Sensory Experiences That Influence My Creativity #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone. Today is day 19 in the #AtoZChallenge and it’s time for my letter S post. I was initially feeling a bit uninspired, so looked to The Year of You for Creatives again. In it were several prompts about sounds and sights influencing your creative work. I decided to expand on the prompts and write about sensory experiences in general.

Most times, I prefer to work on my polymer clay in relative silence. That is, I do speak with my staff, but only about the polymer clay project we’re working on. I also don’t have music on in the background. To be honest, I haven’t even actually tried it. It may be relaxing.

I sometimes do have an essential oil blend in my diffuser. Smells can inspire me, as they give off a relaxing or energizing vibe, which I can then translate into the colors I use for my polymer clay projects.

I also find that I’m inspired by sights. I mean, I cannot actually see colors anymore, but imagining a particular color in my mind’s eye does inspire me.

When I write, I do occasionally have music or a soundscape on in the background and I often have an essential oil blend in my diffuser. Right now, I have a playlist of rainforest sounds on Spotify on. My oil diffuser currently diffuses a blend of bergamot, orange, spearmint and ylang ylang essential oils.

I find that music, soundscapes, colors and smells inspire my writing, particularly my poetry and freewrites. I have a journal in the diary app Day One specifically for freewrites and I love to write stream-of-consciousness style based on a snippet from a song or a sound. I haven’t yet included the songs themselves into my journal, as that works only with Apple Music and I don’t use that.

What sensory experiences inspire your creativity?

Gratitude List (April 1, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I really want to write another blog post tonight. Specifically, I want to write a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful. Let me share those things I’ve been grateful for in the past week.

1. A good appt with the behavior specialist. Behavior specialists, actually, as the one I used to see was a temp and she was introducing me to the new one. We had a good talk.

2. The best Asian food ever gone even better. Read: spicier. Like I said last week, a staff was leaving, the same staff who got me the best Asian food ever a few weeks ago. As a goodbye present to me, she promised me another serving of the food. This time though, she got a “mildly spicy” version. Well, according to the Indonesian cooks, at least. It was amazing, but I did get a slight stomachache from it afterwards.

3. Inspiration to write again. I’m now on a six-day streak on my blog and have picked up writing in my diary app, Day One, too.

4. Great blog stats and engagement. Okay, I feel as though the majority of the page views I got on the day I got nearly 300 this past week, were probably bots, but oh well. I am also getting lots of engagement, which is awesome.

5. Paracetamol. I have been having some back pain lately, but thankfully, it responds well to paracetamol.

6. The new iOS version. It actually finally solved the major Braille-related bug that had been in existence for literally months.

7. My new headphones. I finally decided to order new noise canceling headphones and decided to go for the Bose QuietComfort 45 ones. At first, I was a little disappointed, because the manual said they could be used with an audio cable while on (so that I can use noise canceling). Apparently not. However, other than that and the fact that its spoken announcements are in English only, it’s quite good.

8. The fact that I’m still overweight rather than obese despite a lot of “cheat” meals and treats over the past week. In fact, I only gained 0.1kg.

9. The fact that it wasn’t raining or snowing when I went to the day center this afternoon (it had been snowing and raining a lot during the rest of the day). Plus the fact that, even though the daytime temperature didn’t get above 4°C today, it didn’t even feel all that cold thanks to my winter coat.

10. The fact that a fellow client made me laugh with his April Fools joke this evening. The staff did check whether I was okay with a little prank and I said I was. In the end, I didn’t really understand the prank, but we both laughed at the verbal joke about April Fools that went along with it.

What are you grateful for?

Gratitude List (March 25, 2022) #TToT

It’s the last weekend of March. I didn’t realize it until I read it in this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. Yay, I’m joining in again with a gratitude post! Here goes.

1. I am grateful for daylight until nearly 7PM in the evening. Make that 8PM come this Sunday, as we’re entering daylight saving time. Yay!

2. I am grateful for a field of daisies near the day center. I am grateful I was able to take a few photos of them and I didn’t fall over when sitting on my knees to snap the pics.

