Blog Posts

It is OK to be mad. It is OK to be sad.

I love my son. He is the most energetic, rambunctious ball of high energy with so much love to give. He truly is the most amazing human I have ever met.   I will advocate for him and his needs every single day of my life
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But I am angry and I am sad and I have been struggling for years with that gut feeling knowing something was not right and now other people see what I have been seeing since day one
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It’s OK to be angry. It’s OK to be sad.  But don’t let it overwhelm you. Don’t let it consume you. Think of it as a cloud that needs to pass by
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I spoke with so many beautiful, amazing friends these past few days and it’s funny, when you are in special education the 1st thing that you do when you think something is wrong with your kid is contact every single person you know in the field and pretty much they all said the same thing, “He has the best mama he possibly could have and whatever it is you are going to be able OK”
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Luke is who he is and that will never change and no diagnosis will change who he is as a person
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This post is more about it’s OK to be angry and it’s OK to not feel guilty for feeling angry because that does not make you a bad mom. In fact, it just shows how authentic and human a mother’s emotions can truly be
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Navigating the early intervention system and medical world via seeking out a diagnosis can feel like an unstoppable rollercoaster of emotions.  Honor yourself.  Honor the warrior parent that you are.  Trust your judgement and seek out individuals that will actively listen to your concerns and help guide you in the right direction. Remember, no one knows your child better than you
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#itsOKtobemad #itsOKtobesad #honoryourself #honoryouremotions #warriormama

Blog Posts

The Perfect Bag

Hello and Happy Monday!

We totally took advantage of the crisp morning weather over the weekend and all the piles of leaves. I am thoroughly enjoying the fake fall weather occurring in So Cal while I patiently wait to wear my winter gear past 9 am. 

Speaking of gear, I finally found the perfect bag(s)! My goal this year was to incorporate my boho hippie style into my professional wardrobe. 

A common name individuals at work call me is “the bag lady”, because I literally carry around multiple bags, rolly carts, a bookbag, purse, etc. daily.  As I approach my 10th year as a pediatric occupational therapist, I can finally say, I have found the perfect bags!

I am typically a hot mess, running from one school to the next, trying to make sure I maximize my time throughout the school day.  After one week of wearing my Ixchel Triangle bags,  I had never felt more together, organized and presentable. I also loved that the bags never slipped off my shoulder once. 

I needed a bag that could keep me organized, had multiple pockets, and reflected my style.  I have specific sensory preferences which makes finding the “perfect bag” so challenging. 

I could never find a bag that was the right weight, texture, size, or the level of accessibility I needed for quick and easy access to materials and purse items, until now. I am currently using the Tik bag as my everyday bag and the K’at camera bag as my work bag. 

Tik Bag
K’at Bag
Insert for the K’at Bag

Self-care replenishes the soul and allows the body to have a foundation of goodness when approaching life.  I have been striving to make changes within my daily routine to ensure I maintain a foundation of goodness on the regular to support my optimal mental and physical health. Shopping at local businesses that reflect my personal style and business ethics adds to that cup of goodness. I love nourishing my soul with living and spending habits that remain true to myself and reflect a positive, collaborative, and creative mindset on this journey called life.

@kith

Sending everyone good vibes for a mindful Monday!

Tory is a beautiful soul. I had a fabulous time meeting her last weekend and getting lost in the store, admiring all the beautiful creations.  Check out Ixchel Triangle, their mission, and their amazing, high-quality products at https://ixcheltriangle.com/ and on Instagram @ixcheltriangle #supportlocal #radlands #makeitamindfulmonday

*Disclaimer * This is my personal review of a product and a business I choose and will continue to support. I am not affiliated with the company in any way and they did not ask me to write this review. As always, I love supporting local businesses and sharing my experiences!

