Kiss5Tigers

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


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Working It Out

I am signed up with a group called Succulent Wild World, which is the brainchild of an author called SARK. She teaches about the Inner Wise Self, which many people think of as their Higher Power but for me it is Intuition. One of the activities for this month is to write a letter from your Inner Wise Self and share it. So here I am, sharing.

One piece of backstory so this maybe makes more sense: my parents died when I was 19. My mom had cancer, my dad had a heart attack a month later, and they had been divorced for 7 years at that point. I used to say, “The first thing they do together in years, and I can’t do it with them.”

Here is the letter:

Dear Alive Allison,

You are here and alive. You did not die with the others, stop acting like you did. You deserve to have a life and to live it fully. You are needed just as you are.

Free yourself from fear of failure and survivor’s guilt. You did not kill your parents. Their deaths were the logical conclusions of their lives. It was about them, not you. It wasn’t done to hurt you. It’s normal to outlive your parents.

So take off the shroud and take up your superhero cape. Fly away into love and adventure. Life is available to you, make it a good one.

Now I’m old, it’s been 35 years since they passed. I have done a LOT of grieving and I don’t really need to be overly gentle with myself at this point. I am no longer sad in a daily way that I lost them. It’s still sad, but there is distance from the pain, it’s not visceral any more.

I used to compare it to losing a tooth. Do you remember losing your teeth as a child? At first there is a hole and it is tender and you keep poking it with your tongue even though it feels weird. Then the skin toughens up and you can poke it without getting that tingle. Eventually another tooth takes up the space, and it’s different but it becomes normal. Now obviously with a death you don’t just replace the person you lost, but life has a way of filling in the gap until it isn’t noticeable on a regular basis. If you think of it, you notice it; but you are no longer thinking of it constantly.

So this is the theme for me this week: move past my parents’ deaths. It happened. It’s sad that it happened when I was so young. And yet, I seem to have let it prevent me from doing some things. I wonder if it had anything to do with me breaking up with so many serious boyfriends, though I also wonder if that is a result of being bipolar. I wonder how much of my settling for jobs rather than pursuing a career is out of fear of taking the risks that lead to success.

Fear of taking risks. I heard of a friend’s brother who won $8000 at a casino and lost it all. I though, I’d never lose that much money because when I got to that amount, I’d walk away. Truthfully, I’d never get to that amount, because I wouldn’t bet the amount of money it takes to get there, and I’d probably walk away happily with $100. I wouldn’t take the risk. You don’t win big without betting big, and I need to learn to bet bigger.

Now obviously this is a calculated risk. I can’t afford to lose $8000 so that kind of risk is not for me. However, I can tolerate a little rejection, so taking the risk of, say, showing my art might be reasonable. I can live with not everybody liking my work, and I can even live with the idea that some of my art is just plain bad. I am still learning.

All of which is to say, I need to stop letting fear stop me from doing things I want to do. I may not have a safety net any longer — really, who does at 54? — but I can’t spend the rest of my life standing on the ledge. Sometime I have to grab the trapeze and fly.

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Holistic Fair

I went to a holistic fair at the local Unitarian Universalist church today.

First thing we did was walk the labyrinth they have there. It really is a meditative practice. You go around and back and forth and you finally reach the center. This particular labyrinth had a cluster of huge rose quartz rocks in the middle. Truly I mean rocks, they must have weighed a solid pound each, maybe more. They were rough hewn. I felt like they were lonely, like people don’t get out to visit them often enough.

The idea is, you walk from the outer world to the inner world, then you circle back out. This one was laid out with rocks so to be completely honest, we just stepped over the “walls” to get out, we didn’t circle back out. Then we saw some paths through the woods that we decided to check out. Trees had grown over the path so it was pretty covered. It’s winter in Texas so even though it’s not terribly cold out, the trees were bare and the ground was covered with their leaves. The branches met over our heads and created a sort of tunnel through the woods.

We went inside to check out the vendors. They seemed a little pricey to me. Or as the Brits say, proud of their goods. We looked at hemp infused coffee and keto creamer. They wanted $70 for about a pound of coffee, just a little high. I mean that to sound understated.

There was a young man who had made some wands. I asked him about them, he said he made them from wooden beads and adhesive. I feel like the actual stick part, not the handle, was made out of resin so it must have been the adhesive, which I suspect is glue sticks. He wasn’t exactly outgoing.

There was a woman in African or Carribbean dress who made statement necklaces. She had a huge piece of different stones as the focal. The beads on the necklace were quite large, maybe an inch in diameter. These were solid pieces but a little too big for me.

Another woman had body creams and candles. I would have bought some of the Ms Coco body cream but I couldn’t find it except in the tester. She also had quite large tea light candles, the size of the palm of my hand. Some were just scented, others had plant material, crystals, or other inclusions. I felt like she was the most reasonably priced of everyone.

