I’d Rather Not Ask

This week’s prompt for #LifeThisWeek is “Questions”. Denyse writes in her original post that she tended to be a question-asker until she was faced with a cancer diagnosis, when she felt too overwhelmed to ask questions. And maybe, I’m assuming here, also a little too self-conscious. She was able to ask some of her questions eventually but even still encounters things she didn’t even know she wanted to know.

I am not a huge question-asker. Like, over the past week, I’ve been asking lots of polymer clay-related questions, but I’ve felt self-conscious each time. I’d rather solve my own problems than ask for help.

Unfortunately, with me being multiply-disabled, that’s often hard. Even when my only recognized disability was blindness, I struggled with asking for help for those things that those who are just blind usually get help with. I’d rather figure things out on my own, only to get frustrated and distressed when things didn’t work out. I considered myself fiercely independent, but I really wasn’t.

As my father at one point said: “You have an issue with only saying when you think people should have helped you.” I realize that’s rather disrespectful indeed, because, well, other people are not mind readers and cannot have guessed that I wanted to ask for help. Then again, I didn’t necessarily want to ask for help.

I’m trying to learn to ask for both explanations and assistance when I need it now, but I often still feel very self-conscious. This happens especially online, where people can’t tell right away that I’m disabled. For example, people in the polymer clay Facebook groups often suggest I watch YouTube videos, so then I feel kind of obligated to say that those won’t work for me as I’m blind. I do tend to say that I’ll ask my support staff for help, because of course I can’t expect a random person online to explain everything in plain text. Each time I feel I have to mention my disabilities though, I feel some of my self-esteem go. I’m not sure that’s justified, but it’s the way it is.

Early Days Online

Yesterday, Rory asked whether we remember our first times online or with a computer in general. I certainly do. I may have shared some of these memories before, but just in case I haven’t, I’m going to dedicate a post to them.

I got my first computer at the age of eleven in January of 1998. That one didn’t have an Internet connection though. Its operating system, Windows 95 SP2 (which my father explained was like Windows 96), did support Internet Explorer, but my screen reader didn’t. That screen reader, Slimware Windows Bridge, was quite primitive. So was the Braille display, which I remember to be attached to my computer via the printer port. Though it did work with just Braille, without speech, if the speech unit in the Braille display malfunctioned, so did the entire thing.

In 2002, I got my second computer and my first JAWS version. For those who don’t know, JAWS is the most commonly-used screen reader today. This computer had Windows 98 installed on it and it did have Internet access.

My father at first was adamant that I use the Internet as much as I want, even though we had a dial-up connection back then (not the kind where you can’t phone and go online at the same time). He said that, if the bill got too expensive, we’d get broadband. Then when the bill did get to over €300 over the summer, it turned out broadband wasn’t available at our house. After a few months of my parents trying to restrict my Internet access and my trying to evade said restrictions, we eventually got cable.

I got my first online diary that fall of 2002. It was on DiaryLand if I remember correctly, though I often switched between DiaryLand, Diary-X, Teen Open Diary and whatever else was available. The only service I never actively used, was Xanga. I also had a Dutch online diary.

The worst mistake I made, looking back, was not taking care of other people’s privacy. I not only wrote out every argument I’d had with my parents in detail, but also referred to other people, such as my teachers, by their real names. One teacher in particular had a rather unusual last name and at one point was googling her name for genealogy purposes. Not surprisingly, she stumbled upon my Dutch diary. Though I (interestingly) had used a nickname there, she quickly found out it was me. She personally didn’t mind, but did caution me that others might.

What mistakes did you make in your early days online?

Truthful Tuesday: Birthdays

Hi all! It’s Tuesday and I’m feeling a little better still than I was yesterday. I’m still having a cold, but it’s mostly manageable now.

Today I’m participating in Truthful Tuesday. This week’s question is: as you have gotten older, do you still celebrate your birthday, or has it become just another day to you?

