A Fresh Start in Jesus

Today’s Five Minute Friday prompt is “Fresh”. I couldn’t quite think of something to write on this topic at first. Then I read Kate’s original post.

She wrote that she took some fresh breaths of air before having to put on her face mask. Now I rarely wear a face mask, as I hardly ever go to public places. That being said, I definitely enjoy the fresh air. That’s why I went for three walks today despite my shoes getting damaged due to my having drop foot.

The word “fresh” also made me think of a fresh start in God. As regular readers of this blog know, I became a Christian only a little over a month ago. God gives me a fresh start.

I am constantly reminded of a metaphor my husband explained to me last week. He explained that, as humans, we are all on a train ride to hell, but Jesus stands outside to command everyone to get off the train and be saved. I like to imagine Jesus standing on a platform at every station.

Another metaphor is the team building exercise in which one person is supposed to fall backwards and trust the other people will catch them. That’s what faith is like. Maybe that proverbial train is moving, in fact. Ouch, how scary! I probably still have one foot on it.

God, thank you for your presence in my life. Thank you for your everlasting love for me. Please help me gain the confidence to jump off your proverbial train into your loving arms. Help me get a fresh start in the fresh air of your presence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Self-Care During These Weird Times

Okay, it’s been quite the week. Here in the Netherlands, the government are discussing curfews and other stricter lockdown measures and even without those, the current lockdown will last till at least February 9. I’ve even heard some pandemic management gurus say the measures need to be in effect till the summer. Ouch.

Still, I am very happy that I live in a currently stable democracy like the Netherlands. As much can’t be said of the United States. I really wonder how all of my American friends keep their spirits up. Today, for Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop, I’m sharing some ways I take care of myself.

1. Prayer and Bible reading. As my husband says, in unprecedented times, people turn to religion. Now he predicts worse times are still to come for us, although we can never be sure. It’s important to know our life’s purpose if we want to keep afloat. For me that purpose is Jesus.

I have almost a 40-day Bible reading streak on the YouVersion app. I also make sure I pray everyday.

2. Avoiding the news. I know some people have come to watch more TV over the past ten months or so, but I experience the opposite. I look up an overview of what’s been said after each prime minister’s speech. Other than that, I only briefly skim through the news.

3. Doing things I enjoy. I try to write everyday, even if it’s not on this blog. I also look into developing my creative side in other areas, such as soap and bath and body product making. Today I made my first bath bomb in nearly a year. I also try to walk everyday. In this respect, the pandemic certainly helped, because now that the day center is closed, I can go on more regular walks.

4. Relaxation. When life gets to me, I try to relax. I lie under my weighted blanket, turn on a nice playlist on Spotify and diffuse some essential oil in my diffuser.

5. Gratitude. My husband doesn’t want to scare me when he says things may get worse, but he’s right. Most of us in the developed world still have food and shelter. Most of us in Europe have access to health care. Here in the Netherlands, we have a government that tries its best to care for the people. I have Internet access or I wouldn’t be writing this post. Things may get worse, but right now, they are still pretty much okay. I at least can handle the current situation.

What do you do to stay motivated during these weird times?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Also linking up with Grace at Home.

Truthful Tuesday: This or That

Good evening all. I am finding that I struggle to keep the motivation and inspiration for so-called quality content. That doesn’t matter, as it’s my blog and I don’t write for my stats. That can’t keep me from being slightly frustrated by it though.

Today I’m participating once again in Truthful Tuesday. The questions this time are a series of rather lighthearted this-or-that choices. I like that! After all, we just heard here in the Netherlands that we’re in lockdown at least until February 9 and curfews or other harsher measures are being discussed. Still, I am so lucky to live here.

Anyway, here goes. I’ll explain some where I can.

1. Coffee or Hot Tea?
Coffee! I do like hot tea on occasion, but only green tea without lemon or other yucky additives.

2. Soda or Iced Tea?
I’m assuming that soda is always carbonated, so then I’d say iced tea. I prefer non-carbonated soft drinks though.

3. House or Condo?
House just because that’s what my husband and I have at the moment. I don’t mind living in a condo though.

4. Pie or Cobbler?
Pie! I had honestly never heard of cobbler and the first translation Google came up with had nothing to do with food. However, the second one made it pretty clear to me I prefer pie. In fact, I can’t stand cobbler.

5. Cornbread or Biscuits (The US kind)?
Cornbread. I have no idea what U.S. biscuits taste like, but I do like cornbread.

6. Computer or Smart Phone?
I honestly can’t do without either. Does that sound weird? I mean, of course I can do without them, but if I want to accomplish everything I do on a daily basis, I certainly need both.

