Journal Entries

Week 2: 1/9/17

This week I spent time with friends a lot! Four days to be exact. I saw two movies, The Arrival (had some deep and mind expanding conversations after seeing this one!) and Rogue One. I also watched the original Peter Pan with Mary Martin which was funny and endearing and mostly just so 1950’s.

I also started this thing with a friend where each day we text each other a picture that we drew to keep us on top of our drawing practice. I’m learning that I feel the most confident and excited about capturing the expression and gesture but my proportions and perspective need a lot of work! My goal is to focus on drawing from things I see and someday being loose and carefree in pen and other days in pencil focusing on the big shapes in this “envelope” technique to analyze and correct myself as I go along.

I went out to eat at El Cerrito Theater, Mr. Dewie’s, Nazarios, and Sushiritto. Didn’t really decrease going out to eat from last week but some really great food experiences were had! El Cerrito is small, old and fancy with loose tables and rolling cushioned chairs as the furniture for the front. The customers can order food and they will find you in the theater to serve it to you. It’s not normal movie theater food either. It’s good. And Mr. Dewie’s cashew ice cream is so smooth and silky. It’s something I look forward to whenever I’m in the East Bay. I’ve had coffee, turmeric, vanilla, and chocolate. It’s the best! And so is Sushiritto! It’s a giant sushi with all sorts of amazing things in it! I love food.

And gym was only a one timer again this week and I didn’t really write in my journal. I did go to bed a tiny bit earlier. There were three days I went to bed at midnight and the rest were around 11:30-11:45pm. I’m realizing I need to brush my teeth right after I eat dinner and then not have any screens after 9:00pm but instead read or dim the lights or wear the amber glasses. At nine I need to set up the environment and I need to be ready for bed by that time to help with the transition.

I also made a dent in that pile of comics and read the first volume of Saga. It’s definitely more action oriented which usually isn’t my thing (I usually like relationship based, regular people kind of stories) but I loved the world and the artwork. The bright rich contrasting colors were like vibrant psychological candy to to dive into. Now I’m starting the first volume of Wicked and Divine which seems just as vibrant or more!

Oh! And I finally subscribed to OccupationalTherapy.com so I can have unlimited CEU credits for a reasonable price. I started it off by watching a video about how to adapt a toy so that it is more accessible to children with cerebral palsy. It was mostly learning how to connect stereo wires that are connected to a large button to the wires of a toy that most likely has a button that’s more difficult to press due to size, low feedback, location, number of buttons, or pressure required to make it work. So excited to learn more!

I joined a DIR/Floortime forum on Facebook and got excited about a DIR/Floortime class that I’ve always wanted to take to learn about it but I have an art class that’s at the same time. It was a good reminder to keep it on the radar, especially in the summer and late spring. It’s not exactly a near future goal but a possibly this year goal.

Randomly I found an email I sent my mom during the first week of college. It made me so happy to read it! I wrote so much detail, details I wouldn’t remember otherwise about teachers, classes, buildings, food, including my first impressions of the closest friends I still have now over 10 years later! Another thing I read was about how my English teacher was the basis of the character Daria from the cartoon. I guess her friend was either the writer or artist and was inspired by her sarcastic personality.

So next week:

  • Start of my art class
  • Atmospheric bed transitioning time at 9:00pm for at least 3 nights
  • Bed at 10:30pm for at least 3 nights
  • Exercise at least 2 times this week
  • Read another comic
  • Write in my journal at least 1 time
  • Go out to eat only 2 times this week
  • Maybe buy one thing that’s on my list
  • Draw everyday

Accomplishing this would be a taste of success and a step in life enhancement. I’m ready!

Advertisements
Journal Entries · Photos

Monthly Memories: May – Pushing To The Edge

The theme of May was about pushing through. There were some grand finales and some marathons that at times tested my strength, endurance and mental and emotional stamina. This blog is extra-long for a reason.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

I feel I did a great job keeping up with my exercise this month. My Fitness Pal was a great motivator. Most days of the week I would do the 7 minute workout in the morning and 30 minutes to an hour of exercise in the afternoon. I got back into running and Zumba and was practicing Samba for the Carnaval parade a couple of times a week. It was a good feeling to get back to having a cardio workout each day. It gave me a lot of energy and I slept a lot better. I also felt that it helped me more efficiently use my time. It may be because it made me more awake and alert each moment so that I was able to notice the minutes better. It was rewarding to feel so miraculously motivated each day and to know it’s possible to burn a lot of calories in a short amount of time and feel its effects.

