Linda inspires project

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Nicolette BarbasSouth Western Times
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Occupational therapist and Projects of Heart and Soul chairperson, Linda Blyth was a instrumental in seeing the Bunbury Garden Labyrinth project come to fruition.
Camera IconOccupational therapist and Projects of Heart and Soul chairperson, Linda Blyth was a instrumental in seeing the Bunbury Garden Labyrinth project come to fruition. Credit: Nicolette Barbas

If you have taken a walk through Bunbury’s Queen’s Gardens in the past year you may have noticed a welcoming open space known as the Bunbury Garden Labyrinth.

Designed by local artists, the labyrinth gives people a place to reflect, contemplate and meditate.

Occupational therapist and chair of Projects of Heart and Soul Linda Blyth was instrumental in seeing this project come to fruition.

“It’s been about five and a half years since we had the first conversation around having a non-denominational space for people to come to,” Linda explained.

“But it took three and a half years of development and fundraising before the first hole was even dug.

“I was asked to be a part of this wonderful project because of my OT connections but I also partly got involved because of my spirituality.

“St Augustine Uniting Church had a pop-up labyrinth they used every lent and that was how I walked my first labyrinth and loved the idea of it.

“The really profound thing is that when this was being designed it was being designed because a group of people felt they wanted to help people understand the preciousness of life and to slow down.

“In the midst of it being finished COVID happened and it got people thinking, ‘wow we really need a place like this’.”

Linda has spent a lot of her life travelling around the State, but for the past 21 years she has called Bunbury home.

“I call myself West Australian because I’ve grown up in Perth, but I’ve spent a lot of my life in the country,” she laughed.

“I’m very conscious that I have moved a lot in my lifetime.

“As children growing up we had to adapt quite frequently to shifting after three or four years because of my father’s job, but I learnt a lot from that.

“It’s also something that I encourage in my children, not looking at change as a bad thing, but as something to learn from.”

In 1986 Linda graduated from Curtin University and began her career as an occupational therapist.

A short while after she moved to Melbourne where she studied a graduate diploma in music therapy. In 2008 Linda won the OT Australia WA Recognition of Service Rural Award and in 2015 she won the South West Occupational Therapy Professional Development Group’s recognition of service award.

“I wanted to be an OT from a young age. I had done OT work experience with children with disabilities and it was something I felt very passionate about,” she said.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t love what I do. Being an OT is such an enabling profession.

“It’s such a well-designed university course that it changes the way you see things.

“A large amount of my work has been with chronic disease or palliative care patients, but the part I most enjoy is not even the progress you make with them, it’s seemingly that you’re making a difference in someone’s life.”

In later years Linda has worked in the area of childhood trauma with families and children at risk.

“It’s not about fixing something, it’s more about working with what they have got,” she said.

“Working in this industry has taught me the importance of your narrative.

“You have a story line and things can happen along the way, but how you interpret those things and what you make of them is the narrative you follow.”

After 35 years in the industry, Linda is now trying to trim back on her work and focus more on herself.

“I started going to art lessons at Red Mill and art has quickly become more of my leisure in recent times,” she said.

“I have also been getting together with friends just to sing as well, which has been nice.

“I’m still passionate about what I do but I want to establish having days for myself and am working on getting my mind to do less and focus on the now, slowing things down and being in the moment.”

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