Kiss5Tigers

The 5 Tigers represent the big things in life. This blog is about facing them.


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Mothers Day

Mothers Day was yesterday.

Is it Mothers Day, as in the day we celebrate mothers, or Mother’s Day, as in the day we celebrate Mom? I don’t know. I don’t suppose it matters.

This is a holiday that I am truly ambivalent about.

In 1984, my mother died of cancer. Part of the issue was that she wouldn’t go to the doctor so the disease was pretty advanced by the time anyone picked up on it. Part of the problem was, well, it was 35 years ago, cancer treatment just wasn’t as advanced as it is today. She was given the option of treatment that would extend life but make her sick, or no treatment with a life expectancy of about 8 months. She chose to forego medical treatment.

Now let’s be clear. She turned down radiation and chemo. She said, “If medical science is done with me, then I am done with them.” But she did pursue holistic alternatives. Only, again, it was 1984. No internet. No community of people to help with advice. And “holistic” was a concept without a name.

I remember her insisting on organic produce, and soaking it in the sink to remove toxins. One time, after she had moved back to my grandparents’ house, she accused of us trying to poison her by not soaking the vegetables. They came from Grandpa’s garden, which was de facto organic because that was the way he learned to farm when he was a kid.

So I am without a mother, and by this age, I am without grandmothers. Nobody for me to spoil on this day. For many years, Mothers Day was simply a reminder of what I don’t have. I chose to ignore the holiday.

Only, I am a mother myself.

I have been terrible with holidays because I missed my family of origin, but that means my daughter has never really experienced a good holiday. I was perhaps too caught in my own grief and did not provide the right environment for her in terms of celebrating special days.

This year, I spent most of Mothers Day afternoon with my daughter. I went to her place. We drank rumchata (horchata with rum in it) and made art. I made an abstract of her friend, she tried out a texture technique that she didn’t like and painted over. Several of her friends visited. I laughed, and said it’s because I’m the cool mom, but really I know it’s because my kid is cool. People want to be around her.

So I am learning to make days special in non-traditional ways. What’s important is to spend time together, not to go to brunch or get flowers. I feel good about making art with a friend, and my daughter is becoming a friend. I miss my mom, but I will see her again soon enough. And I want her to see how far I’ve come, when we finally get to catch up.

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Shutting Down

So many things in life take money, and I have none, so I am shutting down parts of my life.

I can’t afford Ipsy any longer, which makes me sad. I was enjoying getting surprise cosmetics each month.

I also can’t afford Zine-O-Matic. Again, not that it’s so very expensive, just I don’t have the money for it.

But the one that really hurts is, I can’t afford Succulent Wild World any more. It’s a subscription Facebook group with SARK, one of my favorite authors. Right up there with M. Scott Peck, only very different. For self-help type stuff, that is. (For fiction I like Charles De Lint, Neil Gaiman and William Gibson.)

I have been part of the SARK world for several years now, and this was the first time I could actually afford to join. I get 2 group mentoring sessions per month and what they call dessert groups, which are small group sessions with other members. I haven’t been able to take part fully because I am usually in the living room and my roommates have the tv on, so there’s too much background noise to volunteer to speak. Maybe one day I’ll have both the money and the silence.

I know I have to keep cutting back. I can’t go as many places because I don’t have gas money. Not that I should be driving without insurance anyway. I can’t stop and grab a burger or an ice cream. I wore out the insole in my sneakers and I can’t afford a new pair. I am concerned about feeding the cats. And paying for my phone. The stuff in storage, well, I might just have to let that go.

Shutting down my life as I run out of money. Trying to keep as much of it open as I can. I need a life regardless of employment. Everyone needs a life. Life shouldn’t cost so much.


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Vision Board Presentation

I did my first vision board workshop today. It went very well.

So, vision boards. In simple terms, it’s a sort of affirmation meets arts and crafts proposition, but it actually works.

When you think a thought often, you strengthen that pathway through your brain. It becomes easier to think that thought again. So if you are thinking something negative, it becomes easier to keep thinking it. That’s why we get caught in thought loops about being, say, ugly or worthless or stupid.

But the reverse is true too: If we get into the habit of thinking positive thoughts, those also become easier to think. That’s why affirmations work. You spend more time thinking a positive thought, it becomes easier to think it, and eventually it becomes second nature. I am a good person replaces I’m worthless.

Now the left side of the brain contains the language centers. Working with words like affirmations activates the left side of the brain. But there is another side of the brain, one that does not think in words but in pictures. You are familiar with its way of thinking, you call it intuition. It’s the things you know that you don’t have the words to express, because you don’t know it in words. In order to make changes, you want to activate the whole brain. So how do we activate the non-verbal righthand side?

Turns out, art and imagery are a good way to engage the right side. So if we want to fully activate the entire brain, working with words and images together is one good way. So if we combine the words of an affirmation with pictures, we get vision boards.

