Kiss5Tigers

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


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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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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.


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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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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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On My Way

I’m deployed.

I’m halfway between excited and nervous.  I’ve been waiting for this so I’m excited to finally be called.  Yet I don’t know what I’m going to find, and that makes me nervous.

Roommates are concerned that I will be overwhelmed by the victims’ emotionality.  F took me aside tonight and told me to protect myself.  I know he means to build up a psychic shield, surround myself with white light kind of thing.  Mostly he kept saying for me to remember it’s not my fault, there’s only so much I can do, and take care of myself.

I have packed, unpacked and repacked.  I want to get down to one suitcase.  I figure, they’re going to give me equipment to manage as well as my suitcase and purse.  I don’t want a ton of stuff.  I mean, I do want a ton of stuff, but I can’t manage it all.  I’ll bring my computer, headphones and all.  And my sketch book.  And a glue stick.  I think I’ll throw a pair of scissors in my luggage, since I’ll be checking a bag.

Meds are in my purse.  Contacts and glasses will go in my purse too.  As did makeup.  I did look for another purse and couldn’t find one I liked.  Now I’m glad to have the extra room.

I got to see my daughter E today.  We ran some errands and I gave her my car to use.  I’m not sure about this.  I think, it’s not in good shape, what if something happens while she’s using it?  It gets towed and I can’t get it back.  Then I’m without a car.  I don’t know how long I’ll be deployed, so $25 a day for storage times who knows how many days.  I’d lose the stuff that’s in the car, some printed material, some knitting, all my stuffies.  It would make me very upset.  So I told her, no using the car.  She can use it to get her stuff from V.  But no joy rides.  And tonight she had K pick her up to go visit a friend, so she is trying to respect my wishes.

Charli the kitty is all over my suitcase and she yells at me every time I come into the bedroom.  She is upset that I’m leaving but I can’t take her with me.  F and L will look after Charli and Momo so that’s something I don’t have to worry about.

I made sure F, E, and my cousin all have each other’s phone numbers.  If anything happens, I want them to be able to contact each other.  Not that anything will happen.  It’s a precaution.  I should text them all from my work phone too so they have that number.

I think I’ve got it all covered.   One last load of laundry in process.  Extra suitcase packed in case I’m there more than a month.  I think, I really do think, I’m almost ready.


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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.