Wednesday, 21 June 2017

When Retirement Provides Opportunities

One of the things I am really enjoying about being a freelance writer is the amount I am learning through searching for suitable opportunities for freelance writing jobs. Yesterday I was reading a certain website in order to decide whether it was suitable for my writing niche when I had the joy of stumbling upon an inspiring OT. In fact, she is one of the pioneers in the profession of occupational therapy.

The title of the article caught my attention. This lady is working at 92 years old. Wow. So many consider retirement age to be 60 or 65 years of age. Even today I read someone's question on FaceBook asking about the limits of retirement.

While for some, retirement is about reducing how much one does, taking it easy, winding down and just enjoying life until you leave this world, for others, retirement is often just the beginning. The beginning of a new phase in life where they have the opportunity to draw on their life experience to continue to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.

I have seen this attitude in some of my relatives and now once more in a fellow OT. Barbara Beskind had a love of inventing. As a young girl, her initial inventions were of toys during the war time. By 10 years old she had a desire to become an inventor. As the various articles about her relay, Barbara was told that being an inventor required an engineering degree which was not a possibility for women at the time. She did not give up on her dream though. Her first training was in home economics. From there she signed up for the army and became an occupational therapist. She worked in the army for a few decades, rising up to the level of major. When she retired, she opened a private practice.

Now occupational therapy is an incredible profession that certainly has plenty of scope for inventing. Barbara used her love of inventing to design and patent several items for children with learning difficulties. Then, at the age of 89, she finally landed her dream job. A job with a company that enables her to spend her time doing what she loves most, inventing.

Barabara is not a completely healthy 92 year old. Legally blind due to maccula degeneration, Barbara uses her occupational therapy training and insight gained from her stage in the life cycle together with her visual deficit to design items to assist the elderly and visually impaired. One of the items mentioned is her adaptation of her nordic walking sticks.

In OT, building up grips, marking items in order to enable the visually impaired to identify them is part and parcel of our profession. However, not all OTs are working at 92 years old. What an inspiring OT.

You can learn more about Barbara in this video.





Monday, 19 June 2017

What are Our Goals Regarding Diet or Nutrition?

Have you ever spent much time reading articles or books on how to be healthy or how to live a healthy lifestyle? If you have, have you noticed that there are 3 main ingredients to this recipe of health. Yes, a few others too but 3 main ones.
  1. Healthy, balanced diet
  2. Exercise
  3. Balanced lifestyle
I could go into details but there is something that bothers me with the first one. If we need healthy food in order to be healthy, why is there such a push towards white flour and lots of sugar with plenty of additives.  And while we are at it, why are the meals in hospitals so wrong for patients.

What is our goal here? Is our goal health or keeping patients ill?

Recently I spent some time at a hospital with a relative of mine. There was hardly any food served over a 12 hour period. Fluids were even less.

When food was offered, the first option was a roll made of white flour with tuna and egg on it. Um, "this patient has a severe allergy to egg!" Answer given: "if you want food, eat it, if not not, that is all we have to offer?"

Great, there the patient is in ER and they are offering a food item the person is severely allergic to. How about having a question on the intake form of what food allergies the patient might have.

As to the white bread, well, all the articles, websites, magazines, books on healthy eating advocate whole grain or even another grain such as spelt, rye, oats. Why do we serve ill people food items that will make them more ill?

I posed the question in a group about food. Sadly many had dreadful experiences to share.
A dietician mentioned that when she was hospitalized the food she was given was all full of sugar and too much salt. They did not bother to find out that she is diabetic with blood pressure problems. Oh dear, that is potentially very dangerous! Very dangerous.

Again I find myself asking what is the goal? If it is health, then hospitals need to make sure that people with diabetes or allergies to food items are served food that is safe for them. Unless of course they are wanting to create a ward for patients suffering from reactions to problem food.

Someone else mentioned that when she was in hospital the salad was wilted and stale, the vegetables were over cooked and the rest of the list continues in a similar vein. OY. What is the goal here? Vegetables are healthy, but need to be cooked or served correctly. Do we really want health?

Someone commented that wanting healthy meals in hospitals is too much to ask for. In her words, "hospital food is the worst" and Heaven "help if you have any special dietary needs."

I could continue quoting horror stories and I could continue sharing peoples amazement that I would expect health and nutrition to be part of the diet served in hospitals.

Yes, healthy, nutritious food is what helps people to be healthy. If our goal is health the supermarkets needs to sell food that is healthy. Why is white flour that has been processed and refined more expensive than wholegrain, healthy flour? Why does so much have sugar in it? Where are our goals? Do we really want health?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

What about the food in hospitals? Some complained that the expense of healthy flour is higher than white flour and hospitals have a budget. Well, what about reducing readmission? Readmitting a patient costs too. Another complaint was the work involved in finding out dietary needs and meeting those diets. Oh dear, do hospitals really want to have diabetic comas on their hands or other side effects of diabetes or high sodium by giving the wrong foods? Do they really want patients to have a severe allergic reaction to a meal that contains food they are allergic to?