TV SHOWS, BOOKS, MOVIES, MUSIC

Movies I watched were The Jungle Book, 50 Shades of Grey, and Jobs. The Jungle Book surprised me with how well done the CG was. I worried that it would be tacky and weird to have the animals talking but I was so immersed in the characters and felt so much compassion for them. My favorite character (besides Bill Murray) was the mother wolf. She was so majestic and I really felt her love for Mowgli. During the movie I wondered about the temperament of the characters and how it compared to the temperaments of animals in real life. I also wondered if wolves, bears, and jaguars would ever be truly harmless to a boy. I guess there have been stories of people being raised by wolves so maybe some aspects are possible.

Music I listened to was the Wild Reeds and Emily Afton. It’s nice to go back to the classic singer and songwriter and to music that an artist wouldn’t need an outlet or computer to create. I learned about the Wild Reeds at a camp that I will talk about later in my San Francisco Adventures section. That time at camp may have influenced my experience of their music but I think they were chosen to be there because they were the perfect fit to remind people what it’s like to feel connected to nature and to each other. Music like theirs can take me to “camp” regardless of where my body is. The Wild Reeds took me to a different place and time. It’s a time connected to the basic elements of what it means to be a human living on earth. When I listen to their music I feel that I shed the comfort of cities, technology and distraction and really feel the rawness of being alive, as alive as the trees we live amongst. It’s a bittersweet, nostalgic walk in the timeless mountains. There’s something about the combined voices of the cello, banjo, acoustic guitar, violin, viola, and marxophone that pulls strongly at my heart strings.

Books I read were Artist to Artist and Understanding Comics. Understanding Comics was cleverly done. It was smart, funny, philosophical and eye opening. I learned about how comic artists tap into the senses, moods, and the experience of motion and time through the choices they make in their illustration. I also learned about the unique strengths that realism and cartoons have and how the lines blur between words, symbols, cartoons, and pictures. The more simple the cartoon the more power the cartoon has to translate and make relatable universal experiences to the viewer. It’s been a while since I finished reading that book and I feel it would be worthwhile to get that book from the library again and write notes along with its sequel Making Comics. It was really inspiring to see how I could bring my cartooning to the next level. I also feel more confident in my art because I know that I don’t need to be an expert reality portraying artist and that a simple and emotive style can make a cartoon great.
CREATIVE PROJECTS

Speaking about cartoons and creative projects I actually did something different this month. I wasn’t able to do cartooning every single day this month but I made a Ms. Frizzle costume! I went to the Salvation Army looking for a collared, knee length dress. A woman in the store was holding the closest thing to it that I could find. I asked her where she found it and she said I could have the dress because she was indecisive about it anyway. I felt slightly guilty and sheepish taking it away from her but I was really excited and grateful as well as surprised by her generosity. I was also surprised that it fit me perfectly and was torn to change it since I really liked it the way it was: the color, the style, the fit. Everything about it was somehow Ms. Frizzle and somehow something I would wear anyway. But in the name of creative endeavors, projects, dressing up, committing to themes, and the love of Ms. Frizzle, I pursued in altering it!

It was a long process, a lot longer than I was expecting. I didn’t realize that this was the beginning of a marathon, the first marathon of the month.

First I spent time looking online at all the different themed dresses Ms. Frizzle had and tried to find which dress was orange sherbet so I could stay as true to the show or book as possible.

After deciding on the theme I had the idea to cut out and glue on pieces of felt to the dress. That seemed easy enough. Next I thought to sew on origami creatures to the dress. I even made origami grasshoppers for the sequined shoes. It was so hard to stick the sewing through the shoe and sequins and tie it on! I broke a couple of needles in the process. Twisting is key. In the end I wasn’t even able to walk a block in those shoes so I just wore Converse instead. It was good I didn’t wear them because one grasshopper was already falling off.

The sewing took time. I broke the threader so I had to try to get into the eye of the needle by hand while my nerves were getting shot from staying up late working on this project. The string would get tangled, the needle would get poked through the wrong location. Somehow it was a little more tedious than expected.

Regardless, I had my ideas to execute. Along with sewing on the origami I sewed on actual leaves and weeds to the dress along with a rubber toy iguana (“Liz”) to the shoulder.

I was going to make red ladybug or purple mushroom earrings by gluing felt to this peace sign earrings but it was already 3:00 in the morning! I had to wake in 4 hours!

So I settled on what I had. I felt pretty good about it, though I was unsure of how I would be able to wake up early enough to show it off. The next morning, however, one text from my friend was all I needed.

What I didn’t realize the night before in that creative madness were the logistical and functional issues of sitting down or wearing a backpack with delicate designs sewn to the back of the dress. I gave that dress its day of glory and that was it. The butterfly crumpled, the leaf ripped, the lizard flew off, not to mention I was going to need to wash it because it got all sweaty and dirty from walking and dancing in the hot street. It was all just for the magic of that day and to fulfill my crafty ambitions. The photographs make it live on forever.

img_5679
EDUCATION

This month I had my ASL final, paper and workbook assignments due. It was a last minute rush but ended successfully. There was however one minor bump in the road during the test when I felt embarrassed for asking a question. Everybody in class was surprised that I didn’t understand something on the test because they see me as such a good student. It made it hard to endure the rest of the test because my emotions and mind were really distracted with frustration. I know they didn’t mean anything by it and they were very apologetic afterward. That’s the life of a sensitive person like me!

