Kiss5Tigers

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


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So You Wanna Help

As we approach the end of Hurricane Florence, we are going to have to deal with the aftermath.  That means damaged houses, lost jobs, community clean up, and displaced individuals, among other issues.  People will want to help.  Here are a few thoughts about that.

Don’t give used stuff.  People don’t want your old clothes, and someone has to wash, bleach, iron, sort and transport that stuff.  It’s not free by the time it’s all done.  And it’s not uncommon for bugs to become an issue while it’s being stored.  Give money instead.  That way agencies can buy things that are needed based on demand.

Don’t donate canned goods.  They also have to be sorted, packed, shipped, unpacked and distributed.  I’m told a 69 cent can of beans can end up costing $3.00 by the time all that is done.  Plus it takes manpower that might be better spent on other tasks, like debris removal.  If you want to run a can drive, please give the bounty to a local food pantry where it can do the most good.

Do give money.  First of all it allows agencies to buy what they really need.  The American Red Cross might supply beds to displaced survivors but they need cots and blankets to do that, which wear out over time and need to be replaced.  Second, many agencies give out gift cards or pay utility bills, which are obviously much easier to do with cash.

Do give blood.  Not only is there likely to be an increased need, but blood drives in the affected areas have been cancelled so supplies may be down throughout the region.  If you can’t afford a cash donation, giving blood is a good move.

Now maybe you’ve decided to give up this morning’s latte to help disaster victims, but what can you do with that $5.00?  You’ve heard all the stories about charitable organizations where 90% of the money goes to internal expenses like executive salaries.  If you decided to help, no doubt you want the most of your money to go to the disaster.  A good site to check out agencies is National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster .  Their landing page is all about helping Florence victims.  Another good list of options is this one from Fast Company.  Notice the emphasis on giving money or time.

All of which is to say, please give but be smart about it.  Give what people need and choose responsible organizations.  Be wise and be kind.  Your heart will be happier.


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Hurry Up and Wait

Thursday was my travelling day.  My roommates took me to the airport, so that was a good thing.  Plane was on time.  There was even an empty seat next to me, which is a relief for a fat girl like me.  I wasn’t crowding anybody.  The landing was amazing, I almost didn’t feel it at all.  Then I got to Atlanta airport.  The airport, according to the announcements, is the busiest passenger airport in the US.  It was actually pretty easy to navigate and I even got some bad Asian fusion food there.  The problem is, I arrived at 3:30 and the bus to the facility didn’t arrive until after 7:30.  We got to the facility about 9:00, had an orientation briefing, grabbed a box dinner and made it to my room about 9:30.  Just about passed out.

Today my day started at 6:00 am.  I sometimes don’t go to bed until then, so this was very early for me.   There was coffee in the room and I managed to get breakfast before going to my first meeting.  Meetings started at 8:00.  I actually dozed off a time or two during the lecture, I’m not sure what I missed.  Then we began the other processing.  I went to security and had to re-key my badge.  I went to lunch.  Then I went to IT to get my laptop set up.  We used our badges to log in to the computer.  Guess what?  My badge didn’t work.  So after waiting almost 3 hours to get to IT, they couldn’t even help me.  Then the intranet went down.  At 6 I left IT without my laptop working.  I made it back to campus in time to grab some dinner.  Now I am in my room, watching the Weather Channel, cooling off, catching up.

The room is actually not bad.  The facility is a decommissioned air force base, so the rooms are like a dorm.  The walls are painted cinder block.  There is a tv and wifi.  I have a full-sized fridge, a microwave and a coffee maker here in the room.  I share a bathroom — well, toilet and shower, there is a sink in my room — with one neighbor.  I haven’t met her yet and possibly never will.  The bed is tall enough that I have trouble getting into it.

Tomorrow my first meeting is at 6:00 am, so that means getting up about 4:30.  People who arrived Wednesday are already shipped out, so I wonder if there is a plan for us to be gone by tomorrow night.  Maybe not until Monday, I could wish.  In any case, Florence is still active and they won’t know where to send us until the storm abates.

