#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 9, 2021)

Hi everyone on this sunny Saturday. Well, it’s not sunny anymore, as the sun has just set, but it was sunny all afternoon. Today I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare again. I’m in Lobith and I usually have tea in the evenings here, but if you’d like a cup of coffee, I’m sure my husband can make you one too.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week was all quite meh. I’ve said this a couple of times already over the past week. It’s all just one endless stream of sadness, triggers and the resulting flashbacks.

I’m pretty sure I’ve decided I’m going to ask my nurse practitioner to up my topiramate on Monday. I hope this means I won’t have to wait for my next weekly med refill on Saturday to get the upped dose. Of course I know meds won’t solve everything, but I can’t think of anything else right now.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I did find some inspiration in the soaping and essential oil departments again. Yesterday, I even managed to make a simple butterfly melt and pour soap.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I also managed to get in more steps this week than last week and that’s not counting tomorrow yet. Okay, last week was quite a bad week in the walking department, but oh well, let’s be thankful for the little things.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic footwear finally returned from whoever (Shoe or AFO Guy) was working on it earlier this week. It finally seems to be okay now. Not great, but okay. I have at least been able to walk some 25 minutes on the footwear without too much pain and am pretty sure it needs getting used to as well.

If we were having coffee, I would repeat how grateful I am for all the lovely comments on my blog. Like I mentioned last week, I’m participating in #Blogtober21, though my only goal right now is to publish a blog post everyday. I’m no longer going with prompts. Today, I almost wouldn’t have written a post, as I’m with my husband in Lobith like I said and this usually means I can’t concentrate. However, I didn’t want to break my streak.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share my husband cooked me a delicious rice and meatballs meal this eveningn. Neither of us was full after it, so we ended up ordering something else afterwards. However, the meal was very tasty!

How have you been?

Gratitude List (October 8, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone. I’m still struggling quite a bit, but I’m determined that, if I don’t write to the 31 prompts for the 31-day writing challenge, I’ll at least write a blog post everyday. To cheer myself up, today I’m doing a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for pizza. Yes, again. Last Sunday, like I mentioned in my #WeekendCoffeeShare post, we ordered food from the local Italian restaurant. I ordered a tuna pizza and it was delicious!

2. I am grateful for my staff. As I mentioned several times over the past week, my assigned home staff is on sick leave. Thankfully though, I still do have other staff. I struggle to trust them, but am trying.

3. I am grateful for new essential oil inspiration. Last Monday, I signed up to the Using Essential Oils Safely VIP club for one month. It’s too expensive for me to remain a member longer, but I’m learning all I can while I have the membership. I did put a few new essential oils on my wishlist to buy someday.

4. I am grateful for my bed’s adjustable headrest and legrest. That way, I am able to lie in bed much more comfortably.

5. I am grateful for quetiapine (Seroquel). This is my PRN medication. I’ve needed it quite a few times over the past week and am happy it helps at least a little.

6. I am grateful for the support from my community psychiatric nurse and nurse practitioner. I had a regular appt with my CPN on Wednesday and told her how much I was struggling. She offered to ask my nurse practitioner to call me on Thursday and I reluctantly accepted the offer. He did call and we agreed to discuss possibly upping my topiramate (Topamax), which I take for PTSD symptoms, on Monday.

7. I am grateful for my husband. He is very able to put things into perspective.

8. I am grateful for St. Nicholas candy. The holiday isn’t till December 5, but the candy has been in stores since mid-August and my staff ordered it earlier this week. (Thankfully my fellow clients don’t have the awareness of time to get confused by this, as people of higher intellectual level might.) I had a large handful (well, a small bowlful) of candies this evening.

9. I am grateful I am still able to blog everyday in spite of my distress. I am also so grateful for all the engagement on my blog, particularly on my posts about the mental hospital. Thanks a bunch everyone for your support!

Well, okay, nine things of thankful this time, but it’s alright. What are you grateful for?

#IWSG: Drawing the Line

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) is meeting. It doesn’t matter that it’s Blogtober and the 31-day writing challenge is running. It’s already past 8PM as I write this, so I probably won’t have time for a separate post for these challenges. Maybe I’ll catch up with the word prompts from the latter challenge tomorrow. Maybe not.

For those visiting from #Blogtober21 or the 31-day writing challenge anyway, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group gathers each first Wednesday of the month to discuss our writing insecurities, fears, successes and setbacks. There is also an optional question each month.

