Kiss5Tigers

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


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DBSA Vision Board Presentation

Monday afternoon is DBSA at MHA. I got to do my vision board presentation again. I’m getting pretty good at it, and people are enjoying it. I’m actually amazed that people think I’m as good at it as they believe. I mean, I’m used to having to work so hard to be successful at something, so to have this pretty much come naturally is a real gift. I mean it, it feels like a present to me.

Most people shared their vision boards, a few people didn’t. I always ask if they’d like to share, and remind them that “no” is an acceptable answer to that question. One lady decided her piece was too personal to share, another was new to the group and felt shy. I am not about forcing people to do something that makes them uncomfortable. I want people to feel safe and respected.

There was a new lady today, and I talked to her for quite a while after the meeting. She had a lot of family issues that affected her deeply and she just needed to get it all out and not be judged. I am very good at not judging. I am a good listener. So I sat with her until almost 6, just because she needed to talk.

One of the guys asked for my number today and said he’d like to hang out sometime. I don’t know if I think this is a potential dating situation or not. I don’t think I’m his type and he is better looking than me, but maybe he can see past my plainness to my heart. It could happen. And yet I don’t want to think too much about this. We can be friends, see what happens. Maybe nothing.

He joined us for coffee at Cafe Brazil last week, and paid for my snack. And he hung around after class today and helped me bring stuff downstairs. So maybe he is being friendly but maybe it’s a little more. I can’t tell, but right now I don’t mind the uncertainty.

It’s nice to feel a little bit of interest. I have felt pretty much asexual for several years now. I’ve thought maybe it was menopause or maybe it’s my meds. Many antidepressants kill sex drive. So it’s fun to feel a little like, maybe there’s some interest there. No expectations, just noticing that I can still feel this way.

The rest of the week will be pretty busy. I have Recovery International tomorrow morning. Wednesday I’m covering Taking Care of You for the usual facilitator who is out of town. Thursday I’m doing the vision board presentation for the last time. Friday is ATTA. I missed them last week, I just plain did too much and was worn out.

I often wonder about that. When I work, I work 10 hour days, 7 days a week, and it doesn’t bother me. Then I get furloughed and I have weeks or even months to myself. But I have had regular 40 hour a week jobs, and they just drain me. Why is that? I feel like it must be related to the bipolar pattern.

And, I have been asked a couple of times now how people can help me out, since I am having money issues at the moment. If you want to make a donation, my PayPal is under rippledwords@yahoo.com. Otherwise I have an Etsy store where you could consider buying something. I am really feeling the crunch, any little bit would help.

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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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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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Middle of the Night Musings

It’s quarter to 2 am and I am awake. I fell asleep on the sofa so I’ve had a nap and now I can’t get back to sleep. This is what I’m thinking about.

I checked out my unemployment account. I haven’t been paid for a month. I wonder why. So tomorrow I will have to call them. I worked one week for the government and they stopped paying me. I understand they’re not going to pay for the week I worked, but they should pay for the following weeks.

I wonder when I’ll be called back to work. I got an alert last week but it got cancelled. It was like “be prepared in case we need you, just kidding”. Well I need the money guys, don’t toy with my emotions like that!

I really need dental work. Sucks that I am not a good dental patient and I can’t really afford it anyway. The estimate was $7000. Ain’t nobody got that kind of money!

And if I had that money, I would pay what I owe my college and do some work on my car, like putting in an air conditioner.

I need to call my bank and ask them about an actual credit card. It would be good to use it and pay it off regularly. On the other hand, I could pay off my Target card and my Torrid card.

What I need to pay is the toll bill I received.

I am a little disappointed in M, the regular facilitator for the Monday afternoon DBSA group. I facilitated last week and there were about 15 people. Folks were uncomfortable. I could see the social anxiety folks getting edgy. Some new people didn’t participate, I’m not sure if it was due to shyness. I texted M and said, if there are this many people again, do you want to consider splitting the group? I meant just for the session, I’m not sure if he understood that. Anyway his response was that the group is designed to accommodate 20 people, so unless we get more than that, no reason to split it up. I think people being uncomfortable is good enough reason. He said people will adjust. It’s his group, so whatever he says, goes; but I don’t have to agree.

My Artist’s Way group is going well. I’m trying to do the exercises in the book. I struggle with some of them. Not because the content is so hard, but because they want things like a list of people who’ve been supportive of you in 5 year blocks. I don’t remember years, so 5 year blocks don’t work for me. I actually don’t remember anyone being either especially supportive or especially derogatory of my art. Usually when I show off my work, people say good things. Not amazing things, but not constructive criticism either. Of course, since I am abstract in general, I think a lot of my work confuses people.

I really need to finish that picture of K’s living room that I started.

My hair is gross. My head itches. I need to take a shower.

I think I should try sleeping again. I’m not exactly sleepy, but I have ATTA in the morning which means I should get up early.


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Running Out of Unemployment

I’m at a bit of a scary place, financially.

I’ve been off work since December and collecting unemployment. It’s not very much money but I can live on it, especially since I have some savings.

However, I have just requested my last unemployment payment. I am now out of benefit money.