Treating the effects of reactions to problematic diets has to be considered. Why not start in the hospitals. If our goal is health and a healthy diet is top of the list of how to be healthy, then why not have healthy, nutritious food in hospitals?

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story" and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom".

Monday, 12 June 2017

Introducing My Freelance Writing Service To OTs

Approximately 2 weeks ago, I had the good fortune to be chatting to a fellow OT. Shortly into the conversation she mentioned that she had noticed that I am also an author. She mentioned some of her current writing goals and her struggles in meeting these goals due to various commitments. I understood her frustration and shared my freelance writing service.

Initially we discussed the possibility of my writing some blog posts for her. We live in different time zones, so I sent off an email mentioning that if she is interested, I am also offering a ghostwriting service. It was getting late where I am so I left it at that and went off to bed.

The next morning I received the most wonderful email. What a joy and a surprise. She had decided to ask me to ghostwrite her ebook. The project is currently coming to an end. As I complete the final editing I can't help but ponder over this writing project. It has been so enjoyable for me from beginning to end.

The first treat was to work with someone who is punctual and respectful. One would expect that of a fellow OT, but so wonderful to experience anyway.

Our initial interview was informative, productive and focused. It made total sense that it would be. We are both familiar with the subject matter and just had to brainstorm some technical details.The writing too has been very satisfying.

So, I decided to write this short blog to let other OTs know. If you would like to develop your blog, your newsletters or even to get an ebook written, please do be in touch to discuss my freelance writing service.

I'm very much looking forward to hearing from you and to working together to help you to meet your writing goals too.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story" and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom".

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Getting Featured in Celebrating Authors

I have been doing some reading on marketing and promoting for our books and came across a few author groups to join. One of them has some really nice and affordable options for promoting one's book. I am so excited to say that the first of these features is going up on Celebrating Authors, as seen in the badge above.

Keep a look out for some promotion happening for my book "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story". We're working on an author interview. So strange to be interviewed but it's exciting too.

I guess it's time to begin a page on my website of "In the News" or "Press" or some fancy title.

I have a few reviews to add to this blog and am also very happy to say that sales are gradually happening. I have even had a request for my book to go into the library of a university in Australia.

It's all very exciting. I look forward to sharing more developments in the journey of this book.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story" and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom".

Monday, 1 May 2017

Interview with Jess Axelson of Be Verbose

I met Jess in a freelance writing group that I am part of. It has been a pleasure to get to know her, especially through conducting the interview for this Q & A Interview. It is an honour to introduce my readers to Jess Axelson of Be Verbose.  

Q 1) Hi Jess, thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog. When did you begin writing or discover that you enjoy writing?

Jess - I’ve been writing since I was a kid, as early as 7 years old. I learned to read very early, and books were the universe I felt I was missing at the time (I was, and still am, a bit of an old soul… I was terrible at being a child, I was too much in my own head to be normal). Writing came naturally after that, when I decided I could create my own universes as well as finding others.

Q 2) Thank you for sharing that. How did you discover freelance writing?

Jess - I had always loved writing, but my life took a lot of turns before I found it again. I had graduated with a degree in Industrial Design because I didn’t trust my ability to write well enough or consistently enough to get published, but I graduated college at the start of the Great Recession, so I was able to use that degree for eight months before the company I worked for went under and my life collapsed with it. I had to move from Washington state to Minnesota because there were no jobs, and even here I couldn’t find anything to keep me afloat or to even live independently (like most in my situation, I had to move back home to avoid total poverty). That’s a very depressing thing to do, obviously, and I had a history of depression since I started going to psychologists at nine years old. It’s difficult to be creative in those depths, or at least it was for me. My creativity left me. I couldn’t write a sentence. I stopped painting, another one of my hobbies. I just survived. When I got diagnosed, it just got worse, and through a series of ups and downs and poor decisions, I ended up where I was when the recession started, seven years later, until one night in November almost two years ago, I got my words back.