Toward the end of the month I visited the OT clinic to observe the OT for two full days in a row. I learned about balancing arousal levels, knowing when a kid’s arousal level is too high or too low, the importance of heavy work, how to prevent dizziness, how hammocks increase body awareness, how sound helps with sound defensiveness, how to build listening sensitivity, how to use the proprioception system to calm kids when they are amped up, the importance of making a schedule with the kid and having their favorite activity at end as a reward, what to do when a kid has low frustration tolerance and doesn’t want to do anything, how Lycra can gently stretch the Achilles, how getting out of ball pits is a great motor planning exercise, and how to grade hand eye coordination exercises.

When a kid is slouching over or if they can’t sit still it could be due to having either too little or too high a level of arousal. Chewing on gum or a straw or sucking on hard candy or listening to music can help a kid focus because they can be more in their body and attention is given to the senses.

If a kid does a spinning exercise to improve vestibular functioning, they can say the alphabet with each jump on a trampoline to prevent getting dizzy. It is also important to do heavy work (like climbing, crawling, using body weight to move a swing) after spinning to prevent feeling too amped up and hyper and moving around too roughly afterward.

Seeing the kids pushed to increase their core strength, balance, oculomotor skills, bilateral integration, attention span and focus feeds into this month’s theme of endurance and perseverance to do the best that you can. Those kids were working hard and were being pushed to edge of their capabilities gently, firmly and playfully. Some of them were challenging to guide because they were struggling to overcome their personal barriers. Others were determined and motivated to try their best and listen to the OT because they knew it would make them stronger.

The kids also had different reactions toward me. One was sad to find out I wasn’t putting on my shoes with him when he was leaving because it meant I came to the clinic to visit other kids besides him. Another kid was absolutely quiet the whole time except for a hiss at me. If I go into this field it will be important to not take any reaction from the kids personally and to do my best to have a good rapport with the colorful assortment of personalities I may encounter. I do know how important it is for me that the people I work with enjoy my presence as well as working with me. I feel appreciated at my current job which is really wonderful after having felt unwanted at other jobs. I felt a subtle and sometimes not so subtle daily rejection each day I went to work in the past. I now sometimes have the fear of possibly facing that again with other populations and situations but I don’t want that to hold me back. I want that difficult experience to give me strength and wisdom to know when something works and when it doesn’t.

WORK

My client experienced a few things this month that seemed relevant to the theme of being tested. They included handling a stolen wallet, inappropriate behavior from a staff, a clogged kitchen sink, and the repeated annoyances of phone solicitation. She made creative and assertive communication choices and was able to resolve all issues by the end of the month. She also accomplished some elaborate projects like filling three jars with mother’s day pancake mix and doing deep candidate research on the upcoming election. To guarantee her focus and concentration she had me lock all electronic distractors in the cabinet. Now that’s getting serious.

Besides vicariously experiencing my client’s projects and challenges, I’ve had lots of fun with work this month. I had the opportunity to go on the Rainbow Walk in the Castro, go bowling at Yerba Buena, try samples at the Ferry Building and do some window shopping at Ghirardelli and Daiso.

I also got to visit the Exploratorium and experience the Tactile Dome! The last time I went to the Tactile Dome was 10 years ago in the old location when I was in high school. My client, who’s been in the Tactile Dome more times than she could count, led the way and said “When it comes to the tactile dome it’s all about teamwork!”  This was totally true until we got separated! It was pitch black so hearing each other’s voices was key. We went through it three times, each time I swore I felt another possible route to get out even though the facilitator said there was actually only one way. On the third round, however, I somehow got lost.

img_5665-1

I called for my client but she didn’t answer. A few minutes later I heard another voice of a little girl who was also lost. I felt comforted to not be alone and have a little companion in the process of getting out together. Then I heard the facilitator on the intercom quickly say “Stay with her.” At first I was alone and lost and now I was a leader helping this little girl find her way out. Helping her helped me. We pushed through, relying on our other senses and each other and persevered successfully.

 


FOOD ADVENTURES

I was only in cooking class one time this month because of various vacations and schedule changes but the one time I was we made a Mexican casserole!

Mexican food seems to be the theme for the month because I went to a lot of Mexican restaurants including Gallardo’s, Casa Mexicana, The Little Chihuahua, and Pancho Villa. The Little Chihuahua was my favorite because it had a lot of great seafood and veggie options for every meal choice and I’ve also had lots of good memories there.

