Happy Homemaker Monday (December 26, 2022)

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining Happy Homemaker Monday. Okay, regular readers of this blog will know that I’m not a homemaker. However, my staff, particularly one of the student staff, are trying to get us clients at the care home more involved in the homemaking process. For example, coming in the new year, we may be able to actually help prepare our own meals once a week. (For those not aware, we do get home-cooked meals everyday here and I actually have reasonably good meal prep skills when supervised, but up till this point the staff always cook our meals because it’s quicker.) We will also get our own vegetable garden this spring.

Because we’re required to title our post “Happy Homemaker Monday” and Sandra never got back to me when I asked whether we’re actually required to be homemakers to participate, but the questions do speak to me, I’m not sure whether I’m actually allowed to link up. However, I’m just going to give it a try and if I get kicked off, so be it.

The weather: rainy most of the time and cloudy all of the time. I don’t like it, but am not sure which I find worse: this rainy but relatively mild winter weather or daytime temperatures below 0°C. Let’s just say I can’t wait for spring.

As I look outside my window: well, I have my curtains drawn as it’s evening here and I’m blind so can’t look out my window really. Oh well, I do have an outdoors light outside of my bedroom window which I can see when I have my curtains open and it’s dark outside, which it currently is. It’s probably not interesting enough for sighted people that you guys would want a picture though. Besides, no clue what setting I’d need to set my simple cellphone camera to in order to do this.

Right now I am: typing this blog post. I’m sitting at my desk in my living room. This is really the only place I can comfortably type.

Thinking and pondering: still worrying about my support coordinator doing away with everything agreed upon in the meeting we had on Friday about my care. I received the summary of what was discussed in my inbox on Saturday and it was indeed good. This means I wasn’t dreaming that everyone in the meeting at least said they were on my side. Still, my support coordinator is still on vacation and, even though several staff have been saying she can’t tear apart my day schedule, I’m still kind of worried. Planning to ask the other support coordinator for reassurance later this evening.

How I’m feeling: worried but grateful. Cautiously optimistic too.

On the breakfast plate: four slices of bread with chocolate spread. I normally eat two slices when I do eat bread, but I was in Lobith (at my and my husband’s house) and wasn’t sure I’d be back at the care home for lunch.

On the lunch plate: I had a currant bun and a regular, plain bun. I also had water and I really need to stay more hydrated.

On the dinner plate: I have absolutely no idea how to translate what we had for dinner into English. First, we had a “rundervink”, a kind of beef mince wrapped in bacon. We also had potato tarts. And the kind of salad we had, well, I’m clueless as to what it even was supposed to be. Truthfully, Christmassy (we celebrate Boxing Day as an additional Christmas day here) as it may have been, I didn’t like it. One of the positives about us clients being allowed to help meal prep, is that we finally get a real say in what we’re going to cook.

Listening to: the Healing Harps playlist on Spotify. Not currently – right now, like most of the time, I’m just hearing my text-to-speech software speak and the heating or something buzz -, but it’s the most recent interesting thing I listened to. I love it when trying to sleep or rest.

Watching: polymer clay tutorials on YouTube.

Reading: a Dutch collection of columns by a businesswoman turned special ed teacher. I just finished a book of stories by a Dutch ER doctor. I’m wanting to read more English-language collections of real-life stories too, but not sure where to start.

Around the house: did I even ever share here that my apartment at my current care home has a separate living room and bedroom? I also have a pretty large bathroom and a walk-in storage closet, as well as an enormous terrace. Now that it looks like I’m not going to look for another care home after all (at least not within the near future), I may want to look towards actually making my apartment into a home-like place. I really hope to learn to take better care of it in the new year, which includes keeping it relatively clean and organized but also nicely decorated.

To-do list: I don’t really do those and didn’t make any plans for the next day or even next hour until very recently due to the nature of my support here. Now, thanks to my improved care, I can start actually having a bit of a to-do list. On it currently is finishing the polymer clay unicorn I started crafting with my assigned staff on Friday.

What I’m creating: just cured some polymer clay bear-shaped pieces that I’ll turn into earrings later, as well as a number of beads (well, I’ll still need to drill the holes). This evening, I crafted a turtle out of polymer clay, which is still waiting to go in the oven until I can cure it together with the aforementioned unicorn.