7. Hotel or Camping?
Hotel for sure. As a child, I often went camping with my family, but it got harder the more sight I lost. Now I don’t really think I can do it.

8. Swimming Pool or Ocean?
Swimming pool. I can swim in a lake or the ocean, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I like swimming in a pool.

9. TV Shows or Movies?
TV shows. I don’t have the attention span to follow a movie.

10. iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android (Samsung, LG, et. al.)
Definitely iOS. It’s far more accessible for blind people than Android, although Android developers are making progress too. I started using a smartphone before Android could be used by not so tech savvy blind people. Though I might be able to make the transition to Android now, I just won’t.

An Intense Monday

I’m not really sure what I want to write today. I started writing this blog post several times, only to delete it again halfway through. I intended on doing a food diary, then realized I wasn’t intending on sharing it here. (I did write a food log in Day One, my diary app, for today.) I then tried to do a more general health and wellness log, only to realize these don’t make sense if I don’t do them regularly. Then I started writing a post about today.

Today was, indeed, rather intense. Not really because of the food journal. I did okay on that one and it helped me make some healthy choices without becoming obsessive about it.

In the morning, a staff made a phone call to the assistive tech company. Yeah, my Braille display is once again broken, for the fifth or so time in eighteen months. I can still work around all the stuck dots, but I really want it repaired.

Then in the afternoon, I had an appt with my nurse practitioner. I can’t remember exactly what we talked about. I mean, yes, he shared about the bus metaphor. This is a metaphor in which a person is like a bus driver and all their thoughts etc. are passengers on the bus. I had already commented last time that my bus has multiple drivers, in that, if I hear a voice commanding me to do something, that voice (ie. alter) can take over the wheel too. Now I am hesitant to use words like “alter”, because I know my nurse practitioner doesn’t believe I have a dissociative disorder. This is my blog though so I can do with it what I want.

Today we somehow got talking about this metaphor in relation to emotions. Sometimes, you see, I get an emotion or urge or whatever and have no clue why. Honestly I can’t remember how this relates to the bus metaphor, but oh well. Oh yes, I told my nurse practitioner that Astrid is the bus with all its passengers and drivers. The body, then, is the bus.

Later, in the evening, we had an emotional reaction to a minor situation. After I calmed down, I talked it over with the staff who’d seen me have the reaction and it turned out I had no memory of it. I can now sort of see how I probably had that reaction, but I still can’t remember it as my own reaction.

This makes me feel kind of freaked out. I know that amnesia is part of dissociation, but didn’t we agree that I don’t have a dissociative disorder? Besides, whenever I do claim to have an undiagnosed dissociative disorder, it’s OSDD1B, which means having alters without significant amnesia.

I knew from previous experiences that I do experience what’s called emotional amnesia, where I can remember something but not the feels that go with it. The incident of amnesia that got my former psychologist, back in 2010, to suspect DID, was, in fact, emotional amnesia only. I know this because I claimed that I’d not remembered what went on in our session, but I clearly must’ve remembered something as otherwise I wouldn’t have known to tell her.

I know I don’t need a diagnosis right now. I can function okay’ish most of the time. Or can I? After all, when I’m functioning, I can’t remember that sometimes I am not and when I’m in severe distress, I can’t remember what it’s like to function normally. Or maybe I can, on some level. This is all so confusing.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 10, 2021)

Hi lovely blog friends! I’m so excited to be joining in on this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. It is newly hosted by Natalie and I’m so glad to see so many people have joined in already. I really need to write my coffee share posts earlier in the future, but oh well. At least I haven’t had my last cup of coffee for the day yet.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the weather is pretty good here. At least for winter. It does drizzle a bit every now and again and yesterday the pavements were a bit slippery from the ice. I thankfully could still go for a walk.

If we were having coffee, I would proudly tell you that I got in nearly twice as many steps over the past week as my sister. I also broke my active heartrate zone minutes record, which was at 405 for the week of November 9, 2020 and is now already at 426. I plan on going for another walk later this evening, so I’ll add more to it.

If we were having coffee, I’d say that I’m planning on keeping a food journal from tomorrow on. I for now don’t intend on sharing it here and I’m not intending on consciously changing anything about my eating as of yet. It’s just so that I can be completely honest about the foods I eat and how I feel about my choices. I have some type of overeater’s journal and it appeals to me.

If we were having coffee, I’d like to ask my fellow Christian bloggers to pray for me. I’m struggling a bit with my faith in relation to my bad habits, including overeating. Basically, I’m stuck on the rules of Overeaters Anonymous and the like, such as three meals a day and nothing in between. I feel resistance to admitting I’m not in control, even though I know I’m not. I may not be making as unhealthy choices in my life as I was a few months ago, but I really need to credit God for this and relinquish my control over to Him.

