No Shame in Hope

I have been wanting to share more faith-based posts for a while, but didn’t quite know where to start. Today, I read the second weekly meditation in Hearing God Speak, an enneagram-based book of devotionals by Eve Annunziato. It is a meditation on suffering and the everlasting presence of God through it all.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 NIV)

I have known this passage for several years, even before I became a Christian. I have probably written about it before. After all, the fact that suffering produces perseverance, really resonates with me. As Annunziato points out, enneagram type fours like me feel most alive when we dwell on our feelings of pain and suffering.

As such, Annunziato challenges us to move towards praising God and seeing His presence in a new way. As such, the line about character and hope is more important to us Fours than the line about suffering producing perseverance.

I don’t think I’ve ever even seen Romans 5:5 and that verse in particular speaks to me now. I, after all, often fear joy and, by extension, hope. I am not yet sure what it is about joy I fear, but it might be a feeling of being less alive if I’m not suffering.

God’s love, however, has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit. This is something to rejoice over, not to be ashamed of.

Indeed, it is interesting that Paul uses the word “shame” in this verse. I had no idea it is this emotion I often feel when I’m hopeful or optimistic, but it is.

I mean, even when I’m doing pretty well, I still say I’m doing “okay”. I remember a fellow patient in the mental hospital did the same and he did this so the staff wouldn’t think he was well enough to be discharged. I didn’t consciously do this, but on a subconscious level, I probably did. And still do, despite the fact that there’s no reason I’ll ever be kicked out of long-term care.

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with feeling hopeful, joyful and optimistic. In fact, it is what God is wanting for us in His honor. For this reason, Annunziato encourages us to praise Him even in the midst of our suffering! Because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope is nothing to be ashamed of, because through the Holy Spirit, God’s love has been poured out over us.

Linking up with Scripture Blessing, Let’s Have Coffee and Recharge Wednesday.

A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

Four Essential Oil Diffuser Blends for Relaxation

Like I’ve mentioned a couple of times over the past week, I’ve been loving my new essential oils. I got three new-to-me oils, even though I already had a stash of about thirty different oils. One of the reasons for this is the fact that, when I started out experimenting with essential oils several years ago, I just bought oils at random without paying attention to which blended well together. In case you didn’t know, blending essential oils is better than using single oils. For this reason, you almost by default need more than one oil. But I was completely clueless and just threw oils together that I had no idea about whether their smells or effects would complement each other or would lead to something that flat out stank. And since I had no idea what to expect, my nose wasn’t telling me either.

All this to say, you don’t need thirty or more essential oils to enjoy aromatherapy. I for one love creating a new blend everyday and, since I buy my oils online, I haven’t been able to smell them before purchasing them. If you are in a position to smell different oils before purchasing them, by all means do. After all, even though blends are better than single oils, if an oil has a horrible smell on its own, you may not like it in synergy either. Thankfully, all my new-to-me oils smell pretty good.

Like I said above, I like to try a new essential oil blend everyday. Like I said when doing my #AtoZChallenge on aromatherapy, essential oils can do different things. For example, some can be uplifting and some can be relaxing. Today, I’m sharing four different essential oil blends for relaxation.

For each blend, I will assume you have a medium-size (about 300ml) ultrasonic diffuser. For this reason, the total number of drops of essential oil you’ll want to use, is about 10 on average. You can adjust the number to your liking or your diffuser size.

Blend 1

First up is a blend of lavender or lavandin, cedarwood, sweet orange and ylang ylang. Like I said when discussing lavender and lavandin last April, lavandin is milder and cheaper than lavender. In this recipe, I used lavandin. You can substitute the sweet orange for wild orange if you have this, but I’ve never tried that. I really like this combination of oils and have it in my diffuser as I write this post.


  • 4 drops lavandin

  • 2 drops sweet orange

  • 2 drops cedarwood

  • 1 drop ylang ylang

Blend 2

This blend combines equal amounts of bergamot, patchouli and ylang ylang. I got a little bored of this blend after using it a little too often. However, it is simple to memorize, which may be one reason I used it so regularly.


  • 3 drops bergamot

  • 3 drops ylang ylang

  • 3 drops patchouli

Blend 3

This blend contains lavender (or lavandin, I’ve tried both), patchouli and geranium. Geranium is one of those oils whose smell I don’t personally appreciate that much, so I like to use only one drop of it in my blends.


