Crafty Endeavors #WotW

This week was a mixed bag emotionally. I haven’t been as motivated as I was before, but, like I said yesterday, haven’t been depressed either. I have also been quite crafty over the past week. In fact, I have been exploring more creative outlets in a single week than I’ve done in a long while. For this reason, I’m choosing “crafty endeavors” as my word of the week.

Early in the week, I created the polymer clay tricolor “rainbow” pendant I showed you on Wednesday. Like I said, at first it wouldn’t cure in the oven, but eventually it did.

I also created the multicolor, layered heart I posted yesterday. Since my mother-in-law brought me a packet of sanding papers, I have been trying to sand this one a little. I only used grits 120 and 400 to get rid of the worst unevenness, since with it being multilayered, I don’t know how to sand the top two layers.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I have been busy with soap and skincare product making. I made a lavender and clary sage massage oil. Unfortunately, I used up all my lavender essential oil, so I’ve put that on my wishlist to buy when I feel I am allowed to spend money again.

I also created a lavender and rose hand cream and melt and pour soap. In the soap, I used real dried lavender and rose petals.

Lavender and Rose Melt and Pour Soap

I found the recipe here and, though I felt the use of crushed almonds was a bit strange, I just skipped that step. I really liked the soap.

Then yesterday, I showed it in a melt and pour soap making group on Facebook and was told by all of the commenters that most dried herbs and flowers will mold in melt and pour soap. I seriously had no idea! In fact, just a few days earlier, I’d seen another blogger post a recipe for calendula soap. That one is the one herb that won’t mold, but this blogger also included lemongrass. I’ve also seen tons of recipes for melt and pour soap that do include all kinds of dried herbs and flowers, so my next question obviously is how to sift through all the information out there online. In any case, some of the commenters on Facebook said I’m now officially a soaper for having made the same mistake 99% of melt and pour soapers make.

Then on to polymer clay again. On Friday evening, I made a flower. Then I saw an interesting video on YouTube on making polymer clay earrings and wanted to try it. Unfortunately, one of the colors of Fimo I used was way too brittle for in my extruder, so I decided to mix up the two colors. I’d used blossom rose and porcelain. The shade I got was a very light pink which was lovely. Unfortunately, I only had a tiny bit of it.

This evening, I may try more polymer clay, as I haven’t baked the flower yet and want it baked by tomorrow, but I don’t want to run the oven for just one piece.

Overall, despite this week not feeling as good as the past few weeks, I’ve done really well.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

Hyper #WotW

Hi everyone! I haven’t felt like writing over the past few days because I’ve been perseverating on polymer clay. Today, I thought I’d write a post after all to sum up my week and my word for this week is “Hyper”. After all, I’ve not just been perseverating on a special interest, but it’s been costing me my sleep too. I was almost going to choose “Manic”, but that would be appropriating the bipolar community, as I doubt my episodes are bad enough to qualify even as hypomanic. They’re more like autistic or ADHD (not that I have that last diagnosis either) hyperfocus. So yeah, hyper.

I’ve been literally working with polymer clay for hours everyday except today for the past week. I’m improving, but not as fast as I’d like.

And it’s not even that I’ve created anything worth mentioning really. I mean, yesterday I decided to bake a project, but it didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped.

Multi-Layered Polymer Clay Star

Okay, I did create a purple cat on Wednesday, because my husband had been asking for it everyday for a week. Purple because it’s the least ugly color for a cat out of the ones I currently own. My husband said it was pretty well-proportioned except for its whiskers, but then again that’d be practically impossible to do with actual polymer clay. I didn’t bake this figurine though.

Purple Polymer Clay Cat

Yesterday, like I said, I did bake something, but I was quite disappointed in its outcome. For this reason, I was up late ruminating about how to prevent it from getting ugly again. As you might see, it is a multi-layered star, so I figured if I baked the bottom layer first and then attached the unbaked second layer, baked again and so forth, it should work. I also figured I’d create my piece directly on the baking surface as to not have to move it too much. Well, there I made a mistake, because the baking surface I normally use is an oven dish normally also used for food. I until now figured it wouldn’t be a problem since I lay parchment paper under my polymer clay. Until today, that is. So now I promised my staff a new oven dish.

