost jobs, medication, doctors' bills, and hospital stays all cost a great deal of money.  They are just another way my life revolves around my Migraine.

-Jennifer Gayle

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month #7 - Pretty Woman

Today's Migraine and Headache Awareness Month blog challenge theme is Pretty Woman- What do you do to look good when you feel like crap?  

I don't know about most people, but I've mostly given up on looking good when I feel my worst.  I have to struggle so hard to be functional that my appearance takes a back seat.  Instead I try to compensate on the days that I am feeling better.

On my better days I like to do a few simple things to make me feel a little more 'girly'.  I take time to style my hair, instead of just letting it dry on its own.  I make sure to put on my cutest pajamas.  And, if I feel particularly good I may even paint my fingernails.  It doesn't take much to contrast with how I feel when I am at my worst.

When I was younger I didn't take much stock in the claims that you would feel better if you spruced up a little bit.  But I have learned that it really does work.  So, when you can, spend a little extra time to make yourself look refreshed because it might actually make yourself feel refreshed.

-Jennifer Gayle

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Migraine & Headache Awareness Month #6 - Premonition

The theme of today's Migraine and Headache Month blog challenge is premonition–where would you like to see treatment options for Migraine and Headache Disorders go in the future?

Like many others, I hope for the day when there will be a cure-all, one drug that I can take that will rid me of this curse.  I know I have to be realistic.  Migraine and other Headache Disorders are caused by such a broad spectrum of things that all of the research in the world will ever find one magic pill to put a stop to the pain.

What I would truly like to see in the future is research towards a Migraine-specific drug.  Currently all but one drugs to treat Migraine were developed for other uses.  Ease of Migraine pain just happens to be a happy side-effect.  I currently take a drug made for epilepsy, an antidepressant, and blood pressure medication for the treatment of my Migraines.  They help, but they are not Migraine drugs.  I would like to see the day when I can take one medication, one pill, to help relieve the symptoms of my Migraines and that will help to prevent them.

Currently the government gives very little funding to the research of Migraine and other Headache Disorders.  Other 'flashier' disorders get the most funding.  What many don't realize is Headache Disorders cost the U.S. economy $31 billion each year.  Ninety-one percent of the 37 million Americans who suffer from Migraine are debilitated during an attack, unable to work and function.  Research for a disorder like this truly needs to be better funded.

While we are nowhere near there yet, my premonition for the treatment of Migraine and other Headache Disorders is a medication for Migraine that will relieve the symptoms and prevent Migraine altogether.

-Jennifer Gayle

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Carousel- You'll Never Walk Alone, Migraine Awareness Month #5

June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month.  Fightingheadachedisorders.com has challenged those of us who suffer from migraines to write a blog post everyday to help spread awareness.  I'm a few days late, but I thought I would give it a shot.

Today's prompt, You'll Never Walk Alone, makes me think of my husband.  I don't think that I could survive without the support of my husband.  There is an old joke that the reason to have a spouse is so that you have someone to take you to the hospital.  My husband does so much more than that.

Having chronic migraines takes so much out of you, physically and mentally.  Whether I'm down or whether I'm up, my husband is there for me.  He gives me a hug, a shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen to my rantings.  When I have a migraine he get me icepacks, closes the blinds and turns off the lights.  He endures watching the tv when the volume is so low he can barely hear it.  But most importantly of all he is just there.  He has stayed with me no matter how bad my migraines get.  Just knowing that he will never abandon me gets me through the pain.

I am truly blessed to have a husband who loves me and who stands by me.  With him I will never walk alone.

-Jennifer Gayle

June 2013, Migraine and Headache Awareness Month, is dedicated to Unmasking the Mystery of Chronic Headache Disorders. The 2013 Migraine and Headache Awareness Month Blog Challenge is a project of FightingHeadacheDisorders.com.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Weekly Challenge #120: "Tangleation Nation; Bales"

I was very excited when I saw this week's challenge.  Bales is one of my favorite tangles.  It is simple, but there are so many things that you can do with it.  I enjoyed playing around with tangleations of it.  

This is my favorite.  For both this one and the next I used watercolor paper that I washed with Twinkling H2Os and spotted with bubble wrap.

I think this pattern would have more impact if it could be shaded, but I think it came out pretty good. 

I really had fun with this one.  There are so many things that can be done with bales.  I've only just scratched the surface.  

-Jennifer Gayle

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Diva's Weekly Challenge #118: "UMT v. XVI - Kuke"

This week's challenge was another in the monthly "Use My Tangle" series.  This week our Diva featured Katy Abbott's first tangle, Kuke.  I was in the need of a little inspiration, so I decided to use one of Linda Farmer's tangle strings (#51).  It turned out very simply, but I like it.

