Lovin’ Lately (September 11, 2020)

Hi everyone on this beautiful Friday! How are you all? I’m doing pretty well. I thought I’d share another edition of Lovin’ Lately. As usual, I’m linking up with Friday Favorites.

1. Cold tea. Last Saturday, a staff brought a bag of so-called cold tea. This is a new product from Pickwick (I believe). It’s herbal tea that you add to cold water instead of hot water. The staff brought me the pineapple and lime flavored one.

2. Fragrance oils. I decided for the first time to check out a webshop specializing in fragrance oils for candle and soap making or oil diffusers. I’d heard of this shop before, but never bought anything off it. This time, I ordered two fragrance oils: one pineapple and the other juicy yellow lemon. I got another fragrance oil as a gift. That one isn’t suited for soap or skin or hair care products, but I’ll try if I can diffuse it in my oil diffuser.

3. MyNoise. Emilia over at My Inner MishMash recommended this app (well, she didn’t name it until I asked). Like she says, it’s an app that lets you listen to various soundscapes and you can set the volume for each individual sound within the soundscape. I pretty soon decided to purchase the full version, which has like 150 different sounds. You can also somehow calibrate your own soundscapes or something, but I’m not sure how that works. I’ve so far been listening to a lot of nature-based soundscapes.

4. Soap making recipes. On Monday, I decided to check out YouWish, a Dutch soaping supplies store with a great blog. I really want to get into the soap making craft again. I haven’t yet tried out any of the recipes yet, but will next week. Some use micas, which are powdered colorants. I bought two at the fragrance oil store too.

5. Matcha green tea powder. When searching for more melt and pour soap making recipes, I saw a recipe that uses green tea powder as a colorant and additive. I immediately decided to order some matcha green tea powder. The site said that it’d arrive within a day, but it didn’t. It finally arrived today. I saw on the packaging that besides tea, you can also use this in smoothies. That sounds pretty cool!

What have you been lovin’ lately?

Quotes, Sayings and Affirmations for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my Letter Q post in the #AtoZChallenge. Man, how time flies! We’ve just entered our sixth week in “intelligent” lockdown here in the Netherlands. Tomorrow, prime minister Rutte will hold another press conference to determine whether any restrictions will be lifted on April 28. I doubt it, but oh well.

Today I want to talk about using quotes and inspirational sayings in your self-care routine.

Quotes may seem a little cheesy to some people at first. Then again, maybe you haven’t found the right one yet. If you find a quote that truly speaks to you, it can definitely set you off in the right direction.

I for one love quotes and not just the deep ones. Anna Borges’ first self-care strategy is called “A.A. Milne” after the author of the book Winnie the Pooh. There are lots of funny quotes in that book and in the Disney movies based on it. They may actually make you laugh and inspire you at the same time.

I do also love deep quotes though. My favorites come from Helen Keller, Tori Amos and Madeleine L’Engle. However, I enjoy quotes from a ton of different people.

For those of us who are religious, Bible or other sacred text verses can also certainly speak to you. I am a true cherry picker where it comes to the Bible, picking out random passages to use for motivation. That’s totally okay if you ask me.

When you find a quote or verse that speaks to you, you can use it as a mantra or affirmation. You can also create your own affirmations. The key to getting affirmations to actually do good for you, is believing in them. I mean, I don’t believe in Law of Attraction-like ideas that say anything you set your mind to can come true. Affirmations need to be useful to your life right now. For example, I use the following affirmation: “I love, accept and respect myself exactly as I am right now.”

There are a number of different apps that can be used for focusing on affirmations. I use ThinkUp and Mantra on my iPhone. Both are free but come with ads and an in-app purchase to get premium features and remove advertising.

What are your favorite quotes, sayings or affirmations?

Organization as a Self-Care Skill #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 15 and my letter O post in the #AtoZChallenge. Today’s topic may seem a bit boring. I’m going to talk about how organizing your life can help you take better care of yourself.

