Things That Made Me Smile (June 13, 2022) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone. I haven’t done a gratitude list in a while and, to be honest, have been struggling to find enough things to be grateful for to make a list out of them. Today was another mixed day. However, I did find a major reason to smile in the morning, which I am sharing with The Weekly Smile.

You see, my assigned home staff has a new family pet and a rather unusual one at that. This morning, she invited me over to her house to see it and I actually got to hold the animal. Can you guess what it is?

Yes, indeed, it’s a hedgehog! Specifically, this one’s a four-toed hedgehog. They can legally be held as pets as of 2015 here in the Netherlands, but there are only a few breeders. My staff said she had to go through a whole screening process to see if she and her family would be fit to take care of a hedgehog. The hedgehog, a female named Willow, can only leave its cage for an hour at a time, because otherwise it’ll lose too much body heat.

When I held it, at first it didn’t feel prickly at all. I compared its prickliness to my sister-in-law’s late rough-haired dachshund. Only when Willow got a little overstimulated at the end did it put up its spines.

Hedgehogs like this one aren’t used to living in groups or even pairs, so they can easily be left alone for a few weeks (provided they have enough food and water) to fend for themselves. Even so, the atmosphere did feel cozy because of Willow.

After my visit with Willow, my staff let me jump on her kids’ trampoline in her garden for a bit too. Her husband has an aviary with Gouldian finches in it. They were too quick for us to even attempt to take pictures of them or so my staff said, but their birdsong was quite beautiful.

Ten Things I Love About Spring

Hi everyone. It’s the first day of spring, so what better day than today to share my favorite things about spring? Granted, I didn’t come up with this idea myself, but found it in a list of journaling prompts. Here goes.

1. The flowers. Yesterday, I came across a spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum). I love the many other spring flowers, including daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, etc.

Spring Snowflake

2. The sunshine. When it’s sunny on a spring day, it’s not so sunny that I will get very easily sunburned. Not that I get sunburned easily anyway, and I do make sure to use a facial cream with sunscreen when going out in spring too. However, I really like the spring sunshine more than winter’s or summer’s sunshine.

3. The temperatures. This week, we get really great spring weather, with temperatures rising to about 18°C. I love this. It usually gets like this even more often in April and May and may even get warmer, which I like more. My ideal daytime temperature is about 22°C.

4. The birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing in spring! I of course can listen to birdsong on Spotify too, but the real thing is much better.

5. My mood usually being better. I know that spring fatigue is a form of seasonal affective disorder, but I don’t suffer from it. In fact, my mood tends to improve in spring.

6. The smells. Of course, this is related to the flowers, as most spring-related scents are floral. I really love the smell of hyacinths in particular.

7. The fact that sunset is still early enough that I can go outside close to it to take pictures. I recently learned that taking pictures outdoors at midday will make the pictures look bad due to overexposure to sunlight, so I instead decided to go out to take pictures closer to sunset. (Sunrise, as regular readers of my blog will know, is way too early for my liking even in the middle of winter.) Now that it’s early spring, the sun sets at around 6:45PM, but when daylight saving time sets in this Sunday, that will be an hour later. In the middle of summer, I won’t be able to go out close to sunset because my one-on-one will have left, but in spring, I will still be able to.

8. Daylight saving time. This means longer days (for me). I already talked about the advantages of it for photography, but it also means I can have the curtains open longer and get daylight in.

9. Baby animals being born. And the cows at the nearby farm being released from their barn. It’s awesoome to watch farm animals in spring.

10. Extra money in May. For whatever weird reason, people on disability benefits, like those in regular employment, get holiday pay. This is deposited into my bank account in May. I usually have something in mind to spend it on (other than a vacation) months in advance. This year, I’m still undecided, but I really look forward to it.

What are your favorite things about spring?

Outdoor Activities I Enjoy

The book 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane contains, in addition to a wealth of assorted journaling prompts, also a number of “list of twenty” prompts. One of these is outdoor activities you enjoy. Right now, the weather outside is frightful: cloudy, windy, rainy and even a bit snowy. It’s April though and the weather has to get better someday soon. For when it does, let me share some of my favorite outdoor activities.

1. Walking. This is a no-brainer to anyone who’s read some of my blog before. I love love love walking and will even go for some walks in light rain occasionally.

2. Sunbathing. Or rather, just sitting in the sun. I don’t really sunbathe that much, but I do love to sit in the sunshine sometimes.

3. Swinging. At the day center, there is a rocking lounger outside of the door of my pre-lockdown group. I’ve also heard there are sets of swings in front of some of the other homes. At my former day centers, I loved to sit on a swing outside and swing about.

4. Listening to birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing and chirp when I’m walking or sitting outside. I have absolutely no birdsong recognition skill whatsoever, but the mere sound of the different birds is pure bliss.

5. Meeting people from other care homes. This is mostly due to lockdown, as I used to be able to speak to other clients at the day center. Now we have to meet outside. I love talking to my acquaintances from other homes.

6. Swimming. Mostly in the outdoor pool, that is. Oh, how I wish I would be allowed into them again. I’ve heard some outdoor swimming pools have opened to a limited number of swimmers, but then still I won’t be able to go yet. I don’t really like swimming in a lake as much.

7. Barbecueing. Oh, how I love all the barbecue meat. Truly, if you ask me, salads are just a necessary evil. No, not really, but I am a true carnivore when it comes to barbecueing.

8. Enjoying a picnic. Although I struggle not to make a mess when not seated at a table. I try to think that’s not a problem though.

9. Feeling the wind blow through my hair. I don’t really like windy weather like today, but I do love to feel a slight breeze on my face and through my hair.

10. Campfires. Mostly for the marshmallows, that is. I don’t particularly care for the smoky scent and feel of a campfire, but it definitely adds to a cozy atmosphere.

Okay, I’m not going to get to twenty, but this was definitely fun to try.

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with #SeniSal.

Whale Sounds #SoCS

When I started day activities at the first center I went to when being kicked out of the mental hospital in 2017, I experienced snoezelen® for the first time. Snoezelen® is a type of sensory experience at day activities for people with intellectual disability. The idea is that the entire sensory environment can be tailored to suit the client’s needs. In that room, there was a waterbed. I lay on it listening to a CD called something like Whales of the Pacific. The waterbed had speakers inside of it too, so that it vibrated along with the music.

I grew to love love love that CD. When I left for another day center, I tried to get ahold of this CD but found out it was no longer available in stores. My staff at the old center tried to copy it for me, but that didn’t work. At the next center, they didn’t really have relaxing music I liked, so I usually just lay on the waterbed without listening to music. Their waterbed didn’t have speakers in it either anyway.

Now at my current day center, I have come to enjoy relaxing music again. I particularly like a CD called Songbird Symphony. It has music and bird sounds on it. I was able to find the album on Spotify too, so that I can listen to it while lying in my own bed or while relaxing in my recliner too.

As for whale sounds, I discovered an album on Spotify of whale sounds with music by a group called Robbins Island Music Group. They also release other types of relaxing and focus-oriented music, but I like the whale sounds the best.

Interestingly, I still really don’t like whale sounds without music. I love whale sounds, birdsong and the like, but there has to be a musical component to it too.

Looking back, I remember asking my psychologist at the mental hospital whether snoezelen® would be a suitable activity for me. She didn’t think it would be, as she claimed this is only suited to people with intellectual disability. Well, I love lying on the waterbed, Songbird Symphony surrounding me. I don’t care that I’m apparently too intelligent for it.

I’m joining in with #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “animal sounds”.