Why I Look To The Trees For Design and Health Continuity

Why I Look To The Trees For Design and Health Continuity

Design Diary
Today there is an absorbent amount of information readily available for whatever issue is at hand. People are becoming more specialized and willingly ready or already sharing what they know. Since childhood, I look to the trees for continuity. Last year I heard Ed Catmul say "art is about seeing," as he explained how he created a culture without a power structure to eliminate barriers to truth. "You have to go (through failure) to get something you don't know." Trees communicate design intelligence. We see their uniqueness, alive or rotted, and hear them when it's windy. They morph into numerous shapes that range from solid to thin forms. Trees give and support my ability to be creative. Often their waste is the expense for my ideas to become tangible. Trees resemble their…
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Values Far Exceed Predictability When Without A Smartphone

Values Far Exceed Predictability When Without A Smartphone

Design Diary
People spend a great deal of time in front of a television, computer, and cell phones.  I’ve been cutting down on the usage of technology for the last few weeks, but find myself craving to use my smartphone.  When it was unavailable for 2 weeks something felt like it was missing. Land line phones, emails and others smartphones allowed me to go about my everyday life. Rarely did I complain. It was odd that people I see daily questioned when I would get my smartphone back. It was also an inconvenience for those frequent smartphone correspondents.  Not knowing what time I’d be home for dinner, whether the dog had been walked, or to plan for activities required more organization. A plan was necessary for those moments we were out of touch…
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How To Stimulate Meaningful Performance Choices

How To Stimulate Meaningful Performance Choices

Design Diary
Choosing day-to-day activities become a quality of life that is meaningful to you. Occupational Therapists facilitate performance goal setting for achieving a desired quality of life. This includes leisure activities that are meaningful. Whether your leisure activity be cooking, painting, dancing or photography they stimulate meaningful performance. Leisure occupations improve performance through periods of rest to recuperate from taxing work roles. Meaningful choices become therapeutic to daily performance. Below are photos to provide examples of things that are meaningful to me. [caption id="attachment_5237" align="aligncenter" width="287"] This photo was taken at a local Seattle farmer’s market (Fremont) where artisans created these beautiful pentagon potteries to hold the plants.[/caption] In the Chinese and Japanese Culture pentagons are symbolic for the 5 elements of life: metal, wood, water, fire and earth. I chose…
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Be Whoever She Wants To Be – A Meditation

Be Whoever She Wants To Be – A Meditation

Design Diary
Sleeping Beauty   No blanket can cover a hard days work Stories of strength behind each line Tucked between her furrowed brows   Rosy, rusty, deep bronze shadows Wiped clean. Flesh reveals her glow   She doesn't acknowledge This natural state. No powder, no grease, nor chiseled face;   All an illusion for power must prevail Twists and turns all night. It's a struggle Keeping it together. she could not fail.   Unwinding thoughts, broken spokes; Clock per ticks to hands awake.   Nothing and everything happens in between these hours. Fading fast. Glimpse of strings Connect alarming buzz in disguise repeated too soon cycled beautifully to open her glassy eyes.   Piercing glances, she picks up her Brush to paint her story. To face. She sees whom she cannot…
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Tea: An Inexpensive, Medicative Commodity

Tea: An Inexpensive, Medicative Commodity

Design Diary
There’s just something so nice about a hot cup of tea in your hand.  That cozy feeling with beautifully aroma of herbs, spices or clean green tea. At work there’s something that the chaplains provide called “Tea for the Soul”.  At first I thought it was just fun with a great supportive social aspect giving us a chance to sit, take a break, drink some tea and talk.  However, it had become my coping mechanism.  Just the other day, I was grieving about some losses and I couldn’t believe how comforting it was to have someone offer me tea.  It felt just as good as a long cry after a sappy movie or a breath of fresh air after being stuck in a room. It was definitely the next best thing. Allowing my senses to…
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The Power of Walking

The Power of Walking

Design Diary
Let's rewind to early morning this last week. Imagine being shaken awake for a sunrise walk. A walk! Initially, I was startled but threw my shoes on and made my way outside anyways. While walking through the park, looking at the trees and the pond, several things changed. My outlook towards the day was suddenly one of adventure and my body felt restored and recharged. I took a few deep breaths and kept walking along, taking in my surroundings. The power of walking and not only walking but walking outdoors is correlated to enhance overall well-being (Bratman et al 2015). Unfortunately, even just walking has to be built into our day. But what if we change our outlook on being outdoors and even walking. There's opportunity. It could be included…
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Reading and Visual Fatigue: A Personal Journey