Let me start by saying I’m a terrible organizer. In high school, I had a calendar that I’d typed out myself in Word. I started out keeping it faithfully at the beginning of the first school year. By the time we got to the end of that year though, I forgot to write down my homework about half the time and looked it up even less. I had a great memory, which meant I didn’t usually miss homework deadlines.

I never kept a calendar in college or beyond, but now that I have an iPhone, I do try to use the calendar app to track appointments. Which reminds me, I still need to write next week’s phone appt with my community psychiatric nurse into it. Going to do that now. Be right back.

Okay, done. Where was I? See, I’m pretty disorganized. Still, I try to keep some order in my life. It helps me, for example, to have reminders about taking my medication in my phone. Otherwise I may forget and that’s not good.

I also, like I mentioned before, have an app that reminds me to drink enough water. Habit-tracking apps like this exist for a bunch of habits that will help you have a more meaningful, organized and productive life.

Decluttering is another way of getting more organized. There are lots of specific methods for it, such as FlyLady, the Konmari method, etc. I would love to stick to such a method, but honestly more so that I could talk about it than to actually get cleaning. I guess that’s weird.

Because I am blind, I don’t usually get bothered by clutter unless it’s in my way. However, of course, clutter does make it harder for me to remember where I left my things. That’s why currently I try to keep at least some order in my drawers and my wardrobe. It’s hard, but it pays off.

Are you an organized person? Or have you developed strategies for organizing your life?

Journaling for Emotional Wellbeing #AtoZChallenge

Wow, did I seriously not think about journaling when ruminating over what word to pick for my letter J post? Well yeah, indeed I completely forgot. But now I know, so for today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite yet most challenging self-care habits: journaling.

I started my first journal when I was about eleven. It was a handmade diary with Braille pages stuck in it. I didn’t keep it for long though. When I was thirteen, I started writing a regular diary on my computer. That one lasted for over three years, until I discovered the Internet and online journals. I always wished for my journals to be read by others, even though I never wanted my parents to be those other people. That happened with the online journal, which gradually morphed into a blog.

That being said, I need to learn to write in private again. Not just anything that goes on in my head, is suited for the whole wide world to read.

Journal keeping can have many benefits for your emotional wellbeing. It can help you identify patterns in your thinking, find triggers for negative feelings and be more grateful, among other things.

Remember, the diary is just one form of journaling. Usually in a diary, you write what you did during a day, including how you felt. There are other types of more focused journals, such as:

  • Dream journal, in which you write down your dreams after you wake up in the morning.
  • Goal-related journal, such as weight loss or smoking cessation journals. In this type of journal, you track your progress towards a goal. For those of us dealing with addictions, eating disorders, etc., a journal for tracking how many days you’re in recovery, may help too.
  • Gratitude journal, in which you write a list of daily gratefuls or otherwise express your gratitude. See my letter G post for more tips on this.

Some journaling “experts” recommend writing stream-of-consciousness style. Others recommend using prompts. You can combine the two by responding to a journaling prompt in stream-of-consciousness style too. There are many free and cheap books of journaling prompts. My favorite is the Journaling with Lisa Shea series. I have the whole series in one single eBook.

There are lots of ways to keep a journal. You can have a standard paper journal or a document (or more than one) on your computer, tablet or smartphone. There are also lots of apps that are aimed at helping you journal. I have tried dozens of those on my iPhone. My current favorite is Day One, which is available for all Apple products and I believe Android now too. Still, no matter how many products you try, you need to be the one sticking to a regular habit of journal keeping.

Do you have a journal (other than your blog)?

Fun and Games for When You’re Bored #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter F post in the #AtoZChallenge. I want to have a lighthearted topic for today. After all, I’m bored and don’t want to delve deep into some topic of self-care. Of course, dealing with boredom appropriately can be an act of self-care. I’m sharing a few fun activities to do when you’re bored.