Daisy

3. I am grateful I didn’t lose interest in polymer clay altogether. I made a unicorn again today and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also worked on another, larger polymer clay project yesterday.

4. I am grateful the weather permitted me to go outside without a jacket on several days this week.

5. I am grateful for a delicious microwave omelette on Wednesday. I didn’t use cooking oil or butter to microwave the egg, so according to the dietitian, it’s as healthy as a boild egg. I also added chopped onion and bell pepper.

Microwave Omelette

6. I am grateful for birdsong. I got awoken by a bird at 6AM several mornings this week. Though I wasn’t particularly thrilled about that, I do appreciate the sound of birds singing in general.

7. I am grateful it was pay day on Wednesday. I had a whole list of things I wanted to buy in my mind that I had told myself to wait for until pay day at least. So far, I’ve only ordered one thing off the list and that’s something I’ll need for a staff’s birthday next week. Sadly, I haven’t received it yet and have no way of tracking it down.

8. I am grateful I was able to get through a few intense days full of emotional, visual and bodily flashbacks thanks to the support of some trusted staff. I am grateful these few staff are still there and, though no-one can predict the future, they don’t intend on leaving.

9. I am grateful for my PRN quetiapine. It helped me calm down on Tuesday, when I was having a particularly rough evening.

10. I am grateful for my journaling app, Day One. I picked it up again and finally figured out how to use tags properly in it. I also transferred a template from Diarium, the other journaling app I’d been using. One of the good points of Diarium is that it has its templates available in other languages than English, but other than that, I think I prefer Day One after all. I am really hoping I can make journaling a habit again.

What have you been grateful for?

Sunday Ramble: Technology and the Future

Hi all. I’m feeling kind of off today. I’m not sure it’s all in my head or I’m suffering with the early symptoms of a mild case of COVID. I haven’t had another lateral flow test, as I don’t feel worse than I did yesterday – in fact, I feel slightly better. On Tuesday, I’ll have a PCR test, so unless I develop really telling symptoms, none of which I have so far, I’ll wait and see until then.

Anyway, for my blog post today, I’m answering E.M.’s Sunday Ramble questions. Her topic for this week is technology and the future. Here are her questions.

1. Are there any applications on your mobile device, tablets, etc. that you cannot live without? Feel free to ramble about them! Maybe we will learn new apps that will become important in our own lives.
I am going with the more unusual apps here, as I doubt I’ll be inspiring anyone else to download Facebook or a web browser (I use Edge even on my iPhone, by the way) if they haven’t already. Apps I truly love on my iPhone include the diary app Day One. I previously reviewed Diarium, another diary app, but have since gone back to using Day One mostly because it allows me to have multiple diaries.

Other apps include MyNoise, an app that allows users to select soundscapes, the task management app Microsoft To Do and Seeing AI, an app that describes images. It most recently guessed my age in a photo to be 44 though. 😒 Admittedly, I pulled a rather odd face in a forced attempt to smile. And just so you know, no, I’m not going to post the photo here. 🙂

2. Do you prefer Apple or Android?
Apple for sure! It is far more advanced with respect to accessibility for the blind.

3. Windows OS or MacOS?
Windows. I tried a Mac some years ago, thinking it’d be easy to use with my being an iPhone user already, but I couldn’t get used to it. The only advantage of MacOS is that it comes with a built-in screen reader, like iOS. For Windows, you have to buy (or get insurance to pay for) JAWS.

4. What do you wish that you would have placed in a time capsule 15+ years ago to have access to now?
I answered a similar question already on another blog a few weeks back: I’d bring back the disability-related story-sharing websites we had in the early 2000s, like Tell-Us-Your-Story.com. I also would’ve put Diaryland’s diaryrings into the time capsule, but then I’d have hacked the concept and applied it to today’s blogs. Webrings are cool! I think the concept still exists, but hardly anyone participates nowadays.

