A Beautiful Memory: Clowns

It looks like, even though I’m still depressed, I’m getting a little bit of my writing mojo back. I have at least been commenting more on other people’s posts and feel like I want to write again. I was inspired to write this post by a question over at Pointless Overthinking. The question was about your most beautiful memory from last year. In 2018, my most beautiful memory was of saying goodbye at my old day activities. I already posted about that when it actually happened though. For this reason, I’m choosing another memory to share.

On November 23, 2017, my old day activities organized a “day out” for all clients. The reason it was called that was because they get money to take each client on an outing each year. This hadn’t happened in years though and, with many clients being profoundly and multiply disabled, it would’ve been hard. Instead of going out with those who could do this, the staff chose to have a “day in”. They organized for two clowns to visit the center.

I attended the group for profoundly and multiply disabled people at the time. I am not profoundly disabled, but I most enjoyed the sensory activities at that group. The clowns visited us and started interacting with the clients. None of the other clients can talk, but they thoroughly enjoyed it. So did I.

In addition to the clowns visiting, the staff had organized for a snack and fries delivery truck to come by. The clients at my group couldn’t make it clear what they wanted from the truck, so at first I too was just given a particular snack. When I discovered you were actually allowed to order your own snacks and fries, and as much as you wanted, I joined the people at the more able industrial group to fetch myself snacks. It was a ton of fun.

I was reminded of this day a few weeks ago, when a staff’s ddaughter visited us practising as a clown. She was in the process of auditioning to become a hospital clown and wanted some practice. She was really good. Unfortunately, she didn’t pass the auditions though.

Overeating and Overweight: My Relationship with Food and My Body #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 15 in the A to Z Challenge. The O is, for whatever reason, a difficult letter. I didn’t have an inkling what I was going to write about until today and then made up my mind several more times. I finally settled on two O words: overeating and overweight. Today, I am going to describe my struggle with emotional eating.

I remember when I was as young as five stealing candy from my parents. So did my sister, but I was always the one initiating it and taking the most. My parents thought it was funny.

Despite this, my diet was relatively healthy until I enrolled into mainstream secondary school at age thirteen. Then, my eating quickly got out of hand. I ate sausage rolls every single day. I also bought large amounts of candy every week, which I’d eat in one sitting. My parents noticed, but other than giving me a bit of a talking about it, they didn’t help me change my behavior.

I don’t really know why I overate in the first place. It was more of a habit, an addiction perhaps, than that it was tied to clear emotional distress. Of course, I suffered chronic stress, so that may’ve contributed.

I had some ritualistic behavior around food too. I didn’t know a thing about calories, but I wrote down everything I ate. This was often ended with a piece of self-hatred. It was true t hat I ate too much, but I made no attempt to change it other than by berating myself for it.

I was curvy from early secondary school on, but always maintained a healthy BMI somehow. This didn’t change till sometime in 2012. I rapidly started gaining weight and continued to gain weight until the summer of 2017. Then, I tried to lose weight. I lost about 10kg and then started gaining again. I haven’t been weighed in in several months and am pretty sure that, though I am not where I was in mid-2017, I’ve gained some considerable weight.

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. I don’t like the way my body looks and the fact that I am at increased risk for illness and premature death. However, in a sense, I’m too lazy to really do something about it. It’s true that, once again, I experience a ton of stress and I think about overeating on a daily basis. However, I can resist the urge most days. I don’t eat the whole can of peanut butter or something. In this sense, I have the willpower to keep from bingeing. I would really love to get myself to stop doing it altogether. Since tomorrow is my usual shopping day, I am resolving here not to buy myself candy this week.

Gratitude List (March 16, 2019) #TToT

I have been feeling a little off lately. This morning (or early afternoon to be exact), I awoke and immediately felt grumpy. I had a hard time snapping out of the moodiness. Then I read in a Dutch Facebook group about listing the positives of a day. I haven’t participated in #TToT for a while, so it’s about time.

1. Pizza on Sunday. We’d planned on having fries and snacks on Friday, but then my husband had to work late, so I ate at my in-laws. I don’t know whether the pizza night on Sunday was to make up for that, but I loved it.

2. More day activities! From next week on, I’ll be going to day activities a full day rather than just the morning on Monday. On Tuesday adn Friday, I already go full days and I’ll try Wednesday someday. Thursday will remain my day off.

