Gratitude List (July 18, 2021) #TToT

Hi all on this beautiful Sunday. I used to have this rule that I had to write my gratitude posts on Friday or they didn’t “count”. Then I would allow myself to post on Saturdays too. Now it’s Sunday. I think it shows I’m pretty rigid with my rules of what is the “right time” for a certain post. I mean, the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) linky is open till Tuesday and even if it wasn’t, that wouldn’t be a reason not to publish a gratitude post. Gratitude is always useful, so…

1. I am grateful my family and friends are still healthy and haven’t contracted COVID. Many are fully vaccinated by now too.

2. I am grateful I don’t live in the flooded area of the country, let alone in Germany or Belgium, where the flooding has been much worse. There’s been a lot of outrage at the way the Dutch handle the flood, but I think they’re handling it as well as they can. I am grateful we’ve not had any deaths due to it so far.

3. I am grateful for a sunny day here. Several, in fact. Since last Friday, the rain is pretty much gone out of this area of the country and we’re having warm summer weather.

4. I am grateful my GP took my abdominal issues seriously. Like I mentioned on Friday, I am back on a higher dose of magnesium. Here’s hoping this will work.

5. I am grateful I am still pretty motivated for creative endeavors. I’ve been making some jewelry, lip balm, as well as a melt and pour soap this evening.

6. I am grateful for the ability to online window shop without actually buying anything. I have so much I want to buy once my benefits arrive, but I’m glad I’ve restrained myself from spending any more money until then at least.

7. I am grateful for grilled hamburgers with cheddar cheese. We had those for lunch on Thursday.

8. I am grateful for a short chat with a woman from the care home a few doors next to mine. I mentioned her before, we used to talk a lot at day activities and she’s even had coffee in my room one time. Now due to COVID, we can only meet outside. I am however grateful I got to chat to her again and she’s well.

9. I am grateful my husband came by today. I hadn’t seen him in two weeks, as he had to work last week Saturday. Today, we went to Subway to have lunch.

10. I am grateful I found the Bible reading plan I’m currently following. It’s called “Hope Heals in the Midst of Suffering”. I can totally relate to the plan’s author’s experiences and they are so validating!

What are you grateful for?

Jewelry-Making #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m once again joining Word of the Week. I already shared some of my experiences from the week with you all on Friday. Today, I want to focus on an important positive aspect of the week: jewelry-making. Like I said last week, I got a lot of supplies from my parents for my birthday. I also bought some new supplies later this week.

The actual jewelry-making process is still sometimes hard for me due to my being blind and having mild cerebral palsy. I am making progress though in figuring out what works for me.

First, on Wednesday, I made a bracelet for my day activities staff. She had her birthday that day so was off, but my assigned support staff from the home came to sub. I did all the threading by myself and tried to tie the knot too.

On Thursday and Friday, I was even busier making jewelry. I made my first necklace in a long time. It didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped and I don’t have a photo, but it is nice enough.

I also made a football bracelet for a fellow client. I originally wanted to make something in the colors of his favorite club, but I didn’t have red and white beads. Instead, I chose green for the grass and added a football charm. This client has his birthday next month I think, so I already decided to make him something in the club colors then.

Lastly, I enthusiastically decided to make a necklace for my niece. She is 21-months-old and I had no idea what the appropriate age for wearing jewelry is. I also added acrylic charms that I later realized she might pull off and put into her mouth.

I texted my sister and she said two to three years is the recommended age for necklaces. I thought of keeping the necklace for my niece’s birthday, but eventually decided to give it anyway when my sister and her family visited me yesterday. I’m confident my sister will be able to keep it safe until my niece is ready for it.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

My Declaration for My 36th Year of Life

Like I mentioned before, I turned 35 on Sunday. A few months back, I had downloaded a birthday journaling tool from the International Association for Journal Writing website. I didn’t really get to journal about any of the prompts in it, but one that stuck out to me is to write your declaration or decision for the upcoming year. It sounds a bit like an affirmation, but I’ll not just repeat it to myself. Rather, in this post, I’ll describe steps I can take to make my declration work.

First, my declaration is: “I will thrive, not just survive.” I will focus the 36th year of my life on improving the quality of my life in some major areas.

