Joy in June

Hi all! Here I am with my monthly update on my 2022 word of the year: JOY. I am joining the Word of the Year linky and Lisa’s One Word linky.

Last year, the month of June was rather tumultuous. This year was no different at first. It started with the manager telling me that temp workers had to be put in place to work in my home more often than usual and this would mean I would get temping staff to work my one-on-one shifts too. I wasn’t amused and this caused me to be rather stubborn and strong-willed at first.

I can’t say that working with temp staff has gotten easier over the month. All I can hope for is that, by summer’s end, enough regular staff will have been hired.

Thankfully, there were a couple of extraordinarily fantastical experiences that helped me find joy this month. One was seeing my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog on the 13th. Of course, when picking my word, I intended to enjoy the ordinary. I do that, too.

That being said, I do need to practise being grateful in my heart with any blessings coming my way. My birthday celebrations this weekend show this: my parents gave me presents they’d gotten at the thrift store and, while I was genuinely happy with one of them, I wasn’t with the rest. Of course, I tried not to show it, but I need to work on cultivating a grateful heart even in this situation.

I remember, when I picked “joy” as my word of the year, being in doubt about possibly choosing a word such as “creative”. That, though, sounded too easy. Indeed, most joy I’ve found over the month of June has been with the creative process. Over the past several weeks, I’ve been genuinely enjoying the polymer clay craft in particular. I have a couple pieces that still need a few coats of glaze, but which then I’m eager to show you all.

With respect to finding daily notes or reminders of my word, in the form of quotes, Bible verses, etc., I haven’t been doing so well. I collected a few but then stopped. I might want to collect reminders of my word whenever I see them rather than focusing on one per day as a requirement.

Overall, the month ended better than it started. This may be because this weekend is my birthday weekend (tomorrow is my actual birthday). Then again, I think I said this in April and May too, so maybe the fact that I’m writing my monthly updates later in the month, makes me remember the joys of the last part of the month better, since they’re more recent.

How was your June?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 18, 2022)

Hi everyone and welcome to my post for this week’s #WeekendCoffeeShare. I hope you’re well. I’m about to have my afternoon coffee, so am going to take a break in the middle of this post to drink that. I also still have herbal tea, water and I do now in fact have my fruit infusion bottle in the fridge. It has cucumber in it. I’d recommend that either alone or in addition to coffee, as it’s quite hot here. It’s only about 27°C right now, but I’m sweating profusely. Anyway, let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start by saying that this week was okay. Like I shared on Monday, I went to look at my assigned staff’s pet hedgehog. That was fun and helped me keep a somewhat positive attitude all through the week, despite feeling a bit meh.

If we were having coffee, I would also share that I was successful at being more physically active over this week. I went on the elliptical Wednesday and Friday, both for a little over ten minutes. I also took some walks. Yesterday, it was even hotter than it was today, so I only took a few short walks around the day center.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you all about my dietitian’s appointment yesterday. I am experiencing a slight slip-up with respect to purging behaviors, but it’s not related to binge eating per se. That didn’t make it not worrisome, the dietitian said, but at least it means my bulimia isn’t coming back. Overall, she complimented me on how I’m doing with respect to being able to follow my food plan but also being able to deviate from it in moderation at times. For example, I bought a bag of licorice last week and am having a few pieces of licorice a day most days. That way, right now, I still have half the bag left, while a few years ago I’d consume the whole bag within half an hour or less.

