Monday, October 13, 2014

Creative Practice Week 7- Star Book

I have wanted to learn how to create a star book for the last year, but never had the mental energy to do it. With the freedom to create what I want his week, I took the opportunity to make a star book. It took me three days in preparation. My mind was playing a tug of war between the Star Book and the Caterpillar book. After reviewing many websites and YouTube video, I decided on the Star Book. It seems hard enough and more effort for me. I sat in my studio thinking about what I should to do – my incubation stage. Then I thought, I always love fairies and unicorns. I’ll create a book with a faire theme – my illumination stage. I discussed with my colleague as to what I wanted to create and she thought it was a cool idea. When I was done, she verified that it was a good start.

Creating this book was a little frustrating at first. My mind couldn’t really concentrate because I felt overwhelmed after watching so many videos trying to figure out how I want to create it. At first, I was going to use thick white watercolor paper and paint it, but then worried it will make it hard for the glue to stick. (See Figure 1) 
Figure 1
I walked away from the table for 30 minutes and thought about what to do and decided on using construction paper in my favorite colors, yellow, black and blue. (Figure 2) 
Figure 2
In the tutorial videos, they tell you to glue the three papers together, but I thought that was boring so I cut a window in the yellow and blue paper, looking back, I should have cut a smaller window for the blue. (Figure 3)
Figure 3
I glued all the sides together and added the covers.  (Figure 4)
Figure 4
At first, I was stressed because I’ve never made a star book before and worried it’ll turn out bad. Once I committed into starting, the whole process helped me to feel better and when I looked up, I have been working for two hours. This was a fair quickly process, but I learned what to do and what not to do to make my next book better. (Figure 5-7)
Figure 5

Figure 6

Figure 7
 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Health Issue Week 7 - Chronic Pain


Some years ago, I had a patient call me, wanting to share the experience she received just by looking at a photography displayed in the corridor at the hospital I work for. The picture is of an analemma by Masayuki Shiraishi.   By superimposing all the photographs taken of the sun at the same time each day – subtracting an hour as needed for Daylight Saving Time – the resulting figure-8 or the shape of infinity also known as an analemma.   See Figure 1, a sample photograph of Arizona desert by Frank Zullo 

Figure 1 - Photographer: Frank Zullo
 The patient crying with joy and hope in her voice told me that she has had chronic pain for the last 4 years. She had tried everything and is now at the last straw where she had to seek help through Stanford Hospital. As she was leaving the hospital, she saw this photograph of an infinity shape. That photograph gave her hope because she “knew there must be a God if the sun rotated in the shape of infinity. There is no way we are on this earth by chance.”  She continued to share that she was ready to end her life that day until she saw this photo, and had to thank the people involved in curating this art piece for the hospital.  I still remember this phone call every time I think of patients with Chronic Pain.

After some preparation and incubation of creating a new arts program for patients with Chronic Pain, I finally came to the illumination stage. Recently, knitting has become extremely popular in the Silicon Valley. Groups of ladies with their knitting needles and yarns are popping up everywhere –in the coffee shops, libraries, parks, community centers, and churches.  After approaching donors about the idea of starting a knitting program for Chronic Paint Patients, I received my validation two weeks ago. We now have funding that could keep the knitting program running for the next 10 years. I am proud to say that we are launching the knitting program on October 21, 2014. 

Benefits of Knitting:

In Betson Corkill’s presentation, she gave a list of psychological benefits to knitting. “Distraction, provides purposeful occupation and structure, enables contribution, calming, motivating, relaxing, raises mood, facilitates visualization, increases personal space, gives a sense of belonging, mastery of a skill, raises self esteem, gives feeling of control, breaks into negative thought patterns, reduces feelings of bitterness, encourages looking forward, fun, play and laughter.” What I found most value for the Chronic Pain patients is that knitting can “control the anticipation of pain.” Why knitting? Betson argues that “the hand movements are important. They are bilateral, rhythmic, and automatic. It [knitting] enables us to develop creative thought within a safe framework. Its portability can be used any time; anywhere to manage panic, anxiety attacks.” (Corkill)