First, let me share that I did quite well in the writing department over the past month. I published 22 blog posts in September, one more than in August. I also think I did an okay job of broadening my writing horizons. I (re)discovered the diary app Diarium and did an okay job keeping a journal in there for part of the month. Not so much in October so far.

For October, my goal is just to write a blog post everyday in keeping with the challenges I’m participating in. I may or may not go with the 31-day writing challenge word prompts. I don’t really intend to write much in the way of fiction or poetry, but who knows where my muse will lead me?

Now on to this month’s optional question: where do you draw the line with respect to topics or language?

First, I have a clear line relating to language: I don’t swear in my writing. Even when one of my angry alters was writing on here and tried to drop an F-bomb, I censored it out. I do occasionally use bad language on social media. I don’t use profanity though and haven’t for a long time, even before I became a Christian. I in fact find unnecessary use of foul language (which is most use of foul language) quite offputting in my reading too.

With respect to topics, well, since I write mostly autobiographical musings on here, I draw the line where I invade other people’s privacy. For example, when I mention my husband, I make sure it’s in a lighthearted way. I won’t write about our arguments, about our intimate life, etc. I do need to say though that I had to learn to shut up about such topics the hard way. In fact, my husband still likes to jokingly remind me of a post I published on an old, now-private blog in 2008 in which I described my expectations should he and I become a couple officially. In particular, he likes to tease me about calling him a “kid”.

For clarity’s sake, I am not and never was one to describe violence, sex etc. in detail. Even when I still did describe my fights with my parents or my intimate life with my husband, I didn’t use explicit language. Similarly, when I write fiction or poetry, I must say, I generally keep my language quite non-explicit too. I do write about dark topics, but usually by trying to convey the emotions rather than going into detail about the actual facts.

Childhood Ambitions

Last week’s topic for Truthful Tuesday was what we as children wanted to become when we’d grow up. I already discussed this at length last year, so really didn’t feel like boring my readers with the same old stuff again. I mean, I didn’t end up becoming a professor, a psychologist or a published author, or for that matter any of the other things I wanted to be when I’d grow up. Then I saw the topic is being continued this week. That got me thinking. Maybe, if I look at it differently, I did fulfill some of those childhood ambitions.

For example, I may not be a published author yet. Well, I am, if you count that one short piece of writing published in an anthology back in 2015. But I hardly count that. What I do count, is my blog. Back in my childhood years, the Internet hardly existed, so if I wanted my diary published, like Anne Frank, I’d have to have it traditionally published. Well, thank goodness I don’t strive for that at all now. If I’m ever going to get anything published in print in the future, it will be something much better than those crazy diary entries. But I digress.

Another ambition I reached, is inspiring others, including professionals. As a young teen, I wanted to become a psychologist so that I could help improve care for children or people in general with complex care needs. Though I’m not even a peer support worker by qualification, I have given informal lectures to medical students and other professionals.

Thirdly, I have vastly expanded my knowledge of psychology, education and related topics. I may not actually be of value to anyone with this knowledge except in the ways I mentioned above. However, if you asked my parents what my ultimate passion was as a child, they’d invariably say “collecting knowledge”. I may not have graduated college or even come close. I may live in a long-term care facility for people with intellectual disability. I may not be as much of a nerd as I was when I was younger. However, I still definitely use my brains.

Other ways in which I contribute to the world that I couldn’t even imagine as a child, include my creative endeavors. I bring a smile to my fellow clients’ faces when I bring them handmade gifts. I also am much more empathetic and sensitive than I could’ve imagined I would be. That makes me much prouder than having achieved my high level high school graduation.

What childhood ambitions did you manage to fulfill?

Activities I Do When I’m Alone

I have been struggling more with alone time and the fear of being left to my own resources lately. For this reason, Carol Anne of Therapy Bits’ question yesterday comes at the right time. She asks what things we like to do when we’re alone.
Here’s a list of things I can do by myself.

1. Go online. I can read other people’s blog posts, be it in my feed reader or through link parties.

I can also go on Facebook and other social media. I don’t personally use Twitter, Instagram etc. much at this point, but I still like to scroll through it.

I also recently developed an interest in watching YouTube videos in the areas of crafting and faith.

2. Read. The only goal I set for myself this year that I truly, definitely haven’t reached, is my reading goal. I’ve so far only finished six books out of my goal of 20. That being said, I do like to read the occasional short story or chapter in a self-help book.

