An Update on my Work with Orphans

Heart within a leaf photographed at the seaside

Recently I received a phone call from an orphan wanting certain free services that really fall into the area of a social worker. Yes, it is true that I have been running a service to empower orphans at the time they marry. However, the orphan who called is not getting married. I would like to point out two details:

1) This is specifically at the time they marry, I am not able to help all orphans, not in the capacity of Gemach anyway.
2) I am NOT a social worker.

The truth is that the Gemach I had begun made me aware of various needs for both widows and orphans. I am gradually researching these needs a bit further in order to develop a service that will meet those needs identified in research as well as through my work experience. The service is put on hold until such time as I have completed my research. In the meantime, what I can say is that, one of the sections I am very busily working on is how to develop and master sustainable income. That means an income that will enable one to be truly independent as opposed to earning a minimum wage and then having to constantly seek help every so often when one’s meager salary does not meet the demands of modern living.

When I have mastered certain aspects that I am currently working on, I aim to both write a book / ebook and to develop a course or a few courses. However, these are all under the umbrella of being an occupational therapist. For you see, occupational therapy is all about helping and enabling our clients to be as optimally independent in all areas of their life, as far as is possible, according to their unique set of circumstances. For someone who is an orphan, often, but not always, the area of work and earning a sustainable income is in major need of intervention.

Another important detail is that my services are not free. I work privately and as a result services, books and products have a fee / price tag. If anyone wishes to sponsor an orphan, they are welcome to be in touch.

For those who remember the service I had tried to set up, if you recall, I was developing a thrift store / bargain store with new, unwanted items that I sold to fund the service assisting orphans. Hence the expenses were to be subsidized when orphans could not pay full fees. I was also trying to add bridal gowns to rent, once again that the fee for renting a bridal gown would assist an orphan to have a bridal gown for her wedding day. My goal for that was to loan a bridal gown to a Kallah who was an orphan for free. Sadly I did not reach this goal and am currently having to sell off my bridal gowns. The expense of rent to house the gowns is adding up and not making a viable option. If I had enough people willing to purchase items or rent their gown from our bridal gowns, I could have been able to continue developing and growing this service. The only way I could reduce costs for orphans was to have others pay for gifts or bridal gowns.

Since so many have been eager to undercut my already reduced prices, I had to let go of my thrift store / bargain store and I am having to let go of my bridal gowns too. That means that any service that I offer to orphans from now on is a paid service, unless someone is kind enough to sponsor one or more sessions.

If you would like to learn more about what occupational therapy is, purchase your copy of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” or book me to give a talk to you and your group of friends. Talks are available in person for those in and around Jerusalem or virtually for any other group.

This post is prepared for you by

Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom“.


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Review of “Healing Your Life Through Activity”

Character of a BookThe first review that I received in relation to my book “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” came from a Beta Reader. It certainly put a smile on my face and made the hard work very worth while.

This is just beyond words… I love it so much and have never read any type of medical/therapy book delivered as honestly and gently as this one.  It’s informative in an extremely helpful way without offending any other profession or point of view.  It applies to so many audiences as well, patients, caregivers, parents, professionals, etc.  It’s also one of a kind because of the way you created an informative book that reads with the ease of a story. Brilliant!

I also very much enjoyed the order you placed each topic.  It flowed perfectly. This book is truly amazing and is going to touch so many lives.

Amanda –  from Beta Reading Bookshelf

If you would like to obtain a copy of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapst’s Story” by Shoshanah Shear you can find it online on Amazon in US, Canada, UK and Europe as well as Barnes & Nobles, Book Depository and other online bookstores.


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Developing a Healthy Lifestyle

Breaksfast table with the meal and a vase of flowers

Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle is important for all ages and phases in the human life cycle. If you are a woman, the chances are that in your journey towards becoming a wife, developing your role as a wife and then working towards becoming a mother, you will have an important part to play in making sure that you and your family live a healthy lifestyle. One of my first introductions to just how important and powerful this is, was when I was a new graduate working in a major teaching hospital. I was asked to cover for a fellow occupational therapist in facilitating the cardiac rehabilitation group. As I reviewed the topics covered thus far and what was necessary to include in the group I was to facilitate, it struck me that the lifestyle being recommended to those who had already suffered a heart attack was important to all of us. In fact, I began thinking, if we encourage our clients to alter their lifestyle after a stroke or heart attack, why not encourage clients to develop the kind of lifestyle that would promote health and prevent illness.

I could discuss how I came to change focus from rehabilitation to an involvement in preventative healthcare and promotion of health at length, however, I had another topic on my mind and I wish to share those thoughts.

So far I have shared that living a healthy lifestyle is encouraged to all those who have suffered a debilitating illness such as a stroke or heart attack. I have touched on the fact that this lifestyle is in fact important to promote health and prevent illness. But where do you begin and what does a healthy lifestyle look like?

