I would like to introduce myself. My name is Barb Casper.
You may be wondering why I decided to start this blog. Here’s my best description as to how this blog got started…
I graduated from college in the spring of 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation and was certified as a Therapeutic Recreation Specialist in the summer of 1979. I have worked with many different populations in a number of different settings including pediatrics, mental health, and physical medicine/rehabilitation. Outside of the clinical setting, I’ve also provided after-school recreation services for elementary school children. I have worked as a summer camp counselor at a residential setting for adolescents and have been an activity program director in a camp setting for the physically impaired.
Twenty years after receiving my first degree, I turned everything upside down and switched career paths. I will explain the reasoning later. I have always enjoyed being creative so I decided to pursue a career in graphic design. I completed my Associate’s degree in Applied Sciences – Graphic Arts-Design in 1999.
Many people have told me over the years that my switch in career paths was drastic and that is correct. Sometimes in life we must change our chosen path. Our goals, ambitions and dreams do not always work out the way we had planned for one reason or another. Such has been my journey. I was perfectly satisfied being a recreation therapist. I loved my job and the patients with whom I worked. However, the good Lord had other plans for me.
Shortly after my second son was born I experienced a bad fall on the ice. That accident was literally the straw that broke this camel’s back. Life changed in a moment. I went from being active and loving life to being in constant pain and struggling just to make it through a day. Don’t get me wrong, my back problems didn’t begin in an instant. My fall simply quadrupled my difficulties. At the age of 32, I found myself, again, having to ask myself some very difficult questions to help guide my way through life: What do I want out of life? Am I going to be able to continue to handle a very physical career in the future if I continue to feel this way? How am I going to support my family if I am unable to work? If I change careers, what will I be able to do? What else do I love that I can pursue? How is this going to impact my activities of living, my hobbies and my involvement in sports and recreation? On and on and on the questions continued…
Finally, one year after my spinal fusion and back pain that didn’t fully resolve, I had explored my options long enough. Even though I didn’t have all the answers I knew I had to make a decision and I returned to school. I quit my job as an R.T. to pursue my education. Even after the decision had been made I was uncertain as to whether I was choosing wisely. I was frightened yet determined. It certainly wasn’t an easy process. I worked four part-time jobs, some simultaneously, while I was at college to help support my family. I also missed out on many activities with my children during their formative years in order to have enough time to study and continue working. Thank goodness for my wonderful and supportive husband!
Despite the difficulties, I obtained my degree in graphic design in 1999. I was employed as a lead designer for a publishing company and a commercial printer for approximately 8 years. Then I decided to move my business home as I had been commuting two hours daily to and from work and the wear and tear on me physically was becoming much too difficult. Again, another life decision and transition. Starting over with a new career required me to begin a business from scratch with no clientele and no income. Luckily, I have been blessed and I have had a successful design career with many satisfied clients.
In 2010, my world was turned upside down once again. I had a heart attack and was diagnosed with high cholesterol, diabetes and hypothyroidism. Three months after having two stents placed, my arteries were so full I required triple bypass surgery. Yet another setback and another evaluation of my life goals became necessary. My physical health was, once again, interrupting my life.
Over the years my health has worsened. I have been referred to physical therapy on numerous occasions, a pain management clinic several times, a rheumatologist, and I have pursued natural medicine to address my chronic pain. Every specialist has recommending that I not sit for long periods of time because it increased my pain level. “Great”, I thought. Part of the reason I took a graphic design job was that it was sedentary work! Needless to say, I felt caught between a rock and hard place. I couldn’t be physically active for very long and I was now being told I shouldn’t be sitting all day at a desk job. Now what? I decided to speak with a friend of mine, who was a naturopath, about part-time work at her shop in exchange for services. I opted to continue to work part-time from home and work several hours at my friend’s business to do what was being recommended by so many.
Today, I still struggle with pain. In fact, I have recently been diagnosed with arthritis and plantar fasciitis which has added to my pain level and has further decreased my ability to involve myself in any form of sustained activity. Out of sheer will and determination, I am still doing my graphic design work and I work a few hours at my friend’s business, too. Life hasn’t been easy but I continue to roll with the punches and make my life mine no matter the circumstances. I am able to still get by and I will improvise as necessary to live a full and satisfying life.
My choices have led me to where I am today. As U can see, I have been in the same position as many of U. I have had to ask myself the same questions that will be addressed in this blog. What is your my path? What is your purpose in life? What do U aspire to be? How can U get to where U want to be despite the barriers U have encountered? How do U insure U are happy despite everything that has happened to U? How do U cope with chronic pain and still lead a fulfilled life? And, finally, are U where U want to be right now or should U make additional changes to live a fulfilled life.
The answer to that final question resulted in this blog and e-books, classes, videos and more which will be available to U via this website. I have opted to pursue my dream of helping others. Actually, I have never let go of that dream. I simply pushed it aside and placed it on the back burner because I was unable to see how I could work as a recreation therapist as I knew it was physically unrealistic. I have finally realized just because I can’t be active enough to hold down a recreation therapy job, it doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to offer. I have a skillset that I can share with U on the Internet.
I think working at the natural health facility finally led me to realize how much I missed helping others. It is rather amusing looking back at what has transpired over the last 30 years and how I have decided to come full circle and return to my original career roots. I still plan to maintain my graphic design position. I am simply adding this blog as a way of helping others. I am doing it just as much for myself as for U so I can pursue what I love. I am sure the Good Lord has known what he has been doing all along and, based on this thirty year journey, it is evident he also has a keen sense of humor. On the other hand, I didn’t have a clue, nor have I thought much of this was funny until now. Life is a series of lessons and some of us “get it” much sooner than others. I, on the other hand, have taken my time! It has only been recently when I began to think about uniting my computer and design skills with my recreation therapy knowledge that I finally realized my AH-HA moment! This is how ReCreate-U was born.
“Life will only change when you are more committed to your dreams than you are to your comfort zone.” – Billy Cox