Hi there….

So, it’s been a while since I posted. Let me tell you why:

  1. The pandemic and shift to working from home (which began properly the day after my last post) has meant what I do with my days off has shifted and I have less energy for writing & posting;
  2. What energy I have for writing things is getting funnelled either into my Twitter interactions, or other projects that I don’t want to lose steam on (fic writing, for example);
  3. And – the big one – I have this tendency to avoid stuff if I’m already late with it…the ‘pressure’ of coming back after I miss self-set deadlines is annoying, so I avoid and continue to do so, by letting 1 & 2 distract me.

Going forward: I’m going to try to aim for one to two posts a month. Anything beyond that is a bonus.

picture of a manmade creek and big bridge. There is water flowing in the creek. The creek has sloped concrete sides, with a concrete path running along each side at the top. There are trees with branches overhanging the path.  The bridge is big because it's a road bridge. It has tall sides to prevent noise from the road travelling to the creek.
The creek at the bottom of the street near where I live. These paths have been lovely to walk on during this time.

So, what have I been up to since April? Lots of things. Let’s start with work.

I was in a hands-on role prior to the lockdown, which has changed to a mostly admin/ support from afar role during this time. For nearly seven weeks (not counting the extended school holidays) myself and the team have been supporting staff, students and families by offering programs to assist regulation, ideas for things to do with household items, and most recently, info sheets about different body skills and senses. It’s been a lot of fun at times, but also a bit of a drag at others – I get my energy from working with the kids, so not being able to be with them has been hard at times.

In that sense, I’m glad that I’ll be going back to work onsite next week – the Victorian government has told all special schools to go back this coming Tuesday. Mainstream have different arrangements depending on year level. Returning to work onsite means a number of other good things – like having regular driving time again, as I work towards my licence by driving to and from school on my work days. It means a return to the physical separation of work and home, with my routines around that.

But we’ll go back to a changed environment. It’s not going to be “straight back to usual”. The rest of term – four weeks of it – will be spent re-adjusting and taking things as they come, with specific health and safety measures in place. After all, by Tuesday, we’ll have had ten weeks off – students were last onsite on Monday March 23, while staff switched to WFH from Tuesday March 24. This has been the longest that students have had off, ever. Longer than the usual summer holidays. Add that to the new health and safety measures and it makes for an interesting few weeks ahead.

A colleague reminded me that the best thing is to focus on the positives, while keeping our expectations low. Be kind to ourselves and the students while supporting our and their wellbeing. We’ll get there.

Also, big ghost/ Jedi/ virtual hugs to everyone else out there who’s worried about all the things, especially if you’re in a country overseas which is struggling more with this thing.

Picture of drawing of head and arms of person. Person's arms are open and they have a love heart in the middle of them. Person has two dots for eyes and a small smile. Text above the person reads: sending vritual hug. Underneath the person the word 'loading' is written, with a half-full bar line underneath that.
You can’t feel it physically, but it’s there!

What else have I been doing? Hmm. A few things.

This lockdown time has reinforced for me how my neurodivergent brain works and what it needs to be happy. Many, many routines were lost and disrupted with lockdown – like choir being cancelled (and possibly remaining so for longer than other things, due to the way the virus spreads). Also, work (naturally), church and not being able to go to gym/ BodyPump. I’ve had to find new ways to do things and acknowledge my hidden supports.

Like, working at a school means, in usual circumstances, I work in a really structured environment – three sessions a day, specific windows of time for morning tea and lunch, and so on. Then I’d added further routines on top of that – for example, driving the same route to and from work every day and only wearing my name-badge and visuals lanyard on school grounds. My work days were my biggest step days as I walked between office, classrooms and staff areas.

Losing all of that meant I had to create my own structure and find my own ways of getting that movement into my day. I’ve used Google Calendar and reminders on my laptop as my own visual schedule. I kept my morning wake-up routine, albeit a little later than usual. I did things like have a specific Chrome window for work-related internet stuff, only using/ opening work-related apps like Outlook and Webex during work hours. Regular walks became a thing, with plenty of pictures taken to mark the things I saw (two of which have featured in today’s post).

Picture of water in a creek. The water is almost at the height of the creek banks, where green grass is growing on both sides. There are also some trees on the creek bank and a gravel path visible to the right side of the image. The sun is shining brightly in the top left of the image, reflecting in the water. There are a few fluffy thick white and grey clouds in the sky.
Another image of the creek at the bottom of my street. Taken a day or two ago after all the rain Melbourne had this week.

