My Bedtime Routine

Hi everyone. I’m feeling a little stressed out and, as it is past 9PM as I’m starting to write this post, I thought I’d share about my bedtime routine in order to get myself comfy and relaxed for bed.

Usually, the staff come by my room at around 9:45PM to help me get ready for bed, like get into my pajamas and brush my teeth. I usually leave my socks on, as I’ll often want to stay up a little longer. The evening shift here at my current care home ends at 10:30PM, so the staff usually say goodbye then too and turn off my light. In the care home I may move to on October 5, the evening shift ends at 10PM, so I may want to move my bedtime back a little.

I can go into bed by myself, but sometimes I want the staff to stand by while I go into bed. I will pull off my socks. Then, I’ll grab my iPhone if it’s sufficiently charged and select a Spotify playlist to play on my music pillow. The music pillow is connected to my iPhone via its lightning port (and a lightning-to-audio converter). I love the Harp Lullabies playlist, the Guitar Lullabies playlist or some albums by Robbins Island Music Group or Dan Gibson’s Solitudes. I most commonly set the sleep timer for an hour.

I sometimes will have an essential oil blend in my diffuser too. Some aren’t very suited to sleeping, but I know of a number of relaxing essential oil blends, four of which I shared before.

I have a weighted blanket, which I pull up over me almost till my chin. I also will grab ahold of one of my soft toys. Sometimes, I’ll lay the tail of the lemur over my chest, while at other times, I’ll hold the dolphin or unicorn.

Sometimes, I need to shift my sleeping position. I can sleep in every position except on my right side, but my preference will vary. Once I’ve found a comfortable position, I’ll likely doze off pretty quickly.

The night staff does come by at around 11:30PM to check on me. This is mostly to prevent me sitting up all night without anyone noticing. I can also press the call button if I can’t sleep, but of course other than try to comfort me, there is little the night staff can do. That being said, I sleep a lot better now that I have the weighted blanket, music pillow and essential oil diffuser than before I had all these.

loopyloulaura

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?

Bath and Body Care Product Making #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to day two in the #AtoZChallenge. Today, I want to go into one of the creative pursuits I’ve been keeping the longest, even though I no longer really do it much anymore: bath and body care product making.

I started bath and body care product making in 2016 when in the psychiatric hospital. At first, I made all kinds of products, including body lotions. That, I wasn’t too good at, since it requires using both water and oil and specific techniques, including heating the water and keeping it at a certain temperature (70°C if I’m correct) for a while before adding the water to the oil tiny bits at a time. It also requires the use of an emulsifier, since water and oil won’t combine together without one.

Later, I decided to make just body butters, which include just oils, butters and possibly beeswax or another wax if you want to create a vegan alternative.

I created a few body scrubs using sugar or ground coffee, but didn’t like those. Other exfoliants, like jojoba pellets, are extremely expensive. Of course, most store-bought body scrubs use nano beads, but these are bad for the environment. Not that I’ve ever found them sold anywhere anyway.

Since moving to the care facility in 2019, where we have a bathtub, I have also occasionally made bath bombs. A bath bomb is made with two parts sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and one part citric acid (this is what makes the bath bomb fizz). Some people add cornstarch, but I’ve learned this will get moldy easily and I don’t personally see the advantage. Since both baking soda and citric acid are dry ingredients, you’ll need a spray bottle of demineralized water to help the ingredients stick together. Then you will of course need to add a colorant, fragrance oil and possibly other additives such as Epsom salt, almond oil, etc. The hardest part I’ve found was molding the bath bomb neatly. Of course, I chose a heart-shaped mold, not just a simple ball or egg.

Eventually, I discovered that the main aspect I like about bath and body care product making, is the fact that you can add essential oils or essential oil blends to your products for a nice smell and possibly therapeutic effects (if that’s what you believe in). In 2021, I did my entire #AtoZChallenge on essential oils and aromatherapy, so check back there for information on specific oils.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (March 23, 2022)

It’s Wednesday and I’m joining the Wednesday HodgePodge again. In honor of daylight saving time, I think, the questions this week revolve around the topic of “time”. Here goes.

