Kiss5Tigers

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


Leave a comment

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.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

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.


4 Comments

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.


Leave a comment

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.

 


Leave a comment

Haters Gonna Hate

A large number of people feel the need to motivate me.  Okay, maybe not a large number, maybe just a few people who are really persistent about it.  “You just need a kick in the ass to get you started,” they say.  You think so?  Let’s talk about that.

I live in an uncomfortable situation.  The people I am staying with do not want me there.  They have not wanted me there for a long time now.  However, I have no place to go.  So now, they are working at making my situation increasingly unpleasant, clearly so I will leave.  Leave and go where?

But besides that, what is being accomplished here, by acting like this?

Based on rental guidelines around here, I need to be making about 50% more income per month than I am right now.  Has kicking my ass caused my company to give me a raise or increase my hours?  No.  Has it changed rental guidelines?  No.  Has it lowered rents so that I could afford something?  No.

I should get a full time job.  Hmmmm.  I have been, and continue to be, looking for a full time job but lets be clear about this.  The jobs I have heard from want to pay me about 2/3 of my current hourly rate, maybe a bit more.  When I multiply that amount times 40 hours and subtract taxes and health insurance, guess what?  It’s the same dollar amount I make now.  Why would I work more hours for the same pay?  That doesn’t make sense.  I need a full time job at the same rate of pay, give or take 10%.  That would increase my income.

When did working 40 hours become the standard for judging suitable employment? I get that it’s considered full time and in theory we all want to work full time. However, it isn’t the only criterion for a good job. I mean, you can take home $400.00 a week. Would you rather work 40 hours for it, or 25? Having less time to pursue my interests without gaining income doesn’t seem like a reasonable trade. What happened to “work smarter, not harder”? Oh, that only applies to folks working 40 hours, the rest of us are slackers. (Please recognize sarcasm, it doesn’t come across in print sometimes.)

Has kicking my ass changed the available jobs?  No.  Does it change the pay on those jobs?  No.  Does it make me complete more applications?  Well, I have already applied for everything I can find that I might be remotely qualified to do, and a few things I know I’m not at all qualified for. I am limited by actual hours and location, because I am on public transportation. I can’t take a job that starts at 7:00 am or ends at midnight simply because there is no bus in my neighborhood at that time to make sure I arrive on time or get home safely.

Oh, transportation is a problem? Then buy a car! Uh-huh. So right now I have barely enough dollars to pay bills and support myself and my daughter, but I should take on greater debt? Mobility and freedom? Better jobs because I am not tied to buses and trains? Maybe. If someone wanted to sell me a working car for say $500, I’d do it in a heartbeat. “Working” for me, in Texas, would mean engine runs, it has air conditioning so I don’t arrive at work all sweaty, and hopefully a working radio. But people want $2000 even for cars they know needs a major repair (major = $400 and up) which would totally wipe out my savings which I need for the downpayment to get into an apartment.

I could maybe get a loan and buy a newer, more expensive vehicle, maybe. There’s no repair coming up but instead there’s a recurring bill for a couple of years. Plus there would be the ongoing costs of insurance and gas. I figure I’m looking at close to $400 / month for a used car, maybe more depending on payments and gas prices. Any increase in pay is going to be eaten up by increased transportation expense. Not sure that gets me ahead at all. By which I mean, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t. Makes it easier to buy groceries. $400.00 a month so I don’t have to tote cat food or laundry on the bus? Seems, well, almost frivolous.

Surely there is low income housing in my area. I’m not the only person with low income after all. Well, there is, and I don’t really qualify. I have talked to both city and county housing. City has a 2 year wait list, county is 5 years. I could move up the list if I was elderly or disabled, but I’m not. Or I could get up there if I was in a homeless shelter. Okay, let’s see:

Most local homeless shelters want you to check in by 5 in the afternoon and be out by 8 in the morning. I suppose that makes sense because it’s around regular working hours which are 8 am to 5 pm here. I work 4 pm to 8 pm, so I can’t check in at 5. Can I check in early? Some places say yes, but then you can’t leave. If you leave, you lose your place in line and there is a limited number of beds. By the time I get out of work and make it downtown, it’s close to 9:00 pm or maybe later. The shelters I’ve talked to so far are either full or locked down by then.