One place to start is in the kitchen. Why? Because we all need to eat regularly every day and having a healthy, balanced diet is very important to our health. I’m not going to tell you what you need to eat, as I am not a dietician. In addition, there are so many opinions as to what to eat and what not to eat. For the details of your diet I would say to consult with a qualified dietician, preferably in person. What I do wish to do is to share is a few thoughts that I hope will help you to view developing a health lifestyle in a positive light.

  1. Transitioning to a healthy diet can be daunting! It is very easy to get scared or to believe that there wont be yummy food items to eat and your life will be transformed into a boring, tasteless, unpleasant experience. This is not true and does not have to be either. Spend a little time researching some healthy meals and take a look at Youtube for ideas.
  2. Pay attention to detail. Have you noticed that many unhealthy foods appeal to us due to the colours that are used? Well, colour does not have to be artificial. You do not need the additives used in order to create colour. Take a look at the image at the top of this post. You can create colour by making sure to prepare your food items, your table and any extras with beauty and colour in mind. Go the extra mile and have some flowers in your home.Actually, if you are concerned about bugs, I would not recommend flowers on the same table where you are eating, but you can have either a beautiful vase of flowers or an attractive pot-plant near to where you eat your meal. Make sure that your plate is filled with colour and that you have dished up with care, rather than just dumping food any which way. It only takes a few extra moments but the end result for whoever will eat the meal makes a very big difference.
  3. Perhaps we have gotten ahead of ourselves. Where you serve the meal and what the final plate of food will look like is important. In order to get there you need to take care with your preparation. Firstly, enjoy the preparation time that goes into making your meal.

Red, Green and Yellow Peppers

In the above photograph, you can see red, green and yellow peppers. Obvious? True, for those who can see the image. Now let’s consider them a bit more. Whether you are making a salad or main meal (in Israel, these might be eaten at breakfast too) pay attention to using a range of colour.

Nature is full of colour. This is one of G-d’s gifts to us. Speaking of acknowledging where the vegetables came from, here is another task for you. Let’s say you have selected which vegetables you are going to be eating for the meal. Yes, vegetables are important and if prepared correctly can be so very yummy, nutritious too. While you are cleaning, pealing, chopping or slicing your vegetables instead of thinking that you are wasting time, you have a wonderful opportunity to enjoy what you are doing. Make this task meaningful by contemplating what it is that you are doing. You can even take it one step further to thank G-d for all He has given to you.

Look again at the image above. Appreciate the variety in size, shape, colour, contours and details. Think about the difference in the tastes of each of these peppers. They may all be bell peppers but do they taste the same? Which do you prefer and why? Consider the fact that you have your own specific likes and dislikes in food items and so do your family members. So next time a relative requests you add or eliminate a food item from a dish or from their plate, respect their unique preferences. It really is quite easy to add or subtract an ingredient, no need for an argument or to put anyone down. Let the knowledge that you enjoy some things more than others help you to appreciate that others do to and respect them for having those preferences.

If you have the time, allow yourself to contemplate all that G-d has done for you in giving you that food item. In another blog post or a Youtube video I can share an example of this. For now, let us take a look at another photograph.

Three plates of chopped food in preparation for cooking

Whether you are a vegetarian, a vegan or a meat eater, there are some tasks here for all of you to consider. When you prepare your meal, take the time to separate the food items as you cut them. You will notice that the master chefs do this when they do a demonstration. It really does make the actual cooking much easier. In addition it helps you to both separate those items that cook more quickly and to take note of the appropraite sequence and the final outcome. Make sure your meal will have a variety of nutrients and that the food items will provide the flavours, textures and overall visual effect that ensures a final pleasing experience.

In the above image, are some of the ingredients for preparing a Shwarma dish. Shwarma is a cut of turkey which has many health benefits. To begin with it is rich in iron. It is recommended for anyone needing to prevent high blood pressure or cholesterol and even for a potentially fatty liver.

If you have a memory problem, taking the time to separate the food items onto their own plate and setting them in the order necessary for a given recipe will help you to make sure that you have cooked all those ingredients that are necessary. If you need to, have your recipe near you and work from the recipe.

These are just a few ideas of how to begin using your time in your kitchen to become a more enjoyable experience on every level. Let those daily chores become an opportunity to appreciate your family. Appreciate or contemplate where you are in your life and appreciate all the details involved in what you are doing.

Of course, there is much more to cooking, working in the kitchen, housework and all other tasks that are important to the life of a woman. What do you do to improve those daily tasks necessary for a healthy lifestyle? If you are struggling with developing or maintaining a healthy lifestyle, do post your questions below. If you are in Jerusalem, be in touch to discuss your needs in developing a lifestyle that will help you with your goals of being a happy, healthy wife and mother.

This post is prepared for you by

Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom“.

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Feedback Trickling in about “Healing Your Life Through Activity”

New Message on Email

I have been doing a lot of work on improving my book, both the inner and the cover. The closer I came to put it back up for sale, the more I began to wonder what happened with those who have read a copy. I have not had much feedback. Well, next thing to show up on my computer was a message that just came through from friends in New Zealand.  The part relevant to my book is shared with their permission.

