TGIF: October

Hi all. It’s the last day of September (duh!) and I haven’t written enough posts this month. That is, if I want to aim for 300 posts in 2022, I’ll need to have written 225 now. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, since both October and December have 31 days and September has only 30, but oh well.

In any case, today’s optional theme for Paula’s TGIF is “October”. Paula asks us what our plans are for the month.

Of course, October’s main theme for me is moving to the main institution care home and settling in there. Today, I packed my first box. I also told all fellow residents I’m close to. The one in my own home at first hardly reacted, but now seems to understand to some degree. The woman in the care home down the road became a little emotional. I gave her a matching necklace and bracelet. The guy in the care home next to mine, the one with the chickens, reacted understandingly when I explained that the people in my new home are of a higher intellectual level. “So more like you and me?” he inquired. Yes, like that. I gave him the polymer clay sun, because he’s usually in a sunny mood. He gave me an egg he’d collected from one of his chickens this morning.

I already have two visits from my family planned in the first week of my stay at the new home. On October 8, my sister and her family will be coming by and my mother-in-law will visit me on October 11.

Besides settling into the new home, October will be a busy blogging month. I am participating in the 31-day writing challenge once again, although I won’t even attempt to do a landing page this time around. I usually just sign up for the prompts and to have some reason to blog everyday, even though I haven’t completed the challenge in years. There is of course also Blogtober, for which there are prompts this year too. I am not sure what I’ll do with those. All this to say, my cares about not having written enough during September, are really not all that important. Besides, no-one is going to come after me if I don’t write 300 posts in 2022.

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.

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.

Things That Have Changed Since I Started Blogging

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to share what’s changed since you started blogging. My current blog turns four next month and not much has changed over those years. However, I’ve been blogging on WordPress for over fifteen years and a lot changed in those years.

Back in the day, blogging was still the main sort of social media. I think Facebook might’ve existed and Twitter certainly did, but neither was as popular a means of connecting with other people online as they’d become over the next couple of years. Don’t even get me started on Instagram, on which I uploaded five photos tops since getting an account in 2017. I just don’t get it. Not that I ever really “got” Twitter or Facebook. Give me my blog please.

Back in the early days of my blogging journey, I wrote mostly about my own life, but this quickly changed to blogging about disability advocacy. I participated in an annual event called Blogging Against Disablism Day on May 1 and would connect to many of the bloggers I met there throughout the rest of the year. Many would follow me on Twitter, Tumblr (which again I didn’t really get), etc. I loved being part of a community working towards the greater good!

I stopped blogging on that blog in 2011 or 2012. In August of 2013, I started Blogging Astrid, the blog I usually now refer to as my “old blog”. I started it on Blogger but moved to WordPress in November. This is when I started to interact with the Writer’s Workshop community and learned about link parties. For a while, I blogged more for my stats than for self-expression or the greater good. Getting tired of that was a big reason I moved on to my current blog, which had as its original aim that I could write from the heart. As had been the case in the very early days of my original blog and even before, when my original blog was still an online diary.

Until I started this blog, I didn’t really know there was a community specific to WordPress.com and that it’s still alive and kickin’, despite the folks at Automattic trying to kill it off by making WordPress less and less attractive particularly to new customers. Then again, maybe blogging is dying after all. I try to realize people have said that for at least a decade and I still can find a pretty large circle of people to interact with in the blogosphere. They aren’t usually the same I’ve known since 2007, but that’s totally okay.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Gratitude List (May 13, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone! What a week, what a day it’s been. I really feel like writing, but my head is buzzing, so I thought for a bit of cheer and calm, I’d do a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I am grateful my staff were able to get the staffing schedule figured out and actually without temp workers needing to step in. The reality was, the temping agency didn’t have anyone available, so the regular staff ended up overworking, but this was a huge positive for me as it meant no unfamiliar faces.

2. I am grateful that a new staff was finally hired to work here. She did come from another home that’s part of my care facility, so they might now have a staffing shortage, but oh well, that’s not my problem. Until this staff came here, a lot of potential staff were given a look around my home but decided eventually not to want to work here.

3. I am grateful for delicious home-cooked chicken and rice yesterday. I actually cooked it with my day activities staff.

4. I am grateful for the smile on one of my fellow clients’ faces when I offered him a serving of the chicken and rice too. He is the only one in my care home who can eat rice without choking, so the staff, when cooking, never cook rice. I’m so happy he was pleased.

5. I am grateful for Sadje’s comment on my last blog post. I thought WordPress was acting up, since I wasn’t getting any comments. It might still be, but at least someone is able and willing to comment.

6. I am grateful for a visit from my mother-in-law on Tuesday. I am grateful we had a good talk with my assigned home staff. After that, we went to Rijssen, a town about a 30-minute drive from Raalte, to go for a walk and have coffee.

