Oh, Christmas Tree!

Today, the staff at day activities have been setting up the Christmas tree and other decorations. I know some people in other countries do so much earlier, but St. Nicholas is celebrated on December 5 here and it’s pretty much not done to set up your Christmas tree before then.

I have a book of Christmassy journal prompts. They start on December 1, but I haven’t written on any of them yet. Today, I’m choosing to write on the Dec 2 prompt, which is about Christmas trees.

Growing up, my family had a Christmas tree almost every year. The one or two times we didn’t, it was because of our cat. We had a live tree and our parents pretty much detested faux trees. We had the tree decorated with silver and red Christmass balls and bells that were made of glass. Almost each year, I would accidentally break at least one ball or bell. We also had a ton of wooden figurines including santas, snowmen, angels, etc. I particularly loved to play with these figurines. We had yellow Christmas lights on the tree. I’m not even sure other colors were available back then. We didn’t have a star or other large decoration at the top of the tree.

When I moved out of my parents’ house, I didn’t particularly care for decor. After all, I was totally blind by this time. No Christmas tree for me.

In the psychiatric hospital, we did have a lot of Christmas decorations. Yes, even on the locked ward. Of course, they had to be safe, so they couldn’t be made of glass or in any other way used to cause harm. I was admitted in early November and, by the time the decorations got put up, was still pretty unstable. One day, in an anger outburst, I pulled all Christmas decorations off the wall.

I still don’t really care for Christmas decorations, though I don’t really dislike them either unless they’re in my way. It is very intriguing to know how much people can put in my way in the name of decorating. At my last psych unit, I was in crisis almost every December due to having bumped into one tree or another (we had several) a little too many times.

This year, I know my staff will make sure to place the Christmas tree somewhere I won’t bump into it. Both at day activities and at the home, I’m not the only autistic or blind person. My staff asked me whether I want to make a Christmas decoration with one of them next week. I said yes.

Key #SoCS

I have a key to my room on a keychain. I would originally get a key to the particular home I live in in the care facility. I ultimately didn’t end up getting one. This may be because there’s not been a need for it. I mean, I can’t go to day activities or whatever on my own anyway.

Another reason may be the fact that I ran off several times. The unit is semi-locked, in that you need to turn a particular key to be able to open the door to go out of the house. The other clients can’t work this key, so are in a minor way prevented from leaving the home.

I, however, can work the key. I didn’t know I could until one day in late October, I was in a crisis and needed to find staff. There is no-one on my floor from 10:15PM on, but there are call buttons and listen-in systems and such for people to call the night staff, who is responsible for the entire facility. Anyway, I tried to find help that particular time.

Another time, around three weeks ago, I ran off because my flight response kicked in. I worked the key again and let myself out.

After this, it’s been discussed to remove the key from the lock, so that staff need to open the door with their own keys and I won’t be able to elope on my own. So far, that action hasn’t been taken, presumably because the measure would be just for me (since no other client can work the key anyway). They probably think I’m responsible enough (or should be) to handle this freedom. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

I do also have a key to my husband’s and my house. The reason for this is more symbolic, as I never go to this house on my own. However, I like it this way.

This post is part of #SoCS, for which the prompt this week is “Key”.

#IWSG: My Future Writing Self

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means I’m linking up with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) again. I did okay in the writing department this past month. To be honest, I’ve been thinking about writing more than I actually wrote. To mention how I’d like to write more in the coming month, seems like a pointlessly repetitive statement though.

However, the optional question for this month’s #IWSG is to envision your future writing self. Let me share.

My future writing self will have finally taken a course on memoir writing. I’ve been looking at them but, since they’re usually really expensive, I don’t feel I can invest the money in them. Then again, if I ever want to be successful as a writer, it’s going to be as a memoirist. I mean, let’s face it: I can’t write poetry or fiction that’s catching at all.

I will then have written and maybe even self-published my own memoir. I don’t need to earn any money off of it, but I’d love it if other people read my story.

My future writing self will also have written more on this blog, including actually poetry and short fiction. She will not feel as self-conscious about her writing as I do now. I mean, no, my writing may not be the best when compared to other people’s, but it’s the best way I can express myself.