The dietitian also gave me some advice about planning for when I go out to eat for my birthday next week. For example, she recommended I eat a small serving of fruit at like 4PM to prevent me feeling like I’m starving by the time we’re at the restaurant at 6PM. I am not really sure I feel like following her advice though and I’m not sure that’s my eating disorder talking or just my wish to have a good time and not be minding my diet for once.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I am really happy that today we don’t have temp workers at the home at all. Yesterday we did have one and he was assigned to work my one-on-one shift. I really wasn’t pleased to say the least. I don’t do well with male staff to begin with and this was someone I didn’t know at all. I am honestly quite angry that the staff felt like assigning him my shift, because they know how much I struggled with the one regular male staff doing my one-on-one shifts. I feel like honestly my boundaries are being tested a lot lately and, with how clear the manager was that this was the way things worked, I’m not sure I’m able to assert myself.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I’m still working on the perfect pair of polymer clay earrings. It seems baking directly on the ceramic tile is for now the way to go. Thankfully, some people gave me som advice on how to prevent air bubbles being trapped between the tile and the clay, which would create little (or not so little) dents in my clay. If I baked on paper, I would not get those, but my earrings would consistently get curved, which I think is worse than the small dents I got now that I followed the experts’ advice.

I haven’t turned my earring pieces into actual earrings yet, because the ones I decided to keep look better with silver than gold. I would like to report though that I am so grateful, because a staff’s daughter had some silver-colored earring hooks that she wasn’t using and that she was happy to gift to me. How nice!

How have you been?

Things That Made Me Smile (June 13, 2022) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone. I haven’t done a gratitude list in a while and, to be honest, have been struggling to find enough things to be grateful for to make a list out of them. Today was another mixed day. However, I did find a major reason to smile in the morning, which I am sharing with The Weekly Smile.

You see, my assigned home staff has a new family pet and a rather unusual one at that. This morning, she invited me over to her house to see it and I actually got to hold the animal. Can you guess what it is?

Yes, indeed, it’s a hedgehog! Specifically, this one’s a four-toed hedgehog. They can legally be held as pets as of 2015 here in the Netherlands, but there are only a few breeders. My staff said she had to go through a whole screening process to see if she and her family would be fit to take care of a hedgehog. The hedgehog, a female named Willow, can only leave its cage for an hour at a time, because otherwise it’ll lose too much body heat.

When I held it, at first it didn’t feel prickly at all. I compared its prickliness to my sister-in-law’s late rough-haired dachshund. Only when Willow got a little overstimulated at the end did it put up its spines.

Hedgehogs like this one aren’t used to living in groups or even pairs, so they can easily be left alone for a few weeks (provided they have enough food and water) to fend for themselves. Even so, the atmosphere did feel cozy because of Willow.

After my visit with Willow, my staff let me jump on her kids’ trampoline in her garden for a bit too. Her husband has an aviary with Gouldian finches in it. They were too quick for us to even attempt to take pictures of them or so my staff said, but their birdsong was quite beautiful.

Temp Workers #WotW

Hi everyone. May I take the opportunity to join Raisie Bay’s Word of the Week Linky (a little late) to share about my experiences with temp workers this week? That’s my theme for the week for sure, as the week both started and ended with a temp worker doing my one-on-one shift.

Well, technically the one doing my shift this evening was self-employed, not employedd by the temping agency. However, my point is that neither had been oriented to my shift. The one doing my shift this evening, had had a few regular group shifts in my care home before, but still, she was really new.

On Monday, I lay in bed most of the morning, because this woman was just completely clueless as to what to do and also didn’t seem to show any interest in me at all. She paged through my information folder, but I was rather surprised if she got something right out of it. It didn’t help that the two staff working the regular shifts were also relatively new.

Today, I braced myself for another difficult shift. I had been told that the staff doing my one-on-one today had a lot of experience working in psychiatric hospitals, with which I don’t have the best of experiences. I mean, just because I’m a nutcase doesn’t mean I want to be treated like I’m just a nutcase. And I don’t mean this in the way you’d expect: I don’t want people to expect me to comport myself just like that because all I am is a mental patient who “knows better”. After all, in truth, sometimes I don’t know better.

This morning, I learned that said staff also has a lot of creative talent. My morning one-on-one thought she might be able to teach me macrame. This scared me a little, much as I’d really love someone who knows what they do in terms of creative work. After all, they also know bad crafting when they see it. As it turned out, indeed, the staff was able to talk me out of pursuing macrame any further. She did admire my polymer clay creations though and said I could sell them. This tells me she doesn’t know clay, but I was back in my comfort zone again where I’m the “expert”. I showed her how to blend a color (that I later realized I already have in my collection, but oh well).

