Kiss5Tigers

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


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Asking

The generosity of people just blows me away.

I have a favoite author, SARK, who says, “Ask. Ask again. Ask differently.” I like that. Not to bug a person, but sometimes your request gets lost in the general noise of life. And sometimes people don’t understand what you’re asking for.

On a business level, Shepherd Inn is opening a new home and needed furniture. My boss asked for in-kind donations rather than cash. In-kind means people donate the item itself, so if we need a sofa, they donate a sofa. In two days, the house was furnished! Well, two exceptions: coffee table and end tables for the living room, and new mattresses for the new beds. I’m going to ask my friend K about the tables, she’s really good at finding things for cheap online.

On a personal level, I posted that I got turned down for unemployment and that I was worried about taking care of my cat. One friend brought me food and litter, another friend Amazon’ed me a huge bag of food and some litter, a third friend donated cash. I am just blown away by this. I mean, I knew people can be kind, but so many people concerned about my cat, wow.

What I take away from this is that it doesn’t hurt to ask. I didn’t ask for someone to get me pet food, but people saw the need and jumped in. My friend L taught me about asking too. She asks for prayer for things and usually someone is led to help her out in a material way. In fact, she is one of the people I send money when I have a little extra. I haven’t had any extra lately, but L and N get money from me. And daughter of course.

Even if I hadn’t gotten donations, I would have vented about my fears and that would have helped as well. Keeping my fears and needs to myself just seems to magnify them. They become so huge and overwhelming, probably because they end up taking up so much of my brain space.

So, another thing I got, that I need but didn’t ask about, was this evening I am off. I will be so happy to get some time to myself. I have chores to do around my room, but mostly I will go to Half Price Books for a look around, maybe to Barnes & Noble. I want a copy of Ta-Nehisi Coates‘ “Between the World and Me“. I already know it’s sold out at Half Price but B&N might have it. After that, I’m thinking of a poke bowl. I’d like to invite daughter and boyfriend to join me.


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Eggs and Gasoline

I got up this morning and went to my daughter’s place. She of course was asleep and had forgotten that we were going to run an errand today.

One of the local restaurant suppliers decided to sell their unused produce to wait staff and other restaurant employees. Daughter doesn’t work in a restaurant but her roommate does. We drove down to the distributor’s location and picked up a huge box of fruit and vegetables.

It happened that we were mere blocks from my clinic so I was able to pick up my last round of meds too. The roommate paid for them for me. She gave me $20 so I had change.

The girls also needed juice for their vapes, so we went to 7-Eleven. While I was buying daughter’s juice, roommate went out to the car and filled my gas tank. I didn’t ask her to do it, I was touched.

When we got back to the apartment, roommate insisted on splitting the loot. I got rice, eggs, fruit, and salad makings. The generosity of these girls just blows me away. I didn’t mind driving them for their errand, I didn’t expect anything in return. But there you go, sometimes people are generous.

I made it home in time to attend my online support group. Online is a little awkward but it’s better than I expected. It was a nice moment of normalcy in a world that seems strange.

Also, we had corned beef and cabbage for dinner. I happen to love corned beef. So good. And I had rice for afternoon snack. Now all I need is to figure out desert, lol.


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Getting Meds

I am currently waiting for my pajamas to get out of the dryer. I like clean warm pajamas. Laundry had to happen.

I went to Metrocare for my prescriber appointment today. It was rather surreal.

First of all I was late. I did call and let them know I was behind, but I had to leave a message. Not efficient, I’m thinking, but what do I know?

I stood in line and the lady at the desk seemed surprised to see me. “Didn’t you get a phone call?” she asked me. It turned out that someone should have called me to say that they were not keeping appointments for the next 30 days. My appointment had been cancelled.

There’s only one problem: I was out of one of my meds.

I take a pretty standard bipolar cocktail of an anti-depressant, a mood stabilizer, and an atypical anti-psychotic. To my knowledge, I’ve never been fully psychotic but it’s preventative. I had run out of the anti-psychotic.

I told the lady, and she said she’d email the prescriber but it would take about an hour for him to respond. I said I’d wait, and sat down in the waiting room.

Domino’s delivered a pizza while I was waiting. It was such a normal thing that it seems not to belong in the world any more.