5. When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes? Go as sci-fi and/or fantasy as you would like and ramble on however you wish to ramble When you think of the what the world will look like 50 years from now, what does that future look like through your eyes? Go as sci-fi and/or fantasy as you would like and ramble on however you wish to ramble.
I have absolutely no idea. I did a post on this topic some six years ago on my old blog, but I mostly focused on what my life would be like when I was in my late seventies. I really hope that image description and the like will be very much improved, so that the blind will be able to “see” this way. There already are glasses, such as the Orcam or Envision Glasses, which will describe things a person is looking at. I haven’t tried those, but if they evolve more, and they likely will, I’d love to try those someday.

What do you wish you could’ve put into a time capsule to take with you from 15+ years ago?

App Review: Diarium for Windows 10 and iOS

As regular readers of this blog may know, I’m perpetually looking for an offline diary to keep. The problem doesn’t seem to be the lack of apps available, though I find fault with each of them. Rather, it seems to be the lack of commitment to actually keeping a daily journal.

That being said, I’ve tried a lot of apps. Until very recently, the iOS app Day One was by far my favorite. Now, it seems to have gotten a strong competitor in Diarium.

Diarium was originally developed as a Windows 10 app. This was before I had a Windows 10 computer. At some point roughly three years ago, they however launched the iOS app. It was still far from ideal at the time. If I remember correctly, most buttons weren’t labeled and there was no timeline view.

In the current iOS version, the tabs in the bottom right corner allow you to switch between timeline, calendar, search, map and tags. I really love this.

In the top left corner of the screen is the button to add an entry. This will open a calendar with an ability to pick the date. Diarium, though it does seem to support multiple entries per day, does not automatically include the timestamp. Rather, you have to click a button while typing your entry to insert it. You can also add images (not sure if you can add just one image per entry or multiple), audio or files.

Also in the top left corner are buttons to sync your diary with OneDrive, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, WebDav or Dropbox. This is a paid feature, but the positive about Diarium’s paid plan as opposed to for example Day One’s, is that it’s €5,99 (if I’m correct) and is a one-time purchase rather than the €37,99 per year for Day One. To Day One’s credit, it does offer more features.

I have Diarium on both my iPhone and Windows 10 PC now. At first, I had no clue how to use the Windows 10 app, because it doesn’t work like Word or Notepad or any of the older Windows programs at all. For example, Alt or Shift+F10 doesn’t work to open a menu at all (there doesn’t seem to be a menu). I’m still figuring things out a little, but it seems most buttons at least are clearly labeled. When I tap the button to add an entry though, I have yet to figure out how to get back to my diary without closing and relaunching the entire app.

Diarium allows integration with several services, including your weather app, Twitter, Facebook and Fitbit. I so far only have integration set up with the iPhone’s weather app and Fitbit. I love how that way, my daily step count is included with each day’s entry. Unlike apps like Momento, Diarium as far as I know doesn’t create separate entries for your integrations, but rather includes them on each day’s main entry. This may be both a drawback and an advantage depending on your perspective.

There are two things I find slightly annoying about Diarium. The first is the fact that each entry is auto-titled something like “Dear diary” and auto-formatted to start with “Today I …”. It does look like you can delete or ignore this though. The other thing is the fact that, despite the fact that I turned it off in settings, my entire entries are still shown in the timeline. This might be a bug, so I’m going to contact the developer about this.

Overall, I really like Diarium. If, like me, you’ve been using Day One and would like to migrate, there’s an easy way to do that by exporting your Day One journal into a .Zip file and importing it into Diarium. Some of the preformatted stuff from Day One looks weird in Diarium, but it’s still readable.

Home Is Where…

Some say home is where my bed is. Then again, do they mean the care facility’s bed or my husband’s bed?

Others say home is where my toothbrush is. Then again, I take it with me wherever I go.

Dallas Moore would say home is where the highway is. My husband might’ve agreed when he was still a truck driver. Then again, neither his home in Lobith nor my care facility in Raalte is on a major highway.