3. Swimming on Tuesday. I was able to go in the deep pool again and swam almost the entire half hour.

4. Eating potato and carrot mash at my in-laws. There’s a word for this in Dutch, but I’m too lazy to look up whether there’s one in English too. My mother-in-law gave me the choice between that and sauerkraut. I didn’t expect to like the mash either, but I definitely hate sauerkraut. Surprisingly, I liked the food. Not enough to ask for second helpings, but enough to eat my first serving.

5. Phone check-ins with my support coordinator. As of last week, she’s been checking in with me at the end of nearly each day she works. I love it.

6. Being able to go for a short walk with my support coordinator on Wednesday. It rained almost the entire day, but when we went for a walk, it didn’t.

7. A rainbow. When walking with my support coordinator, she spotted it and took a photograph. She says this is our lucky rainbow.

Rainbow

8. Blueberries, bananas and honey liquorice. I went to the supermarket with my support worker on Thursday and got myself these. I particularly loved eating the blueberries in my yoghurt on Friday.

9. Outdoors horseback riding. Again, the weather treated us well on Friday afternoon. It rained the whole day, but when it was time for us to go horseback riding, it didn’t. I don’t like indoors horseback riding nearly as much as I do going outdoors, so this was wonderful.

10. Meditating. I’ve been doing a bit of it again this past week. It’s still hard to find the time and focus for it, but I love it. I finally figured out a way to play the learning to meditate course on Insight Timer. For whatever reason, VoiceOver renders the button to play it non-clickable, but somehow I got it playing. Now I may get Insight Timer premium once my disability payment is in.

What have you been grateful for lately?

Gratitude List (February 2, 2019) #TToT

I didn’t write much this past week. Not because I didn’t have anything to share, but because somehow the words wouldn’t make it onto the page. I had an extremely eventful week, which I will share more about later and which I already shared a bit about last Wednesday. Today, I’m going to write a gratitude list for the past week. As always, I’m linking up with #TToT.

1. My shoulder pain being almost over. Like I said two weeks ago, I suffered a small collarbone fracture. Yesterday was the last day of my strong painkillers. I had wanted to quit them earlier, but my husband said not to be too hard on myself. Today though, I only took two paracetamol and am more or less fine. Granted, I didn’t do a lot of repetitive work, so after I’ve finished this post, it’ll probably hurt more.

2. Being able to exercise again. I went on the elliptical for a total of 35 minutes yesterday. I did take breaks, but I felt my legs more than the injured arm.

3. Sensory activities. I already shared last Wednesday about the living facility I might go into that has lots of sensory supplies. Seeing this inspired me to explore the sensory equipment at day activities more. I found a large cylinder which you can roll on. I also spent time in the small (almost too small for my overweight body, but not yet) indoors cocoon swing.

4. Buying my Macbook. I haven’t unboxed it yet, but I’m glad I finally put one foot in front of the other and bought it.

5. Stuffed animals. Today, I experienced severe overload and had a meltdown while at my in-laws. My mother-in-law brought me a huge collection of Disney soft toys and other stuffed animals. I loved them.

6. Sleep. I didn’t sleep well early in the week. Thankfully, towards the end of the week, I slept better.

7. Getting some delicious treats for myself on Thursday. Some were healthy too, like blueberries. Some were not (liquorice!) but I loved them nonetheless.

8. The day activities staff treating us to some special food on Friday. She decided to spoil us, so for lunch on Friday, we had croissants and some salty crackers with cream cheese and olives. I went to the marketplace to buy them with this staff.

9. My husband. I need to be extra grateful for him because this past week has been stressful.

10. My support coordinator, whom I saw four times this week.

What have you been grateful for this past week?

Gratitude List (January 4, 2019) #TToT

Yay, it’s time for my gratitude list with #TToT once again. I am also linking up with the Word of the Day Challenge, for which the prompt is “gratitude” today. Do you want to know what I’ve been grateful for lately? I love to share!

1. Two wonderful full days at day activities between Christmas and New Year’s. There were only about five clients there each day and two staff. On Thursday, I went for a walk with one of the staff. We also ate pancakes for lunch. On Friday, the staff drove the center’s van to a restaurant in a nearby village, where we had a drink. I had hot chocolate with whipped cream. One of the clients from my group, an older man who used to drink beers with his friends regularly before he declined from a brain injury, had an alcohol-free beer. I could tell he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. So did I.