Reading and Visual Fatigue: A Personal Journey

Design Diary
It took me awhile to figure out why I hated wearing my glasses, why my eyes got so tired as a young girl.  I was born with medial strabismus, a hereditary trait that causes cross-eye.  With modern day surgical techniques I was able to follow family footsteps in correcting ocular alignment. My brother's surgery resulted with an eye infection. Subsequently, he had permanent damage with blindness in one eye for his lifetime. My 'cosmetic' surgery was considered successful, still risky, leaving me with residual visual issues. One is intermittent reading. As a toddler I wore eye glasses or eye patches and followed the nagging of my mother to do eye exercises. These techniques strengthened my ocular muscles.  At one years old I had my first surgical procedure. The second at age sixteen brought self confidence…
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Losing Things Anxiety

Losing Things Anxiety

Design Diary
While on a laidback visit with family in Delaware, I came to a hard realization.  Something was not working. I was losing items left and right.  I was losing things like my jacket, the dog dish, and my glasses.  It was a wakeup call.  I became aware things needed to change because I knew it was my anxiety creeping in. Slowly, I put the pieces together to try and wrap my head around this. You would’ve thought that would be obvious after being on my sixth pair of sunglasses and looking at a jewelry box filled with missing earrings.  However, some lessons take longer to learn than others. Keeping track of things can be a full time job.  Luckily, I surround myself with very observant people and a boyfriend who always checks the couch cushion…
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Alone Time

Alone Time

Design Diary
While driving down I-90 with the music low, I took in everything new. Then I watched the yellow line patterns and the steady row of trucks chugging along.  It went from feeling fresh to quickly becoming monotonous. I grew eager to just be home. In that moment, I felt for those traveling as part of daily life - whether long trips on the road, maybe flying or just a timely commute. Over the past two years this has been the norm for my fiancé.  Fortunately, he handles this well because he connects quickly with new people and takes time to explore new places. Upon returning home, people often ask about stories from his travels and new experiences. More often than not in relationships in which one travels, other people tend to overlook…
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DeClutter Clothing

DeClutter Clothing

Design Diary
There has been many times where I looked in my closet and thought to myself that I have nothing to wear.  Ironically, my closet is filled with clothes and shoes. Sometimes I feel that closet management can be a huge issue. I have so much stuff that I'd resort to dumping my clothes on the top shelves or buried deep into my dresser.  In an OT visual discrimination activity, we often have people perform activities such as word search or ask them to find all the aces in a deck of cards scattered on a table.   If someone has visual spatial or visual discrimination issues, our recommendation may be to block out a portion of the what they are looking at to help isolate the image or to facilitate the search.  De-cluttering is merely the same idea, filtering things you don't use…
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Morning Crazies

Morning Crazies

Design Diary
Planning what I wear to work has been harder over the past year. With shared spaces, what should easily be a 15 minute or less routine, often becomes a hunt.  Where did my favorite top go? Running between laundry baskets or digging into drawers is not uncommon.  I know my role with morning crazies requires a change in multiple areas: environment, obtaining specific items, senses, attitude. Consider reorganizing closet space The closet situation is not working out.  Hangers are a desired item in this bedroom.  I thought back on a time when this was not an issue. Picture a large closet with a glowing light filling it.  That closet brought about borderline morning miracles on a daily basis. Clothing Simplicity The next area to tackle was my mind.  Was my desire to switch…
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Definition of Exploration

Definition of Exploration

Design Diary
I am exploring. I imagine “exploration” to be out at sea, going into caves or walking on lands I haven't even heard of.  I imagine screaming, “Ahoy captain! Take me to the closest island. I want to claim it as mine!”  I'm peering through a pair of binoculars. The island that I imagine is filled with an abundance of food, a toilet and all the amenities of typical American life. That island that I imagine probably doesn’t even exist and if it does, it probably belongs to some wealthy billionaire or royal heir.  I'll call these large scale explorations.  I'm outgrowing my sadness as I notice my definition of exploration is a lot different from "Indiana Jones" or "Gilligan’s Island". The scale of this world seems so much smaller. Maybe that’s a…
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Ways To Relaxation On A Daily Basis

