Reading Wrap-Up (August 1, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I finally seem to be getting back into a reading groove again. Let me share what I’ve been up to in the book department. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?.

What I’m Currently Reading

I just started reading Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie last night. I think I discovered it on BookBub, but I downloaded it off Bookshare rather than buying it on Apple Books or Amazon. The blurb really interested me and, so far, the short chapters and alternating viewpoints, really add to its appeal.

In addition, I finally picked up The Choices We Make by Karma Brown again. I find it surprising I still remember the plot to a degree, given how long I’ve taken to read it thus far.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Only one book and it was one I haven’t mentioned in a reading wrap-up before. Can you see how long it’s been since I’ve done one of these? Yesterday, I finished The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart. I loved the book, but won’t say much more, since I’m planning on writing a review soon. It did get me thinking I really want to find a better book tracking app than GoodReads though. I tried StoryGraph, but that app doesn’t have the default iOS app layout I’m used to and is really hard to work.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I still have a ton of books I may or may not want to get to. One function I wish GoodReads had, is a Did-Not-Finish shelf. I know you can create one, but it would be so much easier if it were there by default. That way, I could shelf away books I may want to list as having read but that I just don’t find the time for to finish at this point. As it is, these are on my Currently-Reading shelf, which is rapidly clogging up. After the Cure by Deirdre Gould has probably been on it for two years.

Then there is my ever-growing list of books I may want to read someday. I have a ton of romance novels, mysteries and other “easy” adult reading that I downloaded for free off Apple Books or Amazon.

Then there’s kidlit. When my husband paid for the renewal of my Bookshare subscription last June, he noticed I’d been downloading books on unicorns a lot. These are children’s books, of course. Indeed, during the month of June, I read a few books about unicorns, namely the first book in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine and the first book in the Unicorn Diaries Branches Books series. I think when Six Weeks to Live gets too heavy for me, I’ll make a detour to the next installment in one of these series.

What have you been reading?

Gratitude List (July 31, 2022) #TToT

Hi all on this last day of July! Today I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) for a gratitude list. I’m rather late to the party, but better late than never, huh? Here goes.

1. I am grateful for some good phone talks with the care facility’s behavior specialist this week. She gave me some useful advice on how to handle my frustration with respect to my recent care review with her and my nurse practitioner from mental health.

2. I am grateful my nurse practitioner gave the get-go for me to lower my antipsychotic again. Next week, I’ll be starting with the slightly decreased dose.

3. I am grateful for a nice visit from my sister and her family. I am so grateful Janneke, my oldest niece, was really friendly with me. I tried to show her how to make a play-doh unicorn, but she may still be a bit young for that and/or I wasn’t engaging enough.

4. I am grateful I got to hold Wolke, my youngest niece, who is just two-months-old.

5. I am grateful for the belated birthday gifts my sister and her family brought me. I got four sets of cutters and a set of texture sheets to use with my polymer clay.

6. I am grateful for a delicious salami pizza with added olives and red peppers. Yum! We ordered pizza (and fries for Janneke) last Monday when my sister and her family were here.

7. I am grateful for a good visit from my mother-in-law on Friday too. We went out to have lunch, which was delicious.

8. I am grateful for no mosquitoes last night or the night before. This hopefully means my anti-mosquito device, that I’d bought last Friday when in town with my mother-in-law, is working. Either that or none had been in my room at all. I don’t really care which, as long as the critters aren’t bothering me.

9. I am grateful my pasta machine isn’t broken after all. I had experienced it’d crumble several colors of polymer clay. Even after a deep clean session, it still did this, so I thought it must be broken. Thankfully, one of the most knowledgeable people in the Dutch polymer clay Facebook group took a look at a picture I’d taken and said it wasn’t broken. Apparently it’s the clay.

10. I am grateful the new pasta machine I impulsively ordered online when thinking the current one was broken, can be returned. I will probably ask my staff to drive me to the PostNL pick-up point tomorrow. When I have my refund, I’m going to order supplies I really do need from that same store I now ordered the pasta machine from.

What are you grateful for?

Joy in July

Hi everyone. It’s nearly the end of the month and this means it’s time for me to update you all on my word of the year. As usual, I’m joining the #WOTY linky, as well as Lisa’s One Word linky. My word of the year, as I’ve said before, is “JOY”.

