Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Surgery Mini-Album // Vol. 3

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Since posting the first half of my album, I have received several comments about it's simplicity. I started the album while in Pennsylvania and wrote about that process on this page of my album. I knew that I wanted to create a surgery album and had planned to take all of my Project Life supplies with me, but when my plans turned suddenly from driving to flying, I was unable to pack anything but the clothes I would need for a month's stay. I shopped with my mom - picking up a 6x8 album, page protectors, and a few packs of journaling cards on clearance for me, and all the supplies needed to start a 12x12 album for her.

I put out a call for friends to each send a Project Life card to add to my album, and you'll see many of those in the last part of my album. But, along the way, friends from Instagram also mailed me cards they had designed or pieces of kits they knew I would love (like these Heidi Swapp products from Annette. Swoon.). I tend to keep my large album simple too, but working out of a shoebox of supplies, literally, was a fun challenge.

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This spread highlights some of my favorite ladies. On the left hand side, dinner with friends I've known for more than a decade. On the right, dinner with my college best friend and her son, Joey, who was born just before I moved away from Pennsylvania.

In the center, an insert of coffee with Cynthia. One of the highlights of my trip was meeting Cynthia, a funny, sweet, woman fighting the same battle that I am. Cynthia had her cranio-cervical fusion with Dr. Bolognese just a few weeks before I did and has been such a valuable resource over the past three months. Our plan to meet over coffee turned into three hours of constant laughter and story-telling. To make the insert more noticable in the album, I marked it with a tiny tab made from glitter tap - a technique I've begun using in my 12x12 album, too. 

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Since Trevor and Miesha weren't able to join me in New York, I had to include the selfies they sent instead. In the center, I cut a page protector in half to include a funny text conversation we had regarding their passion for fast food. As you can tell, I was fond of adding screen caps to this album as so much of my support came from afar.

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Another event that I chose to double document, in both this mini-album and my album for the year, was my trip to the beach with Trevor's family. I had too many photos to include in such a small space but it was such an important part of my month on the East Coast. (Plus, it's where I actually first sat down to piece together this album.)

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The last full spread of my album is dedicated to my mom who was the champion of my brain surgery. You all think I'm brave, or strong.. this woman slept on a recliner in my hospital room, fetched me smoothies on command, and nearly died of a heart attack everyday when I would drop something upstairs. On the left hand side, I included details of our last day together - lunch at Panera, the pre-boarding authorization for my plane ride, a description of our hassles at the airport. 

On the right, a photo she took of me in my awareness t-shirt. A photo I loved so much that I printed it as a full 6x8 page, with another full-size photo of me on the back. When I received this temporary tattoo with Kal Barteski's brush script, I knew just how to share and document my incision.

And finally, a divider for my favorite part of the album which will be on the blog later this week.

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Project Life® is a memory keeping system designed by Becky Higgins that utilizes ring-bound albums, pocket pages and journaling cards. You view my spreads here and on Instagram at #jensprojectlife.

Products Used: light blue 6x8 faux leather album, favorite things edition core kit, seafoam core kit, midnight core kit, overlay value kit, heidi swapp roller date stamp, gold foil stickers and today themed journaling cards from MAMBI,  cork geotag, journaling cards and days of the week washi tape from  Studio Calico

(If you missed the first pages in my surgery mini-album, you can catch up with part one and part two.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Surgery Mini-Album // Vol. 2

Two

This spread is easily my favorite spread from this album but I can't tell you which part of the spread is my favorite. That hand-lettered card from Jen Kinkade? The happiness card I had been saving for months? The Heidi Swapp pattern on the right? Or, perhaps it's my favorite because it documents the day that I left the hospital.

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While the hospital food was remarkably good (aside from the rice pudding that I insisted on trying), I must have subconciously missed New Mexican food as I made my mom find a rest stop with Chipotle on the way home.

If you follow me on Instagram or took the time to check out my about page - you will know that 2.0 has come to represent my life after surgery. I saw this as an upgrade, an improvement, and as a result, a new version of me. My friend Maralyn, a Stella & Dot stylist, had a necklace engraved with 2.0 sent to my parents house while I had my surgery. I included a photo of it, as well as part of the packing on the right side of this spread. (I love cutting apart packaging, catalogs, and other mail, to add to my album.)