7. I am grateful I was able to mostly stick to my healthier eating plan over the past week. The only exception was the sausage roll I ordered in Rijssen. It not only was unhealthy, but came out of the microwave or so it seemed, so it definitely didn’t score an eight out of ten on how much I wanted to eat it. That’s the rule my dietitian gave me for treats: if they don’t score an eight or above on how eager I am to eat them, I might consider skipping them.

8. I am grateful that I did lose 0.4kg when I stepped onto the scale today as compared to last week.

9. I am grateful my semi-orthopedic shoes arrived back from the orthopedic shoemaker. The last time I sent them back, I had a blister on my right heel after only ten minutes of walking on them. Now I haven’t walked longer than that at a time on the shoes, but so far, so good.

10. I am grateful I got an E-mail from the store I bought the headphones that stopped working after two weeks at, saying they’ll give me my money back. I don’t have it in my bank account yet, but they said it could take up to five business days.

11. I did order new headphones and am grateful they work so far. They are a fifth of the price of the non-working ones, but still I am hoping they keep working.

12. I am grateful for paracetamol. I had to take it several times this past week for toothache or headache, but thankfully it worked.

What are you grateful for?

Zone: Describing My Creative Space #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to the last day in the #AtoZChallenge. About half of the times I’ve completed the challenge, I’ve chosen “ZZZ” for sleep as my topic for my letter Z post. I originally wanted to do the same now, but I really can’t think of ways in which my sleep relates to my creativity other than the obvious: that I need enough of it to be creative.

Instead, I am going with the word “Zone” and describe my creative space, or where I feel like I can “zone in” to my creative self.

I blog wherever I have access to my phone or computer. I could also probably be crafty in many places. However, the place I feel most comfortable being creative in, is my room in the care facility.

I have a desk, which I’ve had for over fifteen years. This desk, I use to have my computer and iPhone on. I prefer typing on my laptop keyboard, but can also type on my iPhone’s external keyboard. I cannot type anything beyond simple messages, usually consisting only of one word, on my iPhone’s screen directly. Even with the external keyboard, due to WordPress having done away with the classic editor on mobile devices, I much prefer to blog on my laptop. For this reason, when I want to blog and I’ll be away, such as at my and my husband’s house in Lobith, I’ll take my laptop with me.

For crafting, I have a separate table. I do need to clear it out when I am finished for the morning or afternoon, as I eat at that table too. I already showed you all where I keep my craft supplies in my letter K post. I can easily reach those from my table.

Then there is, of course, the shelf above my desk, where I display my finished projects. That’s part of my creative zone too, in that it inspires my creativity.

Joy in April

Oh my, how time flies! I fully intended to write my monthly update on my word of the year, which is “JOY”, last Thursday, but forgot. Thankfully, there’s still about ten hours left in April to share my reflections on how I did this past month. I am linking up with the Word of the Year linky, as well as Lisa’s One Word link-up.

Early in the month, I did quite well. I enjoyed my craft of polymer clay to the fullest. Among other things, I discovered color mixing. I was full of new ideas and really burst with energy.

I also enjoyed quiet time and my spiritual life. I was engaging with the Bible on a daily basis.

I also spent time involved with personal growth in general, watching videos on, for example, the enneagram. This is not necessarily Christian, but it is not against the faith either and there are many Christian enneagram experts.

Unfortunately, as the month progressed, I slipped into an emotional rut. I have been neglecting my Bible reading and my quiet time now involves falling asleep to instrumental music. That isn’t bad in itself, but I’d really like to spend more time focusing on God. I’ve noticed, in fact, that I’m drifting away from Him. I could blame this on my low mood, but really it could be the other way around too.

I also haven’t been enjoying my creativity as much as I used to. This goes for both my polymer clay and my blogging. With blogging, this may have to do with the fact that the #AtoZChallenge is coming to an end and the last letters are usually harder than the first. However, I don’t engage as much with other bloggers as I used to early in the month either.

I am also not enjoying my food as much as I used to. Like, we had pizza yesterday. While I appreciated it, I didn’t savor the food as much as I would like to have done. I am reminded in this sense of the mindful eating exercise I did in early March and how I’d really like to apply it to foods I love more.

Overall, early in the month, I did quite well, but towards the end of the month, I’ve been slipping towards the opposite of joy. This brings me to one of the exercises that Lisa provided in her One Word E-mail for this month (I think), which was to look to the opposites of your word and reflect on what they can tell you about your word. Some of the most relevant antonyms of joy include:


  • Depression: well, I wouldn’t say I’m depressed (yet), in the clinical sense. Having been there, I know that my current low mood is different, but I do need to watch out that I don’t slip into the pit of depression.

  • Melancholy: I’ve definitely been feeling this way. Melancholy is a bit of a low mood, with an edge of romanticism attached. I feel this resonates with me in relation to how I feel about living in my current care home.

  • Misery: this sounds a bit, well, too negative for me right now. A state I want to avoid at all cost.

  • Sadness: yes, I’ve felt sad when my fellow client passed away early this month, but other than that, sadness just doesn’t cut it.