Blog Posts

Mindfulness is not trendy

pic for post 1Photo credit: Omar M. Bourne Instagram: @bigoimagery

The last year and a half, I have been buried in mindfulness research as well as talking to anyone and everyone about all things mindfulness, and gathering the best evidence to support my final capstone project for my OT doctorate.
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The majority of people I spoke with had such a positive and warming association with mindfulness. On the other hand, some individuals that I spoke with brushed it off as a hot, new trend. Something all the cool kids were doing. Or, they would mock “being present in the moment”. When I would express that there are several hundreds of research articles on this topic, I was met with redirection, avoidance, and almost mockery.
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As a researcher and life-long learner, I found this mindset interesting. Doesn’t everyone want to learn more about the things they may not quite understand when presented with new information, especially if there is evidence backing it up?
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Mindfulness is not a hot, new trend. It has been around for centuries. In the late 70s, John Kabat-Zinn brought mindfulness to modern day practices with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). The history of mindfulness is overflowing with research and unfortunately, that history can sometimes get lost.
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Remember, mindfulness is not a trend, it is a way of life. It promotes better self-efficacy to ensure you are giving your body and soul what it needs while being present in the moment.
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I received a certificate in Infant Mental Health from Chatham University over 10 years ago.  That was the beginning of my realization as to how important being a mindful individual was.  I spent the next decade of my life, leading to present day, trying to embed mindfulness techniques in my life, however, I never quite mastered the balance.
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Day 1 of my post professional occupational therapy doctoral program marked Day 1 of giving my all to my mindfulness journey.  It has been just over a year that I have put 100% effort into embedding mindfulness into my daily routines. I will tell you that mindfulness is not a cure for all things. What it will do, is get you better at knowing what your body needs to maintain optional self-regulation, mental clarity, and better adaptive responses in stressful situations (Quach, Jastrowski, & Alexander, 2016).
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When you increase your self-efficacy of what your brain and nervous system prefers, you can begin to engage in meaningful occupations that support the optimal regulation of your body and steer clear of the things that you know sabotage your soul.
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Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and embracing mindfulness for your soul.  Sending you all the vibes to #makeitamindfulmonday

References

Kabat-Zinn, J. 1994. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday  Life. New York: Hyperion.

Quach, D., Jastrowski, K., & Alexander, K. (2016). A randomized controlled trial examining the effect of mindfulness meditation on working memory capacity in adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health, 58(5), 489–496.

Blog Posts

Check out my post with aboutredlands.com !

Happy Friday Fabulous Friends !!!!! I was asked to guest write another post for aboutredlands.com. I love everything they are about and I love working with Niko to support all things related to OT and how we can continue to benefit our community by sharing fun and easy ideas to support overall development and optimal mental health within the child caregiver dyad
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Also, I asked my work wife @elevatedstateofplay, Mimi, to join me in creating a Top 5 morning activity list. Be sure to click on the link within the article to check it out, let us know what you think, and what else you want us to share🤸‍♂️Sending everyone good vibes and positive intentions for a happy friday and mindful weekend!!

✌#happyfriday #finemotorfun #moringplaytime #makeitamindfulday

Photo credit: @bigoimagery

https://aboutredlands.com/articles/mornings-with-an-ot-mom-a-mindful-business

Blog Posts

A hug goes a long way…

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Hello Amazing Readers!

There has been so much going on behind the scenes, balancing and navigating through so much amazingness and stress at the same time, and all I want to do is scream all about it to the rooftops. Big announcements coming soon, hold tight, it’s going to be an amazing and mindful ride. For now, I must share with you a recent amazing experience.

It all happened so fast. It was last Monday. I was watching my Instagram stories, keeping up with all the awesome accounts I follow, my amazing colleagues, and soul OTs slaying it out there, and @thesensoryproject208 posted a story of a mother and her daughter and I remember reading something about weighted blankets.

One, if @thesensoryproject208 is posting about it, I am going to totally check it out. Two, I have been searching for the perfect weighted blanket for years. I have even made my own but have never been able to get the exact feel and weight my body needed. Three, I now have a two year old with very similar sensory needs as myself.

So down the Instagram rabbit hole I went, to @sheltered.co. I went to their website and got stuck there for about 30 minutes. I had finally found not only a product that I truly thought would help my son and I but a company that had values and a mission I could stand behind. As a pediatric occupational therapist and mother to a son with specific sensory needs, this company and their products gave me all the feels.

I immediately went to their stories. I discovered that they were releasing four new colors the next day at 9 am. The next morning I placed my order. I even paid for overnight shipping because I wanted to trial it out Thursday night into the weekend!

The blanket arrived Thursday morning. It was a very fast- paced day, as per usual, and my brain was racing, as it typically does on a daily basis. When I got home, I had discovered my son had got to the box first and ripped off the labels. Clearly he was just as excited as I was for this blanket. I went into a room by myself and opened up the box. It was so beautifully packaged, screaming hugs and love, that I did not want to touch it until I had uninterrupted time to explore what I had just purchased. Fast forward two hours later, toddler asleep, let the fun begin!

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The Blanket. Orchid adult sized blanket. 100% cotton. Imagine, me staring and smiling at the blanket in awe of its beauty, honoring how much love, thought, and care was put into making such a stylish, sustainable product. Did you know Pam only uses dead stock fabrics?! You can read all about it on Sheltered Co.’s blog!

The presentation of materials was simplistic, eye-catching, and dazzled with personal touches. As an Educational Occupational Therapist, I truly appreciated the enclosed post card with a thoughtful written message. In this fast-paced world of innovative technology, one must always appreciate written expression. Moreover, the blanket came with its very own travel/storage bag. You better believe I will be taking this blanket everywhere with me!

