Meaningful Occupation (Doreen and Me, Part 4)


The start of a new calendar year leads many of us to reflect on what we’ve been doing, and what we want to be doing. It’s a chance to check in with ourselves about what is important to us, and whether we are on the path to doing more of what is meaningful, and wasting less time on what is not.

As an occupational therapist (OT) I believe that us human beings need/are driven to engage in the occupations* that are important to us in order for life to be its most meaningful and joyful (*occupations in the sense of activities, ‘things that occupy our time’).

Actually doing things is incredibly important to the concept each of us has of ourselves as a person.  The joyful “I DID it!” of a small child mastering doing up a zipper or putting on shoes is the distilled essence of the importance “doing” things has for most of us.

Spending time with Doreen Brownstone frequently leads me to reflect on the power of meaningful occupation.  I can’t help but see a link between her health and vitality at 91, and the fact that she makes a point of engaging in meaningful occupations every day: she bakes and knits for friends and acquaintances; she cooks for herself; does all the other activities she needs to do to run her household; she occasionally throws fabulous teas and coffee mornings; and, when she gets the opportunity to, she acts.

Acting is a meaningful occupation to Doreen, but she doesn’t let it (or lack of opportunity to do “it”) to define her; if she doesn’t have the opportunity to act, Doreen picks herself up and carries on with what she wants or needs to do; what will make her feel useful and alive.

Undoubtedly Doreen has her down moments: even 91 year old dynamos are human, after all. But her perseverance is remarkable and constantly inspires me: to do more; to engage in more productive, meaningful activities; and, of course, to pursue The Doreen Brownstone Feature Film Spectacular project.  This is a great example, actually, of how an activity can become meaningful depending on the context. Raising money is not, on its own, something that I would ever describe as a meaningful occupation; however, making it possible for us to make a film starring Doreen—a movie that will be fun and delightful, and preserve her joy in performance on video forever—well, that’s a meaningful occupation.

I’ll be blogging again tomorrow. In the meantime, check out our Indiegogo campaign page if you haven’t had a chance yet (click on any of this blue part for the link).

IGG Doreen image

There are only 24 days left in the campaign (!!).  There are more ways to participate than you might think, and participating in what might seem like a very small way has a greater impact than you might guess.

Hey, that sounds like a topic for the next blog post…

Stefanie

PS: Such Creatures opens in Winnipeg tonight–featuring Doreen Brownstone–and runs for only 4 shows (more information here).

PPS: Wondering just what an Occupational Therapist is, or does? I sometimes describe my job as an OT as enabling  people to do the things that they want, need or are expected to be able to do; the curious can find a longer and more graceful definition of OT here, at the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists website.

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