1. What’s something you never seem to have enough time for?
Blogging. I usually write my blog posts at the end of the day, because I need enough alone time to be able to compose a blog post and I don’t have long chunks of alone time during the day. That being said, the issue probably isn’t that I don’t have enough time, but that I don’t allow myself enough time to start on a blog post if I don’t have time to finish it within that chunk of alone time. Right now, I changed that by starting my blog post in the staff’s lunch break and now I’m finishing it between day activities and my evening one-on-one coming on.

2. If you could turn back time and relive just one day in your life, which day would you choose and why?
This is such an interesting question. Like Joyce, I believe there already is a perfect timekeeper of the universe, ie. God, and to interrupt His timekeeping would not just be impossible, but if it were possible, would lead to disastrous results. That being said, in the hypothetical event that turning back time and reliving one day of my life would not alter the rest of it, I would choose the day of my wedding in 2011.

3. Something you enjoy making that takes a long time to prepare/cook?
I’m assuming we’re talking just food here, since there’s a reference to cooking. For me, cooking even relatively “simple” meals takes up a lot of time. When I still cooked independently, it used to take me at least 90 minutes to prepare and cook a standard macaroni, for example. After all, I needed to do a lot of organizing before I could even get started and I’m a slow cook too. For this reason, I don’t think there’s anything I really enjoy making that would take other people a lot of time to prepare or cook. In fact, now that I get help on the rare occasion that I do cook, I still prefer to make relatively simple meals. The pilaf I cooked last week was really the most time-consuming dish I’ve cooked so far since moving into the care facility.

4. A time recently where you needed/gave yourself a ‘time out’? How do you do that?
I don’t like resting during the day, even though I need to at times. When I had COVID last month, I really had to force myself to lie in bed. Taking time-outs usually involves resting in bed with my weighted blanket over me and my stuffed animals near me, listening to soothing instrumental music through my music pillow and with an essential oil blend in my diffuser.

5. Something you’ve done recently that you’d describe as a ‘good time’?
Yesterday, my mother-in-law came by for a visit. We went for a walk and a coffee and pie in a nearby town. The pies were too sweet for our liking, but the coffee was okay and at least we had a good time enjoying each other’s company.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
This coming Saturday, if I don’t get a cold from one of the several staff who have been working here with cold symptoms (they tested negative for COVID, of course), I’ll be taking a ParaTransit taxi to my and my husband’s house in Lobith. If I do get a cold, I will most likely stay at the care facility and will certainly not take the taxi. Though all mandatory COVID-related restrictions and requirements were lifted today, I still don’t want to infect anyone. Let’s just hope I won’t get a cold, as I’m really looking forward to spending time in Lobith again.

Gratitude List (February 27, 2022) #TToT

I’m late posting a gratitude list this week, but better late than never, so here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful.

1. I am grateful my seven fellow clients who had COVID, are all symptom-free now.

2. I am grateful the two others stayed negative.

3. I am grateful that, even though I’m not 100% symptom-free yet, I am not very sick with the virus either.

4. I am grateful for more licorice. A staff brought me some salmiac licorice this afternoon. I wouldn’t normally buy it for myself, but I did enjoy it this time.

5. I am grateful for raspberries. The same staff also brought me some of those. I am also grateful for other fruit, such as grapes and bananas.

6. I am grateful I have been able to indeed allow myself some much-needed rest over the weekend.

7. I am grateful I found an essential oil blend with sweet marjoram in it that I actually like. I’d used it in two other blends that I hated, but in both of those, I’d also used Roman chamomile. I don’t normally mind that – it’s not a favorite scent either, but it’s not disgusting -, but the combination was truly terrible.

8. I am grateful my music pillow still works after I got its cord stuck between the caster wheels of my chair. I was a bit scared I might damage my phone if I plugged the cord with possible invisible damage into it, but then I realized it isn’t connected to a power source.

9. I am grateful I didn’t gain any weight while snacking on lots of treats over the past couple of days. In fact, I lost about 0.5kg.