3. Write. I am currently on an eight-day streak with this blog (including this post). I can also write in my private diary, for which I use an app called Day One. I use this app for freewrites and gratitude lists too.

4. Pray and read my Bible. I sometimes slack out on my Bible reading a little, opening the app and only reading the verse of the dday. Today, I did pretty well, having actually finished a plan I had been doing for a while and also having read up some in the book of Judges (because someone I follow mentioned a verse from there).

Besides filling my time, Bible study and prayer will bring me closer to God and will hopefully make me realize that I am never truly alone, even when I am physically alone. I am also never left to my own resources, even if it feels that way.

5. Listen to music and dance. The word “dance” should really be put between scare quotes, since my sense of rhythm is nonexistent. However, I enjoy listening to country, southern rock and contemporary Christian music while moving.

In addition, I also like to listen to calming music while lying in bed. Then, I prefer nature sounds and harp, guitar or piano music. I also occasionally listen to contemporary Christian music when I’m neither resting nor dancing. Then, I’m digesting the lyrics.

Do you struggle with alone time? What activities do you do when you’re alone?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

#IWSG: Success As a Writer

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month once again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I don’t really have much to share with respect to how well I did in the area of writing. I mean, I did okay, having written 21 blog posts over the month of August. I didn’t really broaden my writing horizons at all, but that’s okay. Other creative outlets (ie. polymer clay) have taken priority.

So, with no further ado, let’s get to this month’s question. This month, the optional question is how we define success as a writer.

As someone who has only had one short piece published so far, I can’t really define success by how well-accepted my works are in the area of publishing. At least not unless I want to consider myself a massive failure. This doesn’t mean I don’t define success by external standards though.

When I first started writing for an audience with my online diary in 2002, I hardly had that audience in mind at all. The service I used didn’t have a comment feature or stats, so there was no way of knowing who’d read my writings except if they’d E-mail me about them.

When I transferred to WordPress in 2007, I still didn’t care about or even pay attention to my stats. I was delighted when my blog posts got featured on a popular-in-my-niche blog, but that’s about it.

Then when I started what I refer to as “my old blog” on this blog in 2013, I did understand more about blogging and WordPress, so I did pay attention to how many comments I got. That’s usually how I defined success at the time. I also checked my stats more regularly, but still didn’t really know what they meant.

I still to this day usually define success by the engagement I get on my blog. Since starting this blog in 2018, it has been steadily improving.

I do try not to obsess over my stats though. I mean, back in the days of my old blog, I would hardly ever respond to people’s comments because those comments would distort my stats. I have learned since that it is not just morally expected but good for your engagement too to reply to each comment you receive.

Besides the number of comments I receive, I would like to add that it helps boost my sense of success as a writer to see that people are genuinely touched by or interested in my writings. I feel therefore that the content of comments also matters.

How do you define success as a writer?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 24, 2021)

Hi everyone on this late Saturday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare even though it’s rather late for coffee here at nearly 9PM. Besides, I had green tea this evening. I can of course still make you a Senseo, although with the amount of coffee stains in and on my coffee maker I wouldn’t recommend it. So I guess a glass of water or a soft drink should suffice. I hope that’s alright. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d share that I’m so grateful the weather has been much milder over the past week than it was the week before. Of course, we here in Raalte weren’t personally affected by the floods either and damage control down in Limburg is still ongoing. However, the weather here has been truly beautiful.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, thanks to the weather as well as my feet cooperating, I have been able to get in a lot of walking lately. I got in over 11K steps each day of the week so far.

I am still not sure I’ll sign up for Steptember, the annual fundraiser for the cerebral palsy charity this coming September. The aim is to raise funds while aiming for 10K steps each day, regardless of whether this is done while walking, wheeling, biking, etc. Last year, I did participate, but I didn’t really like the pressure I put onto myself by signing up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been really crafty over the past week. I have been making some new bracelets. One of them, I sent to my mother. She received it in the post today and was happy with it.

I also picked up trying to do latch hooking again. This is a yarn craft for making rugs etc. I learned this at the blindness rehabilitation center back in 2005 and tried to pick it up again briefly in the psych hospital, but was too easily frustrated for it back then. So far, I am not 100% sure I understand the technique again yet, but I’m confident that ultimately I’ll learn.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’m truly grateful for all the comments on my blog over the past few days. It makes me feel so happy to see that others read and appreciate my writing.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would announce that tomorrow is my third blogiversary! That is, it’s the third anniversary of my having (re)started this blog. I say “re” because I used this domain (or the WordPress.com subdomain at least) back in 2011 too. I have been on WordPress for over fourteen years and have had an online diary ever since 2002. I still keep learning and growing everyday. I am so, so grateful that, contrary to what some “influencers” say, blogging isn’t dead at all. I hope it never dies.

