Unicorns, Of Course! #SoCS

Unicorns are my favorite mythical creatures. When I saw that this week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “U” – to start your post with a word beginning with the letter “U” -, I of course had to go with “unicorn”.

Not that I know much about the origins or meanings of unicorns. I mean, I love reading chapter books about them, in which they are always described as having magical powers. For example, in the Branches Books early chapter book Bo’s Magical New Friend, a unicorn tries to help discover her friend’s power. In a chapter book for slightly more advanced readers, Twilight, Say Cheese! by Daisy Sunshine, a unicorn has trouble containing her power of invisibility.

In addition to books, I love stuffed unicorns. I have two. One is Sophie/Rainbow, who has two names because two of my blog readers independently came up with names for her. She is a white unicorn with rainbow-colored mane. The other is completely white and I call her Snowflake.

I also love crafting unicorns out of polymer clay, though I haven’t done it much lately because I haven’t found a way to prevent the thing it stands on from bending and/or developing air bubbles. I do really want to create another unicorn soon, but am too busy with the presents for various people to get to that one. I already have the colors I want to use for my next polymer clay unicorn though. It will be three different intensity levels of a bright green.

Gratitude List (July 15, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone. I am struggling a little, but trying to stay positive. As such, I want to write a gratitude list again. I’m joining Ten Things of Thankful as usual. Here goes.

1. I am grateful for ice cream. Last Sunday, the local Rotary Club sent out some people to do a performance on care facility grounds, like singing and acting and all. I didn’t like that, but they also sent an ice cream truck. I loved the stracciatella and vanilla ice cream, even though I normally don’t care for chocolate.

2. I am grateful I was able to bring a huge smile to my old assigned staff’s face when I gave her the polymer clay hedgehog I’d crafted for her.

3. I am grateful for nice, warm enough but not too hot weather this week.

4. I am grateful my physical fitness level is pretty much back to where I’d like it to be. I have been walking a lot over the past week. Not reaching 10K steps most days – just once, last Saturday, in fact -, but I’m so glad I’m walking longer distances again.

5. I am grateful for my husband’s creative pep talks. Earlier in the week, I had almost lost my polymer clay mojo because I kept doing my flat projects wrong. Then when I’d found a way to bake them without them bending upward or getting air bubbles at the back – by baking them or cardboard -, someone I consider a polymer clay expert claimed that would cause me problems. That discouraged me a lot, but my husband said not to listen to just one person and to do what works for me.

6. Speaking of which, I am so grateful at least that one little piece of polymer clay – a random cookie cutter star – turned out pretty good.

7. I am grateful I didn’t cry when my old assigned staff officially left yesterday.

8. I am grateful for a really nice card from her too. It has a small lucky doll inside of it, because she wishes me good luck.

9. I am grateful for my new stuffed dolphin. When my old assigned staff put me to bed yesterday, I grabbed ahold of my favorite stuffed animal, the lemur, and she commented I could seek comfort with him when I miss her. She had considered buying me a soft toy as a goodbye present, but she reasoned I have quite many already. This got me thinking and, within an hour, I’d ordered this stuffed dolphin off Bol.com, to be delivered today. It’s a little smaller than I’d expected, but actually it’s the perfect size for me to hold it when trying to sleep.

10. I am grateful that Seeing AI, the image description app on my iPhone, guessed my age in the above photo as 27. 😁 Not that I really care, but I just noticed and thought this’d make for a fun last item on my thankful list.

What are you thankful for?

Sunday Ramble: Motivation and Positivity

Hi everyone! I’m feeling full of ideas today, but none make it out of my head and into my hands. I’m talking both crafting and blogging here. Thankfully, with respect to blogging, I can always count on some great bloggers to provide me with prompts. Today, I’m participating once again in E.M.’s Sunday Ramble. This week the topic is positivity. Here goes.

1. What are the greatest attributes about you that make you feel good about yourself?
First up is, of course, my creativity! Many years ago, I would have said my intelligence, but I don’t really value that as much anymore. I do still consider it an asset that I’m a quick learner, but it’s not like I feel particularly good about being intelligent. It does make me feel good that I have many interests and I do consider that both related to my creativity and my intellectual ability.

2. What is/are your biggest motivation/s to get things done?
I find that I’m very much driven by an internal sense of motivation that comes in spurts and then goes away completely again. I’m not really sure what motivates me to do things I’d not otherwise be motivated for, other than maybe a kick in the butt from my staff.

