Mid-Year Reflections

Hi all. How can it be the middle of July already? It’s amazing how time flies. This week, one of Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop writing prompts is to look back at your new year’s resolutions for 2021. As I do each year, this year I called them hopes rather than resolutions as a way of lessening the pressure. As I look back though, I seem to be doing pretty well.

My first hope was to eat a somewhat healthier diet. Indeed, I am making sure to eat enough fruit and veg each day, unlike apparently during the last few months of 2020. I however still struggle to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices.

In the exercise department, I’ve not been as inventive as I’d hoped. I blame COVID, as, even though gyms reopened to the public a while back, I haven’t felt comfortable to go.

With respect to getting stable mentally, this is a work in progress. I’ve only actually noticed some seemingly significant improvement over the past month or so, after first falling deep into crisis in mid-June. I cannot say for sure the one-on-one support is helping me get mentally stable, but I do know for sure that I certainly don’t want to go back to the situation before the extra care hours were approved.

Faith-wise, I am still on my journey with God. I pray everyday, read the Bible everyday and am learning to put Jesus first. I am however still struggling. I really want to get baptized, but have no idea where to start, as I don’t currently even go to a physical church. More importantly though, I am still regularly tempted to think that, since God is in charge, I shouldn’t even bother with wanting to be saved.

On the leisurely side of things, I’m doing pretty amazing if I can say so myself. I have kept up a pretty good blogging routine and actually love jewelry-making and bath and body product making again. I am glad I didn’t resolve to be able to do these activities independently, as that’d be an unrealistic goal.

The only area I’m not that satisfied with myself about, is my reading. I did a separate post on bookish resolutions for 2021. I guess I should have called those hopes too, as to be honest, I haven’t really met a single of my goals as of yet.

How did you do on your new year’s resolutions so far?

Mama’s Losin’ It

A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

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.

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.

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?

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 combination 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?

What I Wanted to Be When I’d Grow Up #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt for #Blogtober20 is “Wannabe”. I originally had no idea what to write for it, until I saw Mandi’s own post mentioned writing about what she wanted to become when growing up. Mandi chose against this theme, but I’m going with it. I can’t remember whether I ever covered this topic on this blog – I’m pretty sure I did on one of my older blogs, but it might have been here too. Even if I did cover the topic here, I have a lot of new’ish readers, so it may still be interesting.

I remember in Kindergaten we had some type of celebration that included a “fortune-teller” with a crystal ball – of course, it was another grade’s teacher. I remember she asked us all what we wanted to be when we’d grow up. Most girls wanted to be a princess, of course. I can’t remember what I said I wanted to be.

When I learned to write, however, I knew pretty soon that I wanted to be a writer. My parents, realistic as they were, told me up front that writing wouldn’t earn me a living unless I was a real good one. So for money I usually wanted to be a teacher.

I originally wanted to teach small children, of course, because I myself was still young. When I got to the later elementary grades, I made up my mind and wanted to become a high school teacher. Or a professor even. I remember proudly telling people when I was twelve that later I wanted to be a Dutch-language linguist. Later, I wanted to become a mathematician.

This was, at least, what I told others when my parents or teachers were present. Secretly, I made plans to become a psychologist. I wanted to help children or adults with my kind of problems, which I was well aware of by that age.

When I was in my later years of high school, the thought of becoming a psychologist remained at the back of my mind. Openly though, I chose to go the “safe” path and applied to become an English major. Then I made up my mind at the last moment and chose to take a gap year to go to the rehabilitation center for the blind.

I got the opportunity to study psychology, albeit not at university, in 2006. I jumped at the opportunity and did eventually earn my foundation (first-year diploma) in applied psychology. I passed communication skills only if I promised that I wouldn’t continue in this field though. I know, psychology isn’t the best major for an autistic. But I didn’t want to do something I didn’t like, so I picked linguistics as my university major with the intent of doing my minor in speech and language pathology. As most of my readers know, it didn’t work out.

I still intend on someday taking some more psychology or pedagogy classes. I will most likely never work at any paid job though. Still, my original dream of becoming a writer, has at least partly come true.

#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.

My Fall 2020 Bucket List #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt for #Blogtober20 is “Into the Groove”. I don’t really know what to do with that prompt, so instead I’m going to share my fall bucket list. September is usually mild here, but by October, fall weather is truly here. That is, two years ago, we had a day in mid-October when the temperature rose to 27°C. That seems unlikely this year. It’s windy and rainy right now. Fall is here! Let me share my fall bucket list.