Then a lady came out and said she had to clear the waiting room. She gave sticky notes to everybody who was a hospital discharge or corrections release. The rest of us were ousted. I was told it was okay to wait in my car, I just couldn’t be in the lobby. So I went to my car. Considering that I had been there the other day and had been told I was a walk-in, only to reach the end of the day without seeing anyone, I had even less faith in the system working if I was out of sight.

After a while, my phone rang. It was Metrocare, following up on my phone call from earlier. He wanted to make sure I’d made it. Apparently he didn’t know my appointment was cancelled. It gave me the idea to call the pharmacy and see if my prescriptions were ready. They weren’t, but at least they’d been received. I tried to play on my phone but actually ended up napping, at least until the rap truck drove up. I don’t care what kind of music people listen to, but I do care that I could hear it clearly through the walls of the car. Since I was awake, I checked my phone and my meds were ready.

I went inside to pick them up. I don’t know why I’m not in the system for free care since I have no insurance and no income. I needed $20 for all three, but I particularly needed the anti-psychotic. I tried to pay, but I only had $15 in my account. I took what I could afford and left the anti-depressant. Embarrassing, and frustrating.

I went to my daughter’s place. Her boyfriend was there and one of her roommates was home, but mostly there was a herd of cats. A clowder of cats, I believe is the collective noun. There is Ryder with her 5 kittens, Angel who belongs to one of the roommates, Persephone and Perseus who belong to the other roommate, and pregnant Pumpkin who belongs to the boyfriend.

Now the boyfriend doesn’t live there officially but. But there is a closet full of his clothes. But he’s been there for a week. But his cat will be happier having her kittens there than at his house. Hmm. I see a change in the future.

I had coffee, daughter had wine, boyfriend played a video game. Skyrim, I believe. Roommate came in while I was talking about what happened at Metrocare.

“Do you need $5 for your mental health?” she demanded. Then she went in the other room and came back with a $20 that she gave me.

“You are a goddess!” my daughter said.

Then the roommate told us about an opportunity for waitstaff in Deep Ellum to pick up produce that was going to waste now that restaurants are pretty much shut down. She was working, but it seemed like a good deal. I offered to drive someone to pick up the produce, if someone else could do that. Turns out they can, so tomorrow I will pick up my daughter, go to Metrocare to pick up my remaining meds, and we will go get the food. Then they will share the food with me, they have already decided.

So things are weird, but we are all pulling together. The kids are helping me and I am helping them. My new job will put me within 2 miles of them, so I’m hoping to be even more help. They’re good kids.

Seems like the dryer is done. Time for a shower and clean jammies, then bed.


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Online Mentoring

I belong to a group on Facebook that is run by an author named SARK. Every couple of weeks she does a live online mentoring session and this evening was one of those days.

One of the exercises was to listen to 10 statements and decide which ones made your heart race, in either the scared way or the excited way.

I picked these statements:

  • See with fresh eyes
  • Invest in yourself
  • Give yourself fully

As a writer, and I am calling myself a writer these days, I always want to see things in a way they haven’t been seen before. I am looking for new words and new ways to describe things. There aren’t really any new things in the world, well a few but not in the area I am writing, so it’s all about saying things in new ways. The best way to do that is to see with fresh eyes.

Oh, investing in myself! This is so hard to do! It feels selfish to spend time and energy on me. But I do things like support groups for myself, so it’s about how I frame it I guess. Support groups are part of my wellness plan. Wellness is important to me for balancing my life. But self care is part of wellness, and self care is more than bubble baths and mani/pedi spa days.

As a creative, investing in myself is also investing in my creativity. It’s going to museums and reading good books. It’s journaling over coffee and meeting with artistic friends. It’s working through my resistance and doing the creative work I feel called to do. Pampering is fine, but part of investing is doing the work, making the emotional investment in the project.

Giving myself fully is a little scary. It involves being whole-hearted in my chosen involvements. So much safer to just dip a toe in and when things tank there is no real commitment. But so much richer to risk full involvement. And if I’m looking for fresh eyes, being all in is a good way to find them.

It’s all about building a life that is more alive, I think. It feels like it’s different aspects of the same trait. Enthusiasm, maybe? What my cousin calls eating the world. Although the world is a buffet and I would want to fill myself with different things than she does. Which is fine, perfectly acceptable.

There was also a guest speaker, Brian Andreas. Brian had a great metaphor about going to the store and buying milk. What is the thing you need to do? Buy milk. You might also get cookies or fruit, but milk is the goal. Do the thing, buy the milk. Whatever else happens, do the thing.

