Gratitude List (April 29, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I am feeling a bit meh today. I don’t really feel like writing a gratitude list, but I do feel like writing something and I can’t think of anything else to write. For both of these reasons – to have something to write and to cheer myself up -, I am going to try to write a thankful list anyway. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for pizza today. Yes, again. Another staff is leaving and she wanted to give us pizza or pasta from the local Italian restaurant as a goodbye present.

2. I am grateful I was able to give the staff who’s leaving her present. I didn’t end up making something for her myself and initially wanted to stay in my room while the other staff gave the presents to this staff, but I am grateful I decided to go and give her one of the gifts the other staff had bought on behalf of us clients.

3. I am grateful for quiet time to write. It’s now nearly 9PM and between 6PM and 7PM, a guy from the home next door was blasting his music on top volume. Even with noise canceling headphones (unfortunately still the ones I have on loan) on, I still could hear the music clearly. I’m so glad it’s quieted down now.

4. I am grateful for a good phone talk with my mother-in-law on Wednesday. I was able to tell her I’m going to discuss entering the process of finding another care home. To my surprise and gratitude, she fully supports me.

5. I am grateful for a nice phone call with my mother on her birthday yesterday. I obviously didn’t tell her I’ll be looking for another care home. We made some smalltalk and it was okay.

6. I am grateful for sleep. Despite feeling quite on edge lately due to a lot of issues, I am sleeping relatively well.

7. I am grateful to have been able to go to the day center for a considerable time twice this week.

8. I am grateful for funny stories to listen to on YouTube. There is a Dutch children’s book author called Jacques Vriens who read his own stories aloud on YouTube. There are also English-language YouTube channels for children’s stories, which I also love, but Jacques Vriens is a childhood favorite of mine.

9. I am grateful I was able to go onto the large trampoline on Wednesday. It was great fun!

10. I am grateful to be relatively financially secure. I won’t go into detail here, but I am just happy my husband and I can handle a little financial setback.

What are you grateful for?

Ten Things I Love About Spring

Hi everyone. It’s the first day of spring, so what better day than today to share my favorite things about spring? Granted, I didn’t come up with this idea myself, but found it in a list of journaling prompts. Here goes.

1. The flowers. Yesterday, I came across a spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum). I love the many other spring flowers, including daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses, etc.

Spring Snowflake

2. The sunshine. When it’s sunny on a spring day, it’s not so sunny that I will get very easily sunburned. Not that I get sunburned easily anyway, and I do make sure to use a facial cream with sunscreen when going out in spring too. However, I really like the spring sunshine more than winter’s or summer’s sunshine.

3. The temperatures. This week, we get really great spring weather, with temperatures rising to about 18°C. I love this. It usually gets like this even more often in April and May and may even get warmer, which I like more. My ideal daytime temperature is about 22°C.

4. The birdsong. I really love to hear the birds sing in spring! I of course can listen to birdsong on Spotify too, but the real thing is much better.

5. My mood usually being better. I know that spring fatigue is a form of seasonal affective disorder, but I don’t suffer from it. In fact, my mood tends to improve in spring.

6. The smells. Of course, this is related to the flowers, as most spring-related scents are floral. I really love the smell of hyacinths in particular.

7. The fact that sunset is still early enough that I can go outside close to it to take pictures. I recently learned that taking pictures outdoors at midday will make the pictures look bad due to overexposure to sunlight, so I instead decided to go out to take pictures closer to sunset. (Sunrise, as regular readers of my blog will know, is way too early for my liking even in the middle of winter.) Now that it’s early spring, the sun sets at around 6:45PM, but when daylight saving time sets in this Sunday, that will be an hour later. In the middle of summer, I won’t be able to go out close to sunset because my one-on-one will have left, but in spring, I will still be able to.

8. Daylight saving time. This means longer days (for me). I already talked about the advantages of it for photography, but it also means I can have the curtains open longer and get daylight in.

