Gratitude List (May 6, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone on this first Friday of May. My husband and I always count the days from May 4 till May 8 as special days. May 6 is only special because Pim Fortuyn, a Dutch politician, was murdered on this day in 2002. Not really a cause to celebrate. Nonetheless, I’m doing a gratitude list today anyway. As usual, I’m linking up with Ten Things of Thankful (#TToT). Here goes.

1. I am grateful for a good talk with the behavior specialist on Tuesday. She was really understanding of my wish to eventually find a more suitable care home.

2. I am grateful I finally had a face-to-face meeting with my community psychiatric nurse again after several months. She’d been off work for a while and, before that, I had COVID and had to talk to her on the phone. I am so glad she’s back!

3. I am grateful my nurse practitioner called me on Tuesday, after I’d E-mailed him on Monday evening because I’d been in crisis. We will soon be planning a meeting with the behavior specialist too so that my nurse practitioner can get a more complete picture of my mental health.

4. I am grateful my husband’s car didn’t need replacing or repairing after all. The financial setback I mentioned last week, was related to his car. It made a weird sound, which could be the oil level, but could be a lot of other things, likely to be very expensive to repair. My husband was considering trading in the car if it wasn’t the oil level. Thankfully, that’s what it turned out to be.

5. I am grateful the store I bought the headphones at (the ones that stopped working after two weeks) finally sent off the headphones to the manufacturer. It took my staff making a phone call on Monday for them to send them out and another phone call for them to confirm they’d actually been sent out, but now I’m hoping they’ll be fixed soon.

6. I am grateful I am still allowed to borrow the headphones the Care Lab loaned us before I even originally ordered the ones that stopped working. You normally get to only keep products on loan for like a month or so, but the staff said they’d contact the Care Lab.

7. I am grateful I was allowed to go into the nearby care home’s garden to photograph their tulips yesterday. They are beautiful! I had been wanting to photograph them all week, but hadn’t been able to find the right time of day either sunshine-wise or with respect to being able to ask the staff whether I could enter their garden.

8. I am grateful for home-cooked macaroni this evening. It was delicious! Yesterday, I also had some leftover macaroni that we still had in the freezer from the last time we’d cooked it.

9. I am grateful for some crafty inspiration again. I finally did a little crafting today.

10. I am also grateful I finally seem to be in a reading groove again. I have truly been enjoying my young adult novel, Thrive. This is the final installment in the Overthrow trilogy and it’s been out for a year already, but because its prequel was a bit disappointing, I didn’t get to reading this one.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Sharing this post with Flower of the Day too because of the tulip picture.

Happiest When…: My Creativity-Related Happy List #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter H post in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for my being late to post. I am also a bit tired, because I had a rather intense day, so I may not elaborate as much as I normally would. For my letter H post, I once again looked to The Year of You for Creatives. One of the prompts asked us to complete the following sentence ten times: “I am happiest when I…” I decided to tweak it to: “I feel happiest when…” Of course, I am going to answer this with things related to my creativity. In my letter E post, I shared general things that give me joy about my creative work. Today, I am going to try to be more specific. I am going to try to list some things about my crafting as well as my writing. I am aiming for ten things, but if I can think of more, I won’t stop there.

1. I feel happiest when I am watching a YouTube video of a polymer clay tutorial that I think I’ll be able to follow. I have a few favorite YouTubers who provide good voiceover and/or easy-to-follow tutorials.

2. I feel happiest when I find I’m almost perfect at something after a lot of practice, such as doing the twisted mane of a unicorn.

3. I feel happiest when a difficult polymer clay project comes out of the oven better than expected.

4. I feel happiest when online window shopping for new supplies for my crafts, even if I don’t end up buying anything. I feel particularly happy when I find new shops. I recently discovered Etsy. Though I haven’t ordered physical products there because of shipping and possibly customs clearance costs, I did order some digital products there.

5. I feel happiest when I’ve decided on the perfect colors (whether they are based on a color mixing recipe or not) for a project.