I say home is where…
I can feel safe. I can feel comfortable. I can be myself.
That place, I’m not yet sure I’ve found.


This post was written for My Vivid Blog’s writing challenge: “Where”. I am also joining Writers’ Pantry #81. This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt in Day One, my diary app, which asks me to describe my ideal home. It was also inspired by this song.

#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?

#IWSG: Breaking a Record!

IWSG

Hi all! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and this means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group to meet. At the moment, my thoughts aren’t with writing really. However, I wanted to share my contribution to the #IWSG anyway.

Last month, I was a real writing ninja. I, of course, participated in the #AtoZChallenge. That did get a bit boring as the challenge proceeded, but I managed to finish it after all. I’m so glad I did, because it gave me real new motivation for keeping up the blogging habit.

Not only did I write the 26 posts for the challenge, but I actually wrote more posts in the month of April than I had in any month before since being a blogger. I published 41 posts this month. Seriously, in all the more than eighteen years I’ve been blogging, I didn’t publish this many posts in one single month!

Blogging aside, I also wrote quite a few other pieces. I have been journaling almost daily for a few weeks now. Sometimes, I just wrote a couple of sentences, but sometimes I wrote more. I have particularly loved expressing my gratitude in my journal. I’ve also loved writing responses to Day One’s daily prompts. Some of them weren’t too inspiring, but some definitely were.

For the upcoming month, I hope to be able to write daily again, be it on my blog or elsewhere. I’d love to make use of the many journaling prompt collections I have. I transferred some from my computer to my iPhone, so that they will be more readily available to me.

Now on to this month’s optional question: has any of your readers ever responded to your writing in a way that you didn’t expect? Well, not really. I mean, I get the occasional critical comment. For example, when I still blogged on my old blog, there was a person who commented on each of my posts mentioning my alters. Their comments invariably stereotyped people with dissociative identity disorder and told me that I was faking having alters and needed treatment for a personality disorder. Well, yes, those comments weren’t what I’d hoped for. Then again if I put myself out there like this, no doubt someone’s going to use it as a way to try to offend me. That’s how the Internet works.

Other than that, the most surprising comments I’ve got were compliments on my creative writing. I know that most people want to build each other up even if they don’t fully mean it, but still, it’s quite cool to get a compliment on a poem or piece of flash fiction. Similarly, having had my piece accepted into an anthology back in 2015, wasn’t what I’d expected at all. That one was creative nonfiction, but I honestly had written it in the span of like an hour or so and had been rather impulsive submitting it. I was so elated to have the piece accepted for publication.

How about you? Do people ever respond to your writing in a way that you haven’t expected?

Five Daily Actions for Wellbeing

A long time ago, I read somewhere that doing five small things for your health and happiness each day, will get you started on a journey towards the bigger goals. Today, I came across a journaling prompt that explained that not all goals have to be big and asked what small goals you’re working on right now. I’m pretty sure I listed my five daily actions already before, but cannot find it right now. In any case, if this is a repeat, I’ll no doubt have changed something from when I did this before. Here are five daily actions I can take, and in many cases am already taking, to improve my health and happiness. Most of these are focused primarily on my mental and spiritual wellbeing, but the mind, body and soul are interconnected. This means that, ultimately, I’ll hopefully feel more physically healthy too.

1. Read the Bible. I am currently on a 142-day streak in the YouVersion Bible app. It’s not always easy to commit to reading my Bible, but I am motivated by both a wish to please God as well as my stats. I have found that I don’t do well reading the Bible in order and I have no intention of reading the entire Bible in a year. Instead, I started with a Bible reading plan and, when I finished it, started another. That way, I am not just reading the Bible as if it were a novel, but truly paying attention to its meaning. I just completed my thirteenth plan on YouVersion today.

Bible reading helps me feel connected to God. I really want to connect to other people on the app too, so that we can study together. That’s my goal for the upcoming month: find people to fellowship with.

2. Pray. This is something I really need to get woven into my routine. My husband prays the Lord’s Prayer each morning as he gets up and maybe I should do the same. I do pray almost everyday, but not at set times.