I still have a lot of finished polymer clay creations I didn’t show you all too. My most recent one is the below snowman.

Bible Verse/Devotional/Prayer/Quote: I am struggling with my faith quite a bit lately, so here’s a space for me to pray. God, help me see Your presence. I’m struggling to feel Your nearness lately. Please help me realize that You are there for me even as I go through these hard times, or especially then, or… well, oh wait, that You are always there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Five Things That Bring Me Joy on Bad Days #5Things

Hi everyone. I have been feeling notoriously uninspired lately and still don’t really feel like I know what to write about. However, I saw this week’s topic for the #5Things challenge: things that bring you joy when you feel “joyless”. In other words, we’re challenged to list five things that bring a smile on our face when we have a bad day and nothing else can seem to cheer us up. Here goes.

1. Food. Good food can definitely brighten even my darkest days. I am a lover of hot and spicy food, but also enjoy candy and savory snacks.

2. A phone call from my husband. Whenever I feel down in the dumps, my husband can usually cheer me up. Sometimes it takes him some firm setting my mind straight before I am open to cheerful talk.

3. Music. I love upbeat music, including Dance, contemporary Christian and occasionally rock. At other times, calming music is just what I need.

4. Physical activity. When I can motivate myself for it, a walk or some other form of exercise truly helps me clear my mind of all its negative energy.

5. Retail therapy. I can be a bit of an impulse spender when I’m feeling bad. Thankfully though, even online window shopping helps me feel better at times.

What helps you feel better when you’re feeling down?

My Bedtime Routine

Hi everyone. I’m feeling a little stressed out and, as it is past 9PM as I’m starting to write this post, I thought I’d share about my bedtime routine in order to get myself comfy and relaxed for bed.

Usually, the staff come by my room at around 9:45PM to help me get ready for bed, like get into my pajamas and brush my teeth. I usually leave my socks on, as I’ll often want to stay up a little longer. The evening shift here at my current care home ends at 10:30PM, so the staff usually say goodbye then too and turn off my light. In the care home I may move to on October 5, the evening shift ends at 10PM, so I may want to move my bedtime back a little.

I can go into bed by myself, but sometimes I want the staff to stand by while I go into bed. I will pull off my socks. Then, I’ll grab my iPhone if it’s sufficiently charged and select a Spotify playlist to play on my music pillow. The music pillow is connected to my iPhone via its lightning port (and a lightning-to-audio converter). I love the Harp Lullabies playlist, the Guitar Lullabies playlist or some albums by Robbins Island Music Group or Dan Gibson’s Solitudes. I most commonly set the sleep timer for an hour.

I sometimes will have an essential oil blend in my diffuser too. Some aren’t very suited to sleeping, but I know of a number of relaxing essential oil blends, four of which I shared before.

I have a weighted blanket, which I pull up over me almost till my chin. I also will grab ahold of one of my soft toys. Sometimes, I’ll lay the tail of the lemur over my chest, while at other times, I’ll hold the dolphin or unicorn.

Sometimes, I need to shift my sleeping position. I can sleep in every position except on my right side, but my preference will vary. Once I’ve found a comfortable position, I’ll likely doze off pretty quickly.

The night staff does come by at around 11:30PM to check on me. This is mostly to prevent me sitting up all night without anyone noticing. I can also press the call button if I can’t sleep, but of course other than try to comfort me, there is little the night staff can do. That being said, I sleep a lot better now that I have the weighted blanket, music pillow and essential oil diffuser than before I had all these.

loopyloulaura

My Safe Space

A few months ago, my former behavior specialist introduced a kind of visualization exercise to me called something like “A safe space” It doesn’t necessarily involve just visualizations though. Rather, the idea is to imagine your safe space, real or imaginary, in as much detail as you can. For today’s blog post, I’m going to describe mine.

I am in a kind of artificial forest surrounded by trees. The ground, however, is smooth, so that I can walk on it. When I want to rest, I can sit on a soft, cushioned bench in the forest. It feels like moss, but smoother and velveter. I can pull a weighted blanket over me when I want to fully relax. Of course, it’s always comfortably warm here.

