My Bookish Resolutions for 2021

Hi my fellow book lovers! Today, I’m joining in with #SixForSunday. I don’t think I’ve ever participated in this meme, though I’ve known about it for maybe a year. This week’s topic is your bookish resolutions for 2021. Now like I said, I don’t really do resolutions in life in general. However, I think I can safely resolve some things regarding my bookish life. Here goes.

1. Read more. According to Goodreads, I only read like thirteen books in 2020. I may not have set the finish date for some books accurately, so they may’ve been more books. I just set my reading goal on Storygraph to be 20 books in 2021. I think that should be easily attainable.

2. Read a greater variety of books. When I saw some reading challenges come by, it surprised me what types of books people were challenging themselves to reading. I mostly read memoirs, young adult and middle grade fiction. Though I do generally try to get some diversity in my reading, I really need to step outside of my comfort zone.

For instance, though I read some books by BIPOC authors or featuring BIPOC characters, my white privilege still shines through heavily in my book choices. I want to change that. I also want to read more books featuring disability, LGBTQ+ issues, etc.

I also want to step outside of my comfort zone where it comes to genre reading. For example, in 2020 I read my very first SciFi book. I’d like to continue to broaden my horizons.

3. Interact more with fellow book lovers online. I mean mostly in the book blogosphere. I’d really like to write more bookish posts and also engage with other bookish bloggers, though I don’t intend on becoming primarily a book blogger.

4. Do more on Goodreads. Okay, I know some of the book pros are switching to Storygraph now and I got that one too, but it doesn’t seem to have the group discussions etc. that GR has. I just signed up to Storygraph today and so far, I much prefer GR anyway for keeping track of my reading, as Storygraph predictably isn’t as accessible with my screen reader. Storygraph may be able to offer me better recommendations though. Anyway, I’d really like to be active in the book groups I’m in on GR. I’d also like to share some reviews on there rather than just on my blog.

5. Join at least one readathon. I have been wanting to do this ever since I first heard of them in 2019, but apart from a failed attempt at joining Bout of Books last year, haven’t actually gotten down to it.

6. Continue to enjoy reading. Okay, this one is a no-brainer, but I couldn’t come up with anything else.

What are your bookish goals for 2021?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 3, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s the middle of the night and I’m thinking of actually making myself a coffee. I’m too scared though that the night staff will hear me. I do have a Senseo coffee maker in my room, but still it might make a noise. Instead of making a coffee, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. This will be the last week of Alli’s hosting it. From next week on, Natalie will be taking over. I hope it will continue to be a success. Anyway, let’s have a virtual coffee and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that the holidays were pretty good, but I’m also so grateful they are over. I spent new year’s in Lobith with my husband. My oldest sister-in-law also came by for a few hours. It was good.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, as you can tell, I’m really hyper right now. I tried to go to sleep at around 9:45PM, but soon decided I didn’t want to sleep yet. I texted my husband about the wax melts I’d bought for him and then went back to bed. Still no luck. Let me just say it’s now nearly half past three at night and I’m still wide awake.

I have mostly been reading other blogs. I have a lot of inspiration for new blog posts now. Hope my energy doesn’t dry up soon, so that I can actually write those blog posts.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you too about all the wax melts I bought. I used to have a Yankee Candle Scenterpiece wax melt burner, but I left it in Lobith because it’d be a bit of a hazard here. Not that it gets really hot or produces flames, but I still don’t want liquid wax all over my phone (it almost happened once when I still lived in our old home).

Anyway, now my husband apparently likes to burn wax melts, but he says I’m the scent expert. I am, a little, with respect to essential oils. I wouldn’t say I am a better judge of what are good wax melt scents or what my husband would like than he is though. Still, of course I’m honored.

I bought two Scenterpiece meltcups. These are €5.99 each, but the good thing is their cups can be reused for smaller wax melts. I got the sun-drenched apricot rose and the frosty gingerbread meltcups. The other ones I got are tarts, which are sold at €1.99 each. In total, shipping included, I spent about €27.

It feels good to be able to spend money again. Over the past few months, I’d hardly been spending money on fun things, because I’d worried about my long-term care copay. Like I said yesterday, it will likely increase by at least €70 a month, but my husband reassured me I can handle that.

That being said, it also feels very good to be able to find free stuff, like some books I got thanks to Bookbub. It doesn’t feel like I’ve been living a scroogey life at all.

What’s been going on with you?

Editing to add: I had just published this post when I realized it’s my 600th, woot woot! *Does a little happy dance.* Here’s to many more posts.

