Category Archives: Journaling

Currently – July 2018

It’s still hot, so my book review and several other complicated posts will have to wait yet again. Today, I’m participating in this month’s Currently, hosted by Anne of In Residence and Shelly of The Queen in Between.

Celebrating: my birthday. It was last week, but I still have yet to get my husband’s present for me, as I asked him for a summer jacket, so he’ll have to have me pick one. I don’t like online shopping for clothes, as I won’t be able to feel the fabric then, so we’ll have to go to a brick and mortar store. We were in the nearest larger city yesterday for a mental health appointment for me, but my husband felt it was too hot to go shopping.

My oldest sister-in-law’s birthday is also coming up on Sunday. She doesn’t seem to like celebrating it though.

Visiting: my in-laws. I felt rather lonely and stressed this afternoon, so called my mother-in-law. She offered to pick me up and we drove to my in-laws’ house. I had dinner there and we walked their dog.

Baking: I’m not baking anything at the moment. I wasn’t at my current day activities today, as I was taking a look at a possible new day activities place. We usually do a simple baking or cooking activity at my current day activities on Wednesday and they do the same at the potential new place, but not today.

My husband though baked a delicious strawberry cheesecake for my birthday last week. I am used to getting apple pie on my birthday, but didn’t want that this year. My husband said we did need to have some cake for my parents, who were coming over, so I chose cheesecake.

Wearing: skirts! One of my favorite aspects of summer is being able to wear skirts. I have three of the same kind in red, blue and green. Then I have one other skirt, a blue one with a rose on it, that I got from my husband for my birthday several years ago. Lastly, I have a green one which is just a little too tight for me now, but I’m hoping to fit in it again next year.

Loving: life, mostly. I am genuinely feeling much better than I was several months ago. I still can get self-destructive when triggered, which still happens every now and again. However, I think I can be fairly confident that I’m no longer seriously depressed.

What have you been up to?

My Favorite Ways of Staying Active

It’s still pretty hot here. On Saturday, I paid the price for having said that hot weather is good for practically everything, as I spent the day mostly in bed feeling pretty rubbish. Today, I’m doing better. I am starting on yet another great-seeming Kindle book while still having to review the last one I finished. However, I don’t feel up to this. In fact, I wish the weather was slightly cooler so that I could’ve been more active physically. Instead, I’m going to share in this blog post about my favorite ways of staying active. This post was inspired by Emilia of My Inner MishMash, who asked a week or two ago which sport we’d choose if we had to pick one.

1. Swimming. Oh, how I love this. In the Netherlands, most children get swimming classes at school at least in the early elementary school years. I did too, but at my school for the visually impaired, I wasn’t progressing because my teacher was over-protective. My parens enrolled me in swimming classes at the local pool and I got my first diploma when I was nine and my second about eight months later, when I’d just turned ten. These two dplomas are the ones most people in the Netherlands have. Since we got swimming classes throughout elementary school at the school for the blind, I was able to stay in classes for another two years. I never earned another diploma though.

Back in the day, I still had some vision, so was able to swim in a relatively straight line. Now I can’t to save my life. My left side is weaker than my right, so I often swim in circles and sometimes, when I think I catch myself doing this, I overcompensate. My husband finds it pretty challenging to keep an eye on me while swimming. I still really hope I can find a way to go swimming regularly.

2. Horseback riding. I went horseback riding a handful of times when on holiday as a child. We just did steps on a pony with my parents each walking beside my sister and me. At one point, I asked my mother whether I could get riding lessons, but she said it was too expensive as I’d have to get a private instructor.

I forgot about the whole thing until 2012, when I was in the process of finding suitable day activities while in the mental institution. I had heard of an adaptive riding school and wanted to know more. Unfortunately, they catered mostly to those who are just autistic or learning disabled, so they didn’t feel they could safely get me riding classes. Instead, I was allowed to brush the horses under supervision.

Fast forward another several years and I heard of my current riding school through my mother-in-law. I love it. Usually, we step around for about twenty minutes and then trot for a few rounds. I can’t say this is truly active exercise, though my Fitbit does recognize it as such.

3. Walking. I just love going for walks, although I prefer staying on the pavement rather than walking in nature. With my blindness and mild mobility impairment, walking on uneven ground is just too hard. I like to go on at least one walk a day, usually at day activities.

4. Cycling. I own a tandem bike that I got through disability services back in 1999. It’s in terrible condition though, so we’ll either have to throw it out (as it takes up a lot of space) or get it repaired. I didn’t usually like tandem bike rides and am still not too sure. Last year at day activities though, I discovered the side-by-side bike. I love that one!

