Tuesday Ramblings

Today I don’t know what I want to write about. I’m struggling a bit. Had a hard session with my community psychiatric nurse this afternoon. During the last bit of it and after it for a while, my leg kept trembling. It generally does when I’m very emotional.

I think a switch of personality happened during the session too. I’m not sure it was a full switch or just passive influence. I feel like a fraud for thinking this really happened.

In other news, I ordered a new iPhone last Saturday and it arrived yesterday. Today, I installed it. I got most things working pretty well. I got the iPhone SE 2020, which is much like the iPhone 8 but with better battery capacity, higher processor speed and a slightly better camera. It does take a little getting used to, particularly because it’s larger and heavier than the old SE I used to have. I can’t imagine that this is really the smallest iPhone currently on the market. It is though. It also feels weird that the home button isn’t actually a button anymore. Thankfully this model still does have a home button though and doesn’t require face ID.

I walked three times today. Unfortunately, I didn’t meet my step goal and, as I’m supposed to go to bed in half an hour or so, I don’t think I will.

I asked my husband to bring my yoga mat and weights when he visits me again. I looked at some fitness blogs yesterday. Though I don’t think I’ll ever be a fitness blogger even as much as I’m a book blogger, these bloggers did inspire me to get active. I googled a basic beginner’s fitness plan. I haven’t started with it yet, but hopefully will soon. I also really hope to be starting yoga again soon.

How are you all doing?

Gratitude List (May 30, 2020) #TToT

Okay guys, I’m still feeling meh. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m not inspired to write much of anything either, so what better thing to do than to write a gratitude list? I don’t promise I’ll be able to mention many things, but I’ll try my best.

1. Ice cream. Last week Thursday, another home that’s part of the care facility called for an ice cream truck to come by the facility. The ice cream truck owners had owned some type of merry-go-round or another fairground attraction before COVID-19 hit. Then they transferred to the ice cream business as away of making money. They advertise themselves on Facebook for being on-call if you have enough customers in a street. I love this idea and obviously the care facility has some 70+ clients plus staff as potential customers.

What’s extra cool is that the other home called the truck people again on Tuesday. Now if I don’t have an ice cream tummy, I don’t know.

2. Reaching my step goal. I reached 10K steps three days this past week and so far got over 55K steps this week. Tomorrow I’ll probably have a lie-in.

3. An extra staff. Due to day activities now being provided at the home, the home staff were able to cut their hours a bit, because there was a lot of overlap with the day activities staff. As a result, they’re now able to have an extra staff for a few hours on Saturday. This morning, the extra staff took me for a 25-minute walk.

4. Bathing. This is one from last week, but on Sunday I took a bath. It was good and very relaxing.

5. Gutenberg. You know, the project that aims to digitalize no-longer-copyrighted materials and make them available to the public. I discovered yesterday that my reader app, Voice Dream Reader, connects to it too. I was able to download Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery off there. I think I prefer reading eBooks to audiobooks anyway.

6. Buying a new iPhone. I have been wanting to buy the new iPhone SE 2020 forever. That is, I’ve been looking at the possibility of it being released for at least half a year before it was released. My current iPhone, the old SE model, still works, but its battery is empty really quickly. Today I ordered the new one.

Originally, I had wanted my husband to install it. Then when I was skyping with my sister and mother, my brother-in-law chimed in and said it’s really easy to migrate from one iPhone to another. Now I may want to install the phone myself as soon as I get it and there’s someone sighted to oversee it.

7. Hearing my niece on Skype. Like I said above, this afternoon I Skyped with my mother and sister. It was fun. I hadn’t even had Skype on my computer till then, but I like it. I heard my niece on the other end of the screen. She did get a little whiny eventually, probably because she was hungry.

8. Seeing my husband! I saved this one for last, as it’s the best. Last week, the no-visitors policy was lifted at my care facility, so I was able to see my husband. He visited me again today. Like I said before, we can’t really be physically close, but it’s okay. I love you, hubby!

That’s it for now. As always, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

What have you been grateful for lately?

What’s Up (May 2020)

Today, I discovered What’s Up Wednesday and thought I’d join in. What’s Up Wednesday is a monthly linky in which bloggers recap their past month. Here goes.

What I Ate

I don’t meal plan, as here at the care facility, we get meals delivered. I didn’t have the greatest meals this past week. Last week Wednesday, I had a fish curry that had fish bones in it. I ate part of it nonetheless, but eventually got annoyed and left the rest. My husband told me that this was unacceptable indeed. My staff sent out a complaint.

