Cherie Rowett is a registered occupational therapist based in Adelaide South Australia. Cherie has much experience in building capacity with adults following acquired brain injury. For many years she was employed in SAHealth inpatient and community-based rehabilitation units, before establishing a consultancy – providing home-based capacity building, medico-legal occupational therapy assessments and return to driving services, and in recent years extending services to those with plan-managed and self-managed NDIS packages. At the same time and over two decades Cherie was also a lecturer and topic coordinator teaching part-time at Flinders University within the Clinical Rehabilitation and Occupational Therapy courses there.
Cherie brings to Heart Choice Enterprises her passion for celebrating and encouraging family carers in their important role of providing care – because when carers can keep the spirit of caring and their own well-being alive and well, everyone in the equation wins and family life is enriched. Cherie has lifelong insights into the carer role and challenges, having grown up with a younger sister with a congenital cognitive disability, and then having walked alongside her mother, and more recently her husband, accompanying both of them on their palliative journeys.
Heart Choice Enterprises is imbued with Cherie’s occupational view of health and well-being. This stems from three years of post-graduate studies during the 1990s, when Cherie was privileged to complete a research higher degree at UniSA with Associate Professor Ann Wilcock as her supervisor. During that time, there were many rich 1:1 discussions with Ann that have influenced Cherie’s view of human nature and health ever since – creating a deep appreciation of occupational science concepts, including the topic of praxis and apraxia. The field of occupational science was relatively new then – which Ann had co-founded from Adelaide with occupational therapy collaborators based in Southern California.
In keeping with this occupational view of human health and well-being you can see in the photos on this page some images of some of the various occupations that Cherie has found meaningful over the years.
A childhood growing up in Queensland, Melbourne, Perth and then Adelaide featured common childhood occupations regardless of the region. There was always plenty of outdoor play with siblings and other kids from the neighbourhood spilling outdoors into the large front yards of the time. Go-karting, bike riding, chasey and various rule-filled action games and ball games were all embraced enthusiastically. Indoors there was Lego to build, textas and crayons to draw with, and dolls to dress or groom or with whom to role-play family scenarios. And like most other households by then, a television set was nestled into the loungeroom – so there was easy entertainment available in the evenings – just the one screen in the house however, so it was usually viewed together as a family. Some evenings there was a trip out to watch a movie at the local drive-in together, or board games to play – like Monopoly or the Game of Life etc, or books and poetry to read together or alone. There were pet birds and cats to care for, dancing lessons and concerts, swimming and life-saving lessons, and trips to the beach in the heat of summer.
Every couple of years long drives in the family car took us interstate to visit grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins in Queensland – gifting an enduring appreciation of the vastness and beauty of the Australian landscape. Tuition in crochet and knitting was provided by a grandmother during some of those interstate visits and happy memories abound too of learning and playing “Bridge” and other card games – which connected us across all three generations. Whilst living in Perth, part-time paid work was added into the mix from the age of 14, which was quite a thrill and a boost for self-esteem.
What a privilege to have such freedom to engage in so many wonderful occupations as a child and youth – to constantly experience the healthful cycles of activity and rest, and to gain such a broad sense of competence, skill and praxis. And looking back I notice that every time we shifted to live in a different state of Australia it was the engaging in shared activities that established connection and a sense of belonging in the new community each time.
The occupations of childhood gave way in due course to new hobbies in adulthood such as art lessons, bushwalking and camping, yoga, reading, sewing, dancing, choir singing, and mixed basketball – squeezed in around full-time work roles, post-graduate studies, the shared family carer role for my sister in the mix, and of course all before the routines of parenting set in later.
Looking back at the shift in meaningful occupations over time there is definitely an alignment with progressive life stages. Not only has there been a “horizontal development” of a broad set of skills and knowledge that has developed over time from the mix of occupations that have been engaged in, but also a“vertical development” or depth of personal and spiritual growth – which also aligns with cognitive and emotional maturation. All the meaningful activities and roles engaged in so far in life – across various environments and settings and with various communities of people – have fuelled understanding of the nature of resilience, the value of empathy, and fostered an applied understanding of the role of “doing, being, belonging and becoming” and the purposeful use of time that are central in Ann Wilcock’s view of human health.
A wholistic understanding of human biological systems and capacities – especially the un-localised phenomenon of “mind” and the intangible but undeniable concept of the human “spirit” – have led to acceptance and embrace of the universal human yearning for meaning and existential purpose. Early memories align with this – for example offering prayers for grandparents living on the eastern seaboard from a chapel at the Catholic primary school attended in Perth was an activity which brought me a sense of contribution to family well-being and kept a sense of family connection and belonging alive even though located so far apart. Spiritual development as an adult has been enhanced by choosing to spend time learning more – eg through reading, classes, workshops, cultural tours and discussion groups bringing introductory insights into all sorts of spiritual views such as Buddhism; Yogic practices; A Course in Miracles; Christianity; the writings of sages such as Rumi and Florence Scovell-Shin; Shamanism; Australian Aboriginal perspectives and cultural wisdom; and studying concepts of building one’s light and resonance and the innovative system of personal and worldly archetypes developed by a local spiritual master, Elizabeth Ellames. Growing appreciation of personal gifts and identity from an archetypical perspective has been particularly significant – enriching possibilities around the purpose of one’s life-work and contributions, going beyond one’s valued professional training and professional identity. Thus, I find myself equally grateful for the insights gleaned through Elizabeth Ellames’ writing about the spiritual dimension of purpose as I am for the influence of Ann Wilcock’s teachings about the occupational and health-related dimensions of purpose.
I hope this backstory gives you some understanding of why this brand focuses on making life do-able. We all have a wealth of meaningful things to be done – which can be disrupted from time to time in the course of life by expected or unexpected causes – leaving us feeling rather lost and bereft of meaning as a result. Causes like the arrival of pandemics or the onset of disability, like the arrival of new life roles such as when becoming a parent or the relinquishing of valued roles such as when stepping into retirement, or when adjusting and balancing roles – such as when reducing work outside the home to have more time for a family carer role. Whatever the circumstances, something I know for sure from my own life is that life is more enjoyable when it feels do-able.
If you have stuck with this account through to this point, no doubt you would be feeling this “Meet Cherie” tab has delivered a very indepth introduction indeed – probably far beyond the level expected. If you have hung in there – thanks for doing so! The truth is that there is an amazing wealth of experiences in every person’s lifetime that influences who we each become and what we each have to give. I hope I get to hear your story too in the near future.
I also speak to camera about aspects of the values I bring to Heart Choice Enterprises in this short video…