9. Baby animals being born. And the cows at the nearby farm being released from their barn. It’s awesoome to watch farm animals in spring.

10. Extra money in May. For whatever weird reason, people on disability benefits, like those in regular employment, get holiday pay. This is deposited into my bank account in May. I usually have something in mind to spend it on (other than a vacation) months in advance. This year, I’m still undecided, but I really look forward to it.

What are your favorite things about spring?

Pocket Money Tales

Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is chores and allowances. Let me share my experiences.

Regarding chores, I could easily be short and sweet: no, I did not have any. Neither did my sister. We were raised with the expectation that we’d leave the house as soon as we graduated high school, but we were hardly taught any of the skills of independence, much less expected to contribute to the household on a regular basis. My sister was occasionally expected to do the dishes once she was about twelve or so. Same probably for me, but my parents quickly decided I took too long, didn’t do it right or made too much of a fuss over it, probably all three.

My sister, who’s non-disabled, somehow managed the skills of independence by observing my parents anyway. I, being blind and multiply-disabled, did not. When I left for the independence training home right after high school, I had virtually no skills necessary for living independently. I am forever grateful I persevered and decided to take this step rather than moving out on my own right away.

Regarding allowances, or pocket money as it was known in our family, the situation was a little more interesting. I got my first pocket money at age seven. I got one guilder a week. A few months later, I’d turn eight and my father promised me I’d get two guilders a week provided I’d stop leaving the lights on in my bedroom when I wasn’t there. The reason being that, if I no longer left the lights on, he would save on electricity and could give me more pocket money. I doubt it’d seriously make a difference of one guilder a week, but I’m not entirely sure he hadn’t possibly calculated it somehow. That’s how he is, after all.

That brings me to my next pocket money story, some eight years later.
I originally couldn’t remember whether we already used euros at the time. Not that it matters for the morale of the story, but I saw the official documentation relevant to this story and now know we already had euros. I must’ve been sixteen and was rather angry because my sister got a higher allowance than I’d gotten at her age, so I now wanted more too. At first, my parents got all defensive, calling me selfish because I was playing the “not fair” card. Then, after both of us at calmed down, my father asked me to write a budget of things I’d need pocket money for. If it was within reason, I’d get what I’d asked for.

I had asked for €10 a week. I created a budget (that’s the “official documentation” I referred to above!) fitting all my personal expenses, including candy, jewelry, memberships to the children’s choir and the political party I was a member of at the time, into this budget. Ultimately, my budget showed I needed €555,60 a year. When my father saw it, he commented that I’d been far too careful to try to fit my budget into what I’d demanded. I particularly remember him saying he couldn’t believe I’d just spend €2,50 a week on candy, for example. And I must admit he was right. My father told me that €100 a month was a more reasonable allowance and so it happened that I got more than twice the amount of pocket money I’d originally fought for!

Were you taught about budgeting as a child?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 14, 2022)

Hi everyone on this Friday afternoon. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had a glass of water and am going to have another one in half an hour or so. Maybe I’m going to ask for a Senseo or treat myself to a Dubbelfrisss, my favorite soft drink. I’m afraid we don’t have the diet variety though. Can I pour you a drink? Let’s have a cup of something and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, first I’d share that it’s not as cold as it was last week, but it’s still too cold for my liking. Daytime temps rose to about 7°C most of this week. I did go on one longer walk yesterday, to the supermarket to buy a card for my father. He’ll celebrate his 73rd birthday tomorrow. We also bought some veggies. Oh, and a croissant, because I felt like treating myself. I had just one for lunch instead of bread though. I just looked up how many calories are in one croissant and that’s about as much as in two slices of bread without toppings. Of course, bread contains less fat and sugar and more fiber, but so what?

If we were having coffee, I would go on to share about my dietitian’s appt this morning. It went pretty well. She didn’t admonish me for not wanting to lose the 13kg I need to lose to be at a healthy BMI. I do want to lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese though. More importantly, I want to eat relatively healthily and hopefully quiet the inner conflict about food.