I did through both temp worker shifts, notice that my assigned staff made several mistakes in my daily schedule. For example, today at 3:15PM, the afternoon staff came by my room with coffee even though I’d already had coffee at 2:15PM. As it turned out, both times are listed as coffee breaks. I don’t really mind usually, although if the staff who comes on at 4PM also forgets my water, it means I’ll have lots of coffee in me and not enough plain water. I know reports vary on the hydrating effect of coffee and most say you retain at least two-thirds of the water. I try not to make a big deal out of it, but it does get confusing.

Speaking of coffee, I did play today’s staff a little. She was making coffee at 7PM because the regular staff had forgotten. She got the can labeled “regular coffee” and started putting it into the machine. I could’ve said then that, per the home’s rules, we drink decaf at 7PM, but didn’t. We both had a little laugh when I did eventually tell her once she’d already turned the coffee maker on.

Word of the Week linky

The Staff Have the Key

I have a morbid sense of humor that has sustained me through the darkest times of my life. I remember when I was in a suicidal crisis in 2007, being held at the police station while waiting for the crisis service to assess me, telling the officers how I wasn’t all that creative, since I had thought out only a few ways to die. I think one of the officers tried to distract me by saying that I must be creative, since I have a blog, but I wouldn’t listen.

Once I had been admitted to the psychiatric hospital, locked ward, with no privileges (as they are called) to leave the ward unsupervised by staff, I started to crack jokes. They were rather lame jokes if you ask me, jokes I’d plucked off the Internet, such as those about the differences between the patients and staff on a psychiatric ward. First, the patients get better and leave; second, not all patients believe they’re God; lastly, the staff have the key.


This post was written in response to this week’s Six Sentence Story Link-Up, for which the prompt word is “key”.

A Few Pretty Intense Days

Hi everyone. It’s been a few days since I wrote on my blog and I didn’t even check my feed reader yesterday at all. The last few days have been rather intense emotionally.

First, on Sunday, my husband picked me up at 8:30AM to drive to my sister and her family, who live across the country. Little Wolke, my baby niece, was, well, a baby. She didn’t really interact at all. Neither at first did Janneke, my older niece, who will be three in September. My sister did explain that “auntie Astrid’s eyes don’t work” so that’s why I can’t look at her, but she was still shy. Once my sister had taken the polymer clay bear I’d created for Janneke and let her undo the wrapping, she was a little more engaging. I did feel bad that, when she said the bear wanted a kiss, I told her not to (since I keep hearing mixed things about the safety of polymer clay in this respect). I did worry for a while that maybe Janneke was a bit too young for the bear, but my sister said she doesn’t put things in her mouth anymore and my husband said she has to learn.

My brother-in-law kept my husband occupied with the same old stories and jokes he tells each time we see each other. Meanwhile, Janneke warmed up to me and started inviting me in to her play. Janneke had hip dysplasia, for which she needed surgery last September. She still remembers in a way or so I think, as all her dolls needed to go to the doctor and get fitted with a cast (or have the cast sawn off).

At one point, my sister did start talking about needing to get rid of her pregnancy pounds. I felt a little uncomfortable about that, as she’s quite thin and I am still overweight. Then she started telling me about her career plans.

Overall, I did notice that my sister only talked about herself (and her kids). This is okay with me, but it does remind me of my parents often telling professionals that I am only able to talk about myself. It makes me feel as though the reason I’m not allowed to talk about myself is not that it’s about myself, but the fact that I don’t live a “normal” life. In other words, the contents of what I tell my parents makes them uncomfortable more so than the fact that it’s about me. Either that or my sister is somehow a lot more reciprocal with my parents than with me.

I do think I like Janneke after all though. Last time I saw her was at my birthday almost a year ago. My sister prompted her to give me her present, but she said: “No auntie Astrid not nice.” I felt that was both cute and a tiny bit upsetting.