The presumption behind this question is that, as we get older and the effects of aging become less positive than they were when we were a child or teen, some people no longer appreciate their birthdays.

I find, and maybe this will change when I get even older, that the opposite is true. I will be 35 in June and have found that, with increased age, does come increased wisdom. I am probably not old enough yet to start feeling depressed about my life’s regrets. That doesn’t mean I don’t have many, but they don’t weigh me down that much as of yet. I hope that won’t come either, but I’m pretty sure it will.

In contrast, when I was a child, I feared growing up. My birthdays were fun because of the gifts I got, but that’s about it. I never felt that flash of excitement that some children and teens feel as they get older. No, not even (or especially not) when I turned twelve, sixteen or eighteen.

When I turned 30 in 2016, I did have some mixed feelings. I was excited to be allowed into the over-30s groups on Facebook but also felt that, at my age, I could no longer have emotional outbursts. I still did. That latter feeling subsided over time though as I realized a neurotypical ten-year-old wouldn’t have meltdowns like mine.

My birthday has always been an exciting yet stressful event. Now though, it’s more exciting than stressful usually. My parents don’t make a point of telling me to act grown-up anymore. For this reason, them visiting me for this occasion – usually the only time a year I see them in real life -, is mostly fun.

I do indeed still celebrate my birthday. Months in advance, my husband starts asking me what I want for my birthday. It’s also a bit of a tradition that he takes the week around my birthday off from work.

Most years, I spread out my birthday party over several days, as I don’t want to have the house full of visitors. Last year, the visiting restrictions due to COVID were lifted the day before my birthday. This meant that my parents could actually take me out for a ride in their car rather than having to sit in the care facility’s garden for the entirety of the visit.

My mother-in-law visited me the day before and brought me the giant bear soft toy. That’s another thing that makes birthdays fun: I love getting gifts. Of course, I can buy myself the things I really want too, but I actually like the fact that people give me something I wouldn’t buy myself.

Maybe, now that I’m inn my thirties and don’t have to act grown-up, as I’m on disability and in long-term care, I can finally feel the excitement of being a kid at heart.

My Twelve-Year-Old Self Would Be Surprised

Today, Emilia of My Inner MishMash had a very interesting question of the day. She asks what twelve-year-old you would never believe about your current self. This is the perfect question to get me reflecting on how I saw my life at age twelve.

Honestly, there is nothing about my current life that would be so far off that my twelve-year-old self wouldn’t believe it. I mean, I alternated between seeing my adult self as a professor and seeing her as a care facility resident. That first image, I saw as the “good” one. I would be a linguistics or mathematics professor. Never mind that, at least here in the Netherlands, mathematics isn’t a suitable university major for a blind person.

That second image, I saw as the “bad” one. I have probably written before about the sixteen-year-old girl in the media in around 1997 or 1998, when I was eleven or twelve. She had a low IQ, but not so low that she’d fit in with intellectual disability services. She also had severe challenging behavior. The reason she was portrayed in the media, was the fact that she was being restrained and held in solitary confinement in an adolescent psychiatric hospital. I totally identified with this girl.

Of course, currently, I’m not being restrained or secluded. I have some experience of manual restraint and seclusion, but not to the extent this girl did.

This gets me to the part that would probably surprise my twelve-year-old self most about my life right now: that I am relatively happy. For what it’s worth, I totally thought that, if I had to be in long-term care as an adult, I would be utterly desperate.

Another thing that would’ve totally surprised twelve-year-old me, is that I’m married. In truth, it still surprises me at times that my husband is willing to share his life with me. Though as a teen, I imagined becoming a mother later, I never quite considered a partner in my life. Besides, being married doesn’t at all fit in with the “bad” image of myself as a care facility resident.

Lastly, like I commented on Emilia’s post, the one thing that my twelve-year-old self wouldn’t believe about me, is that I found my faith in God. After all, I was raised atheist and was at age twelve clueless about faith. My teachers at the Christian school for the blind made me participate in prayer, something I had a huge aversion to. Honestly, till this day I struggle to pray at set times of the day because it feels more like a ritual than an investment in my relationship with God.