The dietitian gave me some recommendations for healthy meal choices for breakfast and lunch. For example, she said I can have salad for lunch with croutons and a little chicken, tuna or salmon (that last one I don’t really like) occasionally rather than bread. I do need to make sure the staff take care of portion sizes, of course, because I’m pretty sure they’d otherwise throw the entire can of tuna into my salad. For breakfast, I am still allowed yoghurt with muesli, just not the crunchy kind. And thankfully, the muesli doesn’t need to be plain, it can include nuts or raisins or the like.

I did share my disappointment with her at only having lost 0.5kg over the past week when I stepped on the scale yesterday. The dietitian said that this is a pretty great result though.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I got my benefits payment slip last Monday and am grateful to report I will still get enough money that I can still spend some on fun things like polymer clay supplies or the like. I don’t know whether I shared this in my coffee share posts before, but my long-term care copay will automatically be withheld from my benefits. The copay is income-dependent and, because I’m married, my husband’s income is counted too. Then again, because I’m married, I do get to pay the so-called “low” copay because the government does take into account the responsibility I have for contributing to his household expenses too.

The copay is calculated based on our combined income from two years back, so 2020 for this year. Because my husband earned more money in 2020 than in 2019 and had a lot of tax deductibles in 2019, I was expecting a higher copay by at least €100 a month, but fearing it might be as much as €200 a month. Then again, I was hoping my benefits would also be raised a little. Long story short, my net income was cut by €82 a month. That’s a lot. I realize some people won’t be able to handle this, particularly people on benefits. I am so intensely grateful that I am relatively well off.

How have you been?

Grateful for a Life of Abundance

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6 NIV)

The above Bible verse was the verse of the day for today on YouVersion. It immediately spoke to me. Today also, the prompt word for #JusJoJan is “Abundance”.

a thing I realized when I read up on abundance, was how fortunate I am. I don’t have to worry about not having something to eat tomorrow. I don’t have to worry about not having clothes on my back. I have a roof over my head – two, in fact, in a way, in that I have both my room in the care facility and my and my husband’s house. Though I do worry slightly about my financial security now that it’s time for my new long-term care copay to be determined, I really don’t have to worry. I have enough money to afford my necessities and most non-necessities I want too. Even if (most likely) I do get a higher copay, I still don’t have to worry about going into debt. All this means I am far more well off than the vast majority of people.

I also live a life of abundance because I am in reasonably good health both physically and mentally. Though I endured trauma in both childhood and my adult life, I am currently safe – even though PTSD sometimes tells me otherwise. I know there are a lot of people who feel happier or more stable mentally than me, but I have been in psychiatric hospitals long enough to know there are also many people who are a lot sicker than me.

I know that comparisons don’t always work. Telling yourself others have it worse isn’t a magical cure for misery or depression. However, gratitude definitely helps cultivate happiness.

I have an abundance of reasons to be grateful. Last Saturday, I listed ten gratefuls for the past 24 hours alone. Today, I could list a number of things too. I am grateful for my favorite Christmas cookies, called cinnamon stars. I finished the first packet out of four I got for Christmas. I am grateful for Senseo coffee. I am grateful the web store accepted my returned Fitbit charger (it wasn’t working). I am grateful elementary and secondary schools are reopening next week. Although I don’t have kids, this does feel like a small glimmer of hope for a way out of lockdown.

I trust that I will be able to live a life of abundance in spite of the hardships I may endure. I cannot do it alone, but through the grace of God in Jesus Christ, I will get there. He does not always give me what I want. I mean, I may actually have to pay a much higher long-term care copay than I expect now (I won’t find out until the 12th or so). Then again, He will take care of me as long as I put my trust in Him. Isn’t that awesome?