I smell the scent of various plants and trees in the forest, such as lavender, sweet orange, pine, etc. They vary with the time of day or week and with the seasons, creating ever-changing combinations of aromas.

There are, of course, unicorns in the forest. The unicorns have all kinds of colors and sparkly or shimmery or glow-in-the-dark mane, creating a beautiful sight. Since my safe space is imaginary, I can see well enough to actually perceive these colors and sparkles and everything. When I feel like it, I can ride one of the unicorns. I can also cuddle with the colts and fillies. The unicorns comfort me.

There’s water in my safe space too. It has all the pros of a swimming pool (the cleanliness, smooth surface to stand on at the shallow end, etc.) but is still natural in a way. There are dolphins in the water that I can do dolphin therapy with.

I hear calm harp music and birdsong in the background when I’m in my safe space. Sometimes, the birdsong is replaced by dolphin sounds.

All combined, the unicorns and dolphins with the music, scents, and comfortable feel of the weighted blanket, will calm me.

Of course, aside from the real dolphins and the unicorns, everything I have in my imaginary safe space, I either have in my real room at the care facility or could somehow create elsewhere. I mean, I have a weighted blanket, an essential oil diffuser, a music pillow and a Spotify account to create the soothing music. The staff also offered to take me swimming once in a while again and I could obviously find a real forest (though that does not have the smooth ground to stand on). I can still imagine many colors in my mind, so this visualization exercise may help me create the colorful experience of the unicorns I described above. In truth, though merely imagining a safe space isn’t necessarily going to make me feel any calmer, it does get me closer to realizing the things I have right here in order to create it.

loopyloulaura

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 15, 2022)

Hi all! I am participating in the Wednesday HodgePodge once again. Here goes.

1. Do you wear your heart on your sleeve? Elaborate.
It really depends. I can either bottle up my feelings or blurt them out – there’s not much inbetween. I am not good at hiding my true feelings even when I try though.

2. A favorite love song?
I don’t tend to listen to love songs, so I’m naturally going with a parody: She’s My Girl by Tom Lehrer.

Tom Lehrer has many more parodies to different types of love songs and I love them all.

3. Do you consider yourself a trusting person? Explain.
No, not really. Like with wearing my heart on my sleeve, I tend to be quite black-or-white with this: I trust someone or I don’t. I also struggle to give people second chances when they’ve done something that feels as though it’s betraying my trust.

4. June 14th is National New Mexico Day…have you ever been to New Mexico (aka The Land of Enchantment)? Any desire to visit the state? Some of the top rated tourist attractions there are- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, White Sands National Park, The Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, Bandelier National Monument, The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, Santa Fe Plaza, and the Petroglyph National Monument. Of the attractions listed which would be tops on your list?
I’ve never been to New Mexico and, if I have to believe Tom Lehrer’s song The Wild West Is Where I Want to Be, I don’t want to either. Of course, that song’s a parody too.

If I were to visit New Mexico though, one of the national parks would likely be on my list to go to. As a side note, is there a national day for each U.S. state?

5. What’s something you’ve found enchanting recently?
I try to find delight in the everyday, so really anything can be enchanting. An example that comes to mind right now is the music I listened to on Spotify recently. Back when I used to go to the day center, I’d go to the sensory room and lie on the waterbed while listening to a CD by Don Gibson’s Solitudes called Songbird Symphony. A few days ago, I discovered several other albums by that same group. Listening to them on my music pillow is pure bliss.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
Speaking of enchantment, I’d like to mention an exercise I did a while ago in which I had to imagine my safe space in all its beautiful sensory detail. I tried to imagine being surrounded by unicorns, because most real-life places I’ve been carry some trigger one way or the other. I also love to imagine their beautiful colors in my mind’s eye, even though in real life I’m no longer able to see color. I know some blind people lose their memory of sight over time and I did to an extent too, but color remains with me at least to some degree, for which I’m forever grateful.

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?

Sensory Experiences That Influence My Creativity #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone. Today is day 19 in the #AtoZChallenge and it’s time for my letter S post. I was initially feeling a bit uninspired, so looked to The Year of You for Creatives again. In it were several prompts about sounds and sights influencing your creative work. I decided to expand on the prompts and write about sensory experiences in general.

