So, you could say that this post has been 13-14 years in the making. My husband did give me the title, “loving occupations,” (and the now water damaged spiral notebook below) when our 19-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter were elementary and pre-school aged. We had recently returned to the US from the UK to live in my hometown in Maryland, I had received a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and our now 7-year-old son was still a dream we weren’t sure would be realized.
My partner of more than 20 years: Mel, he is the visionary, the futurist. He makes decisions quickly and a new idea is always right around the corner. I am slower…obviously, since it took me well over a decade to develop my own view of his idea for this next step in my career/life.
For most of my adult life, decisions have been made with equal parts head and heart, knowledge and gut intuition. Sometimes impactful life decisions take time, a long time… for me anyway. Life decisions, like what career to pursue and who to marry…those took me a while too. I chose occupational therapy only after majoring and working in psychology and concentrating and interning in social work during college.
I learned that they both were “almost” what I wanted to do. But once I found occupational therapy, even before I took my first graduate school class, that nagging feeling that my career path was not clear, went away. I had found my career home–where all of my interests were supported and could come together as one. I chose my husband similarly. I found several “almost” people. But that nagging feeling, that gut intuition, poked and prodded me until I learned/realized that this person who was a great friend, who I could easily talk with for hours on end, was also pretty sexy. He was the first person that didn’t give me head vs. heart internal conflict. With him, head and heart agreed that he was “The One.” (Mel wants me to tell you that he did not pay me for this section, lol.)
So what the heck is this blog about anyway? How to choose a career or a husband? Not exactly.
What is a loving occupation anyway? So glad you asked! Let me start with some more questions…
How do you OCCUPY your time? What do you DO each day? What impacts your ability to DO all the things that you would do if you were living your best day, your best life? Hmmmm? Those lists could be long, really long!
For example, on any given weekday, at 6:30am, I roll over in bed and reach overhead to turn off the alarm. Then I tell Alexa to turn the lights to 5%–in winter, my version of a sunrise. I scroll my thumb over my phone to check the weather. Then I push off the covers and bring my feet to the floor. I stand and walk to the bathroom…yada, yada, yada.
If I kept going through my day like this, you would fall asleep before you stayed around long enough to figure out what this blog is about. But as an occupational therapy graduate student we regularly practiced “activity analysis” and if I analyzed even the first occupation of my day, this list would be a term paper.
Let’s take that alarm example: first, I had to perceive the sound of the alarm: so the structure of my ear (pinna, eardrum, cochlea, auditory nerve) as well as the ability of my brain (primary and secondary auditory cortex) to interpret the sound had to be functioning. If I was deaf, maybe I would have woken up via flashing lights or a vibrating bracelet. My parietal-frontal circuits of my brain were central to planning and decision-making. The motor cortex (frontal lobe of the brain) kicked in to send nerve impulses to my spinal cord. At lightning speed, the signal continued along my axillary, medial and lateral pectoral, and musculocutaneous nerves. Those nerves innervate my deltoid, pectoralis major, long head of the biceps brachii, and coracobrachialis to flex my shoulder reaching for the alarm. Of course to raise my arm fully over my head to reach the alarm, I must have good scapulohumeral rhythm and that is a whole other can of worms.
Get the idea? And this only begins to touch on the physical and cognitive aspects with no mention of the psychological–including motivation and mood. Occupational therapy as a profession provides a whole person approach and, “What is important to you?” is the central question.
So back to Loving Occupations…Yes, I am an occupational therapist and I was attracted to the field because it is so broad. I see myself as a jack-of-all-trades and a master of only a few. But in what other field does one get to blend psychology, biology, chemistry, spirituality, physics, anatomy and physiology, human development, kinesiology and more? At work, I have the honor and the privilege of being with people when they are vulnerable and help them in their emotional, physical or spiritual healing process; be it after an automobile accident, hip replacement surgery, a heart attack, or while dying of cancer or after receiving a new diagnoses of bipolar disorder.
But, I’m not only an occupational therapist. In fact, if you look at hours spent DOing, I am more of a mom and a wife, a friend, sister, daughter and yoga teacher. So this blog is about all of those things: Encounters that I have at work that make me laugh or cry or shake in anger with frustration at our medical system; encounters that I have with my children as they try to navigate college vs. the work world, petty high school “friends” and being bi-racial in a conservative community, or as they deal with cavities and constipation; encounters that I have with my mom who is in her last stage of dementia; encounters that I have with family as we navigate living 3 generations in the same house; encounters and lessons learned from friends, family, yoga students and patients… Along the way I probably will discuss how I have decided to address my Multiple Sclerosis from a functional medicine perspective. Attachment parenting, finding common ground, breastfeeding, bio-dynamic farming, yoga, joys and challenges–will likely also appear. So, yeah, jack-of-all-trades I tell you. I can’t pick just one thing.
Let’s see if this grit indicator (I got a 4.5/5 on the grit scale) is predictive. Can I see this business venture (which right now is just this blog) through to the end, or the beginning? Community on all levels is so important to me. Near and far. So, if you want to comment, be nice (I’m sensitive) and be part of the community. Hope to connect soon!