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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Life Hacks

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Goals for winter break ⟩
December 17, 2012, by Alisa

Life Hacks

I’m done with finals! Woohoo! I’m looking forward to relaxing more over winter break.

I’ll be doing a stay-cation this break, and here are some of my goals:

  • Decorate the Christmas tree (I just did last night!)
  • Learn how to play a ukulele (I purchased one over Black Friday weekend!)
  • Learn how to juggle (a friend told me I have potential 😉)
  • Master the Gangnam-style dance
  • Read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
  • Do more yoga

These goals should keep me busy, and I’ll keep in touch by blogging too. Do you have plans for the holidays?

Decorated Christmas tree

It’s beginning to look and feel like Christmas!


Transitioning Occupations ⟩
December 5, 2012, by Kendra

Life Hacks School/Life Balance

Three years ago when I decided to switch gears from being an actor to becoming an occupational therapist, I went through a difficult transition. I constantly berated myself for giving up too soon or not having the chutzpah to make it work. In a way I went through an identity crisis. I had dedicated the majority of my life to acting! I moved thousands of miles away from home, dropped cash on classes, workshops, and headshots galore while working multiple jobs at wild hours just to make ends meet and get to auditions on time. Juggling so many factors just to maybe get a job took away the joy I’d felt performing over the years. Even though I wanted to be an actor more than anything I did not relish in the laborious, seemingly endless, struggle.

So when I decided to change careers I had to let go of a part of me, but I promised myself I would always find my way back to performing. But next time it would be on my terms. I could do it as a hobby, as a side project, for fun not money. Part of me thought that was a bunch of bologna, but part of me hoped I was right.

Having made the transition and been in grad school for nearly two years, I am so glad I made the choice I did. Knowing what I know now about occupations, I also know that I was never ‘giving up’ acting. It will always be a part of me. What I did was shift its definition within my life, moving it from work to play and leisure activities. Doing this allows it to best suit my personal needs, and therefore be a more meaningful, fulfilling occupation as opposed to one causing stress.

I had my first read-thru for a web series this last weekend. It was wonderful. Exciting. Freeing. Invigorating. Never once was I worried how this would affect other auditions, or disappointed it didn’t pay. I was able to indulge in the performance and truly sink my teeth into the experience. By redefining a meaningful occupation, I was able to find the just right fit for the rest of my life.


Oh Sandy ⟩
October 31, 2012, by Kendra

Community Life Hacks

I lived in New York City for four years before moving out west. Each time a blizzard or nor’easter (as the locals call it) would shut down a bus line or impede the usual hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps, my mom would call up frantically wondering if my disaster kit was assembled and if my windows were sealed. And each time I would calmly tell her that the news media is making it out to be way worse than it actually is. Usually I’d be waiting for my sushi delivery as I told her this.

But this time it’s different. Due to a perfect confluence of variables, the storm has taken the city from fast-paced to off the grid.

And it’s during times like these that I love New Yorkers most.

Instead of hearing stories from friends of looting and violence, you hear about neighbors helping neighbors. You hear of businesses making pizza in the dark for 15 hours just because they have gas and want to provide hot food to their neighborhood.

You read posts on Facebook, people offering their hot water and dry homes to those that need it. Despite their reputation for being rude, fast-talking people during times of trouble New Yorkers come together demonstrating one of the greatest human capacities: support and caring. It is a truly beautiful thing.

In learning about the physiological aspects of the stress response we learn of a number of factors that can help ameliorate its effects. One of those is social support. Talking to a friend about a bad day helps someone unwind. Going to church weekly helps a person find peace and understanding in a busy life. And having a community of 9 million people come together after a shared trauma to help rebuild helps each person cope with the tragedy in a healthy, productive way.

So hats off to you New York City. My heart goes out to you, but I know New York will continue to stand tall.


No phone for 24 hours? No problem ⟩
October 25, 2012, by Alisa

Life Hacks School/Life Balance

So, I went to my parents’ house for the weekend, and when I was on the freeway coming back to school, I realized I had forgotten my phone at home! I had to make a decision between driving back, which would take about 15 minutes or just go to class. I chose the latter. I knew I could live without a phone. I felt that I got a lot more free time because when I had my smart phone with me, I tend to check it quite often. It’s become a habit, but I do try to refrain from it. Those emails and notifications can wait. Go live your life now. Connect with the people around you. We are humans. We crave social interactions, or at least I do.

The positive side to leaving my phone at home was the fact that I would get to visit home again soon. I didn’t know that it was going to be the very next day! I went back the next day after fieldwork, and it was my dad’s birthday, too! So, we found an excuse to all go out and have dinner together. With the exception of my sister, no one else in my family had been to The Boiling Crab before. We had sweet potato fries, sausage, corn, shrimp, crawfish, and king crab. If you haven’t been to a restaurant like The Boiling Crab, it will get messy! You will be given a bib. It is a totally hands-on experience. You have to do everything yourself from taking off the peel to squeezing the lemon. I was stuffed, but, it was so good. A little on the salty side, but hey, you can for less salt on your orders. I got creative when I ate shrimp with a ball of rice. It reminded me of spam musubi. We’re not done yet. Afterwards, we went to BJ’s just to have pizooki (cookie with ice cream). It reminded me of my childhood since my dad used to get it for us when he got off work as a sheriff. The combination of cookie and ice cream is my guilty pleasure, indeed. The phone that I forgot at home was what brought me back home, and we all happen to be able to celebrate on his special day. Good times.


Getting Back In The Water ⟩
October 15, 2012, by Paula

Getting Involved Life Hacks

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to engage in a neglected occupation of mine at the annual Team KC Swimathon: swimming! Team KC, a Livermore-based organization, was created to honor and remember an inspiring young girl and friend of mine, Korrine Croghan. Korrine was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma in December of 2007 and fought vigorously until she passed away in October of 2008. She had a dream to raise money for other children fighting cancer in order to supply them and their families cope with everything they are dealing with and providing assistance with rent, bills, gas cards, coffee cards, etc. The Swimathon is an annual event which raises money to help meet the immediate needs of these pediatric cancer patients and their families.

I have been pushing away from this activity which used to be a component of each day for many years of my life and I always give the excuse that it is because of time, money and location. Although I know that I have many resources to look into to develop this occupation back to what it once was, I often find multiple excuses as to why I should not make these changes. Overall, regardless of what workout I do, it is not the same as swimming and I only feel completely content with a workout if I have had a challenging swim also. The Swimathon was a perfect reminder of the community which I grew up in and the relationships formed through all of the years of swimming. Once again, Korrine has inspired me to engage further and to reassess my reasoning for not swimming when I have the opportunity. She was always a motivator and I think that she would have made an amazing OT. ;]

If any of you are interested in more information about Team KC or Korrine’s story, you can check out the Facebook page, or go to Korrine’s Blog.

Go out and engage in something you have been meaning to. Live life to its fullest!

(Also, a big THANK YOU to all of you who supported Team KC throughout this process and who remembered Korrine by donating to my swim. It means the world!)

Photo of sunset

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