AOTA Conference 2015: AOTPAC Talent Show!

So in case you’ve been living under a rock (or holed up studying for finals…same thing) and haven’t heard the news, just a few weeks ago I performed at the 2015 AOTA Conference AOTPAC Talent Show — and I got third place! (Jk, it’s big news to nobody but my parents and my classmates, after one of my professors “outed” me in an email to the class…)

My trophy is at home, but the videos of my performance are now here! I had a great time performing, and it was so much fun to see the talent that all the other students and practitioners brought to the table. It was really a great night, and I truly enjoyed dancing for a cause!

At the show, the captive audience voted with their dollars, putting money in “tip jars” for each performer. The money went to AOTPAC, but all of the cheers and applause went to the performers! I was up against the likes of Bill Wong, a veteran banjo player, and a professional musician, among others — so the stakes were clearly pretty high. But the audience was awesome, and everybody was cheered on whether they were singing, dancing, or doing something else! The winners of the show were this really cool ballroom dancing couple from Texas, and they TOTALLY deserved first place — I wish I had the videos of their performance AND the encore they did after they won!

The talent show was so much fun, and I hope to be able to do it again next year. Enjoy the videos, and make sure to donate to AOTPAC if you like what you see! 🙂

A big THANK YOU goes to my videographer and friend Elizabeth Hart for filming!

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Gotta Be OT’s Goals for 2015

2015 Goals
These are just a few of the personal and professional goals I hope to achieve in the new year!

Ever since I was accepted to OT school, I’ve kept a list of personal and professional goals that I hope to achieve during my time in school and afterward. Some of the goals are small, and I’ve already made them happen. Some of them will require help from others, and I’m still working on making them happen! Still others are somewhere in the middle, and it’s just a matter of me working up the courage to do what I want to do. 😀

My point in saying this is that I really believe that having these goals at hand and being able to cross them off as I complete them has really helped keep me going and heading for the light at the end of the tunnel during what has at times been a really rough year! I love being an OT student, but that doesn’t mean that every minute of it is great. And on days when I was really struggling to find the point in reading another 40 pages of neuroscience text or putting together yet another group project, I took solace in pulling my list of goals up on the computer and looking at the bigger picture.

I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions, but I believe in goal-setting for sure! Maybe it’s because I was always destined to be an OT, but I’ve always felt that setting specific long- and short-term goals is the best way to go about making permanent and meaningful change, as opposed to simply making huge, high-pressure resolutions. For example, for a person who was trying to quit smoking, making goals like “I will smoke only one pack of cigarettes per week” or “I will not smoke at family or social functions” seems much more doable than simply making a blanket resolution like “I will give up smoking in 2015.” The aforementioned goals have the advantage of being smaller, more manageable, and more measurable than the big, broad resolution. Additionally, once you accomplish several smaller goals, it can give you the motivation and momentum you need to accomplish your ultimate goal – for example, helping ensure that the profession’s Centennial Vision comes to pass and that “occupational therapy is a powerful, widely recognized, science-driven, and evidence-based profession with a globally connected and diverse workforce meeting society’s occupational needs” in 2017 and beyond!

As for me, I still have a ton of goals on my list that I hope to achieve in 2015. I created my current list on May 29, 2014, and I’ve been working at it ever since! Here are a few of the things I have yet to do and want to accomplish in 2015:

  • Attend two extracurricular conferences
  • Attend 2015 AOTA Conference in Nashville, TN
  • Represent my program during the Assembly of Student Delegates
  • Help update school SOTA web page
  • Invite and host at least one speaker
  • Reach 100 blog posts
  • Bellydance in the AOTA National Conference talent show

Like I said, some are big and some are small and some will require me to make myself more than a little uncomfortable! However, whether I accomplish all of them or not, just seeing the progress I make – and the new goals I add – in the future is going to be a great adventure!

Happy New Year, and I hope 2015 brings you closer to achieving any goals or resolutions you’ve made!

All By My Self…

So this upcoming week, I have a lot going on! Here’s a rundown of why you might not see me:

  • For the next three days, I’m going to be completing the second part of my first Fieldwork I rotation at a local hospital’s acute rehab unit. For this particular rotation, I’ll be working from 7:30 to 4:30 and completing a fieldwork assignment that will require me to interview a client and analyze a task that they perform. I’m kind of nervous, but I’m gonna fake it til I make it and hope all goes well!
  • I am taking the final exam for my neuroscience course. It’s pretty stressful trying to study and finish the online exam before everything else that’s going on this week, but I feel like I am decently prepared and hoping for the best!
  • I’m starting a new bellydance class. I really missed engaging in this occupation, and I’m hoping that taking a class will help me de-stress and meet some new friends in the area.
  • I’m speaking on a panel for undergraduates interested in health careers. I’ve never spoken on a panel before, or about OT to a group of people, so I’m not sure what to expect. But we’ll see how it goes, I guess! (Hopefully I’ll at least emerge with some tips and advice for other people who might be representing OT at local or collegiate events.)

In the midst of all that, I’m going to try and do at least a couple blog posts, but I’m not sure how that’s going to go. I’m still struggling to find a work-life balance that works for me, and coming straight to graduate school from undergrad is making that a little harder than I thought it would be. I kind of figured that I would have an advantage over many of my classmates who had been out of school for several years, because I would be more prepared for the daily grind of class, homework and studying. While I do feel like I’m doing well academically, I’ve actually been having a pretty difficult time outside of class just finding friends and opportunities to relax.

Honestly, since I graduated from college and moved to a new town where I knew nobody except my mom (who’s a little too far away to see regularly) and a couple of her family friends, it’s been kind of lonely. It’s strange, because I spend most of my time in class or at work, where I’m surrounded by people, but when I go home I’m finding that I really miss the leisure activities and social connections that I had in undergrad.

Since starting grad school, I went from living with three other roommates in an on-campus apartment to living with one roommate in an off-campus complex. Instead of managing and being a part of several clubs, I am now struggling to find time to complete all my homework assignments thoroughly, complete class projects and study for exams and quizzes each week. I feel like I’m still constantly busy, just not with the same kind of stuff I was in undergrad – the leisure part of my life has all but disappeared.

However, being the proactive person that I am, I decided a couple weeks ago that I was going to try harder to make friends, go out, get out and find time to do things that I enjoy. So last week I invited a classmate to a local bellydance event and also attended an on-campus meeting to learn more about having a good relationship with my faculty advisor. I also signed up to take a bellydance class at a local studio, and even though taking the class is going to take up several hours of my week for the next six weeks, I’m hoping that picking up something I love again and taking advantage of an opportunity to meet new people and try new things will be good for me! One of the things I’ve struggled with most since moving here was not being able to continue dancing, and now that I’m going to be filling that void I hope that I’ll feel better.

I’m also actively trying to make plans with classmates, instead of just sitting back and waiting to be invited to things. This particular lesson is one that I learned early in my undergraduate career, back when I was a lonely freshman who spent many nights listening to others laughing and chatting on their way to and from various events and wishing I had been invited to go along. It’s a little different inviting people to events in grad school, just because people live in different places and have different obligations, but I’m trying! Although my program is one of the smaller ones in the country, there are enough people in it that I can find friends and begin building a new social and support network here. It’s just more up to me to initiate activities and make plans now.

All of the new grad friends I’ve talked to have said that they’re having difficulty with the post-grad transition too, which makes me feel less alone. It’s hard leaving a life where I was surrounded by friends and social opportunities all the time for one where I feel like that’s not the case, but I’m surviving. I’ll keep you posted on how I’m navigating the post-grad world, and how this crazy week ends up!