Joy in April

Oh my, how time flies! I fully intended to write my monthly update on my word of the year, which is “JOY”, last Thursday, but forgot. Thankfully, there’s still about ten hours left in April to share my reflections on how I did this past month. I am linking up with the Word of the Year linky, as well as Lisa’s One Word link-up.

Early in the month, I did quite well. I enjoyed my craft of polymer clay to the fullest. Among other things, I discovered color mixing. I was full of new ideas and really burst with energy.

I also enjoyed quiet time and my spiritual life. I was engaging with the Bible on a daily basis.

I also spent time involved with personal growth in general, watching videos on, for example, the enneagram. This is not necessarily Christian, but it is not against the faith either and there are many Christian enneagram experts.

Unfortunately, as the month progressed, I slipped into an emotional rut. I have been neglecting my Bible reading and my quiet time now involves falling asleep to instrumental music. That isn’t bad in itself, but I’d really like to spend more time focusing on God. I’ve noticed, in fact, that I’m drifting away from Him. I could blame this on my low mood, but really it could be the other way around too.

I also haven’t been enjoying my creativity as much as I used to. This goes for both my polymer clay and my blogging. With blogging, this may have to do with the fact that the #AtoZChallenge is coming to an end and the last letters are usually harder than the first. However, I don’t engage as much with other bloggers as I used to early in the month either.

I am also not enjoying my food as much as I used to. Like, we had pizza yesterday. While I appreciated it, I didn’t savor the food as much as I would like to have done. I am reminded in this sense of the mindful eating exercise I did in early March and how I’d really like to apply it to foods I love more.

Overall, early in the month, I did quite well, but towards the end of the month, I’ve been slipping towards the opposite of joy. This brings me to one of the exercises that Lisa provided in her One Word E-mail for this month (I think), which was to look to the opposites of your word and reflect on what they can tell you about your word. Some of the most relevant antonyms of joy include:


  • Depression: well, I wouldn’t say I’m depressed (yet), in the clinical sense. Having been there, I know that my current low mood is different, but I do need to watch out that I don’t slip into the pit of depression.

  • Melancholy: I’ve definitely been feeling this way. Melancholy is a bit of a low mood, with an edge of romanticism attached. I feel this resonates with me in relation to how I feel about living in my current care home.

  • Misery: this sounds a bit, well, too negative for me right now. A state I want to avoid at all cost.

  • Sadness: yes, I’ve felt sad when my fellow client passed away early this month, but other than that, sadness just doesn’t cut it.

  • Seriousness: certainly, yes. I’ve been far too serious about my life lately, which has resulted in my not enjoying the fun parts.

All this being said, in the coming month, I’m hoping to gain some joy back and crawl out of the pit of melancholy and seriousness.

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?

Zoloft From Nature: Uplifting Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Hi and welcome to the final day in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for another weird title. I usually go with Z for “ZZZ” and then write about sleep, but I already covered calming essential oils in my letter X post. Zoloft (sertraline) is an antidepressant, so I thought I’d steal that name for a post on uplifting essential oils. Unlike calming essential oils, I am not under the impression that uplifting oils can replace a legitimate antidepressant prescription. After all, generally speaking, antidepressants should only be prescribed in moderate to severe cases of anxiety or depression. It may therefore be needless to say, but don’t stop your antidepressants without a doctor’s supervision. These oils may help you feel better and are generally safe to use when you’re on medication.

First up is clary sage essential oil. I love love love this oil. It is not generally energizing, but is very uplifting to the mood. Clary sage essential oil is derived from the flowers/buds and leaves of the salvia sclarea plant. It contains 60 to 70 percent linalyl acetate, which gives it its mood-boosting properties.

citrus essential oils like grapefruit, bergamot and lemon are also great for stimulating the mind and improving mood. Like I said when writing about those oils, they can be combined together to create fresh, fruity blends. I mentioned my keylime pie diffuser recipe already, but the possibilities are really endless.

Another oil I came across when doing research for this post, is white fir. This is an oil I haven’t used often yet, but it combines great with citrus oils to add a little woodsy scent to your blends. I also saw spicy essential oils like cinnamon listed.

Lastly, mint essential oils, especially spearmint, are particularly helpful to get you out of a funk. They are energizing and, in combination with citrus oils, are great for boosting your mood.

Grateful for My Health

Hi everyone, how are you? Today, I want to write, but didn’t know at first what to write about. For this reason, I looked at the eBook Journaling with Lisa Shea, which is really a collection of eleven of her eBooks on journaling. In the one about gratitude, one of the prompts asks us what we’re most grateful for with respect to our health.

I often worry that I’m deteriorating. In truth, I may or may not be, but I have the health I have now. Here are some things I am grateful for about my health.

1. My mobility. I know, I know, I want it to be better. I wish I could walk with the stamina and speed that my husband can. Then again, he’s much taller and skinnier than I am and doesn’t have a physical disability. Considering this, I am so grateful I am able to walk over 10K steps most days. When I wrote a post on my old blog several years ago about what optimal health would mean to me, this was one of the things I listed.

