Home Is Where…

Some say home is where my bed is. Then again, do they mean the care facility’s bed or my husband’s bed?

Others say home is where my toothbrush is. Then again, I take it with me wherever I go.

Dallas Moore would say home is where the highway is. My husband might’ve agreed when he was still a truck driver. Then again, neither his home in Lobith nor my care facility in Raalte is on a major highway.

I say home is where…
I can feel safe. I can feel comfortable. I can be myself.
That place, I’m not yet sure I’ve found.


This post was written for My Vivid Blog’s writing challenge: “Where”. I am also joining Writers’ Pantry #81. This post was inspired by today’s daily prompt in Day One, my diary app, which asks me to describe my ideal home. It was also inspired by this song.

I Am a Rock #SoCS

Today’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) is “roc”. I didn’t know that even is a word, but we can use words with “roc” in them too. I was immediately reminded of “rock” and then of the Simon & Garfunkel song “I Am a Rock”. As I assume most of you will know, it goes like: “I am a rock, I am an island. And a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.”

This reminded me of the fact that, at around age thirteen, I would describe my class as a country with lots of states and one of them, me, would be an island. Think Hawaii. This, of course, symbolized the fact that I felt like an outsider or even an outcast in my class.

One day, I showed a girl in my class the piece about the island. This girl promptly decided to type on my laptop and let my text-to-speech read: “Astrid is my friend.” She probably felt pity for me, as the friendship never lasted. It was rather based on rules, as was my entire class’s associating with me.

Like, before I found my way around the school by myself, classmates had to sighted guide me around. There was an entire schedule which had the girls be sighted guide and the boys carry my backpack, until I decided, with a little nudging, that I could carry my own backpack. I mean, yes, it was heavy with my laptop and all, but so is every early secondary schooler’s backpack. From then on, the boys would sighted guide me too.

This meant I had to sit with them during recess. After the island story incident with my “friend”, she and her clique allowed me to sit with them everyday during recess even if it wasn’t their turn to be sighted guide.

At the beginning of my second year at this school, I decided I’d had it with sighted guides and especially with the schedule. I tried to find my way by myself, often struggling, but this was better than to have people assigned to me who didn’t want to associate with me. Quickly, that became the entire class, including my “friends”.

I am a rock. I am an island. And a rock feels no pain. Literally. By the end of my second year in this school, I had mastered the coping mechanism of detaching from my surroundings and myself. I felt like I lived in a movie. I still feel that way at times, even though I have no need (I hope) to escape my current life.

A Recent Purchase: Apple AirPods Pro

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts for this week is to write about a recent purchase. Like I said last week, I was seriously considering getting Apple AirPods Pro once my vacation allowance landed in my bank account. At the time, I had not yet seen the payment details of it, so I was still unsure I’d get it at all, or how much I’d get.

By Monday, my payment details from the benefits authority arrived in my government inbox. I wouldn’t be getting the money until Friday, but on Wednesday, I was so excited I decided to buy the AirPods anyway.

I ordered them from Bol.com at 1PM Wednesday. They gave me the option of selecting to get the AirPods delivered the same evening, so I was like: “Yes please!” Unfortunately, my screen reader wouldn’t let me toggle the button, so I got a staff to do that for me. My brand new Apple AirPods Pro arrived at 6:30PM that evening.

I struggled a little to get the AirPods connected and the medium-sized earmuffs felt uncomfortably large to me even though the fitting test on my iPhone said they fit. Then I struggled to remove the medium earmuffs and replace them with the small ones, but my staff eventually found out how to do this.

The AirPods came with a wireless charging case. As is the norm with current Apple products, they also came with a lightning to USB-c charging cable but no charger. I have an iPhone SE 2020, which still came with a regular USB charger. For this reason, I wondered whether I could charge the case with my iPhone charger or I needed to buy a USB-c charger. It might be faster with that one, but my iPhone’s charger works at least.

It also took me a little figuring out where the force sensor was located and how to use it. Once I figured it out though, it’s really intuitive. It works similar to the home button on my iPhone, really. I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to take incoming calls using just my AirPods, but today I found out I can.