There was another jewelry vendor there. She had lovely crystal point necklaces. The points were probably an inch in diameter and a good 2 or 3 inches long, very clear. I would have believed they were glass but they were quartz. Or amethyst. She also made pyramids and pendulums that were designed to clear an area from electro magnetic pollution. It was interesting. But again, a little high priced.

I got a reading from a lady named Sherry. She called it a wisdom reading, not a sort of fortune telling. I’m fine with that. It’s a little blurry, everything that she did. Her technique is to attune herself with me and contact my higher consciousness. She put oil on my palms and had me inhale it and pull up an image. I got baby dolls, particularly the kind with painted on hair. Then she asked me to listen to my heart and tell me if there was something my inner self wanted to let go. I said “weight”. I felt a little self conscious about that, since I am a fat person and weight is always a politically correct answer for me. But I couldn’t change the word, I couldn’t turn it into anything else, so I had to go with it. She said weight is often related to emotional states, and that the body often uses weight as a form of protection. On the physical level, toxins and other things can be caught in fat as a way of keeping them out of the body systems. On an emotional level, stresses cause the body to hold onto fat. So there could be both health and mental health reasons for letting go of weight.

She put more different oils in my hand, had me breathe in and out, and asked me for a memory. I remembered the day the priest told me that my father died. It made my heart hurt. I felt great loneliness. As we worked, the loneliness morphed into sadness. I felt sad for the little girl who lost her parents. Sherry had me remember the scene in detail and I remembered how Judy had been so upset and even teary eyed on my behalf. The sadness literally caught in my throat and stole my voice. Eventually it dissipated and there was a sort of release.

Sherry then shared an image she had for me, one of those jewelry boxes with the little ballerina in it. I don’t know if they still make them. I had one as a child. She said, my higher self wanted me to dance with freedom, not stuck in one pose like the ballerina. She asked what was stopping me. I told her, fear. Fear that if I fail, there’s no safety net. I don’t have parents or siblings to help me out if I get stuck. I have to do it all myself so it feels like there’s no room for mistakes. She had me visualize something that means strength to me (tigers, of course) and absorb the strength of it into myself.

So what I take from this, is that my parents’ deaths have affected me in ways I am not fully aware of. After all this time, I still make choices and behave in ways that are underscored by that experience. And maybe it’s time to find a new way of being. Just maybe, I can find a safety net and take a risk to do or be something more than I currently am.


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Steak and Chai Tea

Wednesday (yesterday, today is Thursday) was a busy day for me.

I started the day with a COMI meeting. Basically it’s a forum where local mental health services meet up and share their information. I found out, for example, that Dallas has closed 3 mental health hospitals in the last 2 years, and no one has replaced the beds. So there are that many people who need to be hospitalized who can’t access services. That is a crying shame. There are so many of us who need respite and there is no facility for that.

I made a contact to a group called BattleBuddies, which works with veterans, and that led to a project called Stop One. What is important about this is that they offer Mental Health First Aid for free to the community. In my work in disaster relief with the government, I often see people who are distressed and a little training on how to help them would be a good thing.

Then I met up with my daughter for coffee. I like to see her regularly but she does live with her boyfriend. They only have one day off in common so I try not to take up that time. Coffee is a good thing. Daughter made coffee for me and we hung out for a while. She gave me some gears for my art, so that was very cool. And some buttons. We spent about an hour together then I took her to work.

My next stop was lunch with my insurance ladies. We all started at the company at the same time and were in the same training class. Usually there are 4 of us, but T was just back from a family trip so she didn’t make it. We went to Outback and I had steak which was wonderful. I don’t often get meat that’s rare to medium. Meat at our house tends to be fully cooked, which is not my preference, but I don’t have to cook so I’m not complaining. I also had cheesecake, something I don’t do very often. It was very good. We sat in the restaurant for almost 3 hours just catching up on life.

After leaving the ladies, I texted my friend K. I knew she was still at work but since I was in the area I thought I could stop by. I went to Barnes and Noble to kill some time. I took a few books off the walls and a couple of magazines, and I went to the cafe for a coffee. Well they were having a sale on chai, hot or cold, any size, for $2. You don’t have to tell me twice; I got a grande hot chai. So good. I didn’t buy a book, though, I don’t need anything more to read. I need more light in the house so I can read more.

I did go see K. She needed some help turning the mattress on her bed. I know it sounds like an odd activity, but us ladies need to help each other out when there’s nobody else around. There are many of us over a certain age who are single. Wonderful people, just not meeting the right other person. Or like me, divorced and wounded. Or, yanno, just not interested in having a relationship. Not everyone wants to be coupled up. We must band together and be there for each other.

I got home about 11:00, which was quite late for me. I slept well. It was a good day.


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Cookies and Shopping

This morning I went to a Recovery International meeting. Usually I am just a participant but today it looked like it was going to be just me and one other person. The facilitator called in sick. We decided to have the meeting just ourselves and while I was making coffee another person arrived. I ended up facilitating, which is fine, just unexpected. A fourth person joined us about halfway through so we ended up with a decent group. One of the guys asked me if I wanted to grab a coffee after group but I couldn’t today.