After this happened, I decided to give up polymer clay until I can go to the hardware store to get myself a tile to bake on.

In addition to hyperfocusing, I’ve also been spending more money than may be considered sensible. I mean, like I said a few times before, I won’t go broke anytime soon with my current spending habits, but with the fact that my special interests tend to be short-lived, it may not have been wise. On Thursday, I ordered some cookie cutters and an alphabet clay stamp set at an online store, only to be told yesterday that not everything is in stock and hence my order would probably be processed a week later. Then in the evening, I impulsively bought a whole lot of polymer clay supplies, including cookie cutters, from someone on Facebook. It seems to have gone alright, both the paying and the actual supplies being on their way. I decided to cancel my store order that evening. I might order the stamp set separately later.

Overall, though my perseverating might be a little worrisome, I’m trying to reason that I’m not getting into trouble yet and won’t in the foreseeable future even if my state of hyperfocus continues for a while. And it most likely won’t. The only thing I can hope for is that I won’t give up on the craft entirely then.

Word of the Week linky

Online Window Shopping #WotW

Hi again everyone. Today I’m joining Word of the Week. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase. Today’s phrase of the week is: online window shopping.

You see, like I mentioned last week, I had resolved not to spend any more unnecessary money until my benefits arrived on the 23rd (last Friday). I actually kept this promise to myself and didn’t buy anything, but over the week, I did have a lot of ideas of what I wanted to buy once my benefits arrived. Then when they did, it was almost the weekend, so I decided not to spend my money yet because my packages wouldn’t be sent out till after the weekend anyway.

Most of my online window shopping involved crafty stuff. Like I mentioned yesterday, I got it in my head that I wanted to try latch hooking again. Thankfully, my day activities staff remembered that a client at my pre-COVID group at the day center used to do this but no longer did. She went looking for the supplies and, on Thursday, I had a bit of canvas, a latch hook and a whole lot of yarn. The yarn was cut too short for me to work with right now, but I had some yarn and lace in my room too. Learning the craft again was hard, but I eventually managed to make some knots.

I also found a really cool polymer clay ornament while browsing some other blogs and this got me thinking of restarting polymer clay. Like jewelry-making and latch hooking, I did this in the past but threw my supplies away because I couldn’t manage the craft fully independently. Now that I let go of that ambition and actually have the one-on-one support I need, I am really thinking of restarting the craft. This blogger used an embossing folder and glitter glue to decorate her ornament, which had me looking at card making stores again too. I’m pretty sure that’s the only craft I’ll never pick up again.

I also did some online window shopping that didn’t involve crafts. Like, on Thursday I found out that NVDA, a free screen reader I occasionally use on my PC, now works with the Vocalizer voices I’m used to with JAWS and VoiceOver (my regular PC and iPhone screen readers). I immediately downloaded the add-on, only to realize that of course I’ll need a license. I mean, NVDA may be free, but the Vocalizer voices are not. A license costs €99. I’m still undecided as to whether I want to invest in it or wait for JAWS to fix the one major bug that leads me to using NVDA, that is, the inability to use the WordPress block editor with it.

Lastly, on Friday, I got talking to my assigned home staff about stim toys. Specifically, chewable jewelry. I initially thought that only U.S.-based sites sold them, but it turns out several of my fellow clients use them. I looked up chewable jewelry and found several online stores in the Netherlands that sell them. Of course, they’re marketing them mostly for children, so I may need one for heavier chewers. I haven’t yet decided on buying it though.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

Jewelry-Making #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m once again joining Word of the Week. I already shared some of my experiences from the week with you all on Friday. Today, I want to focus on an important positive aspect of the week: jewelry-making. Like I said last week, I got a lot of supplies from my parents for my birthday. I also bought some new supplies later this week.