Besides, I have pets. And I love my pets, I don’t want to put them in a shelter or on the street. And I have this computer. I haven’t always been poor; I bought the computer when I had a job that paid more (more dollars per hour, full time hours, and I had a car back then). I already own it, I’m not gonna get rid of it just because it doesn’t fit people’s idea of what poor folks own. I also can’t leave it or my phone unattended in a shelter when I use the bathroom or take a shower. Most of us are honorable, but there’s always someone who isn’t. I hate saying that however my experience suggests it’s true.

So why didn’t I try to get help from this place sooner? I’m sorry, I’ve been struggling with this issue for 2 years now and you think I’m just now looking for help? You think this is my first round of calls to social service agencies who have nothing for me? You think I’ve been sitting on my butt for the last 2 years doing nothing because clearly the fault has to be with me personally and not with the way the system is set up or people’s perceptions of who needs help compared to who actually needs help? Not saying other people don’t need help, just saying there are more categories of people out there than fit the criteria for many agencies.

All of which is to say, I don’t need you to kick my ass. Life is already kicking my ass. I am close to the point of learned hopelessness, you know, where you stop trying because whatever you do is wrong. I could use a hug. I could use a lead to job that will actually support me. I could use a little hope and encouragement.

But by all means, feel free to continue telling me I lack motivation and I’m not trying hard enough.

Just don’t be surprised if I have no sympathy for you when the tables are turned.


Leave a comment

The Voice of “Reason”

So the question was, what is stopping you?  My friend’s sister, who may or may not be some version of psychic depending on what you believe, asked me what is stopping me from pursuing my dreams.  I had to sit with that a while and then I decided to draw it.

286

So there she is.  That’s the thing, she isn’t scary or evil or a monster.  She is the little old lady voice in the back of my head, the voice that says “Are you sure?” or “That’s not a real job” or “What if you fail?”  She’s about age, because there has been so much failure for me in the financial sense and she is worried that she won’t be able to take care of herself now that she isn’t young.  She’s afraid of being sick and alone or at least less than optimum and alone, afraid of needing someone and not having someone there to help.

It’s not like these are unreasonable concerns.  My great aunt fell at home and it was 3 days before anybody realized that none of us had heard from her during that time.  She was a busy lady so not connecting was not a sign something was wrong in and of itself.  It got me thinking about myself, though.  I was living alone, working a temp job, seeing my daughter maybe once a week if I could get away from work.  If I had fallen in the tub, not shown up at work, missed a visit, would anyone have thought to check on me?  So being alone and having something catastrophic happen is not unreasonable in my world.  If I can’t take care of myself and I can’t rely on someone else to be there, I’d better either have money or  avoid catastrophe, and it isn’t always possible to avoid catastrophe.

I think if it was unreasonable, I could ignore it or address it.  But since it’s shrouded in terms of reason and self care and minimizing risk for safety’s sake, that’s a whole ‘nother level of subtlety.

And it’s still fear at its root.  It’s fear that I have wasted resources pursuit of the impossible and now I need those resources but they aren’t available. I don’t want to end up the badly-dressed vacant-eyed old lady wandering the halls of some dirty half-lit old age home looking for a daughter who doesn’t come to visit because it’s just too damned depressing.  Finding the way to avoid that is my current goal.

If this man can overcome his issues, I can overcome mine

Leave a comment

This is Arthur. He was doing the right thing, and it basically kicked his ass. So he got his determination together and kicked life right back. I cried for him, and I’m not a weepy person. Watch to the end, and look how happy he has become!