My uncle Rolf had Down’s Syndrome and lived in a group home. He had passed away almost a year ago, which was a very humbling experience for me. When he was in the hospital, comatose and septic with Parkinsons and dementia eating away his frontal lobe, all of the workers at his group home kept a vigil at his bedside. They brought him stuffed animals, they wept over him, they told stories about his life that I had never heard. They were his family, really, and with the exception of my father, who had been named his legal guardian after my grandparents moved out of the area, we weren’t. We knew so little about this man. We loved him, sure, but we had very few interactions with him besides holidays and the few weekends my father had free to take him to the farm where we lived and where he grew up. It changed my entire worldview. So when our main state newspaper, the Star Tribune, started publishing articles about the “seedy underbelly” of the adult care system, I took it very personally. These were good people that were getting slandered, and the perspective of all the articles was warped and one-sided. Our family was furious, but there was nothing that they could do. So one night, as I was thinking about all of this and how these poor people get nothing but grief and heartache for loving and taking care of these mentally disabled people, I decided that I could at least try to stand up for them. At 2 AM, inn the space of an hour and a half, and all on my tiny smartphone (the old 5s, with the mini screen and awful keyboard) while lying in bed and crying with anger, I wrote a letter to the editor. I only did one draft of it, and I didn’t expect it to go anywhere. The next day, though, I got an email from the editor saying that my letter would be a full-sized Counterpoint article to be published the following Monday. (here’s the link:

It sounds silly, but it was like I had come back to life. I had always felt like I was supposed to be a writer, but during all of the years when I was lost and struggling, I felt like that part of me had died and would never come back. But that article saved me. The group home where my uncle had lived called to thank me for it. It moved my family to tears (re-reading it now, I’m back in that headspace that made me write it in the first place, it’s really weird and I’m misting up again). I felt, for the first time in years, like I did have a purpose and I could do more than just exist. I had a chance to live again. That’s when I decided that it was time to start freelancing.

Q 3) That is very moving. Would you be prepared to tell us something about your disability. How does the Ankylosing Spondylitis affect you?

Jess - I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) when I was 27, about a year after I started having symptoms. That’s actually less time than the national average; it’s estimated that most people go for about eight years before they get a diagnosis. I’m lucky enough to live next to the Mayo Clinic, and I think that’s why I was diagnosed so quickly.

I apparently had the disease my entire life, and I can think back to many times when I had the pain I’m used to now but dismissed it as growing pains or something I had injured due to playing soccer every year since middle school. It was never a big part of my life until one day I got a sharp pain in my lower back that wouldn’t go away. It got worse daily, and within a month of that first pain, I was nearly immobilized. I could barely walk, and I just sort of shuffled along at a glacial pace to avoid as much pain as I could. I actually had to re-learn how to walk in a way that wouldn’t aggravate my joints. I couldn’t lie down because getting up was so painful. It was as though my spine and hips fell apart when I would lie down, and even shifting or rolling over to sleep would hurt so badly that I would wake up in tears. I wouldn’t be able to get up without allowing my bones to “re-assemble;” it felt like my spine had turned into one of those kids push puppet toys made of string and beads that would collapse into a heap and then come back together when you pushed a button. The process of standing up in the morning was about 20 minutes of sheer agony. The worst part is, since the disease is all internal, I looked fine so a lot of people didn’t believe me. I actually had to start bringing my parents to my doctors appointments so they could assure my doctors that yes, there was actually a very severe problem (that may be a woman thing, too; I hear a lot of similar stories from the women on my support boards).

AS is an autoimmune disease, which means that my body is constantly fighting itself, and it’s also a type of arthritis. The cartilage in my skeleton becomes inflamed, which is extremely painful, and eventually it will cause my cartilage to calcify and fuse the bones together. It’s called “bamboo spine,” which is a beautiful name for an awful disease. A lot of us are fused in a stooped position, with heads pointed down and nearly doubled over. I have to do a lot of stretches to avoid that, and it’s necessary to keep active to stave off the fusing and keep down my weight to keep as little stress on my joints and bones as possible (that part’s harder than it sounds, since almost every exercise I try aside from daily walks ends up with me on bedrest for at least a week, and I tend to eat my sadness when that happens). I got a dog to make sure I would still go outside and exercise, and not hole myself up and wallow in my self-pity. It’s a genetic disease, and after I found out I had it I was able to trace variations of it through my family tree. I found records of my ancestors dying of “arthritis” and having to have amputations because of it. My mother has a variation of it, and her mother was hunchbacked due to another variation.

I still have a lot of pain, obviously, even despite the ridiculous amounts of medications I’m on. Some days it feels like my lower back has pain that I can only compare to having an unfilled cavity. I have to walk with a cane sometimes, which is an odd look at 32 years old. It makes it difficult to sit for very long, so my days involve me being able to sit for maybe 30 minutes to an hour at a time before I have to lie down to alleviate some of the pain. I also have a lot of problems with my sternum, where it will feel for days like I’ve been punched square in the chest. It can hurt to even breathe some days, and with my hands and feet, so sometimes I can only write and type for a little bit at a time. I’m on immuno-suppressants, so I’m susceptible to every cold and flu I come across, and a lot of my medications have severe side effects. I’ve had to start taking medication for blood pressure and stomach problems because of the side effects, and I have to have monthly blood checks of my liver functions to make sure my meds aren’t killing it. One of my heavier meds can cause very fast-growing and un-treatable cancer, so that’s fun to have looming over me.