Early in the month, I had a horrible setback, as I got the news that my now former assigned staff would be quitting her job at my care facility. This caused some major sadness and emotional turmoil in me, but after a while, I was able to channel it into something good by creating something for her – a polymer clay hedgehog. I enjoyed the creative process and the smile I brought to her face when I gave her the gift.

Overall, I did find that my joy or lack thereof was more than in the previous months tied to my material success, in the sense that, if I felt I was failing at a crafty endeavor, I didn’t enjoy it either. The same goes for my blog: I was ecstatic when reading all the positive comments to the poem I wrote last week, but didn’t enjoy writing when I had the idea that I wasn’t “successful” in my blogging.

Similarly, my joy is also more tied to material possessions than it used to be. For example, the day my former assigned staff left, I ordered a stuffed dolphin for comfort. While this did help me, maybe at other times I would’ve been able to seek joy without having to spend money. I am not saying spending money on comfort items is necessarily bad, but ultimately, they aren’t material things that will bring me joy.

Joyful experiences included a visit to the trampoline on the last day my now former assigned staff worked my one-on-one shift, eating out with my husband and a visit from my sister and her family. While they involved material things too, in the sense that we spent money on the dinner and my sister gave me some beautiful belated birthday gifts, the experiences themselves were truly great.

In some good news, I did do some Bible reading everyday again this week, while I’d hardly done any over the rest of the month. It is causing me a lot of emotions.

Overall, the month of July was filled with some high peaks but a lot of deep lows too. I must say though that, considering the impact of my staff leaving, I was expecting much worse. I really hope the month of August will be better.

My First Date

Hi everyone. Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is first dates. Since my now husband, Jeroen, was the only person I ever actually dated, I’m going to share my experiences about meeting him.

As regular readers might know, we met on a message forum. More specifically, he met me there, because I barely knew him by the time he private messaged me. He, on the other hand, had read most of my posts on the forum, as well as my blog.

I wrote on there, for all forum members to see, that I was feeling lonely living on my own in my student apartment in Nijmegen. At the time, he had decided he wanted to expand his circle of acquaintances. Neither of us were really looking for love, so in that sense, maybe it wasn’t actually a date.

Jeroen PM’d me asking to have a cup of coffee or tea somewhere in Nijmegen. I agreed, then backtracked, fearing he was a “creep in his fifties”, as I worded it. You see, I had barely read his introductory post. He invited me to the forum meeting in Utrecht where, according to him, at least fifteen other forum members could vouch for him that he didn’t appear creepy and was nowhere near fifty. He was eighteen at the time and I was twenty-one.

Looking back, I still took an enormous risk, as I never went to that Utrecht meeting. I did tell my support worker where I’d be meeting Jeroen, but, me being an adult, I didn’t have a curfew or anything.

I can’t remember whether I was stressed beforehand. During our meeting up, I certainly was. I can’t remember who paid for my coffee and his tea, probably him. As I’ve mentioned before when discussing this first “date”, I tripped over some steps in the cafe, spilling my coffee. I screamed in frustration.

As for who did the talking and who did the listening, neither of us talked much. Jeroen asked me about my taste in music, to which I replied vaguely that I like world music. I honestly wouldn’t have a clue how to respond now either, as I’m not really that much into music.

This “date”, to be honest, was quite the disaster, but Jeroen had it in his mind that, if he tried to meet me another time, we’d have many more dates. And we did. We got married exactly four years after this date.

My Safe Space

A few months ago, my former behavior specialist introduced a kind of visualization exercise to me called something like “A safe space” It doesn’t necessarily involve just visualizations though. Rather, the idea is to imagine your safe space, real or imaginary, in as much detail as you can. For today’s blog post, I’m going to describe mine.

I am in a kind of artificial forest surrounded by trees. The ground, however, is smooth, so that I can walk on it. When I want to rest, I can sit on a soft, cushioned bench in the forest. It feels like moss, but smoother and velveter. I can pull a weighted blanket over me when I want to fully relax. Of course, it’s always comfortably warm here.

I smell the scent of various plants and trees in the forest, such as lavender, sweet orange, pine, etc. They vary with the time of day or week and with the seasons, creating ever-changing combinations of aromas.