5. Going to the gym. I don’t currently have a gym membership, as I won’t be able to afford transportation to the nearest gym. However, I love most gym equipment. I specifically like the treadmill, rowing machine and elliptical. At home, we have an elliptical in my office, which I go on a few times a week.

What are your favorite ways of staying active?

What Would It Take for Me to Be in Optimal Physical Health?

Yesterday marked one year since the start of my weight loss journey. At the time, I’d set myself a goal of having a BMI under 30 in a year, which would mean I’d lost approximately 10kg. Well, I reached that goal last January, maintained it for a few months and gained weight again this past month. I’m now almost where I was last December. I need to lose 2kg to be at a BMI under 30.

I originally intended to write a post about my weight loss attempts and how I’d been doing. That got rather boring. I didn’t reach my goal, but I got close. As my husband says, I got an 80% on my weight loss exam.

Rather than boring you with my weight loss stats, I want to write about my physical health as a whole. I picked up the 24-day whole health journaling challenge from Mari L. McCarthy again. I started this challenge several years ago, but never finished it. One of the exercises at the beginning of the challenge is to write out what comes to mind when you think of your ideal physical well-being or balance. Here goes.

If I’m in optimal physical health, I’ll wake up rested each morning after sleeping eight to nine hours a night. This means I’ll have a good quality of sleep, which also hopefully means I won’t snore anymore. I won’t sleep during the day and will not sleep more than ten hours on the week-end.

I’ll eat a balanced diet. I am allowed to enjoy salty snacks or sweets once in a while, but mostly will snack on vegetables and fruits. I will drink at least two liters of water each day. If needed, I’ll take my Metamucil for constipation, but I hope to manage that with diet and exercise. I will find out what foods trigger my irritable bowel syndrome. As a result, I’ll not feel bloated or get bowel cramsp anymore. I will also not get acid reflux anymore. I can manage this with medication, but I’ll also practise slower eating.

Once in optimal health, I am able to walk for 5km without getting exhausted. I will reach my Fitbit’s recommended daily step goal (10,000 steps) a few times a week through regular walks and other exercise. I will go on the elliptical for at least 25 minutes five days a week. I’ll also do weight lifting exercises three days a week. I’ll steadily increase my weight bearing ability.

In summary, to reach optimal physical health, I’ll eat healthfully, exercise regularly and practise good sleep habits. This will help me feel energized and fit and lessen my physical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and reflux.

My Favorite Place

I want to write, but once again I don’t know what about, so I looked through one of my collections of journaling prompts. One prompt that stood out to me was to finish the following thought: “My favorite place in the whole world is…”

As regular readers of this blog may know, I’m an inner wanderer. What this means is, I rarely if ever truly feel at home. The most safe I’ve ever felt was in the institution in Nijmegen but that, too, wasn’t home. I wasn’t supposed to stay there for life, after all.

I don’t even know whether the fact that I never feel at home anywhere – no, not even in my current home with my husband -, is a thing related to the physical place I am in. Of course, there are things my dream house has that this house doesn’t have – a bathtub, for example -, and of course there are many, many things I’d want close by that this tiny village doesn’t have. However, even in my dream house in my dream town, I’d probably still feel like something’s missing.

What was it in the institution that had me feel closest to home? It was, in part, the fact that I had support I could rely on, who saw me as I was. Then again, my husband sees me as I am too and tries to support me as much as he can when he’s home. Would I feel better if I had support nearby whenever he’s not home? Yes, I think so. But would that fill the void of never ever belonging anywhere? No.

This evening, I was sad because I don’t have a meaningful life. I mean, sure I go to day activities, but we barely do anything that has any sort of meaning beyond sensory stimulation there. That’s what the group is for, after all. My husband mentioned my blog, but I have little to write about. I have long let go of the illusion that I’ll ever have a real job, but I’d really like to make soap again. I know, I will never do it fully independently, and that’s sort of okay with me, but I haven’t done it in months at all. My husband said I could ask him to help me. Same for making smoothies or the like. That helps.

To conclude, I’d say my favorite place in the whole world is not a physical place. It’s a state of mind: that of being sort of content with my life.

25 Goals

Several weeks ago, I wrote a post about the five most significant events in my first 25 years of life. This post was inspired by a prompt I’d found on Paperblanks, an app on my iPhone. Today, I’m sharing another post inspired by a prompt from there. The prompt asks me to write out 25 goals for the next 25 years of my life. Here goes.

