We’re excited to announce that OT Uncorked is getting a facelift with a NEW LOGO! To celebrate, Miranda interviewed Lioba Menger, an Occupational Therapist and Artist, about the connections between those two roles and so much more!
OT Uncorked: Lioba, I am so excited to release this new logo. I love how you made our vision come to life! I want to highlight your skills as an artist and how they influence your practice, but before we get to that, tell me a little bit about why you became an OT.
Lioba Menger: The way I like to answer that is by going through my timeline. In high school, I was looking into going into the medical field, but I didn’t want to become a doctor, because ‘ain’t nobody got time’ or money for that and I didn’t want to be a nurse. I’m really into music so I was actually looking into music therapy at one time, but it’s narrow. Then, a good family friend of mine who is an OT said to me, “hey, have you ever thought about [OT]?” I didn’t really know what it was, so I started shadowing people and then I did a program in high school my senior year where it was half in the hospital, half in regular high school, and I got to shadow more OTs and other practitioners there. I wanted to be in the medical field, but in a profession that allows me to develop relationships with patients or clients over longer periods of time, which you don’t really get in other professions and in more acute settings. It also fits well with the lifestyle I would like to have in the future with having a family.
OT Uncorked: You talked about wanting to get to know clients over longer periods of time, so what setting are you working in now?
Lioba: I am currently a new-ish grad pediatric OT. I work at a private day school for children and young adults age 6 to 22 with intellectual disabilities, and as I like say, most of them have different ‘flavors of autism.’ Some of the students have been there for several years, and others stay for a matter of months. They are enrolled in this school because their behaviors make it difficult for them to be served in most public schools and many live in residential settings or group homes.
OT Uncorked: That’s a tough one to start out in! What are some of the ways you enjoy how you’re practicing OT right now?
Lioba: Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be a pediatric OT right now, so I feel like, because of the unique population, even within OT it is a very specialized population, I have a lot of leeway to experiment and to just meet the young adults and kids where they are at. Because there is a wide range of ages and cognitive function, there’s a lot I can do, so I like that I kind of have the freedom to develop myself as an OT and continue to learn about this population as well as the school system and the whole legal process behind OT.
OT Uncorked: What have you learned from working with this unique population?
Lioba: I’ve learned a lot. It’s a challenging population, but I like how broad my work is. The organization I work for is very trauma-informed, because a lot of the children I work with have trauma in their past, so that coupled with intellectual disabilities is difficult, but rewarding.
OT Uncorked: You mentioned that you had considered music therapy as a career. Tell me more about the role of music in your life.
Lioba: Music has always been part of my life. I started instrumental music with the violin when I was six. I was the only person in my family to venture out to brass with the horn. I’ve always felt a draw to music and how it impacts people. I thought I could impact people through music because I knew I didn’t want to go into a performance career. But now, my opinion and relationship with music and OT has changed. In OT school, I looked more at the nuts and bolts of musician injury – not how I could impact people through music, but how I could help people who make music. I would say in the setting I’m in now, I’d love to include more music because it’s an organic way of getting to know people and it works on a lot of great skills, but I haven’t done too much with it, for lots of reasons, mostly logistically.
OT Uncorked: In addition to music, I know there are other art forms you enjoy exploring, because the main reason I’m interviewing, aside from you being a great friend, is because you created the new artwork for OT Uncorked. So you are also visually talented… Or talented in the visual arts? I’m not even sure how to word that, but tell me more about your history with visual arts and what that looks like in your life.
Lioba: Well first, thank you for letting me do this. I love doing this kind of stuff, and I’m excited to be doing this with you. I’ve always liked to draw, and I think it helps my creative side come up with random crafts to do with the kids. For example, the other day, a kid was stimming with a piece of string, and I remember seeing this YouTube video of dipping string in paint and then putting it between two pieces of paper and pressing down, then slowly pulling the string out to get this really cool streaky line. If you do it in green, it looks like a plant, which I’m really into. It’s stuff like that, when I get to incorporate what the kids like. I think art has helped me be creative in my profession, but it’s also been very calming for me and fun. I used to do a lot of pencil and graphite, and then I transitioned to doing more pen and ink doodles and design stuff, which is how we landed together talking about this. My parents put me in art classes through middle and high school outside of school, which was really helpful.