Linking up with InstaEncouragements.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 30, 2021)

Hi everyone. It’s almost 8PM here so I already had my last cup of coffee. Still, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. Or Weekend Soft Drink Share for me maybe, although I didn’t have a soft drink this evening either. Instead, I decided to have water with my chips. We have Pringles, the original flavor, so if you’d like some, here you go. Let’s have a drink and a snack and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, like I said yesterday, the weather was good most of the week. Partly cloudy, partly sunny with maximum temperatures between 13°C and even a rare 18°C on Thursday. Today though, it was raining most of the day. By early evening though, the rain stopped for a bit.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, yesterday, I got in over 14K steps thanks to the great weather. Today, I only managed about 6K steps, but I did get in over 250 steps an hour during seven out of the nine hours between 9AM and 6PM. I consider that quite an achievement!

If we were having coffee, I would ask you all to pray for wisdom for both me and my GP with respect to our upcoming appointment regarding my abdominal discomfort. Like I said yesterday, I am grateful my X-ray was normal, but my discomfort is all but gone.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I ended up not pursuing the issue I mentioned yesterday with the €90 software I bought via PayPal from some shady vendor. I did reach the vendor, but he claimed the problem I was experiencing wasn’t on their side, so there’s no way I’ll get my money back. Oh well, I hadn’t had my hopes up too high.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I finally did start crafting again. The project my staff saw that she brought the supplies in for today, was a polymer clay owl crafted around a metal ring. She also brought a finished owl she’d borrowed from the storekeeper who had inspired her, so that I had an idea what it should look like. It looked very different from how I’d expected it to look. I started working on the project today.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you that my assigned staff, the one who was on sick leave but is slowly recovering, came to the care home for a few hours again today. Remember how I said a few weeks ago that I worried that I caused her burnout by sucking up her energy? Well, she went out of her way to reassure me that I didn’t make her sick.

She also cooked a meal for dinner with another client. It was a potato, leek and mince casserole. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like it, but I did.

How have you been?

Gratitude List (October 29, 2021) #TToT

Hi everyone on this Friday evening. I’m doing a gratitude list again today. As usual, I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful my abdominal X-ray came back all normal. There’s no constipation or excess gas. Of course, this does mean we still don’t have answers as to what is causing my abdominal discomfort and how to deal with it. I have another appt with the GP to discuss further steps.

2. I am grateful my staff, the one who was on sick leave, is slowly returning to work. She came by for a quick visit yesterday.

3. I am grateful for nice weather. Most of the week, the temperature’s been above-average for this time of year, with today it going as high as 17°C. It’s been pretty clear and sunny with no rain too. The weekend is supposed to be different, but oh well, that’s okay.

4. I am grateful for interesting conversations. I’ve been exploring the enneagram again and engaged both my husband and several staff in discussions about it. I got one staff to take a test and, assuming the test typed her right, so did I.

5. I am grateful my creativity seems to slowly be returning. I’m not yet actually creating anything, but I’m exploring polymer clay again. One of my staff is going to bring me some supplies for creating something she saw online or in a book tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it.

6. I am grateful I had the guts to finally press the “report a problem” button on one of my most recent PayPal purchases. I spent €90 on what looks in theory like pretty amazing software. Turns out though that the license information I was given doesn’t work. I tried to contact the vendor via their website but got an “undelivered” E-mail response. I saw that their PayPal contact info was different, so before proceeding to actually report the problem to PayPal, I decided to try one more time to contact them via that E-mail address. Fingers crossed this will work.

7. I am grateful for yet more newly-discovered essential oil blends. I still haven’t bought more oils in part due to said €90 I might’ve thrown down the drain, but I love learning new ways I can use the oils I do have on hand. I currently have a blend of cinnamon, ginger and ylang ylang in my diffuser.

8. I am grateful for salad again. My day activities staff and I made this for lunch (well, she did the actual making) on Wednesday and there was still some left on Thursday.

9. I am grateful for all the sensory equipment I have right here in my room. On a Messenger chat, we were discussing ways to cope with anxiety and I mentioned my essential oil diffuser, weighted blanket and music pillow. These things make me so privileged.

10. I am grateful I am safe in the care facility. I find it hard to say this, but it’s true.

What are you grateful for?