Ways To Relaxation On A Daily Basis

Design Diary
We asked about twenty people what they took away form a circus experience.  Responses were diverse: sticky, smelly, animal-abuse!, lights, colorful tents, childhood memories, and overall wonder. Our culture diversity gives way to our social perspectives on things. Mardi Gras or masquerades...even family reunions, no? Sometimes putting on a show lasts for weeks when schedules are hectic and agendas are jam-packed.  Often our internal cues are not addressed, let alone recognized.  This can build up and lead to stress related concerns, crashing, fatigue and eventually burnout.  Unfortunately, this has become all too familiar and accepted in our society. This past summer, I have had the luxury of taking naps. Girlfriends who are pregnant, friends that are moving, and all my employed friends either don't understand, sigh in jealousy or regard…
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Earth Sets A Standard To Our Indoor Experiences

Earth Sets A Standard To Our Indoor Experiences

Design Diary
According to Merriam Webster, the definition of earth tones is: any of various rich colors containing some brown. This past week I drove across the country from Lake Havasu City, AZ back to upstate NY.  Despite the overflow of boxes, a hermit crab cage and toiletries from the backseat, we had an amazing trip.  The outside scenery flew by and changed frequently from day to day; everything from the desert to a slow and steady rain cloud that followed us.  We finally drove into New York in the middle of the night with nothing but black surrounding us with a soft hue of the moon covered by clouds. On The Drive, I realized how visually influenced I am.  It sets the tone for everything to follow.  The sight and sound…
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Focus and Conquer Those Daily Intentions

Focus and Conquer Those Daily Intentions

Design Diary
During occupational therapy sessions this last week at the preschool we created a “Determine Your Session” game. The student was given a ball and had to throw it at one of the numbers located on the therapy mat. Once the number was determined, then that child had to do the activity that many times. For example, trace you name in four different colors, jump seven times on the trampoline or roll eight play dough snowballs. This got me thinking – how often does this realistically happen in life? Sometimes we are given several choices throughout our day or faced with daily options that are not too enjoyable. This tactic can help focus and conquer those great intentions. Recently, I was working with kids that have oral defensiveness and the thought…
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Six Creative Ways To Invest In a Joyful Day With A Dreaded Commute On The Horizon

Six Creative Ways To Invest In a Joyful Day With A Dreaded Commute On The Horizon

Design Diary
Once I striped away the spite from a new, yet tedious commute to my weekday routine the challenge was to plan carefully - given traffic, traffic cones and added coffee stops along my route. Yes, some days it is plural. Temporary living conditions includes a culture where long commutes are the norm rather than the exception. I find this unfortunate. Getting my brain relaxed about the commute each day helps sustain energy.  With every sunrise I start anew and there is no cookie cutter answer. Although there are creative ways to invest in a joyful day with a dreaded commute on the horizon. Here are six: NPRs Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me! quizzes contestants on weekly news. Hilarious! Ask Me Another shares Puzzles & word games, including limericks. I heart NPR. Listen…
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How I Dynamically Liberate Spunk Day or Night

How I Dynamically Liberate Spunk Day or Night

Design Diary, HR Academy
A good friend of mine once asked if I was a night owl or a morning lark.  This reference to my energy patterns was certainly thought provoking. After talking with many people – I realized how many people regard being a morning or evening person as part of their identity.  Lark verses night owl identities significantly results cultural meaning. Essentially, this relational category helps us gravitate towards specific relationships and accomplishments. My energy bursts seem to be in the morning, so one may say I'm a Lark. Sometimes I like to get myself organized and complete all essential tasks (laundry, cleaning, e-mails, workout) that expend a lot of physical or mental energy in this time frame. Evenings are always more geared to the quieter things I enjoy, including going for…
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Clarity On The Meaning of Wellbeing

Clarity On The Meaning of Wellbeing

Design Diary, HR Academy
What do you consider being well? Is it the ability to run a 5k? To take your dog for a walk? To play with your kids? To sit outside? Wellbeing is all those things. It goes beyond those healthy resources to living a meaningful, full life. It covers having symptoms, signs, maybe even a disease which may require treatment.  But it also includes being mindful, aware, educated and achieving growth to who you want to be on a daily basis. I remember as a kid always wanting to strive for a vibrant life when I grew up.  This included being outside, being active, having close friends and family and learning as much as I could about the world around me.  Those little insights I had at a young age have helped…
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How To Quit Smoking

How To Quit Smoking

Design Diary
Smoking isn't healthy but it kept me sane. It was a deadly habit but it helped me thrive professionally, socially and oddly enough, athletically. I loved to smoke and didn't attempt to quit until the day I stopped 'cold turkey'.  The miracle in this was I lost the urge to smoke but I gained a body that was unable to cope with stress. What I did: smoke to cope. Our hormones are what regulates stress. Everyone doesn't have the same hormone secretion so our level of what is stressful can vary. This is significant to how an individual will react within the fight-or-flight response. How to quit smoking is similar to unravelling a ball of yarn from a neatly organized ball. My late teens, twenties then just into my thirties were…
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Color and Pattern Relationship to Life Experiences