I have been debating whether in the long run, I want to stay in my current care home. I’m not yet completely sure, but my aim is to focus on getting as close to my ideal as I can get. However, it may take several more years to find me a more suitable care home, if we can find one at all. This means that I’ll need to focus on improving my quality of life with the resources I have available now.

To make this happen, I’m trying to focus on moving from anxiety and obsessiveness into some level of enjoyment, possibly even happiness. I took the first steps by writing down some things I may want to improve on during my day activities time. For example, I’d like to learn to do some more activities other than blogging and reading by myself, so that when staff leave, I am not completely left out. Today, I tried to work on a bracelet on my own and it worked.

This evening, some kind of staff supporter came round my care home to observe the staff as they care for several clients, including me. She recommended that, when staff leave me, they give me a soft toy to indicate I’m not alone. This also might ease my obsessign over the time they’re going to leave.

I also will be looking into starting some “bigger” project, like a course, again. I don’t think I’ll want to do Open University again, but maybe some hobby-related course.

I’m also thinking of acquiring a small fridge and simple microwave for in my room. That way, I will be able to make soap and body care products in my own room rather than in the overstimulating kitchen, so I should hopefully be able to do more by myself. Then, I’ll hopefully be more satisfied in my activities.

To sum it up, I will try to focus my attention away from ruminating about the past or future and onto enjoying the present. This is probably the hardest part. I am reminded of a Center for Consultation and Expertise case video about a young woman with lots of challenging behavior, for which the staff kept countless checklists of her behaviors etc. They were aiming to manage her behavior, but once they moved away from this and onto looking at how she can have a good day, the behavior also decreased. This might be the case for me too.

Creating Lately: A Bracelet, Body Butter and Lip Scrub

After a difficult week two weeks ago and lots of frustration at not finding meaning in my activities lately, last week I finally found my creative mojo again. I’ve been pretty busy crafting and DIY’ing over the week.

First, I want to show you all this bracelet I created last Friday. It is simple and I didn’t even do all the work by myself. I mean, I struggled a lot putting the purple beads onto the wire, because my left hand kept spasming and I needed my right hand to keep the wire straight. I tried reversing my hands and letting my staff hold the wire, but it wouldn’t work. Still, I managed to thread some of the purple beads and all of the roses anyway.

I also have been doing a lot of body care creating lately. Last Monday, I made a basic body butter. I used coconut oil, sweet almond oil and cocoa butter. I added in a few drops of coconut fragrance oil for the scent.

I am considering getting a talking kitchen scale, so that I can weigh out my ingredients myself. Not that we used a scale this time – we just guessed how much we’d need.

Lastly, on Thursday, I made a lip scrub. I used coconut oil and cocoa butter for the base and added plain white sugar, honey and vanilla extract. This time, I did most of the measuring myself, even though I still mostly had to guess how much we’d need.

I had made a lip scrub once before, but that one didn’t turn out as thick as we’d wanted. This one is still thinner than most lip balms I’m used to making, but then again it’s a lip scrub, not a lip balm.

I am really loving looking at bath and body product recipes. I am not as good with them yet as I’d like to be, but I like to think I’m improving.

With respect to jewelry, I don’t look up tutorials, as they’re usually far too difficult for me to follow. I just create what I think I can.

What have you been crafting lately?

Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States as well as here in the Netherlands. I’ve seen lots of ads for it floating by for weeks. It’s probably been this way forever. That being said, I never quite paid much attention to Mother’s Day after getting out of elementary school. Back in the day we did the obligatory Mother’s Day crafts. Since my mother has her birthday in late April, she never quite cared (or we conditioned her not to).

I started caring again, at least a little, when I got out of the psychiatric hospital and started day activities at a center for people with intellectual disability. Most other clients still made crafty things for their mothers. I decided to join in and create something for my mother-in-law.

You see, I have never had the best relationship with my own mother. She no doubt loves me, but the way she expressed it when I was growing up is, well, kind of odd.

That plus my mother’s late April birthday means I never quite honored her for Mother’s Day. My mother-in-law though has her birthday in late November.

My own parents have always been big on independence. I understand, but they took it a bit too far given that I’m multiply-disabled. They pretty much left me to my own resources by the time I left high school at age nineteen.