Q 4) I'm sorry to read of all your difficulties. As an OT, I certainly understand what you are describing. As I mentioned when we were messaging, I am very interested in the potential that I notice freelance writing can offer to those with challenges to their health. Can you share what how freelance writing enables you to earn as someone living with a disability?

Jess - As a disabled person, my options are very limited. I can’t work a normal full-time job like others, so I have very little money. I can’t afford a normal apartment so I live in disabled housing. But I’m too “able” to be considered fully disabled by the state since I can still walk sometimes and I can sit upright, so I’m stuck in a bit of a limbo between sick and well. That limbo is hell, and I don’t intend to stay in it. I have ambitions and desires just like anyone else, and disability in America seems to be set up to get people by only at a bare minimum. That’s not living; there’s no point to sitting around and waiting for things to happen. It feels like your humanity has been stripped away, and you’re nothing but a burden on the state or your family, with no more real worth or potential. Freelance writing felt to me like an open door to get out; like it’s my only option to live a normal life and feel like a person again. I can set my schedule according to how I feel that day, and working around my pain is much easier when I don’t have a boss who isn’t particularly concerned about how I feel (not that it’s their fault, and obviously, running a business can’t revolve around one employee’s health). And the money is far better than working for someone else, even with the tax nightmare that goes along with it.

Freelance writing has also done wonders for my mental health. There’s a proven link between inflammation and depression, and I certainly have major issues with it (I see a therapist and I’m on antidepressants as well), but since I’ve been writing, I’ve been happy again. A few years ago, I didn’t think that I could be happy any more. I struggled with suicidal thoughts for years, but since I’ve been writing again, those thoughts are mostly gone. I’ve started going out and having fun again, which I didn’t do for years due to both the cost and mental state. I feel like I have more energy now, even when I’m in a flare. I started wearing makeup again, when I hadn’t done that for five years. I care more about my appearance. I’ve started talking to members of the opposite sex, instead of hiding myself at the sight of an attractive person like I used to. I’m not ready to date yet, but I think I will be soon. It’s just been a transformative experience in general, and I really attribute that to feeling like I’m doing something worthwhile and good for my future (now that I feel like I have one again).

It sounds weird, but in a lot of ways, I really feel like this disability has been the best thing that ever happened to me. If I didn’t have it, I don’t know that I would be able to be pursuing my dream like this.

Q 5) Thank you for sharing Jess. What are your goals as a writer, you can select short term or long term goals or a combination?

Jess - I have so many ambitions, heh! I’ve got four different fiction books I’m working on writing, and I’m hoping to finish one by the end of the year. I want to do some non-fiction work, since I’ve always loved researching new topics. But short-term, I want to earn enough money for me to get out of disabled housing and feel normal again. I’d love to move back to the West Coast, it’s been hard to be away from the ocean for so long. I want to make enough money to travel, and maybe to get a house with a yard for my dog. I want to be able to be a foster mom, since I’d never have one of my own (I wouldn’t want a child to have what I have).

Mostly, my long and short term goals are to live like a normal person.

Q 6) Who is your role model as a writer? And lastly, what message would you like to leave for readers who also have a disability.

Jess - Role models are tough… I love the work that Michael Crichton did scientifically and I try to emulate the humor of Christopher Moore. But as far as a real literary role model, I’d have to say (and I will sound like every college dude ever but hear me out) Hunter Thomspon. Yes, he was a loose cannon with questionable morals, but the man could turn a phrase in a way that I could only dream of. I would also have to say J. K. Rowling, not because of her books (to be honest, I’ve never read a single Harry Potter novel), but for her, herself. She fought her way up out of nothing, wrote a great series, made a ton of money, and now she turns that money into great things for the world. If I was to get even a hundredth of her success I would hope I would be as magnanimous as she is.

And as far as advice goes, I would say that when you’re disabled, there are roadblocks everywhere and everyone else has their opinion on what you should be feeling and doing. There are stories all over the internet about people who “beat the odds” and “worked past their limitations,” and that’s all well and good, but don’t hold yourself to the standards of others. They aren’t in your body. Respect your limitations as much as you try to push against them. For every inspirational story you hear, there are a dozen more people who think that their life is over because of their disability. It isn’t over, but you don’t owe anyone an inspirational speech or to be a role model for others. Do what works for you. You aren’t a showpiece. It took me years to mourn my lost potential as an able-bodied person, and then several years after that where I felt like a failure because I wasn’t climbing mountains. Every time I tried to push myself too far my body stopped me, and I started to resent it. I have to remind myself all the time that I’m normal, no matter how many left turns I have to take to get where I want to be.

