Kiss5Tigers

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


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Mothers Day

Mothers Day was yesterday.

Is it Mothers Day, as in the day we celebrate mothers, or Mother’s Day, as in the day we celebrate Mom? I don’t know. I don’t suppose it matters.

This is a holiday that I am truly ambivalent about.

In 1984, my mother died of cancer. Part of the issue was that she wouldn’t go to the doctor so the disease was pretty advanced by the time anyone picked up on it. Part of the problem was, well, it was 35 years ago, cancer treatment just wasn’t as advanced as it is today. She was given the option of treatment that would extend life but make her sick, or no treatment with a life expectancy of about 8 months. She chose to forego medical treatment.

Now let’s be clear. She turned down radiation and chemo. She said, “If medical science is done with me, then I am done with them.” But she did pursue holistic alternatives. Only, again, it was 1984. No internet. No community of people to help with advice. And “holistic” was a concept without a name.

I remember her insisting on organic produce, and soaking it in the sink to remove toxins. One time, after she had moved back to my grandparents’ house, she accused of us trying to poison her by not soaking the vegetables. They came from Grandpa’s garden, which was de facto organic because that was the way he learned to farm when he was a kid.

So I am without a mother, and by this age, I am without grandmothers. Nobody for me to spoil on this day. For many years, Mothers Day was simply a reminder of what I don’t have. I chose to ignore the holiday.

Only, I am a mother myself.

I have been terrible with holidays because I missed my family of origin, but that means my daughter has never really experienced a good holiday. I was perhaps too caught in my own grief and did not provide the right environment for her in terms of celebrating special days.

This year, I spent most of Mothers Day afternoon with my daughter. I went to her place. We drank rumchata (horchata with rum in it) and made art. I made an abstract of her friend, she tried out a texture technique that she didn’t like and painted over. Several of her friends visited. I laughed, and said it’s because I’m the cool mom, but really I know it’s because my kid is cool. People want to be around her.

So I am learning to make days special in non-traditional ways. What’s important is to spend time together, not to go to brunch or get flowers. I feel good about making art with a friend, and my daughter is becoming a friend. I miss my mom, but I will see her again soon enough. And I want her to see how far I’ve come, when we finally get to catch up.

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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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Trying Things

Trying bulletproof coffee for the first time. I like my coffee black so this is without sweetener. Mostly tastes greasy. I might prefer regular coffee. But I am trying to be low carb at least, trying for keto at home but it’s hard. I can think of all kinds of things to eat, but they involve crackers, so . . .

Yesterday I had my first poke bowl at a place called Below 40. It had salmon and crab and was so good. I was full most of the day. I was of course hungry again by 6 but that’s pretty normal. Going to try another one of their signature bowls next time. My friend K who I went with had a custom bowl made. Hers had greens instead of rice. I might try that the next time.

Slept on K’s new sofa this weekend. So comfy. What a process it was getting that sofa! First problem was getting the old sofa out. We got it to the truck no problem. Getting it into the truck was a different story. While we were trying to wrangle the thing over the tailgate, a fire truck pulled up to check a nearby hydrant. The firemen came over and put the sofa in the truck for us! Very helpful. Unloading it was pretty straightforward. The staff at the store loaded the new one for us and we got it off the truck just fine. Then came getting it through the door.

We turned it one way, didn’t fit. Turned it the other way, didn’t fit. The feet were in the way, the curve of the back was in the way, the whole thing didn’t fit by only an inch or two. A neighbor named Gary came by. He helped us turn the thing a few different ways but his girlfriend showed up and they had to get to a concert. Then Alan and Ty, some neighbors from upstairs showed up. Alan actually took the sliding glass doors off the tracks to get the sofa in. It took him over an hour, things were so stuck by paint and dirt. Who knew the track to a sliding door could get so dirty? Who even thinks of cleaning such a thing? Then the guys lifted the sofa over the porch railing and into the living room, and they put the doors back. Ty said he’d take a bottle of Crown for his efforts, but Alan doesn’t drink so K will get some money for him.

We went to an estate sale yesterday afternoon. I bought a copy of a book called “The Birds’ Xmas Carol” by Kate Douglas Wiggin. I bought it for nostalgia reasons, but it’s got an inscription dated 1913. The copyright says 1886 but I think that’s just the copyright date, not the publication date of this issue. I mentioned it to K, and a man near us kept going on about how much the book was probably worth. I don’t care about the value. It reminds me of my grandmother.

I also saw a pretty pink glass rabbit dish that reminded me of her. It made me think of the chicken bowl she had that always had hard candy in it. It was a milky blue color. The bottom was a wicker basket and the lid was a nesting chicken. You lifted the chicken off to get to the treats. Speaking of candy, I remember her buying ribbon candy at Christmas and Peeps and Easter. Grandma would eat a whole Peep, just popping the whole thing in her mouth. I never liked them myself, not a fan of marshmallow.

Well, I am off to my Artists Way group. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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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.