Goals: Major Things I Hope to Achieve in Life #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day seven in the A to Z Challenge. I’m finding that, even though ideas spin through my mind to blog about, I’m already less motivated to write and especially so for the #AtoZChallenge. Today’s post is a list, so I’m not sure it fits in with the theme of miscellaneous musings. I am feeling a bit uninspired though and lists are the easiest to write posts. I am sharing my major goals in life.

1. Find myself a satisfactory living situation. When I wrote a list of goals I had for myself on my old blog, buying a house was on it. Not that I’d ever be able to buy a house on my own, but divorcing my husband wasn’t on the list. This (buying a house) was however more my husband’s goal than mine. When I finally decided to try to get into long-term care, I felt much calmer than I did before. Even though the process is now going on for six months and counting, I’m still sure of myself on this part. This is the reason finding a satisfactory living situation tops my list.

2. Write my autobiography. I’ve wanted to be a writer ever since I was a young child. Of course, I am a writer with my blog and I also got a piece published in an anthology in 2015. I would love to publish more pieces, but I’d also love to write a memoir.

3. Find a hobby (other than blogging) that I can do independently. Or almost independently. I’m in a course now at day activities to explore this. We’ve been trying soap making for the last two weeks, because I used to enjoy that, and it’s going okay.

4. Visit the United States. I have a few long-time online friends from there whom I’d love to visit. I’d also love to visit carol anne of Therapy Bits in Ireland.

5. Heal from my childhood trauma. I hope to be able to someday access a qualified therapist able to treat me for my trauma-based symptoms. Even if I can’t do that, I hope to heal.

What are your major goals in life?

Five of the Most Significant Events in My Life

And once again, I didn’t post for nearly a week. I am beginning to feel pessimistic that I’ll complete the A to Z Challenge in April. However, I still would very much love to make it happen. I am pretty uninspired though.

To get back into the writing habit, I am choosing to write about a topic I’ve already posted about on my old blogs a couple of times. It is good though for my new readers of this blog to get to know me. I am going to share a list of important events in my life. Because I need to explain a little about each, this post may become a bit long.

1. The day I left the hospital at three months of age. I was born over three months premature and had to spend the first 94 days of my life in hospital. The unit I was on is commonly referred to as neonatal intensivecare unit or NICU for short, though I wasn’t in actual intensive care the whole time. I was on a ventilator for the first six weeks and, after I learned to breathe on my own, was moved to medium care, the general ward and eventually home. In the NICU, I sustained a brain bleed and developed an eye condition called retinopathy of prematurity. These two conditions are the main cause of my disabilities. I was finally discharged from the hospital on September 29, 1986.

2. The day I started special education. I started school, as most children here in the Netherlands did at the time, on my fourth birthday (June 27, 1990). I started in the first year of Kindergarten, which takes two years here. Just before the end of my second year in Kindergarten though, on May 11, 1992, I was moved into special education for the visually impaired.

The reason why I had to transfer remains a mystery. My parents say it was because I had to learn Braille, but I didn’t get to learn that till over a year later and only because a totally blind boy joined my class. The school was generally only equipped to educate those with low vision. Besides, the first special school my parents chose for me, was for those with mobility impairments. I was turned down because cerebral palsy isn’t my primary disability.

My inner five-year-old holds some memories of this situation. In our memory, I was ill with what could’ve been a partly psychosomatic illness just before moving to special ed. I cannot prove this though.

3. The day I started mainstream secondary school. My parents fought for years to get me out of special ed again. If I have to believe them, they fought from the moment I started in special ed to get me out again. They were convinced I’m far too intelligent for special ed, despite the fact that most schools for the blind offer a normal elenentary school curriculum. Anyway, they finally succeeded after taking me to the third ed psych in eighteen months, a psychologist who’d never even seen a blind person in his practice. This was also when I got labeled as gifted with a verbal IQ of 154. These three digits haunt me till this day.

I started mainstream secondary school on August 25, 1999 at my city’s grammar school. Those six years were awful. I scored above-average academically, but struggled socially and emotionally. I dissociated through most of my time there and hardly have any real memory of it.

4. The day I suffered my psychiatric crisis. After graduating high school in 2005, I’d taken two gap years to work on independence. While in my second gap year, I was diagnosed as autistic. Leading up to this was my increasingly falling apart at the independence training home. I got sent out to Nijmegen to live on my own on August 1, 2007 though. I fell apart within three months. By late October, I was wandering everyday, had multiple meltdowns a day and ended up suicidal. I was eventually hospitalized on November 3.

5. The day I got kicked out of the hospital again. I remained in a psychiatric hospital for 9 1/2 years, but eventually got kicked out on May 8, 2017. I believe the real reason is the government budget cuts to mental health, but my treatment team at the time blamed me. I have been living semi-independently ever since. As regular readers know though, I’m in the process of hopefully getting into long-term care again.