6. I feel happiest when a color I’m mixing comes out of the pasta machine blending process exactly as it should.

7. I feel happiest when finally, after a lot of work, a polymer clay slab comes out of the pasta machine without air bubbles or other imperfections.

8. I feel happiest when I’ve been able to take a good photo mostly by myself rather than someone else basically snapping it for me.

9. I feel happiest when I get nice comments on Facebook when sharing my creative projects.

10. I feel happiest when I get a lot of nice comments on a blog post I’m also content about.

11. I feel happiest when showing my staff my new creations or ideas, be it my new folder of color mixing recipes, my latest polymer clay creation or a YouTube video I’d discovered and want to base a new project on.

12. I feel happiest when I can make someone else smile by giving them a handmade gift. Last Monday, I gave a fellow client at the day center a handmade necklace and matching bracelet. Granted, I’d created them a while ago and they weren’t my style, which is why I wanted to get rid of them, but she was over the moon about them.

What makes you feel happiest, creativity-related or otherwise?

Gratitude List (March 25, 2022) #TToT

It’s the last weekend of March. I didn’t realize it until I read it in this week’s Ten Things of Thankful. Yay, I’m joining in again with a gratitude post! Here goes.

1. I am grateful for daylight until nearly 7PM in the evening. Make that 8PM come this Sunday, as we’re entering daylight saving time. Yay!

2. I am grateful for a field of daisies near the day center. I am grateful I was able to take a few photos of them and I didn’t fall over when sitting on my knees to snap the pics.

Daisy

3. I am grateful I didn’t lose interest in polymer clay altogether. I made a unicorn again today and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also worked on another, larger polymer clay project yesterday.

4. I am grateful the weather permitted me to go outside without a jacket on several days this week.

5. I am grateful for a delicious microwave omelette on Wednesday. I didn’t use cooking oil or butter to microwave the egg, so according to the dietitian, it’s as healthy as a boild egg. I also added chopped onion and bell pepper.

Microwave Omelette

6. I am grateful for birdsong. I got awoken by a bird at 6AM several mornings this week. Though I wasn’t particularly thrilled about that, I do appreciate the sound of birds singing in general.

7. I am grateful it was pay day on Wednesday. I had a whole list of things I wanted to buy in my mind that I had told myself to wait for until pay day at least. So far, I’ve only ordered one thing off the list and that’s something I’ll need for a staff’s birthday next week. Sadly, I haven’t received it yet and have no way of tracking it down.

8. I am grateful I was able to get through a few intense days full of emotional, visual and bodily flashbacks thanks to the support of some trusted staff. I am grateful these few staff are still there and, though no-one can predict the future, they don’t intend on leaving.

9. I am grateful for my PRN quetiapine. It helped me calm down on Tuesday, when I was having a particularly rough evening.

10. I am grateful for my journaling app, Day One. I picked it up again and finally figured out how to use tags properly in it. I also transferred a template from Diarium, the other journaling app I’d been using. One of the good points of Diarium is that it has its templates available in other languages than English, but other than that, I think I prefer Day One after all. I am really hoping I can make journaling a habit again.

What have you been 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?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 18, 2022)

Hi everyone. I’ve been neglecting my blog a bit as other creative passions take over. I really need to remedy that. Today, I’m once again late writing a post, as it’s nearly 9PM. At least I’m writing something. I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. As you can imagine, it’s rather late for coffee for my liking, but I bet we still got soft drinks in the fridge. I allowed myself a Dubbelfrisss this evening. I normally skip them, as they’re not 100% sugar-free and I’d rather have an extra piece of candy than this. Today though, I gave myself permission for both some licorice and the Dubbelfrisss. Anyway, Dubbelfrisss is only slightly carbonated, but we might have coke too or even alcohol-free beer (alcohol isn’t allowed here). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I had a good appt with my psychiatric nurse practitioner on Monday. Last week Friday, I had had a panic attack. It was related to the war in Ukraine and fear of what might happen, which I realized at my appt is different from a flashback to a traumatic experience I really did go through in the past. Not that it really mattered in that moment, as the feeling was just as overwhelming.