What would surprise twelve-year-old you most about your life right now?

Truthful Tuesday: This or That

Good evening all. I am finding that I struggle to keep the motivation and inspiration for so-called quality content. That doesn’t matter, as it’s my blog and I don’t write for my stats. That can’t keep me from being slightly frustrated by it though.

Today I’m participating once again in Truthful Tuesday. The questions this time are a series of rather lighthearted this-or-that choices. I like that! After all, we just heard here in the Netherlands that we’re in lockdown at least until February 9 and curfews or other harsher measures are being discussed. Still, I am so lucky to live here.

Anyway, here goes. I’ll explain some where I can.

1. Coffee or Hot Tea?
Coffee! I do like hot tea on occasion, but only green tea without lemon or other yucky additives.

2. Soda or Iced Tea?
I’m assuming that soda is always carbonated, so then I’d say iced tea. I prefer non-carbonated soft drinks though.

3. House or Condo?
House just because that’s what my husband and I have at the moment. I don’t mind living in a condo though.

4. Pie or Cobbler?
Pie! I had honestly never heard of cobbler and the first translation Google came up with had nothing to do with food. However, the second one made it pretty clear to me I prefer pie. In fact, I can’t stand cobbler.

5. Cornbread or Biscuits (The US kind)?
Cornbread. I have no idea what U.S. biscuits taste like, but I do like cornbread.

6. Computer or Smart Phone?
I honestly can’t do without either. Does that sound weird? I mean, of course I can do without them, but if I want to accomplish everything I do on a daily basis, I certainly need both.

7. Hotel or Camping?
Hotel for sure. As a child, I often went camping with my family, but it got harder the more sight I lost. Now I don’t really think I can do it.

8. Swimming Pool or Ocean?
Swimming pool. I can swim in a lake or the ocean, but I don’t like it nearly as much as I like swimming in a pool.

9. TV Shows or Movies?
TV shows. I don’t have the attention span to follow a movie.

10. iOS (iPhone/iPad) or Android (Samsung, LG, et. al.)
Definitely iOS. It’s far more accessible for blind people than Android, although Android developers are making progress too. I started using a smartphone before Android could be used by not so tech savvy blind people. Though I might be able to make the transition to Android now, I just won’t.

Sunday Poser: Changes for 2021

Today’s post is going to be a relatively quick one. I hardly slept at all last night and really need to rest, but I’d also like to write something to wind down for the night. I’m joining Sadje’s Sunday Poser. The question is about the changes you wish to see in 2021. I traditionally write a post of personal hopes for the new year in early January, so I won’t make this too personal.

Like Sadje, I agree that I totally wish this COVID-19 crisis will end. I really hope the vaccine will be distributed fast. I’ve already heard that the staff of care facilities may get the vaccine in late January here. That being said, I doubt things will move as quickly as it looks now, because we have a rather slow-thinking health minister.

We’re due to have a national election here in the Netherlands in March. I really hope the right won’t win more seats in the Lower House than they have now, but I must say I don’t hope for a huge move to the left either. In this sense, I don’t hope much will change, although my leftist conscience does tell me I need to object to Mark Rutte getting yet another term as prime minister. My centrist intellect says he isn’t so bad after all.

Honestly, of course, I do think a lot needs to change on a larger scale. We need to truly show our stewardship towards the planet and we need to distribute wealth and health more evenly. That does make me worried for my own sake though, as I know I’m relatively healthy and wealthy considering the world at large. I shouldn’t be so selfish though.

Lastly, like Sadje, I definitely hope people become less divisive and extremist in their encounters with others. If COVID taught the world one thing, it should’ve been that it can affect us all.