There are several benefits to creating one yourself. First of all it causes you to think about the topic. In my presentation, the topic was “live your best life” so people had to think about what their best life would be like. Then they had to find words and images that spoke to those ideas. Now some magazines have content that fits exactly, but lots of time it’s just a case of symbolism. You might, for example, find the word “relaxation” or you might find a picture of a hammock. They speak to different parts of the brain.

People find that once they go through these exercises, the ideas really do stick. And because they stick, we act on them. Maybe not consciously, but we open ourselves to possibilities and take actions in line with the new way of thinking. Both halves of the brain work together to bring about a change.

So my little group of people, they are going to find themselves experiencing some changes in the future. They have developed an idea of what their best life looks like and feels like, and they have worked it into both sides of their brains. The non-verbal side will influence their behaviors even if the verbal side still provides negative messages.

People had fun with the activity. One of the ladies found an image that clearly depicted the kind of confidence she wanted to have. One of the men found wonderful words that spoke to his self-described zen self. Several people asked for another piece of paper to do another one at home.

The only complaint was that there weren’t enough male images. Now that’s no surprise. I get mostly women’s magazines, and for some reason I didn’t have any Wired or Fast Company in my stack. I did have some National Geographics. But it’s a valid concern, so I will have to hit up Half Price Books and see if I can find some Sports Illustrated or GQ. Maybe Men’s Health.

So I would say this was very successful, and I’m excited to be doing it another several times. After this, I start to monetize it. Because I need something I can do when I’m not working for the government.


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Planning Ahead

I went to ATTA this morning, and the writers’ group had “planning ahead” as the topic. I wrote my 3 pages. They must have been good because they made people laugh. But it did raise some questions for me.

I am not good at planning ahead. Part of it is because I don’t really believe life is going to work out according to my plans anyway. Why make plans you know are going to fail?

So I tried to be very zen about everything. You know, in the moment, mo expectations. It’s basic Buddhism, right? You suffer because you want things, so to end suffering, don’t want things. If I’m not attached to an outcome, I can’t be disappointed.

Only, here I am over 50 and nothing has been accomplished. Because I didn’t make any plans and just let life happen. I feel like, I should make a better plan, if it’s not too late. I could possibly be too old for making plans, I do’t know. Is there an age limit?

Obviously there’s an age limit for certain plans. I can’t join the military or become an air traffic controller. I can’t even have another baby, though one child seems to be enough for me. But in general, can I run out of time?

Why haven’t I planned better? Or at least more? What was I thinnking?

First of all, I didn’t expect to make it past 50. I really didn’t. I still think I’ll be dead by 56, though I don’t know exactly why I believe that. It’s from an old sleepless night back in Sept-Iles. I don’t think the world is going to last that much longer. But 56, yeah, something about that number.

And yet I could easily live into my 80’s like so may of my family have. Or at least my 70’s. Though I expect to work until I’m 70 or 75, unless I go senile, which I don’t expect.

So was I really being zen or was I just lazy or lacking in self discipline? I think now it’s the self discipline issue. Because I didn’t manage to save enough money to get to Alaska this summer. I have pieces of the trip bought but I never did find a job so I can’t afford the other pieces. I’m really disappointed. I’m also sorry that now my friend won’t believe me about making plans. I hate looking bad but sometimes shit happens. And sometimes I fail to plan appropriately.


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Zero’d Out the Bank Account

I just took the last of my money out of the bank. I want control over what gets paid and what doesn’t, so I just pulled it out and paid my rent for May. I am now broke.

My daughter wants to donate plasma tomorrow and I’m gonna go with her. I can use the money and we can keep each other company. Then I’m taking her to the psychiatrist. We’ll have to figure out paying him.

What am I doing to find money? Well, I have applied to some temp agencies, waiting to hear from them. I have written an article that I hope to post on Nook. I have submitted it, but it still shows as pending, not actually for sale yet. I am signed up with Rev.com to do online transcription. I have applied to Amazon and will try Costco, since apparently they are hiring. I hate to burn bridges by leaving with no notice — and I get 24 to 48 hours notice before being deployed — but I need money now so I just might have to bite the bullet. I have also watched a dog and would consider house sitting.

In the meantime, my GoFundMe is doing well. Got another donation today, so that makes me happy. I’m over $200 now.

I’m working on hats. I have posted 13 of them in Etsy. I’ve had some looks, so hopefully there will be some buys soon.

I learned, in group today, that I basically like myself. I knew I didn’t hate myself, in spite of my periodic disgust with my body, but I didn’t really think about liking myself. I would be friends with me. That’s actually pretty cool. Not that I’m a perfect person, because there’s always room for improvement, but I’m good with who I am. And that makes me happy.


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Envisioning Wellness Update

Envisioning Wellness is the name of my vision board project.

