occupational therapy

A moment of silence.

Honestly, I have been half crazed for the last few months. I have been working at the nursing home much more than I would really like and I have been trying to finish a monumental stack of projects... and sometimes a glass of wine just doesn't take away the tired from all that.

This week I finished that job at the nursing home. I have worked there for one year and fourteen days. It is a place where I have learned a lot about myself as a therapist and, as stressful situations are wont to do, I have located some communication issues in relationships with other people. It would probably be wise for me to blame them on my boss consider the source of those issues before starting another job.

The people who live there are stellar in so many ways. When I am twice the age I am now, I know I am going to be like Nancy. She broke her hip a few months ago. She lived alone in a little house that used to be a potters studio so her kitchen sink is 3 feet deep and her furniture is all 12 inches off the floor. She is a hippy-dippy lady who only eats organic food, does a lot of meditation, is still really strong, and looks a lot like Diane Keaton (so I fancy I am resembling her already). She is funny and socially appropriate and she is completely losing her memory. In fact, she really isn't safe to go home alone anymore. The little things are what get her. How to dial the phone. One minute she remembers, the next she can't do it and it COMPLETELY freaks her out. Then wait, oh yeah, she got it again. Whether the director of nursing who she just remembers as the "lady with the big ears" is mad at her because she didn't say hello when she passed her in the hall just now. Whether she ruined her surgery and has popped her new hip out of the socket because it sort of hurts more today than yesterday. And the anxiety circles and mounts and then she decompensates in to a little pile of Nancy-ness in the pink chair in the corner of her room. That is going to be me.

I know because I have these moments of anxiety and I'm only half her age. What if the vague but unrelenting stomach pain of the last week is really pancreatic cancer and I only have 3 months to live (if that turns out to be true I'm heading straight to Alaska for a bit of a vacation; but really it couldn't possibly be the stress of the job and the imminent changes; nope, must be cancer). What if the little yellow spots on the dishes ARE really mouse pee and not just some random water spray? What if that limp in the dog's right front leg means she won't wake up tomorrow morning and I'll have to figure out whether anyone can dig a hole to bury her when it is still this cold outside? See what I mean?

This was my last week of work there. I feel the anxiety of the work draining away as I sit at my ball winder preparing the balls and balls of yarn for my summer workshops and watching the sandhill cranes feeding in the barley fields across the street. The San Luis Valley is a place with huge skies, 14,000 foot peaks, and lots of wildlife. Some days I go outside to the honking of geese and cranes, see owls and hawks and bald eagles on my drive to work, smell the skunks outside (NOT inside!) my house, clean the carcasses out of the mousetraps (we gave up the live traps--sorry to the mice-lovers out there. It was just too much.), hear the coyotes howling at night around the sheep pens, and I think "lordy, I'm living in Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom." The bald openness of the place gives me pause and makes me stop and stand still. I need that. To stop the anxiety in its tracks by watching a flock of cranes fly spirals overhead in the updrafts. I will miss this place.

Fortunately I can come back and visit often. This little one will definitely make sure that I do.

There are some big changes coming in March and March is upon us. When they are all firmed up and I'm sure I won't be doing another U-turn, I'll let you know what they are! In the meantime, watch for those mouse-pee spots on your dishes just in case.

Young artists and occupational therapy

This is Megan.  I wrote another post about her here when she wove this watermelon tapestry last summer.  Megan is now 11 years old (and definitely smarter than me if you go by IQ scores) and I'm hoping she is going to come here again this summer to weave another tapestry.  (Oh wait, that last part might just be my goal not hers.)

I work in a rural New Mexico school system, and as I wrote on that post last summer about Megan, I was hoping to do some weaving with the kids this year.  I was not able to pull together a tapestry weaving project due to my heavy caseload, but I did pull out an inkle loom and interested a few kids in weaving inkle bands.  Some kids who tried this had a great deal of difficulty sequencing raising and lowering the warp, putting the shuttle through in the correct direction, and then beating before going the other way.  I found that it was a great exercise in so many ways: fine motor skills, visual-perception, cognition, attention, self-regulation...  a great task for an occupational therapy session.  I think my older kids could handle a small tapestry or something on the cardboard looms in Sarah Swett's book Kid's Weaving.  Hopefully next year.
This child did the best of any child who tried it, but she is also the one who doesn't qualify for OT!

This is another amazing young lady I had the privilege of meeting last weekend (see blog post here).  Railynn is a natural artist who jumped right into our art journaling retreat.  Quite frankly, some of her work looked much better than mine.  I think that is thanks to lack of inhibition and no fear of failure.  I think most adults should take a page from the kids book of life... especially artists.

This is an art piece I saw hanging in the elementary grade 3-5 hall last year sometime.  I was never able to find out who the artist was, but it is one of my favorite pieces of art ever.  I want to weave it just like this, but fear that plagiarizing a 10 year old is probably not going to increase my karma any.

Kids are amazing (and I don't have any of my own, so maybe that is partly why I feel that way).  They will often tell you their bottom line without any prompting--oh how I wish sometimes adults would do that.  When it comes to being an artist, children have no inhibitions (until we implant them) and they believe in what they can do.  My preschool, kindergarten, and first graders have great opinions of their abilities as artists.  It is when I start asking 4th and 5th graders that I hear how they are "bad at art" or "can't draw".  I think the world would be a better place if we never taught children things like that.  If every kid graduated from high school thinking they were creative or artistic in some way, we would have given them the greatest gift possible.