Daily Conversation #14 — Jennifer Grieco

Me and Jenn and Bails

Day #14

For the (technically) two week mark of my project, I talked with my cousin Jenn Grieco. When I started this project, I set out to have face-to-face conversations with people, but I realized that some people that I really would have liked to talk to would have been lost in that. Also, this project is all about giving myself a break — it had been a goal to be consistent for the entire month — so I wanted to challenge myself to accept some change.

Jenn is an occupational therapist and she lives in Nazareth, PA with her boyfriend Matt who is a police officer. Jenn and my conversation really focused on medical topics since her career is so valuable in the rehabilitiation of struggling patients.

Jenn started off telling me a story about one of the patients she works with and the child’s mother. The child is 8 years old and is severely autistic. One of his weakest points is his inability to socialize. Not too long ago, he had a social interaction with another child. It wasn’t too much, it was simply him playing with a ball with another child.

But to the mother, it was huge. She was overwhelmed when she heard her son had done that. Jenn said it’s moments like that that fuel her.

On a similar note, I read about a Florida State University football player who sat with an autistic child at lunch. It made the mother post this amazing Facebook post. Heartwarming.

Another tough thing we talked about resonated a bit with the conversation from yesterday: how technology affects these young learners. There are many instances of an accurate diagnosis of autism or a similar disorder. However, so many children have been so accustomed to using their parents’ iPhones and iPads that it’s affecting how we perceive childrens’ development.

I think this is important to consider: every so often in our lives — like I did for this project — it’s vital to our happiness that we take a step back and consider how everything affects us. We need to take a step back and think about how the daily aspects of life really affect our lives. If something is affecting us negatively, we need to evaluate how to go about that in the best way.

For our society, we’re at a boiling point. We need to consider the implications of our dependence on technology. I’m a vehement supporter of the pros of technology, but we need to alleviate the cons more quickly and efficiently.

We really discussed Jenn’s career: occupational therapy. I’ve talked to her about this quite a bit. I asked what she really wished more people understood about occupational therapy.

She said she wished people understood how everything you do in life is an occupation: looking at an iPhone, picking up a cup, walking over to the cupboard to grab that cup, filling the cup with water, taking a sit from the cup.

For kids, there is so much more to consider. The most formative things children do are occupations: stacking blocks, playing catch, drawing and scribbling, sitting, crawling, rolling. These are all occupations. For our development into fully functioning adults, this is critical. It’s necessary not to understate how important these skills are.

This is important for two reasons: one, it shows how involved Jennifer is in these childrens’ rehabilitation. Two, it also shows how hard these rehabilitations are for these kids. It puts everything into perspective.

This deeply influenced the biggest lesson she’s learned: don’t take advantage of anything in your life. The simplest things you do in your daily life are the most valuable.

I wanted to also remark a bit about the medical culture. Jenn clearly loves her career. It’s evident that she’s genuinely fulfilled when she gets the chance to help these children and see their parents eyes light up. This is so encouraging to see.

Unfortunately, I don’t see this as being the case with all medical professionals. I think sometimes there is too much bureaucratic stuff to attend to that the patients get lost in the process. This is definitely disheartening to see. I’d like to see our medical culture get back to the point where all of the professionals do it for the right reasons like Jennifer.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

This is the quote Jenn gave me.

This one hit me. It really made me think about this project.

It’s certainly a fact that all of the days in our life end up being exactly that: our life.

This quote gives me chills because it’s one of the most terrifying, yet inspiring quotes I’ve ever heard. It’s terrifying because I look back at the days I wasted by sulking or worrying about the wrong things. It’s inspiring because it reminds me that I have a chance to make every day in the future worth it.

This quote is one of the best reminders of how important it is to spend everyday like it’s our last.

If today was your last day, would you want it to represent a microcosm of how you lived your life? Would you be able to definitely say that it did represent that?

For me, I hoped I could say that. I’m not so certain I could. I’m hoping I can in the days moving forward.

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