How have you been?

Early Days Online

Yesterday, Rory asked whether we remember our first times online or with a computer in general. I certainly do. I may have shared some of these memories before, but just in case I haven’t, I’m going to dedicate a post to them.

I got my first computer at the age of eleven in January of 1998. That one didn’t have an Internet connection though. Its operating system, Windows 95 SP2 (which my father explained was like Windows 96), did support Internet Explorer, but my screen reader didn’t. That screen reader, Slimware Windows Bridge, was quite primitive. So was the Braille display, which I remember to be attached to my computer via the printer port. Though it did work with just Braille, without speech, if the speech unit in the Braille display malfunctioned, so did the entire thing.

In 2002, I got my second computer and my first JAWS version. For those who don’t know, JAWS is the most commonly-used screen reader today. This computer had Windows 98 installed on it and it did have Internet access.

My father at first was adamant that I use the Internet as much as I want, even though we had a dial-up connection back then (not the kind where you can’t phone and go online at the same time). He said that, if the bill got too expensive, we’d get broadband. Then when the bill did get to over €300 over the summer, it turned out broadband wasn’t available at our house. After a few months of my parents trying to restrict my Internet access and my trying to evade said restrictions, we eventually got cable.

I got my first online diary that fall of 2002. It was on DiaryLand if I remember correctly, though I often switched between DiaryLand, Diary-X, Teen Open Diary and whatever else was available. The only service I never actively used, was Xanga. I also had a Dutch online diary.

The worst mistake I made, looking back, was not taking care of other people’s privacy. I not only wrote out every argument I’d had with my parents in detail, but also referred to other people, such as my teachers, by their real names. One teacher in particular had a rather unusual last name and at one point was googling her name for genealogy purposes. Not surprisingly, she stumbled upon my Dutch diary. Though I (interestingly) had used a nickname there, she quickly found out it was me. She personally didn’t mind, but did caution me that others might.

What mistakes did you make in your early days online?

#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?

Today Is Tuesday, June 8

I really want to write, but I’m feeling pretty uninspired. I already looked through my collections of journaling prompts, of which I have many. However, even though a few prompts spoke to me, I just couldn’t get myself to put fingers to keyboard and actually write. Until now, that is. Instead of writing an actually meaningful post, I’m just going to freewrite.

Today I got my original Braille display, the one with the water damage, back. The technician also explained why this model can’t handle even a little water on it even though the old model, the one that got the cup of tea over it seven years ago, could. This model’s Braille cells are somehow covered, so if water enters them, there’s no way it’ll get out. He didn’t explain the point of creating cells like this, I mean, what would make them better than cells that haven’t been covered like the ones in the old model. I think it might even be an effort to make the Braille displays not last as long, but of course the technician wouldn’t say so.

In the afternoon, my mother-in-law visited me. We drove to a relatively nearby forest and went for a short walk. Then we had coffee and apple pie. We also drove by a supermarket, where I got blueberries and fruit gums. The fruit gums, I already consumed.

Both my mother-in-law and my husband have been asking me what I want for my birthday, which is on the 27th. I have asked my parents to order from a specific jewelry-making store which is local to them. For my husband and mother-in-law, I really don’t know what to ask for. I mean, I’ve been tempted to ask for the interactive cat my mother-in-law originally wanted to buy me last year. Then again, that thing is over a hundred euros.

In the evening, I did a little more walking and had coffee. I more than reached my water intake goal for the day. I use the Water Reminder app on my iPhone again. It’s a pretty good way of keeping track of my fluid intake, as it also allows me to track other beverages. And just so you know, yes, it actually takes away water when you drink alcohol. That makes me believe its calculation of amount of water in beverages is pretty accurate.

I also read my Bible again. I decided to pick it up in Genesis where I left off when starting to read Daniel on Sunday. I don’t expect to be reading all the boring Old Testament stuff, but for now I’m at least sticking to a Bible reading habit.

And a writing habit. See? I can really make myself create a blog post if I just want it badly enough. And I do, since WordPress is now keeping track of my blogging streaks. Yay me!