I also went to Xanath Ice Cream, Peasant Pies, Sacred Grounds, New Village Cafe, and Lee’s Deli. Through these restaurants I savored saffron ice cream, rekindled my love for tuna melts, felt the blessings of a hearty omelet after a long morning dance session, and learned about a convenient place to buy lunch for less than $5 downtown!

Along with multiple Mexican restaurants and the small variety of other restaurants I went to, I also went to a couple of boba tea shops as well. I went to Sharetea in the Metreon and to Tea Fever in Berkeley. The flavors I tried were jasmine and Oreo.

I remember clearly my first boba experience was in high school at Lollicup and how much going there made an impression on me. The decor had a fun brick clubhouse feel with a spiral staircase in the corner and a couch in the front surrounded by windows. Teenagers from a nearby high school would go there after school to hangout. I wish I went there as frequently but even though I didn’t, stickers and point cards from there often cluttered my room. I wanted to make sure to remember that place. The drinks and the environment made me so happy.

Eventually later on in college, the drinks that revolved around my life besides water were unexpectedly not the drinks you may think typically get introduced in college. Instead they were stemmed from the discovery of my love for sweet milky drinks. First it was the velvety sweet and rich Thai ice tea. Once a week I would indulge in this divine decadence and have the most bizarre, entertaining and intellectual conversations with one of my closest friends. Then later in college I encountered a strange and delicious purple milky substance at Quickly. It was the exotic and intriguing tarot milk tea! Over ten years later boba milk teas still haven’t lost their charm.

SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURES

 

 

This month’s adventures include finding a new bookcase in the neighborhood and carrying it home, going to ecstatic dance, going to an old theater in Berkeley, dancing at Badlands, shopping at Piedmont in the Haight, being in a cuddle puddle, walking in Bay to Breakers, shopping at the Salvation Army, dancing and petting snakes and chickens at New Traditions Elementary School, going to Makespace, exploring a late night art gallery show, visiting Creativity Explored, shopping at One Stop Party Stop and Party City, checking out Pens and Needles, enjoying a pool party, going to Camp Grounded, and performing in Carnaval!

I could write a whole blog on either Camp Grounded or Carnaval. They were each big elaborate experiences. But as you can see I’ve written a lot and it’s halfway through July already so I’m behind as it is. I’ll sum them up as best as I can.

Carnaval started with all of us arriving at 8:00 am in our red and blue flowing costumes. It was an antsy morning full of anticipation, photo ops, glitter and sun block applying, pacing, porta-potty line waiting, hydration and gallons of homemade sangria guzzling. The parade was supposed to start at around 9:00am but didn’t get going until 10:00am or 11:00 am, which meant we didn’t start moving until at least past noon. We heard that dancing through the parade should only take 30 minutes, it was only a couple blocks after all.

We danced for two hours.

It was a marathon in that blazing sun. We danced nonstop, trying to preserve our energy, smiles and pizazz for the audience and cameras all the way to the end. We were hot, hungry, thirsty, tired, sticky, sweaty, and in pain. My feet were killing me. I had to adjust my dance so that I jumped, pivoted and turned more gently so that the pressure and friction would be less harsh on the balls of my feet. Food, water, and sitting never felt so good afterward.

Even though it was a test of endurance it was such an amazing experience. The physical challenges of going through the whole parade just added to the glory and triumph I felt throughout it. It was magical to see all the people cheering and dancing with us. People were pumped by our music, our mesmerizing twirling skirts, our fun-loving moves, and our flirty, joyful, kickass attitude! We were there to make everyone’s day. We had a glimpse of the life of a celebrity or a Disney character at Disneyland with everyone wanting take pictures of us. One of the best parts of Carnaval was the sense of comaraderie with the dancers I felt. Carnaval is something I can imagine looking back on as an amazing phase in my life in which I had the opportunity to share many memories with others. It celebrates the vitality that we have and encourages us to harness our joy and strength. Being in Carnaval was how we seized the day. I’m already looking forward to doing it again next year.

Camp Grounded was a whole different experience. A summer camp for adults where technology, time, work and your real name don’t exist. I had a few challenges. First I didn’t realize I needed to reserve a sleeping bag online ahead of time so the first night I was scrambling to find one. Luckily I did.

Then I didn’t know where to go or what to do. There were at least 30 activities to choose from and I was paralyzed. I was torn because I love dance, improv, writing, song creation, drawing and they were all happening at once! I decided that maybe I should try to do the things that I want to do that I’ve never done before and that I knew I could only do at camp.

But it was raining.

The rain was beautiful but it made things more complicated. I was cold and not sure if I would have enough dry clothes to last the rest of the weekend if I did the ropes course for the first time in the rain. I ended up spending half the time drying off my socks in front of the fire.