  • 4 drops lavender

  • 4 drops patchouli

  • 1 drop geranium

Blend 4

Finally, I want to mention a blend that contains one of my absolute favorite essential oils: clary sage. I was really saddened that I didn’t find a reason to discuss this oil in my #AtoZChallenge last April, although I think I mentioned it when discussing uplifting essential oils. This blend has both mood-boosting and relaxing properties.


  • 1 drop lemongrass

  • 5 drops lavender

  • 4 drops clary sage

I hope some of these essential oil blends will inspire you.

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with the Hearth and Soul Link Party

Gratitude List (July 10, 2021) #TToT

It’s been a while since I last did a gratitude post. Today I feel pretty good. Not that I need to feel good in order to do a gratitude post – I’ve written them to cheer myself up on many occasions. However, feeling good is also a good time to express gratitude. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful or #TToT.

1. I am so grateful for no side effects from my topiramate. I am not yet sure whether this medication will be working, although my staff say I seem calmer than I was before. It’s only been a week though, so we’ll see. I am however so happy I at least tolerate the medication, since many people don’t.

2. I am so grateful for increased motivation and creativity. Although this has been going on for a few weeks already, I’m really hopeful it’ll not just be an episode and, if it is, will last longer than usual.

3. I am grateful for pretty good sleep particularly early in the week. During the first few days of the week, my sleep quality was truly amazing. Last night it was a lot poorer, but I’m still happy to report I don’t experience major effects today. And it may or may not be the topiramate already working, but I haven’t had nightmares at all.

4. I am grateful for a hair clip my sister gave me for my birthday. I wear it in my new profile pic and, although I still prefer my hair mostly loose with just one small clip at the front, I do like this new look.

5. I am grateful for warm and relatively rain-free days. We’ve had more rain than is usual for the summer here so far, but it’s still okay.

6. I’m grateful my mobility seems to be returning to some reasonably acceptable level. Up till a week or two ago, I could hardly walk a kilometer at a time or I’d feel my legs get tired. Now I can walk somewhat longer distances again. I managed to reach 10K steps several days this past week and almost got it on a few other days.

7. I am grateful for delicious treats for lunch several times this week. Like, today we got mini pizzas.

8. I am grateful for quick package delivery. I ordered several things online Thursday evening and yesterday and they all arrived today.

9. I am grateful I decided to finally order some relatively expensive essential oils. I ordered Roman chamomile, sandalwood and vetiver. I also ordered sweet orange, because I’d used up all of my oil already a month or so ago. I’m so excited about all the delicious essential oil blends I can now make.

10. I am so grateful my staff killed the fly that had been annoying me buzzing around my room all morning before her shift ended. I’m probably not supposed to take delight in animal death, but I’m glad to make an exception for a fly.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 9, 2021)

Hi everyone on this partly sunny and warm Friday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’m afraid it isn’t time for our evening coffee for another hour yet, but I can offer you a glass of water or of course make you a Senseo coffee in my own coffee maker. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share about the topiramate. Yay, I finally started it and yay for no side effects! That being said, I’m not noticing any positive effects either as of yet and my nurse practitioner said it’ll be four to six weeks before we’ll increase my dosage. That disappointed me a bit, given that the max dosage for PTSD symptoms is six times what I take now, so it’ll take at least six months to get to that level and then if we decide this medication isn’t for me after all, six more months to get back off. Maybe I’m wrong here, since I’ve never had a medication not work on me at all before. I’ll discuss all this with my nurse practitioner when I next see him. Of course, here’s hoping the medication will start working in a few weeks.

Next, if we were having coffee, I’d share that I’ve experienced an increase in motivation lately. This has been going on for a few weeks already, but I’m noticing it might stick around longer now. Usually, it only lasts for a week or so and then diminishes again.

I have not been as crafty this past week as I was last week, but still I’ve not been disappointed with my level of activity.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I talked with the care facility’s behavior specialist yesterday. We decided to let the moving care homes issue rest for a bit, but get back to it in about two months’ time. I really do hope we can work on making my life in my current care facility better, as she’s right that every place has its positive and negative sides.

If we were having coffee, I’d moan about the rapid increase in COVID cases here in the Netherlands. We’re due to get another press conference from the prime minister at 7PM. I’m not expecting any measures that will affect me directly, but still, it sucks.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been spending quite a bit of money on my hobbies lately. I ordered several new essential oils, including the Roman chamomile I mentioned on Wednesday, as well as a full liter bottle of sweet almond oil. I also ordered a kitchen scale. Not a talking one, as they’re too expensive for my liking. I’m hoping all my supplies will arrive either tomorrow or next Monday.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you I’m loving looking at sites for bath and body recipes. I already created a pink grapefruit and lemon massage oil. Since both essential oils are phototoxic, I took extra care to dilute them properly and so far, so good. I used the oil on my hands yesterday and am absolutely fine despite the sunshine now.