Then on Friday, I had vegetable rice only. Vegetable rice is just rice with a tiny bit of veg in it. I had no meat or meat substitute in my meal at all.

Thankfully though, over the past few days, the food was okay.

Then yesterday, my day activities staff and I put hamburgers on some type of grill for lunch. It was delicious!

What I’m Reminiscing About

I haven’t had the best month with respect to my mood. For this reason, a lot of memories have come up. I have been discussing some in my sessions with my community psychiatric nurse and also writing about them on here.

What I’m Loving

Being able to see my husband again! Due to the coronavirus lockdown, my care facility had a no-visitors policy for the past two months. Thankfully though, the policy was lifted last week. My husband and I still can’t have physical contact or even be within a five-feet distance, but it’s okay. I’m just so glad to meet my husband in real life again.

What I’ve Been Up To

I’ve been doing a lot of walking over this past month. The weather is really good. We had one rainy day, last Sunday, but overall it’s been really sunny and warm outside.

I’ve also been blogging a lot over the past month. I’m so glad to keep up the productive spirit!

What I’m Dreading

Nothing really. I did have a rough few weeks and was dreading a crisis happening again. Today is a pretty good day though. The tech guys installed the door sensor that will alert the night staff if I elope again today.

What I’m Excited About

Seeing my husband again this Saturday!

I’m also excited about getting Italian takeaway this Sunday. I’m probably going to get a tuna pizza.

What We’re Doing This Weekend

It’s a holiday weekend here in the Netherlands because of Pentecost. For this reason, we’re getting lots of extra treats at the care facility. Other than that and seeing my husband, I don’t have much planned.

What I’m Watching

Nothing to be honest. I’ve been thinking about getting a Netflix subscription again, but haven’t gotten down to it.

What I’m Reading

Nothing at the moment, but I did finish two books this past month: Wonder by R.J. Palacio and Wink by Rob Harrell. I reviewed that last one earlier this month.

What I’m Listening To

I’m mostly listening to the Pop Warm-UP 130 BPM playlist on Spotify. I actually love the upbeat, fast-paced tunes to “dance” to.

I also got myself a ScribD subscription, though I unsubscribed again after a few weeks. I listened to Anne of Green Gables as an audiobook on there. I must say I don’t think I see the benefit of audiobooks.

What I’m Working On

My birthday wishlist! I asked my husband to help me install a new iPhone that I’m goign to buy. I haven’t bought it yet, but am looking forward to doing so in a few weeks.

I’ve been looking at a sensory supplies store again for birthday gifts to ask my in-laws, parents and sister. I think I want a Jinglin’ ball. This is a soft ball that makes a sound when rolled. The adaptive supplies store for the blind also sells ringing balls, but these are too hard for safe playing with my fellow clients.

What I’m Wearing

Orange Dress

I have had this orange dress for a few years already, but hardly ever wore it before going into the care facility, because I can’t fasten the ribbon. I am loving it though. I also asked my staff to do my hair for this picture.

What I’m Looking Forward To Next Month

My birthday, obviously! It isn’t till the 27th of June, so we’ll have another What’s Up Wednesday before that, but oh well.

What Else Is Up

I think that about covered it.

Quotes, Sayings and Affirmations for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my Letter Q post in the #AtoZChallenge. Man, how time flies! We’ve just entered our sixth week in “intelligent” lockdown here in the Netherlands. Tomorrow, prime minister Rutte will hold another press conference to determine whether any restrictions will be lifted on April 28. I doubt it, but oh well.

Today I want to talk about using quotes and inspirational sayings in your self-care routine.

Quotes may seem a little cheesy to some people at first. Then again, maybe you haven’t found the right one yet. If you find a quote that truly speaks to you, it can definitely set you off in the right direction.

I for one love quotes and not just the deep ones. Anna Borges’ first self-care strategy is called “A.A. Milne” after the author of the book Winnie the Pooh. There are lots of funny quotes in that book and in the Disney movies based on it. They may actually make you laugh and inspire you at the same time.

I do also love deep quotes though. My favorites come from Helen Keller, Tori Amos and Madeleine L’Engle. However, I enjoy quotes from a ton of different people.

For those of us who are religious, Bible or other sacred text verses can also certainly speak to you. I am a true cherry picker where it comes to the Bible, picking out random passages to use for motivation. That’s totally okay if you ask me.

When you find a quote or verse that speaks to you, you can use it as a mantra or affirmation. You can also create your own affirmations. The key to getting affirmations to actually do good for you, is believing in them. I mean, I don’t believe in Law of Attraction-like ideas that say anything you set your mind to can come true. Affirmations need to be useful to your life right now. For example, I use the following affirmation: “I love, accept and respect myself exactly as I am right now.”