I also was shy apparently and indecisive about making friends. There were so many people there! Over 250 people were there spread across the camp ground. It was hard to know who to spend the day with and who to get to know. Every moment whether it was in the dining hall or on the way to the first play shop activity there was a different group of people around me. There was a booklet to help us out which one morning I actually cracked open but then the time there got kind of busy. There would be times when I would get caught up in a spontaneous organized activity that a group of campers created. That was fun minus the mosquitos and chilliness at the archery range. I actually felt that maybe that’s where I was supposed to be until I felt kind of frazzled and rushed because there was no way to know how much time I was spending being in one place. There was a point I even almost missed dinner but I got the last few scrapings of food before it was put away.

Camp was a metaphor for life. We never know how long we have and you never can live all the lives you wish you could live all in one. You can’t do it all but that’s okay. My indecision about what activity to do reveals my indecision of what to pursue in life. I don’t have a number one passion. It’s not always going to be writing over everything else. This means that I really have to do these things simply for the joy of doing them and if I don’t want to do those things it’s okay because I’m only doing it for fun anyway. No pressure, no expectation, no nagging. I don’t have to do the adventurous things either. Life can be valuable for many different reasons besides how adventurous it is. There’s the value of appreciating the small things, a life of love and stability, a life about learning and growing. There’s all sorts of adventures that aren’t about physical pursuits or traveling. I don’t always have to be trying to prove something to myself. I don’t have to prove to myself that I’m courageous, creative, smart, strong, all these personality attributes. I don’t need to prove to myself that I’m a writer, dancer, artist, or any role, profession, persona, identity. I don’t have to prove to myself or my ego that I’m anything. I am feeling, being, exploring, savoring life the best I can. I want to push myself out of curiosity not out of guilt or anxiety that I need to be better, that I’m not good enough. Curiosity is pure and open minded to the love of what’s possible. Now there are some things I need to do out of responsibility but for the rest I want to push myself out of the joy of wondering what I could learn and find out about myself and the world.

Camp taught me to focus on the experience of life and appreciate listening to my gut, senses, intuition, and emotions. Technology and the mind telling me “shoulds” can break my sensitivity toward feeling those things sometimes. It’s a challenge because there are times where I get anxious because I can’t tell the difference between my gut and my mind so I’ll throw a dart blindly just to make a choice. But it seems that most things in life where I feel that way about it means that there’s a high chance that it really didn’t matter whatever choice I choose because the outcome is how I internalize, integrate and interpret it anyway.

If someone I knew wanted to go to camp I probably would go again but I got what I needed from camp and have had my curiosity satisfied about that off the grid microcosm utopia of all my favorite activities.

PEOPLE IN MY LIFE

Last but not least is the section of people in my life. This month I got to know one of the dancers a little bit. It all started when I was waiting at a bus debating about getting a Lyft to dance class because I was running late. I saw a black car pull up to the bus stop and a girl with sun glasses saying “Hop in!” It was a dancer from class! We talked in the car about what we do and how we got into dance. After class we had lunch together. It was a great day.

May was also a month where I spent some time with one of my coworkers outside of work for the first time. We’ve been meaning to do that for a while. She invited me to ecstatic dance which was an interesting experience. I didn’t get to talk to her that much but it was fun to go out and do something I’ve never done before. One nice thing about it was that there was no alcohol or cigarette smoke. There was lots of room, so much that they even had hula hoops available to dance with. I’m not sure how to describe the genre of the music but it was okay. It wasn’t the music I’m typically used to dancing to but it was an interesting challenge for me to attempt it. The culture there encourages you to dance freely without inhibition however way you please but I still couldn’t help noticing a specific style that everyone was conforming to. I wasn’t sure if it fit me so spent most of the time hula hooping.

I decided to do a book swap game where friend B will forward me their friend A’s mailing address and then I will send a book to friend A. Then all of my friend C’s will send a book to friend B. Then the friend D’s of the friend C’s will send books to me. Basically everyone will give one book to a possible stranger and get a bunch of anonymous book gifts in the mail from people we may not know. The books were 501 Minutes to Christ by Poe Ballantine and Hotels of North America by Rick Moody. All I can say is I never would have thought to get those books for myself and would never have guessed how random a selection they would be. What’s funny is that I can’t remember at all what book I gave away. Maybe it was Me Talk Pretty One Day? Yeah! That’s what it was! So if anyone who’s reading this got a mysterious package of that book and is wondering who sent it, perhaps it was me!

Lots of changes happened in May to people I know including breaking up with their significant other, spouse passing away, starting to date again, getting a new job, moving, and coming to terms with how someone has beat them in the creation of an invention they spent years pursuing. These things take time to feel, perceive, and come to peace with, cherishing what you can from the past and blessing what’s beyond you.

And bam! That was the very epic May Monthly Memories with all its emotions, embellishings, and experience elaborations. My heart, mind, body, and spirit had a good workout and is ready to kick back and relax. What a ride!

