"My Life, My Time"

Very guilty admission: I watch a terrible reality show on the Lifetime network. Please don't think worse of me for this. But now I'm wondering if I can continue.

Lifetime has recently changed its slogan from "Television for Women" to the more universal "My Life, My Time." The first time I heard this, there was a sinking pit feeling in my stomach. UGH. Thanks so much for making me consciously think about the fact that I am choosing to spend my precious time within my life watching crap TV. I'm sure that the network executives didn't intend to make people feel guilty and miserable when watching their channel.

It's easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of time until certain things happen. The classic example would be school- constantly waiting for the next year, or college, or to be done with college- which all seem forever away. I studied hard, and had a hard time appreciating when people would say that this was a "best" time in life and everything would actually get harder. And truly, though I thought I was prepared, the first several years of my career left me exhausted. Though I would not be eager to go back to studying, I know that I will never have that much unaccounted for time or level of opportunities again.

I'm trying to switch some of my priorities in life. I may never be a triathlete with athletic prowess, but I'm trying to make sure that my husband and I are at least doing a walk around the neighborhood 4x/week. I want to have more outside time, more time to rest and rejuvenate. That may mean cutting back on some of the electronic things. Until I reach a major cutback and start slashing my RSS list, I have adopted 2 more blogs onto the list for inspiration: "Purpose Fairy" and "Open Up and Let Go" which are a little different than my normal fare but hopefully will lead me to think about things in a different way.

I don't want to be wishing my life away waiting for things to reach a level of perfection... I know that I will never really get to that perfect zone of everything fitting together. And waiting for it to get there will probably just make the current times less appealing, make me miss the good things. So I'm just making a conscious effort to try to be more conscious of my life and what I do daily. Be present. Appreciate what is going well and hope that the rest will come along in time.


Dr Foodsensitivity: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love yogurt

People who know me (and particularly those who have known me from 2009 or longer) could attest to the fact that I am rather a picky eater. There were several months in 2002 when the bulk of my diet was composed of mashed potatoes, cereal, and pasta. My daily lunch when I started college was almost always a turkey or grilled cheese sandwich. And for the first 4 years or so of my working life, I would have the same lunch (kashi bar, pudding, applesauce) 95% of the time.
These were my natural preferences and tendencies. It got better in college, even better when I met my husband (who aspires to a mid-life crisis as a professional chef), and even better when we moved to big city Baltimore and got exposed to more flavors of the world. In the past 5 years, I have added in Chinese, Japanese, Greek, Mexican, and occasionally Thai foods into my repertoire. (this may not sound like much to you, but coming from a beige diet of American and Americanized Italian foods, it is kind of a big deal)

Recently, I have found that I have had more "accidentally vegetarian" days. This never could have happened before because I just didn’t have the variety in my diet to accomplish it. I’ve always been lazy about cooking, and now when I'm in a scavenging mood, the vegetarian options are often easier to make. I also have been better about finding vegetarian foods with protein, which makes it a "real meal" in my opinion. While I don't anticipate that I will ever cut out meat completely, I do think that this effort helps me consciously eat a little healthier every day.

The combination of my new vegetarian leanings, a penchant for easy foods, and dental work requiring a mechanical soft diet led me to a new front in my battle to conquer cuisines: yogurt. I have always loved frozen yogurt but since initially trying actual yogurt in the cup I have loathed it. Even though I like soft foods, it’s too gloppy. Yogurt with fruit in it involves mixed textures, of which I am not a fan. And every kind of yogurt I have ever tasted has the distinct and awful aftertaste which quite frankly makes me want to vomit. So why bother to try to eat it? Greek yogurt is a great source of calcium and protein without fat or cholesterol. It looks like a great breakfast or post-workout snack. Normal people can eat it. (Spoiler alert- now I can too!)

Over the space of a couple months, I decided to beat Greek yogurt. I have not taken a formal feeding course, but using my OT brain combined with what I know regarding various approaches (SOS and Food Chaining primarily) I felt like it was doable. I started very slow. I got prepackaged frozen smoothies which had fruit and frozen Greek yogurt bites in them. With each sip, I could taste that 'tang' of yogurt, but it wasn't overpowering. This definitely was more filling than a fruit only smoothie, so it did prompt me to keep going.