2. My energy level. Generally, difficult as I may find it to see, this has improved much over the past several years. Ten years ago, I struggled greatly to even write one blog post a week. I also slept on average ten to twelve hours a night, sometimes more. Now, I rest for about an hour in the afternoon sometimes, but not always. I also don’t need the long nights I apparently needed some years ago.

3. My sleep. I said above that I need less sleep now than I needed some years ago. Part of the reason may be an improved sleep quality. Though my sleep is still disrupted a lot, it’s much less so than it used to be. I used to snore horribly. Either my husband got used to it or I snore a little less now. I think it’s the latter, as I rarely wake up gasping for air now.

4. My mood. I still experience meltdowns and emotional outbursts almost on a daily basis. However, it’s been months since I’ve been depressed. In general, I feel my mood is pretty good overall.

5. My skin health. Many people experience dry skin in the colder months and it isn’t helped by the need to wash your hands like all the time. I, indeed, do have dry and eczema-prone skin sometimes, but haven’t had a flare up of this since last summer. My hands feel remarkably smooth compared to others’.

6. My heart health. It could definitely be better, but it could also be a lot worse. My resting heartrate is within the normal range and so is my resting blood pressure. As regular readers may know, I had a scare related to possible hypertension last October. The doctor reassured me that it’s okay now.

Of course, there are still areas in which I could improve my health, but overall, I’m pretty content.

What are you grateful about with respect to your health?

My Random Musings
loopyloulaura

Also joining in with Grace and Gratitude. This linky really inspired me to write about gratitude.

Five Christian Songs to Lift Your Mood

Hello again readers! I’m still kicking, but feeling rather uninspired where #Write28Days is concerned. Besides, today I could use a little pick-me-up. I’m feeling a little vague and uncomfortable. The snow and my inability to go outside because of it don’t help. My husband said I still need to move about, but due to my feeling a little dizzy he advised against the elliptical. So I’m dancing.

Today, I decided to dance to some Christian songs. As most of you know, I’m a new believer, but I’ve loved Christian music for many years. However, I didn’t listen to it for a while when I wasn’t really invested in faith. Now I’m back to loving it. Here are five Christian songs to lift your mood.

1. Build Your Kingdom Here by Rend Collective.

I only discovered this song a few months ago, but I love love love it. It’s the song I dance to most often now, it’s so upbeat.

2. You Say by Lauren Daigle.

I discovered this song about a year ago. At the time, it was one of my husband’s favorite Christian songs (before he’d become a Christian himself). Indeed, Lauren Daigle’s voice is truly beautiful and so is her message.

3. Beautiful by Bethany Dillon.

This was one of the first contemporary Christian songs I listened to, when I had just become a sort-of progressive Christian in like 2012.

4. Even If by MercyMe.

I’d heard of MercyMe already in like 2012 and was a great fan. This is a relatively new song.

5. We Believe by Newsboys.

When I used to want to exercise to the beat of Christian music, I’d often listen to a Christian workout playlist. That one features Newsboys prominently. This version of the song may not be as fast-paced, but it is a great reminder to turn to what matters, ie. Jesus, when you’re feeling down.

Now that I’ve listed these songs, I’m pretty sure I forgot some great ones, so if you listen to Christian music, please share your favorites in the comments. If you’re not a Christian, I’d also love to know about your favorite mood boosting songs.

As a side note, I almost forgot to mention that this post was not just inspired by my dancing this evening, but also by this post by Rachel Poli. Check out her upbeat playlist.

Gratitude List (December 5, 2020) #TToT

Hi everyone. I hope you’re well. Last week, I said I’d like to make gratitude lists a weekly habit again. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT).

1. My mood being slightly better than it was last week. I seem to be slowly climbing out of the pit of depression and overload. I am still in crisis multiple times a week, but it’s no longer an almost-daily occurrence.

2. St. Nicholas. This is celebrated today here in the Netherlands. Usually, kids get gifts then. We no longer celebrate it in our family and my niece is probably too young to understand the concept too. We don’t really celebrate it in the care facility this year either. However, we do have lots of special St. Nicholas candies.

3. My mother-in-law. She visited me on Thursday, which was good. I really had a good time.

4. Reading. Like I said earlier, the second novel in Kenneth Oppel’s trilogy is out this week and I immediately downloaded it off Bookshare. It’s a true page-turner.

5. Playing cards. I love to play the game of mau-mau or “bullying”, as it is called here.

6. A rainbow-colored ball. I can’t remember how I got it, but it’s among my toys. I have been loving throwing it back and forth with the staff.

7. The snoezelen® equipment we got at the home now. I may have said before that there’s an empty room that the staff had turned into a snoezelen® room when the day center closed. Then we got a client temporarily placed in that room, so its sensory equipment had to be removed. That client left though and it’s unlikely we’ll get a new placement anytime soon. So our staff bought some more sensory equipment. We now have a special sensory bed with speakers installed in it. I lay on the bed yesterday and loved feeling and hearing the soothing music.

