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


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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Don’t Get Cocky

The Universe has a way of evening things out.

Today, I got a call from my support group facilitator.  He is also a peer.  He’d had an active weekend and just didn’t have the spoons to lead this week, so he asked if I would.  Of course I said yes.  I want to be helpful but also I like facilitating.

I went in early and set up.  J and B arrived.  Then 2 more B’s, E and M.  It was a full house.  I started the group at 5 after, just in case anyone arrived late.  I started off by reviewing the rules, which the group mostly stated to me.  I think the facilitator would be pleased to know that.

We did two pages of exercises from the workbook we are using, and the rest of the time we just talked.  Now the usual facilitator is very book oriented.  I am more relationship oriented.  I was glad to see people reach out to each other and provide feedback.

M brought up a good question.  A doctor can, for example, prescribe a particular kind of mattress if someone needs it.  Most of us have doctors who want us to attend these meetings.  There is a cost to the book.  Only $25, but for some of us that’s a lot of money.  If the doctor prescribed the class, would the cost of the book be covered by insurance?  Oh, probably not, because that’s how things work out, but if I went for physical therapy and needed equipment it would be covered.  This is psycho-therapy – at least loosely – and the book is the equipment.  I think we should try it out.

Anyway, I felt pretty good when I left.  I feel pretty good about my facilitating.  People enjoyed the meeting and I think they got something out of it.

I was driving home, minding my own business, when the Universe decided to make sure I didn’t get too cocky.  Suddenly my engine didn’t sound right.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I looked down at the dashboard and saw that the temperature was redlined.  I pulled over and shut off the engine.

I pay for good insurance, so I called my roadside assistance and they sent someone out to tow me home.  I waited about an hour in 100 degree heat for a 10 minute tow.  So be it.  It was covered.  I checked fluids and oil was low, so I bought some oil that I’ve added.  Now it’s too dark out for me to be able to check the level again so it will have to wait for the morning.

I hope the low oil is the whole problem.  If not, I don’t know how I’ll pay for it.  I mean, I have 6 hours of training to do in the next week or so, so that’s a few dollars.  There is always unemployment.  I just need to drive the car around the block or something and see if the temperature shoots up again.

I’m just glad I had The Artist’s Way with me  while I was waiting.  It’s a good read.  More about that later.

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Being unfriended

I got a private message from someone saying that my comments on her posts only make her feel worse so she was going to unfriend me.  She must have already blocked me because I just happened to be online so I read the message almost as soon as it was posted and I wasn’t able to reply to her.

This makes me sad.  I didn’t know I was bothering her with my comments.  I wish she had said something before it got to this point.  I wish I knew better how to connect with her.

I know her from a mental health support group.  I assume she has issues, but then I have issues.  We all have issues there.  That’s why we’re in a mental health support group in the first place.  I would usually go to that group for feedback, but I don’t feel like I can.  I don’t want to piss her off even more, for a start, but I also don’t want to open myself up to trolling if I really am a jerk.

I don’t think I’m a jerk, but it matters what other people think of me.  Not a lot, but some.  I mean, you can hardly be a jerk to yourself but you might not see how you are being a jerk to other people.  We all get nearsighted and can’t see how what we did affects others.

So tell me I am being difficult for you before you get to the point where all you can do is run away.  I thought we were getting to know each other, but apparently that didn’t cut both ways.  I am sad.  I’m sad that she unfriended me and I’m sad that she didn’t speak up sooner and I’m sad that I don’t know what I did.


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Demand Better Media in 2015 — The Representation Project

Here’s what I really love about these folks:

Yes they are focused on women first HOWEVER they also talk about how gender stereotypes affect men. They also mention transgender, and considering that at this time that is still a very small number of people out of total population, even a mention is huge.

Popular media is geared toward a predominantly male, predominantly white audience, and I believe the age bracket is 16 to 35 but I may mis-remember. Any time we tell stories or include fully developed characters who are outside that target audience, we are expanding the way viewers understand human beings to be. More air time for fully realized portrayals of women, gays, POC, transgendered, children (think of all the smart-ass kids you see on Nick, for example), elderly or even middle aged, disabled, and, well, those of us who don’t fit this year’s image of what is beautiful — when you show those people as complete characters, not just a boob joke or a wheel chair joke, then you open up all kinds of possibilities.

So check this group out:

Their site:

YouTube video:

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Reality Check

I have had a major setback in terms of confidence.