My future writing self will actually be able to sit and plan a story or, like I said, a memoir. She will be able to actually complete the work she starts even if it takes longer to write. In the past, I could actually write longer stories and I even have a few unfinished novels. I don’t intend on ever publishing a work of fiction except on this blog, but I do wish to have the patience to complete something that could be turned into a book. Right now, I impulsively start a ton of projects I think will be great, but drop them again within hours to days.

For example, I have been thinking of starting a prompt-based writing challenge. No, not another word-of-the-day challenge. They’re great, but there are enough of them on WordPress already. Rather, I’d like to start a journaling challenge based on prompts around self-discovery and reflection. I already registered a WordPress site for it, so in a hurry in fact that I initially accepted a missspelled subdomain suggestion. I fixed that (registered another blog with a correctly spelled address), but now I’m stuck. I don’t lack inspiration, but I have no idea how to go about actually promoting this challenge to the masses and am not even sure my idea will catch on. Then, the fact that I cannot create images to go with my posts, is holding me back, because whoever finds a short prompt that doesn’t have a catchy image with it? Maybe this idea is bad indeed, but I wanted the #IWSG community to know about it. We’ll see what 2020 will have in store for me.

Starting My Weight Loss Journey Again (And This Time for Real)

In the first week of my being in the care facility, I got weighed in. I hadn’t been weighed since sometime in like February. Not surprisingly, I had gained about 2-3kg in these nine months. I didn’t immediately take action though, as I felt I’d had to get used to being in the facility first and see how my weight would progress. Two weeks ago, I got weighed in and had gained about 500 grams again. This isn’t huge and could be due to the time of day I was being weighed in, but I decided it was time for action anyway. I’ve been in the facility for two months now and need to make sure I don’t gain any weight and ultimately lose some.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m short-statured at only 1.53m. The upper border of healthy weight, as such, is 58.5kg. The border between overweight and obesity is 70.2kg. I weighed 74.9kg two weeks ago. This means I’ll have to lose at least 5kg. I have no intention of getting to a healthy weight, but I really want to cross the border back from obese to overweight. I also know I can do this, as I did this about 18 months ago too. Now though, once I reach overweight status, I have no intention of crossing the border back to obese.

I discussed my eating habits with my husband. He said that, if I skip just the cookie at morning coffee break and don’t change anything else, I’ll have lost those 5kg in a year or two. I want to go faster though. For this reason, I’ve also changed from chocolate spread to peanut butter on my breakfast bread. I know, peanut butter still isn’t low-calorie, but it’s a lot healthier than chocolate spread. At lunchtime, I still got two slices of bread which were heavily topped with butter and sweet toppings, one with peanut butter and the other usually with chocolate spread or chocolate flakes. There’s a mealtime assistant who prepares our lunch and I didn’t want to have a huge list of demands of her, given that I already have quite a few likes and dislikes on my list. Like, I can’t stand ham or cheese (unless toasted). I basically only eat what are called sweet toppings and don’t even like all of those. As such, I initially didn’t want to say that I don’t want butter and don’t want my bread too heavily topped. After discussing it with the staff, we agreed to put this on my list of lunchtime menu requests anyway.

My husband advised me for the millionth time to drink more water. At first, I was like, how do I remember to drink enough water? He told me to put reminders in my iPhone. At first, I thought that would be weird or annoying and indeed it’s a hassle to put reminders in my phone via the default reminders app. I however remembered a friend recommending an app that reminds you to drink water and where you can log your water intake. I searched for it. The first one I found cost like €8,99/week and hardly had any free features. I mean seriously?! Who would pay almost €40 a month for an app to remind you to drink water? I doubted my friend meant this app. Turned out there’s another app by a similar name that’s free and €9,99 once for paid features. I got that one and love it! I had some trouble setting it up at first, but now it reminds me each hour between 9AM and 9PM to drink water. Its sound is really catchy. I reached my recommended water intake goal for the past three or four days and almost reached it for the entire week that I’ve been using the app.

I finally made my Fitbit activity tracker work again this past week too. It had been lying around ever since I came here because its battery was empty and I couldn’t find the charger. Then when I finally found it, the app had somehow locked me out. I got in again after an app update. I notice that, though overall I manage fewer daily steps than before I moved here, my active hours are better. This means I get over 250 steps most hours during the day. Today, I didn’t do that well in this department, but I did manage nearly 8000 steps throughout the day.