Hyper #WotW

Hi everyone! I haven’t felt like writing over the past few days because I’ve been perseverating on polymer clay. Today, I thought I’d write a post after all to sum up my week and my word for this week is “Hyper”. After all, I’ve not just been perseverating on a special interest, but it’s been costing me my sleep too. I was almost going to choose “Manic”, but that would be appropriating the bipolar community, as I doubt my episodes are bad enough to qualify even as hypomanic. They’re more like autistic or ADHD (not that I have that last diagnosis either) hyperfocus. So yeah, hyper.

I’ve been literally working with polymer clay for hours everyday except today for the past week. I’m improving, but not as fast as I’d like.

And it’s not even that I’ve created anything worth mentioning really. I mean, yesterday I decided to bake a project, but it didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped.

Multi-Layered Polymer Clay Star

Okay, I did create a purple cat on Wednesday, because my husband had been asking for it everyday for a week. Purple because it’s the least ugly color for a cat out of the ones I currently own. My husband said it was pretty well-proportioned except for its whiskers, but then again that’d be practically impossible to do with actual polymer clay. I didn’t bake this figurine though.

Purple Polymer Clay Cat

Yesterday, like I said, I did bake something, but I was quite disappointed in its outcome. For this reason, I was up late ruminating about how to prevent it from getting ugly again. As you might see, it is a multi-layered star, so I figured if I baked the bottom layer first and then attached the unbaked second layer, baked again and so forth, it should work. I also figured I’d create my piece directly on the baking surface as to not have to move it too much. Well, there I made a mistake, because the baking surface I normally use is an oven dish normally also used for food. I until now figured it wouldn’t be a problem since I lay parchment paper under my polymer clay. Until today, that is. So now I promised my staff a new oven dish.

After this happened, I decided to give up polymer clay until I can go to the hardware store to get myself a tile to bake on.

In addition to hyperfocusing, I’ve also been spending more money than may be considered sensible. I mean, like I said a few times before, I won’t go broke anytime soon with my current spending habits, but with the fact that my special interests tend to be short-lived, it may not have been wise. On Thursday, I ordered some cookie cutters and an alphabet clay stamp set at an online store, only to be told yesterday that not everything is in stock and hence my order would probably be processed a week later. Then in the evening, I impulsively bought a whole lot of polymer clay supplies, including cookie cutters, from someone on Facebook. It seems to have gone alright, both the paying and the actual supplies being on their way. I decided to cancel my store order that evening. I might order the stamp set separately later.

Overall, though my perseverating might be a little worrisome, I’m trying to reason that I’m not getting into trouble yet and won’t in the foreseeable future even if my state of hyperfocus continues for a while. And it most likely won’t. The only thing I can hope for is that I won’t give up on the craft entirely then.

Word of the Week linky

Gratitude List (July 30, 2021) #TToT

Hi all, happy Friday! I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT) today with a gratitude post. Let’s get started.

1. I am so grateful my benefits arrived. Oh well, I spent a significant amount of money already on crafting supplies and my yearly premium subscription to Day One, a diary app. I have once again resolved not to make unnecessary expenses for at least a week. I am however grateful that, even if I do end up spending some money, I won’t go broke anytime within the foreseeable future.

2. I am grateful my staff try to find me things I need or want for free or at a heavily discounted price. For example, one staff was able to get a music pillow for just €1. Another staff gave me some cookie cutters and ziploc bags she didn’t use and her daughter’s old duvet cover. Oh, it feels off to say this right after I’ve told you about my spending my benefits money on crafting supplies.

3. I am grateful to retain my creative mojo. I have really been loving doing some crafts lately, particularly polymer clay and some jewelry-making too.

4. I am grateful that my creative juices flowing means I have something else to talk about online besides my disabilities and health conditions. I am truly loving perseverating on polymer clay in particular.

5. I am grateful for organized storage shelves. Okay, I think I decluttered them a month or so ago already, but with my new crafting supplies, I had to do it again. I’m really satisfied with the space I created without even too much throwing out.