8. Getting to the psychiatrist sooner than expected. Originally, I heard me appt isn’t till sometime in January. Thankfully though, the psychiatrist had a cancellation or something, so I was fitted in for December 22. Though my mood is slowly lifting, I am still glad I can see her.

9. Essential oils once again. Okay, I’ve shared about those before, but I keep discovering new blends. Yesterday I had one that included geranium and I hated the smell. I quickly emptied the diffuser though and then tried another blend.

10. Sleep. I haven’t had nightmares in a week or so. At least not ones that haunt me during the day. That’s definitely a win!

Yay, I got to ten. I know some are repeats, but that’s okay. And at least I didn’t include a ton of food-related thankfuls.

What have you been grateful for lately?

#IWSG: Seasons of Writing

IWSG

Today is the first Wednesday of December and that means it’s the last #IWSG day of the year. It’s already late in the evening and I’m not too inspired to write on the topic of writing. I guess I wasn’t too inspired during the month of November at all. I mean, I didn’t have any blog challenges to participate in, so I didn’t write as much as I did in previous months. My private journal and Drafts, an app I use for my random pieces of fiction and poetry, also remained largely empty.

I find myself scrolling past the many writing and poetry Facebook groups I’m in an not even looking at them. It isn’t that I don’t want to write, but it’s probably that I feel my creative juices have more or less dried up and I don’t want to see others’ beautiful work when I’m not able to contribute any myself. Call me selfish for that.

November is a hard month for me. Perhaps the hardest of the year. November 2 marks the anniversary of my major mental health crisis (which happened in 2007). That, combined with some form of winter blues, often has me depressed during November. I often feel less inspired when I’m depressed.

This year, my November was okay writing-wise. In 2018 and 2019, I published significantly fewer blog posts in November than this year. Then again, I’m doing pretty well writing regularly this year overall.

I am not sure whether, with the exception of blog challenges such as the #AtoZChallenge in April, there are any months I consistently blog more or less than others. With respect to my fiction and poetry writing, this tends to go in spurts and then stands still for a long while. This is the case for all of my passions other than blogging.

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?

I Want to Feel Better #SoCS

SoCS Badge 2019-2020

I want to feel better. Or maybe I need to feel better. No, that’s not correct. Feeling normal mentally may be a want, but I cannot need to feel it everyday.

I’ve been really in a depressed funk over the past week. Maybe, like I said on Thursday, it’s just that I was feeling so well over the past six weeks or so. Now that it’s passed, at least for now, I feel frustrated and depressed. I feel tired too. I’ve been lying in bed most of the morning and part of the afternoon today.

So what am I going to do about it? I’m writing now at least. That’s better than lying in bed. I still at least have some writing mojo left. In this sense, it helps that this writing exercise is stream of consciousness so that I don’t need to worry about structure.

What else can I do? I could be forcing myself to stay out of bed, but this is hard especially on weekends. So I’m not doing that.

I will be going for daily walks unless the staff have no time to take me on a walk all day (which is rare). Then, I will dance in my room for at least 15 minutes and/or go on the elliptical.

I will continue to write everyday. If it isn’t “blog-worthy”, so be it, but I’ll at least try.

I will meditate. It doesn’t need to be a long guided meditation or anything. A few minutes is enough. But I’ll make sure to incorporate mindfulness into my day.

Hopefully, committing to these will help me keep depression at bay. And if it doesn’t, then at least I’ll know that I’ve tried.

This post was written for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, for which the prompt today is “want”.

Thankful Thursday (May 14, 2020): Dancing!

I’ve been feeling kind of depressed lately. Or rather, less non-depressed than I was over the past month. I’m not sure how “normal” feels, being that I’ve struggled with depression off and on (and mostly on) since childhood. I was finally thinking I could be inspired and motivated for a while, but that while has stopped now I think. I hope my creativity and motivation return soon.

When I shared about my mood on an E-mail support list yesterday, some people responded by saying I could focus my attention on what I can do rather than what I can’t. Like, even a day without blogging mojo was frustrating me, even though in other areas, I’m pretty much my normal self. I’m still honestly pretty active. I’m not sleeping 15 hours a day. Okay, I slept nearly 12 hours last night, but I barely got eight the nights before. So as sort of a pick-me-up, I’m joining in with Thankful Thursday and the reason I’m thankful today is my level of physical activity.

You see, I reached my goal of 10K steps today! If this doesn’t prove that I’m fine, I don’t know what does. I went for two longer walks during the day and a short walk in the evening. I’ve also been “dancing” some. By this I mean walking in place and swinging my arms while music is playing. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, but so what? I put the Cardio playlist on Spotify on and just moved. I honestly really loved it.

Besides getting me active, this helped me discover new music. You know, I normally only listen to classic country and some other oldie stuff. I can’t stand most of the workout playlists on Spotify, but Cardio was an exception. I loved it! Here’s one of the songs I listened to several times.

Do you like to dance?