There are a number of different apps that can be used for focusing on affirmations. I use ThinkUp and Mantra on my iPhone. Both are free but come with ads and an in-app purchase to get premium features and remove advertising.

What are your favorite quotes, sayings or affirmations?

Journaling for Emotional Wellbeing #AtoZChallenge

Wow, did I seriously not think about journaling when ruminating over what word to pick for my letter J post? Well yeah, indeed I completely forgot. But now I know, so for today, I’m going to talk about one of my favorite yet most challenging self-care habits: journaling.

I started my first journal when I was about eleven. It was a handmade diary with Braille pages stuck in it. I didn’t keep it for long though. When I was thirteen, I started writing a regular diary on my computer. That one lasted for over three years, until I discovered the Internet and online journals. I always wished for my journals to be read by others, even though I never wanted my parents to be those other people. That happened with the online journal, which gradually morphed into a blog.

That being said, I need to learn to write in private again. Not just anything that goes on in my head, is suited for the whole wide world to read.

Journal keeping can have many benefits for your emotional wellbeing. It can help you identify patterns in your thinking, find triggers for negative feelings and be more grateful, among other things.

Remember, the diary is just one form of journaling. Usually in a diary, you write what you did during a day, including how you felt. There are other types of more focused journals, such as:

  • Dream journal, in which you write down your dreams after you wake up in the morning.
  • Goal-related journal, such as weight loss or smoking cessation journals. In this type of journal, you track your progress towards a goal. For those of us dealing with addictions, eating disorders, etc., a journal for tracking how many days you’re in recovery, may help too.
  • Gratitude journal, in which you write a list of daily gratefuls or otherwise express your gratitude. See my letter G post for more tips on this.

Some journaling “experts” recommend writing stream-of-consciousness style. Others recommend using prompts. You can combine the two by responding to a journaling prompt in stream-of-consciousness style too. There are many free and cheap books of journaling prompts. My favorite is the Journaling with Lisa Shea series. I have the whole series in one single eBook.

There are lots of ways to keep a journal. You can have a standard paper journal or a document (or more than one) on your computer, tablet or smartphone. There are also lots of apps that are aimed at helping you journal. I have tried dozens of those on my iPhone. My current favorite is Day One, which is available for all Apple products and I believe Android now too. Still, no matter how many products you try, you need to be the one sticking to a regular habit of journal keeping.

Do you have a journal (other than your blog)?

Fun and Games for When You’re Bored #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter F post in the #AtoZChallenge. I want to have a lighthearted topic for today. After all, I’m bored and don’t want to delve deep into some topic of self-care. Of course, dealing with boredom appropriately can be an act of self-care. I’m sharing a few fun activities to do when you’re bored.

1. Card games. I particularly love the game of “pesten” (“bullying” in English), which is a variation to the card game of mau mau and similar to Uno. It is played with a deck of 55 cards (52 of a regular pack plus three jokers). The goal is to get rid of all of your cards first, but you can bully the person next to you by the cards you play. For example, if you play an eight, the person next must pass his turn. If you play a two or joker, the next person must draw two or five cards from the stack, respectively. There are some other rules too that are pretty complicated particularly if there are more than two players in the game. For example, an ace means to turn around, so it’s often hard to remember whether we’re playing clockwise or counterclockwise. For this reason, I usually play the game with one other person.

I should really be trying to learn some other card games, as “pesten” is the only one I know. I guess playing solitaire is a good boredom killer if you’re by yourself.

2. Board games. I don’t play those often, but as a tween, I did. I particularly liked monopoly. I now have an audio-based version of monopoly on my iPhone. Still figuring it out though.

3. Word games and puzzles. I particularly like to make word strings, where the next word has to start with the last letter of the previous word. These can be themed, such as first names, animals, etc. I also like to do word puzzles on my phone. Most regular word games are not accessible with VoiceOver. However, I have an app called 7 Little Words that is.

4. Reading. We as a system like to read a variety of books depending on who out of our personalities is fronting. For example, the young alters like reading funny stories and jokes. Like we said yesterday, there are many free kids’ stories available in eBook format from both Amazon and Apple Books.

The teens and adults prefer young adult novels and occasionally fiction geared towards adults. We also love memoirs.

What fun activities can you think of to do when you’re bored?

Gratitude List (March 23, 2019) #TToT

This week was better than last week. Still, when I filled out a check-in questionnaire on an app called Pacifica, it said I scored as severely depressed. Well, apparently that’s my normal state.