1. Play in a pile of fallen leaves. I would really like to do that this year. I used to love the colors of fallen leaves. Now, I can no longer see them, but I can still smell and feel the leaves and hear them rustle.

2. Do a fall-related craft. I have been looking at lots of projects to try. For example, someone in a craft-related Facebook group did a needle-felted pumpkin. I’ve never tried needle felting, but I immediately wondered whether it’d be doable for me. I’ve also seen lots of other fall-related crafts and want to try at least one of them.

3. Prepare some fall-related food. I’d love to try something with pumpkin spice, as I just recently learned what it is and that it doesn’t involve actual pumpkin. I think it’s delicious!

4. Make a fall-themed soap. I think one of my favorite soaping suppliers has a photo contest in November – at least they did in previous years. I never participated, as I won’t win anyway, but I want to try this year. In any case, in previous years, all contestants would get a coupon just for participating. I don’t have fall-themed molds, but of course I could experiment with fall-related ingredients too. Otherwise, I could just participate with a different themed soap, as there is no set theme.

5. Read a thriller or other spooky book. I’ve seen a lot of them on people’s fall TBRs. I’m not a big fan of fantasy, but I do like the occasional thriller.

6. Create a fall-based tablescape. Or do some other fall-themed decorating in my room. I’ve not done tablescapes at all before. I mean, I don’t have a table that isn’t used. However, now I do have the small table that I can use until someone else needs it. It has just my essential oil diffuser on it. I would really like to create some fall-related decor on that table.

What’s on your fall bucket list?

#Blogtober20

My Bucket List

Carol anne over at Therapy Bits did a blog post detailing her bucket list. It reminded me that, in May of 2018, I did one as well on my old blog. It was based on a prompt from an app I have on my iPhone that asked me to list 25 goals I have for the next 25 years. In 25 years, I’ll be 59 and hopefully still alive and well. However, this list is going to detail the things I want to accomplish in life as a whole. After all, my paternal grandma, who died shortly before I wrote that post, taught me by example that a lot can still be accomplished after 60. I’m not aiming for a particular number of items this time.

1. Write my autobiography. This was #2 (after finding suitable day activities) on the original list. I still haven’t gotten down to it, but I really want to.

2. Get published some more. I have been saying for the past five years that the one piece I got published in an anthology in 2015 makes me a writer, but I really want to get published more. Note to self: get to writing that piece for the Chicken Soup book.

3. Travel to the United States. I really want to visit some people who live there, but I also definitely want to enjoy the scenery.

4. Visit Ireland. My husband traveled to Ireland with his Dad when we’d been dating only for a short while. I’d love to see the country, eat at the high-quality vegan restaurant in Dublin my husband ate at and meet carol anne, who lives in Ireland.

5. Visit Poland. Emilia from My Inner MishMash lives there, so it’d be cool to meet her. However, it’s also cool to visit because my husband knows some Polish.

6. Stay at an all-inclusive resort. I don’t care for tropical destinations. All I want is to swim and eat as much as I want, even if it’s in my own country.

7. Get a guide dog. Okay, this is unlikely if I’m going to stay in the care facility, but one can dream, right?

8. Take some more distance learning college classes. I would still like to enroll at the Open University again. I’d also like to do some education courses, which would be through a commercial college as the OU doesn’t offer that program.

9. Take some in-person college classes. This is going to take some years, as those under 50 certainly can’t attend individual college classes without a prior college degree. I’m not sure the higher education for older people program still exists even.

10. Take a writing course. I have been looking at Writer’s Digest and other writing schools, but so far they’re way too expensive for me.

11. Do some volunteering. I’d love to someday do some volunteer work in social services or social care. For example, maybe I can be a language buddy to someone learning Dutch as a second language, or work as a volunteer helping people fill out forms for social services etc.

12. Sit on the client council for my care facility.

13. Join a gym, yoga studio or other out-of-the-house exercise place. I intended on doing this before COVID-19 hit and until there’s a vaccine, it’s likely not an option due to the assistance I need.

14. Keep up with technological advancements. I am pretty proud of myself for having learned to use the iPhone at age 31, but still I’d like to keep up-to-date with new technology for as long as I possibly can.

That’s it really. Other items I had on my list back in 2018 included getting more active, which I already manage, buying a house, which I’ve done too, and staying as healthy as possible. These are not necessarily items for on a bucket list though.

What’s on your bucket list?