3. Do you have any tips that could help others with their own motivation?
No, not really. I mean, other than getting treatment for obvious mental health problems that stand in the way of motivation, such as depression and anxiety. It may also help, if like me you’re neurodivergent (autistic, ADHD, etc.), to ask for help with step-by-step instructions on daily life tasks. There are groups for this on Facebook, such as Neurodivergent Cleaning Crew (I’m not a member of that one as I don’t do my own cleaning). That still may not help with actual motivation though.

4. As you are sitting there reading this question, look around you. What item in your home/work/car (wherever you are) made you smile when you looked at it?
I cannot actually look at it, being that I’m blind, and I cannot touch it from where I’m sitting at my desk, but my bed with all my stuffed animals and the satin duvet cover and pillow case that I got from a staff definitely makes me smile! I just had to leave my desk to take a picture (of course I did arrange the stuffed animals for it!).

5. What always makes you laugh and smile in your life?
My husband’s jokes! He has the funniest sense of humor.

How about you? What always makes you laugh and smile?

Gifts My Husband Gave Me

Today is Valentine’s day. Of course, my husband and I aren’t together now, as he had to work and I’m at the care facility, but I wanted to honor the occasion anyway by sharing something about my husband I appreciate. I looked to Lisa Shea’s collection of journaling prompts on love and romance. One of the prompts is to share a gift your lover gave or gives you that’s most precious to you. It can be a physical gift or an action or emotion. Instead, I am going to share a list of things my husband gifted me. Some of these things, I didn’t really appreciate in the sense that I liked the gifts themselves, but the gesture at the time was very much appreciated. And the story behind those gifts gives me and my husband a good laugh now.

1. A Planxty CD. This was the first gift my husband gave me when we were officially dating, for my 22nd birthday in 2008. I only listened to it probably once or twice when he came to visit. Then again, that same year, when he had his birthdday on November 12, I thought I’d gifted him a very well-thought-out present: a book of previously-unpublished philosophical texts by British Idealists. British Idealism was my profile research (high school graduation thesis) topic and he was a philosophy major at the time. He never read the book though.

2. Homemade apple pie. One year, I think it was 2010, my husband brought me a home-baked apple pie in the psych hospital. It was delicious!

3. A Tom Lehrer CD. This CD was much more appreciated than the Planxty one. In fact, I put the entire thing on my computer so that I can always listen to it, even now that I don’t have a CD player anymore (or the CD for that matter).

My husband had introduced me to Tom Lehrer’s song I Hold Your Hand in Mine back in 2008 and I loved it. From there on, I learned about most other songs. We still crack jokes about some of these songs.

4. Chocolate. It used to be kind of a tradition that my husband would buy me chocolate on Valentine’s and our wedding anniversary. Not that I’m a big chocolate fan, but I loved them nonetheless. One year, I bought my husband peanut rocks (chocolate filled with peanuts), but I’d bought him the milk chocolate ones when he preferred dark chocolate. Oopsie.

5. A bear soft toy. I can’t remember whether I showed this one on my blog yet, but last year, I got a gorgeous teddy bear holding a heart for Valentine’s day.

6. Winegums. I remember one day, my husband had been shopping at the wholesale store and he’d bought five bags of winegums (gummy candies) for me. He said he’d wanted to buy a prime number of bags and three seemed a little too few to him. You can imagine my delight, but, if you know me, you can also imagine I consumed them within a week.

7. A phone case. In 2020, when I’d bought my current iPhone, I’d asked my husband to set it up as a birthday gift and, if he wanted to give me a material gift anyway, he could give me a case. It turned out I could do the setting up mostly myself with some help from my staff, but I did get a pretty sturdy phone case.

I’m pretty sure I’m forgetting something really important my husband gave me. Of course, the most important thing he gave me, and continues to give me, is his love. I hope he feels I give him the same in return.

loopyloulaura

Also linking up with Senior Salon Pit Stop #200.

Too Many Toys

Today’s topic for Throwback Thursday is toys and pastimes. The first question Maggie asks in her post is: “Did you have a lot of toys?” The short answer would be that yes, I was privileged to have quite many toys, but I must say I wasn’t so spoiled that I always got the latest trendy toy.

I probably shared this story before, but I played with toys quite a lot until I was at least eleven. By that time, my parents and teachers were looking into options for secondary schools and their opinions couldn’t have been any different: while my parents wanted me to go to mainstream grammar school, my teachers felt special education at their low-level secondary school for the blind, preferably residential, was in my best interest. My mother one day took me for a “mother-daughter walk” explaining the school’s stance and said that the reason they felt I needed residential special ed, was my behavior. That, in turn, she attributed to my having too many toys. The logic, I never quite understood, but it must’ve been something like my being so spoiled that I somehow felt entitled to display challenging behavior.

