Kiss5Tigers

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


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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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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.


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Brrr. Well, For 4 Days, Because This Is Texas

It’s cold. It’s so cold, the dogs are sleeping on my roommates. It’s so cold, both cats are sleeping next to me, under a blanket. It’s the “under a blanket” part that is unusual.

It’s so cold that I have a blanket over my lap because my feet are chilly. It’s just plain cold.

It was colder today in Texas than it was in Connecticut. Probably the only place colder is Alaska, where several of my friends are working.

Ah, I wish I was working. But that’s another matter. That’s just because I live better when I’m working. Of course, last time was such a good experience, I was quite spoiled. I would do that again, it was that good.

The regular facilitator for DBSA Monday afternoons is gone for the next 2 weeks so I’m taking over for him. I actually like facilitating. I want to get the peer support specialist certification so I can lead more groups. That would be wonderful. Then I can figure out how to get paid for doing it.

I am really pushing for a geriatric group, though we should no doubt call it something else. We’ve had several people who were over 70 come through, and they are dealing with end of life issues that could be addressed separately from the rest of us. I mean, younger people (and I am younger in this situation) don’t really understand in a visceral way what it feels like to deal with your body slowing down or facing mortality. Well some do, some are facing those issues, but not most of us. It’s not that older folks don’t belong in a general depression group, it’s more that they have issues a typical group is not prepared to understand. And being understood is the biggest thing any of us get out of peer-led groups. I know this because we all say it.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras and I am meeting a friend for early dinner of pancakes. Yep. I am knowingly blowing my keto, but every once in a while that’s okay. Plus I’ve wanted pancakes for a while now. Fat Tuesday indeed.

I sent out a round of postcards, St Francis of Cape Fear, to a list of mailartists I found online. I have heard back from a few past mailings. I hope to hear from some real mail art / fluxus type people, not just the arty-crafty folks. I love the work the arty people do, but fluxus is more within my aesthetic and ability. I am working on developing my eye more. I need to draw, that would really help. Drawing is pretty basic to almost all art.

I am out of Lamictal. I called the pharmacy to refill it and got a message that 2 scripts were ready, I just assumed the Lamictal was one of them. I was wrong. So I called the pharmacy again and was told that there isn’t a renewal available. Now I have called the doctor’s office, but I don’t know if they got my message. I’ve left one earlier today and one after hours since I didn’t hear back from them. I’ll call them again tomorrow. Hopefully I can get back up to regular dose soon. It’s the one that helps manage my mania and I am seldom manic but I don’t want there to be any backlash from missing doses.

Looking forward to tomorrow, Recovery International in the morning, see my daughter, then pancake dinner. Should be a good day.


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Monday Monday

Back to the daily grind, such as it is.

I contacted the passport office today to see about setting up an appointment to get a passport. Turns out, since I am travelling in July, that I am not a priority so I don’t get to see someone in person. I have to apply the traditional way. So my plan for tomorrow is to go to Walgreens to get the photo and to the post office to get the application form. Then I will submit everything and see how long it takes. Book and card, please.

I ordered some assemblage pieces today. I have started a new book called Mixed Media Paint Box which has about 50 exercises in it. My original plan was to buy the supplies for this week’s exploration but I don’t need to acquire anything so instead I bought other supplies. The one I’m most excited about is a flaming heart shrine which should be about the size of my hand. Flaming heart / sacred heart imagery has become very important to me.

I went to my DBSA support group today. I met someone else who is a SARK fan so that was fun. I like the feeling of connecting with a new person. I used the phrase “airy fairy” to describe some of my religious leanings and it caught on in the group. It got used several times. I also found out I am not the only person who watches Ancient Aliens. I know, I know, but it’s still interesting to me.

I got 3 more magazines today. I really need to get on with my reading. But then I really need to get on with making art too. I keep waiting for inspiration to strike but I think I just need to start playing with the supplies.

Cats have been affectionate lately. Striped Charli has napped with me more than once. She’s getting to be an old lady and napping is a huge activity for her. Momo, who is all black, has been looking for love. He usually isn’t like that, but he’s begun meowing to me for treatsies and climbing up on the sofa for pets. I love his little voice! I love Charli’s voice too but she is so often yelling at me, lol.

Roommate L is falling asleep on the sofa next to me, she should probably really go to bed. But wrestling is on so she won’t until the end of the show. Both my roommates really like wrestling and I totally don’t get it. I guess I don’t have to.

Swiss cheese is good. I prefer cheddar. This comes up because we are going keto as a household so cheese is suddenly an issue. I like stinky cheeses but of course the rest of the house doesn’t, lol. I miss rice and potatoes. I’ll get used to this new way of eating. Except at breakfast. I want cereal but it’s on the no-no list.