I ordered some gym weights so I could keep up with that, because I find it grounding. I joined in on a couple of virtual choir events, have been to regular virtual church services and video-called people or chatted over Discord to feel connected. LaTUCS has maintained a regular Wednesday social time on Discord since we had to stop meeting in person, which has been lovely. I’ve also found lovely online things to provide good feels (though sometimes sad, too). Like this cat-cam YouTube channel, advocating for a Trap-Neuter/Spay-Adopt-or-Release approach for feral cats. There are so many kittens on the two channels right now, with the promise of even more joining them in a few weeks. I love watching them and definitely have my favourites.

Health stuff like psych appointments became virtual, too, with telehealth.

This will continue for me for some time yet – I’ve decided that how i’m going to handle the anxiety of work going back is to recognise that this acknowledges schools as essential workplaces, with staff as essential workers. I am going to still keep physically distancing myself from most things except shops and work, at least until the end of Term 2. We’ll see how it goes. But I am proud of how I’ve managed myself during this time and want to continue that.

The other thing that’s been occupying my time is fandom. In times of stress, fandom is one of the big things that give me joy and make me feel safe and happy – though it can still be its own mess, at least I can carve out my own corner and defend/ fix it. It’d be nice if there was more to claim for my corner and less to fix, but still. Taking part in fandom in a critical way makes me happy.

That’s meant that I’ve been reading and writing fic, retweeting pertinent views on Twitter and engaging with people. I also did a few nice things for Star Wars day. I wore my hair in Rey buns (I tried Leia buns but that was too tricky *sadface*), wore my BB-8 earrings and edited some photos from Supanovas past into little flipbook movies with accompanying music. Thread here. Fun!

I think photos from this year’s Supanova count as my “last normal photos”, which is a thing that went around social media last week…people posting photos from the last “normal” thing that they did before the lockdowns. It’s rather fitting that my photo is related to fandom:

A photo of Clare standing in front of a background painted to look like a Star Wars Rebel or Resistance base. She is wearing her silver headphones and her glasses, in a cosplay for Rey Skywalker - white tank top and shorts, cream scarf hood and brown belts. She is holding a lit yellow lightsabre in salute. Next to her is the droid BB-8, who is taller than her knee. BB-8 is looking at the camera, while Clare looks off-centre to the left of the image. Clare is smiling.
One of several photos from this year’s Supanova, where I cosplayed as Rey Skywalker. I wish I had a BB-8 of my own….

Stay safe, everyone. Until next time!

Life update

How are we doing?

I’m writing this on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Thank goodness for those, because the rest of the weekend is busy – the week has been too. I’ve had choir rehearsal three times since Tuesday, a work end-of-year event last night, and the first carols concert today. Tomorrow is the big concert – if you’re attending the Monash Carols by Candlelight event at Jells Park, you’ll see me as a soprano as part of the choir. Should be fun, if a bit exhausting. I’ve already scheduled Monday as a crash day. I love singing and carols but I need my downtime too, especially when all the events are on the same weekend. What’s your favourite carol?

Throughly fed up with politics at the moment. Australia is led by a fascist government. If you’re in the UK, vote so Labour will win – politics is not a bloody popularity contest!!

It was International Day of People with Disability on Tuesday, a day to “to promote understanding of the issues facing people with disability, and to push for change”. On that theme, if you want to read a couple of young people’s perspectives on their disability, check out Ben’s and Carletta’s stories from the Every Australian Counts website.

I’m relaxing this lazy Saturday afternoon by listening to Queen videos. If I had a time machine and money, I’d go attend famous musical performances, like Live Aid. That reminds me… I need to create my 2019 song playlist.

The holidays are nearly here, meaning that in two weeks I’ll have completed a year of work! I’ve learnt a lot during that time. #proud

Hope your lead-up to the holiday period is smooth, that you have enough time off, and your holidays are relaxing!

Another life update

I’ve been busy, these past few weeks. My final placement is nearly over. I’m nearly fully qualified! I just have to do a few tasks this week to finish strongly.

I hope that if you’ve got access to ABC or iview, you’re watching the program “Don’t Stop the Music”. It’s awesome! A great show about why music education is important and valuable. It also makes me reflect on my privilege.