Journal Entries · Photos

Monthly Memories: January – A Time for Ambition

I was invited by Basant She several weeks ago to participate in a blogging event called My Monthly Memories and was very excited by this opportunity. I am finally getting to it now even though I am a week past the deadline. The idea was so great that I did not want to let that stop me and not only will I do a February reflection but also a January reflection as well.  I’m realizing these reflections are rather long and self-indulgent but it was a thrill to write a narrative of what I’ve learned and why what I do is important to me. I hope you enjoy it as well.

CREATIVE PROJECTS

The year started off with a bang of creativity. I started doing stop motion and following stop motion artists on Instagram, participating in Blogging U, connecting to other bloggers, and doing daily poems, photos, and doodles, but it was hard to keep up with on a daily basis simply because there were so many things that I wanted to do (you’ll see what I mean as you keep reading).

img_4590-1
Despite not reaching the ambitious level of creative productivity I started the year with, I made three stop motion videos (Stop Motion is the name of the app), several music videos (the app for those is Triller), wrote six poems, three long blog posts about my goals and direction in life, a long blog describing why I appreciate this couple’s art so much, wrote a draft of why I love 80’s dresses, started my adult coloring book, learned a couple songs on the melodica, and took lots great photos of the rain.

img_4210-1

EDUCATION

With school and classes, I’ve decided to keep moving forward with learning American Sign Language and started my second semester of ASL this month. It’s one day a week with a very low course load but it’s great just to be with a small group of people who are committed to hangingout with each other and being silly (and sometimes fabulously obscene) while learning this beautiful language.

Through the enthusiasm and inspiration I felt learning ASL, I was given the hope to learn another language that has been very important to me throughout my life; Portuguese. Learning Portuguese is something I always wanted to do but I always struggled with. My dad and his side of the family are Brazilian and I wanted to feel more connected to them. What got in the way was that I was really shy and self-conscious. Lately, I’v been able to slip it into my life as a very casual habit. I’ve been using an app, Duolingo, that makes the process more of a game that I feel is easy and I can see progress in. This really helps because I do not call myself a natural language learner. Tiptoeing into the world of Portuguese in this way can help me gradually increase my confidence in learning the language.

Another skill/hobby I decided to keep moving forward with in this month was improv, but this time it’s musical improv. Musical improv has been a greater challenge than regular improv because music has structure and requires discipline. It first starts off similar to improv where you “yes and” the sounds, emotions and thoughts of yourself and others but then the group mind goes to another level. A person in musical improv needs to remember the melody and lyrics to repeat them later while creating them in the correct time signature and key with the piano and other actors, while also being aware of the number of bars, verses, and overall structure of the song that’s being created in the moment. Not to mention trying to rhyme, have a tagline, and embody a character. At least this is the approach that this class is demonstrating.

Musical improv is a way for me to connect my love of singing, improv, poetry, camp games, writing, and theater all in one place. Mostly it’s a way for me to overcome my fear of singing publicly and to really share my love exploring sound and story with others. Having a group of playful, nonjudgmental peers is a great opportunity to communally do stuff that we’ve always dreamed of doing, like having a rap battle, a drum circle, or a spiritual chant in the dark.

FOOD ADVENTURES

I have been doing a lot of cooking at work, specifically vegan cooking, and it has inspired me to cook outside of work, despite at times a half hour recipe takes me two hours to do. I learned to cook kale chips, sugar cinnamon popcorn, tuna noodle casserole, chili topped baked potato, orecchiette pasta with tomato sauce, bean soup with collard greens, and lentil stew.

Going along with the food adventures, I got really into tea and started drinking earl grey, chestnut, chai, and hojicha tea more frequently. I was going tea shopping a lot, craving the warm, milky, herbal goodness and gravitated to the many San Francisco’s tea shops including Lovejoy’s, David’s Tea, and Asha Tea.

Well I guess I’m a foodie because I’m about to write another brief paragraph about my food adventures. Along with tea, I was constantly craving Papalote veggie burritos and their salsas. I made a pact with myself to eat every type of salsa and veggie burrito they have there within the year. I think I’m off to a good start so far because I’ve eaten four types of burritos and three types of salsas, leaving only one type of veggie burrito and and one type of salsa left. Next will be the seafood burritos!

TV SHOWS, MOVIES, BOOKS

I watched some awesome shows in January including Born This Way, Transgeneration, and Avatar the Last Airbender. All these shows tapped into different parts of my life and my interests. Watching a show of the interpersonal struggles of the demographics I work with was so enriching! It opened up my mind to the truths that I share with them. I was also inspired by the elegance, magic, empowerment, freedom, strength, and spirit of the eastern practices and martial arts I saw in Avatar. It made me want to go back to learning Qigong, Tai Chi, dance, and hula hooping. It made me also want to do some sport where the feeling of soaring or flying is present like skiing, biking, surfing, skateboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing, or even parkour. I miss those characters!