I work in an inbound sales call center for a major insurance company.  It’s a part time job and while it’s true it’s not my dream job, on the plus side the job itself is okay and of course entry-level foot-in-the-door room-to-advance situations are generally worth the effort.

I knew I wasn’t doing great at this job.  I’m trying but I’m a little slow sometimes and this is my first sales job ever so my learning curve is pretty steep.  I thought, I am doing okay, not great but okay.  And in March I can start to post out for other jobs in the company, maybe have something “better” by June or so.  I have been trying to get full time hours since I started because I cannot live on part time income.  I had to give up the apartment I used to have because I couldn’t afford it any longer and I’m staying with friends. Of course I can’t rent a place of my own again until my income goes up.  So I wasn’t exactly satisfied with my situation but I did feel positive and like things are getting better.

I took a couple days off around my birthday and after being back at work about a week, I’m starting to feel back in the flow but a little out of touch.  I approached my supervisor after my shift and asked if we had a one-on-one coming up any time soon.  She told me to step into her cube (my cube has half-height walls, supervisor cubes have 8-foot walls to give the illusion of privacy but no ceilings or doors like a real office).

She asked how I thought I was doing.  I said I thought I was doing okay.  She told me we have annual reviews coming up and she was going to email me some questions.  I asked what kind of questions and she got cagey.  “You’ll see them when you get the email,” she said.  Red flag.  That feels like she doesn’t want to have that discussion with me right then because these are going to be bad questions, questions that are really accusations in disguise.  What’s up that I don’t know about?

My supervisor then told me that I’d been there a while and that expectations were going to change.  “Well of course,” I said, a bit confused, “I’ve been on the floor 6 months now, I’m not new.”  Another red flag.  Why are you telling me this?  What is it I don’t know?

My supervisor told me that I’m good with customers, I make them comfortable, I make them laugh on the phone.  Then she said that I back away from making the sale.  I don’t understand what I’m doing that she thinks is me backing away but I’m having a hard time getting clarity on the sales jargon in general.  For that matter, I’m not always clear on the call center jargon either.  I told her I know I struggle with countering price objections.  I do.  My brain just shuts down and I have no idea what to say.  Up until now, she used to tell me to make use of her as a resource.  This time she told me to think about it because she won’t always be there for me.  Third red flag.  Why did the type of help available to me change?

Then I got the metrics we’ll be discussing in my annual review.

We get measured for about 10 metrics and if you work in call center you already know what those are — and if you don’t, it won’t mean anything to you.  The system for determining where you’re at is a pretty straightforward traffic light system.  If you meet or exceed expectations, it’s green.  If you need improvement, it’s yellow.  If you simply fail, it’s red.  I expected to see a lot of yellow, with several reds in early months and maybe a couple of greens in recent days.

I was wrong.

My entire report was red and yellow.  I had one green, for adhering to the break schedule, a couple months ago.

I am not doing okay.

I am failing.


I didn’t know I was doing so poorly.  Like I said, I thought I was okay, not great but okay.

This has really thrown me for a loop because now I wonder if I’m really good at anything at all.  My assessment of my situation was very far off base in this instance, how far off base is it in other situations?  How many things do I believe I’m pretty good at doing that I am in fact horrible?

And it’s not just that I’m not making the sales statistics.

After a call is over, there is documentation that a call center person puts in the file, and in insurance there may be insurance documents that need to go to the customer.  Our goal for after call work is 4 minutes, which means you need to do most of it while you are talking to the customer.  I would have told you that in the beginning, I was averaging 10 – 15 minutes per call to get that stuff done and that now I am at about 5 – 6 minutes.  According to the company, I average just over 6 minutes right now, which is a little higher than I thought but close.  However, early statistics also show me at just over 6 minutes.  They don’t really get on you for being less than perfect if there is an improvement and I would have said I have improved however the numbers don’t show that.  Numbers say I am doing the same now as I was when I first got on the floor, I have not improved.

So not only I am not accurate about how well I’m doing in general, I’m also not accurate about whether I’ve improved.

I am apparently very much out of touch with reality.

It’s frustrating that I probably won’t get full time hours because I will be at the bottom of the list with such bad metrics.  And I also probably won’t be able to bid out of this job because with no improvements I look either stupid or slacker so that won’t be interesting to another team.

And I had no idea.

So I’m not looking forward to this meeting, but all I can do is suck it up and be honest.

And of course back to looking for another job.  *sigh*

This was really disheartening, especially when I starting to feel like things in life were going to work out.