PoCoLo

Gratitude List (March 23, 2019) #TToT

This week was better than last week. Still, when I filled out a check-in questionnaire on an app called Pacifica, it said I scored as severely depressed. Well, apparently that’s my normal state.

Today, I am feeling pretty good. I want to share the things I’m grateful for, so I’m once again joining in with #TToT.

1. A full Monday at day activities. Like I mentioned last week, from this week on, I’ll be going to day activities three full days (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) plus Wednesday morning. I liked it on Monday afternoon.

2. Lorazepam. On Tuesday, I was pretty unquiet all day. Thankfully, I’d taken my PRN tranquilizer with me to day activities. I took it in the afternoon. At first, it just made me feel drowsy, but I eventually calmed down too.

3. Stuffed animals. I spent some time Tuesday afternoon at another group at day activities, where I tried to relax in a recliner. They have a large stuffed dog, which I was allowed to hold.

Also, last Thursday before leaving for work at 5AM, my husband covered me in stuffed animals as I went back to sleep. That’s so awesome!

4. Two long walks with my support coordinator. On both Wednesday and Thursday, we took an hour-long walk.

5. Yoga. On Thursday, I tried to do some yoga on my bed, because I couldn’t find my yoga mat. Turned out it had disintegrated and my husband had thrown it out. I ordered a new yoga mat on Thursday, which arrived at my in-laws on Friday. I picked it up today and it is great. It is not as thick as the one I used to have, but thick enough at 1.5cm. I tried some yoga again today.

6. Mindfulness apps. I tried meditating regularly using Insight Timer this week. It was good. I also, like I said, got an app called Pacifica, which helps me track my mood and health habits. I like it.

7. Beautiful weather yesterday. The temperature reached 19 degrees Celsius, which meant we could have coffee outside in the afternoon at day activities. The staff also put up the cocoon swing, which I always love.

8. Sleep. Yesterday, I was feeling exhausted and had a headache. My husband noticed an dtold me to go to bed. I slept for over twelve hours last night. Though my quality of sleep could be better, since I snore awfully, I feel okay now energy-wise.

What are you grateful for?

My Favorite Ways of Staying Active

Today, I am joining in with the RagTag Daily Prompt for Thursday. It is “Exercise“. I am a pretty sedentary person, but nonetheless, I love getting moving every once in a while. Here are my favorite ways of staying active both physically and mentally.

1. Walking. My absolute favorite way of physical exercise has to be walking. Due to my disabilities, I am not safe leaving the house on my own for a walk, but I do enjoy walks with my support staff or other people. As regular readers of this blog know, I go for a long walk each Monday at day activities. This week, unfortunately, it started to pour when we’d just been out of the door for five minutes, so we had to return. Both today and yesterday though, I went for an hour-long walk with my support coordinator.

2. Swimming. My second most favorite way of exercising physically has to be swimming. We do it at day activities every other Tuesday. My Fitbit activity tracker is water-proof, so it tracks my swimming activity too.

3. Going on gym equipment. I have an elliptical at home, which I really need to use more often. I manage twice a week on average, but sometimes I don’t go for over a week.

I also discussed with my support worker getting myself a gym membership. There’s a gym in the nearby city that has services for people who suffered brain injury. I’d love to go there.

4. Yoga. I used to take yoga lessons at the institution in Nijmegen many years ago, but I quit eventually. Then I tried to practise on my own. My husband eventually borrowed my yoga mat for his own exercise, then threw it out because it’d disintegrated. I just ordered myself anew one, which should arrive tomorrow. I tried to do yoga on my bed today, but that wasn’t really ideal.

5. Horseback riding. This isn’t particularly exercise-y if you ask me, since we just step around. However, it is an activity that I commit to once a week and that keeps me healthy – or so I’d like to think.

What are your favorite ways of staying healthy?

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 23, 2019) #TToT

This week was a truly mixed bag. I am tempted to focus on the negative. I mean, even my Thankful Thursday post sounded more negative than grateful. For this reason, I’m going to write a gratitude list for this week. As always, I am linking up with #TToT

1. Nearly 14,000 steps on Monday! I had over 120 active minutes thanks to a long walk in the morning, another long walk in the afternoon and going on the elliptical.

2. No more need for painkillers. It’s been five weeks since my collarbone fracture and I am now almost pain-free without medication.

3. Lovely weather. It’s been a lot warmer than is normal for February this past week and it’s supposed to get even warmer next week. I know this could be bad in terms of climate change, but I’m so grateful.

4. No weight gain. I had my annual physical check-up at the mental health agency last week and weighed the same as in late December. Since I’ve not been minding my diet at all, this is good news. My blood pressure was also pretty good.

5. PRN tranquilizers. I haven’t needed them anymore after Wednesday, but I’m still glad I have them.

6. My cynical sense of humor. By 2021, everything will be okay. I know really I can’t wait that long, but everytime I say these words, they still bring a grin to my face.