Today, I am feeling pretty good. I want to share the things I’m grateful for, so I’m once again joining in with #TToT.

1. A full Monday at day activities. Like I mentioned last week, from this week on, I’ll be going to day activities three full days (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) plus Wednesday morning. I liked it on Monday afternoon.

2. Lorazepam. On Tuesday, I was pretty unquiet all day. Thankfully, I’d taken my PRN tranquilizer with me to day activities. I took it in the afternoon. At first, it just made me feel drowsy, but I eventually calmed down too.

3. Stuffed animals. I spent some time Tuesday afternoon at another group at day activities, where I tried to relax in a recliner. They have a large stuffed dog, which I was allowed to hold.

Also, last Thursday before leaving for work at 5AM, my husband covered me in stuffed animals as I went back to sleep. That’s so awesome!

4. Two long walks with my support coordinator. On both Wednesday and Thursday, we took an hour-long walk.

5. Yoga. On Thursday, I tried to do some yoga on my bed, because I couldn’t find my yoga mat. Turned out it had disintegrated and my husband had thrown it out. I ordered a new yoga mat on Thursday, which arrived at my in-laws on Friday. I picked it up today and it is great. It is not as thick as the one I used to have, but thick enough at 1.5cm. I tried some yoga again today.

6. Mindfulness apps. I tried meditating regularly using Insight Timer this week. It was good. I also, like I said, got an app called Pacifica, which helps me track my mood and health habits. I like it.

7. Beautiful weather yesterday. The temperature reached 19 degrees Celsius, which meant we could have coffee outside in the afternoon at day activities. The staff also put up the cocoon swing, which I always love.

8. Sleep. Yesterday, I was feeling exhausted and had a headache. My husband noticed an dtold me to go to bed. I slept for over twelve hours last night. Though my quality of sleep could be better, since I snore awfully, I feel okay now energy-wise.

What are you grateful for?

#IWSG: Finding My Voice

Today, it is once again time to share our thoughts with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG). The optional question assigned for this month is to write about from whose perspective you like to write best. Since I rarely write fiction nowadays, my answer is simple: my own.

I didn’t do much blogging in the past month. Part of the reason is the need to remain silent about some recent occurrences in my life. This means some diary-style writing is out of the question right now. Unless, that is, I do it offline.

Which brings me to the fact that I rediscovered Dyrii, an app on my iPhone and now on my Mac too, which you can use for keeping a journal. It still needs a little getting used to on my part, but overall, I like it. It helps me find my voice again, even if it isn’t in public.

I seem to have been able to write some more again in the past week. It feels good. I always feel good when I write.

I am also seriously thinking of starting up my fiction writing again, even though I am told that it generally lacks imaginativeness. I will see if tomorrow, which is my day off from day activities, I can write some fictional piece again.

In other news, I got myself the Dictionary.com app on my iPhone. I am loving looking up new words and idioms. As you might know, English is my second language and half the words that I come across in word-of-the-day challenges, I do not know the meaning of. I’m told this isn’t so unusual and that I’d benefit more from learning idioms rather than vocabulary. I don’t care. It’s cool to learn either way.

My New Mac: First Impressions

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s prompts for this week is to write about your most recent purchase. I don’t know what counts as a purchase, but I really want to write about my Mac, which I bought two weeks ago.

I started writing this post on my new Mac. It’s new to me, but it’s the MacBook Air 2017, so I didn’t expect it to be all that advanced. I also didn’t expect to use it much for the first while. I mean, even after fully installing my current Windows PC in July of 2014, it took me two weeks before I started using it and only because I had spilled tea over my old one. Each new version of Windows required me a lot of learning, so I expected that even more with my Mac.

My husband installed it last Saturday evening. I started exploring it and, within an hour, my husband asked whether I could browse the Internet yet. Safari is one of the clunkier apps on the Mac, so I wasn’t expecting it to work. That evening though, I was reading blogs and commenting using my WordPress account. Apparently, I had figured out some basic web browsing on Safari.

The next day, I explored the Mac further and was blissfully unaware of my incompetence with it. That awareness came Monday, when I couldn’t figure out Facebook or WordPress.com. In the evening, my husband tried to make the mail app work with my self-hosted E-mail account (is that what it’s called?). IMAP wouldn’t work, which caused me to melt down. I said I was going to buy a Windows PC the next day and go back to that. Thankfully, my husband talked me out of making any impulsive decisions.