6. I am grateful for pasta salad. My day activities staff and I made this for lunch on Tuesday and there was still some left on Wednesday.

7. I am grateful I haven’t gained any weight in the past week despite not walking as much and despite the pasta salad and other treats. In fact, I lost 200 grams.

8. I am grateful for a nice fill-in community psychiatric nurse. My regular CPN will be on vacation when I was originally next supposed to see her in two weeks, so the other one will fill in. She joined me and my regular CPN for our appointment on Wednesday and she seems nice.

9. I am grateful for a nice new student staff. She is already older, so it’s easier for me to trust her than the young interns.

10. I am grateful my husband is now fully vaccinated. He got his second shot yesterday and he seems to be doing okay.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 17, 2021)

Hi all, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare, even though I already had my evening coffee and my soft drink for today. I think I’m going to just have some water with my late evening medications soon and that’s it for today. However, like I’ve said before, I can always make you a Senseo coffee. I’m afraid we no longer have green tea, so if you’d like tea, you’ll have to pick regular or some variety of fruit-flavored tea. Anyway, let’s have a drink of medicine water for me and coffee, tea or a soft drink for you and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I’m still relatively stable mentally. I have been slightly in flight mode, ie. distracting myself from my feelings by keeping busy. That’s okay though if it doesn’t last too long. Yesterday, it had maybe lasted too long and I had a meltdown over a necklace I’d made that snapped just as I’d finished it. I was able to get myself back together though.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about the shopping spree I went on at Action, a budget store. I bought another hair clip and some scrunchies, socks, a coat hanger and some other things. In total, I spent less than €10. I also went to HEMA, another large store, because I wanted silicone straws. You know how plastic straws have been banned in the EU? Well, I have never tried drinking from a paper straw, but I’m not intending on trying either. The straws were quite expensive compared to all that I’d bought at Action: €4 for four straws and a cleaner brush.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share I’ve resolved not to make any more unnecessary purchases until my benefits arrive on the 23rd. You see, the €10 at Action and €4 at HEMA were the least of my expenses recently and, though I’m by no means broke, I do want to make sure I stay financially secure.

If we were having coffee, I’d proudly tell you that I made a lip balm for a fellow client. He has Down Syndrome and this apparently goes with chronically dry lips. Last week, I had told one of my staff that I had been making lip balms for myself but would be throwing them out in a while, as they won’t last me till winter and I don’t tend to use lip balms in summertime. This staff suggested I give the lip balms to said client, but I had touched them with my fingers. For this reason, I decided to make a new batch of lip balm while making sure to work hygienically. Thankfully, we have a huge stash of gloves at the facility.

The lip balm still was a bit of an experiment, since I used coconut oil this time rather than sweet almond oil. Other than that, I used the same ingredients I had for my own product: beeswax, cocoa butter and a drop of flavor oil.

As it turned out, the man was really pleased with it. The staff tell me he keeps asking for “his” lip balm rather than the standard store-bought one that he used to wear. I’m pretty sure this little pot will last him several months, but I’m already thinking of buying lip balm tubes so that the lip balm will be easier to apply.

If we were having coffee, I’d share how grateful I am not to live in an area of the country affected by the flood of the past few days. In the southern province of Limburg, as well as in Belgium and western Germany, heavy rainfall led to a lot of flooding. I don’t know the details, but it does kind of worry me. I mean, I was taught in school that climate is something that’s relatively stable over a period of about 30 years. Over the past five years or so, I seem to have heard of more and more extreme weather though.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that the rise in COVID cases also really worries me. Today, there were over 11,000 new cases in a single day. People try to reassure me that they’re all partying youth, but I’m so worried about who else those partying youth might’ve infected. I am not really worried for my own health, as neither a partying youth nor a vulnerable elderly person. I am, however, worried for another lockdown.

Sorry for ending this post on a negative note. I really hope you all have been doing well.