Speaking of bed, I should go to bed myself. I have group at 10 tomorrow so I need to be up by 9 at the latest. Up and ready to go, not simply eyes open. Why are mornings so hard? Probably because nights are so easy.


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What I’ve Been Doing

I was sitting here drinking the coffee that my roommate L has made for me and I realized that you don’t know what I actually do with my time while I’m demobilized.  I’ve done a fair amount of complaining about things and I’ve certainly shared my (mis)adventures, but really life is pretty good and I want to share some of that.

I sleep most days until 9 or 10 in the morning.  I usually wake up with my cats cuddled up to me, which makes me happy.  If you have pets, you understand this.  Or children, I suppose, though as a mother I dislike comparing pets and children.

I get up and check facebook and email and other online things I’m working on.  I take my morning meds and eat some peanut butter toast.  I like the way the hot toast melts the peanut butter.  Usually by then L is up so there is coffee.  Now you may ask why I don’t make my own coffee since I certainly know how.  The truth is, we use a French press and the thing is just a pain to clean.  I am lazy.  That’s my big secret.  If L makes the coffee, she cleans it up.  Yup, that’s it, silly as it is.

Most days I go to a support group.  I use a peer run support group cluster that is available through a local mental health facility.  It’s free.  Mondays is DBSA, the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and we are working out of a book about managing life while struggling with a behavioral health concern.  Tuesday is Recovery International which has a very formal method.  It does however teach you to deal with daily life, something I don’t always do very well.  Wednesday is the PTSD group.  I don’t have PTSD but nobody is without trauma.  Thursday is a depression support group.  Friday is ATTA, which stands for Achievement Through the Arts.  It’s for artists with brain differences, so there is a mix of people with issues ranging from schizophrenia to injury.  Most of these groups meet for 2 hours, so that gives me a whole lotta free time.

I have been writing letters.  I have an extensive mailing list that I am trying to send everybody something and see who writes back.  Then I’ll keep up with the respondents.  I like getting mail and to get mail, one must send mail.

I also have been working on the 100 Hats project.  I want to sell them but I suspect most of them will wind up donated.  And that’s fine, for me the joy is in the making.  Speaking of making, I am working on some art pieces as well.  One of them is based on my friend K’s living room.

I stay up with my roommates until around 1 in the morning, then I lay in bed on the phone until 2 then I sleep.  So 10 am is really 8 hours of sleep, which is good for me.

I do see friends and go out to eat and run errands.  It makes for a pretty full life, but I would like to be deployed again.  Not that I wish for bad things to happen, but when a disaster hits, I am ready.


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Don’t Get Cocky

The Universe has a way of evening things out.

Today, I got a call from my support group facilitator.  He is also a peer.  He’d had an active weekend and just didn’t have the spoons to lead this week, so he asked if I would.  Of course I said yes.  I want to be helpful but also I like facilitating.

I went in early and set up.  J and B arrived.  Then 2 more B’s, E and M.  It was a full house.  I started the group at 5 after, just in case anyone arrived late.  I started off by reviewing the rules, which the group mostly stated to me.  I think the facilitator would be pleased to know that.

We did two pages of exercises from the workbook we are using, and the rest of the time we just talked.  Now the usual facilitator is very book oriented.  I am more relationship oriented.  I was glad to see people reach out to each other and provide feedback.

M brought up a good question.  A doctor can, for example, prescribe a particular kind of mattress if someone needs it.  Most of us have doctors who want us to attend these meetings.  There is a cost to the book.  Only $25, but for some of us that’s a lot of money.  If the doctor prescribed the class, would the cost of the book be covered by insurance?  Oh, probably not, because that’s how things work out, but if I went for physical therapy and needed equipment it would be covered.  This is psycho-therapy – at least loosely – and the book is the equipment.  I think we should try it out.

Anyway, I felt pretty good when I left.  I feel pretty good about my facilitating.  People enjoyed the meeting and I think they got something out of it.

I was driving home, minding my own business, when the Universe decided to make sure I didn’t get too cocky.  Suddenly my engine didn’t sound right.  I couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I looked down at the dashboard and saw that the temperature was redlined.  I pulled over and shut off the engine.

I pay for good insurance, so I called my roadside assistance and they sent someone out to tow me home.  I waited about an hour in 100 degree heat for a 10 minute tow.  So be it.  It was covered.  I checked fluids and oil was low, so I bought some oil that I’ve added.  Now it’s too dark out for me to be able to check the level again so it will have to wait for the morning.

I hope the low oil is the whole problem.  If not, I don’t know how I’ll pay for it.  I mean, I have 6 hours of training to do in the next week or so, so that’s a few dollars.  There is always unemployment.  I just need to drive the car around the block or something and see if the temperature shoots up again.

I’m just glad I had The Artist’s Way with me  while I was waiting.  It’s a good read.  More about that later.