In a similar way, I’m struggling with admitting I’m a sinful human being. Remember when, a few months ago, I wrote about grief? I felt like I was intensely wicked on some deep level then. Then I learned about Bobby Schuller and his book You Are Beloved and I wanted so badly to believe it, but the enemy keeps telling me I don’t need Jesus for this. I am struggling to realize that, before I believed in Jesus, I was stuck on feeling wicked. Please, if you’re a Christian, pray for my continued spiritual formation.

What’s been going on in your life?

Sky Is the Limit #SoCS

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) is “Sky’s the limit”. I was immediately reminded of a story in Stephanie Kaars’ book Speciale mama’s (Special Mommies), in which this phrase inspired a mother to challenge her son, Sky, who had severe cerebral palsy, beyond his apparent limits.

It then made me think of how challenging someone beyond their apparent limits, doesn’t mean expecting them to be “normal”. I mean, the phrase which inspired the mother says that her son is the limit. In other words, each child or adult is their own limit of what they can achieve and this should not be defined by the person’s characteristics, such as disabilities.

I don’t have as severe a disability as Sky. I mean, yes, of course blindness is seen as a “major” disability for statistical purposes, but it alone doesn’t qualify anyone for long-term care. Severe cerebral palsy does. That being said, I do have a significant combination of disabilities: blindness, autism and mild CP.

I don’t think these disabilities, or rather the stereotyped perception others have about them, limits me. I mean, of course my disabilities impair me, but that’s totally okay. I am not limited by others’ ideas of what a blind person (as that’s my most visible disability) can or cannot do. Because, you know, even though I am in long-term care with the highest care profile in the visually impaired category, people still sometimes say I’m quite capable for a blind person. No, I’m not.

I am also reminded of the current slogan for the National Federation of the Blind: “I can live the life I want; blindness doesn’t hold me back.” The old slogan was: “With proper training and opportunity, an average blind person can do a job as well as an average sighted person.” This may or may not be true for the hypothetical average blind person, but it certainly isn’t true for me.

Is the new slogan? Yes, I think so. I could really go to university if I pushed harder, maybe. Maybe not, I’m not sure. However, I have no desire to go to university anymore. Similarly, I wasn’t dying living semi-independently. Well, I almost was, if you count the two medication overdoses I took, but those weren’t due to blindness. Then again, I am happy to live in my current care facility. I may still have things I want to improve on, but I for the most part do live the life I want.

More Time

Today’s Five Minute Friday (#FMF) prompt is “Time”. There are so many things I wish I would make more time for. Today, in five minutes (and I’m trying to do this in five minutes seriously), I am going to share about the things I want to make more time for in 2021.

First up, of course, is faith. I want to spend time each day praying and reading my Bible. I already read my Bible everyday so far in 2021, but sometimes it’s just five minutes before bed.

I have also created a faith-based journal in Day One, my diary app. In it, I want to write down my prayers as well as interesting Bible passages. I think consciously writing them down helps me devote more time to God.

Second is walking. I did a great job of this this past week, getting in over six hours of active zone minutes so far.

I also want to write more. I really aim to blog almost everyday. I would like to say everyday, but I can no longer make that work for 2021. But I can start now.

Then comes reading. I definitely want to read more. I am doing okay in this respect so far.

Lastly, self-care. I didn’t make a resolution about me time or essential oils this year, like in 2020, because I did well enough on it already. However, self-care also means taking good care of my body, and I could certainly improve on that.

By this I mean healthy eating, exercise other than walking, yoga, etc. I could definitely work on a healthier body.

That’s it. I did pretty well freewriting for five minutes flat and I was in fact already sort of done when the timer went off.

What do you hope to spend more time on in 2021?

My 2021 Word of the Year

Okay, the first week of January is already over and people have come to say it’s weird to wish each other a happy new year even if this is their first time meeting in 2021. It may be a bit late for me to pick a word for the new year. Then again, it’s one of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week. Besides, last year I didn’t choose my word for the year until January 10. I had the flu to excuse it with then, but oh well.

Last year I picked “Wellbeing” as my word for the year. I was somehow convinced it’d be a bad omen though. It wasn’t, in the sense that I didn’t end up in a major health crisis in 2020. Then again, the world at large did.

This year, I’ve had a word in mind for several weeks now and yet I keep making up my mind about it. I want to deepen my faith this year, so shouldn’t something like “faith” be my word of the year. That’d be too easy though. Rather, I based my word for 2021 on Bobby Schuller’s book. It is: BELOVED.