1. Find suitable day activities. This is a relatively short-term goal, as, despite the fact that I’ve been doing pretty well, the staff haven’t made up their minds about me needing to leave my current place. I hope though that, if I can find a place that will accept me, I will be allowed ot stay there for several years at least.

2. Write my autobiography. I’d really like to someday write a memoir about my life. Originally, I intended to title it some variation of “Some former preemies will later go to university”. This is derived from a newspaper article in 2004 about active treatment for 24-weekers, which was controversial at the time (and still is here). That title doesn’t speak to me as much now. After all, I never completed university and the majority of my adult life would even so far not be covered if I focused on this.

3. Buy a house. This requires help from my husband. After all, alone, I will never be able to buy a house with my income. However, divorcing my husband won’t be on this list of goals, so I assume we’ll someday make this work.

4. Get a guide dog. I really hope to get a guide dog someday, as that’ll help me be more independent.

5. Travel to the United States. When I was around sixteen, I dreamt of going to the United States in my third year of college. I never got that far, but still, I’d love to see the U.S. someday.

6. Visit Ireland. My husband traveled to Ireland with his Dad when we’d been dating only for a short while. I’d love to see the country, eat at the high-quality vegan restaurant in Dublin my husband ate at and meet my friend carol anne, who lives in Ireland.

7. Stay at an all-inclusive resort. It doesn’t have to be at some tropical destination or suchlike. Basically, all I’d want is to be able to swim as much as I want and eat as much as I want. We considered going all-in in Germany this year, which would be good eough.

8. Visit Sweden and Norway. I am somehow drawn to these nordic countries. I don’t even know why.

9. Take some more distance learning college classes. I’d really love to pick up psychology again at Open University. I’d also love to study special education/pedagogy and/or social work, but unfortunately the OU doesn’t offer classes in that. Maybe I’ll take those at a for-profit distance learning college.

10. Take some in-person college classes. This is likely to take some years. After all, if you’re under 50, you cannot enroll in specific college classes at university campuses unless you already have a college degree.

11. Get to and keep at a healthy weight. This is again a shorter-tem goal, as I’ve resolved to be at a healthy BMI by 2020.

12. Explore alternative medicine. Maybe I’ll take some courses in that too, although I think I’m fine just reading up about it in books and online.

13. Graduate from treatment at my mental health team. This too is a shorter-term goal, as I have no intention of staying in mental health treatment for 25 years. This requires finishing dialectical behavior therapy and maybe some more therapies.

14. Find out how to best cope with my symptoms of sensory and cognitive overload. I really hope I can get that sensory integration assessment mentioned last week and find some tools to better cope with sensory issues.

15. Do some volunteering. I’d really love to someday have a volunteer job in for example social services.

16. Make some friends. I have no friends now other than my husband. This scares me sometimes and besides, it’s just lonely. I’d really love to develop some friendships that’ll last into my fifties and hopefully beyond.

17. Find a creative outlet that I can pursue by myself or find the right help for. I’m still currently interested in soap making, but who knows what else I’ll find?

18. Stay as healthy as can be. I really hope that by the time I’m 56, my health won’t have declined significantly yet.

19. Get more active. I really hope that, if we buy a house, my husband and I will move to a city or town where I can go about running errands by myself even without a guide dog.

20. Learn to cook independently again. I’d just so love to be able to cook a meal by myself.

21. Join a gym, yoga studio or other out-of-the-house exercise place. This may be a good way of making friends too.

22. Learn basic gardening. If we buy a house it’ll be sure to have a garden again. I love sitting in our current garden, but would also love to learn to work in it.

23. Keep up with technological advancements. By the time I’m 56, I hope I’m still not terribly behind on technology. Like, my parents at 69 and 63 just got their first smartphones, but they’re really awkward with them. I’m finding that I already lag behind in some respects, so I hope the gap doesn’t become unsurmountable.

24. Get to a point where I can genuinely say life is worth it. I don’t have to be over the moon happy, but I’d really love to overcome my depression.

25. Still be alive. Do I need to explain?

Confessions of a New Mummy

Friendly Fill-Ins #2

It’s been forever since I participated in the Friendly Fill-Ins hosted by 15andmeowing but today, I’m participating again. I love today’s questions. Here they are.