10. I am grateful for green tea. And for staff willing to bring me hot water early in the morning before my one-on-one comes on so that I can make the green tea. I do realize it costs them more time to put on their protective clothing etc., so I try not to request help outside of my assigned one-on-one support, but when I wake up at 7AM, it’s just too hard to wait till 8:30AM.

11. Bonus thankful: I am so intensely grateful to live in the Netherlands. I am not a political blogger and refuse to discuss world news really. Quite honestly, it scares me. However, I am so thankful that I live in a free and safe country.

What are you thankful for?

Gratitude List (February 18, 2022) #TToT

Hi all again. I am feeling in the mood for a gratitude post. It doesn’t mean I’m necessarily feeling upbeat – not too downcast either, thankfully. Oh wait, I hadn’t started my gratitude list yet. I’m just inspired to write one. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I am grateful I’m negative for COVID so far. The virus finally reached my care home, as several clients tested positive yesterday. Thankfully though, my lateral flow test was negative yesterday and I’m not having symptoms suggestive of COVID at this point.

2. I am grateful for a great essential oil blend in my diffuser right now. I put lemon, tangerine, orange and spearmint in it and it smells truly delicious.

3. I am grateful for a good nurse practitioner’s appt yesterday. I was still allowed to leave the home yesterday to go to my appointment and it was really productive. My nurse practitioner validated my experience of dissociation and we were able to talk some about my anxiety too. We will discuss my flashbacks separately later.

4. I am grateful to be indoors. It’s storming outside and I’m so happy I don’t have to leave the home. Not that I’m allowed to now that the official positive PCR test results are in for my fellow clients, but oh well.

5. I am grateful for relatively cheap quark. I usually have that with my muesli for breakfast now, but yesterday used up the last few spoonfuls. However, a staff offered to buy new quark at her local supermarket. She got 1kg for €1,28. At the supermarket my care facility order from, they only have the 500g cans for €1,09. Not that I personally have to pay for my quark, but I don’t want the facility to have to pay €1,09 on a can I cannot even get three breakfasts out of.

6. I am grateful to have been able to be very crafty lately. I think I already mentioned creating the polymer clay narwhal last week. This week, I created another couple of things. Can you guess what this is supposed to be? About half my staff guessed it correctly and the others didn’t.

7. I am grateful for bananas, plums and grapes. Somehow, the staff had forgotten to order bananas last week, but thankfully, the care home next to mine was able to give us two on Wednesday. Yum! Then on my way home from my nurse practitioner’s appt yesterday, we stopped by the supermarket for some more fruit. We got plums and grapes. The plums were surprisingly sweet.

8. I am grateful for free audiobooks. Or one free audiobook, at least. I haven’t started listening to it yet, but the first book in one of Blake Pierce’s series is free even as an audiobook. I loved reading the first book in the Riley Paige Mystery series, even though I haven’t read any of his other books. This is the first installment in another series. Free stuff is always great and, now that iOS is giving me a headache working with my Braille display, I’d love to give audiobooks a try.

9. I am grateful for peach yogurt. It is the only type of fruit yogurt I really like and I’m so grateful we’ve been having it all week.

10. I am grateful to be alive. After writing my poem this afternoon, I’d just like to say this.

What are you grateful for?

Share Four Somethings (January 2022)

Hi everyone. Can you believe it’s almost the end of January already? I can’t wait for this month to be over with, honestly. February can be depressing too, but not as depressing as January. At least then the weather may start to warm up a little. Let’s hope! Anyway, today I’m joining Share Four Somethings. I think I joined this link-up once before, but am hoping to make it a regular habit now that it’s a new format. Here goes.

Something Loved

Essential oils. Yay, my three new oils arrived today! Though I haven’t tried them out yet, I will certainly be doing so soon. One, lemon, isn’t really new, but I’d had to throw out the old bottle because it’d gone past its shelf life. This really should be a motivator to use my essential oils more often. The other two, spearmint and sweet marjoram, I haven’t used before.

Something Gleaned

Honestly, I had to Google the definition of “glean”, so I could say I gleaned the meaning of the word. I guess my English isn’t as good as I’d like to say it is.

