Activities I Do When I’m Alone

I have been struggling more with alone time and the fear of being left to my own resources lately. For this reason, Carol Anne of Therapy Bits’ question yesterday comes at the right time. She asks what things we like to do when we’re alone.
Here’s a list of things I can do by myself.

1. Go online. I can read other people’s blog posts, be it in my feed reader or through link parties.

I can also go on Facebook and other social media. I don’t personally use Twitter, Instagram etc. much at this point, but I still like to scroll through it.

I also recently developed an interest in watching YouTube videos in the areas of crafting and faith.

2. Read. The only goal I set for myself this year that I truly, definitely haven’t reached, is my reading goal. I’ve so far only finished six books out of my goal of 20. That being said, I do like to read the occasional short story or chapter in a self-help book.

3. Write. I am currently on an eight-day streak with this blog (including this post). I can also write in my private diary, for which I use an app called Day One. I use this app for freewrites and gratitude lists too.

4. Pray and read my Bible. I sometimes slack out on my Bible reading a little, opening the app and only reading the verse of the dday. Today, I did pretty well, having actually finished a plan I had been doing for a while and also having read up some in the book of Judges (because someone I follow mentioned a verse from there).

Besides filling my time, Bible study and prayer will bring me closer to God and will hopefully make me realize that I am never truly alone, even when I am physically alone. I am also never left to my own resources, even if it feels that way.

5. Listen to music and dance. The word “dance” should really be put between scare quotes, since my sense of rhythm is nonexistent. However, I enjoy listening to country, southern rock and contemporary Christian music while moving.

In addition, I also like to listen to calming music while lying in bed. Then, I prefer nature sounds and harp, guitar or piano music. I also occasionally listen to contemporary Christian music when I’m neither resting nor dancing. Then, I’m digesting the lyrics.

Do you struggle with alone time? What activities do you do when you’re alone?

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Why I Write What I Write #OpenBook

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” – Flannery O’Connor

Yesterday, I read Stevie Turner’s post for the Open Book Blog Hop and the topic really struck a chord, as did the accompanying quote, which I copied above. The question Stevie poses for this week’s hop is why we write what we write.

I mostly write personal essays, journal entries and other works of autobiographical nonfiction. It may surprise you that I didn’t start out this way. As a child, I wrote fiction more than I wrote diaries. I wasn’t too imaginative, but I tried my best and my parents and teachers were pretty impressed. I always wanted to be a writer.

I started writing a regular diary when I was thirteen. About nine months later, I read Anne Frank’s diary and pretty quickly decided I wanted my diaries published when I’d grow up. That never happened and isn’t going to happen either, not even here, since my crazy ramblings of the time are none of my current day readers’ business. It was 2000 at the time, so online diaries already existed, but I was unaware of their existence.

I continued to write some fiction on a semi-regular basis and aspire to get at least some pieces of fiction published at some point until my late teens or early twenties. Now, I don’t have any aspirations for getting any fiction published.

As for why I write what I write, there are two main reasons. The first is to express myself. I revived this specific blog in 2018 in an attempt to allow myself to write more from the heart than I was permitting myself to do on my old blog.

As an offshoot from the wish to express myself comes the wish to find likeminded individuals. I blog in English because the English-language blogosphere on WordPress and Blogger is much larger and by extension more diverse than the Dutch one, which consists primarily of wannabe “influencers”. Through my writing, I aim to connect to people who share similar experiences to mine.

With respect to my fiction, this has always been the goal of my writing, really, too. My fiction always had very strong autobiographical components and I was looking to diversify young adult fiction. I am sometimes surprised at how well-represented people in minority positions, including multiple minorities, are in fiction nowadays. As a teen, my goal was to be part of that movement. I guess by merely writing openly about my experiences online, even though I’m no longer engaged in activism, I may be doing this.

#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.

Outdoor Activities I Enjoy

The book 412 Journaling Exercises and Prompts for Personal Growth by Meredith Lane contains, in addition to a wealth of assorted journaling prompts, also a number of “list of twenty” prompts. One of these is outdoor activities you enjoy. Right now, the weather outside is frightful: cloudy, windy, rainy and even a bit snowy. It’s April though and the weather has to get better someday soon. For when it does, let me share some of my favorite outdoor activities.

1. Walking. This is a no-brainer to anyone who’s read some of my blog before. I love love love walking and will even go for some walks in light rain occasionally.

2. Sunbathing. Or rather, just sitting in the sun. I don’t really sunbathe that much, but I do love to sit in the sunshine sometimes.

3. Swinging. At the day center, there is a rocking lounger outside of the door of my pre-lockdown group. I’ve also heard there are sets of swings in front of some of the other homes. At my former day centers, I loved to sit on a swing outside and swing about.

4. Listening to birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing and chirp when I’m walking or sitting outside. I have absolutely no birdsong recognition skill whatsoever, but the mere sound of the different birds is pure bliss.

5. Meeting people from other care homes. This is mostly due to lockdown, as I used to be able to speak to other clients at the day center. Now we have to meet outside. I love talking to my acquaintances from other homes.

6. Swimming. Mostly in the outdoor pool, that is. Oh, how I wish I would be allowed into them again. I’ve heard some outdoor swimming pools have opened to a limited number of swimmers, but then still I won’t be able to go yet. I don’t really like swimming in a lake as much.

7. Barbecueing. Oh, how I love all the barbecue meat. Truly, if you ask me, salads are just a necessary evil. No, not really, but I am a true carnivore when it comes to barbecueing.

8. Enjoying a picnic. Although I struggle not to make a mess when not seated at a table. I try to think that’s not a problem though.

9. Feeling the wind blow through my hair. I don’t really like windy weather like today, but I do love to feel a slight breeze on my face and through my hair.

10. Campfires. Mostly for the marshmallows, that is. I don’t particularly care for the smoky scent and feel of a campfire, but it definitely adds to a cozy atmosphere.

Okay, I’m not going to get to twenty, but this was definitely fun to try.

What are your favorite outdoor activities?

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with #SeniSal.

Journal #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

Journaling is one of my favorite activities. That being said, I’ve taken forever to find the right means of doing it. I tried a regular Word document, at least twenty apps on my iPhone and a couple on my PC too. In fact, at one point I spent $100 on an app that didn’t even work.

I currently use an app called Day One on my iPhone. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can get so far. That is, at one point there was an app called Dyrii that was better, but they went into maintenance mode and at the last update, messed things up pretty bad.

In addition to journaling, I love to collect journaling prompts. I probably have about twenty collections of journaling prompts in my various book apps and on my PC. I don’t use prompts as much as I’d like, but just the thought of having them at hand is helpful. It may be a kind of autistic perseveration, but oh well.

In Day One, I have four different journals righ tnow. One is a general journal that I rarely update. The second is specifically for my alters to journal their thoughts. The third is a prompt-based journal and the fourth is a gratitude journal.

Just yesterday, I thought of starting another one, specifically for chronicling my recovery from compulsive overeating. I also may want to start a quote-based journal. I so far decided against either of these, but Day One allows unlimited journals if you have the Premium version. Which I’ve had a couple of times but each time deactivated again. I’m pretty sure I’ll keep the Premium subscription now though.

This post was written for #SoCS, for which the prompt today is “Jour”.

Life Challenges I’ve Overcome

Earlier today, I saw Emilia’s post about challenging life lessons. It was based on a prompt from Listify. I have this book too and thought it’s an interesting prompt indeed. It asks us to list the challenges we’ve overcome in life and explain what life lessons we’ve learned from them. Here goes.

1. I spent the first three months of my life in the hospital. I was born prematurely and had to be in the incubator and on a ventilator for several weeks. Then I spent the remaining time I should’ve been in the womb in hospital. Of course, I can’t remember this at all, but it might’ve caused some early attachment issues.

2. I lost my vision. Okay, I was born legally blind, but still relied on my vision quite a bit until I was around twelve. All official documents say that I lost what little vision I did have at the age of eight, because that was when my parents and doctor decided not to pursue further sight-saving treatment. In truth, though right now I consider myself totally blind, I still have light perception in one eye and had it in both eyes until at least age nineteen. At that interesting age of eight, I still had about 20/1000 vision. Yes, I was considered functionally blind. That’s how sighted people look at it. However, when I attended the rehabilitation center for the blind in 2005, I was told by someone who’d gone from fully sighted to totally blind, that losing the last bit of residual vision was harder than losing most of the sight he’d had before.

3. I endured childhood trauma. I wrote some about this before, but I don’t know whether my family reads this blog, so I won’t go into detail right now. It mostly boils down to my parents not having a clue how to raise a multiply-disabled child and as a result being pretty harsh. None of the trauma I endured was severe, but the long-term nature of it still means I have significant complex PTSD symptoms.

4. I was bullied. At the school for the blind as well as the mainstream school I attended, I was regularly bullied by my peers. It didn’t help that my teachers and parents more or less blamed me for the bullying. I was too nerdy, too socially awkward, too dependent, too much and not enough.

5. I endured some medical trauma. Well, I’m not 100% sure of this being genuinely traumatic, but I certainly endured a lot of hospital stays, surgeries, etc. Most times, the doctors and nurses were really caring. A few times, they were ignorant. For example, when I had my wisdoom teeth extracted in 2010, the medical staff almost didn’t put a sheet over my face because “she’s blind anyway”.

6. I experienced long-term psychiatric hospitalization. I’m realizing more and more how much of an impact this has on me. With my not having felt safe with my parents at least some of my life, and me having been more or less in temporary placements most of my adult life, I’ve never felt that I can be safe anywhere. As a result, I’m constantly challenging my current staff, believing they’ll kick me out of here anyway.

7. I survived two medication overdoses. Both happened in 2017 and I wasn’t really suicidal at the time, but I wasn’t coping either. I never actually realized how things could’ve gone until my mother-in-law told me after my second overdose that the medical staff had asked me whether I wanted to be resuscitated should it come to that. I can’t remember the question or what I said. Both of these made me realize that I needed more help than I was getting at the time. At the time, unfortunately, I had a rather unsupportive psychiatric treatment team, who were very much focused on my independence. As a result, it took me a year from my second overdose to be truly honest that I needed long-term care.

My All-Time Favorite Food

I was feeling a little down on Sunday, so I checked out the gratitude section of the book Journaling With Lisa Shea. This is really a collection of ten 32-day guided journals and an introduction to journaling. I bought the entire thing for a deal price on Amazon several years ago.

I already covered some topics from this section before, but one I didn’t write about is my favorite food. The prompt asks me to recall what favorite food makes me brim with joy and sigh with delight. It goes on to ask whether I can remember eating it for the first time.

Well, my all-time favorite food has to be Domino’s pizza! I am not 100% sure whether this was the first time I ever had it, but I think it was. It was sometime in late 2010 or early 2011. My husband, then still my fiancé, lived in student accommodation in Kampen, where he studied theology. His studio was real close to the train station, the river IJssel, and several snack corners and fast food restaurants. Including Domino’s.

I can’t remember which pizza I took that first time. It might’ve been during my six months or so of trying to pass as a vegetarian to my fiancé, who was a vegetarian at the time. I might also have taken one of their chicken pizzas. I think I did that. I probably also chose red peppers as an extra topping, as I was and still am a lover of very spicy food.

Nowadays, I almost always choose a chicken kebab pizza, but I think they didn’t have that one back then. I also always look at the new and noteworthy category, because sometimes they have truly delicious pizzas. I particularly remember one called something like Chicken Zanzibar, which had a piri-piri swirl on it. I topped it off with extra red peppers. Since I took a large pizza and didn’t have the monstrous appetite I’d expected, I left my husband a slice. He pretty soon texted me with a list of swear words about how spicy the pizza had been. Even thinking back to that makes me laugh.

#IWSG: The Form Will Find Me?

IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and regular readers know what this means: it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) posting day.

Well, let me say I’m pretty insecure indeed. I did pretty well on the blogging front this past month, but I always dream bigger than I actually live. I mean, I remember saying about four years ago that, within the next five years, I’d like to write my memoir and yet there’s not a single word down on the page. That plus I haven’t a clue where to start. Stories or pieces of non-fiction would flow so easily when I was younger. I have one work in progress that could’ve turned into a young adult novel if I’d just had the willpower to finish it. Not saying it’d be published – it certainly wouldn’t, as it’s rather unoriginal -, but well.

I keep remembering that Stephen King quote in DIY MFA about how you need to write 2000 words a day. I know, the author said this isn’t true, but I do need to write.

Thankfully, I do write. I got a premium subscription to Day One, a journaling app for iOS. Though I haven’t written in my journals everyday, I do find that the words come more easily already after a week of having it. As a result, I did write on my blog everyday for the past week. I really could use some guidance on how to transform my blogging practice into something more powerful.

Now on to the optional prompt question. It’s a quote that says that, although you may write in a certain genre, you don’t have to have that predetermined. Rather, the form or genre will find you once you write. I indeed must say I agree with this to some extent. Though I often set out to write in a specific form, my words don’t usually come out in that form eventually. Even if I do choose a genre in advance, my words often flow more easily when I let them rather than plan what I’m writing in advance.

Gratitude List (July 31, 2020) #TToT

It’s a hot Friday here and I have lots of things I could be writing about. I choose to do a positive post though and share my gratitude list for the past week or so. As always, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. Noodles. One of the day activities staff made those for us on Tuesday and one of the other clients helped her. He was so proud of himself! I loved the noodles with chicken and veggies and of course satay sauce. The staff had chosen the mild satay sauce rather than the spicy one, but I liked it anyway.

2. Going to the marketplace. On Wednesday, a day activities staff took me to the marketplace to get some fish for lunch. I also got a large waffle.

3. Day One. This is a journaling app for the iPhone (and Mac). I finally got the premium subscription to Day One and am loving making a daily habit out of journaling. Because I have the premium subscription, I can also E-mail my journal, so if I write something on an E-mail list, I can later send the same message to my journal easily.

4. My blog. It turned two on Saturday. Though I haven’t been as active lately with regards to reading other blogs and for this reason, didn’t get the engagement I’d like on my blog either, I still love it. I do need to make a note to myself to check whether comments are enabled on my posts before publishing them, because WordPress seems to have pulled the trick of disabling comments at random once again.

5. The weather. It’s been pretty good all week. Today it’s a little hot for my liking, but it’s still bearable.

6. AC in the living rooms. Some company came to install it on Monday or Tuesday. Some other clients, whose rooms get particularly hot, also got AC installed in their rooms.

7. Walking. I managed at least two walks each day. Some days I didn’t feel like going for walks, but I managed to kick myself in the butt anyway.

8. Having some energy back. I was really low on energy early in the week. One night, I even went to bed at like 8:30PM. Thankfully, I’m pretty alert now, though I can’t for the life of me remember when exactly some things happened, like you may be noticing.

9. Speaking to my husband on the phone. He’s so lovely! He said half-jokingly that he’d look at my blog to see the keychain I’d made for him, as he hasn’t seen me in real life since I made it. Then we got talking about whether he reads my blog and whether I write about him a lot.

10. Reading. I am loving reading foster care memoirs again.

What have you been grateful for lately?