  1. I spend ______________ hours per day online.

  2. When I go online, I use my _________________.

  3. Mother’s Day __________________.

  4. I wish ______________________.

And here are my answers.
1. I spend around eight hours per day online, I think. Maybe even more. I spend most of my free time and some of my time at day activities online.

2. When I go online, I use my laptop usually. It’s an almost four-year-old Acer. For E-mail though, I usually use my iPhone SE, as E-mail programs tend not to work with my rather old version of my screen reader. I wish I could get a new laptop with a new version of the screen reader, but getting the screen reader covered by insurance is a bureaucratic hassle.

3. Mother’s Day… well I don’t care. I’m not a mother and my mother doesn’t do Mother’s Day (or any special occasions for that matter). As it is, my relationship is better with my mother-in-law than with my own mother. Last year for Mother’s Day, I made a small gift for my mother-in-law at day activities, but my current group doesn’t do this, presumably because the other clients don’t really understand.

4. I wish… well here I have to copy 15andmeowing’s response, since I too wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to our loved ones. My grandma, like I said on Thursday, is dying. Now that there’s no hope for her, however, I wish she is pain-free and passes peacefully.

The Five Most Significant Events

Oh my, why can’t I seem to write when I truly want to? I mean, I feel uninspired, but then again I have a lot of collections of writing prompts. I have at least three eBooks full of writing prompts, a few collections downloaded from the Internet and even an app on my phone. From this app, Paperblanks, comes the prompt I’m going to journal on today. The prompt asks me to name the five most significant events of the first 25 years of my life.

This is going to be really hard, as I’m supposed to name just five. The last nearly seven years do not count, so I cannot mention the day I finally left the psychiatric institution or even the day I got married. I am however more tempted to write on more recent events, whereas my childhood was important too. I just don’t remember it that well.

1. The day I came home from the NICU, September 29, 1986. The first one, hence, is going to be one I have zero memory of but that shaped me for the rest of my life. After all, if I’d not made it home from the hospital at three months of age, I may not have been alive or able to share my story today. I came home on my due date.

2. The day I started in special education, May 11, 1992. I had to leave Kindergarten at a mainstream school before the year was over. Till this day, I don’t know why. My parents claim that the reason I had to transfer to the school for the visually impaired is my need to learn Braille, which I didn’t get to learn until more than a year later. They also say my Kindergarten teacher wouldn’t be able to move to first grade with me and no other teacher could teach me. However, then why did I have to leave so suddenly? In my memory, I was ill shortly before leaving the mainstream school, but I don’t know what that has to do with it, if anything.

3. The day I started back in mainstream secondary education, August 25, 1999. This day is significant because it shows my ability to be determined. A lot of people say I’m not determined at all and give up way too easily, but I did complete the full six years of my level of secondary education even though I hated it. I don’t think my parents deserve all the credits for this.

4. The day I started in rehabilitation for my blindness, August 22, 2005. This day is significant because it symbolizes my self-direction. It was the first time I decided I wanted to work on my own goals rather than those set forth for me by my parents.

5. The day of my admission to the mental hospital, November 3, 2007. Do I really need to explain? This day symbolizes my ultimate break-away from my parents’ power over me. Even though those 9 1/2 years in the institution weren’t too productive, I don’t regret having agreed to be admitted at all.

DIY Daddy

Play

And I didn’t continue with the #AtoZChallenge after all. Now I could write my Q post today and just have enough time to get to Z on April 30, but I have no clue what to write about that starts with Q. Besides, I’d just be too behind. I will continue with random reflections whenever I can, but I’m tiref of sticking to the alphabet. At least, the challenge so far taught me that I can, in fact, write a blog post almost everyday.

A few minutes ago, I looked at the friendly fill-in questions for this week. I’m not inclined to join in with the thing in a traditional way. However one of the prompts stuck out to me. It was: “When I was a child, I loved to play ___”. Today, I’m going to write about the joys of playing as a child (and as an adult, too).

As regular readers know, I’m autistic. However, when I was a toddler, I wasn’t the type to line up my toys. In fact, at about age three, I had three PlayMobil figures called Pekel, Foet and Laren. No, these aren’t common Dutch names. The characters would just eat, drink and go to the toilet. Nothing too interesting but nothing too stereotypical either.

I also loved to play outside. I loved the swings in particular. When we were on vacation at the campsite, I’d also climb a tree. I wasn’t as adventurous as my sister, but I nonetheless enjoyed getting outdoors.

