Kiss5Tigers

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


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9 Tools for Health

I was watching a documentary called Heal on Netflix.

One of the experts said she looked at what people with chronic or fatal illnesses did to promote health, and came up with a list of 15 items. Now not everyone did all of them, but they all did 9 of them. She didn’t provide the entire list, but she did provide the 9:

  1. Radically changing your diet
  2. Taking control of your health
  3. Following your intuition
  4. Using herbs and supplements
  5. Releasing suppressed emotion
  6. Increasing positive emotions
  7. Embracing social support
  8. Deepening your spiritual connection
  9. Have a strong reason for living

So here I am, just an average person, not having a life-threatening illness. I believe I can benefit from following the same guidelines. So this is my assessment of my general health from these traits.

I am working on changing my diet. My roommate has gone keto and I have shifted to low carb in solidarity. I admit that I eat sandwiches and burgers away from home, which involve bread. But I don’t bring carbs into the house and I eat most meals here. I’ve lost about 10 lbs since starting this, which is not a lot but it’s better than gaining which has been my default for the past several years.

I can take control of my health. I can be proactive about making healthier choices, like more exercise. And I can be more outspoken with my doctor in terms of advocating for myself.

I can definitely learn to follow my intuition more. We all have that little voice that tells us when things aren’t quite right. It can also tell you when to move forward, even if you don’t think you’re ready yet. For me, intuition is that moment when the universe opens up and gives you a hint about what’s coming and what to do. I can pay more attention to that and act accordingly.

Using herbs and supplements. I’m not so good at that. I do have a multivitamin that I try to remember to take in the morning. I don’t succeed that often. I should just add it to the box with my other meds. I have used to take potassium; calcium; fish oil; vitamins B, C and E; liver powder; and cinnamon. I don’t know if I felt much different on any of them. Except the fish oil, because I have no gall bladder so it’s difficult for me to digest that kind of fat. I guess I can look into different herbal supplements and see if anything else makes a difference.

I don’t know about releasing emotion. Part of it is, I’m bipolar and letting big emotion express itself is likely to increase my symptoms. That said, I can work on letting go of negative stuck emotions even if I can’t release them to the desired degree. I don’t have to hold onto toxic emotions.

I’m pretty sure I already work to increase positive emotions. I’m equally sure that everybody on the planet does that. People don’t usually choose to stay in the negative place. People usually choose to keep doing what makes them happy. I think this is part of human nature.

Ah, social support. So necessary and so hard to find. That’s part of why I go to group so often, pure and simple support. It’s difficult to ask for support. It’s almost like dating, people are afraid of being rejected. If you ask for help, you have to be open to the possibility that the answer is no. No doesn’t feel good. It takes courage to ask for support.

I don’t really have any plans to deepen my spirituality. I’m not a religious person. I do believe in a higher power of some kind. Mostly I believe in science to explain what is going on, and the idea that everything is made of energy which we get from quantum mechanics. Matter seems to be made of waves of energy. If it’s all energy, and I am energy, then the fields can interact and I can make actual changes to myself. That sounds very airy-fairy new age, and yet . . .

I do have a strong reason for living. I am bipolar, my ex husband was bipolar, and our daughter is bipolar. About 3 years ago, my ex completed a suicide. I need my daughter to know that having this diagnosis is not a death sentence. Having this diagnosis is just a way to explain my experience of life. It does not limit me or define me, and it does not mean that I can’t handle living in this world.

So I think I’m doing pretty good on my way to health, and I still have a lot to do. What are you doing?

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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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Middle of the Night Musings

It’s quarter to 2 am and I am awake. I fell asleep on the sofa so I’ve had a nap and now I can’t get back to sleep. This is what I’m thinking about.

I checked out my unemployment account. I haven’t been paid for a month. I wonder why. So tomorrow I will have to call them. I worked one week for the government and they stopped paying me. I understand they’re not going to pay for the week I worked, but they should pay for the following weeks.

I wonder when I’ll be called back to work. I got an alert last week but it got cancelled. It was like “be prepared in case we need you, just kidding”. Well I need the money guys, don’t toy with my emotions like that!

