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Spice Things Up with Adventures



Occupational Therapy


Spice Things Up with Adventures .

The other day I learned that a dear friend in Texas had just completed her first sky dive.  She sent out a post-jump photo and I could see the exhilaration on her face; she looked joyful, healthy and full of energy.

As an occupational therapist I obsess about meaningful occupation (i.e. doing things that you care about) as a basic human need and right. This notion is a centerpiece of my practice.  Now my pal’s exploits have given me a new idea:  maybe adventure is also a basic need.

What is an adventure?  Referencing Dictionary.com, it’s an unusual, exciting experience; a bold, risky undertaking. Some adventures can even be hazardous, but not all are. (There’s sky diving with an experienced company, and there’s jumping off a cliff with only an umbrella!)

Adventures wake us up and challenge us in new ways. If everyday business-as-usual routines are the food of life, then adventure is the seasoning.

For some, just a little salt and pepper is good. Some folks are quite sensitive; perhaps they have been on such a bland diet of predictable, easy activities that they have become very unused to the emotional rush that adventures bring. Or they’ve been dealing with a lot of turbulence in life, and just want a little fun. For the low-stakes, sensitive adventurer, maybe just walking a new way to work, applying for a volunteer position, or trying a new recipe will be the right level of adventure for today.

When we’re feeling a bit more adventurous we seek a little brighter seasoning, perhaps more like the lovely sour tang of lemon zest… it gets the blood pumping without overwhelming.  The risks are moderate, and the challenges are greater at this level of adventure. Pleasantly exciting, with the possibility of not always turning out as one might predict, yet all likely outcomes would be tolerable.

A nice cayenne pepper level seasoning may be just the thing you crave. Starting a new career path has been one of my own spicier adventures.  I love this level of action. Sure, it could become unpleasant, if things go badly, but I plan for “what ifs” and “if-thens” and I feel elated when I engage in a higher-stakes endeavor that requires my attention, skills, and  learning in-the-moment. Like kayaking in fast waters, the stakes are high, but the rewards are so worth it. Whee!

Some people like even hotter peppers… perhaps the legendary ghost pepper is their desire. I am not so up for this level of adventure for my clients or myself… I’ll leave this level of risk and courage to those who can take the heat, and the potential losses!

Everyone’s spiciness scale is unique to them…  one person’s salt and pepper activity may be another’s cayenne-level activity.  Our desire and tolerance for adventure evolves as we do. There are times when we really just need a bland diet and some rest, but every life needs some spice, and adventure can provide just that.  By encouraging ourselves to embrace successive opportunities to stretch, grow, and cope with uncertainty we increase our ability to enjoy life’s adventures and to navigate its surprises.

What level of adventure do you have a taste for?  How can you spice up your life, occupationally speaking? Here’s a little worksheet to help you gather your thoughts and spice up your life!  (And please pass this along to anyone you know who might enjoy it!)

Adventure Planner

Spiciness/ Level of Adventure Your Adventure To-Do List
Salt & Pepper:  Adds some flavor, risk level is low

(Break out of an old routine; finally try something you’ve been wanting to do.)

Lemon zest:  Tart and a little sharp and flavorful; Will wake you up a bit and risk level is mild-moderate

(Maybe you’ll look silly or it won’t work out, but the experience will be worth it)

Cayenne pepper:  Hot and attention-getting, but not overwhelming; moderate to high risk

(If this doesn’t work out it’ll hurt, but you’ll be fine…)

Ghost pepper:  A definite risk: you are sweating and loving/hating it

(So scared, and so amped!)