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Embroidering and gardening as occupations


I have written about Sakura’s embroidering and gardening

as her important occupations in the recovery stage

of her parotid gland cancer.

These occupations supported her revival from a dead end in her life.

Today I want to share with you more about a view of

embroidering and gardening as occupations

from these angles:

              the form of the occupations of embroidering and gardening,

              the function of the occupations,

              and the meaning of the occupations.

To look at embroidering and gardening in a big occupational picture,

let’s imagine Sakura engaging in embroidering and gardening.


Embroidering and gardening as occupations


Sakura was busy with her job, housework, and taking care of family

until she was in her fifties.

When all of her four children went out on their own and

her job had settled into routine, she was excited to plan to

start gardening, and occupation just for herself.

But she was diagnosed with parotid gland cancer.

As a result, she started her treatment and didn’t start gardening.


After Sakura underwent cancer resection, transplant surgery, and

radiation treatment, she lost 10 kg and was exhausted.

She came home and slept on and off.

Her implanted part always hurt.

Sakura worried about her disease and her future and suffered from

these uncomfortable thoughts coming into her mind.

She was upset with anxiety about her disease and future,

and in pain.

Although she was sick, she was too restless to lie in bed

but rather had an urge to do something using her hands.


This was Sakura’s life crisis in the recovery stage of parotid gland cancer.

The environment’s challenge to Sakura, caused by her disease and treatment,

was this life crisis which occupied her with sickness, pain, and anxiety

about her disease and future. 

Now Sakura started punching (facing)back at the environment’s challenge

to her, using embroidering and gardening as meaningful occupations.


Form of the occupations

Sakura wanted to use her hands to be distracted from her pain and anxiety.

She embroidered flowers and leaves from a pattern printed on a pouch.

She got tired very easily, so when she was tired, she took a break to lie down.

She repeated embroidery stitches and breaks.

She looked forward to embroidering more the next day and had a good night's sleep.


In a few weeks, she finished a pouch and then began another.

She made lots of pouches and liked to give them to her family, friends and colleagues.


When Sakura felt better after a time, she started taking care of plants in her garden.

She had a pot of flowers in her office and when the blossoms fell, she brought it home to take care of the plant.

She liked that her neighbors appreciated her flowers for healing and she began to present her flowers to them.

As a result, she had more interactions with her neighbors and felt them to be a closer relationship.


Sakura lived in a three-generation home.

She wanted a serene life style but her grandchildren were noisy and loved greasy food.

She liked eating fish and vegetable at the dinner table alone and enjoyed gardening

on sunny days and stitching on rainy days and in the evenings.


Function of the occupations  

Sakura called her experience of suffering in her recovery stage a "dead end",

a trap.  

Then she called her experience of change after her dead end

as a "revival" of her life.


The effect of embroidering as an occupation  

Engaging in occupation brings comfort and hope for the future.

Sakura had an urge to do something using her hands to keep her busy,

distracted, and to escape from her suffering.

She chose embroidering, one of a very few occupations you can engage in

when you are sick.

Focusing her attention to embroidery stitches one by one

helped her forget about her pain and worries.


Her embroidery stitching work was a direct result and evidence of

her doing and of living.

It was a result that brought her a sense of possibility, hope for the future,

comfort (security), and positivity.

Embroidering supported her ability to look forward to doing something tomorrow.

Embroidering supported her ability to look forward to enjoying life.


Finally, Embroidering supported her ability to live looking forward

with hope for the future.

The effect of gardening as an occupation

While taking care of plants, Sakura was busy and occupied with doing something outside, as well as her indoor embroidering.

Sakura was also energized by her plants and forgot about her pain and worries.

In this recovery stage, Sakura had less interaction with people and didn’t share her illness experience with her family and others.

Through giving her embroidery work and her flowers to others, she shared her revival with them and she confirmed it to herself.

Sakura returned to society in the way she liked.

Gardening and embroidering supported her ability to live among people again, that is her social revival.

Occupations, embroidering and gardening, supported her desire to revive, live for the future and rejoin society.


Meaning of the occupations:

To Sakura, these occupations mean is alive again from the dead end

in her life course.

Having begun to engage in embroidering while still suffering

in the recovery stage of cancer, Sakura found it had helped her

to imagine herself doing more embroidering tomorrow

and having hope for the future.

While taking care of her plants, Sakura was empowered to live

by her plants’ life energy.

Giving away her embroidery work and her flowers meant sharing

her revival with people. That is her social revival.


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