Color and Pattern Relationship to Life Experiences

Design Diary
The human eye can see over 7 million colors. Visual stimulation is fascinating.  On top of that, we can see patterns (2D) and texture (3D).  Plus, wall colors and patterns can really change a room’s atmosphere. Colors such as sage green and soft blue are particularly calming to me. Perhaps, these colors remind me of a green grass knolls and the endless blue sky. Neutral colors in particular can calm your senses as well.  In contrary, colors such as bright red, orange, electric (neon) yellow or pink may be quite exhilarating. I like wearing these colors to work out. Not to mention, it might prevent a car from hitting me when I'm on the road.  Polka dots, contrasting checkered bright colors can be very alarming or alerting.  There are patterns…
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Overcome Floundering With These Seven Sleep Basics

Overcome Floundering With These Seven Sleep Basics

Design Diary
The American Occupational Therapy Association dedicated an entire issue to sleep.  Rightfully so, it usually takes up a third of our day, if you're lucky.  Within the article, it is cited that 10-15% of Americans suffer from chronic insomnia and 5% suffer from obstructive sleep apnea syndrome. Those statistics are alarming - there are a lot of sleep-deprived people driving, working and attempting to function in everyday life.  Certainly good habits around sleep are important but sometimes that is easier said than done. Sleep Basics Make sure the bedroom is a restful place.  Have inviting comfortable linens, a heavy blanket, your favorite pillows. Avoid stimulants or exercising 2 hours before bed.  But do be sure to include exercise daily to help establish an appropriate sleep rhythm. Establish a consistent nighttime routine and…
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Impact of Decision Making

Impact of Decision Making

Design Diary, HR Academy
At times we realize the weight and impact our decisions have - not only on ourselves but also on the world around us. Does decision-making begin with logic? Every waking minute decisions are made.  In the past, I had a supervisor state that every decision made has one end goal: regulate body sensations.  Therefore, if we choose to sit on the ground verses in a spinning office chair, decide to sip hot coffee instead of drinking a cold fizzy soda, or blast a favorite song in the care instead of sitting in silence - the impact of decision making is driven by our sensory system. This intrigued me but I honestly felt it was over simplified. There are populations that have difficulty expressing decision making or choosing sensations to support…
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Texture Helps Us Make Sense of Our Environment

Texture Helps Us Make Sense of Our Environment

Design Diary
  Since being sold in the 1990s, the family farmhouse has changed hands twice and continues to be renovated. My German relatives originally came to NY in 1904 to start a farm and family.  This last week I was able to go back to visit with my Yaya (grandmother) and boyfriend.  All the memories of the interior were vivid but there was no longer that physical reminder.  Outside, the barns still stood but were certainly in a further state of collapse and seemed so much smaller compared to my memories. Over a diner breakfast, Yaya reminisced and mentioned that her favorite rooms in the house were her bedroom and the kitchen.   As she talked about why, she consistently got hung up on the feeling of the quilt, lighting, the kitchen…
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When It All Becomes Overwhelming and You Start to Shut Down

When It All Becomes Overwhelming and You Start to Shut Down

Design Diary
Sometimes I'm scared of my body.  I'm not always sure what pains I will wake up to or what thoughts will wander into my head or even what colors will come out of my nose.  This past year, I've become more in tune with this while living in the Mojave desert.  Lake Havasu City is a very different climate compared to back east - coming in at about 10-18% humidity according to my hermit crabs' barometer.  This has left me at times dehydrated, congested, raspy, and/or wiped out.  Nonetheless, it has helped me become very aware of any changes internally and how the environment affects me. This is something I'm glad I'm beginning to realize now.  It's important knowing who you are and how you react under the most trying…
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Why Storytelling Results In A Creative Wellbeing

Why Storytelling Results In A Creative Wellbeing

Design Diary
As a kid, on the weekends we use to break out the dress-up box and slip on dresses, fur coats, trench coats & top off our look with an old lady church hat. Between the five girls on the Baxterly Ave block, we would throw double weddings or funerals or explore the backyard filling containers with worms and twigs or lightning bugs. Every day was another adventure and a chance to create a new story. This played a huge role in life. Stories bring us understanding and give us freedom from ourselves.  They let us explore another world without leaving the comforts of our everyday life.  In essence, we all have our own story.  We tell stories every day.  Although now there are no longer elaborate dress-up tea parties or…
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