Seriously though, I have been reading the Bible everyday since January 1. While 24 days isn’t my longest streak ever by far, I do find that the more I study God’s Word, the more I learn. My most recent realization came from the story about the Bible passage I mentioned yesterday. The pastor sharing the story about the passage said that “favor” in Psalms 30:5 could also be translated as “grace”. This, until then, I’d always seen as a decidedly New Testamental term. Then again, I now am beginning to see that the Bible isn’t really strictly divided between OT and NT, but it’s all one story leading to Jesus. To those of my readers who’ve been believers for longer than I have been, this may seem obvious. To me, it’s a big eye-opener.

Something Braved

Well, as regular readers of my blog will know, this month was quite hard. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anxiety and PTSD symptoms. Even though one of my medications, topiramate, which specifically works to combat trauma-related symptoms, was upped earlier this month, I’m not yet noticing the change. On the contrary, in fact, it looks like I’m doing a little worse. That is, I might be noticing a slight positive change over the past few days, but it’s so early on that it’s hard to know for sure and I’m not sure whether the change is positive compared to how I did on my old dosage too. I thankfully will have an extra appointment with my nurse practitioner on Thursday to discuss how things are going.

Something Achieved

Two somethings here, is that okay? First, I have been writing more frequently and more widely than I did before. I am really proud of myself for this, as it is actually one of only a few ways in which I’m still staying active lately. Due to my anxiety, after all, I’m struggling to try new things such as crafting or even to go for a walk. However, I do try out new writing techniques and that’s something at least.

The other achievement is my diet. I started on a healthier eating plan with the help of a dietitian early in the month. Not with the aim of losing weight, although it would be great if I could lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese. My main goal is to experience less inner conflict about eating, as I have a history of eating disorder symptoms. So far, I’m sticking to it pretty well. More importantly, the one day when I couldn’t fully stick to the plan, because we had Chinese takeout, I didn’t resort to eating disorder behaviors. That’s quite an accomplishment!

Gratitude List (January 22, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. It’s time for another gratitude post. I’m struggling a little, but, as I’ve said many times before, this makes them all the more important. As usual, I’m joining in wiht Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful to have seen my husband on Sunday. We went to the Subway drive-through to get a sandwich. I chose a turkey one, to which my husband asked whether I took it because of my diet or because I was in the mood for turkey. “Both,” I replied.

2. I am grateful my mother-in-law visited me on Wednesday. We went for a drive around the nearby countryside and for a short walk in a nearby village.

3. I am grateful for muesli for breakfast. I am also grateful the dietitian allows me muesli with some nuts or raisins in it and it doesn’t have to be plain grain.

4. I am grateful for blueberries. When in the nearby village with my mother-in-law, we decided to get some groceries for her. I decided to get blueberries too.

5. I am grateful my dental chek-up last Wednesday was uneventful and, other than the fact that I have inflamed gums, everything was fine.

6. I am grateful for a good laugh with one of my staff on Thursday. I originally was anxious about her being my one-on-one that day, because a few weeks prior she’d triggered me with what she thought was encouragement of my independence. I thankfully talked it over with her and we then laughed our butts off at some silly jokes we were cracking.

7. I am grateful I am inspired to write on my blog. I still struggle to find the motivation to go on walks or to craft, but at least I’m writing almost everyday, sometimes twice a day.

8. I am grateful my nurse practitioner keeps trying to help me and takes me seriously despite how complicated I might be. I have been experiencing increased flashbacks to the time I spent in the psych hospital lately, but I try to remind myself my staff and my treatment team at mental health are different.

9. I am grateful it looks like the essential oils I ordered on Thursday, are on their way. I ordered with a company that doesn’t use the bank’s payment processing system, so I had to make my payment manually, then panicked worrying that I’d made a typeo somehow. Apparently not. Let’s hope the company isn’t altogether lying and will actually have shipped my essential oils.

10. I am grateful I’ve found the courage to experiment with essential oil blends that are slightly different from the ones I find online. For example, earlier I used tangerine rather than orange in a blend that otherwise contained cardamom and cinnamon. It smelled delicious!