3. Journal. I have the Day One journaling app and really like it. Even so, I struggle to write in it each day, even though I have two reminders on a day: one for the daily prompt and one just to write. Last week, I resolved to write at least a few sentences each day, but I didn’t really follow through. I am pretty sure though that, when the A to Z Challenge of April is over, I’ll want to continue writing everyday. Since I’m not requiring myself to blog everyday then, it’d really help if I wrote in Day One everyday.

4. Be more mindful. This is a less measurable goal, but I can include some simple breathing or body scan exercises into each day. Not doing this at the moment, as some of them feel contrary to the Christian faith. Scratch that and insert another excuse that isn’t holding God responsible. Breathing exercises and body scans aren’t anti-Christian. I guess I just feel like this, like prayer, is something I struggle to find the discipline for. It also feels kind of scary, I guess, but I trust that will get better with practice.

5. Gratitude. Another less measurable goal, but I really want to be more appreciative in life. Now that I’m going to use Day One each day anyway as I journal, I could just add a simple gratitude list (or one grateful if I can’t make a list) each day too.

In addition, I would really like to improve on my expressing kindness and gratitude towards others. I will get to thank my staff and others for what they do more.

What are some daily practices that will enhance your wellbeing?

Joining in with the Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop and Let’s Have Coffee.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (April 24, 2021)

Hi everyone! After writing this afternoon’s quick post, I felt I really wanted to write another post today, so I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare on Saturday. I’m pretty sure I’ll have something else to share with you tomorrow. Either that or I can take the day off blogging for a change. Anyway, I just had my soft drink and chips for this evening, but there is no doubt still some left. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, first, as usual, I’d make smalltalk about the weather. It’s mostly been sunny and dry, but windy and quite chilly. How is yours?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’ve been struggling with foot pain when walking for a while now. I don’t know why, but it seems worse when I wear my AFO (ankle foot orthosis). The physical therapist – not my usual one, since she was off sick – came by yesterday. I can’t remember all that she said, but it came down to my having muscle tension in my feet or something. Massaging my foot before putting on the AFO may work. Other than that, she basically told me that the AFO takes some getting used to. I interpreted this to mean I just need to push through for a bit. That, I think, makes little sense, since I’ve had the AFO for at least a month, probably two, and was fine most of that time.

I was pretty frustrated and depressed when I could barely walk with the AFO on yesterday evening. I immediately catastrophized that I may as well get a wheelchair. Another possibility, and I know my staff don’t buy that one, is that I just need to lose weight. I do, but my staff don’t believe that’s causing my pain. Honestly, neither do I, as I’ve been a lot heavier in the past and then didn’t have issues with pain. My foot also does stand in a weird position when not forced into a 90-degree angle by my AFO. Well, I’m not wearing my AFO for now and we’ll see what will be next.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that on the walk without my AFO this evening, I heard a stork making that clattering sound storks do. We were near the neighborhood supermarket, so at first, my staff didn’t believe me and was convinced it was something else. Then she spotted a stork nest.

Stork

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been reading a lot lately. Some of it involves me exploring the enneagram and other personality-related topics. I’ve also been reading a little on attachment styles and trauma. However, I’m also reading for enjoyment. I am currently reading the foster care memoir A Sister’s Shame by Maggie Hartley.

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’ve been writing a lot again. Of course, I’m still blogging everyday, but I’ve also picked up my journaling app, Day One, again, and am aiming to write at least a few sentences each day.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m finally able to benefit fully from the YouVersion Bible App and Bible.com. I discovered the note-taking feature yesterday. Today, I finally downloaded the Common English Bible translation. This translation’s publishers require a valid E-mail address and I had initially signed up with my Apple ID and a hidden E-mail address. I thought it should be easy to add my actual E-mail address to the app, but not so. Turned out I also had an account, a different one, with my actual E-mail address. Thankfully, I was able to sort it out. I’m fully enjoying my Bible reading again.

What’s going on in your life?