How have you been?

Currently (July 2021)

I usually don’t participate in the Currently linkup, in part because the prompts don’t always inspire me and in part because the posting day coincides with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I still follow Anne’s blog in my feed reader though and today, I decided to check out her post. It’s quite an easy one this month, so here goes.

Eating

Way too much. When I would initially be prescribed my currently latest medication, topiramate, the psychiatrist told me that it may cause me a decreased appetite. So far, not so. It’s not a problem though, since, even though I’m overweight, my weight is stable.

Today, my day activities staff took me to the local marketplace and we bought fish and chicken wings for lunch and I bought a giant waffle called “stroopwafel”.

Now in case you’re thinking I’m chronically overeating, I normally eat a pretty balanced diet.

Feeling

Okay’ish. I’ve had a few rough weeks, as regular readers of my blog will know. However, I still find moments of joy, particularly when I’m crafting.

Going

To Lobith. For those visiting from the linkup, I live in a care facility in Raalte, Netherlands. My husband lives in Lobith, about a ninety-minute drive away. I normally go to Lobith about twice a month, but I went there both last weekend and the weekend before for my birthday celebrations.

Ordering

Most recently, some jewelry-making supplies. However, I already have my eyes on a number of relatively affordable essential oils too. I mean, oils that would cost over €50 for a 10ml bottle normally but I can get for €20 at some stores apparently. Think Roman chamomile. I know, it’s probably not the best quality, but my wallet has a will of its own. I need to restock my sweet almond oil too, as I just used most of what I had left for a massage oil yesterday.

Realizing

That I may need to stop evaluating my life and start living. This is sort of the take-home message I got from my psychiatric nurse practitioner at my last appointment on Monday. I was talking about possibly wanting to find myself another care home and compulsively looking for it. I mean, checking out care agencies’ websites on a daily basis for suitable homes. This really isn’t helping, since even if I need or want to leave my current placement, I’ll need guidance on finding myself another place to live. As my nurse practitioner said, I’m evaluating my life each day again rather than seeing each day as just the day it is.

Unfortunately, part of me is feeling as though his message means I need to accept a rather difficult living situation just because it isn’t time to evaluate yet. I can see his point about not checking out care agency websites daily, but the compulsion is also hard to break, as this is what I’ve been doing pretty much my entire adult life. For those not aware: I lived in one temporary placement or another from age nineteen until I moved to the current care facility in 2019. It’s only natural that I cannot believe that this is where I can stay.

What’s up with you?

#IWSG: Quit Writing?

IWSG

Hi everyone. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet again. I’m more than happy to report that I didn’t get booted for my flaky post last month.

I’m feeling quite motivated to write as of late. It’s still mostly regular posts on this blog, but that’s okay. I know, I know, I resolve each month to expand my writing horizons by doing more poetry and fiction writing. I’m also resolving this time to set some time aside for a daily freewriting session in the app Day One. My yearly subscription payment is due at the end of the month and I haven’t made use of it in a while, so now’s the time to get back into things.

Now on to this month’s optional question: what would make you quit writing? Seriously? I guess my death or the loss of my hand function, though if I lost the ability to type, I could possibly still dictate my writings. That being said, I’ve always said that loss of hand and particularly finger function would majorly impair my quality of life, since it’d not just mean an inability to type, but an inability to read Braille as well.

I have had times when I’ve taken a break from blogging and occasionally even writing in general. The longest I’ve gone without blogging since I got an Internet connection has been six months in like 2012. Since I started this blog nearly three years ago, not a week has gone by that I didn’t write at least one blog post.

Even before I had a blog, I had a diary and wrote tons of short stories and attempts at young adult novels. I honestly don’t think that, even if I ever were to stop blogging, I’d really stop writing for myself.

What would make you quit writing?

Independence

In last week’s Sunday Poser, Sadje asked what independence means to you. Her question was related to Independence Day in the United States. Of course, one can view independence and freedom in light of one’s national political situation. For example, the Netherlands is a pretty stable democracy. The country has been independent in its current form ever since 1815, though Wikipedia even lists 1648 as the Netherlands’ independence year.

I for one, however, tend to apply independence and freedom much more personally. By independence, I refer to the skills I can do by myself, ie. self-reliance. This includes eating, toileting, dressing myself, writing my blog, etc. But it also includes the skills of self-determination.