There are, of course, unicorns in the forest. The unicorns have all kinds of colors and sparkly or shimmery or glow-in-the-dark mane, creating a beautiful sight. Since my safe space is imaginary, I can see well enough to actually perceive these colors and sparkles and everything. When I feel like it, I can ride one of the unicorns. I can also cuddle with the colts and fillies. The unicorns comfort me.

There’s water in my safe space too. It has all the pros of a swimming pool (the cleanliness, smooth surface to stand on at the shallow end, etc.) but is still natural in a way. There are dolphins in the water that I can do dolphin therapy with.

I hear calm harp music and birdsong in the background when I’m in my safe space. Sometimes, the birdsong is replaced by dolphin sounds.

All combined, the unicorns and dolphins with the music, scents, and comfortable feel of the weighted blanket, will calm me.

Of course, aside from the real dolphins and the unicorns, everything I have in my imaginary safe space, I either have in my real room at the care facility or could somehow create elsewhere. I mean, I have a weighted blanket, an essential oil diffuser, a music pillow and a Spotify account to create the soothing music. The staff also offered to take me swimming once in a while again and I could obviously find a real forest (though that does not have the smooth ground to stand on). I can still imagine many colors in my mind, so this visualization exercise may help me create the colorful experience of the unicorns I described above. In truth, though merely imagining a safe space isn’t necessarily going to make me feel any calmer, it does get me closer to realizing the things I have right here in order to create it.

loopyloulaura

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 23, 2022)

Hello everyone on this fourth Saturday of July. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. It’s been a few weeks. Let me share what’s been going on.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask how your weather is. We haven’t had an official heatwave here, as we had only three days of daytime high temps above 25°C. Then again, on Tuesday, the temperature reached 39°C. That’s not a record, for your information: the Netherlands’ official all-time heat record was reached three years ago and it was almost 41°C.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, on Monday, I took a trip into town with my staff. I had to get some toiletries and new baby wipes (which I use for cleaning my claying supplies). I also went into Action, a discount store, actually looking for origami paper. I didn’t find any, but did buy some clear stamps, a stamping pad, blank cards and alcohol ink. As it turns out, I will most likely only be able to use the alcohol ink for my clay, and I’m not 100% sure how, as it contains glitter. I mean, that may damage my pasta machine rollers, so I may need to only roll by hand when I’ve used this alcohol ink. I might find other uses for the other supplies. I was thinking of starting up simple card making again. Now my past self is laughing and telling me “No!” in a firm voice at the same time, but I’ve already decided not to invest any more money into it. If I can’t do this at all, that’s €4,95 wasted, but some people at the day center may still be able to use my supplies.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve been loving coming up with some ideas for my polymer clay. I’ve also been watching a lot of YouTube tutorials. I’m still not actually crafting much, but that will hopefully change soon, as I managed to blend three different intensities of the same color green that I intend to use for a unicorn. Let’s hope this unicorn turns out great!

If we were having coffee, I would share that I really need to mind my food plan again soon. I am still just overweight as opposed to obese, but I do need to watch out that my weight isn’t creeping back up. On Monday though, my sister and her family will be here for a belated birthday visit and we’re going to order pizza I think. That will be the fourth time in a month that I’m either eating at a restaurant or ordering takeout. After that, I’ll seriously watch my diet. I’m already trying to make sure I’m not having too many treats. For instance, yesterday I was hungry mid-afternoon and decided to have some carrots rather than going for my licorice. I think that counts for something.

If we were having coffee, I would resist the urge to rant about my appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner and the care facility’s behavior specialist on Tuesday. It was really frustrating, but I’m not ready to share the details. I would instead refill your cups and ask you how you are.

Poem: What Color Is the Sun?

I wonder
What color is the sun?

Is it red like fire,
Shooting flames across the sky?

Is it orange like the fruit,
Splashing its rays all around?

Is it yellow like a sunflower,
Fully blooming in midsummer?

Then again, how do I know
What these colors even mean?
Fire isn’t red or so I’ve heard
A sunflower’s heart and seeds are brown

As I look up to the sunset
My eyes wide open
I see nothing
Light nor darkness

And I wonder
What color is the sun?


This poem was written for this week’s Friday Writings, for which the optional prompt is “sunset”. I’m also joining dVerse’s OLN.