I want to be sure to thank all the donors who have shown their support of my project and belief in me. The link to donate is:
https://www.gofundme.com/envisioning-wellness

So I am beginning to think about how to spend the money. I think good quality paper would be the most expensive part. It doesn’t have to be fabulous paper, but it needs to be sturdy like poster board, card stock or watercolor paper. I’m thinking watercolor paper, because I can get it in packs of 12 x 18 or 18 x 24 sizes. I want it to be big enough without being too big. I want people to feel like they have a finished project but we only have an hour or so to work on it.

I will need to get glue sticks and scissors. I don’t mind providing them myself, but if I do that, they are mine and they will come with me. Ditto the magazines.

I was thinking of getting a bunch of markers, and I still might do that. Good ones, like Sharpies or Crayolas. Nice and juicy and with a thick point but not the chisel tips. Though maybe some with chisel tips, for that thin-and-thick line quality. But my roommate, who used to be a teacher, has gifted me a big bag of colored pencils, which I think would be about perfect for this project. Not as bold as markers, though, so maybe both.

I need to acquire some kind of carrying item, like one of those milk crate style boxes on wheels. And some bungee cords, probably. I need to be able to bring those magazines into the room. There should be a bunch of them, too many to carry easily. Paper gets heavy after all.

I’m pretty excited still, can you tell?

I also had a chance to facilitate a group today. I enjoyed doing that. The group actually laughed, and most of them felt better afterwards. That’s what I’m going for, to make a difference in someone’s day.


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Well World

I had brunch with my friend R today. We went to a place called Henk’s which is behind the Half Price Books flagship store. HPB was having a tent sale that looked amazing but I hardly need more books. I have no place to put them! Henk’s is a German diner. I had the Polish breakfast, which is pretty much eggs and fried potatoes with Polish sausage. It was good, especially the potato, which I miss terribly while I am low carb. (I can’t in good conscience call myself keto.) R had blintzes, which he said were like eating dessert, and a reuben.

We talked about 10,000 things, as friends do. R works in community education for mental health. He teaches Mental Health First Aid mostly to educators. Eventually the idea of a healthy society came up.

R is gay, no children. He is also an atheist. He tells this to people in his presentation because he believes it is useful in helping educators to sit with situations they might not agree with. Now my atheist friend went on to tell me an interpretation of the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan which I thought was pretty interesting. Yes that sentence is knowingly ambiguous.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it basically goes like this: A man gets mugged and beaten up on the road to Jericho. The thieves leave him for dead. Several people pass the man and ignore his plight, including people you’d expect to help him, like religious leaders. Finally the Samaritan walks by. This is someone who is looked down on for his ethnicity. He sees the man in distress, takes him to an inn, and pays the bill for the man to stay until he recovers.

Jesus asks, who is the true neighbor? And it becomes a story about how to treat other people. But like most parables, there are other interpretations. My friend R says, this is a good example of appropriate care, both care of other and care of self. The Samaritan did not take the man to his own home, and he did not allow the man’s needs to derail him from his task in Jericho. He did not try to help the man directly, instead he took him to a place where he would be cared for appropriately. He paid the bill, which apparently was not a hardship for him. So, says R, we should be willing to help out others while also taking care of ourselves.

Another friend of mine has an issue with paying school taxes since they don’t have any children. I say, pay it. One day those young people will be in charge and I want them to be basically educated and hopefully able to think for themselves. I will live in a world they shape, I am invested in what these people are like. I don’t own a home so I don’t pay property taxes which includes the school tax, but I don’t begrudge the schools money. Money makes a better school, better schools make better people. Can we do it on less money? Well we keep trying and we know what public education looks like, so I suspect we can’t.

What does a healthy society look like? I don’t claim to have the final say on that, but I do know a few things.

Yoga moms are not the face of wellness even though they are the face of wellness culture. They are what could be called “the worried well”. That is, for the most part they are doing just fine and don’t need to worry in general that they will become unwell.

Homeless people are a sign that society is unwell. How can it be that we have abandoned houses and homeless people? Seems like a no brainer, put people into homes. And yet there is all kinds of resistance to the idea. You can no doubt think of some of the reasons: who wants those people in their neighborhood, why should we give a house to someone who is too lazy to get a job, or even when do I get my free house as a contributing member of society? So now we have to look at the factors in why a person becomes homeless, because very few choose this as a life path.

Any of the isms are a sign society is not healthy. Ageism, racism, sexism and others are rooted in fear; fear that somehow there are only so many resources around and if someone gets a piece of the pie, they are taking it away from me. It’s easier to scapegoat someone if you can make them a “them”, that is, not one of us. A healthy society knows we are stronger if we share the resources rather than hoarding them.

It was a good lunch, and a good conversation. I like my friends, they are good and interesting people.