Truthful Tuesday: Hobbies Other Than Blogging

I discovered Truthful Tuesday a few weeks ago already, but never participated before. Today I am joining in though. The idea behind Truthful Tuesday is to answer Frank’s weekly question(s) as truthfully as possible.

This week there is just one question:
With the exception of blogging (assuming it’s a hobby and not your profession), do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

Indeed, blogging is my main hobby. I at one point listed my old blog as my place of employment on Facebook, since I am unemployed. I however never intend on making any money from blogging.

So what are my other hobbies and pastimes? Here goes.

1. Walking. I go for two or three, sometimes four walks a day. They aren’t long walks – 20-30 minutes or so – and the scenery isn’t too interesting. I just enjoy the ability to move my body and clear my mind.

2. Essential oils. I love to research different diffuser blends. I need help actually counting the number of drops that go into my diffuser, but I try to come up with my own blends. In the near future, I’d also like to make my own aromatherapeutic massage oil.

3. Soap and bath and body product making. I am not as active with it as I used to be, but I like to make a melt and pour soap every once in a while.

4. Collecting books related to my other hobbies, such as journaling prompt collections or books on aromatherapy.

5. Reading. I haven’t been reading much lately, but usually it’s a main pastime of mine. I mostly read memoirs and young adult fiction about real issues, with the occasional thriller, romance novel or SciFi book thrown in.

This is it I think. There are many other things I have an interest in. In fact, my interests change a lot. However, these are my current main hobbies.

Would You Rather (Fashion Edition)

Last week, Anjali of Chasing the Maximum Life created a meme or something like it. In it, she asks a number of Would You Rather questions about fashion. I am not at all a fashionista, but this may in fact be one reason I choose to answer her questions. I mean, it’s good to hear from trendy folk, but also from the ordinary woman who is pretty careless about fashion. Here goes.

1. Wear the Same Outfit Every Day OR Only Be Allowed to Wear Neutrals for Life?
I wouldn’t mind either, unless of course wearing the same outfit everyday would mean the same exact set of clothes. I mean, I’m not very good with personal care, but I do try to make sure I wear clean clothes at least in the morning. That being said, for the sake of fitting in, I’m going with only be allowed to wear neutrals for life.

2. Be Underdressed for An Event OR Be Overdressed for An Event?
Overdressed. I don’t usually like revealing clothes at all.

3. Have an Unlimited Supply of The Perfect White T-Shirts OR Have an Unlimited Supply of The Perfect Little Black Dresses?
Obviously black dresses. I just can’t see myself wearing white, because it shows stains so incredibly easily.

4. Only Be Able to Wear Futuristic Clothing OR Only Be Able to Wear an Old-Timey Clothing?
I honestly have no idea what is considered futuristic, so I’m going with old-timey clothing.

5. Have A Closet Filled Only with Prints and Bright Colours OR Have A Closet Filled Only with Black Clothes?
Black! As much as I love the few colorful clothes I own, I can’t imagine myself wearing those all the time. In fact, as a teen, I copied one of my favorite teen fiction characters’ habit of wearing only black. I no longer do that and have said that I’d like some more colorful clothes, but if I have to choose, I’ll still go for black.

6. Wear Leather Jackets for The Rest of Your Life OR Wear Denim Jackets for The Rest of Your Life?
Denim jackets. I love the look of good leather, but I cannot see myself wearing that for the rest of my life. Besides, I think it’s way too sweaty.

7. Wear Chanel Or Louis Vuitton?
Chanel. Not that I know either, but I keep getting LV junk mail and don’t want to risk my money if I confuse a scam for the real thing.

8. Wear Only Dresses OR Only Coordinating Suits to All Formal Events?
Dresses. I’ve never worn a coordinating suit.

9. Wear Heels That Are Ugly and Old but Super Comfortable OR Wear Gorgeous Heels That Everyone Loves but Torture Your Feet and Give You Blisters?
Ugly but comfy. I told you, I’m not a fashionista at all. In fact, give me shoes without heels anytime. I get foot pain wearing even the most comfortable of shoes and would fall over if I had to wear any type of even moderately-high heels.