My Hopes for 2021

Hi everyone and a happy new year! Last year was, well, quite eventful for most of us. I really hope this year brings some peace and quiet to all of you. Most of all though, I hope you all stay as healthy as can be.

Like I’ve done for a couple of years now, I’m going to share what I hope to achieve in the new year. I hate the word “resolution” and don’t really want to call them goals either, because that’d be pressuring myself too much. I’ve actually noticed that if I call them hopes, I somehow achieve more of the things I want to achieve. Here are my hopes for 2021.

1. Eat a somewhat healthier diet. I don’t really want to be eating just lettuce and carrots so to speak, but I do really want to make healthier food choices. Like, I want to eat 2-3 servings of fruit each day, like I did in the fall of 2020 too. I also want to choose healthir snacks and maybe I can really get into the habit of eating bread rather than cereal some days. Lastly, I really need to make sure I get in at least two liters of fluid each day. Ideally, these actions combined will lead to some weight loss. I’d like to lose about 5kg, but any weight loss is good.

2. Find other ways of exercising besides walking. COVID permitting, I’d still like to join a gym or go swimming again. I don’t need to get moving more, as I already get in my recommended 10K steps at least half of the time and I don’t think it’s realistic to want to reach the goal more often.

3. Keep up my blogging routine. I did really well over 2020 in writing regularly and really want to keep it this way for 2021.

4. Get stable mentally. In 2020, I experienced crises a lot due to a coombination of factors related to my mental health and adjusting to living in a facility. Like I said on Wednesday, the extra care hours got approved for a year. Hopefully by the end of this year, we’ll be able to conclude that they’ve helped me become significantly more stable.

5. Find more enjoyable hobbies and activities. I don’t need to be able to do them independently. Like, I’d really like to explore crafting and beauty product making more, but I know I’ll need help with those. I guess my hope is that I’ll find joy in more activities even if I can’t do them all by myself.

6. Deepen my faith. I didn’t even mention having become a Christian in 2020 when I reviewed the year on Wednesday. I however really hope to strengthen my relationship with Jesus and my faith in God.

What do you hope to achieve this year?

2020: The Year in Review

So 2020 is almost over with, thank goodness! Not that it was a totally bad year for me personally, but I really hope 2021 is better for the world at large.

I started the year hoping to settle in at the care facility. I did, but it did take some more accommodating from the staff than I’d expected they would be willing to. In July, for this reason, I was granted the highest care profile for blind people (I had the second-highest until then). I felt very mixed emotions about it. I mean, even though I had originally asked my support coordinator to look at that care profile when applying for my long-term care funding, I do remember her saying I would definitely not qualify. It turned out that I did.

Then in November, after I’d been in some major crises, the staff suggested I sign an official request for extra care hours. I just heard this morning that it got approved. Next week, the staff and manager are going to discuss how to use the extra care and whether new staff will need to be hired.

I hoped to settle in at the day center. That didn’t work out, as the center closed down due to COVID in mid-March. It has since reopened to some of the homes, where clients can utilize a specific room for their home. However, many clients in my home fare better now that we get day activities from the home.

COVID also had its consequences for my marriage. I had just been trying to learn to use public transportation, like I’d hoped I could, when COVID hit the Netherlands and care facilities were closed to visitors. Even though we’re in a second lockdown now, my facility does allow visitors this time around. However, my husband and I agreed it wouldn’t be sensible for me to use public transportation as of now.

As a result of the first lockdown, I didn’t see my husband at all for March, April and most of May. Thankfully, our marriage survived.

Looking back at my hopes for 2020, I see I did pretty well considering the circumstances. I mean, I didn’t settle in at the day center or learn to use public transportation, but like I said above, that’s to blame on COVID.

Health-wise, I didn’t lose weight, but I am much more active now than I was in 2019 and I do eat okay too. I could certainly do better, like I tried for some weeks in late October and early November. I’ll need to activate my water reminder app again too.

With respect to my mental health, I certainly took good care of that. I had had it as a secret wish to lower my Abilify dose, but I never did. However, that’s okay considering I wasn’t doing as great mentally as I expected to be. I hope I did finally find a PRN medication that helps me though.

I also blogged much more regularly in 2020 than in 2019. I didn’t do any other writing projects, mostly because I feel too inadequate.

Lastly, that self-care excuse of a goal I definitely did attain. I love love love essential oils.

How was your 2020?