The actual jewelry-making process is still sometimes hard for me due to my being blind and having mild cerebral palsy. I am making progress though in figuring out what works for me.

First, on Wednesday, I made a bracelet for my day activities staff. She had her birthday that day so was off, but my assigned support staff from the home came to sub. I did all the threading by myself and tried to tie the knot too.

On Thursday and Friday, I was even busier making jewelry. I made my first necklace in a long time. It didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped and I don’t have a photo, but it is nice enough.

I also made a football bracelet for a fellow client. I originally wanted to make something in the colors of his favorite club, but I didn’t have red and white beads. Instead, I chose green for the grass and added a football charm. This client has his birthday next month I think, so I already decided to make him something in the club colors then.

Lastly, I enthusiastically decided to make a necklace for my niece. She is 21-months-old and I had no idea what the appropriate age for wearing jewelry is. I also added acrylic charms that I later realized she might pull off and put into her mouth.

I texted my sister and she said two to three years is the recommended age for necklaces. I thought of keeping the necklace for my niece’s birthday, but eventually decided to give it anyway when my sister and her family visited me yesterday. I’m confident my sister will be able to keep it safe until my niece is ready for it.

How would you sum up your week?

Word of the Week linky

Birthday #WotW

Hi all on this beautiful Sunday! It’s already 8:30PM as I start typing my post. It’s my 35th birthday today and I spent most of the week stressing about it and the weekend celebrating it. For this reason, I’m choosing “Birthday” as my word of the week, even though the week is practically over already.

Early in the week, I talked over my birthday with my husband. I had already invited my parents to come over to Lobith today. They hadn’t seen the house since we’d bought it, or the inside of it at all for that matter. My parents need to drive over two hours from their home to Lobith and I’d asked them to drop me off at the care facility in Raalte on their way back. For this reason, I pretty much felt obligated to invite them over for dinner in Lobith. However, this also stressed me out, as it would mean I wouldn’t be in Raalte till like 8PM, by which time my one-on-one would’ve left.

My husband told me I could text them with a time proposal for them to arrive, like early afternoon. That way, they still had some hours to be with us and could still be dropping me off in Raalte and arrive home at a reasonable time. My father doesn’t text and my mother doesn’t drive, so I texted my mother to ask her if this was okay with both of them. It was.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law picked me up in Raalte and we drove to my in-laws’ house. It was good to be there. I in fact had only been there once since the pandemic started. Before then, and especially before I went into long-term care, I’d be at my in-laws’ at least once a week on average. I always loved walking their dog, a black lab called Bloke. My mother-in-law and I walked him again yesterday.

For dinner, we indeed had lasagne and indeed without celery. It was great! I also had a Magnum Billionaire ice cream for dessert.

I also got lovely presents. One of my sisters-in-law had been sent shopping for the largest Rituals gift box she could find. I think it’s amazing!

Today, like I said, my parents visited. I don’t have the greatest relationship with my parents. Like usual, my father kept infodumping on his interests, which he was able to relate to our house in Lobith, since he practically renovated my parents’ house on his own. I could hardly get a word in, but my husband seemed interested. I made some smalltalk with my mother.

The presents I got from my parents, were great though. I had asked them for a surprise box from my favorite beading shop, which happens to be local to them. Aside from that package, I also got another box of jewelry-making supplies they’d found at a thrift store, a turtoise soft toy and fresh cherries and strawberries.

When I returned to the care facility at about 6:15PM, I had dinner: noodles another client and staff had cooked this morning. It was good.

Overall, the day was good. So was the rest of the week for the most part. I seem to slowly be crawling out of the dark pit of emotional dysregulation I was in last week. I’m relatively calm considering the fact that my birthday is a trigger for my C-PTSD.

How was your week?