When I got home, I texted my dealer about coming over today. Yup, I admit it, I’m addicted to Girl Scout cookies. I particularly like the Do-Si-Dos, which are a peanut butter sandwich cookie. They might be my favorite cookie, though shortbread dipped in dark chocolate is a close second. Got to be the right shortbread though, not just a vanilla cookie. So now I am the proud owner of 3 boxes of Do-Si-Dos and one of toffee cookies. No they are not keto friendly but if I only eat one or two a day I’m still within my guidelines. We all had a nice visit with my suppliers, mother and daughter. Actually the daughter is a very cool kid. She showed up wearing a wolf tail and some wolf ears. I wish I’d been able to be that creative when I was a kid, but I’m pretty sure my dad would have stopped me.

After a few hours, roommate L and I went out to run an errand. I needed some snack food and roommate F needed a carton of cigarettes. We went to Sam’s Club, Winco and Walmart. I got broccoli, beef jerky, nut flour crackers, those veggie straw things, cottage cheese and sour cream for making dip. Sour cream dip is keto. I just needed the crackers and the veggie straws to dip in it. I can eat 17 crackers or 38 veggie straws with dip. That’s a LOT. I probably wouldn’t eat 38 veggie straws even if I wasn’t watching carbs.

Now Walmart was a quick trip. I just needed some red acrylic paint for a project for Valentine’s Day. L needed to pick up a prescription for a friend. The drug was Tramadol, a synthetic opioid pain reliever. For something like the third time, Walmart has the drug backordered. Now really. I know opioids have fallen out of favor, but this is a common drug and lots of people take it. Walmart is a huge company. How can it be that they can’t get this medicine reliably?

Home for dinner: roast beef with jus. It was a little longer cooked than I prefer but the flavor was good. I can’t help it that I like my meat bloody. I am doing laundry and, well, blogging. NCIS is on; we record it, I don’t know if it airs on Tuesdays. I am planning to take a shower later tonight.

All is good in my world. It was an enjoyable day.


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New Doctor

I saw my new doctor for the first time today.  His name is Joshua Richard, pronounced the French way, “ree-SHAR”.  He was a pleasant good looking young man with rather amazing eyes.  But so young!  Probably over 30 because I think you have to be that old to make it through medical school.  And he seems to be an intern because he had to bring in an attending at one point.  Also a good looking young man.  Young.  I feel old now, lol.

I am used to my doctor being older than me.  Or at least close to my age.  These guys just seemed more youthful than I would have expected.  Now I do want to be clear that I believe these guys know their stuff.  I don’t pay for age, I pay for knowledge.  Young doctor means new ideas and maybe I need some new ideas.

I was pleased that he didn’t bring up me being overweight.  I mentioned it, but he didn’t say anything about it.  I’m so used to doctors being pretty much fat-phobic that this was very refreshing.  I’m sure part of it was because my blood pressure came up at 113 over 79, which is really good.  Doubly good considering I’ve been off my meds about 2 weeks.  Of course I hadn’t had any coffee yet and I know coffee spikes my blood pressure, so maybe there is a connection.   Still the numbers were good enough that he wants to cut back on my medication, which is nice.

The rest of the day I spent with my roommates.  I bought a pocket stone at the Rock Barrel, a crocodile jasper.  It’s supposed to calm the nerves and be good for grounding.  It’s also supposed to help the body absorb nutrients from food.  It spoke to me, and I picked it up and it fit my hand perfect for fidgeting.  L bought me a strand of Labradorite too.  That’s good for self awareness, intuition and strengthening the aura.  But she bought it because I think it’s pretty.  I want to leave the strand in one piece but I also want to take it apart and make bracelets out of it.  I think it would be so pretty, the chips separated by little gold beads.  Or maybe that’s just me.  We also went to Andy’s for ice cream and Central Market.  I got my morning pages written, though not until after 9:00 at night so hardly morning.  It’s been a good day.


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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.


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First World Problems

I’m pretty sure I have mostly first world problems. Maybe “New World” but definitely not Third World.

I live in a mobile home with 2 friends. We have heat and air conditioning, running water, toilets and pets. There is a dishwasher and a washing machine and a microwave and a fridge. The stove is having issues but that’s mostly an age factor. Everything needs to be replaced eventually and this one is over 20 years old so . . .

Meds are sometimes an issue; they cost a small fortune. My daughter’s meds are over $600 a month out of pocket. However, she has assistance through a state government program. I have actual health insurance and I will add her to it shortly. It’s a paperwork issue.

I forget to take my meds sometimes, but I think that’s human. When I miss them, I have actual physical pain the next day but it goes away when I take them again. Could be worse. I suppose I’ll never miss more than one dose.

I am hoping to go back to school in less than a week. I’m still waiting on a final approval from the college but that should be here today or tomorrow. Considering how my disability affects me, I think the degree is the only way out. I need to do something that frees me from the strictures of production, which means credentials are important.

This all feels very hopeful today. Which seems wrong but is really true. I could use a remission period.