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, has offered to be my informal representative with my care agency. This means that she’s invited to care plan meetings and would be appointed as my guardian should I ever become incapable of making my own decisions.

One time before I was dating my now husband, I too had to appoint an informal representative for a living facility I was on the waiting list for. I appointed my father, but wasn’t happy about it. I do trust my parents to leave me to my own resources, but I don’t trust them to be there when I actually do need them. What I mean is, I am confident that they won’t approve of restrictive care measures without my consent, but I am pretty sure they will rather advocate for me to be kicked out of care.

With my mother-in-law, I am pretty much on the same page. I am not sure she’s seen my current care plan, but she has talked about it in a way that suggests she knows and understands my need for intensive support. Even my husband doesn’t know some details she appears to be in the know about.

My husband jokingly calls my mother-in-law my adoptive mother. If adults can adopt a mother, that’s quite exactly her. I am glad to have her. And just in case you were wondering, yes, my own mother is happy for my mother-in-law to be my informal representative.

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.

A Wonderful Wednesday

Hi everyone. This is going to be a quick post. I am really pleased with myself right now. Today is a great day. The sun shone, the birds sang and I broke my daily step record!

In the morning, my day activities staff took me to the marketplace. We got fried fish for lunch. We also wanted to get fried chicken, but the poultry guy didn’t have that today. I also got cookie crumbs (yes, they’re a real thing). They were €2 a bag but two bags for €3, so I treated myself and got two bags. One of them, I already consumed. Then we walked to the supermarket to see if they had fried chicken and they did!

I also went on a walk before going to the marketplace. We went there by car and I didn’t look at my Fitbit until we were back. I wasn’t expecting to have gotten in many steps, but already had nearly 5,000 steps.

Then in the afternoon, my mother-in-law visited me. We went on over an hour’s walk together. The sun was shining brightly and it was really warm, about 24°C. I truly loved the birdsong, the ability to walk and the sunshine!

In the evening, I went on two more walks with my one-on-one. I got in over 19,000 steps, so just yet, I did a little dance just to get to 20,000 steps. That’s double my daily step goal. I broke my daily step record, which was at just over 17,000 on December 18, 2020.

I also got in 173 active heartrate zone minutes. I wasn’t really exercising for nearly three hours today, but the minutes I got in the cardio zone, count twice.

I did worry a little about my heartrate not returning to normal nearly as fast as my mother-in-law’s. Then again, she is of average build, while I am, as much as I hate to admit it, still obese. I’m trying not to worry too much, since my resting heartrate is still within the normal range.

Overall, today was a wonderful day! Unfortunately, the temperature is supposed to drop to a high of like 13°C tomorrow. It’s not supposed to rain though, so I can still walk. That is, if my muscles don’t ache all over.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 19, 2021)

I am once again early at least for me with my #WeekendCoffeeShare post. It’s right between my dinner and my evening coffee now, but I can make you a Senseo coffee if you want it. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m still having a cold. It’s a lot better than it was last week, but I’m still sniffy. This morning, I had a bad cough, but that seems to be gone now.

I am so glad though that it’s not COVID. This afternoon, I was informed that another home within my care facility is in isolation due to a client having tested positive for COVID. This does worry me a bit, since that client must’ve contracted the virus after being fully vaccinated. The staff do try to reassure me though.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, now that I’m feeling a lot better cold-wise, I picked up the walking habit again. I managed to reach my goal of 10K steps both yesterday and today.

I did fall on my knee today while walking. Thankfully, I just suffered a slight scrape to the skin.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday marked one year since the day center closed due to lockdown. A staff and one of my fellow clients made cheesecake to celebrate. Yummy!

A photo of me in front of the cheesecake

If we were having coffee, I would share about some changes to my care. First, I have a new assigned staff. She isn’t new to me or the home, just new to being my primary support worker. My former assigned staff is in college getting her nursing degree and was a bit too busy to have me in addition to two other clients to be assigned to. I really like my new assigned staff.

However, I was briefly triggered too. After all, my new assigned staff is really involved with my care and I worried she might get too attached and then have to step back. I thought this might’ve happened to my old assigned staff, but they both reassured me this isn’t the case.