She went on to explain that, at the residential school, I would only be allowed one doll and one soft toy. She had given me a Barbie doll for my birthday earlier that summer, but told me she regretted it as soon as she received the school’s report. Needless to say, I always felt weird about playing with dolls from that age on, even though I continued to play with toys and dolls and everything until I was at least fifteen.

Fast forward some ten to fifteen years. When I was in my mid-twenties and diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, I felt it might help my littles (child alters) if we had toys again. I first bought a box of old Barbies for €70 on a marketplace site. That wasn’t a wise decision as, though the box did arrive, the Barbie dolls were in such bad condition I eventually threw them away. I then decided to buy a couple of new ones at a toy store, but the littles hardly played with them. They prefer soft toys.

Speaking of which, one of Maggie’s questions is whether you still have any toys from your childhood. I don’t, as they’re probably all at my parents’. However, I do still have my stuffed whale Wally, whom I got when I left the NICU at three-months-old. I still sometimes sleep with it.

Wally

Did you have many toys growing up?

Things That Made Me Smile (June 7, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all! Today is a mixed day. I am in a bit of pain and feeling a little triggered as I write this. I originally planned on writing a post for the Weekly Smile today. Then I wasn’t sure I could really write a positive post. That’s me, almost being unable to connect my emotions if they’ve shifted. As an exercise in positivity though, I’m deciding to give it a try anyway.

The main thing that made me smile over the past week, was going to the monkey zoo on Friday. I mean, I of course can’t see the monkeys and due to COVID-19, we weren’t allowed to get too close. Before the pandemic, monkeys would actually be allowed to climb onto people’s shoulders. Not so anymore, which was a bit sad. The positive about this though was the fact that at least the monkeys couldn’t steal my stuff.

At lunchtime, my one-on-one and I decided to have fries and chicken nuggets. We had to wait on our chicken nuggets for like half an hour. By that time, some of the fries were cold, but they were still good.

The best part of the day though was going to the souvenir shop and buying myself a stuffed monkey. I originally planned on getting both a gorilla and this one, but this one already cost €35. This one is a ring-tailed lemur.

I have loved sleeping with the monkey soft toy each night since Friday. I usually lie on my back with the monkey on my left side and its tail covering my stomach left to right. My husband joked that its tail is half my height. One-third is probably closer.

Another thing that made me smile this week, was going to the city of Zwolle with my husband yesterday. Zwolle is about half an hour’s drive from the care facility. Since restaurants are reopening now, we were able to eat a grilled sandwich at a place called Tosti World. I remember going there once before in Nijmegen.

On our walk back to the car, my husband took a picture of me beside a canon. That, too, made me smile.

Writing this post has me be a little more positive indeed. Thank you for reading. What made you smile lately?

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 (June 27, 2020)

Happy late Saturday evening everyone! Welcome to another edition of the #WeekendCoffeeShare. Today is my birthday. I think I still have tompouces in the fridge, so grab a cup of coffee, tea or your favorite cold drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I was stressed out all week about my parents visiting yesterday. As regular readers of my blog may know, my parents are big on independence and in denial of most of my disabilities. They don’t think I should be in a care facility. Like I said yesterday though, they weren’t overly judgmental. My father made a rather bad pun on the facility’s name and my mother asked whether no-one had taught my nonspeaking fellow clients to talk, but that was about it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you about all the lovely presents I got for my birthday. My parents gave me a drinking bottle with fruit infusion filter. I’d had it on my wishlist for years and am now loving making fruit-infused water. They also gave me a spiky or hedgehog ball. My father said it looked like a virus and my husband joked that they’d gifted me corona. Lastly, they gave me some punches, which I can use in cardmaking or other craft projects. They got these as well as the spiky ball at the thrift store.

My husband gave me a sturdy bookcase for my iPhone. It’s supposed to protect your phone against dropping from 2 meters. I’d rather not try it out though.

Lastly, my mother-in-law gifted me this giant teddy bear! It’s 1.60m tall, which is even taller than I am. I love it!

Giant Bear

I’m still not sure what to call it. I initially called it just Giant Bear, because my big panda was called Big Bear and my not even that little bear stuffy was called Little Bear. Or something. I can’t remember, honestly. Then I figured I should be calling it Joenie, which is my nickname for my husband. My husband said to call it Baloo after the bear in Jungle Book. I guess I’ll call it whatever strikes my fancy at that moment. Rainbow/Sofie, the unicorn, also has two names, after all.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I ate some delicious Domino’s pizza this evening. My husband and I had it delivered to the care facility. I had the spicy chicken pizza and so did he, as my husband usually ends up liking my pizza more if we each order something different. I loved it! Then I had some ice cream for dessert. I got a nice present from the care facility too: a Domino’s gift voucher. I already have a reputation for eating lots of yummy food, even though today was the first time I’d ordered Domino’s since coming to the care facility last September.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that next week, I have a meeting with my community psychiatric nurse and nurse practitioner from mental health. We’re going to discuss my possibly getting EMDR treatment for some of my traumatic experiences. Now that my visit with my parents went well, I feel slightly guilty about considering some of my experiences with them traumatic, but well.

If we were having coffee, I would report on my steps as usual. This week so far, I reached just over 60K. I managed 69K last week and am doubtful I’ll reach that this week, as I’m probably going to have a lazy Sunday tomorrow.

How are you all doing?

Lovin’ Lately (June 19, 2020)

Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Lovin’ Lately, in which I share all the things I’ve been loving recently. I’m joining in with Friday Favorites.

Today was a pretty busy day. It was the Friday we have day activities (every other Friday is a day off). As such, I’ve been pretty active. This is why I didn’t sit down to write until now that it’s past 10PM. With no further ado, let me start.

1. Netflix. Last Saturday, in an impulse, I decided to get a Netflix subscription again. I always get the basic one, as I, being blind, don’t need HD video or multiple screens to watch on. I wanted to see the Netflix original documentary series Diagnosis. This is really fascinating!

2. My yoga mat. My husband brought it to me last week and I finally unfolded it this evening to get some working out done. I tried several yoga apps, but haven’t found one that I like yet. Then again, I love doing yoga just the way I like it. I mean, I’m pretty inflexible and don’t have much strength in my muscles at all, but if I don’t practise, it will remain this way. I tried a beginner’s yoga class with the app Down Dog, but couldn’t follow it without being able to see the video. Still, I loved the feel of working out.

3. Journaling prompt collections. I’ve probably mentioned half a dozen times already that I love to collect books of writing prompts, particularly those geared towards journaling. This week, I got a few good ones. The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrix Minerva Linden is great. I already worked on some of the prompts over the past few days, as you can see. I however also love The Year of You by Hannah Braime.

4. A stuffed pillow. I got to borrow one from another client here at the care facility earlier this week and was totally in love with it. I kept stroking its soft side as I dozed off to sleep.

5. My Fitbit. This is by no means a new product, but I just want to mention it as a way to celebrate the huge step achievement I reached this week. So far this week, I got over 56K steps. This includes a short elliptical workout this evening. My Fitbit doesn’t count the yoga workout.

What products have you been lovin’ lately?

Weighted Blankets: Sensory Activities for Self-Care #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my 23rd post in the #AtoZChallenge. For the letter W, I choose to write about weighted blankets and other sensory equipment that can help you take good care of you.

I don’t own a wweighted blanket myself. At my old day activities, a staff member made one for use in the sensory room though. It wasn’t ideal, as the weighted compartments wouldn’t stay in place. I loved it though.

I remember clearly how I discovered the good deep pressure can do for me. I was at the first day center I went to after leaving the psych hospital in 2017 and the staff were talking deep pressure as it related to another client. I was at the time already struggling seriously at this day center and at a point where I was looking for another place, but the staff were still trying to be helpful. I asked them whether I could try some weighted products. They handed me a weighted turtoise soft toy. From then on, I’d often have it in my lap during mealtimes and when I was stressed.

Later, once already at my previous day center, I got a weighted unicorn soft toy for Christmas. It was probably originally intended as a door stopper that keeps a door from accidentally banging shut. This one is filled with sand rather than pebbles and it is not wide enough to cover my entire lap. However, it’s cool.

Other sensory products can help with stress relief too. I have a wobbly pad (not sure that’s the correct word) to sit on. I also have a fitness ball that I generally just sit or lie on.

A few months ago, I discovered fidget toys. I think the hype about them a few years ago was exaggerated, but they do help some.

There are tons of other sensory products that can help you calm down or relieve stress. I’m pretty sure I haven’t discovered all that is available.