For those of you who are voting in the Victorian state election on Saturday, the Victorian Electoral Commission’s website is a good resource for finding out which parties will be on your ballot papers. I’m going to use the lists to create my own how-to-vote card so I can think about it beforehand.

After it’s finished, I hope to get back into a blogging rhythm. I have some recipes to share, and other thoughts.

For now, enjoy some pictures of a rose in a family member’s garden; and a kick-arse Hufflepuff badger meme.

A red rose on a green stem is outlined by the flash of the camera against a red-and-yellow brick wallA Hufflepuff crest of black, silver and yellow, with a badger in the middle. Beneath the badger on the crest are the words: “just” and “loyal”. Above and below the crest are words reading: Do no harm but take no shit.

End of a good week…

This week has been busy, tiring, fun, challenging and motivating.

My placement is going to be a ton of fun, I can tell, and a great learning experience. I have such a lot to learn, but my enthusiasm for Paediatrics has been noted.

I’m at a school, so for the next two weeks placement pauses due to the Victorian school holidays. I’m going to use that time to brush up on a few relevant things, including my knowledge of Auslan.

There are also a few fun things happening, as well. Events that mark the approaching end of semester. One of those is tonight, so I’m off to have a good time with my OT cohort.

Btw, happy Bi Day of Visibility! 💖💙💜

Lovely to see Spring showing up today. Blossoms and sunshine! Have a good weekend everyone.

Sunset behind trees, with a lake in front

A few things

I’m chest-deep in project stuff atm – I have a presentation to give this arvo. So this week you’ll see little from me!

On that note: if you’re viewing this via Facebook, please consider subscribing via email. I’ve been informed that Facebook will soon stop automatically sharing my posts soon because I’ve connected this blog to my personal profile, not a page. I’m not sure what I’ll do about that. In the meantime, if you want to keep in the loop with me, subscribe, please. 🙂

 

A couple of links to throw your way:

Eden Riley’s latest post: she’s awesome. Check it out.

And this: get on board.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Famequality%2Fvideos%2F10155484239642617%2F&show_text=1&width=560

Busy Days

Hopefully soon I’ll get a chance to publish some recipe posts and finish off the Japan trip ones. For now, though, here are a few pics and notes from the last week or so, of things that have been making me happy.

Red flowers with green stems stand tall in a flower bed, manicured green grass surrounding themA shrub with pink flowers and green leaves in a little space next to a roadA yellow sunset looking out over a lake, with a tree and pier silhouetted

Add to this: the ducks I saw walking through uni to choir; the 20+ rainbow lorikeets taking a bath and feeding in the front yard of a place I walked past the other day; the simple peace of drawing and colouring a picture.

Atm I often leave placement at the end of the day feeling like my brain has been used, and used well. I’m learning lots, about occupational therapy in mental health, transferable skills, and about myself. There are rewarding and challenging aspects, and reminders of why I chose to do OT.

I’ve also had some fun times with my uni housemates and friends. Some of us went on a specially-organised cruise on a “showboat” this week!

Prow of the boat, with cream and brown colours, facing towards a bridge

And LaTUCS (my uni choir) is back for the year. Check out http://www.latucs.org.au and http://www.facebook.com/LaTUCS for more info.

Reflections from the past two weeks…

It’s been a good week for me. The second week of placement.

A good week in the sense that I’ve learnt and am learning lots, and I feel I’m growing too.

My placement is in mental health services and it’s really interesting. I’ve been placed across two parts of the service: community and long-term inpatient. (Those are layperson’s terms for the areas; they have more formal names.)

The work I’m doing is challenging and rewarding. We do what we can do to help the clients engage in treatment, under a model of “least-restrictive practice”, using practice models like the recovery model and others. I’m supporting seriously unwell people, advocating for them and above all, doing my best to keep them safe. They’re really vulnerable because they’re unwell. At higher risk of being a victim of violence and other trauma than they are of being a perpetrator.

It’s challenging; figuring out how to engage with and build rapport with clients, trying to prevent them from coming to harm, supporting their over-stretched families and support networks, as well as dealing with the bureaucracy of funding and resources.

Some days and moments are really hard. This role teaches you about boundaries and self-care, because you can only do good work if you’re taking care of yourself.

