Kiss5Tigers

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


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Rainy Day Like Night

It’s raining here today.

Not a gentle spring rain, but a thunder-ridden deluge, including hail. The sky is so black it’s like night out.

I am drinking coffee, grateful to be indoors.

I had plans to go to an art market in Deep Ellum today with my daughter, but she told me yesterday she was sick so I just cancelled it. Now with the weather, I’m glad I did. We’d have been miserable.

My daughter is training her kitten, Rider Die, to be an emotional support animal. She is harness training Rider and takes her out to crowded events to get her used to being around people. So far Rider is doing great, or so I hear. This weekend would have been my first outing with them together.

I’m not sure about the whole emotional support animal thing. I believe there are people who need emotional support but I also know several people who simply use it as a way to keep their pets with them 24/7. At least one of them has forgotten that I remember when her dog wasn’t an emotional support animal, and she used to fret about people who had them. So my girl is working on her cat being one, and I’m not sure if it’s because she really needs one or if it’s to keep her kitten with her all the time.

It’s a coffee and nap kind of day. I’m hungry but I don’t know what I want to eat. Probably tuna. There’s something about rainy days that makes me want tuna fish sandwiches. Or grilled cheese. I should make a sandwich. If I’m thinking about food, it’s probably time to eat.

Charli the kitty just came and napped on my chest. It was comforting. I napped with her. I didn’t need a nap, but there you go, it’s a sleepy day.

I’m nervous about making a sandwich. I mean. my rent includes dinner but it doesn’t really include other meals. No, wait, most days I do make breakfast, often a fried egg sandwich. (I like sandwiches, can you tell?) I didn’t have much for breakfast today, just some cottage cheese and a piece of toast. No wonder I’m hungry now.

I just don’t want to eat more than my fair share, and with no income right now, I can’t buy extra food to supplement if I’m hungry. I can’t hit a drive through. I haven’t even gone to QT for a cold drink. I feel very limited in options.

Well, I need to eat. There’s some cold cuts in the fridge so I’m going to make a chicken sandwich. With provolone. I wonder if there’s a pickle. Then, probably another nap.

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Vision Boards and Banks

I did the vision board presentation again today, and it went well. I’m pretty pleased with it in general. I need to figure out a way to bring some music into it. I don’t listen to anything on my phone and I don’t have a bluetooth speaker so my options are a little limited.

One of the guys finished his but didn’t want to talk about it. I talked about mine, a couple of the ladies talked about theirs. It’s good, I think, to look at what you end up with and think about how it reflects your life.

Tomorrow and Thursday I am facilitating some other groups. Then next week we do vision boards 2 more times. It’s a good thing. I’m glad I did it.

But to balance out the good, I got an email from my bank regarding an overdraft.

How did that even happen? I don’t believe I have overdraft turned on. If I’d known I had a little leeway, I’d’ve spent $20 on Care.com to be able to contact clients.

Now I know, if I’d gone to the grocery store, the card would have been declined, so I don’t know why they paid what they did. I zero’d out the account for a reason. I would think that was obvious.

Additionally, they just send me a new bank card because my old one got compromised. It has a new number which I have not given out. Another reason those charges should not have gone through.

So I will call the bank tomorrow and see what’s up. Hopefully we can get it together and I won’t owe the whole $200. Because I should get unemployment next month, but it will only be for one week because of that thing where they hold a week back. I don’t want it all going for an overdraft that never should have happened.


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Dead Phone

My daughter managed to kill another phone.

This is a problem because now there is no way to get in touch with her and she is going through a rough time. I worry. I worry a lot.

In the meantime, I had a bit weirdness. I was doing laundry and I opened the washer, and there was a white plastic rectangle on top of the wet clothes. It was a driver’s license. It belonged to my daughter’s ex. So I tried to reach my daughter, which like I said, is difficult right now. I ended up texting her ex. We met up at the 7-Eleven near Elm and Good-Latimer. She called me “mom”. I know she thinks I am a great mom because her own mom is, well, less than accepting. She told me she is going back to school to get her diploma. I’m proud of her for that, but she really hurt my daughter. My daughter could deal with the break up, but she hasn’t seen her in days. I think that’s so true for my daughter, that it’s not about the sex but the emotional connection. I feel that she is so alone right now. See? Mom brain. It keeps coming back to my daughter.