One other memory that stands out is my learning to rollerskate at aroudn age eight. My next door neighbor, who was the same age as me, used to teach me and my sister and a bunch of other girls (and a few boys). It was fun until I realized how I, being legally blind, wasn’t able to keep up. Once I was about twelve, I eventually learned to rollerblade too. That too didn’t last long, as my vision became too poor.

My sister and I would play with dolls too. I’d often make up the stories. Like, we were going on vacation to Suriname with the dolls, because, you know, my sister’s doll was brown. Though I showed some level of imagination – more so than my neurotypical sister -, I could be quite controlling. For example, I’d get upset whenever my sister said “said the doll” after a sentence that the doll supposedly said.

I continued to play with dolls and Barbie dolls until I was around fourteen. By the time I was thirteen and about to transfer to mainstream school, I decided I really needed to stop playing. However, I didn’t know what else to do. Once my computer and eventually the Internet took my interest, I hardly ever played anymore.

As an adult, I had a time when my inner child parts were particularly active and I’d even buy Barbie dolls for them. They however usually enjoy stuffed animals. I still sleep wth a bunch of stuffies on my bed.

Perseverance and Procrastination (Or Their Exact Opposites) #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my belated letter P post in the #AtoZChallenge of random reflections. I was rather uninspired yesterday. I also wanted to spend my time upping my activity as tracked by my Fitbit, so that hopefully I’d reach my 10K steps a day – which I almost did. Today too, I wasn’t feeling very inspired. I didn’t know any words with the letter P to write on. Yes, “Preemie”, but I’ve shared my birth story a dozen times already. Or “Psych”, but I didn’t know what to write about then. My husband came up with two this evening that are rather fitting: “Perseverance” and “procrastination”.

I am both quite perseverant and a terrible procrastinator. How can this be? I guess because, though I tend to take frequent breaks in my activities, I almost always manage to carry on after all. This blog post is living proof of that.

Then again, this combination of perseverance and procrastination can also backfire, as I tend to have rather rigid rules about when I can and can’t keep up with some work. For example, if I haven’t posted on a blog for an entire month, I say I have to give up on the blog. This has gotten me to abandon and restart my Dutch blog at least half a dozen times within the past four years. Thankfully, I still manage to keep up with this English blog.

Like I said in my letter N post, I like my perseverance when I’m passionate about something. This perseverance however can backfire too, as I get too obsessed and then am left with lots of stuff and lots of money gone for my special interest when I lose interest again. For example, I probably spent 500 to 1000 euros (closer to 1000 probably) on cardmaking supplies in the year that I was obsessing over cardmaking in 2012. I want to think I didn’t spend as much on soaping supplies in 2016 and I want to think I’ll still pick up that craft. I’m so glad blogging, at least in my style, isn’t as expensive.

As I look back over my post though, I realize maybe here I described the exact opposite of perseverance and procrastination. After all, I jump head first into an interest without procrastination, but once I lose the interest, I don’t really persevere. Sometimes I do, but, except with blogging, I sooner or later always give up.

Over: The Part of My Life I Consider Truly Over #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 15 in the #AtoZChallenge. I typed yesterday’s post rather quickly, so that a typeo ended up in the post title. Sorry for that. Today’s letter is O and I have once again chosen a prompt from the 397 journal writing prompts and ideas eBook. It is “Over” and asks me to write about what time of my life I consider truly over.

Last November, I celebrated ten years since my psychiatric crisis that got me admitted to the hospital. I resolved to look to the future from then on and have a positive outlook on life. Indeed, it is unlikely that I will ever be admitted back into a psychiatric hospital even if I land in a similar crisis to the one that got me admitted in 2007. Psychiatry has changed, after all. As such, I consider my psychiatric hospital life truly over.

That being said, the memory is still too fresh to truly close the chapter. So I’ll have to look back at another time in my life that I consider truly and well over. This is my time in high school.

I graduated from high school in 2005. This is thirteen years ago this year. Though I still can’t say I never remember my high school days anymore, I do consider this time of my life really over. I mean, even if I end up in an institution again – which is possible, even if it’s unlikely -, I will never go back to high school. I graduated that, so I won’t have to.

This is also the most recent “success story” in my life. Yeah, I know, leaving a mental institution after 9 1/2 years is a greater accoplishment, but that’s not “normal” success. My parents show pride in my having graduated from high school. They don’t show pride in my living with my husband.

Because of this, my high school days also are symbolic for my obeying my parents’ wishes for me. I don’t do that now. Letting go of my high school years means letting go of the need to meet up to my parents’ expectations. They are not realistic and besides, I don’t live for my parents. I live for myself.