I am looking for a job, but it’s hard to find one that pays well. I make good money working for the government, I don’t expect to make as much in the private sector, but I’d like to make more than 50% of my government pay.

I am going to start the process for peer support counselor certification. The first stage is only $75 and I’ve got that at the moment. Getting the certification for billing Medicaid is another $650 but I really need to have a job as a peer in order to qualify anyway. It requires something like 3000 hours of practice, which is about 18 months of full time work.

Of course I will re-file for unemployment. I did work for about 3 months so I may qualify for another award. Anything could happen.

I am stressed about money, but it could be much worse. I have my cats and my art, I can go to support groups until I have a job, I can volunteer. I have friends and good roommates. I just need to find a job, either one that pays well or one I can leave without remorse when the government calls me back.


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Making Decisions

Oh, there is such a difference between what is my vocation and what is my avocation.

Or to put it another way, between how I make money and what my heart longs to do.

I love my job. I enjoy helping people. I’ve had such a good experience so far, made friends, traveled. I get paid pretty well when I’m working. I would be very happy to do this job for a long time.

When I’m not working, I attend support groups. Because I am doing well, I often get to facilitate. I enjoy facilitating. And I think I’m pretty good at it.

Thing is, with my job, I can’t commit. My job calls me away for months at a time, which is not conducive to mental health work. So much mental health work is about relationship and I would have almost no notice to put the relationships on hold. Not good for the other person.

Today I spoke to Nikita. She is the group coordinator at the facility where my support groups meet. I work with her in a lot of ways. I have suggested support groups that we need (eg. one for senior citizens since we get so many over 70’s that need a different kind of support). I am helping her set up a meeting for facilitators. I feel like we are peers more than I am a consumer.

Nikita told me that Texas passed legislation where peer support specialists can bill Medicaid for their services. That would mean, I could maybe support myself as a peer specialist. And I would like to do that very much.

Of course I would have to be certified. There are required classes and a certification board. And it costs money, which I only have because of the job.

So now I have to make a decision. I can start the process, but eventually I’ll have to either commit to the government job or commit to being a peer specialist. At the moment I can’t do both. Though at the moment, I am not working so I might as well pursue it. At least as far as I can.


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Back to Life, Back to Reality

I hate looking at my visit stats and seeing so many days with nobody coming to my blog. I know part of it is because I haven’t posted anything for a week or so.

I’ve been at a leadership training for work this past week. I can’t really say much about it, mostly because so much of it was not new material for me. A few things were new, like the Johari window or the Katz model.

What are these things? Well the Johari window is a 4 panel grid comparing traits you know you have / don’t know you have, with traits other people see / don’t see in you. Traits you and others see are your arena. Traits that are known to others and not to you are your blind spot. Just as examples. It’s a personality matrix.

The Katz model basically says there are 3 types of skills in the workplace: technical skills, people skills and conceptual skills. As you move up the corporate ladder, technical skills become less important, conceptual skills become more important and people skills stay equally important. People skills make up about 80% of the skill set needed at all levels.

Oh, and the Oz principle. That’s as in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, not Dr Oz. Basically the idea is, you have to take responsibility for your own destiny, and the corollary that if you don’t, someone else will. You already have everything you need. At least that’s what they taught us in class; the books seem to be more about accountability, based on what the reviews say.

Most of this seemed pretty common sense to me. That is, I scored 90 on the pretest, so clearly there wasn’t a whole lot of theory for me to learn. I own the fact that I need lots of practice for putting it into action. I have studied business and management for some time now but I have never had a supervisory position so this will be new for me.

I got to see my friends Charlie and Lenny, so that made me happy. I like those guys and they have been good friends. I have also made a few new friends, I hope, which would be good. (Shout out to Mimi, Doc, Vince and Shirletta.)

I was in the bathroom and got elected table chairman. I did most of the speaking for the first 2 days because every time a question was asked of the table, Charlie would poke me until I answered. On the third day, I finally asked if anyone else wanted to speak up, because I was happy to do it, but maybe someone else wanted a chance. Well Vince did. Then the instructor said we as a class needed to choose someone else to answer so that everybody got a chance to participate. I think my table was surprised that I came up with that idea independently of the teacher. And I think they realized that just because I am low key, I still am paying attention.

In other news, my cat missed me terribly while I was gone. Apparently she realized this morning at about 6:30 that I was back in Texas and started yelling for me. She does yell, different from meowing. I didn’t get back to the house for another 12 hours, but she knew I was almost home. Or so the roommates tell me. “Your cat is psychic,” they say. Maybe. Or just coincidence. You can never quite tell.

My car, however, is complaining. The service engine light came on. I took it for an oil change and the kid ran the diagnostic for me. One or more cylinders is misfiring and it has an emissions fail. This is not good. I hope it’s as basic as a tune up but I am afraid it’s more serious than that. Still, it got me home from the airport, can’t really ask for much more than that. Tomorrow is a government holiday, so I’ll be taking it to the mechanic on Tuesday.

And I have completed the paperwork for Robert Half so hopefully I’ll get called for some temp jobs now.