  • Seriousness: certainly, yes. I’ve been far too serious about my life lately, which has resulted in my not enjoying the fun parts.

All this being said, in the coming month, I’m hoping to gain some joy back and crawl out of the pit of melancholy and seriousness.

Works in Progress: How I Deal With Having Unfinished Projects As a Creative #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to my letter W post in the #AtoZChallenge. For today’s topic, I chose “works in progress”. You know, those unfinished projects lying around forever waiting for me to get them done.

Right now, I have several works in progress with respect to my polymer clay. The most striking example is, of course, the mobile I’m creating for the baby girl my sister is expecting. I have yet to bake the last of my figures to go onto the wire, but I still also need to buy the wire for the actual thing.

Next up is of course the slice of a tree trunk I have had lying around for at least a month, waiting for me to build a forest scene on it. I initially thought of putting the polymer clay hedgehog I crafted about three weeks ago – which also took me forever to create – on it, but now I’m thinking of doing a squirrel.

Anyway, did I show you all the hedgehog yet? I don’t think I did. Here it is!

Lastly is of course the tulip I intended on crafting for my mother. Well, I tried. I mixed all the colors, which went well, but crafting the actual tulip was harder than I thought. That plus time pressure made me eventually give up and send my mother a polymer clay dolphin from my collection instead.

One reason I prefer to have smaller projects, is that having too many works in progress overwhelms me. This may be a reason I rarely have blog posts in my Drafts folder longer than a few hours to get back to later. Besides, if I start something then forget midway what I wanted to create, that’s a problem too.

Eventually, when I have had an unfinished project lying around for too long, I’ll discard it and start another, hopefully smaller, project.

Values: How My Creativity Reflects and Supports My Personal Values #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter V post in the #AtoZChallenge. This was a hard letter to find a topic for, but with the help of The Year of You for Creatives I found one: personal values. Core values are the abstract qualities you find important in life, such as trust, love, connection, growth, etc.

Now I haven’t really ever taken the time to evaluate my core values, so it is quite hard to say whether they are reflected in my creativity. However, when I give it some thought, I realize one of my main core values is authenticity. This is still hard to express in my creativity, particularly my polymer clay. Like I said yesterday, after all, most of my creations are still pretty much copies of what I see online.

In my writing, I do try to express my authentic self. This does mean I am quite open about my experiences of, for example, mental illness. I used to overshare to the point where it got uncomfortable for the people around me. Now, though some of my relatives probably still perceive me as oversharing, I do try to be mindful of other people’s privacy.

Another of my core values is connection. This is reflected in the fact that I want to share what I create and know about other people’s creative work. This is one reason I have a blog. It is also one reason I started responding to people’s comments on my blog. For the first so many years that I kept a blog, I didn’t do this, because I felt it’d corrupt my stats somehow (don’t ask me why). I now not only know that engaging with your commenters is the ethical thing to do, but I also really value the connections I develop through interacting on my blog.

Connection is also a reason I’m in Facebook groups for polymer clay and why I share my creations on Facebook. I don’t really do Instagram, although I might want to learn to use it someday for my creative pursuits.

Self-determination is another core value. I initially wrote “independence”, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. Even though I’d really like to be independent, after all, that’s just not realistic where it comes to my crafting. I do, however, want to make my own choices and do as much as I can by myself.

Lastly, growth is a core value of mine. I always aim for progress, no matter how small. I do not always find this is reflected in my work, because I sometimes don’t see the progress I’ve made. I could really improve in this area.

Time Management in My Creative Process #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to day 20 in the #AtoZChallenge. Today for my letter T post, I have a topic related to my letter D and R posts. After all, I am going to write about time management as it applies to my creative work.

I don’t have any real obligations where it comes to my creative work. I mean, in my blogging, when I sign up for a challenge such as this one, it’s just to be able to give myself some greater goal. Similarly, I don’t take on any assignments in my polymer clay, so I am basically the only one setting my deadlines.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel any pressure. I get a thrill out of knowing I’ve made a long streak of blogging on here or have been able to finish a big project “on time”. I also get stressed when I feel I’m not meeting my own goals.

I currently blog everyday and, over the past year or so, have maintained an average of at least three to four blog posts a week. I usually write my blog posts during my time I don’t have direct one-on-one support, so between 1:30 and 4PM on weekends or after 8PM each day.

One of my goals in the care facility is that I do something “useful” each day. This could be a creative activity such as polymer clay, but on days when I have appointments with mental health, those count as my “useful” activity of the day.

Given that I don’t keep track and my activity level fluctuates a great deal with my mood, I cannot say how much time on average I spend on my creative work during the week. Sometimes, I make something out of polymer clay everyday, while at other times, I am lucky if I manage one simple activity, such as mixing a predetermined color, a week.

I tend to feel useless when I’ve not accomplished much in a given week, in the sense that I haven’t finished any big projects. However, this is also related to my perfectionism. To put things into perspective, when I was still in the psych hospital, I struggled far more to get things done than I do now.