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These two spreads captured the day-to-day of my first week home. Receiving my handicap parking passes in the mail (and your encouraging comments on that day). New Nike's from my brother. Aiden's first trip to Five Guys. A cardiology visit, and a holter monitor. Thrift shopping and farmers market with Liatra which, according to the wooden banner above, constituted the best day yet.

Oh, and how could I forget - Hershey's Moose Tracks ice cream in a waffle cone.

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I was also lucky to be feeling well enough for a day at Hersheypark. If you didn't know, my hometown is just forty minutes from the Sweetest Place On Earth, the place where your favorite candies like Hershey's Kisses and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are made.

There, you will also find my favorite amusement park. While I couldn't ride anything out of the carousel, I did manage to splash in the waterpark with Trevor's niece, Shay, to watch Aiden body surf, and to enjoy lunch with his mom and mine. As the day came to a close, we ended up soaked from a sudden thunderstorm and I spent the next thirty minutes drying my neck brace in the ladies bathroom. (It was worth it.)

I loved this day so much, that it was double documented, in both my surgery album and my 12x12 album for the year.



Project Life® is a memory keeping system designed by Becky Higgins that utilizes ring-bound albums, pocket pages and journaling cards. You view my spreads here and on Instagram at #jensprojectlife.

Products Used: light blue 6x8 faux leather album, favorite things edition core kit, wood banner and "happiness is" and Chipotle cards from Studio Calico, memories themed journaling cards from MAMBI, and "she is not afriad" hand-made card from Jen Kinkade.

(If you missed the first pages in my surgery mini-album, you can view them here.)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Surgery Mini-Album // Vol. 1

Week One

For those of you new to my story, I had brain surgery eight weeks ago.
And I documented it with Project Life.

I was diagnosed Chiari Malformation (a congenital condition where the base of the cerebellum herniates out of the skull and into the spinal canal) nearly seven years ago, and for seven years, I was sick without any idea of why. After moving across the country to begin graduate school in New Mexico, things became slipping away from me. I could hardly write with my right arm. I lost all of the sensation on one half of my body. Fatigue and headaches became a daily occurrence. And, it turned out that this Chiari Malformation had been the answer all along.

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So, on July 23rd, I underwent ten hours of surgery with Dr. Paolo Bolognese at Long Island's Chiari Institute

Sometime throughout the seven years between diagnosis and treatment, I developed a secondary problem - my cranio-cervical junction had become unstable, allowing my second vertebrae to migrate upwards and backwards, compressing my brain stem. Essentially, my skull had begun to slip back and forth on my spine. 

During that ten hours, a hole was cut through my skull, a portion of my cerebellum cauterized, and an unexpected membrane - that should have disappeared at birth - was discovered and removed. At the same time, the alignment of my skull and spine was corrected and held in place with six screws and a cranio-cervical fusion. (During the surgery, imaging was taken to ensure the placement of the screws and Dr. Bolognese gave me a copy as a "souvenir.")

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To help offset the costs of my surgery, I designed and sold a t-shirt which, surprisingly, reached all over the globe - from Canada to South Africa, from California to Pennsylvania. On the day of my surgery, friends and family took selfies in their t-shirts and posted them online in support. I compiled them in my album alongside the encouraging comments I received on Instagram during my time in the hospital.

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I'm not sure that I have ever taken as many selfies as I did while in the hospital but these photos allowed me a place to journal while updating friends and family at the same time. It was nearly three weeks after my surgery when I began my mini-album and so it was helpful to have those photos and captions to look back on.



Project Life® is a memory keeping system designed by Becky Higgins that utilizes ring-bound albums, pocket pages and journaling cards. You view my spreads here and on Instagram at #jensprojectlife.