I also linked the panic attack to the staff who had triggered me and, since this staff is new, I felt really anxious about the whole situation of allowing him to work with me one-on-one. Thankfully, once it got to this point, we were able to talk through the issue and let it go that way. And indeed, this staff’s first time working one-on-one with me went pretty well if you ask me.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Wednesday, I cooked the best chicken pilav! I did most of the cutting of the vegetables myself (the chicken was pre-cut) and also most of the cooking. We had my favorite rice with the pilav too!

Chicken Pilav

If we were having coffee, I’d also tell you that I’ve been taking more flower photos. I finally started actually snapping the pictures myself most of the time rather than letting my staff do most of the actual photographing. Of course, my staff still have to tell me where to point the camera. It’s cool that I can make use of my knowledge of photography, gathered from photography blogs of course, to help the staff figure out ways to help me take better pictures.

I’ve also been running a few of my photos through a plant identification app called PictureThis. The one below is a Chaenomeles Japonica.

Chaenomeles Japonica

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that yesterday, I decided semi-impulsively to go to Action to try to find macrame cords. Obviously, experienced macrame artists would say I should get high-quality cords, but I’m just trying to get a hang on the knots. The lark’s head knot, square knot and spiral knot are relatively doable after some practice, but I keep getting stuck on the half hitch knot (and don’t even get me started on its variations). I mean, when I saw a beginner tutorial with pictures, it sounded a lot easier than I thought it should be. That tutorial was doing the half hitch knot with just two cords, which all other tutorials show isn’t possible. I’m pretty sure I spent some significant time tying just plain ordinary “old bitch knots”, as my husband would likely call them.

With respect to my shopping spree at Action, I also ended up buying a lot of felt stickers that I now don’t know what to use them for, a new organizing box that I may not even be able to use yet, deodorant, butterscotch candies and probably more. I spent less than €10, but that’s also because my staff paid for the macrame cord and the felt stickers from day center budget.

How have you been?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 14, 2022) #WeeklySmile

Hi all. I’m joining the Weekly Smile today. I don’t promise this will be a weekly feature, of course, but the hashtag is #WeeklySmile. I could really use a bit of cheer today, so I’m going to share some little things that gave me joy lately. Hopefully writing about them will make me smile now too.

First up are flowers once again. Last Thursday as well as yesterday, I went for a walk and took some pictures of flowers I came across on my way. The below picture is of an anemone we came across yesterday. We initially called it a giant crocus, but I found out it’s an anemone by running the picture through some plant identification apps.

That’s my second little joy: I just love learning about all sorts of different plants and running my pictures through identification apps. I haven’t yet found the perfect plant identification app after having tried out several, but that’s okay.

Finally, a thing that’s been making me smile for days: discovering an app that will allow me (with some help) to make collages and mosaics with my photos. The app is called PhotoGrid and, though some parts of the app are free, I decided to try out the premium membership right away and didn’t cancel when my trial period (which admittedly is only three days) was over. The below collage, my staff and I made with most of the photos we’d taken while going for a walk on Thursday. I’m linking this post to Mosaic Monday. Hope I did it right.

One of my staff later suggested I use this collage as my cover photo on Facebook, so I did. I had never had a cover photo before.

It may seem weird that I, being blind, like photography. However, with the image description tools, including now the plant identification apps, on my phone, I think it’s a great way of getting acquainted with my surroundings.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (March 11, 2022)

Hi everyone on this late Friday evening. It’s too late for coffee for my liking, but I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare regardless. I’m pretty sure there are still some soft drinks in the fridge, so if you’d like a drink, you can have one of those. Or you can just have water. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you about your weather. The weather here has been truly beautiful all week. Yesterday, the temperature rose to about 16°C. Today, it was slightly cooler, but still about 14°C and mostly sunny. Over the weekend, we’re supposed to get slightly cloudier weather and we may get rain on Monday and Tuesday. Oh well, I guess that’s a welcome change for the farmers.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you all about the new creative projects I’ve been busy with lately. First, early in the week, I finished yet another polymer clay unicorn. This one, for those who can’t see, is teal with purple legs, tail, mane and ears. The purple color is the color I’d been mixing myself a few weeks ago. Its horn is Pacific blue and the unicorn stands on a heart-shaped surface of the same color as its horn.

