Saturday, August 31, 2013

Closing Doors and Opening Windows

Open Window, Etretat

by Henri Matisse

When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.
Alexander Graham Bell

The staff of the college program I am entering, the disability advisor and my job coach have all stressed that I need to let go of my different activities for this coming year. I need to focus on school. I know that college is going to use up most of my energy and that spare time will become a thing of the past.

You know what? It is hard to let go of my activities and social life.  I keep trying to negotiate a way that I can keep doing all the things I have been doing. Moving forward to new experiences means I have to leave past activities behind, at least for a while.

Yesterday I called my guitar teacher and told him I was quitting for now and then I cried. I have put a lot of time into getting that darn thing to sound half decent and I was just started to feel like I was making music instead of doing finger and hand therapy.

Volunteering at the hospital is another hard one to give up. The volunteer coordinator sent me the mailing of the recreation activities they need help with for September and I really want to volunteer with  most of them  but I won't be free. I realized with a smile that my reaction is a good thing. It probably means this Therapeutic Recreation program is a good choice for me.

Girl Guides? Actually this one feels okay. I will maintain my membership, and I will still attend the occasional event with girls and hopefully be a bit of a mentor for the younger leaders in my group. I will kind of take on a Grandma role. I will come to the enrollment and take pictures, I will show up for a couple of events over the year.  Guiding has a Trefoil Group for older leaders to meet for fun activities on a monthly basis and I have participated in that group for a couple of years. I already had to send my regrets regarding attending  a day in the country with the group that will occur on my first day of classes.  I am confident that I have the support of this group of women who have devoted years with a recreation and learning program for girls and young women. They understand about the value of the training program I am about to start.

On Wednesday I chaired my last meeting of the Peer Support Group that I have been involved with over the past several years. I am passing the group on to a couple of wonderful people who have been part of the group and I know that things will go even better with their fresh ideas, I am sorry to be moving away from Stroke Recovery Association of Manitoba but that feels right too. I will still show up when I can and I will keep in touch  with my friends but it won't be quite the same. I talked to the organization's Administrator, Russ, about what a home away from home the organization has been for me. He said that one part of the organization's official objectives is  "To assist the Stroke Survivor to again become a participating member of society through mental stimulation, self-help, and socialization" .  He said that is exactly what I was doing.
Moving forward is what is supposed to happen.

Monday, August 19, 2013

New Chapter

I have some very good news. I am starting college in just a couple of weeks! 

Two years ago I was accepted into a government program that helps people with disabilities get back to work and I have tried very hard to meet all the challenges involved in the program. I almost gave up a few different times in sheer frustration but here we are at the next phase and I am still hanging in there.

I am not able to return to the type of work I used to do, so my vocational team and I knew that we would have to explore new options.  I took a computer class, I did a week of vocational testing and presented doctor reports. We worked on creating a new resume, we interviewed several people about what their careers were like and we came up with a short list of options for me. I was particularly interested in Recreational Therapy.

My counselor told me that it was possible that I would qualify for retraining. The local college offers a nine month certificate program, so we met with the disability counselor for the college and discussed my options and supports I would have if I went back to school. Last January I took a night school course that is a credit for the program. I found the course difficult, but it showed some of the problems that I will need to address in the future. I put in an enormous amount of work and got a great mark so that was proof that I can indeed handle school in spite of my cognitive issues! The vocational program also arranged for me to volunteer for six weeks at a hospital based personal care home helping with the Recreational Therapy program and also with the Spiritual Care program. I needed to prove to myself and to the government that I have some attitude for that kind of work and I also needed to be assured that I could find the endurance to work half days. 

I choose to continue volunteering for  the hospital past my required commitment and I have now done over a hundred hours of service. I am loving it more and more all the time and feel confident that I will enjoy that kind of work and be good at it.

Last month I got notification that I was accepted into the college program and that I would be fully funded. Yippeeeeee!

I will start the full time program in Therapeutic Recreation for Older Adults in three weeks. It will be seven  months of  in-class training followed by two months of work placements in the community.

I am excited and anxious about going to college. I still have a long way to go before I have a paying job ... but I think that I am up to the challenge with support from the counselors, teachers and especially my family and friends.

Wish me luck!

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