I’ve also been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He talks about different kinds of resistance and how some of them even look like doing important work, but it if distracts you from doing your creative work, it’s acting as resistance. So thinking of the milk metaphor, don’t worry about balancing your checkbook or putting gas in the car or what you’ll do when you run out of milk in the future. Just buy the milk. Stop worrying about self-improvement or getting the perfect work space or what if you run out of ideas. Right now, jump in, do the thing.

So I am now a writer. I am writing a book on wellness. Not that I have anything particularly new to say, but I have a unique perspective as a person living with bipolar. And if it works for me, it might help someone else out.


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Take Up Space

I found this on reddit. I don’t know who the artist is. If you know, please tell me so I can give them credit.
The artist’s name is Kat Kissick, and here is a link to the image, which is for sale:
https://www.etsy.com/katkissickart/listing/695095597/take-up-space-9×12-digital-print-of-a?utm_campaign=Share&utm_medium=social_organic&utm_source=MSMT&utm_term=so.smt&share_time=1554061508000&fbclid=IwAR15SEvkuMt83bIvgs0bg97oYTmdsyh_YKyPwap8RMrPRgJtwpdMaOUt4Hw

I found this image on Facebook and traced it to reddit, but I don’t know where it was posted originally.

This picture gives me strong emotions, both good and bad.

I am a plus-sized woman. I am actually what I would call fat. And for the most part, I’m okay with it. I know what I need to do to lose weight and I don’t do it. One day I will, but for now, not. But every now and then, I think this is not good.

Now I’m generally in favor of women taking up space. I believe part of the cult of thinness is about women being as close to invisible as possible. Standards of beauty for women become ever nearer to looking like a 9 year old with breast implants. We are infantilized and diminished.

And we buy into it. We police ourselves. I have had more women comment on my, ahem, lack of personal grooming of the lady parts, than I have men. Or as a friend of mine says, “Once you get naked with a guy, he has pretty much decided that what you got, he’s willing to work with.” Women are more, well, they put you down about it.

Taking up space is one way to equalize the playing field. Men take up space. They stand tall, they gesture large, they sit in a chair with arms and legs akimbo. They have no problem owning their space. Women, if we’re ladylike, sit with our legs together and tucked under the chair. We don’t make big gestures, we cover our mouths when we laugh. We try very hard not to take up space. If we want to be treated as equals, we need to learn to act like it.

I”m also down with the body positive aspect of this. Have a body. Have a big body. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. Be proud and carry yourself well and dress beautifully. Go skyclad. You carry the universe within you.

There is a goddess perspective in the image. Much like Venus of Willendorf, this is a good sized mother goddess. She is free and dancing and all of creation is within her. She is mother nature for the cosmos. She has literally taken space up into her body.

But taking up space. That is exactly the point at which I become uncomfortable with my size. I don’t fit comfortably in airplane seats. I love live theater and my body crowds the people around me. My size is rude. I am not a rude person, but I infringe on other folks’ personal space, and that is impolite. It makes other people uncomfortable, and that makes me uncomfortable.

Fat is a feminist issue, as Susie Orbach has observed. Body size is nobody’s business. But is there a limit? At what point am I taking up more than my fair share of space? When am I eating more than my portion of food? And how much of this is a uniquely American concern?

Size is political. What does my size say about my politics?


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Peggy McIntosh’s Invisible Knapsack

I am doing some work on internalized racism. As a white person, I benefit from a system that keeps other people downtrodden. I just never thought of things that are true for people of color (POC).

I feel weird talking about white privilege because I am not a privileged person per se. I am female, middle aged, working class to poor, divorced, no college degree, etc. I don’t see myself having a lot of opportunities so I struggle with the idea that I am privileged.

But I am.

I couldn’t have listed the ways, but a woman named Peggy McIntosh could and did. She listed 50 ways she is privileged by skin color.

Some of them seem a little silly, like being able to slap on a skin toned bandaid and having it more or less match your skin tone. Nowadays that people choose Smurf bandaids or emoji ones, blending into the skin doesn’t seem like that big a deal. But it’s like medicine assuming the male body is the standard, first aid assumes caucasian skin is the standard.

