Reading Wrap-Up (August 22, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past week, so I thought I’d share a reading wrap-up once again. As usual, I’m joining It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR). Here goes.

What I’m Currently Reading

After I finished my last book on Saturday, I was thinking of starting a memoir. After looking through Bookshare’s biography and memoir category for a bit and reading the summaries of several books, I finally settled on All My Friends Are Invisible by Jonathan Joly. This is a memoir about the author’s life growing up surrounded by imaginary friends. I’m pretty sure that, further yet, the author could be diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, but so far this term hasn’t been mentioned.

Other than that, I picked up My Heart and Other Black holes by Jasmine Warga again. I’m not sure why I even want to finish it, other than to prove to myself that I can finish a book that doesn’t deserve at least a four-star rating. It’s so predictable. Maybe I’m hoping for some intriguing plot twist, but so far at 62%, no such luck.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I finished two books in the past week. One is Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie, which I reviewed on Tuesday. The other is a winter special in the Unicorn Magic series by Daisy Meadows called Snowstar and the Big Freeze. This chapter book was the perfect antidote to the hot weather. Or something like that. I honestly don’t know why I picked it in the middle of August, but I did and it was good.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I once again have no idea. I’m a true mood reader, so whenever I finish a book, I grab whatever strikes my fancy next. That’s how I got to pick the Jonathan Joly memoir too. I mean, I literally hadn’t heard of it minutes before I started reading it. So yeah, I might read another chapter book on magical creatures, since I have several downloaded off Bookshare. However, I may also be in the mood for another thriller. Who knows? I currently don’t.

What have you been reading recently?

My Favorite Color

A few days ago, or maybe it was even a few weeks, the daily prompt in my journaling app, Day One, was to write about your favorite color. I couldn’t think of what exactly to write at the time. Now, as I sit here and today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt stares at me, I just have to write.

Is my favorite color actually purple, you’d ask? Well, yes, it is one of my favorite colors and if I had to pick just one, it’d probably be this. I usually say I have multiple favorite colors, namely purple, blue and green. They all are represented in the six bottles of alcohol ink I ordered online earlier this week: three shades of blue, two shades of purple and a shade of greenish blue too.

Then again, with respect to clothes, I used to only wear black for many years. It was a statement, in my mind, but the statement never came across. I guess everyone thought it was just easier for me to match my clothing that way, being that I’m blind. And it was.

Now that I do wear colors, I have to say I don’t actually have anything purple in my wardrobe. I should really change that.

And I should get to crafting a purple unicorn ashtray for the male staff doing my one-on-one shifts once a week, who I overheard is leaving in October. Oh wait, he asked for a pink one. And polymer clay isn’t suitable for ashtrays anyway. But he’ll appreciate the humor.

#WeekendCoffeeShare (August 13, 2022)

Hi everyone. How are you doing? Want to join me for #WeekendCoffeeShare? I’ve had all my coffee for the day, but I’m soon grabbing a Dubbelfrisss (my favorite soft drink). Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would start out by asking how your weather is. Ours has been hot most of the week. Today, the weather institute officially recorded a heatwave, meaning five days in a row of daytime highs of at least 25°C, including three days of at least 30°C. Today, the temperature reached 32°C here. Tomorrow, it may even get a little hotter. The last officially-recorded heatwave was in 2020.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you the woman from the care home down the road from mine was very happy with the polymer clay necklace I gifted her for her birthday. I stayed for a while to have coffee and apple pie.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my orthopedic shoes still aren’t as they should be. I developed two small blisters on my feet after a short walk yesterday evening. Granted, I’d also taken a longer walk in the morning without much trouble, but blisters really shouldn’t happen anyway.

If we were having coffee, I’d complain about the care facility’s WiFi once again. Oh wait, yesterday, I showed gratitude for it, but today I’m complaining, because three days in a row it’s now gone out in the evening. I am currently redirecting my iPhone’s mobile data to my laptop because I was in the middle of typing this blog post when the stupid thing went down.

If we were having coffee, lastly I’d share that I did start on the green polymer clay unicorn I mentioned this afternoon after all. I’ve decided it’s going to make a great present for the student staff who’s leaving at the end of this month. I so far only made the surface it’s going to stand on, which is currently in the oven. It took me 45 minutes to create a slab for it that was relatively free of air bubbles. Not completely, but enough that there hopefully won’t be huge holes in the bottom of the thing. Not that they will be seen, if they are there, when the unicorn stands on its surface, but well.

How have you been?

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.

My Safe Space

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

loopyloulaura

The Wednesday HodgePodge (June 15, 2022)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reading Wrap-Up (May 23, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. I have been trying to get back into reading again. Let me share what I’ve read recently. Here goes. As usual, I’m joining in with It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR).

What I’m Currently Reading

I finally picked up Thrive by Kenneth Oppel again a few weeks ago and no, I still haven’t finished it. It sounds like this book is more character-driven than the prequels and I’m not sure I love or hate that.

I’ve also been reading Unleashed by Emily Kimelman, an intriguing mystery. In nonfiction, I am reading 999 – My Life on the Frontline of the Ambulance Service by Dan Farnworth.

Finally, I recently learned that Bookshare, the service I use for downloading accessible eBooks, now also does audiobooks. I didn’t try them, but this did get me inspired to check out Apple’s audiobook collection. There’s this collection of free classics on the Apple books app. I initially wanted to get Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but the reviews said that its narrator was almost worse than the first version of Siri, as monotonous as he spoke. So I decided to go for something much more light-hearted, in a way, and pick Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. I can now see why other people with dissociative identity disorder find it offensive or triggering.

What I Recently Finished Reading

I am known for starting a ton of books and rarely finishing them, unless I really, really love them. Or unless they’re really short. This was the case with the early chapter book Bo’s Magical New Friend by Rebecca Elliott. I love love love unicorns and had heard about the Branches Books before, so I really wanted to try if I (and my inner child parts) liked them. Despite it being a really quick read (for me, of course), the plot was quite intriguing and I’m sure any newly-independent readers who love unicorns will love this one. I must say that, due to the illustrations, some of the text got muddled in the Bookshare book.

What I Think I’ll Read Next

I started another chapter book series, besides the one I mentioned above, on unicorns a while back. It’s the Unicorn University series and the chapters are longer. I saw that the author, Daisy Sunshine, recently added another book to the series. I’ll definitely have to read more of those books.

I also saw that Casey Watson has a new foster care memoir out. However, Apple Books is acting up, in that sometimes at the end of a paragraph or page words are missing in VoiceOver (Apple’s built-in screen reader). For this reason, I’m hesitant to buy books off Apple Books.

What have you been reading lately?

Practice Makes Perfect?: How I Deal With Perfectionism As a Creative #AtoZChallenge

Hi everyone and welcome to my letter P post in the #AtoZChallenge on creativity. Like I’ve said a couple of times before, I can be quite a bit of a perfectionist. Today, I want to talk about that.

Of course people say that practice makes perfect. I disagree. Even after a lot of practice making unicorns out of polymer clay, I still make mistakes. You see, here’s my most recent unicorn.

As you can see, one of its ears is slightly bent backwards and its horn is slightly crooked. You may or may not be able to see this, but the heart-shaped platform on which it stands is also slightly curved.

Sometimes, when my creation is really off and I don’t find out until after I’ve baked it, I throw it straight into the trash. That rarely happens now. In this sense, I’m not that much of a perfectionist, in that I do let less-than-perfect creations remain and even share them online.

When I still work on a project though, I try my best to perfect it. I don’t accept a mediocre result from myself when there’s still room for me to improve on it.

It does, however, feel slightly discouraging knowing that, even after months of practising, I still can’t create the perfect unicorn. I’d like to move on to something else, but if I’m still not able to craft this sculpture exactly as I want it, how can I move on?

Of course, I can, and I do craft other things besides unicorns. But doing a different design for a unicorn would feel like giving up on this particular design. And I have just a little too much experience having to give up on a technique or an entire craft.

Do I seriously not believe that practice makes perfect? Maybe I do believe it, but not in my own case. And maybe that’s a thing of low self-esteem and it needs to change. After all, maybe just practising sculpting the same unicorns using the same techniques a thousand times won’t make me perfect, but I could still ask advice from other polymer clay artists on how they’ve prevented their slabs, for example, from going curved. That way, maybe my next unicorn will be another step closer to perfect.

#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?

Reading Wrap-Up (January 10, 2022) #IMWAYR

Hi everyone. The year has been off to a good start in the reading department. Like I said when sharing my hopes for 2022, I fully intend on getting back into the reading groove. So far, it all seems to be going magical. Let me share what I’ve been reading recently. As usual, I’m linking up with #IMWAYR.

What I’m Currently Reading

First, somehow, I can’t remember exactly how but I believe it was through Goodreads, I stumbled upon A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. The endings of the two Picoult books I’ve read before, My Sister’s Keeper and Handle With Care, were horribly disappointing, but I still loved her writing style enough that I want more. A Spark of Light is also a shorter read compared to her other books still on my TBR shelf, so I thought I’d give it a try.

Then, on Thursday, Maggie Hartley’s latest foster care memoir, Behind Closed Doors, came out as an eBook. I immediately bought it on Apple Books and am 81% done with it now. That’s pretty far considering I haven’t been totally engrossed in it.

Finally, yesterday, in response to #JusJoJan, I saw a post talking about a book on unicorns. It immediately inspired me to want to read a children’s book on unicorns too. I chose a book suited for slightly older children than this blogger’s granddaughter’s read, although I may read My Secret Unicorn at some point too. I decided to read the first installment in the Unicorn University series by Daisy Sunshine. This book is called Twilight, Say Cheese!. I am not yet done with the book, but am hoping to finish it later tonight.

What I Recently Finished Reading

Nothing. The most recent book I finished was Address Unknown by Kathrine Kressmann Taylor just before Christmas. I finished that book in one sitting, but only because it was such a short read. I enjoyed it and was intrigued by it, but I didn’t think it was as amazing as other people had said it was. I blame that on the fact that I’m not that much of a literary critic.

I still have a number of books I’m currently reading that I started way back in the first half of 2021, like After the Cure by Deirdre Gould. However, I’m quite likely not finishing those.

What I think I’ll Read Next

I am planning on reading some more chapter books on magical creatures. I currently have the first book in the Mermicorn Island series by Jason June, forgot its title, downloaded off Bookshare and am probably going to read that as soon as I finish the Daisy Sunshine chapter book. Either that or the next installment in her series.

I feel a little weird for reading mostly chapter books right now, but I’m trying to counter that with the argument that I’m not a literary critic after all. For this reason, reading doesn’t have to be a chore. Rather, I read for pleasure and that’s what matters.