But even more than that, I’d say, don’t stop living. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, and it’s easy to do nothing. But that’s not living, and even though you’re disabled that doesn’t mean you’re less of a person. Hold on to your humanity. 

Thank you Jess for your very inspiring words. You certainly are a good writer and I wish you much success in developing your freelance writing business. If anyone reading this blog wishes to hire Jess for a writing job, she can be found via her website. If you have enjoyed this post as much as I have, do post a comment and let Jess know.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story" and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom".

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Are You Considering Working from Home?

If you are an occupational therapist have you thought of working privately? There are many reasons that one might consider doing so. Personally, I needed to move to work from home as it is the best way for me to manage my health. The timing was not the best which has posed certain challenges. I would say that I have learned the hard way some ideas to help to overcome these. The way in which I got into working privately is not the ideal. I have searched for years for suitable assistance. Sadly it has taken years to find the help that I needed. Yes, without that direction, I have made some mistakes, but you don't have to go the same road that I have. And if you do go the way I have done, you are lucky, as there is someone who has gone that road before you. Hence, if you follow this blog, sign up for my newsletter and are patient for when my book on work comes out, chances are you wont need to make as many mistakes. At least, I hope not.

I am currently reading an excellent book about setting up a private practice. Stay tuned, I plan to post a full book review and also hope to do an interview with the author. I really wish I had that book about 18 years ago, possibly more. Somethings are worth waiting for and I am very grateful to be reading the book now. It is giving me ideas to improve my practice.  There is much work in store, but it's all good and exciting. 

Have you read much on the topic of starting a private practice? It's so wonderful to see such books coming out.

Providing a therapeutic service is not the only way to work from home. If you have a life situation like I do and need to work from home, there are quite a number of options as to type of work that could be suitable. I am very grateful to have discovered a few and hope to share these too. 

Is working from home important to you? Is this a goal of yours? If so, what are your questions? Where are you in your journey towards working successfully from home.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Uplifting the Widow and the Orphan

Uplifting the widow and the orphan and why this is important to me!

When someone is going through a hard time, many find knowing of the hardship uncomfortable. There are many who will find reason to blame the person for whatever they are going through. The kinds of blame vary from presuming the person did not put in enough effort, to the person has been absorbed in victim thinking to a range of other unkind judgements. For many it is easier to judge and then keep their distance. After all, out of sight, out of mind!

Judaism has a very different approach to one who is suffering. Torah teaches us that the world is built on loving kindness and that we have a responsibility to show kindness to all in very specific ways. The kindness outlined in the Torah extends to our environment, how we interact with nature, how we treat animals, how we treat those we interact with and then how we treat the widow, the orphan, the convert and the poor. Torah teaches us that everyone is vulnerable and tragedy can happen to anyone. Instead of falling into the habit of judging the other, Torah teaches to show them kindness. To uplift the other person, especially the widow, the orphan the convert and the poor.

Far from considering turning a blind eye, the Torah teaches us how to do so and to what extent we should assist the one in need. This teaching goes so far as to indicate that it is not that the person being helped is the only one to benefit but in a magical and mystical way, the one who gives receives blessing and protection from being involved in an important and appropriate act of kindness or charity.

These teachings speak to me on many levels, especially the care that one should give to uplift or empower the widow and the orphan. The latter has personal meaning to me. My late father was born an orphan as my paternal grandfather died at the age of just 35 years old, 4 and half months before my father was born. The loss had a major impact on my family. My father, had no father to guide him through life. He was a very talented man e.g. he was able to pass BA level Hebrew at Bar Mitzvah age. One of his many talents was the most beautiful singing voice. He learned how to read from the Torah scroll and would do so in the merit of his late father. My father's dream was to be a rabbi or a prayer leader in Synagogue. Sadly, this dream was blocked when he was offered assistance in obtaining tertiary education provided he became a lawyer and not a rabbi. He did sing in the choir in Shul and his singing touched me very deeply.

My father died when I was still in school and two of the most powerful memories I have of him are his singing in Shul and blowing Shofar. These made such an impact that when I found myself battling a chronic illness, it was my father's singing voice and the knowledge that he had wanted to be a rabbi or prayer leader that drew me to attend Shul and to begin my own Torah learning. Through this I discovered another approach to health and wellness, by incorporating the Torah lifestyle into my life.

My challenge with my health was not just the fact that I developed an infection that turned chronic but the financial drain. Having put myself through university, starting to work did not mean I had the freedom to save towards getting married and beginning my own home. On the contrary, my earnings went on paying off my tuition and health expenses. When I finally did come to marry, this was one time I really needed help and turned to a few I knew who were connected in the Jewish community.

