Monday, March 24, 2014

The Butterfly Circus

Have you ever watched a butterfly emerge from it's cocoon? I sometimes see that happen with Monarch butterflies at our cottage in lake country. These yellow, white and black caterpillars eat milk-weed like crazy and then form a rather webby cocoon  that changes into an inert looking  green chrysalis. Ten days later, out it comes as a wet soggy bug. It sits there and it's wings gradually pump up and unfurl. It is now a gorgeous orange creature that flies!

What a wonderful inspiring process and what a story of resilience! It starts out as one thing and becomes something very different but wonderful. The caterpillars eat a plant that is hard to consume and is quite toxic to many creatures but that same poison in the milk-weed makes those butterflies kind of toxic to birds that wants to eat them. They display their lovely bright colors as a warning to predators and basically announce to the world that they are tough little survivors.

One of my dreams is to follow the migrating monarchs from Canada to Mexico where some of the them over winter. They can fly 3,000 miles to exactly the same tree where previous generations overwintered. There is one of these spots pretty close to an international Girl Guide and Girl Scout center and some of my Guiding friends have gone to see this magical spot.  One lady told me about her experiences in Mexico. She said the walk up the trail into the forest is fairly difficult but she though that if you take your time, even with a cane, you can eventually get up to where thousands of butterflies are located.

When I  get tired of walking, or going up the stairs I sometimes think that there is no point in doing all this work  and rehabilitation with so little return. Then I picture that caterpillar chomping away on milkweed and the miracle of the chrysalis followed by that 3,000 mile journey.

Someday ... I am going to follow them from my cottage and walk up that forest trail in Mexico  to see a miracle of nature.

Below is a short award winning video featuring the inspiring Nick Vujicic. I hope you enjoy The Butterfly Circus.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Today was a Good Day

I have been asked questions lately that made me realize I should clarify what it is that I am training to do!

Therapeutic Recreation, according to the US National Therapeutic Recreation Society, is

"Practiced in clinical, residential, and community settings, the profession of Therapeutic Recreation uses treatment, education, and recreation services to help people with illnesses, disabilities, and other conditions to develop and use their leisure in ways that enhance their health, independence, and well-being."

The idea is to assist with activities, other than basic living skills (ADL'S), that promote some one's well being and that includes ones physical, cognitive, or emotional health.
We are to help with socialization, physical activities, creative expression and to support peoples spiritual needs and so much more.
Some people work with special needs kids, some people work with veterans,  adults with intellectual or physical challenges, and even prison populations sometimes have a Recreation Therapist.
I am learning to work specifically with Older Adults. I might work in a personal care home, hospital or a place for assisted living / independent living or maybe a charity or support organization in my community.
Today I led a craft with a group of seven elderly women who face a lot of challenges.
We made a nice floral arrangement.
We sat and chatted. I kept guiding the conversation to encourage thinking about spring and encourage cognitive skills.  We reminisced about the first signs of spring from when they were younger. I played some YouTube nature bird songs to encourage sensory recall.
The ladies expressed their creativity when they picked the kinds of greenery they wanted to include and choose where to put bows, butterflies and a little decorative birds. They smiled and were proud of what they made.

I helped push or walk them and their basket to their rooms where they made a decision about where to set their pretty new arrangements.  One lady wanted it put where she would see it every morning when she woke up.

 Next they went into the common room to get some cuddles with a therapy dog.

Today was a good day.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Moving Toward the Real World

We are heading into the last courses for the Therapeutic Recreation Program that I have been taking at College!

I feel physically and emotionally tired a lot of the time, and there are days where I become very discouraged. In spite of that I feel even more strongly that  I REALLY do have a lot to offer to people who are facing life challenges with disability and aging.
I do have a sense of purpose once again.

My bookshelf of this years resource books and binders!
The past month has involved 3 different
courses with so much writing that blogging fell to the very bottom of my to do list!.

We have looked at Diversity Issues and at the changing face of our aging population.
  • I did a paper about traditions and the core values that direct peoples choices and lives.
  • We did presentations about religious and other symbols to bring awareness about spiritual aspects of peoples lives.
  • Next week our class will take turns presenting group projects about five different cultural groups that are part of the immigration groups choosing Manitoba Canada as their new home and hopefully prepare fun programs that would be of interest to people of that heritage.

We have taken a class on Documentation.
  • We learned how one works with record keeping in the hospitals and personal care homes.
  • We learned about taking histories that include peoples interests backgrounds and
  • we are learning about how to help people have a chance in engage in activities that are meaningful to them as well as therapeutic.

Now we are looking at Programing for Leisure by spending several days at a personal care home.
  • We are job shadowing Therapeutic Activity Workers and learning about everyday life in personal care homes. 
  • We are helping with parties, current event groups, music entertainment and many other events.
  • We are each being assigned a resident to visit and work with a few times.
  • We will do a one to one program were we will plan out and care out  program specially designed to meet that person's needs and interests.
  • Next we will organize and lead an event for a group of about 10 residents.

Things are getting exciting and more fun as we move towards using all the information we have been learning. Next month we will be doing a job placement.
We will be out into the real world!

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