I’ve also been creating a mobile for my sister’s new baby. The baby isn’t due until May, but I don’t want to put myself under pressure.

Finally, I’ve had a bunch of ideas in my head. I got a lot of rings similar to the one I put my polymer clay owl on. One is for the mobile, but I want to use one for an Easter bunny too and maybe I can think of others too. I also thought of combining a slice of wood from a tree with polymer clay and my staff gave me a slice. I really look forward to crafting with all of this material!

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ve also been loving experimenting with photography and photo editing. Of course, my staff does most of the work in this case, but I tell them what I want them to do and I suggest ways of improving the pictures based on the tips I get on photography blogs. For example, when I took Wednesday’s flower pic, I didn’t realize it might look burned out due to excess sunlight. Then when I went out to take some more pictures on Thursday, I made sure to take them later in the day and to make shade with my body while my staff took the picture.

At the suggestion of one of my staff, I also downloaded an app that is really cool for collage making and such.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I had a haircut this morning. I had my hair cut in layers, so that my wavy hair comes out even more than it normally does.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d tell you that the dietitian came by this morning too. We did an exercise in mindful eating. It was really quite interesting. We got a slice of a tangerine and had to listen to a story and, midway through, we had to look at the slice (my staff at least) and describe it without saying what it was. Then we could feel it, smell it, lay it on our lips and finally take a tiny bite, all the while describing the sensations without mentioning what we were eating. We then chewed onto the tiny bite as long as we could and then, once we’d swallowed it, had to wait until the taste disappeared. The idea is that, if I want a treat, such as a piece of licorice, I can do the same (well, except for taking tiny bites) and not take another one until the taste has truly left my mouth. I have been trying with licorice, but not been successful yet.

How have you been?

A Walk on Wednesday

Hi all on this beautiful Wednesday. It was sunny all day and the temperature reached 13°C in the afternoon. For this reason, I decided to go for a nice walk again. I’m still not fully recovered from COVID, but I was able to walk for about 15 minutes without feeling very tired. I really enjoyed my walk!

I took my phone with me on my walk, so that I could hopefully snap a picture of some flowers in bloom. I was really surprised when my staff said that the daffodils were in bloom in a garden we passed by. I mean, I’d been of the impression that they don’t blossom until sometime in mid-April at the earliest. I did feel a little self-conscious, taking a picture of some random person’s flowers, but oh well, we weren’t taking the flowers away.

Like I may’ve said before, VoiceOver Recognition no longer automatically describes images when I tap on them. However, contrary to what I used to think, image recognition isn’t completely gone; it was just moved to being its own separate function. This does allow for more detail to be added into the descriptions. In this case, VoiceOver clearly recognized that there are daffodils in this picture both on the lower right and lower left side of the image. I love this!

I’m linking this post with Cee’s Flower of the Day.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (February 19, 2022)

Hi everyone on this gloomy Saturday evening. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare today. I’m right between my dinner and my evening coffee and I cannot offer you a drink other than water right now, as my staff is busy and I don’t want to leave my room. I’ll get to that bit later. So, can I get you a drink of water? Otherwise you’ll have to wait until my staff returns. Anyway, let’s have a chat.

If we were having coffee (or water, in this case), I’d share that we’re quarantining right now, as four or five of my fellow clients are positive for COVID. Four are confirmed and the fifth one can’t be tested but is treated as having COVID too. I took a lateral flow test right after dinner this evening and so far I’m still negative, as are the four other clients supported by the same staff as me outside of my one-on-one hours.

This is the reason the staff are busy, with the staff who care for the COVID-positive clients having to wear PPE and the other staff having to remain out of these clients’ way. It is all rather chaotic.