“Carrie Barron, a psychiatrist with the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and a knitter, lauds handiwork as a tool for alleviating anxiety and depression. Her husband, Alton Barron, orthopedic surgeon and president of the New York Society for Surgery of the Hand, says knitting can prevent arthritis and tendinitis.” (Daily)


References:
(2014) Pain Community Centre. Retrieved from: http://www.paincommunitycentre.org/article/therapeutic-knitting
Betsan Corkill was a physiotherapist, who now runs Stitchlinks, a support network for those who enjoy the therapeutic benefits of crafts particularly knitting (a bilateral rhythmic psychosocial intervention).

(2014) The Daily Gazette: Knitting making a comeback, seen as relaxing, therapeutic Retrieved from: http://www.dailygazette.com/news/2014/oct/11/knit/

Additional Resource:

Riley, J, Corkhill B, Morris, C. (2013). ‘The benefits of knitting for personal and social wellbeing in adulthood: findings from an international survey’, The British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 76:2, 50-57(8)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Health Issue Week 6 - Mind over Matter

Recently, I found a colleague crying in the break room. After trying to console her for a few minutes, she opened up and shared that her aunt has schizophrenia.  I had a friend from church who claimed that she healed her uncle from this mental illness by taking him on what she calls, “Heavenly Visits”. Though she may call it what she wants, she was actually practicing Guided Imagery.  I have known her for over 9 years, and I and I have to admit that her uncle J has healed. He is as normal as can be. He now responses to you when you call his name, he isn’t violent when I try to share his hand because he thought I had fire that Satan. He doesn’t constantly scream because he saw demons in his room. Her doctor even declared that J no longer has mental illness.

With my colleague in distress, I tried to find articles that will help her aunt. Her aunt is now admitted to a hospital and they are using electrical shock therapy. I wondered if there was anything else that could help her without the invasive treatment. Since the aunt used to love dancing, I was able to find an article written by Emma J. Barton on movement and mindfulness programs.  For 20 weeks, they used formative evaluation to monitor participants with severe mental illness. The results were positive in pro-social behaviors, stress management, and communication skills.
“Practicing yoga enables some people with schizophrenia to begin to articulate the confusing experiences of their inner worlds, the first step toward mastery over them” (Visceglia, 2007, p. 97)

“Yoga assists by building a strong, flexible body and mind capable of attuning to the surrounding environment, while simultaneously regulating the internal state of the body.   These skills both develop and sustain mental and physical wellbeing. Equally, dance/movement therapy offers both insight and lifestyle changes as one becomes aware of one’s own difficulties in relating to others, and learns to express or accept oneself. Therefore, it seems natural to combine the two modalities, offering myriad possibilities for healing with a variety of client populations.” (Barton, 2011)

The dance/movement therapy helped improved coping skills for participants with physical and mental tension, difficulty sleeping, poor interpretation and nonverbal communication. One lady with schizophrenia stated that she learned to put her emotions into movements and then put them into music to relax and feel positive. My colleague was vague about her aunt's schizophrenia. All I know is that she is in the psychic ward with electricity pumping into her brain. Barton’s study is formative evaluation; she didn’t use any tools to record the brain activities. This would be an interesting study to do with my colleague’s aunt to see if dance/movement therapy would truly be more beneficial than the electric shock therapy.

 
References:
Barton, E. J. (2011). Movement and Mindfulness: A Formative Evaluation of a Dance/Movement and Yoga Therapy Program with Participants Experiencing Severe Mental Illness, American Journal of Dance Therapy, 30:1   DOI: 10.1007/s10465-011-9121-7

Visceglia, E. (2007). Healing mind and body: Using therapeutic yoga in the treatment of schizophrenia. International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 17, 95-103

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Creative Practice Wk 5 - Test-Driving Musical Instrument


The process took me almost all morning to finally be able to play one song. I bought this Vietnamese instrument over 15 years ago because it’s beautiful to look at. This was hard, but rewarding because I bought this Vietnamese instrument years ago but never really tried to take real lessons. Unless I live in Vietnam, it's hard finding an instructor in Palo Alto, CA. I had to do a lot of research online to find music sheets and how to match the notes to the string instruments.