The reception that I had from most was very far from what Torah teaches. The result has been that instead of having a start to my new home, I began married life without beds, with no appliances, with a set of second-hand broken crockery and second-hand worn linen. By the end of the first year of marriage, I had moved 5 times followed by a house burglary leading to another move and a work injury with no compensation. I recognized something more was going on. Using the teaching of Chassidus to find and elevate the positive points, I set to work to begin a service, in the merit of my late father, that would empower orphans, and hopefully widows too. The service includes everything that I needed but did not receive.

We began with just an idea, a vision, some health problems, some financial struggles and a small space in the corner of our strong-room. Over time, the idea began to develop. With much work and effort we began a store from unwanted, donated items. Some of these went to help begin the homes of over 38 couples and some were sold to help to cover expenses. As we progressed, the opportunity arose to add 60 bridal gowns to what we were doing.

Using my background of occupational therapy, I am developing this to become a complete service. One that will provide support, love and care to the widow and the orphan. Our centre aims to share the invaluable teachings of Torah and Acts of Loving Kindness, not only to the widow and the orphan but to others too. We have begun a series of books for children to teach about kindness to animals.  Torah in fact gives importance to every detail and every experience or occurrence. We learn this from the poem of "The Little Leaf" by Yom Tov Erlich z"l. This poem talks about a leaf that had fallen from a tree. After going through a discussion of why and how this might have happened, it turns out that down on the ground was a little worm that had cried out to Hashem due to the heat of the sun. The wind came along and helped the little leaf to fall exactly onto the little worm, thus providing shelter from the harsh sun's rays.

In Pirkei Avot we learn that caring for all aspects of creation has a benefit to the world at large and failing to do so has the opposite effect. This extends to such acts as letting the land rest in the 7th year, appropriate justice and taking care of the poor. Types of repercussions to ignoring G-d's system is the range of disasters such as natural disaster, war and famine.[1]

In every situation we have the opportunity to bring unity, growth and development, or the opposite, G-d forbid. Increasing in the former is one of the main goals of the centre that we are developing.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"


[1] Pirkei Avot, Ethics of our Fathers Chapter 5 verses 8-9

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Next Step in the Journey with my Book

Writing a book is quite a journey. This post is the next phase or detour of the journey. 

It is a very strange feeling to think that my book is slowly but surely getting to all kinds of places that I have not been to myself. Yesterday I mailed off a copy of the book to someone in New Zealand and another to a doctor in Jerusalem. Yes, the address in Jerusalem is one I am familiar with, but I have never been to New Zealand. My book has now gone to the US, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand. Canada and Australia I have not been to either. It is quite a surreal experience and I am so looking forward to starting to receive feedback. 

In the meantime, though I ran a crowd fundraiser before bringing out the book, I was not successful in reaching anything near my target. As a result, I did not have the funds to pay an editor. I have read the book at least a half dozen times, perhaps more. My mother has read it 3 times and my husband has read it twice and still I am finding areas to improve. So, I have taken the book offline for 2 weeks to give myself the opportunity to read the book once more and iron out any changes that I feel are necessary. I am still awaiting feedback from my previous head of department from when I was a student. However, there are changes I have made including adding a section that I am very excited to have added. 

If you are interested in my book "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapists Story" please follow this blog for news of when the new revised version will be available, or join my author page on FaceBook for regular updates on the progress with the book.

It is such a fun and exciting process and the best part is that by self-publishing I have the freedom to improve and upgrade the book whenever I have an idea of how to make it even better than it already is.

In the meantime, please support us by purchasing a copy of our children's nature story, "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" available in English and Hebrew.  Your purchase will enable us to continue writing further books on the topic and to write others on a range of topics related to occupational therapy.

Thank you for your support, it is much appreciated.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Book Review by Tony Parsons MSW

It is always exciting to receive another book review. This one comes for our children's book "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and is the 8th review on Amazon US and 3rd review on GoodReads. Book reviews are slowly but surely trickling in.

"I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one.

A very awesome book cover, great pictures, font & writing style. A very well written children’s book on turtles. It was very easy for me to read/follow from start/finish & never a dull moment. There were no grammar/typo errors, nor any repetitive or out of line sequence sentences. Lots of exciting scenarios, with several twists/turns & a great set of unique characters to keep track of. This could also make another great science, biology class PP presentation. A very easy rating of 5 stars.
Thank you for the free book via the Goodreads group; MakingConnections; The book was given by Chessed Ve’Emet; paperback book
~ Tony Parsons MSW (Washburn)

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Monday, 9 January 2017

Behind the Scenes with my Books

Now that my books have arrived, I have had the opportunity to go through one of my books once more. It is amazing how every time I go through the book I find something else to alter, add, change and hence, I am in the process of revising my book. It's only been out about 5-6 weeks and already I am thinking of how to improve it. However, having my books arrive has given me another idea and so I am gradually being in touch with non-OTs to hear what their thoughts are about the book. I have approached 6 non-OTs so far and have had two responses. I am very excited to say that I have a book packaged and ready to go to Canada and another packaged and on it's way in a totally different direction, all the way down south to Australia. 