If we were having coffee, I’d share some of my new clay creations with you too. Like I think I said yesterday, I finally created a cactus on Monday evening.

Polymer Clay Cactus

Then on Wednesday, I created my second-ever polymer clay cane. This one I did using a heart-shaped cutter for the image. I managed to do the reducing all by myself! Then I had my staff cut it into slices, which we then made into beads.

I also created several possible charms to go with these beads. One is a heart which I do kind of like. The other was a unicorn, but I threw that one away. I now only need to make more beads, because, even though I have more than just the four beads shown in the picture above, I don’t have enough for a necklace.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that, this afternoon, I have been experimenting with photo editing and meme making again. I didn’t have any success, of course. I mean, I found a photo editing app called Snapseed, which is relatively accessible with VoiceOver, but the one thing I wanted to do, ie. add text to an image, was not. That is, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to enter the text I wanted to add onto the image.

The result of all my experimenting is that now I have eight apps in my Photography folder on my iPhone rather than the four I used to have. And those four already seemed excessive, being that, besides the camera and default photos app, I only use one out of the two image recognition apps I have. Oh well.

If we were having coffee, I’d share about my nurse practitioner’s appointment on Thursday. I am so thankful we were still allowed to leave the home back then, because the appt was really productive. With respect to my new medication, the pregabalin, my nurse practitioner recommended I wait and see another two weeks before concluding it’s ineffective for my anxiety. We discussed my anxiety in a little more depth and also for the first time in a long while went into my diagnosis. He actually said he believes my diagnosis is DID (dissociative identity disorder) or at least some variation of it (ie. other specified dissociative disorder). I quickly talked over it saying it doesn’t really matter, as I know firstly he can’t diagnose me (but then again the psychiatrist can) and secondly I still haven’t had the extensive assessment required for a DID diagnosis in most places here in the Netherlands. That being said, it felt so good to be validated like this! My nurse practitioner also finally will make room for us to discuss my flashbacks at a later appt. He said the reason he didn’t go into it right then was the limited time left in our appt, but he’d definitely like to discuss it with me. That feels kind of weird, but in a good way.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I’m so glad the storms are finally over. Last Wednesday night, I hardly slept at all due to the high winds. Thankfully, last night and the night before that were better. My husband’s and my house did suffer some damage to the roof though. Hopefully insurance will be able to cover the cost of getting it repaired.

How have you been?

Four Skills I Wish I Were Good At

Today, one of Mama Kat’s prompts is to write about something you wish you were good at. I can’t just name one thing, so instead, I’m going to make a list of skills I wish I possessed.

1. Creative writing. Like I said on Sunday, I don’t really have a vivid imagination at all and my works of creative writing aren’t all that original at all. Now of course Julia Cameron (from The Artist’s Way) and others say you really don’t have to have natural talent to be a creative. Maybe then, I wish I had the perseverance to actually sit down and write those tons of freewrites, raw drafts, etc. it takes to come up with a coherent story in the end.

2. Photography. Okay, I don’t really mean the ability to point the camera correctly, set the right filters, etc. That’s a skill I will never possess due to being blind. I rather mean the ability to find picture-worthy things in my environment and then direct my staff to take pictures.

3. Language learning. This is a broad skill. Again, it is not something I wish I were good at per se – I already think I’m a decent language learner if I set my mind to it. Of course, I wish I were better at phonics in general, so that I could more easily develop decent-sounding speech in the languages I know (which currently is singular language, honestly, as I only know English as a second language). However, as with creative writing, I wish I had the perseverance to actually devote myself to learning a language rather than wanting to be able to write a blog post in said language immediately.

4. Distress tolerance. Ha, let’s share a skill that isn’t just useful for the fun of it. I really wish I were good at tolerating frustration. In dialectical behavior therapy, this is considered a skill that can be learned indeed, but I honestly am highly skeptical about it in my case at least.

What do you wish you were good at?

Mama’s Losin’ It