I was pretty conscious of my eating habits all through the week, making sure I eat my veggies if there’s even the slightest chance I may be able to like them. Before this, I’d not even try a lot of them. I made sure to eat enough fruit. Not that I had much trouble with that before, but fruit usually meant bananas. These are relatively high in calories and very sugary. Thankfully, we had grapes, kiwifruit and clementines too, as well as of course apples and sometimes pears.

Over the week-end, I stayed at the facility. When discussing my weight loss plans with my husband, I mentioned that we get chips on week-ends. However, this week-end, we also got pancakes for lunch and a lot of other treats. I didn’t really like the result this would have on my weight, but also found it hard to resist them.

My staff wasn’t particularly motivating either. Some literally told me to wait for January to start my healthier lifestyle routine, as I’d not make it in December anyway. I mean, yes, we celebrate St. Nicholas with a fries and snacks stand on Thursday and get a lot of extra treats this holiday season. Does that mean I don’t need to eat in moderation? Someone asked an overeaters’ support group a few weeks back and was encouraged to follow through now in spite of the holidays. Now I don’t really like the abstinence-focused mindset of Overeaters Anonymous and the like, but I have always felt that you can always start on a healthier lifestyle journey right now.

Yesterday, I decided to get weighed in. I wanted to know how bad the result really was and how much I’d have to lose once I’d start my journey for real. Well, guess what? I weighed 73.8kg. This truly motivates me.

On Thursday, I fully intend to not stuff myself full of fries and snacks even though I can. Tomorrow, my support coordinator has an evening shift and I’ll be asking her to ask her colleagues for help on my weight loss journey. I realized this past week-end that some make me really uncomfortable with how often they offer me food. I mean, my husband was annoyed at my former support worker for allowing me (not encouraging me!) to buy binge food when she took me to the store on Thursdays. I didn’t realize and probably didn’t want to admit that, in some respects, my current staff are worse. I mean, I haven’t had a binge since buying liquorice with my mother-in-law three weeks ago and the staff definitely discouraged that, but weight gain isn’t about an occasional binge. It’s about what you eat everyday.

How Will I Be Remembered?

Last week, my husband’s grandma died. The burial was on Thursday. It was okay. It however did get me thinking about how I will be rememberd and how I wish I would be remembered when I pass.

If my father’s still alive when I die, he may want to speak at my funeral. Not sure though, as he hardly speaks to me now. Then again, I guess speaking about someone is different from speaking to them. He may recall our positive experiences playing and learning together in my childhood. I will definitely remember those if I am to speak at his funeral.

He would probably have the decency not to go into my disappointing him with my adult life choices. I mean, I know I majorly disappoint him by being in long-term care, but he doesn’t voice it even now that I’m still alive. He isn’t one to talk negatively about the deceased though, I’d think. I can’t remember whether he spoke at my paternal grandpa’s funeral though and he didn’t at my grandma’s.

My mother would most likely be too self-conscious and too emotional to speak. I mean, she cried when I got married even without having to speak during the ceremony and she didn’t hold it together when speaking at my sister’s wedding. As for funerals, she spoke at my maternal grandfather’s funeral but then came running towards me for comfort. I was eight-years-old.

My sister may want to speak, if for no other reason then to fill a void. She did at my wedding (which was lovely, mind you). She spoke at my grandma’s funeral and it was amazing. I loved her sense of humor.

Ever since hearing the song, I’ve said I wanted I’m a Survivor by Reba McEntire playing at my funeral. I do. Even though it wasn’t written about an actual preemie and most of the facts about this hypothetical woman’s life don’t apply to me, the sentiment does. At least, that’s what I hope. I guess people could take its meaning two ways: either I’m the survivor who’s now an inspiration or the former preemie who wasn’t given a chance but somehow lived anyway. There’s a difference. I’m not sure how to convey it though. What I mean is, the focus can be on the negative of my not been given a chance or on the positive of my having given meaning to my life.

My husband wouldn’t want to dig up the past, I guess. He didn’t like this with his grandma’s funeral either, but then again neither did the deceased. She was a very upbeat type of person who didn’t like talking about negative aspects of the past. I guess I wouldn’t be as offended by people speaking a lot about the past when remembering me. Then again, I’d love it if my husband remembered the positives of what will hopefully still be a long life together.