OT Uncorked: It’s cool to hear how you’ve incorporated your own occupations into how you relate to your clients. I think we talk a lot about therapeutic use of self, but that’s really it in action!
Lioba: Yeah, absolutely. I think therapeutic use of self can go both ways. There is definitely a line between professional and personal relationships, but if you share a little of yourself with your client and invite them to engage in your passion as well, it’s kind of reciprocal. They might absolutely love it too, and it might help them. It not only helps build rapport but can also help the therapeutic process, not just physically, but through mental healing.
OT Uncorked: I love what you’re saying. I hope you know we’re totally doing an episode together about the use of the arts for healing at some point.
Lioba: That would be great! I also just want to mention that I like the story of how we came together to come up with the design for the new logo and how we used our OT thought process to make decisions.
OT Uncorked: I do, too! We were at AOTA 2019 sitting in the main stage area waiting for a session to start, and we were talking about the podcast. It worked out perfectly, since you always have your doodle pad on you. As we were talking, I looked over and you were sketching out designs and our collaboration just sort of launched from there. I really wanted the logo to convey the casual nature of my conversations with guests and highlight the wine motif. It was fun to consider font choices, patterns, and layouts to decrease visual clutter, make it easier to process, visually, and capture the essence of the podcast. I’m excited by what we came up with!
Lioba: I am, too!
OT Uncorked: Aside from art, what are some of your favorite occupations?
Lioba: Personally, I really like making music. Sometimes practicing isn’t too great, but I enjoy making music with others in a concert band. I really enjoy being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and working as an OT. I enjoy tending to my plants -that’s a big thing for me, too. I also do civil war re-enactments. Oh, and I love motorcycle riding!
OT Uncorked: I love the diversity in your occupations. I’ve known you for a while, but I still don’t understand: how do re-enactments work? Is that something people can watch or is it more for the people participating?
Lioba: There are living history events and then there are re-enactments, which are more to do with battles. You’re a member of a unit or company – it’s all military based – so your unit is part of a regiment. Everyone has different ranks, and then we sleep and camp in canvas tents and everything tries to be as authentic as possible. Some people go above and beyond, but it’s an educational thing for spectators about how people lived. That’s what I love about it. I’ve always been into history and pretty dresses – I love the historical part of it. Some of the ladies bring out their spinning wheels, but I, as a medic – I’m an EMT in real life, but in re-enacting, they call me a medic – actually dress up as a field surgeon, and go out on the field. I have all my medical stuff in a haversack and then I take care of people who sprain their ankle or pass out, or whatever. That’s how I can be involved. I love doing the female impression, but I also get bored if I’m on the sidelines and I didn’t want to carry a rifle. This is a way I can actually help out.
OT Uncorked: So when you’re doing a medic impression, are you actually applying your EMT skills with the actors?
Lioba: Yeah, so in camp, a yellow flag signifies that there’s a field hospital. There are definitely re-enactors that portray surgeons or go out on the field and carry people off with stretchers for show, but everyone my unit has medical training and provides care to anyone who needs it. I’m still learning, because I’m only in my third year of re-enacting, but before I started, I thought it was a weird but awesome hobby to have. Now, I really enjoy it and it became my weird hobby… Because everyone needs a weird hobby.
OT Uncorked: I love that. Everyone needs a weird hobby.
Lioba: That’s actually something I ask people sometimes, “What is your weird hobby?” Like my weird hobby is I spend way too much time and money on re-enacting and plants, so when I’m first getting to know somebody, that’s what I ask them. So, Miranda, what is your weird hobby?
OT Uncorked: I was just thinking that. I don’t know! I’m sure I have a bunch. Maybe my weird hobby is podcasting… I also take ballroom dance classes, and I like plants. But I’m not good at keeping them alive. Hmm, I’ll have to think about this one. You have so many good ones!
Lioba: I’m going to have nothing interesting about me after this – I’m just going to have everything out in this post, and if someone wants to get to know me, I’m going to refer them to you!
OT Uncorked: Send them my way! I’ll brag about you. Speaking of which, do you do other art-related freelance work?
Lioba: Yes! I’m always open to collaborating on projects. People can reach out to me by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
OT Uncorked: Awesome. Thank you for sharing your talents with me!
Lioba: Thank you! It was fun. It’s always great to have something to share