You have to become really good at reading someone’s mental state and analysing their risks, which is a skill that develops and is honed over time. But you can only do what you can, as best you can. After a certain point, it’s not up to us but to the clients. We’re working with real people, after all.

That’s what makes it so rewarding. Real people, real personalities. Real stories. It’s things like making the time to start a conversation, finding out what interests them, inviting them to activities you think they’ll enjoy. Taking pleasure in observing positive changes, even small ones, and creating space when people need to talk about things that matter. Advocating for them, while helping them (re)develop skills including the tools for self-advocacy. And more besides.

The next six weeks, like these past two, will be challenging and rewarding. I know I will keep learning and I hope I give something back, too.

In my current mood, this comic panel about life, by Awkward Yeti, speaks to me. Especially the last panel.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

Hi there!

Thinking lots of thoughts atm.

One of which is that I ought to schedule some posts for the next few weeks… I don’t like not posting anything but that’s what happens when you’re busy.

I have just finished my first week of placement for my final year of Masters of occupational therapy. It’s in mental health in two different settings and I’m finding it really interesting.

It’s tiring, but I’ll learn lots over the next eight weeks and it’ll be really rewarding.

Let’s see where things go!

Phew. And that’s a wrap

My last assignment for Paediatrics is due at 17:00 Friday (today). Paediatrics is the final subject of my third year.

In other words, I’m officially DONE with my third year. I’ve been chugging along since the last days of January so that’s nine months. Whew. I get to rest now, until next February when my final year begins. That’s going to involve a lot more placement work and will no doubt be just as intense as this year but in different ways. But until then – huzzah.

This year, I’ve learnt about and built on so many things. Like how to do SMART goals properly and building on intentional communication; environmental modifications, splinting, adaptive equipment, funding etc.; stress buckets, case formulation, intervention planning; stages of development and different treatments for specific disabilities and situations; many many models applicable in general and also specifically to various client groups – aged, disabled/ chronically ill, mentally ill, children…. and so much more.

That’s a long run-on sentence and it’s been a long run-on year.

But so, so good.

I’m really appreciative of all the opportunities that have come my way this year. I think I’ll give myself a few days off to savour them before organising my summer break.

 

On a different note: Don’t forget – today is the final day to get a replacement survey form for the marriage equality survey. Make sure you’ve voted before the end of Friday next week.

 

OT uni update: busy skill learning

Hi all. This post is currently being written by my left hand on my mobile while my right arm is held captive by the plasma-collection machine at the local blood donation centre. 

I’m two weeks into my last subject for the year: Paediatrics. It’s been really fun. We’ve covered typical and atypical development (including how to hold low/high babies), early childhood interventions, autism, cerebral palsy and interventions and assessment for these plus more generally. These have included sensory processing, family-centred practice, traffic light self-regulation systems, handwriting interventions – and most recently, this interesting intervention called CO-OP: Cognitive Orientation to Occupational Performance. 

It’s a cognition based cooperative approach which enables success (ie skill acquisition) through problem-solving. The OT guides the child to use metacognition strategies and discover the skill(s) for themselves. The child uses their own words to create goals, which are then planned, done and checked (GPDC acronym is used with a toy to help the child remember). 

As part of our learning we each chose a skill to learn using this method in class. So I learnt to KNIT! 

Goal: to be able to knit a row. 

Plan (in my own words): I watched a classmate who knew how to knit demonstrate and talked through the steps, as I saw them, in my own words. Then a third classmate wrote them down. 

(I’m right-handed.) 

  1. Right needle goes through the thread on the left needle and then goes to the back. 
  2. Loop the thread around the back of right needle only, it does not cross the left needle. 
  3. Pull down the thread against the needle with right hand keeping needles crossed at back. 
  4. Pull the needle from right hand down 
  5. With the left hand turn the needle so the right hand pushes needle through the wool.  
  6. With the right hand you move the loop off the left needle while the left hand holds the wool steady.
  7. Tighten the knot. 

Or something like that. 

Do: you do the plan. 

Check: has the plan worked? We needed to modify a few steps to ensure everything was clear. 

Finished product:

Grey knitting needles with a few wool stitches on them, on wooden table next to Ball of white woolClose-Up of white wool in stitches on grey needle on wooden table
Not much. But it’s a start. Now I need some wool and knitting needles so I can practice – I borrowed those ones above.