2. Resting over the week-end. I was pretty tired from all the Christmassy stuff by last week Saturday. So was my husband, so we chose to have a lie-in. I normally feel bad about getting up at like noon and my husband doesn’t like it either, but neither of us minded.

3. Oil balls or whatever the English term is. These are fried balls made of the same stuff that pancakes are made of. They’re a traditional New Year’s snack here. I was nauseated from them for days, but who cares?

4. Not having gained any weight over the holiday season. That is, I may’ve lost then gained some or vice versa, but in any case I was at the exact same weight last Monday that I’d been in early November. I already mentioned this last Monday, but I’m still so grateful for it.

5. A long walk with my mother-in-law. On Wednesday, she visited me and we went for a walk into the next village. This was about a 5km walk that took us 70 minutes.

6. Horseback riding with my support worker. Yesterday, for the first time in a while, my support worker was available to assist me as I rode the horse. It was truly a lovely trip. While waiting on the taxi back home, a young man from my day activities came into the canteen. Once she’d made out that we knew each other, his staff prompted him: “Who’s that?” I was delighted to hear him say “Astrid!” I only see this man on one of my days at day activities and I hadn’t expected him to recognize me, so it was truly lovely that he did.

7. Fried chicken. Yesterday, my husband cooked a rather boring meal of macaroni with bell peppers and leek. He surprised me at the end by saying that, if I admitted this was the most delicious meal I’d ever had, he might have some chicken for me. So funny! We had wings and filet. I liked the filet better, so my husband gave that to me.

8. Getting a head massage. We havve a head massager at day activities. I love it and today, my staff were doing beauty stuff. I asked for the head massage first, but I also had my nails done.

9. Looking at an online store for sensory supplies with my staff. I already knew the store and have my sensory cat from there, but my staff hadn’t heard of it. They probably got the sensory room modeled by Barry Emons, the inventor of snoezelen, but his shop is harder to use and the itmes are more expensive than the store I found. I was totally excited ooohing and aaahing at all the lovely supplies and all the more excited because my staff was excited too. We might get some stuff for my day activities group.

10. Dancing. On Friday afternoon, one of the staff at another day activities group organizes a “prom” for the entire center. I only went once before, but today, I decided to go again. I loved it.

11. Eating French fries for the first time in a while. Today, my husband heard a doctor on the radio say that you need to go to the snack conrer once in a while or you’ll get fat, or so he said. The real talk was probably about crash diets not working, but I loved my husband twisting it to an excuse to get us fries. We also each had a burger with it.

12. The lovely blog interaction I’ve been involved with this past week. I’ve gotten more interested in reading and responding to other blogs and it probably pays off on my own blog too. Besides, I just love reading other blogs, as it inspires me too.

What have you been grateful for this past week?

Small Accomplishments For Today

Yesterday, Girl with the Paw Print Tattoo wrote an interesting post of little accomplishments. She used these to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Like she said, it’s easy to focus on what we could’ve done better, but it’s more helpful to focus on what we did achieve. Today, on the last day of 2018, I am sharing a list of my accomplishments for the day.

1. Got out of bed before noon. My husband got up by 8AM, but it was good enough for me to be up by 11:30.

2. Got showered and dressed. Most people don’t understand that this costs me a lot of energy. I don’t understand it myself sometimes, as I’ve been doing it by myself for so many years it seems obvious. However, it still takes more effort than it would most other people, I think.

3. Ate relatively healthily and not too much. Of course with it being the last day of the year, we had snacks and we had croissants for breakfast too. However, I didn’t eat more than I should have.

4. Went on the elliptical for nearly 30 minutes. This isn’t even a small accomplishment, as it is quite big a deal. Last week, my husband criticized me for having stopped exercising regularly and eating too much. It’s been only a week, but I can already say I’m doing a little better.

5. Was able to sit in the living room with my husband and sister-in-law for two hours without needing to go upstairs to unwind. MY sister-in-law came by for an early new year’s celebration (she left at 9PM). Last year, I was so involved with my special interest du jour that I hardly paid attention to her. This year, I was even able to enjoy it.

6. Didn’t have a meltdown, despite the fireworks and all the things that are unusual on this day.

7. Writing this blog post. I originally didn’t intend on writing today, but then I saw the aforementioned post and I just had to copy the idea.