#IWSG: Seasons of Writing

IWSG

Today is the first Wednesday of December and that means it’s the last #IWSG day of the year. It’s already late in the evening and I’m not too inspired to write on the topic of writing. I guess I wasn’t too inspired during the month of November at all. I mean, I didn’t have any blog challenges to participate in, so I didn’t write as much as I did in previous months. My private journal and Drafts, an app I use for my random pieces of fiction and poetry, also remained largely empty.

I find myself scrolling past the many writing and poetry Facebook groups I’m in an not even looking at them. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, but it’s probably that I feel my creative juices have more or less dried up and I don’t want to see others’ beautiful work when I’m not able to contribute any myself. Call me selfish for that.

November is a hard month for me. Perhaps the hardest of the year. November 2 marks the anniversary of my major mental health crisis (which happened in 2007). That, combined with some form of winter blues, often has me depressed during November. I often feel less inspired when I’m depressed.

This year, my November was okay writing-wise. In 2018 and 2019, I published significantly fewer blog posts in November than this year. Then again, I’m doing pretty well writing regularly this year overall.

I am not sure whether, with the exception of blog challenges such as the #AtoZChallenge in April, there are any months I consistently blog more or less than others. With respect to my fiction and poetry writing, this tends to go in spurts and then stands still for a long while. This is the case for all of my passions other than blogging.

Truthful Tuesday: Hobbies Other Than Blogging

I discovered Truthful Tuesday a few weeks ago already, but never participated before. Today I am joining in though. The idea behind Truthful Tuesday is to answer Frank’s weekly question(s) as truthfully as possible.

This week there is just one question:
With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

Indeed, blogging is my main hobby. I at one point listed my old blog as my place of employment on Facebook, since I am unemployed. I however never intend on making any money from blogging.

So what are my other hobbies and pastimes? Here goes.

1. Walking. I go for two or three, sometimes four walks a day. They aren’t long walks – 20-30 minutes or so – and the scenery isn’t too interesting. I just enjoy the ability to move my body and clear my mind.

2. Essential oils. I love to research different diffuser blends. I need help actually counting the number of drops that go into my diffuser, but I try to come up with my own blends. In the near future, I’d also like to make my own aromatherapeutic massage oil.

3. Soap and bath and body product making. I am not as active with it as I used to be, but I like to make a melt and pour soap every once in a while.

4. Collecting books related to my other hobbies, such as journaling prompt collections or books on aromatherapy.

5. Reading. I haven’t been reading much lately, but usually it’s a main pastime of mine. I mostly read memoirs and young adult fiction about real issues, with the occasional thriller, romance novel or SciFi book thrown in.

This is it I think. There are many other things I have an interest in. In fact, my interests change a lot. However, these are my current main hobbies.

Gratitude List (November 21, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I last did a gratitude list. I just checked and it’s been five weeks. These weeks have been incredibly hard. I am really struggling to stay positive. I am going to try to come up with some gratefuls anyway. As usual, I’m joining in with #TToT. I’m typing this post on my iPhone, which I hardly ever do nowadays, so sorry for any typing glitches.

1. My husband! Even with our not living together and only talking on the phone most days, he tells me many times a day that he loves me. I am struggling to feel such a powerful emotion due to my current state of depression, but I’m trying to love him back.

2. My faith. My husband, who I always thought was a strong atheist since leaving theology school, has taken a renewed interest in Christianity and this has encouraged me. Today, he recommended a book called You Are Beloved. I am a very progressive believer, but I’ll definitely give this book a try.

3. My staff. They have been so kind to me despite my challenging behavior.

4. My community psychiatric nurse. She has been very helpful.

5. Pizza. Okay, on to the superficial stuff. My husband and I ordered a delicious pizza today. No, not from Domino’s and I must say this one is better!

6. Cheesecake. Two of my fellow clients had their birthdays this past week and another client got to help the staff make cheesecake.

7. Homemade noodles. That same client made those for us on Monday. He used minced meat instead of chicken, but still it was so delicious.

8. Lots of walking. So far this week, I nearly surpassed my step record from last week. I didn’t get in as many minutes in active heartrate zones, but that’s okay.

9. The ability to write and blog. I am not writing as much as I’d like, but at least I’m still writing.

10. A good night’s sleep last night. And yay for no nightmares that I can remember!

What have you been grateful for?

#IWSG: Reasons for Writing

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) to meet. I did pretty well in the writing department over the past month, although not as well as I’d hoped. I mean, I didn’t write a blog post for #Blogtober20, or at all for that matter, everyday. Particularly towards the end of the month, I was less and less motivated to write. Let’s hope for a good writing month for November then.