The AirPods Pro have really good noise-canceling, which was one reason I wanted the Pro ones specifically. When I have noise cancellation on, I feel quite well shut off from my surroundings, even when I’m not listening to music. When I do want to hear what’s happening around me, I easily switch to the transparency mode and can hear everything just fine even while still listening to music.

I originally wanted the AirPods so that I can fall asleep while listening to soothing sounds, for example from the myNoise app on my iPhone. That, unfortunately, isn’t working yet, as I haven’t found a way to make the AirPods feel comfortable when I’m trying to sleep. That might be a good thing though, as I have no idea whether the AirPods will really be able to withstand a sleeping me. Overall, however, I really like my new AirPods.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Creating a Sensory Room Experience in My Own Bedroom

It’s been a year since the day center closed. For the most part, it was a good thing for me. I, after all, was often overwhelmed in my day activities group. One thing I miss about the day center though, is the sensory or snoezelen® room. Today, I am sharing how I recreated a sensory room experience in my own bedroom. Since I am blind, I skipped the visual aspect mostly, but I’ll add some ideas for it regardless. That way, you can create a sensory environment for yourself.

Sound

In the day center sensory room, we have a really cool speaker system that’s attached to the bed. It isn’t likely that advanced, so with some speakers at the right position, you may be able to recreate it. I don’t own wireless speakers. However, I found that I can recreate similar effects with earbuds or headphones. I would recommend earbuds for better positioning, but since I don’t have wireless ones, I use my wireless headphones anyway.

I mentioned before that I use an app called MyNoise. This app has over 120 soundscapes and you can customize each individual sound to your own hearing. There are nature soundscapes, but also white noise, Buddhist-like and SciFi soundscapes. I prefer the nature ones.

Like I said, I don’t own wireless speakers, though I might want to invest in some at some point. My phone or computer speakers work okay when listening to music though. There are many calming playlists on Spotify and undoubtedly other music apps too. The ones I love most are Harp Music for Sleeping, Peaceful Guitar and Peaceful Piano. There are also a number of nature sound playlists.

I at one point wanted a music pillow. I may still buy one at some point, but I haven’t yet found one that’s big enough to be used as a sleeping pillow and also works with Bluetooth.

Smell

One thing that my bedroom has and the snoezelen® room didn’t, is an aromatherapy diffuser. I have posted many times about my love for it. Mine cost €40, but they start at as cheap as €15. Essential oils can be a bit expensive depending on the quality you choose. I am obsessed with creating my own blends, so I really like to have a large collection of essential oils. However, if all you want is a nice smell, fragrance oils are also great.

Touch

In the day center sensory room, we had a specially designed waterbed. That felt good, but my own bed is also a pretty good substitute. I usually turn up the head side of the bed slightly.

A thing that’s a true blessing for my senses though, is my weighted blanket. These come in different forms. Some are filled with plastic balls. Mine is filled with sachets filled with granules. It’s a rather expensive blanket at over €500. Thankfully though, my care facility paid for it. With the company we used, you can borrow the blanket on a try-out basis for two weeks for just postage. That helped me make sure it was the right one for me. Mine weighs 12kg, which is relatively heavy considering my body weight of 70kg, but I actually love it this way.

I put a flannel duvet cover over my weighted blanket in winter. When it’s really cold or I need some extra softness for sensory reasons, I use a fleece blanket too.

In addition, I have various soft toys. My favorite is an ordinary stuffed bear. However, I also have a 1.60m large stuffed bear that I got from my mother-in-law for my birthday last year. This one was probably quite expensive. Another of my favorite soft toys, is my sensory cat. This stuffed cat can be microwaved and then gives off heat and a lavender scent.

Sight

Like I said, I am blind with the exception of a tiny bit of light perception. I for this reason don’t benefit from visual stimuli. That being said, I do know a bit about making your room visually appealing to the senses.

My essential oil diffuser works as a night light too. It can be set to seven different colors and I believe also two intensity levels.

Of course, you may want to use your sensory room experience for more than just sleeping. I’m pretty sure in my care home’s makeshift sensory room, the staff put up some form of Christmas lights for the visual effect.

In addition, there are many different visual projection systems. My care facility owns the Qwiek.