Right now they know of 5 deaths associated with the storm.  Almost a million people are without power.  Many more are without water.  How ironic, storm surge is causing widespread flooding but people are lacking potable water.  Storm should last until Sunday morning, raining the whole time.  The wind, while strong, is tolerable but the water is causing a LOT of damage.  Florence was a cat 4 a few days ago and dropped to a cat 1 before making landfall.  People didn’t evacuate, probably because they felt like it wasn’t going to be as severe, and now there are people on their roofs calling to be rescued.

For myself, I have posted in a few sites what’s going on, and of course blogged here.  I am going to do my morning pages, lol, my not-morning pages, laying in bed.  It’s 9:15 and I should be asleep soon to get up early.


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Waiting for the Storm

I have been on furlough for several months now and I’m dying to go back to work.  That means I am watching the weather.  I have become an old person, I watch the weather channel now.

There are three major storm fronts right now.  Hurricane Florence is heading toward the east coast.  It’s expected to be Cat 3 or Cat 4 and should make landfall somewhere between Charleston and Hatteras so everything from north Florida to North Carolina.  Hurricane Olivia is headed toward Hawaii, as if Hurricane Lane and the volcanic eruption weren’t enough of a problem.  And there is supposed some kind of super storm headed toward Guam.  Tropical storm Mangkhut is expected to make landfall on Tuesday, I keep hearing it’s 3 storms on their way to Guam but I can’t find a map of that.

I have received an email about resting up this weekend and being prepared for next week, and one about being sure my family has a disaster plan while I’m gone.  Looks like the government is expecting something to happen in the next week or two and wants us to be ready to be deployed.

I can’t wait.  I want to work and I want an adventure.  I don’t hope for bad things to happen, but bad things do happen and I want to help out.

So this week while you’re thinking good thoughts for people, think one for me.

 


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Why Do I Blog?

Why do I blog?

Why does anyone blog, if you think about it?

Surely I don’t think the minutiae of my life are that fascinating, and I don’t have deep or universal thoughts very often.

For me it has to do with connection.  I don’t tweet because 140 characters doesn’t seem like enough to me.  Facebook is good but I don’t feel like I can fully expound an idea there.  It needs to be short enough to keep people’s interest so nothing too long.  Maybe a paragraph.  Maybe 2 if the subject needs it.

But sometimes I want to say more.  I want to connect with people in a longer thought, not a sound bite.  Or I want to say something that doesn’t seem suited to the public forum of Facebook.  I suppose a blog is actually more public, since it lasts longer than a standard post on FB, which lasts longer than some other sites do.

At the end of the day, I am reaching out across the existential abyss to see if anyone else resonates to my ideas.  I hope someone reaches back.

I know people read my blog.  I get notifications from WordPress when people decide to follow me.  I don’t know if they come back though.  I have over 100 followers but I don’t have 100 hits on my posts, usually 2 or 3.  And they aren’t the same 2 or 3 because they come from different countries.  Though I do have a LOT of Americans that read me.  I am surprised by how many people in India read my blog.  But very few comments.  I guess I am not controversial enough to prompt response.

I do read blogs from other people from time to time.  One friend writes about his trauma and loss.  Another writes about her insecurities in a way that makes you want to hug her.  People comment on their stuff, but not so much on mine.  I think it’s because it’s not as emotional.  I don’t touch people in that visceral way.

Which is probably medication related.  I used to think big.  I used to write about things like love, homelessness, the human condition, why we should take care of each other, God.  Now my brain is full of the present moment, which for me is usually quite tolerable.  So life is tolerable or even good.  I don’t feel deeply any more.  And when I do, I can’t articulate it.  I have issues with Trump and I can’t really explain it to people.  I mean, he brings out the worst in Americans, but I can’t tell you specifically why I believe that.  I can agree with the people who articulate it, but that doesn’t seem like enough.  I can’t  have a discussion because I can’t say what I think.  I don’t seem to actually think anything, I just have a knowing deep inside.  Is that what it’s like for most people?   If so, I miss being neurodivergent, I felt quicker and more full of life.  I felt like I understood things.

Nothing against being in the moment.  People work very hard at being here, now, to reference Ram Dass.  I get that anxiety is obsession with the future and depression is obsession with the past.  Live in the present.  I get it.  But it’s all I can do.  I can’t see the big picture any more.  I can’t put things into perspective.  My mood is good though and life is manageable, so isn’t that what I want?

All of which is a very far way from why I blog, but there it is.  I blog to connect because I feel disconnected even from myself.  I blog to communicate with myself.