A book I read this month was The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was a beautiful book, very sad, and very poetic. I enjoyed the rich short chapters, how the characters’ lives crossed paths, how the writer jumps forward and backward in time until the past meets the future. The book made me want to get in touch with nature, the quiet, and my senses.

PEOPLE IN MY LIFE

Speaking of characters, I also connected with many friends who gave me updates on their lives. I met friends out of the usual context whether it’s work or class and had a good sit down with them where we could really share how our lives are progressing and changing. Some of these people I hadn’t talked to for months or even a year, so it was really fascinating to see what they were up to. I emailed several friends a quote a tree, something I’ve never done, and that was a great way to stay in touch or at least reach out to them with some inspiring, uplifting words. January seemed to be the month of realizing that time is passing, which sparked the urgency to reconnect to those who I value in my life and have impacted who I am.

SAN FRANCISCO ADVENTURES

This month I enjoyed some places and activities that San Francisco has to offer including the LGBT museum, the Exploratorium, Pier 39, Chinatown, Bernal Heights, Clarion Music Center, FLAX art store, and a Werewolf meetup. It’s nice to really get out and enjoy where I live and take advantage of the unique opportunities that San Francisco has to offer, and to interact with people in my community who share the same quirky interests, like accusing people you’ve just met for being wolves and killing people.

img_4555

WORK

Work has been great. I lately have been bonding well with my clients over cooking class, drama class, movies, shows, and San Francisco adventures. They have been apparently getting to know me well too because when we went into a store and they saw me get excited by a shelf of journals, they said, “It’s your paradise!” I had no idea that my love for writing was something that apparent!

In January I met some clients and staff I never met before. I felt like I was in a parallel world from the regular work world I’m usually in. It reinvigorated the fresh excitement and spirit I had when I first started this job over a year ago. The clients I met made such a great impression on me. I missed them when the work day ended. They were so kind, thoughtful, nurturing, funny, compassionate, sensitive, intelligent, philosophical, spiritual, and mindful. They talked about their weaknesses and strengths and how they are trying to be better with their people skills. One guy talked about how he wanted to make sure to come out of his”egg” where his ego is, saying that the “egg” is short for “ego”. It was his first day at the volunteer site and I could tell he was doing his best to build his confidence. One client talked about how much she was really excited about her dream to volunteer at children’s hospital and told me all the details of her process to be able to do that. It was a great day of learning for me and for them as they volunteered at the food bank.

I got interested in reconnecting with Occupational Therapy and started reading OT magazines and talking to my OT peers. The idea of going back in the field as a pediatric OTA got me excited to think of books or volunteer sites that could prepare me for the path. I daydreamed about a job position a friend told me about that was an hour away from where I lived but thought twice about it, thinking it would sabotage my success since I didn’t feel I was prepared enough in my skills to have something to offer. Also I’m not exactly in a rush to leave my current job. As you can see I’ve been enjoying it quite a lot.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

I started to get back into running but I wasn’t too consistent with it. But I have been pretty consistent with the Scientific 7-Minute Workout. Getting muscles has been something I felt would be more beneficial to my long term health than cardio but haven’t really focused on until now. My strength has for the longest time been my greatest weakness and now I’m on the road to having better posture, stability, balance, support, lower risk of injury, and higher capability to pull and lift myself.

Something that had been on my to do list for a year was to go to the dentist, which I was finally able to do in January. Before then I hadn’t gone to the dentist in maybe two years, which is way too long. I was nervous and overwhelmed with choosing a dentist because I didn’t want to be stuck with a dentist that could cause me undue damage to my mouth or bank account. Plus after working at a corrupt pain clinic that had top reviews on Yelp, it made me less trusting of Yelp as a source of unbiased truth. However I finally went for one that was really close to my house and even later got my retainer cleaned. Yes I have a retainer, an homage of my fourth grade self still lives on.

I have been writing everything I do every day, which has been very helpful for writing this blog and reflecting on a month that happened a while ago. Now, these monthly reflections have given that daily dedication some higher purpose! In general it has helped me be more aware of my habits and how I spend my time.

When I was in high school and college I would write in a journal almost everyday about my feelings, ideas, and relationships. Now I mostly use journals to brainstorm, make lists, and sometimes briefly mention something memorable once in a while. This blog post feels like a mega journal entry making up for all the past journal entries I didn’t write throughout the month and puts it all in one place.

In all, I would have to summarize January as a month full of ambitious, creative energy where I was able to embark on fulfilling my long term dreams.

Journal Entries · Photos

The Art of Helping Others

???????????????????????????????