Make up is another similar situation. You’d think manufacturers just realized people come in darker skin tones. LA Girl had the darkest tones I could find in a cursory search. Most companies had a wide range of paler tones with a few mid-range browns. But I have seen some gorgeous very dark skin on ladies and they deserve to have colors that suit them as much as I do. Make up is a political issue.

I can also be assured that there will be a crayon in my skin color. Crayola used to call it Flesh but in the 60’s they renamed it Peach. In the white enclave where I grew up, I wondered why they didn’t call it skin color. But just like we learned some people have orange hair (hi, redheads), we learned that some people have brown skin. Then we played with a whole range from mahogany to sepia. We called them black people but we didn’t use actual black to color them, just like we were called white people we didn’t use actual white. Decades later Crayola would release collections of skin toned crayons for use in classrooms.

But there were other more serious benefits of whiteness in the list as well. Things like, if you feel you are not respected as a leader, you don’t have to question whether skin color has anything to do with it. I might question if it’s because I’m a woman, but I know truthfully it’s because I’m not in the habit of leading. I don’t have to think about whether it’s because I’m the wrong color.

I don’t have to teach my child about systemic racism because it impacts her physical safety. She has issues with being safe so that I’ve bought her a taser, but that has more to do with being female and naive than any other reason. I might have to teach her that young men have agendas they don’t disclose, but I don’t want to teach her that all men are jerks. Black parents pretty much do need to teach their children that all cops are jerks. Not because individual police officers are never racially sensitive, but because in a pinch, enough cops will react more strongly to a POC than to a white person. Enough to be deadly. Just watch the news. (Aside: A policeman is not your friend, he is there to enforce laws; it happens that many of our laws are unfairly slanted against people of color, drug possession laws for example; therefore a cop doing his job is enforcing racist ideals.)

One that really struck home for me is, as a white person I can expect to be able to arrange my life so that I interact almost exclusively with other white people. My first thought is, why would I do that? But truly I have done it without trying. My roommates are white. My daughter is white. I went to a gas station today, staff was white. A few of the customers were hispanic but most were white. I went to my support group, facilitator is Bengali (she has told me this), but the group was white. Called my doctor’s office, receptionist I spoke to is white. Doctor is from India but I didn’t need to speak to him personally. Went to a book store, the barista was black, one customer was Asian, but pretty much it was a bastion of whiteness. I don’t even think the books were penned by POC. The magazine section had mostly white faces, and I don’t think I saw an issue of Ebony or Jet. I think I have one black friend right now, three Asian, and one latinx. I am in a white ghetto even though Dallas is a multicultural city.

How can I expand my contact with other races and ethnicities? I don’t feel like I can just suddenly start showing up at events. How do I express interest without being a mere tourist, a consumer of culture? I went to a few powwows with a friend of mine years ago and I’d love to go again, but I am not first nations myself. I don’t feel like I can just barge in. I worry about being a weeaboo, that is, a Japanese wannabe. I love so much about their culture and it is not mine. How does that even work? I mean, I’m not French but if I followed French culture nobody would bat an eye. Someday I will go to Japan, but for now I just read and study the language. I figure if I go there, I owe them the courtesy of knowing some words. I may be bad at it, but I tried. This weekend I’ll go to North Texas Irish Festival. There probably won’t be many POC there. I’m not avoiding them but I won’t organically just run into them.

So I am working this out, one way or another. I want to be better than I am. Not that I’m bad, but there’s always room for improvement. Unpacking this knapsack is hard, but carrying the weight of it is killing me. Got to make the effort. I thought we were past a lot of racism, but the more I look around, the more I see we are not.


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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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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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The Lucky Iron Fish

This is very cool.

Low iron is a very real health problem. And it’s systemic, by which I mean it affects the entire system of the body. It’s not like a broken bone where one part doesn’t function well, it actually causes problems throughout a body.

Here in the US, doctors used to prescribe “nail tea” to people with anemia. You took a couple of iron nails, boiled them in water for several minutes, and drank it down. The water, not the nails.

Cast iron cookware is another solution, since microscopic bits of iron get mixed into anything cooked in the pan.

This is a lovely, elegant, culturally sensitive to a very real health problem.

Check out the video.

Oh, and after I posted this link in social media, I found out that a friend of mine is the admin for their main American office. I knew what she was doing, I just didn’t know for whom.

Lucky Iron Fish


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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:
http://therepresentationproject.org/demand-better-media-in-2015/

YouTube video: