Things That Made Me Smile (August 30, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi everyone on this beautiful Monday evening. I was feeling a bit down in the dumps earlier today. The reason is the fact that I had a vision screening by the blindness agency this morning. The result was more or less as I expected: I only have a tiny bit of light perception in the central visual field of my left eye. It however was a bit of a bummer too, in that I’d hoped to perform slightly better.

To cheer myself up, I thought I’d join The Weekly Smile and share how amazingly far assistive technology has come. It may not replace actual vision, but, combined with my imagination, it can go a long way.

What I mean by assistive tech specifically is VoiceOver Recognition, the iPhone’s built-in image description functionality that was released first in iOS 14 not even a year ago. Last month, I already mentioned that it can recognize some basic shapes and colors (such as my pink, heart-shaped polymer clay ornament.

on Wednesday though, my father-in-law posted a picture of a statue to the family’s WhatsApp group and asked us to guess who it was. Without VoiceOver Recognition or similar third-party apps, I would have lost out on the fun. VoiceOver Recognition though immediately described the image as a statue of a bear on a water fountain. I replied with this answer in the group and was asked to name the bear. A little Googling revealed that it was “Berend Botje” from the nursery rhyme by that name.

My husband told me that, from the picture, he hadn’t made out that the statue was of a bear. I ran the image through VoiceOver Recognition and Seeing AI, one of the more commonly-used third-party apps for image description, just now and neither recognized it as a bear specifically this time. However, the fact that I “won” my family’s very visual riddle despite being totally blind, definitely makes me smile.

I’m also joining in with #LifeThisWeek and #SeniSal.

Things That Made Me Smile (July 26, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all on this summerly Monday. We had a thunderstorm yesterday early evening and are expected to get more later this evening. However, right now it’s still pretty sunny and warm outside.

Today, I am joining in with The Weekly Smile. I am also joining in with Cee’s Flower of the Day, since my smiles involve flowers.

First, over the past week or two, whenever I returned from a walk with my day activities staff, I always smelled lavender close by my care home. I don’t care for the smell of lavender in perfumery, although in essential oil blends it’s great. The actual flower smells awesome too! Today, I finally took my phone with me on my walk so that we could take a picture of the plant.

Lavender

Then, a few days ago, a staff pointed out a huge bush of geraniums near the day center. I still remember the characteristic red color from when I still had some vision and I love it. Its smell though is one of my least favorites, including in essential oils. This morning, I went out and actually touched the bush and indeed, it’s huge!

Geraniums

Generally, the presence of nature really makes me smile. It’s no wonder that, when asked what I miss most about being unable to see, I generally reply the ability to appreciate the beautiful sights of nature. However, I am still able to hear and feel and smell the beauty of nature!

What made you smile this past week?

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?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 29, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hello everyone. I’m still struggling quite a bit today. Like I said yesterday, I have been flooded with emotional flashbacks. To end my day on a positive note, though, I am participating in The Weekly Smile once again. Today, my smiles are food-related.

On Friday, one of the staff came to me to say that she was going to cook a meal for that evening with one of my fellow clients. He and I are the only ones who can eat solid food. Well, that isn’t 100% true, but the other client who can, is a very picky eater, who doesn’t enjoy the types of meals we do. Anyway, the staff gave me the choice between three different dishes we could make with Knorr’s World Dishes series of packages. These are packets of rice, pasta or the like, seasoning and spices, to which you add veggies and meat. The meals I could choose from, were köfta (a Greek meatball dish), nacho casserole and lasagne. I chose the nacho casserole.

The staff and this other client set about preparing the casserole in the afternoon. At around 4:30PM, the evening staff put it in the oven. It was so delicious! The casserole contained nacho chips, minced meat, onions and bell peppers. There was also lettuce to go with it as a side dish, but I didn’t have that.

These packages are for two to three people, so I had more than enough. I have fond memories of cooking köfta myself when in independence training in 2007 and would really like to help prepare it when we get to this one.

Then yesterday, my one-on-one support staff had brought ready-made cookie dough. We made cookies with this and they tasted awesome! Yesterday evening, I had two. I then had the staff take the cookies to the living room to give to her colleagues or any clients who may be able to enjoy them. I fully expected them to be all gone by today, but there were still some left! That definitely put a smile to my face.

What made you smile lately?

Things That Made Me Smile (March 22, 2021) #WeeklySmile

Hi all on this lovely Monday! I am so excited to have discovered the Weekly Smile. This is, as the name suggests, a weekly blog event in which participants share what made them smile. Having discovered this meme itself is a reason to smile. I love being positive! Let me share what else made me smile.

First up is my new assigned staff’s kindness. Like I said in my #WeekendCoffeeShare post on Friday, I have a new assigned staff. She is calm, kind and very dedicated to her job. I initially worried she might get too attached and then have to withdraw as my assigned staff. She reassured me though that she maintains her professionalism.

Yesterday, I was feeling a bit triggered. The student staff, with whom I am not fully comfortable yet, had been my one-on-one for the evening. In addition, a male staff may get to work in my home soon. He seems kind enough, but still, it’s an adjustment. All this led me to feeling a bit stressed out when I was going to bed. Thankfully, my new assigned staff comforted me.

After the staff had taken me to bed, I pressed the call button a few times for the staff to come back, but she didn’t mind. She has this little rhyme she tells me each time she puts me to bed. It goes something like this:
Sleep well,
Head on the pillow,
Ass in the straw,
Then Astrid sleeps soon.

This time, the staff adjusted the rhyme to address not just me, but all of the voices (alters) inside my head. That definitely made me smile.

Second is my sensory room experience that I was able to create in my own bedroom. First, I found a calming essential oil blend to put in my diffuser. Then, I found the album on Spotify that I used to have in the CD player in the day center’s sensory room. It is called Songbird Symphony. Lastly, I crawled under my weighted blanket and had my staff cover me with the ball-filled blanket that came with the sensory bed from our makeshift sensory room. In total, I had at least 20kg of weighted blankets on top of me. This probably isn’t healthy for actual sleeping, so I threw off the ball blanket before actually drifting off to sleep. However, the feeling before this was so peaceful. It reminded me of Temple Grandin’s “hug machine”. Reading about that introduced to me the comforting effect of deep pressure years before I felt able to explore my own sensory experiences. Now, I totally appreciate my care staff, physical therapist and the manager for having helped me find my sensory comfort.

What made you smile this past week?