Sunday, 25 September 2011

Affordances continue

Entry 5 scrap-booking

When we talk about affordances, we think about how the activity can express beauty.

Scrap-booking is a creative activity, with a high potential to transmit not only a beautiful feeling, but also an attractive result. The completion of one page of scrap-booking takes about 3 hours. The time is distributed between choosing the photos, shaping them so that they can fit and tell the story, and decorating the collage with special sparkles, glitter or stickers. The results are always pleasant to look at and charming.

Unfortunately, my daughter’s cat went missing a while ago. Having photos of her in our scrapbook helps us feel connected with her, even though she is gone. Also, most of our family lives in Romania. We can show photos of them to our friends, giving them a good insight about our spiritual connections. It also keeps us united with our home land and roots.

More recently, I came home one day to find a scrapbook page made for me by my daughter. She expressed her love for me by choosing meaningful photos, and also a little poem written on the page:
“For my mum, from Andrada:
I love you,
I did this when you were at work.

This will always be a heart-warming memory, just like every page that reminds us of our family.

Scrap-booking does not have very strong or well-set physical requirement. The most important are the fine motor skills that help organising the work so that the end result is tidy and up to my expectations.


Entry 4 scrap-booking

 “Work provides an ‘artificial’ world of things, distinctly different from all natural surroundings. Within its borders each individual life is housed, while this world itself is meant to outlast and transcend them all” (Arendt, 1958, p. 7).

Scrap-booking is an activity that turns a world of feelings, memories, expressing oneself into a history that can be passed onto the next generation. I do this activity with my daughter, hoping that this will strengthen our relationship. It is a special way of teaching and showing her the past, here and now, as reference for her future. At times, it gets a bit frustrating when she uses the tools differently from me, and this makes me worry that she might hurt herself. This takes communication to a deeper level, as I express my love for her.

Scrapbooking connects me with my daughter, and we learn how to put together related photos to create albums in which photos lead to a story. For instance:

This is the scrapbook that I made.

This is the photo
that I put in the scrapbook that I made.
This is my daughter                                                      
who is in the photo
that I put in the scrapbook that I made.

This is the cat
that plays with my daughter
who is in the photo
that I put in the scrapbook that I made.

This is my father
who feeds the cat
that plays with my daughter
who is in the photo
that I put in the scrapbook that I made.

Burden: because scrap-booking is mainly a relaxing activity, there is no pressure of getting it right other than making sure nothing is damaged in the process. It is about having fun with my family and friends.
Joy: scrap-booking is about me making other people happy, helping them enjoy the experience. It is also a great opportunity for my daughter to improve on her motor skills and process skills which in return give her a feeling of achieving something beautiful. 
The only concern that may rise from my conscience is that the cost of scrap-booking is quite high, while some people in the world are suffering of hunger or have no homes.

Be aware of what is going on around you!

Entry 3 scrapbooking

Mindfulness meditation is emerged from Zen Buddhism.

 “The purpose of a daily mindfulness based meditation … is to simply practice witnessing and acknowledging whatever arises and the present moment without judging it. One’s attention is directed to anything real and tangible such as the breath or a thought, feeling or sound without any attempt to change it” Kabat-Zinn in (Gura, 2010, p.266).

Following this quotation, I focused on my activity with all my senses trying to interiorise everything I felt, smelt, heard or saw. I did not attempt to make any changes to what was happening, but just be aware of it and enjoy the here and now moments.

The most present smell was the smell of transparent glue, very strong chemical smell. Also, my cup of tea sitting on the desk beside me filled the room with the smell of infused mint, reminding me of summers in Romania.

After I finished gluing the photos to the scrapbook paper, I touched it, and I noticed the paper had turned wavy and uneven. The first thing that came to my mind was that it wasn’t a successful work. However, keeping in mind the concept of mindfulness, I thought I shouldn’t change it, but keep it as a memory of my first scrapbooking experience performed at home. While I was meditating on this experience, I looked outside my French doors and saw the rabbit jumping around my back yard, which lead me to a deeper connection with my feelings. That is because my pet rabbit is so peaceful and relaxes me a lot.