Also, my one-on-one got extended with half an hour each day as of today. This might not seem much, but it prevents me having to deal with too many staff changes. After all, in the old situation, I’d have day activities till 4PM, then have to rely on the regular evening shift for half an hour before my one-on-one comes on. Now I’ll have that half an hour covered by one-on-one too. I’ll still have some time without one-on-one in the evenings and on week-ends in the afternoon, but that’s totally okay.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that my husband plans on visiting me briefly tomorrow. That is, if my cold isn’t too bad. We’re planning on going to a fast food chain drive-through.

How are you all doing?

What a Day, What a Year! #SoCS

Today I got my COVID test results. Thankfully, I’m negative. Like I mentioned yesterday, I went into room-based isolation with cold symptoms and a sore throat yesterday morning. That day in isolation was hard. I constantly imagined testing positive for COVID. That’d mean at least five more days in quarantine. It’d also mean I would have to alert my nurse practitioner and the facility’s behavior specialist, both of whom I’d seen on Thursday.

I felt intense guilt about possibly having infected my staff too. After all, when I was still only experiencing a sore throat, the staff tried to reassure me that I couldn’t possibly have COVID. It may be true – I had my second shot of the vaccine last week -, but I couldn’t be sure.

Can you imagine that, a year ago, we were just at the beginning of this pandemic? On March 12, 2020, the first local case of COVID-19 had been discovered. On March 13, the community service event that was due to take place at my day center as part of a countrywide volunteering initiative, had been canceled. The day center closed five days later, on March 18.

I hadn’t seen my husband since the first weekend of March I think and wasn’t going to see him again till sometime in late May. After all, at first visiting the care facility was discouraged, then it was completely prohibited except in rare cases when a family member was essential for a client’s care. My husband wasn’t.

I am so glad that now, during the second lockdown, care facilities remain open to visitors except when there’s an outbreak of COVID or suspected COVID, as in my case yesterday. I am so glad one of my fellow clients, who had her birthday on Tuesday, may receive a visit from her family tomorrow.

I had my own birthday on June 27, one day after the final restrictions to visiting were lifted, provided there’s no countrywide lockdown or COVID outbreak. Though we’re in a countrywide lockdown again, the lockdown policy remains that care facilities can be open. I credit the prime minister’s late mother, who died in a nursing home during the first lockdown or so I believe.

This post was written for today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) prompt of day/week/month/year.

A Productive Wednesday Morning

I got up pretty early this morning at a little past seven o’clock. It wasn’t that I wanted to get up this early, but I just couldn’t go back to sleep. Having gotten up so early did cause me a bit of stress later on, as it’d mean I’d have to wait several hours before day activities started. Thankfully, I made it through.

At ten o’clock, my day activities staff came to my room. I had already had coffee with one of the morning staff, but was happy to have another cup.

Then we went for a walk. My knee still hurt, so I had to walk relatively slowly and got in only seven active heartrate zone minutes. I’m trying not to beat myself up about that.

On the way back to the facility, I asked my staff whether we could call a woman who lives in one of the other homes that afternoon. I used to hang out with this woman a lot when the day center still operated as before COVID. My staff suggested we check whether she was at the day center in her home’s assigned room or outside and she was. I had a socially distanced chat with her and her staff. It was good to see she was doing pretty well.

Then I returned to my home. I told my staff I wasn’t ready for resting yet and wanted to do something. She suggested we do some beading. I made the below keychain.

Purple, heart-shaped keychain

While we were working on the keychain, the physical therapist came by. She said that my knee pain is probably from my not wearing my shoes while indoors. My shoes have arch supports in them, which I do need when walking at all times apparently, not just outdoors. I struggle to wear my shoes when not going outside though, because I cannot tie or untie my laces independently and the shoes don’t feel comfortable when I’m sitting. The physical therapist made some suggestions, but I got majorly overwhelmed. She then went out of my room to discuss her suggestions with just my staff.

Then my staff and I went into the kitchen, where another staff was making hamburgers. I had two buns with a hamburger on them for lunch. I also had some bell pepper, tomatoes and cucumber slices, as well as a kiwifruit. It was delicious!

My lunch of hamburgers

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how I coped this morning. I wasn’t expecting the morning to be this productive when I got up. This afternoon, I plan to relax a bit with my new essential oils in my diffuser. I’m really curious about the cardamom in particular.