Conclusion

I really love my makeshift sensory room in my own bedroom. Generally speaking, creating a true sensory room requires a lot of money. I am so glad though that I could buy some equipment myself or ask for it as a gift. That way, I was able to skip the unnecessary for me expensive things and find things I truly would use. I am very glad that my facility paid for the weighted blanket.

loopyloulaura

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 21, 2021)

Happy Sunday everyone! I’m rather late joining in with this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare, but better late than never I’d say. In addition to coffee, today we have two types of soft drinks in the fridge, both partly lemon-flavored and neither of which I like. If you’d prefer cold water, I totally get you. Unfortunately, the water hasn’t been in the fridge that long yet, so it’s not super cold. I hope you enjoy whichever drink you choose anyway. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, firstly I’d ask about your weather. Is yours as crazy as ours? Last week, remember, we had snow and temperatures below freezing. Now, the weather is really spring-like, with the temperature having risen to 17°C here in Raalte and to 19°C in some places in the south of the country. Tomorrow we might get even warmer weather.

If we were having coffee, I’d share I went to Lobith for the week-end. My husband and I got Domino’s pizza yesterday. The one I got, curry kebab, was good, but not as great as I’d expected.

On the way back to Raalte, my husband had a radio station on playing summer hits to celebrate the warm weather. I now have the Venga Boys’ Boom, Boom, Boom stuck in my head and I actually don’t mind. I don’t think anyone who isn’t a child of the nineties can truly appreciate the beauty of this music. 🤣

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I still don’t feel back to my normal self. My magnesium, which I started last week for constipation, has been upped. I’m struggling to decide whether this was a good thing or not. Guess I’ll give it a few more days to see how I do.

I’m also still pretty fatigued and easily overloaded. On Thursday, I landed in a minor crisis due to it. Unfortunately, my community psychiatric nurse didn’t work that day and the substitute couldn’t help me much at all. He offered to ask my CPN to call back on Friday, but I think she may not have received the memo. By then though, I was feeling somewhat more functional.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that a fellow client and staff cooked spaghetti for us today. It was good.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I made a lip scrub with my one-on-one staff this evening. I used coconut oil, sugar and vanilla extract. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the consistency I liked. However, it did make my lips feel soft.

What’s been going on in your life?

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.

Song Lyric Sunday: Black

Hi lovely people on this snowy Sunday. Today I initially wanted to continue with the #Write28Days prompts, but I guess I’ll try that back again tomorrow. The point is I’m still writing. Today, I’m joining Song Lyric Sunday, for which the theme this week is “Colors”. Now despite my attempts at changing it, black for sure still has to be my favorite color. Therefore, I’m choosing a song with “black” in the title. Now that I think of it, I of course could go with The Man in Black by Johnny Cash, as it’s far more meaningful than this one, but oh well, this one came to mind first.

I first heard the song Black Is the Colour a few months ago when I was listening to Cara Dillon songs. Turns out Cara Dillon’s is a cover. The song most likely originated in Scotland and was first known in the U.S. as an Appallachian traditional. Cara Dillon first recorded it in 2001. As you can see, she addresses it to a female. I originally thought this odd for a traditional, but it turns out both male and female artists have recorded this song in various ways, addressing both men and women.

Title: Black Is the Colour
Singer: Cara Dillon
Release Date: 2001

Black is the colour of my true love’s hair
Her lips are like a rose so fair
She’s got the sweetest face and the gentlest hands
I love the ground whereon she stands

I love my love and well she knows
I love the ground whereon she goes
And how I whish the day would come
When she and I can be as one

I go to the Clyde and mourn and weep
Satisfied I never will sleep
I’ll write her a letter, just a few short lines
And suffer death ten thousand times

Gratitude List (December 26, 2020) #TToT

Hello everyone and a belated merry Christmas to you all! As usual on Saturdays nowadays, I’m writing a gratitude list. I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Enjoy!

1. I am grateful for Jesus! I’m so grateful I became a Christian this year and this time hopefully for real. I say this because I’ve been a progressive believer for many years but hardly took my faith seriously at all. I still could take it more seriously and I’m praying God will open my heart and mind to him even more.

2. I am grateful for my family. My parents sent me a Braille-typed Christmas card and my sister sent me a card too. This reminds me that, even though we don’t have the closest relationship, I still matter to them.