What “small” things did you achieve today?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (December 29, 2018)

Oh my, it’s Saturday again! This means it’s been nearly a week since I last wrote a blog post. I really wanted to write more, but I’ve been feeling badly uninspired. Today, a few ideas are floating through my mind, including several blog challenges. However, I’m finding that I struggle to put much effort into a blog post. For this reason, I’m settling on a #WeekendCoffeeShare post.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you how your holidays have been. Mine have been good but exhausting. I went to my parents for Christmas Eve and stayed there overnight. It was okay. We managed to avoid discussing my life, which is a good thing, since my parents are very disappointed in how I live my life. Like, my mother can feign a bit of interest in my activities at the day center for severely intellectually disabled people I attend. My father can’t even pretend to be interested. I’m fine with it, sort of. At least by avoiding talking about me, we don’t risk ending up in a fight. It was a much more relaxed visit than the ones at which I’ve tried to talk about my life.

If we were having coffee, I’d share about the gourmet dinner we had on boxing day at my in-laws. It was fun and tasty, but I did end up with a lot of IBS symptoms for a few days following it.

I’d also share about my plans for buying a Macbook. I did share this with my parents and sister on Christmas Eve. I’d not even told my husband before, because Macbooks are rather expensive and I was afraid he wouldn’t approve. Not that he has to. Buying a Macbook would mean I could use its built-in screen reader and no longer depend on JAWS, the main screen reader for Windows, which costs like 1000 euros and hasn’t been improved much sinnce it was first released. In theory, I could get JAWS paid for by health insurance as a needed adaptation, but I’ve been waiting for my insurer’s approval for nearly a year. My husband was in fact pretty supportive. We found an older Macbook Air model for a reasonable price. I can’t wait to go to the store to take a look at it.

I don’t have any plans for the week-end. Besides resting, that is. I’ll probably just chill out with some TV shows or books. My husband’s oldest sister is going to visit us for new year’s eve. That should be fun.

Gratitude List (December 21, 2018)

It’s Friday again, yay! Last week I skipped my gratitude list post. Not because I didn’t have much to be thankful for, but because I wanted to write some other things and was feeling sick with a cold. Today, I’m taking my chance to do the post. I have a lot to be thankful for this past week. Here goes.

1. The wonderful Christmas box I got last week. I already wrote about it last week, but I want to mention it here too. I particularly love Snowflake, the stuffed unicorn. I also loved the fleece blanket I got in my package. I sat covered in it on Saturday when my cold was at its worst.

2. My cold being almost over. I am still a little sniffy, but with how bad my cold felt last Saturday, I”m truly grateful it’s much better.

3. My staff being well again. My support coordinator was off sick for a few weeks, but late last week, she returned to work. She first visited me on Wednesday. My nurse practitioner, who was off sick even longer, returned to work this week too. I had a good appoitnment with him.

4. A Christmas meal at day activities. On Tuesday, we had a delicious lunch. It was a little chaotic, but good too.

5. Horseback riding again. It was rainy yesterday, but thankfully we could still go on an outdoors ride.

6. Eating delicious tuna macaroni with my mother-in-law. She went horseback riding with me and after that, I ate at her house. It was just the two of us, so I could decide what we had.

7. The application for long-term care being mailed. It was sent out yesterday. It was a little hard reading the application, because my staff had to fill out how impaired I am in various areas on a 0-3 rating scale. I got quite a few 3s.

8. My husband being supportive. He showed his support of me even when I disclosed some rather embarrassing aspects of the long-term care application (ie. The fact that I am quite impaired in my personal care). He knows to some extent, of course, but still it’s a little awkward to admit.

9. All the Christmas decorations at day activities and some at home too. I didn’t use to like those. In fact, the first Christmas of my psychiatric institutionalization, I even pulled them all off the wall on my ward. Now I like a little Christmassy cheer.

10. The weighted blanket a staff made for my day activities group. She gave it to us a few weeks ago and I may’ve mentiooned it before, but then I mention it one more time. I love being in the sensory room and lying under it.

11. Painkillers. I had bad shoulder pain last Tuesday and still it’s not completely gone. I also had a headache today. However, ibuprofen and paracetamol worked well respectively.

12. Christmas songs. I can’t get some out of my head, but it’s lovely. This year is the first year I can appreciate Christmas.

This list was a bit random in its order, but I can’t seem to reorder the items on my phone and am too lazy to open my computer. I hope you enjoyed reading it anyway. I looked forward to linking up with #TToT, but saw it had come to a close for 2018 last week. The linky also is no longer open, but I hope some of those who visit me from #TToT regularly, will leave me a comment anyway.