If you are in one of the health professions and have a blog and are willing to read one of my books in order to give your feedback and post a review onto your blog, please be in touch

While I network to promote my book "Healing Your Life Through Activity" I am trying to decide which of my other books to work on. I have a few on the go. One is pretty much written and requires my reading and re-reading it and then some major editing work. In many ways this book should be the next one to come to print. It makes sense chronologically. My problem is the volume of work to edit it. The joys of getting into the book world.

What would be your preference to read about?
  • My personal and professional experience with a chronic illness
  • Moving to work from home with lots of tips interwoven into my story. 
  • Working with women from an occupational therapy perspective
  • The next was a recent request, something I have thought about often and that is a book about coma stimulation. 
I have a few other books that I could work on that will probably come next. I'd love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a preference as to which to read or hear about?

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Ideas of How to Help Someone in Need

What can you do if you become aware of someone who is having a tough time. Do you just ignore them and leave them to contact you or is there anything that you can do to assist?

This topic came up recently and I was sad to hear that some believe that there is nothing one can do unless the person comes to you and expressly asks for help. There are, however, many reasons as to why a person who is having a hard time might not reach out and ask for help. They might be embarrassed or too depressed to ask. Very practically, depending on the nature of the difficulty, the person might also lack the funds to make a call. So what can you do to help?

Here are just a few ideas but if you put your mind to it, I am sure you can come up with others too. You can call and invite them out. Go to the persons home and take them out to a place of nature. Somewhere that is beautiful where they can feel completely away from their problems and able to begin to entertain the concept that life can get better. You can go for a walk with them, share thoughts about the beauty that you see. Go for a run if need be, some kind of exercise to help the person to increase their oxygen level and get their circulation going.  You can even take a picnic with you. If the person is having a hard time, chances are they might not be eating properly. So take along something healthy and filling.

Once you have given the person the opportunity to take their mind off their problems for a little in a non-threatening way, you can ask them what they need or what it will take for them to be happy or fulfilled. Or ask if they wish to talk about the difficulties that they are experiencing and if they know what will make their life or situation easier. Then be ready to listen. Remember, if the person is cold, chances are they will need a blanket or heater not a summer cap and bucket of ice. This might sound like an extreme example but the point is that it is important to listen to the actual need of the other and not to impose what you think they should need. 

If they want to just talk then let them and be prepared to listen. Sometimes a listening ear makes the world of difference. If they would like a regular walking partner or to get into nature regularly or to get out of their home or ideas of jobs in types of work that they are able to carry out, then hear that, acknowledge that and decide which of them you can assist with. It might be that you are not able to but can brainstorm where the person can find this help from. That is fine too. The point is to hear them and to show that you are there for them.

What other ideas would you come up with? Are you the type of person to reach out and help when you discover that a friend or relative is in need or do you just sit back and wait for them to call and talk about how terrible they are if they don't. If you are the latter, what stops you from taking the energy that you expend in talking to someone else about the person in need and rather going to visit and putting in the effort to find out what you can do to help?

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Insight Gained from Networking with Doctors

It is so much fun to finally be in the marketing phase of my book "Healing Your Life Through Activity". It's such a different experience to contact a doctor and be able to offer him or her to read and review one's book promoting the wonderful profession of occupational therapy instead of just trying to introduce oneself as an OT only to be met with a blank stare. It's gratifying to watch the slight change in attitude of the doctors I am speaking to. Instead of the vacant, distant responses, knowing there is a book out seems to bring that tiny bit more respect. 

What is sad to hear though, is how many doctors will turn down the opportunity to review a book about occupational therapy due to not knowing anything about the profession. Well, this response merely serves to prove the important need of my book. As I mentioned to a doctor, a specialist in his area of practice, just a few hours ago, most doctors I have met in the 26 years of being a qualified OT have no idea what the profession is about.

I mentioned this to my husband after the discussion with the doctor. My husband insightfully commented that just as a doctor needs to know all the other kinds of doctors in order to refer appropriately and on time, so too, all doctors should take the time to learn what occupational therapy is about. This is how they will know when a referral is indicated and to what type of occupational therapist. Yes, just like medical practitioners have areas of specialization, so too, occupational therapists mostly tend to specialize. Some specialties are by default and some are by choice but one way or another, all occupational therapists will gain more experience and skills in certain areas of occupational therapy than in others. 