Happy Tangling!
-Jennifer Gayle

Friday, May 10, 2013

Weekly Diva Challenge #117–Schway

Welcome back to the Diva Challenge.  As part of my return to balance I decided to take up the Diva Challenge once again.  This week featured the new official Zentangle pattern schway.  It's a very simple pattern with a great tessellation feel.  I've had some challenges using schway with other patterns, but I did a large monotangle that looked quite nice.  To spice it up I added some color using watercolor pencils.  I think it turned out pretty good and the ombre paint job gives it an interesting stripe effect.



I got the idea for some creative angles from fellow Tanglers.

Have fun with schway.
-Jennifer Gayle

Thursday, May 9, 2013

If You Can't Duck It...

I have always loved duct tape.  There's just something mystical about it.  I was thrilled when Duck Tape® came out with patterned tapes a number of years ago.  I have a small collection.  I've done a few small projects with it.

Yesterday was Chris's birthday.  Since we're on a tight budget I decided to make him a little something special, instead of buying him a gift.  I have been holding on to my UNC duct tape for nearly two years trying to think of something to make for him.  Last week when he asked me to put his iPad Mini in my purse it hit me–a duct tape case for his iPad.  Since I already had all of the supplies on hand the only cost would be my time.

Taking advantage of the fact that I got up several hours earlier than Chris, I set to work yesterday morning on his case.  It was really a simple project.  It took me about an hour, and a large part of which was being really careful to line up the UNC tape.  The software needed was the tape, bubble wrap, and some self-adhering velcro.  The only hardware I used was a pair of scissors.

After measuring out the bubble wrap, leaving a little extra on the edges to allow for the depth, I began to cover it with strips of tape.  I left a good amount of tape hanging off the edges to make sure I didn't cut a piece to short.  While the tape is fresh it's fairly easy to pull it off of another piece, but it can tear the bubble wrap if you try to reposition it.  After covering the first side, I trimmed the edges then flipped it over.  On this side I left about an inch (since the tape is 2" wide) hanging off the bottom, which I folded over to the first side in order to hide the edge.  I did the same thing when I got to the top.

After both sides were covered, I grabbed the iPad to make sure that I folded the cover in the right place.  I used a small piece of the scrap tape that I had cut off earlier to hold it in place while I added the binding.  Again I lined up about 1" of tape along the side, then folded it over.  After doing that for both sides I removed my scrap piece of tape, and trimmed the edges. To make sure that the flap lined up like I wanted it, I put the iPad into the pocket before adding the velcro.  Once the adhesive on the velcro set, it was ready.

I lined the inside with plain white tape since it wouldn't be seen.

Chris was very excited about his case.  Now he'll carry his iPad with pride when we go out.

-Jennifer Gayle

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Taking Time for Creativity

This January I undertook a new challenge in my life- graduate school.  I am working on a masters degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from Gratz College.  It is something that I have wanted to do for many years.  I knew going into this that there would be a lot of work, but I really had no idea how much.  I was completely overwhelmed.  As a result I spent all of my time reading and working and I closed off all of my creative outlets.  I stopped Zentangling.  I stopped card making.  I stopped everything.  And, lo and behold, I got burned out.

As I started to burn out I noticed my neglected sketch pad on the coffee table.  I picked it up and started to doodle.  Then I started doodling some more.  And I started to find myself relaxing.  I know that is one of the key purposes of Zentangle, but until I experienced it for myself I didn't really believe it.

I am now taking breaks from my reading to Zentangle whenever I start to feel overwhelmed.  As the final week of the semester looms, along with two research papers, I'm sure I will be Zentangling a lot.  The most important thing I have learned out of all of this is that, no matter what, you have to take time for creativity.

-Jennifer Gayle

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of the 2013, but did you realize is that it is also the eighth day of Christmas?  While I don't have eight maids a milkin' I do have a gift for my true love.

Last year I started the tradition of giving my hubby something special for each of the twelve days of Christmas.  This year I decided to make it extra personal.  Using the letters in his name, I chose twelve words that described my husband.  I filled out cards dictionary style, providing the definition and using each word in a sentence that described him.  On the other side I numbered each one.  Then I placed the cards in envelopes and placed them under the Christmas tree.  Not only does he get to open a personalized card every day, but once they are bound together with rings my husband will have something to look at throughout the year to remind him how special he is to me.

-Jennifer Gayle