Hello everyone, and welcome back! I hope you’ve gotten a chance to check out my post on whether or not you should get a pet. There are some things in there you may not have considered during the excitement of looking at cute critters.
As you probably know by now, I have chronic illnesses that cause me to rarely have the energy to leave my bed when it isn’t for work. I know there are a lot of Spoonies out there that are also in bed most of the time. Immediate surroundings are really important when you’re staring at the same three walls all of the time, and I thought I’d compile a list of things that help improve those immediate surroundings. This can be used as a gift guide for folks who don’t know what kind of gift to give someone with chronic illness, or a guide for yourself if you’re looking for ideas to enliven your own space. These ideas will improve the immediate environment/ambience, bring relief, and hopefully bring joy.
I know a lot of Spoonies suffer from migraines or other conditions that make them sensitive to both artificial as well as natural light. I personally find that having pretty-colored, dim lighting not only reduces the need for natural or harsh lighting, but it also improves my mood. Fairy lights, Lava Lamps, and even colored light bulbs can make your room look like a trendy lounge. Some types of mood lighting like salt lamps actually help reduce headaches, and bring a soft and warm feeling to the room. Unscented candles bring that soft glow to a room without any irritating fragrances. Even an inexpensive string of Christmas lights can make a huge difference in any space. They make really adorable lights (like chubby unicorns or hippos) that are intended to be nightlights for babies, but they work for adults, too! An internet search of “mood lighting” will bring up some inexpensive and exciting ideas.
In the photo above, you can see my rainbow Lava Lamp, and a Scarface (1983) neon light that Richies sister gave to him. These produce a really warm and soft glow that provides just enough light for me to see, while being really gentle on my eyes. The red tone is also a little romantic, don’t you think?
I know caring for any living thing other than yourself can be pretty impossible when you have a chronic illness, but there are plenty of wonderful house plants that require very little care. If you feel like you can’t care for a plant, there are so many beautiful high quality fake plants that you can purchase inexpensively. Any type of plant, living or not, will instantly improve the mood of any room. It’s a nice way to bring some color indoors, since being outdoors isn’t always accessible for us.
Originally, I was under the impression that orchids were some of the most difficult plants to care for. Before we purchased our home, we lived in an apartment with very little natural light and orchids tend to require lots of bright, but indirect light. Our home has lots of skylights, so natural light now comes easily for us. I’ve managed to keep my orchid plants alive for years with minimal watering and almost no other care, and they’re so beautiful.
Rocks (no really)
Ever since I was a child I loved to collect rocks. Some of them are fascinating and beautiful, and I like to put them on display on windowsills, in shadow boxes, or in plant pots. Some stones and crystals are even believed to have healing properties. Something as simple as a pretty stone can have really positive sentimental value, especially when it was given to you by a friend or family member. Inexpensive gemstones can be found in gift shops, or on Etsy, and I really think they make thoughtful and cheerful gifts for anyone. They’re also another really easy way to bring the outdoors inside. If you have a chance to go on a walk, collect your own rocks! As long as it’s allowed (please be mindful that it is illegal in some places to remove rocks from their location), you can find and bring home your own beautiful rock collection; and it’s free!
Spoonie Made items
I don’t know about you, but supporting small businesses is very important to me, especially wen they’re owned by women of color and Spoonies. Twitter accounts like Conscious Crafties are great places to start when it comes to finding items made by Spoonies. Chronically ill creatives have been busy making everything from clothing to jewelry to candles to bath products. There is plenty to look at and plenty to give.
Please check out my posts on the Spoonique Boutique, a high quality, reasonably priced Spoonie-owned bath products brand. Using products from the Spoonique Boutique makes me feel pampered, I smell good, and I get an extra warm fuzzy feeling knowing I’m caring for myself with products that were really made with someone like me in mind. Even simply looking at these items makes me feel good.
There’s nothing like the gift of not having to do a chore. A gift certificate for something like housekeeping or landscaping services could be really great gift for someone that is ill. It might cost a lot, so gathering a group of friends to each pitch in a little bit would make it more affordable. Even a gift card to a store that offers grocery delivery would be heavenly to receive; I’m pretty sure we all hate grocery shopping.
A subscription to a new comic book or fashion magazine is also a great gift. They tend to be pretty affordable, and they keep giving for months afterward. Even a one-month trial for something like a beauty, snack, or jewelry subscription box would make anyone happy.
Are you an able bodied person? Offer to help your friend get their garden ready for summer. Offer to rearrange their bedroom. You can give your friend a fresh room that costs no money! Sounds like a great gift to me. Even if you’re not able-bodied, but are having some good days, offer some reasonable services to another ill or elderly person in your neighborhood. Maybe there’s something small you can help with. I promise, every little thing makes a difference.
This one can be a little expensive, as framing things isn’t always cheap. Craft stores, or even stores like Target have framed items that are inexpensive, and they have the power to instantly improve a space. They also sell stencils or decals that you can use to add an interesting focal point to any wall in your home. Even a cheap poster from your favorite movie is enough to improve the mood of a room. If you’re an artist, your work is always a fantastic and personalized gift, framed or not.
If you want to get crafty, there are dozens of DIY videos on YouTube that will show you how to create some really gorgeous and inexpensive wall décor. There are also tons of inexpensive and crafty ways to “upcycle” some tired old items you have lying around. Adding some rhinestones to an old frame will make it seem like you spent a lot on it!
The image above shows a hand-painted piece (please pardon the reflection) that was given to me by my Spoonie sister Ruthie. Ruthie can be found here on WordPress, on Instagram, and on Twitter, you should check out her work. I had an old photo in the frame, and switched it out for the much more attractive and vibrant piece she sent me. It now lives on my makeup table to provide me with inspiration.
I also find that hanging photographs is another easy and attractive way to decorate walls. If you’ve had the same photographs hanging in your space for years, maybe it’s time to switch them out! Sending a (framed) photo to a friend will always be a great gift, too.
If you’re a Spoonie that enjoys the quiet and the dark like I do, you’ve probably been told to “open a damn window!” Opening windows can often bring unwanted things into your home, though. I don’t know about you, but traffic noises, neighbors yelling, and even allergens and pollutants tend to come inside when I open the windows. Bringing the sounds of nature into your home doesn’t have to come with the unwanted features. Noise machines, or sound channels on YouTube, are really easy ways to bring pleasant and soothing sounds into your space. Birds chirping or the sound of water can be really therapeutic, and can be a simple way to combat the overwhelming ‘loudness’ of silence.
If you’re a fan of candles, there are wood-wick candles that produce a gentle and soothing crackling as they burn. There are small water fountains that you can switch off and move around easily that provide that running water sound naturally. For some, hearing wind chimes can be soothing – hang one outside your window, or hang it inside where it will be moved by a fan!
It might seem obvious, but when you’re stuck in bed, it might seem like you don’t really have any entertainment options. Music can make a down and boring day much more lively and interesting. Put on some music that makes you happy or relaxed for an instant mood change.