Most times, I prefer to work on my polymer clay in relative silence. That is, I do speak with my staff, but only about the polymer clay project we’re working on. I also don’t have music on in the background. To be honest, I haven’t even actually tried it. It may be relaxing.

I sometimes do have an essential oil blend in my diffuser. Smells can inspire me, as they give off a relaxing or energizing vibe, which I can then translate into the colors I use for my polymer clay projects.

I also find that I’m inspired by sights. I mean, I cannot actually see colors anymore, but imagining a particular color in my mind’s eye does inspire me.

When I write, I do occasionally have music or a soundscape on in the background and I often have an essential oil blend in my diffuser. Right now, I have a playlist of rainforest sounds on Spotify on. My oil diffuser currently diffuses a blend of bergamot, orange, spearmint and ylang ylang essential oils.

I find that music, soundscapes, colors and smells inspire my writing, particularly my poetry and freewrites. I have a journal in the diary app Day One specifically for freewrites and I love to write stream-of-consciousness style based on a snippet from a song or a sound. I haven’t yet included the songs themselves into my journal, as that works only with Apple Music and I don’t use that.

What sensory experiences inspire your creativity?

Song Lyric Sunday: Kitchen

Hi everyone. It’s been forever since I took part in Song Lyric Sunday, but today, I wanted to. Today’s prompt is house/room/shower/kitchen/attic. This wasn’t as easy as it initially seemed. I mean, I know a ton of songs about “home”, but “home” isn’t necessarily the same as “house”.

Then, I was tempted to share that famous Venga Boys song. You know, Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom, I want you in my room? I was a little too old for this music at thirteen when the Venga Boys were popular, but still I liked them more than my younger sister did and this song was definitely a guilty pleasure.

I finally decided to check out one of my favorite country singers, Bobby Bare, on Spotify and see if he had any songs that fit the prompt. Then, I quite easily stumbled upon Singin’ in the Kitchen. I’d honestly never heard this song before and I don’t really like it now that I have, but I like Bobby Bare and am guessing this isn’t a song many others would come up with, so…

Song Title: Singin’ in the Kitchen
Singer: Bobby Bare
Songwriter: Shel Silverstein

Shall we do it? (Shall we do it?)
Okay this is, uh (no, I think we shouldn’t)
Is everybody ready now? (Yeah!) Okay!
Here we go singin’ in the kitchen, all together now, singin’ in the kitchen
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Mommy and daddy singin’ in the kitchen, baby laughin’, singin’ in the kitchen
All the kids singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Supper’s done and the table’s clear, baby wants a bottle and I want a beer
Lord I sure am glad I’m here where there’s lots of love to share
And I clap hands and everybody sings, dishes cling and the banjo rings
There’s gravy on these guitar strings but I don’t really care
‘Cause here we are singin’ in the kitchen, all together now, singin’ in the kitchen
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
I’ll play the comb and you’ll play the spoons
I’ll sing the words and you’ll sing the tunes
We’ll wake up the old man in the moon ’cause we sing so loud (yeah)
I’ll hug ya all and you’ll hug mother, snuggle up close to one another
Just like bread on a piece of butter, Lord it makes me feel so proud
‘Cause here we are singin’ in the kitchen, all together now, singin’ in the kitchen
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Now the fireplace embers are glowin’ red, everybody’s tired and it’s time for bed
Baby’s noddin’ his little sleepy head so let’s sing quiet now, shh!
What do we love? (Singin’ in the kitchen) can’t get enough (singin’ in the kitchen)
Whole lotta love (singin’ in the kitchen) bangin’ on the pots and pans
Mommy and daddy (singin’ in the kitchen) a little bitty baby (singin’ in the kitchen)
All the kids (singin’ in the kitchen) bangin’ on the pats and pans, shh!
Everybody singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans
Yeah, mommy and daddy singin’ in the kitchen, baby laughin’, (singin’ in the kitchen)
All the kids singin’ in the kitchen, bangin’ on the pots and pans

Appreciating the Five Senses

In Journaling with Lisa Shea, Lisa asks in one of her journaling prompts on gratitude to name our favorite sense and describe in detail what we appreciate about it. I couldn’t possibly pick one sense, so instead, I’m going to describe what I appreciate about each of my five senses. Yes, five, since I am including sight. Here goes.

