|Click on the picture to enlarge so you can see the details in the wings!|
My trip also made me realize a few things that probably also contributed to this turn. It's relationships with people that count most on earth. Sharing the little things - whether that be watching a wasp chomp on a piece of meat together and marveling in its strength of actually taking out a chunk of meat and carrying it, or taking pictures of pigs, or laughing, or playing games, or talking with people, hugging, or even crying together.
I also realized that God gave me a passion to work with people who are marginalized, and maybe that's his indication that this is the direction I need to move in. To focus on. I went to the Vineyard church in downtown Winnipeg (North End really). I felt comfortable there. This church has people from all walks of life including many people who are homeless, those working the streets, many who are marginalized in one way or another, and all the way to the other spectrum of individuals with significant wealth. It felt like home. And, I knew based on my experience there and a conversation with my friend over lunch that this is really what God has called me to do. To minister, through using my skills, training and experiences, to marginalized individuals. Marginalized can be several things - people who are homeless, people experiencing mental illness, people who are housebound, people who are refugees or new to the country, and pretty much anyone who's on the fringe of society. I also realized I can't focus on being an occupational therapist that is a jack of all trades. I'm already seen as a specialized OT by many people, which is a little frustrating in the job search process, especially when I'm not considered because people don't see the transferability of my skill set to other areas of practice. This doesn't mean I can't do other things related to OT. I do need to make money to pay my bills so I will do other things as I need to, but I want to focus on marginalized populations.
This seemed to be validated upon my return when I got a client through a program I've been registered with for a while that has a very complex situation. No, he's not homeless to my knowledge, but still, given his situation, he must be experiencing marginalization to some degree. Then I was contacted by the provincial professional association to put on a full day workshop on working with inner city populations. It's nice to be seen as an expert, but it also holds a certain degree of responsibility. I need to make sure that I am able to convey the messages that are important and teach what I need to teach. Then, I got another email inviting me to apply to teach mental health for OTA students. This, in an indirect way, falls into that category as well - preparing people to work with this population.
So, overall, I'm feeling a new sense of hope and direction. This past year has been a trust journey with God that he will provide. Not getting a job has been tough and very discouraging. I had an interview upon my return that was probably the worst interview I've ever had. But, in ways, it affirmed my passion for marginalized populations. Today, I learned that my EI is good until the end of November. I was beginning to worry about finances as I thought it expired at the end of September or October. I believe something will work out for me in the next couple months that will provide a steady source of income, and if not steady, than enough to set aside some for the slower times. As part of a task force set up at church, we are looking at what it means to be a Christian in our current economic environment. In some of the readings I've been doing, I've already been challenged to see if there are ways I can cut back on my expenses, even more than I'm doing right now. I haven't come to any conclusions yet. Maybe this is all part of the process I need to go through too - to re-evaluate my approach on life and realign it as need be.