Word of the Week linky

Braille Display #WotW

Hi all! What a week it’s been! From frustration to complete panic and back to relief, all because of my Braille display. That’s my word of the week for this week. Let me share why.

Like I’ve shared a couple of times before, I’ve had problems with my current Braille display ever since I first got it two years ago. Dots kept getting stuck, leading to errors in my reading. After all, Braille characters are comprised of at most eight (for computer Braille) dots in a rectangular cell. When, say, dot four is stuck, an A reads like a C or vice versa. It’s workable as long as it’s just one or two dots that are stuck out of the forty times eight dots on my forty-cell Braille display. However, at one point several dots in one cell were stuck, meaning that one was essentially useless.

After a technician had come out to repair my Braille display several times, he sent it back to the manufacturer for checking out in June of last year. I got a replacement on loan until it’d been fixed, which never happened.

Fast forward to last Sunday. When not one, but two or three dots were stuck on my Braille display, I decided I’d had enough and wanted it fixed. Either that or I wanted the original one back. I E-mailed the company, also asking what I could do to prevent dots getting stuck again. On Monday, I got a relatively generic response: other than not touching my Braille display with wet or dirty hands, there was nothing I could do. Well, I always make sure my hands are clean and dry before touching my Braille display. On Tuesday, the company’s repair planning called me to schedule an appt to get the thing repaired today.

Then on Wednesday, the company’s business developer called me to inform me that they’d found that my original Braille display – remember, the one that was with them or the manufacturer for a year -, had suffered water damage. All 40 cells needed replacing at a cost of €1500. Health insurance wouldn’t pay for this. Maybe home insurance would or I’d have to pay out-of-pocket.

I decided that, if I had to spend €1500 anyway, I’d be looking at getting another brand of Braille display, since I don’t trust my current one. I mean, I always handle my Braille display with care and not just the original one, but the replacement one too had problems. I actually got a little excited looking at what’s available, but at the same time quite panicked at the prospect of having to spend at least €1500 in one go. I’ve literally never made purchases over €1000.

Yesterday evening, I got an E-mail confirming the appt for repair of the replacement Braille display. I panicked again, since what if they decided I’d somehow ruined this one too or I got a huge bill after it got repaired?

Today, my husband called the business developer. He had seen the photos of the so-called water-damaged original Braille display, which the guy argued proved that I had somehow ruined it. Well, my husband argued that, since they’d had it for at least as long as I had originally had it, there was no way to prove it didn’t get water-damaged or anything while with them. Since I have no recollection of it getting wet at all, there is no way home insurance is going to cover a repair. In fact, they’d too argue that there’s no way the company can prove it isn’t their fault. The bottom line is I can keep the replacement Braille display, it would get repaired and I won’t have to pay. The technician who came out to replace the cells that had damaged dots, confirmed that it hadn’t been anything I had done causing this one to malfunction. Now, at least until/unless more dots get stuck on this one, I’m so relieved and happy! To be honest though, I’m so used to dots being stuck that I keep checking I’m reading my Braille display correctly. That’s okay though. Now let’s think of what I can spend those €1500 on. No, not really.

Word of the Week linky

Getting Active #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining in with Word of the Week. It’s been nearly a year since I last joined this linky, but today I’m inspired to. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase. My phrase for this week is: getting active.

You see, last week I was still pretty badly under the weather. This week, though I’m not fully recovered, I’m getting back on track. Though I did walk most days last week, I didn’t get in any other exercise.

This week, so far, I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day each day. I am pretty motivated. Last week, my husband joked that I’d earn a Domino’s pizza for every five million steps I took. That’d take me about a year and a half if I reached my step goal each and every day. I don’t, of course, but I do meet the goal about three times a week on average. This week, five times, so far. I still marvel at the fact that, about three years ago, I merely dreamt about reaching my step goal a few days a week and considered it a sign of optimal physical health. This does show that, as much as I may think I’m deteriorating, at least with respect to physical activity, I’m not.