I remember trying to learn a song at least 9 years. Finding a free tuning app on my phone, I tuned my instrument by using a pair of pliers (I’m supposed use the same tool you use for a harp, but I don’t own one). After using the wrong tuner, I found the correct tuning app by looking at the attached layout to figure out how to tune the instrument correctly. 


I found a music sheet online and took a few hours to figure out how to play the song. My mind couldn’t remember the notes, but once my fingers started picking the correct notes, my ears helped my brain to remember how to play the full song. I noticed that when my brain tried to memorize how to play the song, I would mess up, but when I allowed the flow of my fingers and ears to play, I did just fine after the 20th recording.


video













Thursday, September 25, 2014

Health Issues Wk5 - Labor of Love

A few of my friends recently had babies. I’ve never been pregnant so I don’t know what it is like to have labor pain. I’ve only seen mothers screaming at their husbands threatening to kill the husbands for putting them through the agony of childbirth.  That is about the closest I have gotten to being in a room with a screaming pregnant lady wishing for the baby to come out already.

Though I am 45 years old, I still have high hopes that I will be pregnant and have my own children one day. Knowing that the pain is part of the package, I asked my newly-mothers if they had anything to help with the pain. 4 out of 5 told me they had an epidural injection to help with the pain. They told me you’ll forget it once it’s over, but during will be the worst kind of pain a woman could imagine. The one friend who didn’t use any medication said that it hurt, but she endured it.
Unsatisfied with their answers, I did some research on what could be done naturally, and relating to the arts that could help alleviate the labor pain.  Kara Maria Ananda started a Healing Arts of Birth workshop in Mount Shasta, California. Ananda trains therapists to help expectant mothers give healthy births. “Natural healing arts can offer effective pain relief and support for labor and birth without any of the negative side effects that narcotic and pharmaceutical pain relief can cause. Birthworkers, birth partners, and pregnant women can all benefit from learning techniques and practices from energy healing, massage, craniosacral therapy, rebozo, dance, yoga, sound healing, and holistic nutrition for improving labor experience and outcomes.” (Ananda, 2012)

Sound Healing was something new. It turns out that this type of healing is based on the belief that sound changes your consciousness. If this were so, can music help relief pain during labor? If so, what type of music would one listen to? If a person likes Trance, would she listen to “Starry Eyes Surprise,” by  Paul Oakenfold during labor or will she need to listen to classical music –even if it is the last genre on her list of must haves?
A recent article by Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation published a study on how effective music is during labor. Serap Simavli and team recruited 156 primiparous women who planned for vaginal delivery. About half were randomly chosen for the music therapy group and the other half were placed in a control group. This study was place in Turkey. There were five types of music: “classical music, Turkish art music, Turkish fold music, Turkish classical music, popular music.” (Simavli, 2014)

The study found that, “Music therapy was an effective method for reducing and relieving labor pain and anxiety, improving maternal-fetal-neonatal parameters and reducing postpartum analgesic requirement compared with the control group. It can be clinically recommended as an alternative, safe, easy, noninvasive and nonpharmacological method to relieve pain and improve maternal-fetal well-being.” (Simavli, 2014)
What I found interesting was that “during active labor, women with more rapid chest breathing need more rapid music with a faster tempo. We used different tempi and volumes according to the progress of labor.” (Simavli, 2014)  Maybe you can listen to Trance while giving birth.