7. Horseback riding with my day activities group. Because two clients from my group are currently not capable of horseback riding, the staff asked me whether I want to ride in their place. I loved it.

8. My mother texting me. She rarely calls or texts me and I’d let it go and not contacted her after our visit last December. She asked how I’m doing. Of course, I still had to avoid the elephant in the room that is my going into long-term care, but oh well.

9. Getting more used to my Mac. Yesterday, I even started writing a blog post on it using an external blogging app (because WordPress is hard to use). I haven’t figured everything out, but I’m sure that I will.

10. My mood being slightly better thes elast few days. I am not nearly as anxious as I was early in the week.

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 18, 2019) #TToT

This week is truly not the best one and that’s a huge understatement. I felt a little lost early in the week. I tried to exercise in order to make myself feel better. This was somewhat of a success. Then yesterday I fell and suffered a small fracture in my left collarbone. Nonetheless, I am going to attempt a short gratitude list. As always, I’m linking up with #TToT.

1. Swimming on Tuesday. It was the first time in six weeks that I went swimming again. I was a little panicked at first, but it went well eventually.

2. My mother-in-law. On Wednesday, my support coordinator had to cancel her visit to me at the last minute, but thankfully, my mother-in-law could pick me up. I had fun eating with my in-laws and my MIL’s niece, who temporarily lives with them.

3. My support staff. My support coordinator was kind enough to call me back as soon as she could to explain why she had to cancel our appt. She offered to come by two times next week.

Also, like I said, I fell yesterday. I was very dizzy from the pain at first. Nonetheless, I thought little of it. After an hour though, I was still in a lot of pain, so decided to call the doctor’s office. His assistant advised me to come see the doctor, but the GP surgery is in the next town, so I needed transportation. My mother-in-law couldn’t leave home and advised me to call a taxi. I didn’t know how to do that, so called my support worker, who jumped in the car and drove to me. She went to the doctor with me.

4. Painkillers. It turned out I had a small collarbone fracture. It wasn’t so bad that I needed a sling or whatever, but the doctor did give me strong painkillers. This was a little hard to figure out, since I take a lot of other medications with which pain meds might interact. I just took my third dose of the pain medicine about two hours ago, since I can only take it twice a day. I’m still in some pain, but it is bearable if I don’t put too much pressure on my arm. This does mean typing with my left hand for a long while, such as typing up this blog post, is a struggle.

5. Candy. I treated myself to candy today. I ate it all already. We also had French fries again. Now I am stuffed. However, it felt good indulging into some comfort food.

6. Reading. I was very much into reading some fiction again early this week. I usually read non-fiction, but enjoy young adult fiction at times. I had started reading the book I finished this week already a few months ago, but somehow moved through it quickly now. It is called And She Was by Jessica Verdi. I have made a start to a review, which I will publish soon.

What have you been grateful for?

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?

My Hopes for 2019

Happy new year everyone! Today and hopefully throughout this month, I’ll be joining in with Just Jot It! January or #JusJoJan for short, organized by Linda G. Hill. Today‚Äôs prompt is to reflect back on 2018 or write about your plans or resolutions for 2019. since I already wrote about my 2018, I’m going to use this post to jot down my hopes, goals and plans for 2019. Here goes.

1. Find suitable supported housing. This is my main hope for 2019. Of course, given my experience with finding (or not finding) supported housing out of the mental institution, I don’t have my hopes up too high. However, I at least want to get long-term care funding approved. That way, even if I don’t find a housing place, I can get more support in my current home than I get now.

2. Get back on track with healthier living. I didn’t gain any weight over the holidays and in 2018, lost a pound or 500 grams, while I expected I’d gained. I’m proud of that, but I’m still obese. Knowing that I’ve experienced some time when my BMI was under 30 this past year, I badly want to lose those two or three pounds it takes to be back at just overweight.

More importantly though, I want to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I want to exercise regularly and eat at least somewhat healthfully.

3. Blog regularly. In January, participating in #JusJoJan means I’ll have something to write about each day, as Linda will be posting prompts. I plan on writing regularly throughout the year though.

4. Get a new computer. I have had this on my list of plans ever since 2017. This year, I’m serious about it though, as I finally convinced my husband too that my current PC is outdated. I am seriously considering getting a Mac, as that’d mean I could do without having to get a screen reader separate from the operating system. I already love my iPhone, but I feel I need a computer too.

5. Stay mentally stable. Over 2018, I’ve not had serious crises other than the one in January that eventually got me kickked out of my old day activities place. I’m still considering terminating mental health treatment once I’ve found suited supported housing. After all, I’m pretty confident that the depression I suffered early in 2018 and that required an increase in my antidepressant dose, was caused by my difficulties coping at home and at day activities. I do still experience trauma-related symptoms, but at this point, they’re manageable.

What are your hopes for 2019?