10. Shop More and Pay Less OR Shop Less and Live More!
Shop less and live more. I don’t like clothes shopping as it is.

These were the questions. I’d love to hear your opinion on them.

Friendly Fill-Ins Week #218

I have a lot I want to write about, but I cannot quite put fingers to keyboard and actually write. I checked out some other blogs to get me motivated and stumbled upon the Friendly Fill-Ins for this week. They are fun, so I thought I’d join in. Here are the questions.


  1. I had ___________ for _____________.

  2. I ________________ surprises.

  3. _________ is my idea of fun.

  4. If I were a food, I would be _________.

1. I had French fries and snacks for dinner today. One of the staff who’d be working the evening shift today, had noticed there were still fries and snacks in the freezer, so she proposed to the other staff we fry them today. We also had ice cream for dessert and I had one of my favorite cookies with my evening coffee.

2. I hate surprises. Unless it’s pizza at my favorite pizza chain or something like that.

3. Reading is my idea of fun. I really love it.

4. If I were a food, I would be Brussels sprouts. Small, round and slightly bitter. Of course I’d be multiple sprouts.

What about you?

Real Neat Blog Award

This Thursday, I was tagged for the Real Neat Blog Award by Emilia of My Inner MishMash. Thanks so much!

Here are the questions Emilia asked her nominees.

1. What’s your eye colour? Do you like it or would you change it if you could?
My eye color is a kind of weird blue-green-grey mix. I guess I like it, though I’ve never had enough vision to actually see it. I had a cataract on my left eye for many years before getting it removed in 2013. The eye surgeon told my husband that, even if it didn’t have any positive effect on my vision, it was good for my appearance that it was gone.

2. Have you had a good relationship with your parents?
Well, uhm, it’s complicated. As a child, I thought my life was pretty normal, but as I grew up, I realized my relationship with my parents really wasn’t as it should have been.

3. If you had to rename yourself, what would your name be?
Uhm, I guess it depends on who’s fronting. Like, each of us alters would like our own name.

4. Do you like to daydream? If so, does your dream world look in any specific way that you are able to describe?
We love to daydream. We don’t have an extensive inner world though, or it changes depending on our needs. Like, Milou created an inside beach and we often like to retreat there.

5. If you feel very hungry, what is your go-to meal?
Anything. I really can eat anything I normally like when very hungry. That being said, when I’m hungry, I do get more irritated than usual if the food delivery company has served me a meal I normally don’t like.

6. What is your favourite instrument or one that you would like to learn to play?
Guitar. I took a few guitar lessons when on a summer camp in Russia in 2000, but the instructor spoke only Russian and English and I spoke only Dutch and a tiny bit of English. It wasn’t a success.

7. What types of blogs/blog posts do you most enjoy reading?
Really anything authentic. In other words, I don’t care much for sponsored posts or the like, but anything that’s written from the heart, I’ll read.

8. Do you like to sing?
No.

9. What is the best way for you to recharge after an exhausting day, whether physically or mentally?
That would have to be retreat into my bed with calming music on and a scent I love in my essential oil diffuser.

10. If you were a founder of a charity, whom/what would it work for?
It would be an organization advocating for people with complex care needs or multiple disabilities.

Here are my nominees.


And anyone else reading this post.

My question sfor my nominees are.


  1. What song best describes your personality?

  2. Have you ever studied personality typology? If so, what is your type (MBTI, enneagram, etc.)?

  3. What is the farthest place from your home you’ve traveled to?

  4. What is/are your favorite color)s)?

  5. How would you describe your taste in books?

  6. Has the global health crisis (COVID-19) given you more or less trust in your country’s government?

  7. Do you have any pets?

  8. What is your favorite wildlife animal?

  9. Which of the four seasons best describes you?

  10. How long have you been blogging?

Thanks again Emilia for nominating me!