The last few days have been better. I can more or less work any website that isn’t too chaotic, including Facebook. I finally figured out WordPress yesterday too, although I still prefer to type my blog posts on the iPhone.

Today, I spent my time on the Mac figuring out Apple Music. I have a Spotify premium subscription, but for some reason (them being competitors, I guess), Spotify isn’t available in the app store, or at least I couldn’t find it. I didn’t use to like iTunes on the PC, but so far, Apple Music is good on both iPhone and Mac.

I also decided to put my documents on my Mac. I rarely use offline documents nowadays, but I don’t want to lose them either. I have diaries dating back to like 1999 in my documents. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Dropbox in the app store either, so I had to retrieve my docs from my external hard drive. That’s a lot easier anyway.

I haven’t installed many apps yet. The only apps I installed so far, that aren’t recommended by Apple, are Kindle and ReadKit. I am not using either yet, because Kindle has a visual-only CAPTCHA to register and I would like to sync ReadKit with a feed reader that also syncs to the app I use on my phone. The most sensible choice for that is Feedly, but I have over 100 feeds I’m subscribed to and then a subscription costs like $65 a year. Maybe I could try Feedly with just a few feeds though to see if it works well with ReadKit and if I can use ReadKit like I want to.

As regular readers know, I am blind and so I use a screen reader. One of the main reasons I chose a Mac over another PC, is that the Mac has a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver. I had read up a lot about accessibility before buying the Mac, but there wasn’t much out there about Braille displays, which I use most of the time. Thankfully though, except for the login screen, everything works fine with my Focus Braille display.

There are also a ton of keyboard shortcuts, both general and VoiceOver-based. I love that, but it is a learning curve. For example, when copying my files from my external hard drive to my Mac, I kept trying to press Enter to open the folders and then realized I had to press Command+O. I also keep trying to press Shift+F10 to open a context menu. I don’t know whether there isn’t such a thing or I haven’t figured it out yet.

This review may seem a bit negative, but it isn’t intended as such. Overall, my Mac is definitely useful. I’m pretty sure I’ll get used to it eventually.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Gratitude List (November 30, 2018) #TToT

It’s Friday again! I am not a big fan of the week-end, but I like Fridays nonetheless. I don’t relly know why. Maybe it’s just that they’re blue in my mind’s eye’s synesthetic perception and blue is my favorite color. Who knows?

Friday also means it’s time to link up with #TToT again. Here are the things I’ve been thankful for this past week.

1. Tarot apps. I don’t really believe in the spiritual basis of tarot, but I wanted to learn it anyway to use as a thought-starter. I read up about it on some blogs, but didn’t know how to make it work for myself, as I, being blind, cannot use real tarot cards. After looking for a while though, I found some accessible-with-VoiceOver tarot apps. Of course, I still miss out on the visual aspects, but I can still reflect on the card meanings.

2. Gratitude journaling. Okay, yeah, I am doing this now, but I also have been doing it in an iPhone app this past week. I couldn’t manage to do it daily, but I managed two tims since installing the app on Monday. It does help me.

3. Yet another extra afternoon at day activities. This was just once though. Because my support coordinator was off sick and my support worker or mother-in-law couldn’t come either, the staff got the manager’s permission to let me stay at day activities on Wednesday afternoon. It was really nice.

4. Horseback riding with my mother-in-law. My support worker couldn’t come on Thursday to go riding with me, but my mother-in-law could. It was a lot of fun.

5. Dinner with my in-laws. Alos yesterday, I decided on a whim to go have dinner with my in-laws. I was scared my husband would be mad with me for it, but thankfully he wasn’t. We ate delicious macaroni.

6. My fabulous husband. Need I say more? I just love him.

7. Good food. My husband has been experimenting with healthier food choices. On Tuesday, he made zucchini noodles. When on Wednesday he made rutabaga (Swedish turnip) fries, I was a little suspicious. However, I liked it.

8. A lie-in on Thursday. I didn’t have anything to do except for horseback riding at 4:30, so I slept in till 11AM. I also listened to some relaxing music in bed.

9. Relaxing in the snoezelen (sensory) room. On Tuesday, I took my phone into the sensory room with me and listened to whale sounds and music while lying on the water bed. I also took time to relax in the sensory room on Wednesday morning.

10. Chatting to a former nurse. Yesterday, a former nurse from the acute psychiatric ward I spent sixteen long months on in 2007-2009, sent me a text message. It wasn’t intended for me, so I told him who I was and that he probably had texted the wrong Astrid. He started chatting to me anyway. I don’t have a lot of memories of that time, but I did remember him.

What have you been thankful for this past week?