Occupations

Everyone has occupations. This is my attempt to capture moments of others’ stories. You will notice that my photography often involves art, music, work, food, and love. I find that these are unifying things we all share, no matter what part of the world we are from. (click on the photo for a full-view)

A Thousand Daughters

Many who know me, know that Malawi, Africa is near and dear to my heart. It started when I hosted Moses, a pastor from there, in 2009 and again in 2010. He and I have remained close. From what I understand, Malawi “the Heart of Africa” is a beautiful little country and also the poorest in all of Africa.

I first heard of MAP through the American Occupational Therapy Association message board from Sue Coppola, the American representative of the World Federation of Occupational Therapists. She said she went to Lilongwe, Malawi and encountered an organization called Malawi Against Physical Disabilities (MAP) (this is the exact city where Moses is from) calling for assistance from occupational therapists. MAP works to get adaptive equipment, such as walkers and wheelchairs, to those with physical disabilities. I contacted MAP last year with the intent to get equipment in their hands. I have been disappointed in my efforts as I have learned there are many barriers to getting equipment to Africa. I was able to connect MAP to representatives from the World Health Organization (WHO) as they currently have an international initiative to train people on wheelchairs in regions with limited resources.

This last Christmas, my 12 year daughter put on her Christmas list that she would like money for wheelchairs for Malawi. She emailed her list to her family. For Christmas she received $112 for Malawi. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but Moses tells me $100 will pay for a month or more of rent. We passed that money along to MAP. Here is the response we received:

Your daughter should has a big heart. I hope she continues and grows with that Heart, I am very touched. If we had a thousand daughters like yours, the world would be a very nice place. Please convey my sincerest thanks to her. Tell her the money will be use to make walkers for some of the children who have become disabled due to cerebral palsy. These ones, to be able to eventually start walking they need walkers. Angie once more thank you very much. Let us keep in touch. I shall send a photo of one of the children who will receive the walkers from your daughters grant.

 

I post this in hope that at least one person may feel the urge to help those who are as lucky to be from a country such as America. If you wish to 1 of a thousand daughters (or sons) here is how to help:

  • Malawi Against Physical Disabilities P.O. Box 256 Blantyre Malawi
  • THRIVE MALAWI
  • UNICEF *side note: check out UNICEF’s: The Missing Face Documentary found on Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s DVD: Long Way Down (great DVD, BTW).
  • Raising Malawi

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Who Are You Again?

Halloween Mummy

I have to admit that it’s getting more difficult to visit my mom. She has dementia and is almost blind. She lives in an assistive living facility. My mother is no longer who she once was.  Gone is her zest for life, creative ideas and quirky hobbies.  Once in a while I will see a glimmer of the sharp wit she always had.  In the next moment, I see her staring at me…puzzled, trying to figure out who I am.

I have my mom to thank for my creativity.  She loved arts and crafts–she was decoupaging before it was hip. She made the coolest cakes and boy could she throw a party.  She was also a bit of an entrepreneur—sometimes at my expense (yes she took my beloved stuffed animals and sold them at Trader’s Village.  I am not THAT bitter).  She loved plants and sold African Violets from starts of her plants.  My mom was a survivor.  She picked herself up from her bootstraps when my dad walked out and worked hard to provide.  She only had a high school education, but she was smart as a whip when it came to money.  She was never afraid of being a little silly (as you can see in the picture).  She taught me how to laugh at life and myself.

What I hate most about her present state is to watch her lose her occupations.  She was an avid reader and loved to watch the stock market numbers on the television.  She can’t see to do that anymore.  She loved to mess about in her “little house” she loved so much.  Now she is limited to a small room with only a handful of possessions.  She participates in activities at the residence, but I am not sure how much she can hear or see.  I know she gets lonely.  My sisters and I visit her often, but she quickly forgets and thinks no one comes to see her.  It is often sketchy that she even knows who we are.  Leaving the facility to visit family is often challenging and frightening so she opts not to do it very often.  She needs total care because she forgets to eat, bathe, and doesn’t know what time of day it is.  At times, I am thankful that she can’t see the tear in my eye when she asks “Who are you again?”.  I am thankful that she can’t remember what she has lost: her house, her independence, her family time, her passion for life.   One thing I have learn through this process is that every day is precious.  For that I am sure.

DELETE

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From http://www.punkmasters.com

This is one of my favorite t-shirts from my super cool t-shirt supplier @PunkMasters. To me it implies that we need to focus on what’s important and delete all of the extraneous stuff. With the New Year I decided I could use a little more discipline in many areas of my life. I am always searching for new and exciting stuff. I also have what most Americans have, which is commitment issues. You know what I am talking about…. We say yes to far too much and as a result we lose focus on what really matters. I recently read an article by Greg McKeown. In it, he said we should engage in the disciplined pursuit of less.

Cathy Davidson stated in her book, Now You See It: How Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work, and Learn that:

Without focus, the world is chaos; there’s simply too much to see, hear, and understand, and focus lets us drill down to the input we believe is most useful to us.

So, this year I plan to spend a little time with self-examination and will hone the art of focus.

Old Souls

I was thinking of a young man I know. He has Aspergers Syndrome. He makes smile and laugh with his brilliance. I think probably because I can identify with him on some level and also because I have a quirky, crazy smart 10 yo daughter who is a bit on the rigid side. It’s funny because I was thinking about the brains of these children today and wondering the similarities of their thinking with those of gifted kids. Are they any different? Are all geniuses really Asperger’s? If so, then should it really be a “disorder?” Oddly enough, my daughter asked the same question at dinner—“do children with Aspergers use the same part of the brain as gifted kids (which she is).” I am reminded about a conversation with the mom of a child Aspergers. She said her son has an “old soul.” I looked and found some characteristics from Steve Gunn:

The key signs of an old soul
· Giving and caring often putting others first
· Had a difficult romantic life often with much pain and disappointment
· More than likely had a soulmate relationship
· Things just seem to happen to you and around you, often becoming very dramatic through the seemingly extreme reactions of others
· Events repeat themselves
· Have trouble connecting with your family
· Somehow know you’re different
· Have some psychic intuition and ‘just knowing’ things
· Find that you have deeper emotions and passions than most people
· People have extreme reactions to you – some just adore you and some seem to really dislike you yet you behave the same to everyone
· Have an inner creative passion
· Suffer lots of jealousy
· Often perceived wrongly
· Feel your don’t have much free will, like your life is being controlled by some outside force
· Often feel ‘stuck’ like events just keep on happening to you time after time

I think that children with Aspergers have many of these traits. I also feel they relate more to adults than other kids. Researchers have just scratched the surface on this. Guess it’s time to keep digging.