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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Brunch and Mall Walking

It’s been a good day.

I went to an organic plant sale at St Andrew’s church in Dallas. It was raining mildly when I left but not horrible. By the time I got to the highway, it was practically white out conditions. Yes, a rain white out! I kept going anyway because I am fearless. Well not quite, I was only going 55 mph the whole way. South Dallas was a swamp. I hit every light red and the water was building up so fast that the storm drains looked like whirlpools in the middle of incredibly deep puddles. But I made it to the sale, and didn’t find anything to take home. I liked the cat mint, but cats apparently don’t care about it. I know it’s not the same as cat nip, but I thought maybe it had cat attracting properties. There was also an adorable little plant called red amaranth with hot pink stems and pink leaves. Turns out that sucker grows to be like 5 feet tall, and apparently might get taller, so not a good choice for me. I’m going to repot some aloes I trimmed tonight and bring one to my friend tomorrow I think. She couldn’t find anything either, but her problem is a shady porch. Most plants in Texas want full sun and she just doesn’t have it.

We then went to brunch at Cindi’s deli. I paid. I get to do that from time to time. But also, I know that soon enough I’ll be flat broke and I won’t be able to do it. It feels good to treat a friend. I had eggs and lox. The first bite was SO fishy, lol. I don’t know what I expected! I mean, it was lox, of course it’s fishy! The hash browns were perfect; the bagel, well, my only complaint was that a full bagel could use 2 packages of cream cheese, not just one. Coffee was so good. I also really like the reuben sandwich here, but I didn’t want one for brunch.

Then we went to the Galleria and walked. We circled each of the three store levels and got almost 2.5 miles out of it. I worked up a sweat so that was probably beneficial. I don’t usually care to sweat. Usually it just means I am uncomfortably hot because Texas is a hot state. We went to Old Navy and my friend bought 2 dresses and a blouse. I saw a lot of really cute stuff, but I won’t buy it. I have lost 10 lbs in the last couple of months and I’m hoping to lose more. I just refuse to buy new clothes until I don’t fit into what I already own. Unless I need something, like to replace my black jeans with the broken zipper. Or the bra that the underwire is poking through.

Now I am home, with my cat snoring next to me. She has soft little kitty snores. It took me the longest time to figure out what the sound was and my roommate didn’t hear it so I couldn’t ask her. We had pizza for dinner and there is some soup that I’ll probably have a bowl of when I’m done here.

I have posted some of the hats from the 100 Hats Project on Etsy. You can see them here. They are pretty inexpensive for a handmade item, and for now any money earned will be spent on more yarn for more hats. I saw such a good buy 2 days ago and I just couldn’t do it. So please buy a hat!

Also, don’t forget about my GoFundMe for Envisioning Wellness. Looking for something to do with your tax refund? I could stand a few more donations!


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Back to Life, Back to Reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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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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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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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.


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Ode to Coffee

Wake up and take up today’s burdens.

Perk up and work up your drive.

Groggy, brain foggy, day starting.

Not yet ready to be alive.

Motivation in a mug,

A warm hug,

A shoulder shrug,

Black and rich and steaming

Pour a curl, a swirl of cream in.

Cup to lip, a sip, caffeine trip.

Slowly eyes open.

Here’s hoping adulting goes easy today.

But in this place, a moment of grace in a vessel of clay.

Sweet respite.

Time to stand up, reach your hand up, get on with the day.