Products Used: light blue 6x8 faux leather album, favorite things edition core kit, wooden hashtags, skyscraper flair, cork geotag stickers and labels from Studio Calico, memories themed journaling cards from MAMBI, and hand-made cards from Nicole Reaves and Jen Kinkade.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ten on Tuesday: Birthday Wishes


Unless you are family, or perhaps a friend since middle school, you probably don't know that this is the fourth year in a row that I've done a Ten on Tuesday blog post filled with an absurd birthday wishlist. (This means I have consistently kept a blog feature for four years, people.) But, if I'm really being honest here, Steph (read: friend since middle school) is the only one to ever even choose a gift based on one of these birthday posts so, why do I bother? It's actually kind of fun to look back over these four years and see how little my wishes and style have changed, and what items I bought for myself compared to which items I had completely forgotten. It's a bit telling, really. For instance, there has been a pair of shoes on my list every. single. year.

This year, the things making my wishlist are:

1 // This t-shirt from Mulberry Press Co. In recent months, I've become a t-shirt and leggings kind of gal and this one speaks to my creative soul. (this one from Hello Apparel also speaks to my soul, my #helpmeimpoor soul, that is)

2 // A Fitbit. Since my surgery, I've made an honest attempt at walking more. I've also been interested to know if the quality of my sleep has improved. From what Instagram tells me, a fitbit is the tool I need for true motivation to get moving. I'm loving it in tangerine.

3 // Project Life supplies, the most obvious item on the list. I have been practicing an amazing amount of self control in not rushing out for the Heidi Swapp Foil Value Kit (though I did buy the date stamp.) And, after watching Rachel's Project Life process video, I think I officially need a tiny attacher. And if you're looking for the world's most reasonably priced birthday gift? I'll take some design F pages, thanks.

4 // A pair of Sperry's. In order to continue the tradition, I had to include a pair of shoes on my birthday wishlist but in all reality, I've had my eyes on these for months. I mean, they have gold laces.

5 // Prints to round out an inspirational wall in our bedroom. I recently commissioned a brush script painting of my favorite quote from Jodie at Polka Dot Creative, and then snagged this cross-stitched beauty from Hailey's flash sale. While I love this print from Yellow Bungalow Co., I would truly love any artwork for my next gallery well to be.

6 // This infinity scarf which I added to my list mostly for your benefit - for the next four days, it's only $4.99 on P.S. I Adore You, my favorite flash-sale website (the proceeds benefit pediatric cancer patients!). After that, you can find it here.

7 // A Wacom tablet. I've wanted one for so lon, that I was sure it had made my birthday list before. I was wrong.  

8 // A new camera strap. Since upgrading to my Canon 5D Mk II, I haven't ventured away from my boring came-with-the-camera black strap. I love the color and tribal feel of this one from Photojojo!

9 // This lap loom, or any lap loom, really. Between Rachel's and Maryanne's weavings in my Instagram feed, I can't put off starting this hobby any longer. I also want to learn to make macrame plant hangers. Is that weird?

10 // Vinyl. If you could peek back at last year's wishlist, you would know that a record player was at the top of it. A few weeks ago, my parents found me a beautiful wooden player at a flea market back home and it is being shipped here momentarily. While we have plenty of old 45s, I would love Vinyl from some of my current favorites to play on it, too.



So tell me, what items are on your Fall wishlist?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hello, September!

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This morning, I am saying hello to a new month, and to a new blog.
Here at Jen 2.0, September is going to be a big month. Here are just a few things you can expect...

// A look into my surgery mini-album. September is Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia Awareness month - I plan to share my surgery story, as well as information about Chiari, here throughout the month to help spread awareness for this condition.

// Updates from Maggie Holmes' "30 Days of Me" class which starts today. This seemed like a great way to document the beginning of Life 2.0 and also the end of my 22nd year.

// Four weeks of "Get Messy," an art journal challenge.

// A guest post on one of my favorite blogs. (Hint: It's going to be really lovely.)

// The reincarnation of "Ten on Tuesday," a blog series with a themed list each week. This month's topics will include ten essentials for getting started with Project Life and my birthday wishlist, of course.

// And, possibly the best part? A giveaway of some of my favorite things to celebrate my 23rd birthday. 
 


So tell me, what are you most looking forward to in September?

(Hello Sept brush script from Jasmine Dowling's 2014 Calendar)