Finances are crap. I have to tell K that I can’t go to Alaska with her. I really wanted to go. I never take a vacation for myself and this would have been the thing. But I own less than $100 so I just have to suck it up. Plus K will basically remember this every time it comes up about taking a trip together. Assuming it comes up again. But I will babysit Archie the cat while she is gone, as good as a vacation for me. Well, almost.

I applied for food stamps today. I don’t know what kind of documentation they’ll want. I really have none. How do you prove a negative? I can’t prove I have no income, nobody documents that. In Texas, as a single adult, there is a lifetime limit on what you can get in food stamps as well. So I am out of unemployment money until June, and I don’t know how long it will be if I even qualify for food stamps.

On Saturday I really need to go down to the local food bank. I may not be able to bring money home but I can sure bring food. Us unemployed people can get food almost anywhere.

Someone, one of the animals, tried to tangle my yarn up. I left a half-crocheted hat and its ball of yarn on the back of the sofa. I got up in the morning and it was all over the floor. At least the hat was intact. The yarn had to be untangled and rewound. I assumed the culprit was Charli the kitty because she has a long history with yarn. But while I was working, Jack the dog kept grabbing mouthfuls of yarn and pulling it to the floor. I think Charli knocked it off the back of the sofa and Jack pulled it apart. Good teamwork. Sort of.

Well, back to the job hunt. Maybe I can find something I’m qualified to do.


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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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Hoarding Taskforce

I went to my Recovery International meeting this morning and got invited to stay for the Hoarding Taskforce meeting. So I stayed.

It’s a community meeting with everyone touched by hoarding. So it included EMT’s and other emergency personnel, code enforcement, public health, adult protective services, animal control, and of course individuals who deal with hoarding disorder. I was surprised that a crime scene cleaner was there, because they also do clutter clearing, as well as several people who identified as organizers, which I understand to mean folks who organize someone’s stuff.

I found out about a workbook called Buried in Treasures. I understand you should get the 2nd edition because it includes new diagnosing guidelines from DSM 5. (DSM 5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5, is the handbook for diagnosing mental health issues in the US. I don’t know if the ICD or International Classification of Diseases manual put out by the World Health Organization, known as WHO, includes mental health diagnoses.) If you are interested in the topic, you want the most up to date information. One of the host organizations offered free copies of the book to the group, so I signed up for it.

The presentation was about long term care and hoarding. The idea is, people usually enter the system for other mental health reasons but the hoarding gets included along the way.

So, using me for an example, though I don’t claim to be a hoarder. I am bipolar. When I am manic, I shop and I am disorganized. When I am depressed, I don’t clean. That leaves a very small window for dealing with my accumulated possessions, which I often find overwhelming. I could easily enter the system by being bipolar. I could have needs that I can’t meet myself, that can be supported by community agencies. In dealing with the shopping and disorganization, I would also have to face any hoarding tendencies. Though in reality I may fall into the category, based on guidelines in the DSM. But I would need to examine that more. So I might get long term care as a bipolar person, and it might include a certain amount of housekeeping since I am apparently bad at it. And in dealing with the housekeeping issues, we would have to deal with hoarding.

Now there was one very vocal lady there, who pretty much insisted that non-hoarders don’t understand. She is probably correct. She wanted speakers who were certified for working with hoarders, for example, not simply people who had experience with hoarding. She also endorsed the book, which the hoarding support group is working through. She passed around her copy, a hard-used book with underlines and highlights. I know because I flipped through it, looking for a section she hadn’t used that I could look at without invading her privacy. I couldn’t find one.

So now I have a new area of mental health to explore.


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Well World

I had brunch with my friend R today. We went to a place called Henk’s which is behind the Half Price Books flagship store. HPB was having a tent sale that looked amazing but I hardly need more books. I have no place to put them! Henk’s is a German diner. I had the Polish breakfast, which is pretty much eggs and fried potatoes with Polish sausage. It was good, especially the potato, which I miss terribly while I am low carb. (I can’t in good conscience call myself keto.) R had blintzes, which he said were like eating dessert, and a reuben.