1. Card games. I particularly love the game of “pesten” (“bullying” in English), which is a variation to the card game of mau mau and similar to Uno. It is played with a deck of 55 cards (52 of a regular pack plus three jokers). The goal is to get rid of all of your cards first, but you can bully the person next to you by the cards you play. For example, if you play an eight, the person next must pass his turn. If you play a two or joker, the next person must draw two or five cards from the stack, respectively. There are some other rules too that are pretty complicated particularly if there are more than two players in the game. For example, an ace means to turn around, so it’s often hard to remember whether we’re playing clockwise or counterclockwise. For this reason, I usually play the game with one other person.

I should really be trying to learn some other card games, as “pesten” is the only one I know. I guess playing solitaire is a good boredom killer if you’re by yourself.

2. Board games. I don’t play those often, but as a tween, I did. I particularly liked monopoly. I now have an audio-based version of monopoly on my iPhone. Still figuring it out though.

3. Word games and puzzles. I particularly like to make word strings, where the next word has to start with the last letter of the previous word. These can be themed, such as first names, animals, etc. I also like to do word puzzles on my phone. Most regular word games are not accessible with VoiceOver. However, I have an app called 7 Little Words that is.

4. Reading. We as a system like to read a variety of books depending on who out of our personalities is fronting. For example, the young alters like reading funny stories and jokes. Like we said yesterday, there are many free kids’ stories available in eBook format from both Amazon and Apple Books.

The teens and adults prefer young adult novels and occasionally fiction geared towards adults. We also love memoirs.

What fun activities can you think of to do when you’re bored?

Gratitude List (November 30, 2018) #TToT

It’s Friday again! I am not a big fan of the week-end, but I like Fridays nonetheless. I don’t relly know why. Maybe it’s just that they’re blue in my mind’s eye’s synesthetic perception and blue is my favorite color. Who knows?

Friday also means it’s time to link up with #TToT again. Here are the things I’ve been thankful for this past week.

1. Tarot apps. I don’t really believe in the spiritual basis of tarot, but I wanted to learn it anyway to use as a thought-starter. I read up about it on some blogs, but didn’t know how to make it work for myself, as I, being blind, cannot use real tarot cards. After looking for a while though, I found some accessible-with-VoiceOver tarot apps. Of course, I still miss out on the visual aspects, but I can still reflect on the card meanings.

2. Gratitude journaling. Okay, yeah, I am doing this now, but I also have been doing it in an iPhone app this past week. I couldn’t manage to do it daily, but I managed two tims since installing the app on Monday. It does help me.

3. Yet another extra afternoon at day activities. This was just once though. Because my support coordinator was off sick and my support worker or mother-in-law couldn’t come either, the staff got the manager’s permission to let me stay at day activities on Wednesday afternoon. It was really nice.

4. Horseback riding with my mother-in-law. My support worker couldn’t come on Thursday to go riding with me, but my mother-in-law could. It was a lot of fun.

5. Dinner with my in-laws. Alos yesterday, I decided on a whim to go have dinner with my in-laws. I was scared my husband would be mad with me for it, but thankfully he wasn’t. We ate delicious macaroni.

6. My fabulous husband. Need I say more? I just love him.

7. Good food. My husband has been experimenting with healthier food choices. On Tuesday, he made zucchini noodles. When on Wednesday he made rutabaga (Swedish turnip) fries, I was a little suspicious. However, I liked it.

8. A lie-in on Thursday. I didn’t have anything to do except for horseback riding at 4:30, so I slept in till 11AM. I also listened to some relaxing music in bed.

9. Relaxing in the snoezelen (sensory) room. On Tuesday, I took my phone into the sensory room with me and listened to whale sounds and music while lying on the water bed. I also took time to relax in the sensory room on Wednesday morning.

10. Chatting to a former nurse. Yesterday, a former nurse from the acute psychiatric ward I spent sixteen long months on in 2007-2009, sent me a text message. It wasn’t intended for me, so I told him who I was and that he probably had texted the wrong Astrid. He started chatting to me anyway. I don’t have a lot of memories of that time, but I did remember him.

What have you been thankful for this past week?