I want to focus this year on the creed of the beloved as Schuller outlines it in his book You Are Beloved. It is:
I am not what I do.
I am not what I have.
I am not what others say about me.
I do not need to worry.
I do not need to hurry.
I can trust my friend Jesus.

I also want to focus this year on my relationship with God and with others. After all, “beloved” does not just apply to me, but to my husband and others around me too. The fact that I am a beloved child of God, also, implies that I need to accept God as my Heavenly Father.

Now of course my thoughts are going back to the idea that this word of the year would be tempting fate. I fear that, now that I chose “Beloved”, it will mean I’ll lose my husband or other important people in my life this year. Even if this happens, though, I can show my love for them. I can start to express love right now, after all.

What is your word for 2021?

Mama’s Losin’ It

#IWSG: Turn-Offs in Other People’s Writing

IWSG

Yay, it’s the first Wednesday of the month and you know what that means? It’s the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s (#IWSG) meeting day.

I did pretty well in the writing department over the month of December and early January. I in fact am feeling very motivated to write. That being said, I do feel disappointed about not having realized my bigger writing dream of 2020, which was to submit another piece for publication in an anthology. It’s probably due to fear of rejection. I mean, blogging is a relatively safe way of expressing one’s writing abilities, in that it doesn’t really come with rejection. I mean, if I start a blog and it’s a total failure, I just won’t attract any readers, but no-one is going to directly tell me.

For 2021, I once again aim to submit at least one piece for publication. I just can’t bear to say for another year that I’m a published author because of that one piece I had published in 2015. I can’t control editors’ selection criteria, but I’ll have to at least try one more time.

Now on to this month’s optional question. The question is what, as a writer, turns you away from other people’s books, makes you not finish a book or frustrates you about other people’s writing.

The first thing that came to mind, is not a style issue or a writing flaw, but factual errors in the story. For example, in Rules for 50/50 Chances by Kate McGovern, one of the characters’ mother and sisters have sickle cell disease and the characters keep talking about how this character didn’t inherit “the gene” and how another disease is recessive, as if sickle cell disease is inherited via a dominant gene. Well, I am no geneticist, but I am pretty sure it’s recessive.

It isn’t that such an error stops me from finishing a book altogether if it’s an otherwise good story. I think I even gave the aforementioned book four stars on Goodreads and I definitely did finish it. It was the thing that kept me from giving it a five-star rating though.

In a similar way, I am usually slightly annoyed when authors invent things into their otherwise-realistic stories. For example, I didn’t like the fact that John Green invented a cancer drug for the purpose of the story in The Fault in Our Stars. I did feel better because he admitted it at least.

The one thing that does stop me from finishing a story, is an unrealistic portrayal of certain settings in a story that’s supposed to be realistic. For example, I stopped reading The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork as soon as I read that the character got daily therapy sessions. That’s not happening in any psych hospital. That is, it might’ve happened in the times of psychoanalysis in the 1950s, but currently there’s no money for that.

I think I really need to get more flexible in my approach to fiction. It is, after all, fiction.

Reading Wrap-Up (January 4, 2021) #IMWAYR

#IMWAYR

Hi readers and fellow book lovers! I have been reading relatively much lately, so I can do another reading wrap-up today. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

Life Update

I’m doing pretty well right now. Got a lovely package from Emilia of My Inner MishMash in the mail today. It’s for her readership award. The package contained some great food and non-food items. I must admit though that I ate all of the caramel fudge and am now a bit nauseated (or is it nauseous?).

What I’m Currently Reading

Still reading Hatch by Kenneth Oppel. I had let it lie there for a bit while reading other things, but I started it back up and it’s really intriguing.

I also finally picked up Still Alice by Lisa Genova. I previously finished two of her other books and had started in Still Alice some six years ago already, but never finished it. Obviously, I started back over.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Yay, I finally finished Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It was a great read and the ending and who the killer was sure surprised me. Now even with the most predictable plots I’m no good at predicting what will be next, but oh well.

What I think I’ll Be Reading Next

Oh, I still have so many books I am looking forward to reading! I joined Storygraph yesterday and have been loving playing around with their recommendation feature. It recommended The Choices We Make by Karma Brown. Then I looked over my Bookshare book collection and associated from there. I now badly want to read If I Die Before I Wake by Emily Koch.

Lastly, I was discussing memoirs on another book blogger’s bookish resolutions post. This got me to finally want to buy Brave by Adelle Bellis. I have the preview downloaded onto my Apple Books and love it. However, with Bookshare having such a wide selection of books, I find I’m a little spoiled and get disappointed if I have to actually buy a book.

What have you recently read?