Virginia C. (Ginny) Stoffel; Attitude, Authenticity, and Action: Building Capacity. Am J Occup Ther 2014;68(6):628–635. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2014.686002
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
She accompanies me everywhere yet I have never seen her. She attended many of my birthday parties—uninvited. At my 24th birthday, I said “no presents, only presence” but her presence was no gift, she sent me to the hospital. She has been a boss, a tormenter, my constant companion—my worst enemy. She crashed my wedding and ruined my marriage. My children have never seen her but they know her m.o. Like a spouse, I have learned to live with her till death do us part.
I can see her presence in my life now as a gift which I accept with gratitude. For if we had not met, I would be bereft of the travel, experiences, friends, maturity, wisdom, and grace I have received. She is not my partner, best friend, lover or roommate. She is not even a person, place or thing. She is a cross not made of wood that I have carried all my life… . She is mental illness. (p. 11)
Actions speak louder than words.
When a young adult recovering from a stroke is able to reengage in her meaningful occupational roles, the distinct value of occupational therapy is visible to others.
A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new (attributed to Albert Einstein).
Parents of children with autism are continually trying new ways to help their children engage in everyday life. After learning through trial and error, they soon become experts on aspects of the environment that allow their children to thrive, and they then go on to become advocates for accessibility and inclusion in community, school, and work environments.
If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then, by all means paint and that voice will be silenced (attributed to Vincent Van Gogh).
When employment has resulted in one failure after another, enabling a person with depression and anxiety to find and establish routines that support his best performance reopens the door to new opportunities.
The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it (attributed to a Chinese proverb).
Some of the people we work with are so determined to overcome their disabilities, we simply act as coaches and help them learn from their actions. Think about the stories shared with us yesterday at the Opening Ceremony by Travis Mills, Monte Bernardo, and Tim Donlan. Each described their occupational therapy experiences as being fueled by their determination and resilience rising from their motivation to be fully engaged in their future lives despite multiple limb loss and trauma.
Happiness is not something readymade. It comes from your own actions (attributed to the Dalai Lama).
The Framework now uses “achieving health, well-being, and participation in life through engagement in occupation” as the overarching domain of our profession (AOTA, 2014a, p. S2). Happiness and other positive emotional states are linked to engagement in meaningful occupations.
Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter (attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr.). Advocacy has become an increasingly important tool for action in our profession. We are finding our voice and are taking on active leadership roles in our workplace, our homes, our schools, and our communities.
recently learned about the impact politics can have on the profession, especially in her role as a student delegate for the Occupational Therapy Association of California. As part of the learning process, she interviewed a lobbyist in California and asked her to explain her job. “She said, ‘well, I lobby. I have meetings with representatives, and I lobby,’ Concha said. “But what does that mean? She kept saying that she lobbies, so finally I just embraced it and figured that the only way I am going to learn to do this is if I do it myself.”
Me? A leader? Well, okay, yes … I guess … I hope … I’d like to be… . The roar of self-doubt is so loud: I don’t have the right letters after my name, I don’t have any “real power,” I don’t know how to do anything (research, policy, etc.), I don’t know anything, I don’t know where to begin… . Are these not the very same voices that I am so capable of silencing with clients and colleagues? They are! By focusing on the abilities and victories revealed through every decision and initiative to try one more time, to take one more step forward, and to recognize how far one has come toward short-term and long-term goals, the voice of self-doubt is silenced. (p. 7)
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