What can I say, the conversations with doctors today certainly highlighted how much my book is needed. I'm mulling over a video to record but for now, I leave you with this experience and a request that if you are a health practitioner you visit CreateSpace eStore or one of the other online bookstores who stock my book and purchase a copy. You can even request the book through your local bookstore, why not you might encourage them to stock some copies of the book. The price currently is very affordable, but it is likely to be going up in the next few weeks. So do get your copy while the price is still at the introductory rate. Put aside a few hours or a few days at most and enjoy discovering some insights into the wonderful profession of occupational therapy. If there is an area of the profession that I have not covered and you would like explained, do be in touch. I'd be happy to research and write a suitable book to cover your needs in further books. If you have found the book to be beneficial or that it has given you clearer understanding of the profession, please be in touch, or post a review online so that other readers who would benefit can find the book too.

I look forward to seeing an increase in appropriate referrals to occupational therapy due to a heightened understanding of the incredible profession. 

Thank you to all those who have shown interest in the book. Your encouragement is most appreciated. Well now, what are you waiting for, click on the link and purchase your copy of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story" today! Do it now and schedule in your diary time to read the book too. As the image at the start of the post states: "If not now, when?" Why wait? The more you can understand all of the team members who can assist your patients, the better service you will be able to give to your patients and they will surely appreciate you and your service so much more in return.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Monday, 2 January 2017

Weaving and Occupational Therapy

In occupational therapy we use all kinds of activities, occupations / tasks as a medium of intervention. Many but not all of them are creative activities. When I was at university, I loved to learn to do weaving, though it was not a technique that was new to me. In university we enjoyed learning to weave on a loom. Those of us taking weaving got to borrow a relatively small, portable loom which we took home in order to compete our weaving assignment. 

In addition to the fun part of producing a useful item (in my case a neck scarf which was given to a fellow student who was far from family), we also had the opportunity to analyze the process of weaving from every conceivable angle. When and where it was possible to adapt the activity, the loom, the weaving process, we gained insight and skills as to how to do so.

As mentioned, weaving was not a new activity for me. When I was in primary school, I had a wonderful time learning how to make up a loom in a branch that had a fork in it. We added wood across the horizontal and learned how to thread the loom appropriately before weaving a creative piece of fabric. 

So what is weaving? Weaving: is a means to create fabric using specific types of thread, yarn or fibre. The vertical or longitudinal threads are called the warp and the horizontal threads are called the weft. These threads are set up in such a way that they run perpendicular to one another forming a definite grid which is very recognizable. The nature of the fabric is dependent on the thickness and type of thread, yarn or fibre that is used. A woven item can become a garment or for those who weave on larger looms it is possible to weave mats, rugs, wall hangings and more.

From an occupational therapy perspective, weaving has all kinds of benefits in improving upper limb function, hand function, concentration, patience, work speed, work tolerance, standing tolerance and so much more. 

Weaving is not only with types of threads. We also learned how to weave baskets using cane. Cane work is a very different experience to weaving with threads or fibres and the decision as to whether a client will benefit from weaving a piece of fabric or a basket or engaging in a different type of creative activity comes back to a large extent to the interests, preferences and goals of the client / patient.

This post is prepared for you by
Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer and co-author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom" and author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity - An Occupational Therapist's Story"

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Appreciating Talent and Overcoming Challenges

My introduction to working with babies came at the end of my volunteer shift when I was just 16 years old. The highlight of my day was feeding the premature babies. I loved the work though there were times that hearing why the baby needed someone else to feed it was hard. I struggled to understand why some women might leave their new born in an incubator and just not return. A few years later, I found myself back in the same maternity wing, this time as a newly qualified occupational therapist. I had a heavy work load but somehow always found a few moments to go into the nursery and help to give a little love to any of the babies who were left without their mom, for whatever the reason.

From time to time I like to watch the Americas Got Talent show. I love to see the new potential and to appreciate the hard work that has obviously gone into each performance. Some months ago, I noticed a show that was particularly moving. It flashed up again today when I went over to YouTube to watch a video a colleague had recommended with information to assist a client of mine. I decided to watch it again and this time did another search on YouTube to find out what happened to this talented young singer.

Jaycob's story really touched me. It is special to see the love and appreciation between Jacob and his adoptive parents.This young singer definitely has talent and I was happy to see that he is continuing to use his talent.

In other vidoes you can learn a little more about his story and his close relationship with his younger sister. It is beautiful to see how music and singing have given this young man inner strength. 

I enjoyed discovering that he is about to bring out an audio of some of his music and songs. Please take a break and listen to his music and singing. Every person who listens helps to increase his chances of success. Jaycob certainly went through a hard beginning to life and it is inspiring to see his progress and development.

What gives you strength in trying times? Do you turn to music, song writing or another creative pursuit?

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