In addition to walking, I went on the elliptical both yesterday and today. I got in only about ten minutes each day, but that’s okay, considering I’m still not fully recovered from my cold. Yesterday, I listened to a Christian workout playlist. Today, I chose the Southern rock playlist I created some years back when I still went on the elliptical regularly. It was good to listen to my favorite song on that playlist, Jessico by the Kentucky Headhunters.

I also did some core training, ie. planking. I can do it for about ten seconds at a time, which isn’t much, but oh well. I know that if I continue to try, I’ll get better eventually.

Being able to be this physically active, truly boosts my confidence. I mean, I had to buy new clothes this past week and the jeans I ordered, seemed a bit tight at first. This caused me to feel rather self-conscious about being overweight. My staff though reassured me that jeans always fit tighter when you first buy them. Besides, though I’m overweight, at least I still have the exact same size I had about six years ago when I ordered my current favorite jeans, for which the new ones are a replacement. This means I’m not gaining weight.

Word of the Week linky

Dancing Through Darkness #WotW

Okay, I’m supposed to be in bed already, but I can’t sleep. What better thing there is to do than write a blog post, right? I’m joining in with Anne’s Word of the Week for the first time in forever. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase.

This week wasn’t the best mental health-wise. Yesterday, I landed in a full-on crisis. I didn’t express my dark thoughts right then, but I did to my staff this evening. It isn’t the first time I’ve experienced acute suicidality, but the intrusive thoughts and images I get then shock me everytime. Thankfully, I was able to calm down after taking a PRN lorazepam. I will be calling my nurse practitioner at mental health tomorrow, since my community psychiatric nurse is on vacation. I know I’m not clinically depressed (yet), but I do want my treatment team to know about my crisis.

The rest of the week I pretty much saw it coming. On Monday and Tuesday, I was still pretty much in my normal mood. Not euphoric, but not depressed either. In fact, I signed up for the Bout of Books readathon on Tuesday fully intending to spend the better part of the week reading or talking about books. I didn’t. The first day, I got through 23% of Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott. I abandoned the book for the rest of the week though.

Particularly Friday, Saturday and today were hard. I did try to remain active. Like I mentioned several times already this past week, I tried to dance. Today I actually sort of succeeded. I also managed slightly more steps and active minutes as recorded by my Fitbit this week than the week before.

I have been trying to be more mindful of myself this week too. By this I mean I’ve started up meditating again. I use Insight Timer, which has like thousands of free meditations. If meditating becomes a regular habit, and I sure hope it does, I may pay for the premium plan. Honestly, though I was still close to crisis today, the affirmation in one of the meditations I’ve been listening to, helped me.

I also started exploring some ways of getting my eating and ultimately my weight under control. This is where dancing comes in handy again.

To sum it all up, I’m choosing “Dancing Through Darkness” as my phrase for the week. I feel depressed, but I’m also trying to actively do something about it.

How was your week?

Word of the Week linky

Loss #WotW

This was truly a mixed week. I wanted to write a gratitude list for it, and maybe I will do so tonight, but right now I don’t feel like it.

On Monday, I attended day activities as usual. A fellow client, an older man, attended too as usual, but he was very unwell. He had been ill for a long time and the staff had feared for his life on a few prior occasions. I attended day activities during the morning only and I worried in the afternoon that he’d die soon.

On Tuesday, the man wasn’t at day activities. I heard the staff talk about his group home staff having had a scare in the morning, but he was still alive. In the afternoon, I heard them talking about palliative care. By late afternoon, when us clients werre ready to leave, I heard that he’d passed. For those who don’t know, my day activities group is for people with severe intellectual disabilities, so i’m the only one who understands the conversations staff have among themselves basically.

On Wednesday, the other clients were told that this man had died. Most still don’t fully understand, but some have made beautiful drawings in his memory that will be given to his family on Monday. Near the center’s front door is a table with (electric) candles, a picture of the man and all the drawings. I decided to make a butterfly soap for it. I made it on Wednesday afternoon with my support coordinator. It turned out great, a beautiful lavender blue with lavender fragrance oil.

On Thursday, I was off from day activities and I spent the morning in bed. It didn’t really feel good, but I had nothing planned for the day except for horseback riding at 4:30PM. That was a great experience. I rode Aagje, a fjord horse with long hair (which is unusual for this breed).

Today, I showed my day activities staff the butterfly soap I’d made and placed it on the client’s remembrance table. We tried to do day activities as usual as much as possible. We walked to the marketplace in the morning. In the afternoon, when I went for a short walk with the day activities coordinator, I told her I wanted to ask a rude question. I wanted to ask whether, now that this other client had died, I could take his place at day activities on Thursdays. I still feel pretty awkward having asked this, but she understood that, if I waited a while, they might’ve gotten a new application. I E-mailed my support coordinator on this issue too.

Early this week, I got an E-mail from my support coordinator forwarding the termination letter from the Center for Consultation and Expertise. I didn’t understand this, as the consultant had offered to be my contact for the long-term care funding agency. Apparently, she still is somehow. I really hope I hear from that agency soon. My support coordinator did E-mail the local authority’s social consultant, who is in charge of my community care funding, to extend my funding for two months as we wait for long-term care to kick in.

Right now I feel… numb? I was a bit dissociated this afternoon, as my day activities staff were discusing clients’ severe challenging behaviors (not current fellow clients of mine). I remembered my time on the locked psychiatric unit, where I was often threatened with seclusion for problem behaviors and was in fact secluded or restrained a few times. It felt good disclosing this to my staff, but I did feel a bit awkward.

Now I’m waiting for my husband to get home from work. He’s going to bring French fries and snacks. I look forward to that.

I am linking up with Word of the Week. I choose “loss” as my word of the week in my fellow client’s memory.

Struggle #WotW

I want to write so bad, but I’m struggling. Struggling to get myself motivated for writing. Or for anything. Struggling to write coherent sentences. Struggling with my thoughts floating through my mind. Struggling with pretty major depression. I’ve been in survival mode just a bit too long. Now I’m ready to crash.

I am participating in Word of the Week (or #WotW) for the first time on this blog. My word for this week isn’t a shiny, happy one. It’s “struggle”.

This week was an eventful one, yet nothing really did happen. If that sounds like a contradiction, it’s because it is.

Early in the week, it became obvious to me that my depression wasn’t lifting like I’d hoped it would. I mean, I’d hoped that, once my support coordinator was back from vacation and I’d have home support three times a week again, I would feel better. I didn’t. I felt worse.

Thankfully, my support coordinator offered to come by on Tuesday for an extra hour of home support. I am so happy she did, for I didn’t know how else to make it through the day.

On Wednesday, my support worker came by in the afternoon. We ran some errands and I thought I’d do better that day. Not so. In the evenng, when it became apparent my husband wouldn’t be home till past 7PM, I had a meltdown.

On Thursday, I slept in till past noon and again lay in bed for a bit at 2PM. I could’ve been in bed all day, but my support coordinator would be here by 3PM. Thankfully, she was able to motivate me to go for a walk. That was when I decided to start the process of hopefully getting into supported housing. I don’t have my hopes up, of course.

I know that if the powers that be see this post and conclude from here that I’m just struggling with depression, they’ll not provide funding. After all, treatment precludes support. Besides, mental illness only qualifies you for temporary support. So I’m hoping the powers that be will see my needs beyond depression. I’m also blind and have a brain injury and autism, after all.

Interestingly, I had no problem convincing my psychiatric nurse practitioner that I do need 24-hour support. He was one of the first to ditch the dependent personality disorder label I’d been given by my last institution psychologist. As he said when I called him on Friday, I may be a little dependent, but that’s normal because, duh, I’m blind. I’m not sure that’s entirely true, in that to my knowledge most people who are “just blind” don’t need as much support as I do. However, I’m not “just blind”.

The Reading Residence