“I think the cover picture is very good and don’t think you need to add anything more.  The quote by Albert Einstein says it all!  You’ve done an excellent job.

I enjoyed your story and gleaned much from it about OT which I never knew.  After my lumber disc operation (many years ago!) I was just told not to bend … a bit difficult going through life without bending!!  Anyway, I’ve been to chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and naturopaths over the years, had treatment, but I never learned what I should or should not do, or how I should do something to avoid injury.  Never once was I referred to an OT.

Good luck with your book.  I will certainly pass it on to others to read.  Thanks for sending us a copy.

Best wishes
Lina and Chris Scull
New Zealand”

The message came just in time. It certainly has given me the motivation I needed to push forward with marketing and promotion. I am happy to say that my book is back up online and available for sale. So for those who are wondering what occupational therapy is, here is your chance to find out.

This post is prepared for you by

Shoshanah Shear, Occupational Therapist, healing facilitator, certified infant massage instructor, freelance writer, author of “Healing Your Life Through Activity – An Occupational Therapist’s Story” and co-author of “Tuvia Finds His Freedom“.

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Why we need to talk about Occupational Science as well as Occupational Therapy

Image with word "Blog" and a picture of the globe

Earlier this year my blog What is occupational therapy? went viral with nearly 40,000 views and over 20,000 Facebook shares I found myself at the forefront of promoting occupational therapy. This is not something I had set out to do, but having been catapulted into that position I tried to circulate the post more because occupational therapists and others around the world seemed to relate to my explanations of occupational therapy.

Ours is the only profession that promotes meaningful engagement in every day activities, and I believe it is vital that we retain that identity and can articulate why we are the best profession to do that. In the UK, promotion of occupational therapy largely focuses on our role within the National Health Service (NHS). Essentially, this amounts to attempting to reduce NHS costs by either keeping people out of hospital, or facilitating speedier discharges from hospital. In any case the promotion of our role appears to be mainly concerned with saving the National Health Service (NHS) money and keeping people out of hospital.

But, I believe, we have a far more profound role in preventative health and supporting people to live well. As occupational therapists we know that our occupations keep us well, give us meaning in life, and motivate us to get up in the morning. Science backs this up. Further, neuroscience research now suggests that occupation has the power to distract us from pain and anxiety.

Potter at the Wheel

But other professionals seem to be making claims about the positive effect of occupations like gardening, singing and art and crafts etc. When these things are shared on social media there is often a comment added along the lines of ‘great, but I wish it had been an occupational therapist that did it’. In the media others appear to be writing and taking credit for the work that occupational therapists practice day to day.

For example Dr Tamlin Connor a psychologist and lead study author for research printed in the Journal of Positive Psychology into the effect on well being after participating in arts and crafts states:

“Engaging in creative behaviour leads to increases in well-being the next day, and this increased well-being is likely to facilitate creative activity on the same day.

“Overall, these findings support the emerging emphasis on everyday creativity as a means of cultivating positive psychological functioning.”

We know this: it is our bread and butter. But we need to make sure other people know.

We all know occupational therapy is hard to explain as it is so broad and varied, but we owe our colleagues around the world and the colleagues coming after us to do this. Lets make it easy for ourselves – we just have to explain our role, not all the possibilities of positions and work places for occupational therapy, lets keep it simple for us and our audience. As an occupational therapist I question: 1) what’s the difficulty? 2) why is it a difficulty? 3) how can life be made better? 4) what can we do about it?

Can you base your explanation around this?

Black Board with the questions Why, What, Where, When and Who

We need to start being confident explaining occupational science too. I feel it’s an historical problem for us that occupational therapy came first and then the science: occupational science came much later. We’re playing catch up, we’re only 100 years old (in USA) and we knew we were on to something before we had the science and the evidence base. Medics took over 2500 years to get their evidence base together. Occupational science was named in 1989. As an analogy, if evidence for medicine has been around for one hour, occupational science has been here for 30 seconds.

For every person that doesn’t know what occupational therapy is there are probably many more who have never heard of occupational science. It’s new and it’s exciting, so lets be loud and proud about explaining the value of occupational therapy and it’s underpinning in occupational science. We have the evidence, there is much more to us and our profession than ‘feeling good when we do a hobby’.

If other professionals don’t know what we do then our holistic and creative practice and professional integrity is at stake. The more other professionals understand what we do the more likely we are to get more referrals, get more funding and prevent other professionals encroaching on our work.

So I urge you to get confident explaining your understanding of occupational science and your role as an occupational therapist so we can promote the profession and protect are uniqueness.

Go and add to our history: tell somebody today what you do and the science behind it.

This guest post has been written by Alice  McGarvie of From the Harp. Alice has a MS in Occupational Therapy, obtained certification in Harp Therapy and practices in the UK.


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