I could have taken a step 2, and made smoothies on my own with a larger serving of yogurt. But I’m a busy person, not inclined to a lot of extra kitchen effort. So I skipped ahead to buying the little cups of yogurt. I got a couple of flavors and decided to give it a go. With my first attempt, I took a spoonful and made the scrunched up face of awful that I had long associated with yogurt. I thought that I might gag right there on the couch. I was able to eat half a cup by liberally using graham crackers to dip in it, and made a deal with myself that any effort was acceptable. Mentally, I think knowing that you don't HAVE to eat the whole portion is very freeing. I also ate this portion at home, my safe place for trying new foods.

With new cups, I moved forward into trying to use fewer crackers and having more unassisted spoonfuls of yogurt. I took cups to work with me for breakfast (with backup breakfast and Tupperware in tow just in case). It did improve. I was able to eat a new flavor with spoon only and no crackers. Then ultimate victory was reached as such: I was visiting in another town and home alone. I decided to go for a run but needed breakfast, a soft breakfast since my teeth still hurt. I was able to go into the grocery store and get a yogurt and a spoon and eat it in a totally new place, in a hurry, with no problems.

So that is a story of successful OT self-intervention for expanding a food repertoire. Not every new food that I try has to go down this path, thankfully. But I do want this to be an encouragement to people trying to work on feeding interventions with their family. If you are struggling with a child who is an overly picky eater, I would encourage you to reach out to the early intervention service in your state and see if you can have an Occupational Therapy or Speech Therapy assessment performed by someone skilled in feeding intervention. And if you can be as excited as I am by the mundane successes in assisting others on their paths to increased independence, perhaps you should consider a career in Occupational Therapy.

Disclaimers: please work with a qualified professional when addressing feeding with any child or adult. This article is not meant to replace any evaluation or recommendation from a professional regarding feeding skills or development. The SOS and Food Chaining approaches are both under copyright and require additional training to use and this therapist does not purport to be trained as such.


Movie Review: Temple Grandin

I meant to write about this movie right after watching it, but we know how that goes.
Temple Grandin is a nationally renowned researcher and autistic. I first learned about her life when reading one of Oliver Sacks' books. Personally, I think that it's always interesting when a person with autism is able to articulate for others what their experience is like, since most of the people I work with who have autism cannot converse with me about their life. This biopic is based on Temple Grandin's book "Thinking in Pictures."

From interviews that I have seen with Temple, it seems that she was very pleased with the accuracy of how Claire Danes portrayed her. I would say that her endorsement of the acting means more than anyone else’s. David Strathairn does well in his typical role of scientific mentor.

As someone who works with young children with autism, I think that it would have been good to see more of Temple's development from nonverbal youngster to boarding school resident. What we do see is a great story of family pride, a mother and an aunt who refused to give up expectations despite recommendations of professionals. Their efforts helped guide Temple into her career and provided the foundation for her later successes by allowing her to nurture and develop her chosen interests.

I was touched by the scene near the end where Temple attends a conference on autism and soon the participants find her more engaging than the speaker. The feeling of parental desperation for a "cure" is still so true for so many. While there was some initial disappointment from the crowd when she stated she hadn't been "cured," it was inspiring to think of someone watching one of the first publically known and successful autistics. To see Temple be successful is to give new hope that their child can be successful, can communicate, can do more than what "the experts" say.

I liked the movie, but I was most surprised by the fact that my husband liked the movie. He is not a fan of non-fiction in the least but I think he was intrigued to see how Temple was able to solve problems in her own way. So if you'd like to see a glimpse into Temple's neurodiverse world, I think it would be worth your time.


Carolina State of Mind

I can hear the waves rolling in, and it is just great.

There's been a lot of flux recently. Wrapped on a great job, off only for the weekend and starting 2 others. Adding a commute back into my schedule. I've avoided writing for a bit because it has been emotionally draining, and though I have worked on other entries, it seems very lame to just pop into picky feeding or my thoughts on OT related movies without addressing that which has been a big part of my life.

I'm not there yet.

I brought materials along with me on my vacay, thought I might do some entry typing. But today is the first day that I got out the computer, and only because I had to fulfill a requirement for an upcoming AOTA presentation. Truthfully, I was bummed about turning it on at all.

I've been doing lots and lots of thinking. I've been studying Spanish in my car. I've been trying to prepare for starting an EI business and researching that to my best. But I pretty much just feel like reading books, splashing around, eating ice cream and taking bike rides. So I'll be doing that for awhile. And I will upload some of the other things I've been working on, they may seem disjointed but my life has been a bit disjointed. and now it's finally just feeling good and easy.