3. I am grateful for my husband and in-laws.

4. I am grateful for great Christmas meals. Yesterday, my husband and I made use of the fact that people can legally have two (actually three on Christmas and boxing day) visitors and celebrated Christmas with my in-laws. We had a delicious dinner.

Also, the bakery in a nearby village sent the entire care facility a Christmas lunch of freshly-baked buns. Normally they give it to the day center in that village, where the clients help package their goods. However, that day center is closed due to COVID. Most clients from my care facility don’t work at the day center there, but some do and the bakery was so generous as to give us all the lunch.

5. I am grateful for my psychiatrist. As we wrote on Tuesday, she completely validated us. I haven’t yet needed my new PRN medication.

6. I am grateful the days are getting longer again. Ugh, how I hate the dark days!

7. I am grateful for the motivation and focus to be able to read again. I’m reading a middle grade novel, but that’s okay.

8. I am grateful for uplifting, Christian music. My husband has some on in the car and I discovered some on Spotify.

9. I am grateful for sausage rolls this morning. My husband joked that he was going to eat them all if I didn’t make it downstairs soon enough. I guess I did though.

10. I am grateful for a lie-in this morning. My husband didn’t get up at 7:30AM like usual on Sundays (maybe because it’s Saturday today), so I slept in longer than usual too.

I hope you all had a very happy Christmas. What have you been grateful for lately?

My Taste in Music as a Teen #Blogtober20

Today’s prompt for #Blogtober20 is “Fame”. For this reason, I’m going to share some music that was famous or that I liked as a teen. I once heard that people’s lifelong taste in music is shaped between the ages of 14 and 24. I don’t know how true that is, as I’m still developing my taste. Anyway, here goes.

1. The Backstreet Boys. Okay, I didn’t really like those, but I pretended to. When I was about eleven, so still a preteen, my mother encouraged me to develop a taste in music, because that was what my peers were into or so she thought. I have shared before that I hung Backstreet Boys posters on my wall without ever having heard any of their songs.

2. Anouk. She is a Dutch pop singer. I had two of her CDs, although I was never a huge fan.

3. ABBA. Well, the A-Teens, an ABBA remix band. Until I was about 20, I didn’t even know they were an ABBA imitation and spelled the band name “Eighteens”. I thoroughly enjoyed this music though and often danced to it.

4. The Corrs. I got a CD because it was recommended in my high school newspaper. Then I got two more CDs. Unlike Anouk, I truly loved this music.

5. World music. Particularly Latin. I had a lot of CDs with Latino music on them, although that included Spanish pop music like Macarena too. When I first met my now husband, he asked what type of music I was into and I said “world music”. I later played one of my favorite Latin music CDs for him and he was glad he hadn’t known this was what I’d meant by world music.

6. Protest songs, particularly Dutch ones. These were the songs my parents listened to on LP. I had some copied onto cassette tape too, specifically an LP from Robert Long. He was a protest singer in the early 1970s, but converted to Christianity later on and his older songs are hard to come by now.

What was your taste in music like as a teen?

#Blogtober20

Monday’s Music Moves Me (September 7, 2020): Truck Driver Songs

Hi everyone on this mixed Monday, Labor Day in the United States. It isn’t here, as Labor Day in Europe is May 1. I’m really uninspired to write, but still want to get something onto the blog. For this reason, I’m for the first time in forever participating in Monday’s Music Moves Me. The theme is a freebie, but I’m uninspired for a topic too, so thought I’d choose Labor Day anyway. Since my husband is a truck driver, I then thought to share some songs celebrating the labor of trucking. Here goes.

This would absolutely never happen to my husband. He is an excellent truck driver. That is, sometimes the transport planners send him down an impossible route. He had that happen today. Thankfully, he flat out refused to go there.

This doesn’t happen to my husband either, as nowadays truck drivers don’t have to change the tires on their trucks. I love this song though. My husband introduced me to Tom Astor before he was a truck driver himself. I enjoy his songs more now than does my husband.

Okay, it gets boring. This doesn’t happen to my husband either, as he’s a national driver, which in the Netherlands means he gets home at night. Dave Dudley was introduced to me through Truck Stop, a German country band whose members admire him. I even reckon Dave Dudley is more popular, relatively speaking, in Hamburg than in the United States.

That’s it for now. I’m off to bed soon. Have a great evening or night.