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Oh. My. Gosh. This blanket is epic! It is the exact feeling fabric my nervous system positively responds to and the weight was the ideal amount of proprioception input my body needed!

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Photo 4: Holy Cow! My body is actually regulating. My mind is actually slowing down.

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Photo 5: That feeling you get when your body has achieved optimal self- regulation and it feels magnificent – yup, that’s it.

Since I have been using this blanket as needed throughout my days and nights, I have felt less anxious and more calm consistently throughout the day. That constant edge of anxiety felt quieter and for the first time in a long time, I actually was able to rest my brain. I vary the amount of time I use it based on how my nervous system is feeling day to day. Also, my sleeping patterns started to regulate. I am a very light sleeper and startle awake from sound quite often. The first night I slept so deeply that I slept through my first alarm. I am pretty sure my body had no idea what to do with its rested self. This blanket has truly been the best additional item to my sensory suitcase.

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As for my son, he has his own agenda. He prefers to drag the blanket around the house, pull it over him and throw it off of him while laughing, and run around on top of it. He does calm and organize for a few minutes and then he is off running again. We have just begun our journey with helping him figure out what he needs to calm and organize. We just keep adding to his sensory tool bag to increase the variety of choices he has to access when needed. This is just another beautiful example showing that every individual has a unique and ever-changing nervous system.

I have been on a life-long search for sensory supports to help me calm, organize, and maintain optimal self-regulation. The last ten years as an occupational therapist has provided me with extensive knowledge of sensory processing and various intervention strategies that I have tried and ruled out as ineffective or added to my sensory suitcase. The important thing to remember is that each person has a unique nervous system with their own specific needs. One must explore and determine which sensory supports they would need to promote their own optimal self-regulation.

Thank you Pam for creating a business that supports our hidden sense of proprioception and for making your business grounded in ethical and sustainable practices providing fashionable hugs to all!

#hugslikeamother

https://www.shelteredco.com/

*disclaimer * This is my personal review of a product and a business I chose and will continue to support. I am not affiliated with the company in any way and they did not ask me to write this review. I just truly think Pam is amazing and her company is sensational!

*disclaimer* This blog post is not providing medical advice and it does not claim to do so. Please consult with your pediatrician, doctor, and/or occupational therapist for recommendations, treatment, and specific intervention plans.

Blog Posts

I did a thing for aboutredlands!

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I was asked to write a guest blog for aboutredlands.com. I love aboutredlands.com and what they are all about. If you are a local business in the Redlands area, I highly recommend you check out their site! Local people supporting local business!

Here is the link to my article!

Start your day off with “How Mindfulness can bring you home”.

https://aboutredlands.com/ar…/mindfulness-can-bring-you-home

Blog Posts

The Science Behind Play

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🧠 Did you know that we have 7 senses!?! You must be thinking, no way, we have 5! Vision, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. These are the 5 senses we were all taught growing up. However, we actually have 2 additional senses, sometimes called our hidden senses, vestibular and proprioception.

💥 These two sensory systems are crucial to support the foundation of an optimal sensory system necessary for learning to occur. When a kiddo is experiencing difficulties processing vestibular and proprioceptive input, this can impact academic learning.

🤹‍♂️ Vestibular Processing is registered by the inner ear to tell the body where it is in space and where the body and head are in relation to the environmental stimuli.

🤸‍♂️Proprioceptive input is providing messages to your joints and muscles as to where your body is in space (body awareness).

⛹️‍♂️There is so much research that supports kids are NOT spending enough time outside, exploring uneven surfaces and a variety of textures which challenges the vestibular and proprioceptive systems. This is now leading to decreased attention, maladaptive (unwanted behaviors such as biting, kicking, hitting, throwing body on the floor, etc) behaviors, and decreased self-regulation (the ability to calm and organize) at home and at school.  This makes learning new skills and retaining the information a challenge.

🏄‍♀️Playing outside and exploring a variety of textures and uneven surfaces helps to smoothly integrate the different sensory systems to help interpret and perceive the world around us and how to manipulate our bodies through space.

🧙‍♂️Always with stand by support from an adult, let your child push their limits (always in a safe and supervised environment). Let them figure out where their bodies are in space and how they need to move their body in relation to their environment.

🧚‍♀️Here are just some of the skills that are being worked on through fun outdoor activities: attention, gross motor strengthening, motor planning, tactile exploration, self-regulation, body awareness, executive functioning, and so much more!

🌻Motto of the story! Play outside kids! Get messy! Explore everything! Engaging in outdoor play helps promote overall motor development and optimal emotional regularity which is correlated to higher rates of  success with academic achievement and other life goals .  Now, go explore!