We talked about 10,000 things, as friends do. R works in community education for mental health. He teaches Mental Health First Aid mostly to educators. Eventually the idea of a healthy society came up.

R is gay, no children. He is also an atheist. He tells this to people in his presentation because he believes it is useful in helping educators to sit with situations they might not agree with. Now my atheist friend went on to tell me an interpretation of the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan which I thought was pretty interesting. Yes that sentence is knowingly ambiguous.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it basically goes like this: A man gets mugged and beaten up on the road to Jericho. The thieves leave him for dead. Several people pass the man and ignore his plight, including people you’d expect to help him, like religious leaders. Finally the Samaritan walks by. This is someone who is looked down on for his ethnicity. He sees the man in distress, takes him to an inn, and pays the bill for the man to stay until he recovers.

Jesus asks, who is the true neighbor? And it becomes a story about how to treat other people. But like most parables, there are other interpretations. My friend R says, this is a good example of appropriate care, both care of other and care of self. The Samaritan did not take the man to his own home, and he did not allow the man’s needs to derail him from his task in Jericho. He did not try to help the man directly, instead he took him to a place where he would be cared for appropriately. He paid the bill, which apparently was not a hardship for him. So, says R, we should be willing to help out others while also taking care of ourselves.

Another friend of mine has an issue with paying school taxes since they don’t have any children. I say, pay it. One day those young people will be in charge and I want them to be basically educated and hopefully able to think for themselves. I will live in a world they shape, I am invested in what these people are like. I don’t own a home so I don’t pay property taxes which includes the school tax, but I don’t begrudge the schools money. Money makes a better school, better schools make better people. Can we do it on less money? Well we keep trying and we know what public education looks like, so I suspect we can’t.

What does a healthy society look like? I don’t claim to have the final say on that, but I do know a few things.

Yoga moms are not the face of wellness even though they are the face of wellness culture. They are what could be called “the worried well”. That is, for the most part they are doing just fine and don’t need to worry in general that they will become unwell.

Homeless people are a sign that society is unwell. How can it be that we have abandoned houses and homeless people? Seems like a no brainer, put people into homes. And yet there is all kinds of resistance to the idea. You can no doubt think of some of the reasons: who wants those people in their neighborhood, why should we give a house to someone who is too lazy to get a job, or even when do I get my free house as a contributing member of society? So now we have to look at the factors in why a person becomes homeless, because very few choose this as a life path.

Any of the isms are a sign society is not healthy. Ageism, racism, sexism and others are rooted in fear; fear that somehow there are only so many resources around and if someone gets a piece of the pie, they are taking it away from me. It’s easier to scapegoat someone if you can make them a “them”, that is, not one of us. A healthy society knows we are stronger if we share the resources rather than hoarding them.

It was a good lunch, and a good conversation. I like my friends, they are good and interesting people.


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Making Decisions

Oh, there is such a difference between what is my vocation and what is my avocation.

Or to put it another way, between how I make money and what my heart longs to do.

I love my job. I enjoy helping people. I’ve had such a good experience so far, made friends, traveled. I get paid pretty well when I’m working. I would be very happy to do this job for a long time.

When I’m not working, I attend support groups. Because I am doing well, I often get to facilitate. I enjoy facilitating. And I think I’m pretty good at it.

Thing is, with my job, I can’t commit. My job calls me away for months at a time, which is not conducive to mental health work. So much mental health work is about relationship and I would have almost no notice to put the relationships on hold. Not good for the other person.

Today I spoke to Nikita. She is the group coordinator at the facility where my support groups meet. I work with her in a lot of ways. I have suggested support groups that we need (eg. one for senior citizens since we get so many over 70’s that need a different kind of support). I am helping her set up a meeting for facilitators. I feel like we are peers more than I am a consumer.

Nikita told me that Texas passed legislation where peer support specialists can bill Medicaid for their services. That would mean, I could maybe support myself as a peer specialist. And I would like to do that very much.

Of course I would have to be certified. There are required classes and a certification board. And it costs money, which I only have because of the job.

So now I have to make a decision. I can start the process, but eventually I’ll have to either commit to the government job or commit to being a peer specialist. At the moment I can’t do both. Though at the moment, I am not working so I might as well pursue it. At least as far as I can.