References:
Ananda (2012) Birthemissary.  [Blog]  Retrieve from:  http://www.birthemissary.com/blog/natural-healing-arts-for-prevention-progress-and-pain-relief-in-labor-birth

Simavli S, Gums I, Kaygusuz I, Yildirim M, Usluogullari B, Kafali H. (2014, Sept. 16) 'Effect of Music on Labor Pain Relieve, Anxiety Level and Postpartum Analgesic Requirement: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial' Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation.    DOI: 10.1159/000365085
 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Creative Practice Wk 4 - Self Portrait Collage

I started with collecting lots of photos from a magazine. I didn’t choose by beauty, only by the size. After gathering all the photos, I found myself drawn to a cat. I am definitely not a cat person, but I like their eyes and silhouette. I was also drawn to the one eye with the tear running down it. To put them all together, I found a smile with fangs and used that. This self-portrait collage represents the feline in me. There are times when life brings us tears, but it is still ‘Oh, so Beautiful’.  I wish I were more of a risk taker and add more to the collage, but I like it the way it is and was afraid of ruining it.


FINAL PRODUCT

Health Issue Wk 4 - Eating Disorder

With mass media brainwashing us to believe that beauty (for women) equates to being 5 feet, 10 inches tall, weighs 116 lbs. with an hourglass figure of 36”-24”-36”.  I do not know whether this is even possible, but most school girls and women feel the pressure to be physically perfect in order to be beautiful. 

“By age 6, girls especially start to express concerns about their own weight or shape. 40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat. This concern endures through life.” (Smolak, 2011).
Individuals with eating disorders developed this illness at some point during a traumatic experience(s) which they were teased and/or humiliated for being overweight. Trauma like this can cause the individual to binge eating, purging behavior, or using of drugs to numb the pain or trying to take control over their lives – no matter how false the sense of control may be.
13 million Americans have an eating disorder – and it is not only women – 1 million is men.  Social Media promotes fear of becoming fat among children in the age of 10. (See Figure 1, CNN)

(Figure 1, CNN)

Eating disorder is no laughing matter. It has the highest morality rate out of all the mental illness. Treatment costs in the US ranges from $500-$2000 per day in a clinical setting. (DMH)  This amount seems unbelievably high. I started to wonder if there are non-clinical or private centers that offer help at a discount. I found an article on eating disorder and art-making in Canada where they offer help in free non-clinical, community-based support centers.

The article points out that there are two major challenges to recovery for individuals with eating disorders.  One is that cost of the treatment and the second is the patient’s feeling of ambivalence that associates with eating disorders. The study used phenomenological methods while they interviewed 6 women for this study. In this discussion-based and art-based group study, the findings resulted in 4 themes:
1.       Sense of Control over Process
2.       Sense of Safety
3.       Development of Self-awareness
4.       Improvement in Sense of Emotional Well-being
“All of the participants have mentioned in their moods as a result of attending the art-based groups….Other research suggests that engaging in creative thoughts can increase  blood flow to the brain,…studies also find that serotonin, a brain chemical that helps to alleviate feelings of depression, is increased during creative activities.” (Ki, 2011)
The article did not share the exact art projects used because they wanted to give the participants the freedom from the “pressure of having to develop new ideas and at the same time helped them engage with personal issues to whatever extent they chose.” (Ki, 2011)
I wonder if coloring a predesigned mandala or creating their own pattern before a meal would help the patient from binge eating.  From the Patricia Ki’s article, it is obvious that art-making is beneficial to the participants, but I wonder if what specific project would be the most beneficial to help treat the illness. Eating disorder can take up to 15 years to recover. If I were to work with an anorexic, what art project would actually empower them to overcome the situation and the lie of beauty?  I don’t believe art-making would be the only key to recovery, but it would play an important role.
About 10 years ago, Dove launched a campaign to create a paradigm shift for self-image and beauty. Using the arts, Dove ‘Real Beauty’ Campaign produced a video to help spread awareness in homes to safe another person from self-hatred. It shows how impossible it truly is to have it all without manipulations of Photoshop or surgery. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U


References:
Smolak, L. (2011). Body image development in childhood. In T. Cash & L. Smolak (Eds.),
Body Image: A Handbook of Science, Practice, and Prevention (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford.
Ki, P. (2011). Exploring the experiences of participants in short-term art-based support groups for adults living with eating disorders. Canadian Art Therapy Association Journal 24:1-12

(2014) South Carolina Department of Mental Health. Retrieve from http://www.state.sc.us/dmh/anorexia/statistics.htm