During fieldwork as an Occupational Therapy Assistant student, I learned how the act of helping someone has a delicate nature. Even though the people you encounter may not ask for help or even say they don’t want help it may be best to still be a little persistent in showing them how you can help. That little persistence may in fact change their mind. Taking the word of what others say is not necessarily accurate or sufficient because they may have a distorted perception, they may be in denial, they may want to impress you, they may fear being judged, and many more reasons. I have come to this understanding with children since it is hard for them to see the big picture and what they truly want or to know what is best for their health and development. However, no matter what age or disability a person has, a person may tell you they don’t need help when they actually do. It is my job as a therapist to gently show them that they may actually need help and that it’s okay to need help because that’s what I’m there for. Sometimes even then they may not accept help so it may be best to let go of that problem and move on by asking them what would they like help with. It’s good though to not give up without trying and to realize there is a chance that they may be grateful that you did push them a little bit.

On a separate note, it is strange when someone says that you have a “problem” when that’s the way you have functioned for years or when someone claims to know you better than you do yourself. It may feel offensive if the “problem” is something that has been identified as a unique personality quirk. Even “problems” are relative. A “weakness” in one culture may be seen as a “strength” in another culture or even in the same culture but in a different context. For example giving someone eye contact in Western culture is encouraged while in Eastern cultures it is discouraged however, if you were giving a stranger eye contact for the duration of an elevator ride in the West it would be considered inappropriate. There are many other aspects that add subjective-ness to behavior, engagement, participation, and health. There are six domains that each have categories within categories underneath them. Studying these aspects is actually a big part of OT. In the end though it all comes down to how all these factors influence a person’s function and what aspects of functioning does this particular person value. If a person doesn’t value cooking but manages to survive with prepared food from the store or has someone at home that enjoys to cook, then cooking is not a priority in therapy. Not wanting to learn how to cook cannot be judged as a “problem” or a “deficit.” There are things that are simply not a priority and other things that are.

IMG_9469

Becoming an OTA is definitely a change in my usual personal role. Typically in my personal life, I have felt like the one that receives advice and support from others. To make the support more mutual, it takes me a little more effort and conscious decision making. Who knows why that is but I do know there are people I perceive to be born helpers and nurturers because they seem to get involved almost on impulse. Sometimes I am embarrassed to be nice or helpful similar to how you can imagine a little boy feeling after being nice to the girl next door and seeing his parent giving him counter-productive praise and adoration. Other times I may feel that helping someone puts me in a position of authority that I am not used to. However, I have realized this uncomfortable feeling and position of authority is an important thing to be mindful of and not something to get in the way of me doing great things in life.

When one person is teaching, guiding, advising, mentoring, healing, counseling, empowering another person there is automatically an uneven distribution of power. The person being helped depends on the helper. It is important to not let this control and power be the motivating factor of choosing a health profession. Help someone because they need it, not in vain to appease the ego. Being aware of this power dynamic is a good way to consciously create a team situation where the person receiving care can make some decisions and have choices. They say the best leaders are the ones that make the ones they lead feel like leaders. I think think this concept can also be used in OTA. I have learned from working with children that it is important that there is mutual respect between each participant so that each person fully listens and has clear communication with the other. Sometimes having that little bit of authority can promote that respect and may make a positive impact on therapy by making it more effective for the recipient. Luckily having a title and getting paid makes the inevitable slight unevenness in power justifiable. Getting paid for doing “altruistic” careers can seem hypocritical and can make some practitioners feel guilty, but in some ways it creates a personal and clear boundary and an expectation of quality care to be thankful for along with financial support in exchange for doing something that supports the well-being of society.  It is also good to keep this saying in mind:

“Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how

to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

In the long run, these people will leave you and be more empowered than they ever were. At first, there may be a lot of hand-holding but then you scaffold your support so you are giving less and expecting more. An OTA has the responsibility to offer support and patience while acknowledging where the person is and balance between offering too much help and too little help.

When being in this therapist role, I feel I have to be a role model but almost to the extent of being a super being that is perfect in every way possible from always making my bed in the morning and never procrastinating to having a regular sleep schedule and having a perfect exercise and diet regimen. Though this “perfection” may also actually be un-functional in its psychological implications like inflexibility and lack of spontaneity. I feel for me to be  believable I have to show that it is easy and possible to grow, improve, and achieve goals. There are also little behavioral things I feel I have to exhibit like making sure I have a good posture, eat healthy, have clear communication, and have an organized planner. As a child, I saw teachers as gods. They know everything and are always morally good and have good habits. However, I now know that this mystique was part of their job and that they are paid to have it. Playing the “perfect person” has a role to an extent that you don’t look stiff or inauthentic. It’s good that the person you are working with believe you and treat you with respect but also have good rapport with you and are comfortable with you.

My two level I fieldwork opportunities this semester have given me a lot to think about along with some new insight into my personal ideas of therapeutic use of self. I am happy to have my values and perceptions impacted by this current transition in my life.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.