What are you grateful for?

Describing My Favorite Place

For her first writing prompt, Ebar asks us to describe our favorite place using all five senses. I was thinking of sharing something about my favorite place in the entire world just yesterday. As someone who doesn’t feel she belongs anywhere, the concept of a favorite place is hard to comprehend. However, right now, my favorite place in the entire world is where I am at this very moment: my room in the care home. Below, let me describe it using my five senses.

I can see the light being on. Though I cannot usually see the colored LEDs on my essential oil diffuser due to being blind, I know they are there and appreciate them. I can see through the windows. Well, not right now as it’s dark outside and the curtains are drawn, but during the day, I can.

I can listen to the sound of soothing music on my music pillow, or to my text-to-speech software on my computer or iPhone through my headphones. I can also sometimes hear the door behind which the laundry and trash cans are stored slam shut right below my room. I don’t like that sound, but the staff are looking into the technical people doing something about the door being made less loud. I can hear the sounds of other clients and staff elsewhere in the home. I may not always like those sounds either, but they are the sounds of my room. I was almost going to say they are the sounds of home, but calling my room “home” just feels like it’s a step too far as of yet.

I can feel the fabric of the chair I’m sitting on. I can feel the characteristic floor my feet touch. When I’m in my bed, I can feel the comfort of my weighted blanket and my stuffed animals.

I can smell the scent of whichever essential oil blend I choose to put into my diffuser when I want to. Lastly, I can taste the meal delivery service meals in my mouth. I can select from their menu and, though the meals aren’t great and there’s a particular lack of variety, some are quite delicious. I’m going to pretend we have lasagne for the sake of this post.

What’s your favorite place like?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (November 21, 2021)

Hi everyone. Today is a rather mixed Sunday weather-wise. We had sunshine almost all morning and early afternoon, but now we’re having clouds and rain. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I just had a late afternoon coffee (I normally have them at around 2:15PM and it’s almost 3:30 now). I am likely to skip my soft drink, which I normally have at around 3:30, and have some water again when my one-on-one comes on at four o’clock. If you’d like a drink, you’re welcome to grab a soft drink or water or get a Senseo in the kitchen. Let’s catch up.

I already shared on Friday that this week was a rather meh one. So, if we were having coffee, I’d try to focus on other things. I’d share that I’ve been trying to pick up the polymer clay craft again. Yesterday, I finished three labels with “Bedankt” (Dutch for “Thanks”) on them for the three staff who are leaving soon. I still need to cure them in the oven and add glitter glue for decoration. I’m probably going to do that this evening.

I will still need to make real presents for each of the three staff, because I don’t think just a simple label, even if it’s hand-made, is enough. One of the staff is leaving at the end of this month. The other two aren’t leaving till the end of December, so I still have time for those.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I’ve been oohing and aahing at some polymer clay supplies I want to get for Christmas or St. Nicholas (December 5). You need to actually pay for your own St. Nicholas presents, but I agreed with my assigned staff that she could spend around €15 on them and I’d send her a wishlist which she could pick something from, so that I’d still feel a sense of surprise. We do get a small Christmas hamper from the day center, so I told my day activities staff she might talk to my assigned home staff about ordering from the same company as to save on shipping. Some things on my wishlist include cutters, pushmolds and texture sheets.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I bought a new essential oil diffuser. I couldn’t seem to clean the other one properly anymore, so all scents were starting to smell the same. I made a note in my Reminders app to clean this one each month, but with how often I’m currently using it, I’ll probably make that every other week. The new one has a remote and two mist settings for normal and strong mist.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that my husband came by to take me out to lunch this afternoon. We’d talked about going to a particular snack and dine place we’d been to two years ago and I’d looked forward to it all week. It was really good back then. Now, not really. The burger we ordered was okay’ish. Not very bad, but not good either. In addition, we had to wait forever to place our order and the staffer really was quite curt. This time, we were asked for our CoronaCheck code, but not our ID, as is required. Oh well.

How have you been?