Sight

First of all, I obviously appreciate the fact that I could once see colors. I am no longer able to see those, but thanks to my sight and my imagination, I am still able to perceive them synesthetically in my mind’s eye.

I also still appreciate the tiny bit of light perception I still have left. Thanks to it, I can see the sunshine, though I can no longer perceive the beauty of a sunrise or sunset.

Hearing

I appreciate my sense of hearing, because it allows me to listen to music. I love all kinds of music, from upbeat songs to dance to, to quiet instrumentals.

My hearing also allows me to hear the sounds of nature, both in real life and as soundscapes on my phone. I particularly love water sounds, such as streams and waves (not rain!), as well as birdsong.

Touch

I’ve covered most of the reasons I appreciate my sense of touch when I wrote about my hands. However, other than my hands, I also love the sense of touch on the rest of my body. I am a true lover of deep pressure, which is why I have a weighted blanket.

I realize now I should’ve included a separate heading for the vestibular sense. However, it is mostly the sense of touch I appreciate about it when I am on a swing or waterbed or the like.

Smell

Well, do I really need to explain? I’m going to mention essential oils of course! When another blogger asked us which sense we’d let go of if we had to choose one, after taste (which I’ll get to in a bit), most people said smell, but I said hearing. After all, I really can’t imagine having to let go of my beloved essential oil scents.

Taste

The reason most people chose taste to let go of first, is that in essence what we perceive as taste is mostly smell. However, for the sake of this post, I am going to assume that my food tasting is an actual sense of its own. I really appreciate it, though to be fair I’m more of a food texture lover. In terms of both taste and texture, I am undersensitive, in that I need a lot of stimulation to feel satisfied. This is one reason I can’t stand mash. But I love tasting good, spicy food.

What do you appreciate most about your senses?

Linking up with #LifeThisWeek.

Do-Re-ME: My Favorite Music

Today, I came across Leslie’s Where Bloggers Live. This month’s theme is favorite music.

I am a kid of the 1990s, so, though my parents had a record player, I mostly grew up with cassette tapes and CDs. I remember my father (who was a stay-at-home Dad until I was thirteen) would also often have the radio on in our living room. He generally listened to public radio stations, which didn’t play the latest music and generally were more talk-focused anyway.

As a child and preteen, I was clueless about pop music. I remember the odd ’80s or early ’90s Dutch song, but I had no idea what was “hot”. My parents, aside from public talk radio, listened to 1970s protest songs.

When I was eleven in 1997, my mother encouraged me to develop an interest in music in order to “fit in”. For this reason, I pretended to be into the Backstreet Boys, even though I’d never consciously listened to any of their songs. In reality, I continued to listen to children’s songs for years. In fact, when I went to summer camp in Russia with a group of other teens at age fourteen, I was made acutely aware that listening to children’s songs was definitely not appropriate for someone my age.

I got a stereo player for my twelfth birthday in 1998 and I did buy the odd CD to play on it. I was mostly into ABBA or its upbeat cover band the A-Teens (which I spelled “eighteens” for years). Once I got into mainstream high school in 1999, I occasionally bought CDs recommended by other students in the school newspaper. I still to this day love The Corrs.

I eventually started listening to commercial radio stations at around age fifteen, but I never quite developed a truly defined taste in music. I still like to listen to all kinds of music. Some days, I’m into Dutch songs, usually dialect rock (such as Normaal or Mooi Wark) or truck driving songs. Other times, I’m into Celtic folk, country (usually 1970s songs such as by Bobby Bare or Buck Owens) or southern rock. Still other times, I’m into contemporary Christian music. Sometimes, quite the opposite. I even have a “Punk etc.” playlist on Spotify with songs from the likes of Cock Sparrer. I don’t really listen to that anymore though. Occasionally, I’ll revisit an old favorite genre of mine: world music.

When my now husband and I first met, he asked me what kinds of music I liked. I replied that I liked world music. Once, several years later, I played a favorite CD of mine with Latin music on it, which I’d had in mind at the time. He was glad he hadn’t known back then that this was what I’d meant or he might not have decided to meet me again. He, by the way, was the one who introduced me to most of my current favorite genres and artists.