This month’s optional question is why you write what you write. Albert Camus is quoted as saying that the purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself. Such a fitting quote on the day after the fiasco that is U.S. election day. I don’t usually share my political views on here, but let me be very clear that I don’t support Trump. Now I must say that Biden is pretty far from my ideal president too, but at least he isn’t as much of an idiot as Trump. But I digress.

Flannery O’Conner, an author I’ve never heard of, is quoted as saying: “I write to discover what I know.” This resonates more with me than Camus’s reason. I mean, like I said, I don’t share my political views on here much. In case Camus means that the written word is everlasting, I doubt mine is. Though I’ve been able to conserve most of my writings from the early days of my online journal and before, I’m not sure they’ll last forever or even close to it. The Internet evolves faster than we know, after all. WordPress may not be here for the rest of my life, or even the rest of this decade. With its stupid decision to enforce the block editor, who knows how long it will be able to survive?

I can, in a way, relate to O’Conner’s idea of writing for discovery. Or self-discovery, in my case.

However, I don’t just write for myself. In fact, I cannot keep myself from writing with an audience in mind, even when I write in my own private diary. It’s been this way even years before I knew about the Internet. In a sense, I write to discover what I know, but also to share what I know. Maybe that’s a bit snobbish, but oh well.

Things I Do Just for Fun #Blogtober20

Yesterday I didn’t write a post for #Blogtober20. Though I wrote a blog post, I didn’t post it to the linky or Facebook group. Today I’m hopping back onto the bandwagon and writing on today’s prompt, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. I’m going to share the things I do just for the fun of them.

1. Read chicklit. I am normally mostly into memoirs or young adult fiction about serious topics. When I just want to have fun, however, I read a romcom or other lighthearted women’s fiction. Most recently, I’ve been reading The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth.

2. Find jokes. I am subscribed to a funny E-mail list where the owner sends out daily jokes and comics. I cannot enjoy the comics, of course, but I love the jokes.

I also love to listen to my husband crack jokes. He and I both are a fan of wordplay.

I also love the kind of lists that describe what it’s like to live in a certain state or city. There at one point was one about Nijmegen, the city I went to university in. I related a lot to the things mentioned.

3. Dance. Well, walk in place to the beat of music. I love some playlists on Spotify of fast-paced dance and pop music. I cannot dance at all, but I love to move my body in the rhythm (or out of the rhythm, for that matter, as my sense of rhythm is poor) of the music.

4. Write and read funny blog posts. I particularly love memes and tags. I still need to participate in a couple of tags that I saw on other blogs and liked.

What do you do just for fun?

#Blogtober20

#IWSG: I’m a Hobbyist Writer

IWSG

Welcome to another meeting day of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). I wish I could share that I’ve been doing well in the writing department. Well, in some ways I have, but I still haven’t written the story I intended to write for Chicken Soup for the Soul. I’m not even sure I will, as somehow it seems so insignificant right now that we’re not in lockdown anymore and I can see my husband again. When I had the COVID scare a little over two weeks ago, I did want to write, but couldn’t find the motivation really.

That being said, in other ways I did pretty well writing-wise. I decided to join #Blogtober20 at the last moment. Of course, I couldn’t join earlier, as I didn’t know about the challenge until last week. So far, I’m doing well, writing a post each day. I’m not always sticking to the prompts, but that isn’t required.

On to the monthly optional question. The question is whether you consider yourself a working writer and, if so, what it means. Or if you consider yourself a hobbyist or aspiring writer, what that means to you.

I obviously am a hobbyist writer. I cannot even say that I’m an aspiring writer, because I haven’t submitted a piece in years. In fact, the only piece I ever submitted was the one accepted into the anthology on typed communication by autistics in 2015.

I did at one point list my blog as my place of employment on Facebook. Now I don’t, because I don’t want my family to read it. Not that they most likely will, and of course they can still find me if they truly want to.

Being a hobbyist writer doesn’t mean I don’t have goals. I mean, I participate in #Blogtober20 and the goal for that challenge is to write a blog post each day of the month. I also during the rest of the year have somewhat of a rule that I need to post at least twice each week. I don’t have set days to publish a post, but if I haven’t written anything for a few days, it tends to feel awkward.

Being a hobbyist writer also doesn’t mean I don’t care how my writing is doing. I got really excited when, last week, I got lots of comments on a few posts. I also feel disappointed when I get only one or two comments on a post. I love seeing my stats go well. I don’t use Google Analytics anymore, because I was struggling with it and didn’t want to pay the money for having it on my WordPress.com blog. However, my WordPress stats do mean something to me.