February 16, 2011

Super Powers

I am so thankful for all the gifts and talents I've been given. Despite the physical problems I've been dealing with lately, I still feel so incredibly lucky for my life and the people with whom I share it. There are many times when I get anxious and depressed, but it doesn't have a whole lot to do with my emotional state but rather I get frustrated with my physical inabilities and that's what gets me down. It's times like these, when I come home from a house call, I feel so validated. I really find joy in nurturing whether it's my children, my friends and family, my friends' children or my clients; I just feel my best when I'm making a difference for someone else. As a Technologist working part time in the field of consulting and support, I feel my super power is nurturing users with the advances of technology to address specific needs. Accessibility for the young and old is near and dear to my heart.

I am so incredibly grateful to do the kind of "job" that doesn't require a lot of physical effort. I feel "able" when I am performing technical duties that require more brain than pain. I feel like it's a natural skill I'm honing and able to use it to do something that helps support my family and my personal needs. I wish I could say I didn't need the money, but now more than ever, I'll be needing it to support my medical issues in the near future. It's kind of sad that in this great country, the "land of the free," we are such slaves to bureaucracy. If health insurance and medical bills weren't threatening us with bankruptcy, I wouldn't **need** to work as much. Still, if I won the lottery, I think I'd still do the same kind of work for free just because I get paid with so much more than money. Not many people can say that about what they do to make a living so I'm very fortunate.

I am so grateful for my clients and feel so blessed to have them and "work" for them. It's hard work, but it's also hard to call it "work." They are so good to me and I thank God for them on every trip home from a house call. My car is my "church" and I'm grateful for the solitude of the road where I can follow a path not unlike faith. When it comes to religion, my belief is that while your mileage may vary, the destination is the same.

Tonight I set up a brand new iMac for a lady who has macular degeneration. She is such a joy to work with. She is so patient and understanding. She just had surgery on one eye and is about to have the other fixed soon. She was limping along with an older iMac G5 and decided it was time to upgrade so she called me to come out and get it set up for her. One of the areas for which I specialize is customizing the Mac OS for seniors and addressing their accessibility needs. Sure, Macs are really easy to use, but not many people really tweak them and the way they come by default can really cause some repetitive stress injuries if you're not careful. The first thing I do is make everything bigger...much, much bigger! I LOVE the shrieks of joy when they watch me use the Finder Preferences to enlarge the text and icons and then the Accessibility System Preference Pane to enlarge the mouse pointer. Another favorite is customizing scrolling features on trackpads or mice with wheels or touch surfaces. The look of sheer delight is just priceless to me.

Another of my favorite clients is a dear woman who is mostly a recluse who has anxiety issues. She is the definition of a life-long learner and loves to learn, research and try new things on her Mac. It's been amazing to watch her blossom over the past few months and I feel incredibly proud. We have a lot in common and I just adore spending time with her. She has arthritis so mousing and tracking can be quite the challenge. I'm trying to train her to use the keyboard shortcuts and it's really helping her. She adores using 1Password to keep track of all the information she's terrified of forgetting as she ages — yet another thing we have in common.

There are lots of times I work with people and they spend a lot of time showing me things about their lives and open up about personal issues. Sometimes we spend more time talking and reminiscing than actually working on the computer. I used to get frustrated thinking to myself, come on lady, you're not paying me to listen to your stories — I felt so guilty I wasn't doing "tech stuff" every second while on the clock. I discovered though that they ALL do the same thing. They really NEED to just take a break and chit-chat about life because it's important to them. I've learned that it's a way for them to process information and allow their brains to cycle and keep momentum. We address their needs and goals and assess their progress along the way. They tell me and show me how they've improved over time and I feel really proud of them. So many times I walk away feeling more like a therapist than a technician!

Many of them introduce me (to their friends or family when present) as their "Computer Tutor." When they say it that way, it doesn't seem much different from a physical therapist that provides in-home care for the elderly who have had, say, a hip replacement. It's finally dawned on me that another of my dreams have come true — doing what I enjoy for a living. When I decided to attend college, one major I was incredibly interested in was called Art Therapy. My two passions were always art and psychology. Sadly, the college where I got accepted no longer offered the course so I decided to study advertising design instead. Long story short, I ended up taking a different path and fell in love with the technical side of things. Lately, I've realized though that I ended up doing what I originally set out to do which was to work with people using a medium not normally associated with "therapy" such as art. In this case, it's technology. Teaching people how to use a computer interface has become a great source of therapy for my clients. They feel they are learning and staving off age-related issues like Alzheimer's or dementia by continually exercising their brains and learning how to create on the computer. They tire very easily, as to be expected, but each time, they feel like they've gotten a mental workout. It's amazing how this niche of "computer tutoring slash/brain therapy" seems to be growing among seniors. I'm just extremely grateful that it's a priority and that they choose to pay me to help them with it. Sometimes it's hard to take money for doing this type of work, but I suspect they can tell by the way I go out of my way for them at times. I truly believe that you reap what you sow. This is just one of the many rewards of being a Mac consultant.

Talents and skills are something we overlook a lot of times, but my clients always remind me of what I have and how I use it and that makes me feel good inside. I believe we all have something, we just need to dig deep and discover our own super powers.

How do you use your super powers to make a difference?

Posted via email from TheMacMommy

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant read, thank you!

    It's always nice to hear stories such as this.

    My uncle suffers from a rare medical condition meaning he is paralyzed and the use of his hands is ever reducing. His computer is such a big part of his life and when he has issues with that it's awful. He has recently been ripped off by a company proclaiming to provide a software solution that will make his life X number of times easier, and basically prayed on his good natured personality. They offered to have someone install it for him, took his money (thousands of pounds) and simply posted a bunch of CDs for him to install. The software doesn't run on his x64 Windows system and have left him high and dry with no support.

    All in all, it's great when people help those around them


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