I think self-determination is particularly important. By this I mean the ability to know what you want and make it clear in some way or another. Everyone, the disability rights movement assumes, has this capacity. Yes, even people who can’t talk and are labeled as profoundly intellectually disabled. However, it is so commonly overridden by well-meaning family or “helping” professionals.

I remember a client at the first day center with my current care agency for people with intellectual disability I attended. This client had severe cerebral palsy, was profoundly intellectually disabled, couldn’t speak, had epilepsy and was blind. However, somehow, the staff had figured out that bergamot essential oil was her favorite scent.

The same client was also sometimes called “spoiled” when she cried and then was quiet once the staff put a vibrating hose around her body. I’d say she was making known what she wanted. She was using her independence!

With respect to independence as freedom, I, for one, think that self-determination is more important than self-reliance. For example, I get help with my personal care. I myself asked for this after I noticed that it cost me a lot of energy to do it myself. Even though I could, with a lot of verbal instruction, take care of my personal hygiene independently if I really needed to, I decided this isn’t a priority for me. My staff, thankfully, agree.

What is important to you where it comes to independence?

I am also joining MMA StoryTime’s Word of the Day.

Historical Events

Today, in the journaling app Day One, the daily prompt was to write about the historical events you remember. I used to be a big news and politics junkie as an older child and teen, so I remember quite a few events.

I was born in 1986, so technically might’ve remembered the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, but I didn’t. In fact, the first important historical event I remember was the Gulf War of 1991. At the time, I listened to the radio and heard about it, but erroneously thought that Iran, Iraq and Kuwait made up Ukraine. I don’t know what news event there was about Ukraine at the time, possibly the fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

When I was nearly eight, I remember my parents taking me to the polling station for the national election in 1994. I remember both of the names of the candidates my parents voted for. I also clearly remember learning about the “purple” government, which meant that the Labor Party and the conservative party VVD were for the first time forming a coalition. Another party, D66, was joining them too and I asked what color they were and why that party’s color wasn’t represented in the mix. My parents explained that mixing too many party colors would make brown and that’d be a Nazi color.

When I became a teen, I got involved even more into politics. I obviously remember 9/11 when I was fifteen and the murder of Pim Fortuyn eight months later. That year’s election, nine days after Fortuyn was killed, was the most memorable election of my life. I remember kind of aggressively persuading my father to vote for the Socialist Party rather than GroenLinks, the leftist party he normally votes for.

During the fall of 2002, I myself joined the Socialist Party. I was a semi-active member in my local affiliate for a while. Still, I gradually lost my interest in politics and important news events. I left the political party in September of 2007, half because I didn’t like its rather undemocratic treatment of its members and half because I was tired of politics.

Since then, I haven’t really been following the news or politics much at all. I do find it intriguing to be a witness to the coronavirus crisis even though I’d rather have gone on like old normal.

As a teen, I wasn’t affected by the impact of important historical events. Like, I always wanted the stock prices on the AEX to be low for some reason I still don’t comprehend. Now, I understand the impact of economic crises more than I did before and it scares me. That’s why I’d rather put my head in the sand and not watch the news.

What historical events do you remember most?

Jewelry-Making #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m once again joining Word of the Week. I already shared some of my experiences from the week with you all on Friday. Today, I want to focus on an important positive aspect of the week: jewelry-making. Like I said last week, I got a lot of supplies from my parents for my birthday. I also bought some new supplies later this week.

The actual jewelry-making process is still sometimes hard for me due to my being blind and having mild cerebral palsy. I am making progress though in figuring out what works for me.

First, on Wednesday, I made a bracelet for my day activities staff. She had her birthday that day so was off, but my assigned support staff from the home came to sub. I did all the threading by myself and tried to tie the knot too.

On Thursday and Friday, I was even busier making jewelry. I made my first necklace in a long time. It didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped and I don’t have a photo, but it is nice enough.

I also made a football bracelet for a fellow client. I originally wanted to make something in the colors of his favorite club, but I didn’t have red and white beads. Instead, I chose green for the grass and added a football charm. This client has his birthday next month I think, so I already decided to make him something in the club colors then.

Lastly, I enthusiastically decided to make a necklace for my niece. She is 21-months-old and I had no idea what the appropriate age for wearing jewelry is. I also added acrylic charms that I later realized she might pull off and put into her mouth.

I texted my sister and she said two to three years is the recommended age for necklaces. I thought of keeping the necklace for my niece’s birthday, but eventually decided to give it anyway when my sister and her family visited me yesterday. I’m confident my sister will be able to keep it safe until my niece is ready for it.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky