Gratitude List (November 21, 2020) #TToT

It’s been forever since I last did a gratitude list. I just checked and it’s been five weeks. These weeks have been incredibly hard. I am really struggling to stay positive. I am going to try to come up with some gratefuls anyway. As usual, I’m joining in with #TToT. I’m typing this post on my iPhone, which I hardly ever do nowadays, so sorry for any typing glitches.

1. My husband! Even with our not living together and only talking on the phone most days, he tells me many times a day that he loves me. I am struggling to feel such a powerful emotion due to my current state of depression, but I’m trying to love him back.

2. My faith. My husband, who I always thought was a strong atheist since leaving theology school, has taken a renewed interest in Christianity and this has encouraged me. Today, he recommended a book called You Are Beloved. I am a very progressive believer, but I’ll definitely give this book a try.

3. My staff. They have been so kind to me despite my challenging behavior.

4. My community psychiatric nurse. She has been very helpful.

5. Pizza. Okay, on to the superficial stuff. My husband and I ordered a delicious pizza today. No, not from Domino’s and I must say this one is better!

6. Cheesecake. Two of my fellow clients had their birthdays this past week and another client got to help the staff make cheesecake.

7. Homemade noodles. That same client made those for us on Monday. He used minced meat instead of chicken, but still it was so delicious.

8. Lots of walking. So far this week, I nearly surpassed my step record from last week. I didn’t get in as many minutes in active heartrate zones, but that’s okay.

9. The ability to write and blog. I am not writing as much as I’d like, but at least I’m still writing.

10. A good night’s sleep last night. And yay for no nightmares that I can remember!

What have you been grateful for?

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.

Gratitude List (October 17, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone! I hope you’re doing well. I am feeling okay. I’m not sure I’ll continue with the #Blogtober20 prompts, but I will attempt to publish a post everyday anyway. That’s a way of participating in the challenge too. Today, I am writing a gratitude list. As always, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. I am grateful I am alive. Last week, I was in a major crisis. Though I most likely would’ve survived the attempt at harming myself I was intending on, I am so grateful I didn’t harm myself at all.

2. I am grateful for my staff. They’ve been so nice and helpful lately. They aren’t mental health professionals, but they do a great job of helping me understand why I’m feeling overloaded or anxious.

3. I am grateful that my husband supports me through it all. Like I said last week, I was afraid he’d be frustrated with me for landing in crisis. I am so glad that he didn’t react with irritation at all, even though I’d have understood.

4. I had some delicious treats over the week. On Tuesday, a staff gave us cheesecake for her birthday. There was still some left over on Wednesday too. We also got banana bread then. Then on Friday, we had delicious home-cooked chicken with curry and mayonaise. Today we had homemade chicken and sausage rolls.

5. My mother-in-law visited me on Thursday. We went for a walk and drank a cup of coffee in my room. She also brought me a new bra.

6. I am happy with my new Fitbit Inspire 2. I ordered it on Thursday and it arrived Friday early afternoon. I am loving seeing all my stats in the Fitbit app. For example, yesterday I got 56 minutes in active heartrate zones, all in the fat burning zone of course. I doubt I’ll be able to get into the cardio or peak zone at all.

The tracker itself takes some getting used to, since it has a touch screen, which I can’t see. I keep accidentally turning Do Not Disturb on.

7. I am grateful for relatively good food for dinner. As of last month, I am allowed to choose between a selection of meals for dinner. Before this, I had to turn off foods I didn’t like. This got pretty complicated. For example, I’d say I didn’t like beans because otherwise I’d get them with just potatoes and meat and no sauce. However, turning off beans would turn off chilli too. This led to me occasionally getting just rice, for example. Now I still occasionally get a meal I haven’t picked, but that’s okay too.

8. I am grateful for macrogol. And for apples and other fiber-rich foods. I had been constipated for a bit early in the week, which led to bad bowel cramps. Thankfully, I feel much better now.

9. I am grateful the partial lockdown we’re in right now doesn’t lead to a no-visitors policy in care facilities as of yet. I am grateful I am still allowed to go home to my husband.

10. I am grateful for the ability to be grateful. I started a daily gratitude journal in the app Day One on Wednesday. I did so because I downloaded a free book on gratitude off Amazon and the first exercise is to jot down three things you’re grateful for each evening for a week. It truly helps me so far, as without my gratitude journal to look back on, I may not have been able to get to ten things of thankful.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Lovin’ Lately (October 9, 2020) #Blogtober20

Okay, I’m once again pretty late writing a post. I’m seriously uninspired today. The #Blogtober20 prompt for today, “Imagine”, didn’t evoke anything in me. Since the prompts are optional, I could of course do a gratitude list or lovin’ lately post. That at first didn’t feel good with the challenge, as I wanted to write originally for the challenge, but so what? Sharing my likes and loves might bring you joy! Today, let me share the things that I’ve loved lately and that bring me joy.

1. The weighted blanket. I already mentioned it a few times this past week but yesterday, it was decided that I can keep it. My care facility is paying for it. I am very happy about this.

2. Yet more essential oils. On Tuesday, some new oils arrived, including cinnamon, clove, lemon and orange. I now have over 20 different oils and can make a lot of lovely blends. Right now, I’m diffusing a Christmassy blend of cinnamon, patchouli, clove, orange and ylang ylang. I am completely in love with the most recent additions to my oil collection!

3. Soap making. I love to make melt and pour soap. On Monday, a staff asked me to make one for a relative of hers. I got down to making it on Tuesday right away. She had requested rose fragrance, so I decided to also try out my red mica colorant. Because you only need a tiny amount of it, I decided to make two soaps: one for the relative and one for the staff herself. The butterfly is for the relative and the square one for the staff. In case it isn’t readable, the square one has “100% hand made” written on it.

4. Free and cheap books. I cannot remember who it was, but a fellow #Blogtober20 participant shared some tips on getting free or cheap books legally a few days ago. One of them was BookBub. It’s a U.S.-based (and maybe UK-based too) site that collects book deals from the main book retailers, such as Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, etc. It sends out a daily E-mail with that day’s deals. Through BookBub, I found quite a few interesting books.

Of course, since I’m in the Netherlands, I got an error once trying to download a free book from Amazon.com. However, I looked it up on Amazon.nl and it was free there too. The first one I got is a cozy mystery called Killer Cupcakes by Leighann Dobbs. It’s the first in a series, but if I’m correct, the books can be read as standalones too.

5. Products from The Body Shop. I must say I haven’t bought any yet, but I’ve been oohing and aahing at their advent calendar and their pumpkin vanilla product line too. I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy the pumpkin vanilla hand cream if it isn’t sold out already.

What things brought you joy lately?

#Blogtober20

Self-Care Strategies for Coping with Mental Health Issues #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt in #Blogtober20 is “She Drives Me Crazy”. Many bloggers are using the prompt to inspire posts on organization, decluttering and mental health. So am I.

I’m not feeling too well today. Yesterday, my inner voices started back up with a vengeance. This led to a mini-crisis in the middle of the night. Today I’m feeling a bit low. It may be to blame on my lack of proper sleep last night, or it might just be a bit of the seasonal blues. I hope not, of course.

Anyway, here are some things I do to cope with mental health issues. Some of these are specific to a certain problem, such as depression or anxiety. Others are more general wellbeing tips.

1. Proper sleep and rest. I’ve noticed that, when I don’t sleep well, my mental health goes downhill rapidly. For this reason, I’m trying to get into a better night-time routine. I still use my computer or phone before bed, which I probably shouldn’t do, but I don’t know what else to do in the evening.

I currently am in the process of trying out a weighted blanket, which really helps with relaxation. I mean, even if I don’t sleep, I do rest more when using this. I also use an app called MyNoise, which allows users to customize various mixes of nature sounds or other sensory-friendly sounds. You can set the individual volume for each sound within the mix and there are about 150 mixes to choose from if you have the paid version (which is a one-time purchase of I believe €10,99). Last night, I ultimately fell asleep listening to a soundscape called Patagonia.

I do usually take one hour-long nap during the day. Most days, if I stick to just that after-lunch nap, I sleep pretty well during the night and still feel refreshed the rest of the day.

2. Sensory-friendly activities. I already mentioned the weighted blanket and the MyNoise soundscapes. In addition, I often diffuse essential oil blends into my diffuser. Just today, some new oils arrived, so I’m excited to try them out soon.

3. Staying active. Today is a bad day weather-wise, as it’s been raining most of the day. Still, I managed to squeeze in a walk in the afternoon. I also made sure to stay active and do something in the morning. I made a soap. This is not physically exerting myself, but it definitely gives me joy.

It helps me to stick to a routine as much as possible. Like, I drink coffee in the morning and afternoon, eat my meals at regular times, and do an activity in the morning and afternoon too. I also usually go for a walk in the evening, but today it was raining and the staff were too busy.

4. Mindfulness. I haven’t practised that today, but I find it can help me stay grounded in the moment. I sometimes try a body scan meditation. I also for one love guided visualizations.

How do you take good care of yourself?

For those who are interested, last April, I participated in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge with the topic of self-care. If you click on the #AtoZChallenge tag in my tag cloud, you’ll find a lot of information.

#Blogtober20

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

Gratitude List (October 2, 2020) #TToT

I already published a post today, but I want to write more. I originally tried to write this post using the dreaded block editor, because I’ve heard it’s being forced onto WordPress bloggers more and more. I however for the life of me couldn’t properly link back to the Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) page I’m joining in with. Here is my gratitude list, starting with…

1. The WordPress block editor not being fully forced onto me yet. On both PC and iOS, WP is trying to coerce me into using the block editor in all kinds of ways, but so far, I’ve found a workaround on both. I can only guess how long this is going to last, but I’ll keep using the classic editor at least for posts like this one for as long as possible.

After all, one issue I’ve found is that the block editor won’t let me write lists without converting them to HTML numbered lists, which seems to mean I can’t write multiple-paragraph list items like this one. I also greatly struggle with adding links, like I said. So, anyway, I’m grateful I can still use the classic editor.

2. A fries and snack vendor came by the facility on Sunday. It was a staff’s last shift before retirement, so she wanted to do something special. Another home had asked the snack vendor to visit us, so we decided to tag along. I had tons of fries and two snacks.

3. My mood being pretty good. Except when I was muddling with the block editor, that is. Overall, I feel pretty relaxed lately.

I am also so grateful that depression hasn’t sunk in as of yet. I often start feeling depressed by late September or early October. November is usually the worst. Let’s hope I can skip it this year.

4. Lots of engagement on my blog. I attribute this partly to #Blogtober20, but I’m also more able to interact with other bloggers and they engage with me in return.

5. Interesting journaling prompts. I got a subscription to Journey, a multi-platform diary app. I cannot really use the app, but I love to benefit from the prompts.

6. Relatively good weather. Yesterday was a pretty rainy day, but the rest of the week has been pretty much okay for fall.

7. My creative juices flowing. And my ability to handle failure if what I had in mind doesn’t turn out the way I imagined it. I mean, I’ve been trying to make my own air-dry modeling clay using baking soda, corn starch and water, but I probably used way too much water. I ordered new baking soda and will try again next week. This did give me an excuse to order new essential oils too, as those are sold at the same store.

That’s it for now. What have you been grateful for?

Activities I Enjoyed As a Child

Hi everyone! How are you doing? For today, I have a rather joyful post. I’m going to share stuff I enjoyed doing as a child. I mean, I didn’t have the best of childhoods, but there were definitely things I enjoyed. Here is a list of activities I liked as a child, and some I still do.

1. Listening to cassette tapes. At around age five, my parents got me a subscription to the Dutch audio magazine for blind children. It was on cassette tape at the time. It lasted only an hour and was sent out every three weeks, but I still loved listening to it. I also loved listening to old editions. Back then, you had to return the cassette tapes after listening, but you could also send a guilder with the empty case and a note saying you kept the magazine. I did this almost with every edition and listened to a lot of them repeatedly.

My parents got me a subscription for the magazine for blind preteens for my tenth birthday and I started subscribing to the one for teens at age twelve. I had that one for about ten years I believe.

I also loved listening to audiobooks. I hated reading Braille books, but really loved the cassette taped books.

2. Playing with dolls. I had a favorite doll, Roza (it was really spelled with a Z). I got her for my third birthday from my grandma, who had bought it on a trip to Berlin. Roza had blond hair and light skin color. My sister’s favorite doll was called Marijke and she was dark-skinned with black hair. We often played that the dolls came from Suriname and went back there on vacation.

3. PlayMobil®. I started playing with PlayMobil® at around age three. Back then, I had three favorite figures, whom I called Pekel, Laren and Foet, none of which are actual Dutch names. These figures did normal everyday stuff like eating, going to the toilet, etc.

When I got older, I played more complicated games. At one point, when I was around eleven, I had two Native American figures whom I called Ingassa and Maranna. My sister played with these figures, while I played with a red-haired figure called Pippi. We said that Ingassa and Maranna were originally from Costa Rica and we again played that we were going back there. Okay, I sound real racist right now with all my stereotyped games.

4. Playing outside. When I still lived in Rotterdam, we had a sandpit that my father had built. It was made of wood which hadn’t been varnished I think, as it was often moldy. I loved playing in it.

We also had a set of swings. I loved those! In Apeldoorn, we got a large set of playing equipment from our grandma. It included a rope, a horizontal bar to bend over and also swings. Until I was at least thirteen, I spent a lot of time on the swings. At the day center, we have a set of indoor swings and I love them, even though I get dizzy quickly going on them.

What activities did you enjoy as a child?

Gratitude List (September 18, 2020) #TToT

It’s Friday, yay! It’s the Friday there are no day activities, so I spent most of my morning and part of the afternoon in bed. I’m feeling a bit tired and down in the dumps, so I thought I’d do a gratitude list. As always, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. The weather. Early in the week, the temperatures reached over 30 degrees Celsius. I loved being able to wear a skirt for what might be one of the last days this year.

2. Going for walks. I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day three times this week.

3. The scenery. I cannot fully enjoy it, of course, as I’m blind, but I do appreciate it.

Scenery

4. Taking pictures with my phone. I, of course, needed some help taking them and still needed to delete several because my finger was showing. However, I loved the ability to do it. I’m still not planning on following the rule of a picture with every post, as that just won’t work for me.

5. The sensory garden. I spent some time in it on Tuesday afternoon. I loved smelling the rosemary. Sadly, the lavender had already stopped flowering. I also loved listening to the little stream of water.

Sensory Garden

6. Wraps. We made those for lunch on Thursday and I loved them. I had three of them. We had them filled with chicken, lettuce, cucumber and red pesto.

7. Soap making, of course. I loved being inspired to make some soaps again and am planning on making more. One of the staff is retiring next week, so I’ll make one for her.

8. My essential oil diffuser. Okay, its buttons are almost stuck, but not completely, so I can still use it. Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I diffused a store-bought essential oil blend called Sweet Dreams into it. I am already on the lookout for a new diffuser in case this one stops working altogether. I also have been looking at recipes to make my own blends.

9. Special interests. And people who listen to me perseverating about them. My current special interest is, of course, soap making and aromatherapy. I have been loving telling a new staff, who will be replacing the retiring staff, all about how to make soap, lip balm, essential oil blends and such.

10. My husband, of course. It’s our ninth wedding anniversary tomorrow, so how can I not mention him? I saw him over the week-end and will be seeing him again tomorrow.

What are you grateful for?

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?