Thankfully, my husband was able to drop me off in Raalte again in the afternoon. I arrived here with half an hour to spare before we’d eat dinner, which was Chinese takeout.

Then yesterday, which was a bank holiday, I spent most of the morning in bed, because a temp worker was assigned my one-on-one shift and the two most recently employed staff, neither of whom I know well, were working the regular shift. The temp worker tried to get me to go out of bed at first, but she had no idea about the activities I normally do during the day and I didn’t have the energy to explain them to her. Overall, I felt really powerless and like I’d rather not have someone there at all. Thankfully, today we’re more or less back to normal.

The Wednesday HodgePodge (May 25, 2022)

Hi everyone. How is it the last Wednesday of May already? I seriously can’t believe it. Anyway, I’m joining in with the Wednesday HoddgePodge again. Here goes.

1. It’s National Wine Day (May 25)…do you like wine? Red or white? Dry or sweet? Do you have a favorite? Have you ever been to California wine country? Or any other wine region? What’s a dish you make that calls for wine?
I can’t stand wine! One day, when one of our staff was retiring and had a little leaving party at my care home, somehow we had white and red wine (don’t ask me how we got it, as normally we aren’t allowed alcohol in the care home). Some staff convinced me to try a little of the white wine. I took a sip and blurted out: “Ew, this is gross.” Then they gave me the red wine. When I took another sip, I yelled: “Yuck, this is even worse!”

I don’t think I’ve ever been to any wine region. Not consciously at least and I don’t care to go there either.

2. What’s something you’ve whined about lately?
The staffing shortage in health care and particularly my care home. Literally half the team left within the past year or so and, this past Monday, the manager informed me that they may need to get temp workers to do my one-on-one shifts too rather than just the general shifts. I know rationally that the manager can’t help the staffing shortage, but emotionally, well, I feel rather overloaded.

3. Last time you were “wined and dined”? Tell us about it.
I honestly can’t remember. My husband and I haven’t been eating out since before COVID, I guess.

4. Three cheers for_____________________.
Care workers, of course. I know the workload is crazy. I can be a pain in the butt at times, but I do appreciate their work.

5. This will be the last Hodgepodge in the month of May. Somehow next Wednesday the calendar rolls into June. Before we go though, sum up your May in twelve words or less.
Eventful, an emotional rollercoaster ride.

6. Insert your own random thought here.
I have been busy with preparations for visiting my sister and her family so I can see my new niece. She was born last Thursday. As regular readers of this blog know, I created a sort of mobile for my baby niece. Here is the picture (I’m holding it in my hand because I had nothing to hang it onto).

I wanted to gift my sister something for her birthday (which was on May 13) too and saw she wanted a membership to a positive parenting website. I am positively surprised (no pun intended) that she’s interested in that approach, as it’s vastly different from our parents’. I didn’t end up buying the membership for her, but hope she does keep this mindset.

I also am happy to share that the handheld drill and drill bits I wanted for drilling holes in my polymer clay pieces for jumprings finally arrived. I had ordered them last Wednesday and the website said handling and shipping would take up to three business days. Apparently they took three business days before they started collecting my order. I need to drill the holes so that I can attach jumprings to pieces in order to make earrings. Since the gift I did buy for my sister, is a pair of earrings, I intend on making her another pair out of polymer clay just for fun.

I also intend on making one more unicorn, because my older niece also deserves a little present when her baby sister and mother both get something.

Making Up My Mind: Why I Want to Live in an Institution

Last week, the behavior specialist for my care home came by for a visit to discuss my housing profile. This is the thing with my wants and needs with respect to a new prospective care home on it. I initially wasn’t too picky, saying for example that I would most like to live on institution grounds but if that isn’t possible, a quiet neighborhood home would do too. Then when I talked to my husband, he said that an integrated neighborhood doesn’t get much quieter than my current neighborhood in Raalte. He also told me I don’t need to make compromises about where I want to live as of yet, since I will be looking to stay in my prospective new home for the rest of my life.

The reason I initially compromised about living on institution grounds, is that my current care agency has only one such institution and that one at least wasn’t admitting new clients back in 2019. I’m not sure about right now or whether not admitting new clients means they aren’t keeping a wait list either. However, I was wary of contacting other agencies due to the bureaucracies involved. Then my husband said though that this shouldn’t be something for me to worry about.

Eventually, after talking about it with my assigned home staff, my husband and my mother-in-law, I decided to make up my mind about my wishes for the housing profile. I said I’d really like to be looking at institutions.

This does mean I had to drop my objection against contacting external agencies. I offered two agencies we could contact other than my current one. One has an institution in Apeldoorn, the city I grew up in, and another in a small town elsewhere in Gelderland, about a 45-minute drive from Lobith, where my husband lives. For reference: Raalte is about a 75-minute drive from Lobith and I did agree with my husband that I won’t be looking at care homes that are farther away. The other agency has an institution near Apeldoorn and one near Nijmegen. I’m not sure the one near Nijmegen was acceptable distance-wise to my husband, but the one near Apeldoorn certainly was.

Both agencies are unlikely to refuse to consider me based on my IQ alone, even though both primarily serve people with intellectual disability. The reason I think so is that both also serve other populations and I have some experience with both agencies.

I do feel all kinds of feelings about the fact that I’ve made up my mind. For one thing, I do feel some form of shame about wishing to live on institution grounds. Back in 2006 and 2007, I wrote agitated articles about the fact that deinstitutionalization was said not to be working by some non-disabled advocates for the disabled, claiming it was poor care, not community living, that was at fault. I meant, for example, the fact that people in the community need more support to go outside if, for example, they aren’t safe in traffic, than they would need in institutions. Then, if that support isn’t provided, it’s no wonder they’d rather go back to living in the woods.

Now one of the reasons I want to go into an institution is the fact that I don’t feel safe leaving my home and the only way of preventing me from leaving it anyway is locking me up. Now tell me again you want the least restrictive environment.

Another feeling has to do with the institution in Apeldoorn specifically. My family home was quite close by that institution. So close in fact that I remember one day when I was eighteen, having an encounter with the police and being asked whether I’d run away from there. I know my parents would feel intense shame if I moved there. Then again, they probably feel intense shame at the fact that I live with people with intellectual disabilities already. Besides, who cares what my parents think?

I do have a few things I need to consider when looking at external agencies. For example, my current agency provides free, pretty much unrestricted WiFi in all rooms of all its homes and it’s available to clients if they wish to use it, which I do. I am not sure the other agencies do, but I will inquire about this when the need arises.

Gratitude List (May 13, 2022) #TToT

Hi everyone! What a week, what a day it’s been. I really feel like writing, but my head is buzzing, so I thought for a bit of cheer and calm, I’d do a gratitude post. As usual, I’m joining in with Ten Things of Thankful. Here goes.

1. I am grateful my staff were able to get the staffing schedule figured out and actually without temp workers needing to step in. The reality was, the temping agency didn’t have anyone available, so the regular staff ended up overworking, but this was a huge positive for me as it meant no unfamiliar faces.

2. I am grateful that a new staff was finally hired to work here. She did come from another home that’s part of my care facility, so they might now have a staffing shortage, but oh well, that’s not my problem. Until this staff came here, a lot of potential staff were given a look around my home but decided eventually not to want to work here.

3. I am grateful for delicious home-cooked chicken and rice yesterday. I actually cooked it with my day activities staff.

4. I am grateful for the smile on one of my fellow clients’ faces when I offered him a serving of the chicken and rice too. He is the only one in my care home who can eat rice without choking, so the staff, when cooking, never cook rice. I’m so happy he was pleased.

5. I am grateful for Sadje’s comment on my last blog post. I thought WordPress was acting up, since I wasn’t getting any comments. It might still be, but at least someone is able and willing to comment.

6. I am grateful for a visit from my mother-in-law on Tuesday. I am grateful we had a good talk with my assigned home staff. After that, we went to Rijssen, a town about a 30-minute drive from Raalte, to go for a walk and have coffee.

7. I am grateful I was able to mostly stick to my healthier eating plan over the past week. The only exception was the sausage roll I ordered in Rijssen. It not only was unhealthy, but came out of the microwave or so it seemed, so it definitely didn’t score an eight out of ten on how much I wanted to eat it. That’s the rule my dietitian gave me for treats: if they don’t score an eight or above on how eager I am to eat them, I might consider skipping them.

8. I am grateful that I did lose 0.4kg when I stepped onto the scale today as compared to last week.

9. I am grateful my semi-orthopedic shoes arrived back from the orthopedic shoemaker. The last time I sent them back, I had a blister on my right heel after only ten minutes of walking on them. Now I haven’t walked longer than that at a time on the shoes, but so far, so good.

10. I am grateful I got an E-mail from the store I bought the headphones that stopped working after two weeks at, saying they’ll give me my money back. I don’t have it in my bank account yet, but they said it could take up to five business days.

11. I did order new headphones and am grateful they work so far. They are a fifth of the price of the non-working ones, but still I am hoping they keep working.

12. I am grateful for paracetamol. I had to take it several times this past week for toothache or headache, but thankfully it worked.

What are you grateful for?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (May 7, 2022)

Hi everyone on this Saturday evening. It’s rather late for coffee in my corner of the world, but I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare anyway. I don’t know whether we still have soft drinks in the fridge, as I don’t really care for them. My dietitian said that, if I don’t rate a treat at least an eight out of ten on how much I love it, I really should question whether it’s worth taking in the calories for it. Since soft drinks, including diet Dubbelfrisss, are extras, and I don’t rate them an eight out of ten at all, I’d much prefer water. That being said, if you’d like a soft drink, you’re more than welcome to go over to the staff or look in the fridge yourself. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask about your weather. Ours is good. We’ve had lots of sunshine, warm temperatures and almost no rain. In fact, I found myself pretty happy that we got a tiny bit of a drizzle this morning. Nature needs it (but then again it needs far more).

If we were having coffee, I’d share that this week started out rather rough, but has improved significantly as it progressed. I had some good meetings this week and we set out on the path of finding me a more suitable care home. For this purpose, the behavior specialist gave me some open-ended questions to think about for a “care home profile”. The answers I, my staff and the behavior specialist come up with will then be sent out to the care consultants within my care agency to hopefully find me a more suitable home.

If we were having coffee, I’d proudly tell you that I did quite a bit of walking this past week. I was finally able to go for a few 30-minute walks. They were exhausting, but I did it and I didn’t even use the elevator to go back up to the care home after the walks. Here’s hoping my physical fitness level is finally returning to some semblance of normal after the winter of me sitting on my ass and contracting COVID to top it off.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, on Thursday, my one-on-one staff asked me whether I’d like to go to her home in the countryside to see her goats and their lambs. I loved it! Here are some pictures of me with the goats.



If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that, early this evening, I was startled because all doors in the entire home suddenly slammed shut. This normally happens when the smoke alarm goes off, but there was no smoke nor was there a smoke alarm going off. As it turned out, there was some power outage somewhere within the system. They’re currently working on solving it.

If we were having coffee, I’d share that I bought Cernit translucent polymer clay and am totally in love with a lot of tutorials that use it. I also looked up tutorials on how to use micas on polymer clay, since I still have some left from my soaping days. I can’t wait to start actually crafting again.

That being said, if we were having coffee, I’d tell you I’ve been struggling with wanting to do more than I can handle emotionally or physically lately. I’ve also been struggling with the staff overestimating my capabilities. It’s all rather frustrating when I want to be independent and productive but can really not cope.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would however say that I still find escapism in reading, listening to music, blogging and watching YouTube videos even if I don’t get to actually make the things I see.

How have you been?