Bat-Tea

In the psychiatric hospital, coffee was consumed more than any other drink, except for maybe alcohol by the dually-diagnosed. (No, that’s not true: even though I’ve seen my fair share of drunken patients, they probably still didn’t manage to drink on a daily basis.) We had set coffee times, but everyone knew the way to the coffee machine in the outpatient clinic’s waiting room; actually, a nurse showed me.

Even so, when we were unstable, we drank tea, specifically rooibos with strawberry and whipped cream flavor. I don’t understand how any of us liked it, but we did. I nicknamed it bat-tea, for it helped us when we were going batty.


This post was written for this week’s Six-Sentence Story link-up, for which the prompt word is “coffee”.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (July 20, 2022)

Hi everyone. I haven’t posted in a few days, because I was too tired from the heat. It’s still quite hot here, but I feel okay now. Today, I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge. Here goes.

1. Last time you drove more than 100 miles from your home? Where did you go?
I don’t drive, but I’m assuming riding in the passenger seat counts too. That being said, the last time my husband drove more than 100 miles with me in the car, was probably eight years ago when we went on a short vacation to the Black Forest in southern Germany. We drove in our Kia Rio, which we later found out deserves its acronym, “killed in action”, because shortly after that trip, the car crashed on the highway and my husband could just about move it onto the shoulder before it completely malfunctioned. We thought we had the problem fixed, but it developed the same problem that had caused it to crash back then again half a year later. Needless to say we sold that car. We’re thinking of going back to the Black Forest this September, but my husband has a really small car now, so he might want to replace that one first.

2. Something that drives you batty?
WordPress’ ever-increasing number of ads on free sites. I hope at least that, since I have a paid plan, they aren’t displaying on mine.

3. Do you feel like you’re “on track”? For what?
In my blogging life, I don’t feel as though I’m “on track”, but maybe that’s just my feeling. I mean, I really would’ve wanted to write at least as much this year as I did in 2021 and, up till the month of June, I was keeping up nicely. Now though, I’m not.

Similarly, I have a ton of craft projects waiting for me to finish them. Not that there’s a timeline for those to keep track of, but it does sort of feel as though I’m losing track anyway.

4. Your favorite car snack(s)?
Licorice and winegums (gummy candies).

5. Something you’ve done recently “on the fly”?
Nothing really. I plan most of my activities at least some time in advance. That being said, I do buy things impulsively at times. Does that count? In that case, going to Action (a budget store) in town and buying some random craft supplies last Monday. The trip into town was planned, and I had sort of planned to go to Action too, but I hadn’t planned to buy any of the things I ended up buying.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Yesterday, I had a review with my nurse practitioner from mental health and the behavioral specialist from my care facility. I could rant about it here, but I’m not going to. Instead, I’m going to say that, after it, I finally concluded that, screw it, I’m ready to face whatever it takes to get real help for whatever it is I’m facing mental health-wise, be this trauma-related or a personality disorder or whatever.

Something I Couldn’t Do This Time Last Year

A few days ago, I came across a prompt in one of my dozens of collections of journaling prompts that asked me to share something I can do now that I couldn’t do this time last year. I wasn’t so sure, but I’ve been thinking and, really, this time last year I think I hadn’t started polymer clay yet.

Then again, how hard is it really to craft with clay? My nearly three-year-old niece can craft with clay, albeit not polymer clay. Is this truly something I have learned?

When I looked at my attempt at creating earrings today – my first attempt at baking them on cardboard after the random star turned out pretty well -, the first thing I noticed was their crookedness. That, even after I’d laid them under a heavy object for an hour or so. However, my husband said they looked fine and that impefections are normal for a handmade product.

Honestly, when I look at my sculptures in particular, I do see some progress. I still do create most from YouTube tutorials, but I do more independently than I used to even six months ago. Below is the bunny sculpture I created for my sister-in-law. I sculpted every part except for the mouth myself.

Polymer Clay Bunny
Polymer Clay Bunny

I threw two failed carrots in my bag with scrap clay before finally settling on this one. Something I learned too, is to collect scrap clay. Not that I have so far found a use for it, but people in the clay community told me never to throe old clay into the trash.

In a sense, I wish I’d kept my first pair of polymer clay earrings, but I threw them away. Then at least I’d have something to compare the ones I showed my husband this afternoon to. Then I could’ve seen that, maybe, I did learn something.

Besides, even from failed projects, I learned something, namely what doesn’t work with polymer clay.