Though I still hope for comments from people.


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Isms and Whiteness

I’ve been thinking a lot about isms in the past 24 hours.  Before I start, I want full disclosure that I am white cis het female over the age of 50.  I am a product of my environment in many ways.  I am trying to transcend that, but sometimes I get caught in verbiage I don’t understand or old ways of thinking.

I belong to several online support groups.  Two of them have a high overlap of people so there is an issue that started in one group that spilled over into the second group.  That issue was around perceived racism and observed name calling.

Now I will be honest that I didn’t see much of the original thread.  What I caught was a friend of mine trying to defend his position, and another person issuing personal attacks.  I understand a third party made a comment about ISIS that other people took to be islamophobic.  My friend took the position that it was basic human stupidity not racism, based on the third party being a Fox news enthusiast.  You may agree or disagree with Fox news, but they do have a particular perspective to their reporting.  Another person felt that my friend was being racist and supporting a racist.  At some point the thread disintegrated to such a degree that an admin pulled it down so I am unable to review it.  My friend got banned from the site.

My friend went to another site, and mentioned that he was banned.  Of course people wanted to know why and he told his story.  Obviously he told it from his perspective.  The other person almost immediately chimed in that he was wrong and became personally insulting.  The second group tried to get her to tone it down and stop being so rude, but she would not.  Someone moved to ban her from that site.

The other person went back to the first site and stated that a bunch of racist women were supporting my friend.  That of course got the people at the first site riled up.  So now we have two people having a disagreement that has escalated to involve two forums.

Here’s the thing, it brings up questions for me about how to talk about racism and other isms.  The big question for me is, who gets to decide when something is racist?  Is it the person on the receiving end?  Or is it the person who committed the faux pas?  Because it feels like if it’s the receiver, then there is no room to make a mistake while if it’s the committer then there’s no way to call out someone’s bad behavior.

But what if the person who committed the ism is a POC and the person who got offended was a white man?  And what if the POC rather quickly escalated to bullying behavior?  Is this prejudice?  Group one is very supportive of the POC to the point where it has been suggested my friend is gaslighting, and sealioning.  (Apparently sealioning is when you argue with someone who is trying to leave the situation, that is, arguing to argue, posturing.)  On forum number two, the dynamic is almost the opposite, with the most vociferous people defending my friend and even suggesting we ban the POC.  I don’t know her except for this interaction, and I’m not impressed with her.  She gets heated rather quickly and doesn’t seem to be able to defend her position beyond name calling and stating that certain things are obvious.  Oh, and that she doesn’t owe a random white man anything.  So she played the race card twice.

I am so frustrated by this whole situation.  My friend may well be racist, I don’t know him that well, but I think if he is it’s more institutional racism, not a personal bias.  He has been fair with me and I don’t see him being intentionally racist to other people.  Of course if we agree that the person on the receiving end gets to decide, then the POC would no doubt find him guilty of racism.  If we agree that it’s the person making the faux pas, then there’s no way to call out my friend on the part that he’s getting wrong.

He thinks I am not supportive because I don’t argue directly for him.  I will do that with the admin, not on the general website.  I don’t want to stir things up any more than they already are.  And I do support his right to stand up for someone else’s right to make a mistake.  I get that we want to be allies for POC, women, LGBTQ, and all the rest of what used to be called minorities.  I also get that my friend is being vilified for something that I can’t prove he did.  And he claims he did not do.  (I can’t prove he didn’t do it either.)

I’m so confused.

It’s not the responsibility of POC to educate white folk, but on the other hand if someone is having a problem, it’s incumbent upon them to speak up in a way that the issue can be addressed.  If I don’t know I’m being sexist, someone has to tell me, and probably that would best come from the offended party, even though in another way they don’t owe me anything.

What is the best way to handle situations like this?  Ignoring it only lets it escalate and hurts my friend.  Getting involved has only made me upset, although I don’t think I’ve come across as very upset because I am trying to be diplomatic.  Also I have mostly been asking questions, since I could be completely out of touch.  That happens as one gets older.  I don’t see engaging with the offended person since she was rather vitriolic with my friend.

It just makes me sad.

 


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Can I Do This?

Last Monday, I facilitated a group.