I really need dental work. Sucks that I am not a good dental patient and I can’t really afford it anyway. The estimate was $7000. Ain’t nobody got that kind of money!

And if I had that money, I would pay what I owe my college and do some work on my car, like putting in an air conditioner.

I need to call my bank and ask them about an actual credit card. It would be good to use it and pay it off regularly. On the other hand, I could pay off my Target card and my Torrid card.

What I need to pay is the toll bill I received.

I am a little disappointed in M, the regular facilitator for the Monday afternoon DBSA group. I facilitated last week and there were about 15 people. Folks were uncomfortable. I could see the social anxiety folks getting edgy. Some new people didn’t participate, I’m not sure if it was due to shyness. I texted M and said, if there are this many people again, do you want to consider splitting the group? I meant just for the session, I’m not sure if he understood that. Anyway his response was that the group is designed to accommodate 20 people, so unless we get more than that, no reason to split it up. I think people being uncomfortable is good enough reason. He said people will adjust. It’s his group, so whatever he says, goes; but I don’t have to agree.

My Artist’s Way group is going well. I’m trying to do the exercises in the book. I struggle with some of them. Not because the content is so hard, but because they want things like a list of people who’ve been supportive of you in 5 year blocks. I don’t remember years, so 5 year blocks don’t work for me. I actually don’t remember anyone being either especially supportive or especially derogatory of my art. Usually when I show off my work, people say good things. Not amazing things, but not constructive criticism either. Of course, since I am abstract in general, I think a lot of my work confuses people.

I really need to finish that picture of K’s living room that I started.

My hair is gross. My head itches. I need to take a shower.

I think I should try sleeping again. I’m not exactly sleepy, but I have ATTA in the morning which means I should get up early.


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Facilitating

Today I had the opportunity to facilitate a DBSA support group. The regular facilitator was out of town.

It went well, I thought. Though we had many more people than usual.

Usually there are about 6 of us, today there were close to 15 people, many of them new. That is really a LOT of people. I didn’t have performance anxiety but I was concerned about the size.

Additionally, the reading today was a story from African folklore. We had 2 black ladies from the US, and a black couple from Africa. I was like, this will either be really good or really bad. And it was a mixed bag. The black ladies stayed, the African couple left. I hope they weren’t offended. I can’t help what the material is, I just facilitate.

I did notice a few people were less involved than usual. A few people passed on responding to questions, which also doesn’t usually happen. We read the lesson out loud, a few people passed on that too.

After the lesson, I asked a couple of the regulars how they felt about the size of the group. Mostly, the response was negative. Too many people. Especially for my folks with social anxiety, just too much. I want people to be comfortable. I can’t suggest the group will be that big every time, but how can we make people feel safe to share.

I think, when there are more than 10 people, we should consider breaking the group up. I could take half, and the regular facilitator could take the other half. That way, people would feel more comfortable opening up about their stuff. I have texted this idea to the regular guy, we’ll see what he says when he gets back.


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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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Procrastination

I am procrastinating, right now, even as I write this.

What I want to be doing, is working on some watercolor sketches for the focal point of some art I have made. I’m actually not sure if watercolor or acrylic would be the best medium; and if I use watercolor, whether I will apply it directly to the surface or collage another layer. Probably collage.

The point is, I mean to be working on art, not blogging. And here I am, blogging.

I have also started another set of cards for my mailing list. I’ve worked my way from the Z’s up to the C’s. There’s about a page of names, maybe 30, left to send. After this I will start replying to the cards I’ve gotten in return. It will be a lot fewer items, but it will be real letters, not the sort of generic cards I’ve been sending.

None of which is getting my art done.

In a minute dinner will be ready, another cause for procrastination. I love me some chicken wings. Nice and crispy from the oven. So good.

So now the question is, did I procrastinate or just wait until after dinner to avoid getting paint and food mixed up? I think the motivation is to procrastinate. Or is it the lack of motivation?

After food, I plan to get out my pearly watercolors and some sketch paper, and try out making loose flowers. The idea is to lay down general color, then go over them with Pigma pens to sketch outlines and details. Kind of Traci Bautista style but not really.

Dinner is ready so I will go eat now. Food is good. Then art will be good. Then writing cards will be good. Life is good.