Queen of Questions (December 7, 2018)

A few days ago, I discovered The Haunted Wordsmith’s Queen of Questions. In it, the author posts a set of questions each day for other bloggers to answer. I badly wanted to answer the questions that day, but didn’t get to do so back then. Now I’m participating for the first time.

1. You have to take the setting from one book, plot from another, and characters from a third to create a new book: What did you take?
I am not that much of a fiction reader, so I really have no idea how to go about this one.

2. What is your favorite candle scent?
Oh, I love love love scented candles! Or rather, wax melts, as candles are a bit risky for me to use. I have a lot of favorites. Now that I think of it, I think my all-time favorite is the Cappuccino Truffle one from Yankee Candle, although Mango Peach Salsa is also great.

3. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
Yoghurt with crunchy muesli and some fruit in it, especially blueberries. I must say though that I eat this combination mostly for dessert when at my in-laws. For breakfast, I usually eat it without the blueberries.

4. Did you play video games in the arcade? If yes, what was your favorite (pinball counts too)?
No. I have no clue what the arcade even is. I am blind, and back when I was interested in computer games, all the accessible ones were boring.

5. Pool, darts, beer pong, or something else?
Showdown. Not that I like it, but it’s the only remotely similar game played by blind people.

6. What was the last thing you saw that made you do a double take?
I don’t really know..

7. How do you like your peanuts?
Salted but otherwise not coated. I hate the plain ones that you still have to pop out of the shell, because I’m way too lazy to do that.

8. What is your favorite lunch meat?
I don’t particularly like any kind of lunch meat, but if I have to choose, i’d go for salami.

9. Do you believe in magic?
Not really. Sometimes I try to, but it’s more of an entertainment thing than true belief.

10. What song best describes your mood right now?
Dancing Queen by ABBA. Not that I’m dancing, but I feel like it.

Gratitude List (November 30, 2018) #TToT

It’s Friday again! I am not a big fan of the week-end, but I like Fridays nonetheless. I don’t relly know why. Maybe it’s just that they’re blue in my mind’s eye’s synesthetic perception and blue is my favorite color. Who knows?

Friday also means it’s time to link up with #TToT again. Here are the things I’ve been thankful for this past week.

1. Tarot apps. I don’t really believe in the spiritual basis of tarot, but I wanted to learn it anyway to use as a thought-starter. I read up about it on some blogs, but didn’t know how to make it work for myself, as I, being blind, cannot use real tarot cards. After looking for a while though, I found some accessible-with-VoiceOver tarot apps. Of course, I still miss out on the visual aspects, but I can still reflect on the card meanings.

2. Gratitude journaling. Okay, yeah, I am doing this now, but I also have been doing it in an iPhone app this past week. I couldn’t manage to do it daily, but I managed two tims since installing the app on Monday. It does help me.

3. Yet another extra afternoon at day activities. This was just once though. Because my support coordinator was off sick and my support worker or mother-in-law couldn’t come either, the staff got the manager’s permission to let me stay at day activities on Wednesday afternoon. It was really nice.

4. Horseback riding with my mother-in-law. My support worker couldn’t come on Thursday to go riding with me, but my mother-in-law could. It was a lot of fun.

5. Dinner with my in-laws. Alos yesterday, I decided on a whim to go have dinner with my in-laws. I was scared my husband would be mad with me for it, but thankfully he wasn’t. We ate delicious macaroni.

6. My fabulous husband. Need I say more? I just love him.

7. Good food. My husband has been experimenting with healthier food choices. On Tuesday, he made zucchini noodles. When on Wednesday he made rutabaga (Swedish turnip) fries, I was a little suspicious. However, I liked it.

8. A lie-in on Thursday. I didn’t have anything to do except for horseback riding at 4:30, so I slept in till 11AM. I also listened to some relaxing music in bed.

9. Relaxing in the snoezelen (sensory) room. On Tuesday, I took my phone into the sensory room with me and listened to whale sounds and music while lying on the water bed. I also took time to relax in the sensory room on Wednesday morning.

10. Chatting to a former nurse. Yesterday, a former nurse from the acute psychiatric ward I spent sixteen long months on in 2007-2009, sent me a text message. It wasn’t intended for me, so I told him who I was and that he probably had texted the wrong Astrid. He started chatting to me anyway. I don’t have a lot of memories of that time, but I did remember him.

What have you been thankful for this past week?