On Monday afternoons, I attend the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance support group, because I have bipolar II, which I’ve mentioned before.  I’ve been going for about 3 years now.  I’ve worked through the book more than once.  I know the answers, haha, as if I could know the right answers to mental health when it’s different for everyone.

The regular facilitator was having a hard day and asked me if I would lead.  None of this is surprising, since he is a peer and the group could be led by any peer.  I said yes, and I was happy to do this favor for him.

It went surprisingly well.  We worked our way through 2 pages in the book.  That may not be much but it included some conversation and it was the end of a section.  Didn’t make sense to start a new section with only 15 minutes left.  The group appreciated the chance to chat during the session.  It was a little more active than the usual facilitator likes, but we have different philosophies.  He is trying to get through the book, whereas I use the book as a jumping-off point.  Nothing wrong with either one, just different.

At the same time, I have been hearing about women who lead seminars to help other women.  I think I could lead one about vision boards and creating goals.  It would be maybe 3 hours, give or take.  Part of it would be about setting goals, where do you want to be in, say, 5 years?  Or indeed, ever?  Part of it would be making the actual vision board.  And part of it would be about sharing our dreams and visions.  I think I could manage about 10 women, and they would have to bring their own scissors since I don’t own that many pairs.  Glue and magazines I’ve got, scissors not so much.

So I am looking for goal setting exercises.  They are surprisingly hard to find.  There are a lot of sites devoted to professional development and goal setting in that regard but really almost nothing about personal goal setting.  The principles must be the same however so I just need to tweak them.  Of course I would need to tweak them in any case to make them my own.  I’m about being inspired by other people, not stealing their work.

I believe I can do this.  It seems very do-able.  It also doesn’t overlap the government job so there should be no conflict of interest.  The first one or two would be free while I get my feet under me, then I would have to start charging.  I wonder if I could even do it monthly.

Words of encouragement and suggestions only, please.  I have enough nay-sayers in my own head as it is.  I could stand some support around this idea.


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What I’ve Been Doing

I was sitting here drinking the coffee that my roommate L has made for me and I realized that you don’t know what I actually do with my time while I’m demobilized.  I’ve done a fair amount of complaining about things and I’ve certainly shared my (mis)adventures, but really life is pretty good and I want to share some of that.

I sleep most days until 9 or 10 in the morning.  I usually wake up with my cats cuddled up to me, which makes me happy.  If you have pets, you understand this.  Or children, I suppose, though as a mother I dislike comparing pets and children.

I get up and check facebook and email and other online things I’m working on.  I take my morning meds and eat some peanut butter toast.  I like the way the hot toast melts the peanut butter.  Usually by then L is up so there is coffee.  Now you may ask why I don’t make my own coffee since I certainly know how.  The truth is, we use a French press and the thing is just a pain to clean.  I am lazy.  That’s my big secret.  If L makes the coffee, she cleans it up.  Yup, that’s it, silly as it is.

Most days I go to a support group.  I use a peer run support group cluster that is available through a local mental health facility.  It’s free.  Mondays is DBSA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and we are working out of a book about managing life while struggling with a behavioral health concern.  Tuesday is Recovery International which has a very formal method.  It does however teach you to deal with daily life, something I don’t always do very well.  Wednesday is the PTSD group.  I don’t have PTSD but nobody is without trauma.  Thursday is a depression support group.  Friday is ATTA, which stands for Achievement Through the Arts.  It’s for artists with brain differences, so there is a mix of people with issues ranging from schizophrenia to injury.  Most of these groups meet for 2 hours, so that gives me a whole lotta free time.

I have been writing letters.  I have an extensive mailing list that I am trying to send everybody something and see who writes back.  Then I’ll keep up with the respondents.  I like getting mail and to get mail, one must send mail.

I also have been working on the 100 Hats project.  I want to sell them but I suspect most of them will wind up donated.  And that’s fine, for me the joy is in the making.  Speaking of making, I am working on some art pieces as well.  One of them is based on my friend K’s living room.

I stay up with my roommates until around 1 in the morning, then I lay in bed on the phone until 2 then I sleep.  So 10 am is really 8 hours of sleep, which is good for me.

I do see friends and go out to eat and run errands.  It makes for a pretty full life, but I would like to be deployed again.  Not that I wish for bad things to happen, but when a disaster hits, I am ready.