The loudest sound around me was a mixture of sounds made by an airplane, cars running on the street, birds singing in the trees, children playing in the school yard close to my house. Another sound, softer, was the sound of my breath, calm and peaceful. 
In conclusion, contemplation made my work so much more meaningful and made me feel at ease. It was an interesting and worthwile experience, reminding me not to take for granted small things that other people may not experience.

Ergonomics and ambiance

Entry 2 Srap-booking

Ergonomics in this context is not only a physical fit but is a fit between a person, occupation and environment. To understand ergonomics one needs the ability to “constantly make slight invisible adjustments to an activity to adapt to the needs of those taking part and ensure that it continues to work for its intended purpose” (Caulton and Dickson, 2007). This reference helped me to think about and understand on a deeper level how I adjusted the environment to suit my creative mood and activity. 

Just before I started writing this post I was determined to create a scrapbook page of memories from when my father visited from Romania. I noticed that I was missing some important tools that would help me accomplish this creation. This made me feel a little bit worried but I decided to go shopping. I felt very excited when I went to the store to curiously pick out the required tools. I had so many things to choose from but I was challenged because I also had to keep in mind that I was on a budget. For help I related to my past experience, the first time that I did scrapbooking in Tauranga. 

Once I got home and unpacked my bags I eagerly prepared my work desk. I had to turn on the light which gave me a sense of warmth. The ambiance was completed by the relaxing songs of Enigma playing softly in the background. It was nice smelling the glue and stationery. The floral patterns and colourful design of the paper used was reminding me of spring.

After a short tea break, I am sitting at my work station and with the feel of a burst of positive energy I am looking at the photos. All these changes helped me achieve my goal and made the activity meaningful.  Accomplishment and pride make me smile. Now that I have adjusted the environment to match the activity of scrapbooking, I am feeling creative and happy to have fulfilled today’s goal.

Sunday, 4 September 2011


Hello everyone!
 Entry 1 scrap-booking

We are back on campus this semester for more challenges, which will lead to a greater understanding of the world and its occupations.

I will be talking about an activity that I enjoy and the occupational implications of it, mindfulness, ergonomic, affordance and other such aspects.

I first discovered scrapbooking in July 2011. I was visiting one of my colleagues in Tauranga. She invited me to a party where the main attraction was a lady who presented scrapbooking as a business opportunity as well as a relaxing activity. She explained that the purpose of this activity is for people to document their meaningful memories. As described by Slagle (2006), the activity comes under the “big three” (p. 629), as an activity of leisure along with work and self-maintenance. Scrapbooking can be therapeutic and can develop positive thoughts and feelings. It can create ambience in itself. While participating “… we acquire skills,  … competencies, connect with others and our communities, and find purpose… and meaning in life” (Law, 2002, p. 640).

I was really enthusiastic about this activity. However, I did not want commit myself to it for financial purposes, all I wanted was a relaxing way for me to interact with my family and my loved ones and materialise the fun time that we had together.

The first time I tried scrapbooking was at that party. We shared the provided tools (puncher, corner rounder, stickers). Our work was contained in an album, the first page of which was provided to me. I really enjoyed it so I decided to continue. Therefore, I ordered two albums and started scrapbooking. The most precious moment for me was creating a double page scrapbook for my daughter’s birthday.  I had about 500 photos to choose from. It was so hard to choose from the beautiful photographs marking precious moments in my family’s history. It means so much to me going over the fun times we had together and sharing those experiences with my friend and her acquaintances.

I feel that scrapbooking can be used successfully in an OT setting, as it is a fun and (inter)active way of exploring memories. It requires motor skills, process skills and a positive mind. It can be performed by people of a variety of ages, and it provides the person who engages with this activity with the feeling of accomplishment and gives the opportunity to disconnect from the daily routine. It is also a great socialising opportunity and can gradually build people’s skills and competences.