What a Year It Has Been!

A year ago today, I had a near fatal heart attack. I survived what’s called a fluke heart attack. It wasn’t supposed to happen. It stumped the doctors. 3 stents, lots of medications, cardiac physical therapy and lots of chanting and praying Nam Myoho Renge. Today is my second birthday. My actual birthday is in a few weeks.

This year I’ve learned a lot about myself and love who I’m still growing into. I’ve gained courage and wisdom. I have learned how to unselfishly put myself first. I’ve struggled with my health for over 20 years, living with chronic pain everyday. I have a handful of health conditions. I don’t look like what I’ve been through.

However, when you feel your life slipping away from your body, you can not live as you always did. Big changes are necessary. I’m making them and living my best life and helping others to do the same.

I walk the treadmill (slowly and never letting go) with poor balance, but I do it. I ride the stationary bike and am developing leg muscles that I lost long ago. I’ve continued what I started in cardiac rehab.

I’ve been going to Zumba class. I may not look as graceful as some other participants but I try my best. I stay on the side of the room with the people who are slower, older and not as sexy in their movements. It’s Okay. We still have fun!

I’ve re-evaluated relationships, including my relationship with myself. I’ve been a people pleaser most of my life and it hasn’t benefited me. I’ve taken a hard look at my relationships and my responsibilities and realized where changes needed to be made for my own good. You cannot force what no longer fits. You can’t help others, if you don’t help yourself first.

Due to family and friends who care about and love me I’ve had some good times. They decided to share their good fortune with me. I’ve been fortunate.

To my doctors, cardiologists, nurses, cardiac physical therapists and nurse practitioner, my debt can never be repaid. I will just do all I can to help others.

The physical therapists recommended I get a rollator walker to help me walk longer distances and always have a place to sit. My vanity said no way, but I relented and I’m glad I did. I have some freedom and can now take a walk (or roll) to attend my tutoring sessions.

Tutoring adults is so rewarding. You see how much they want the knowledge and understanding most of us take for granted. One of my students had to leave the program recently. He left a card for me. He thanked me for helping him believe in himself and becoming a better man. He said he was honored to have me as his tutor. I had to hold in some tears when I read it .

This is why I fought so hard to get stronger. I have a mission to accomplish. The payoff isn’t financial. It’s changing lives, building self esteem, providing knowledge. When they understand something, I get excited. This wasn’t the path I chose for myself. It’s the road I had to ease on down.

Challenges will happen because that’s just how life works. Life is not perfect but you can be happy and appreciative despite the challenges. Chanting and studying Buddhism and attending and hosting Buddhist activities gives me the tools to be courageous, be more confident and be unafraid no matter what’s happening.

As I look forward to turning 52 in a couple of weeks, I appreciate my life so much more.  I’m mindful to take better care of myself. I pray for myself and for others.  My prayer is to win over my health and my finances and to be happy everyday.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda said, “The faith and practice of Nichiren Buddhism enables us to absolutely triumph. The Mystic Law enables us to “change poison into medicine. Advance with the great conviction that no prayer will go unanswered.”

The Universe is hearing my prayers. I have no doubt.

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Houston and Hurricane Harvey

I hope people are seeing some very important things in the horrific Houston rain and flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  8 people are dead, thousands displaced and so many rescues.
So many American people have now become refugees. I hope that those who have been opposed to helping others, now understand how refugees feel. They want to be safe and out of harm’s way with their families.
I hope we see how people are coming together to help each other in this crisis.
Why does it take crises of this proportion for us to live together unselfishly?
9/11/, Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy and now Harvey prove it.
The take-away should be, we must live up to the values we say America has, every day. Be human to everyone. Every life is important. Time and again we see that it can happen.
I saw ordinary, everyday people taking their boats to rescue people they don’t know. They risked their lives to save others that don’t look like them. Collections of food, blankets, diapers and other supplies are being shipped to Houston. The Red Cross and other charities are collecting money and providing shelter. Even a furniture store, provided shelter. 
The storm has brought people together.
It’s like family who see each other only at funerals and say we need to get together for happy occasions, but you never get together until another funeral. You feel bad, then don’t change your behavior.
Let’s get it together as a country before another massive disaster forces it.
I’m thankful that my family in Houston has wonderful friends who took them in and they are safe.
I’m praying for the rain to stop and everyone can find something to salvage from their homes and their homes will be habitable. I can’t imagine how Katrina survivors who were refugees, settled in Houston, and having the same experience again, are feeling.  
Life in Houston will never be the same. Nam Myoho Renge Kyo is being chanted for their safety and comfort. For months we’ve had hateful rhetoric, a lot of it coming from the White House’s occupant and his minions. We’ve seen the heartlessness and worst of America, in Charlottesville.
The best part of America is starting to show. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said many things 54 years ago yesterday, in his  For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.”
“So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Today, let’s be inclusive, adding women, immigrants, and every ethnic group that makes up the United States to those coming to cash our check as Dr. King stated.
Can we finally and truly live up to our Constitution? It takes courage, but we are capable. Let’s clean our country  up from the top and keep on going.  I try hard to remain hopeful.
It doesn’t have to be a dream.

Success Requires a Jump!

Recently, I did a writing assignment along with the adult students I tutor. We were talking about the goals they have set for themselves.  I gave them a quote with a photo of someone skydiving and ten minutes to write about it. The quote was, ” Success requires a jump! No jump! No reward! “ I’ve added a bit more to the original piece. Here is my take on what that quote means to me.

In life we all have to jump. Jumping is taking a leap when we don’t know where the landing is. In life we must take chances, even if we are afraid. Courage builds as we fight self doubt and self defeating thoughts.

I’ve taken many jumps in life. I’ve taken exams, taken classes and pursued work that scared me. I was especially fearful, yet driven when people told me I couldn’t do it. Never tell me I can’t do something,  I will then do everything I can to prove you wrong. I’m a hard headed Capricorn. I am ambition driven.

I jumped after a heart attack and gathered the strength to go to cardiac therapy on days I couldn’t gather much energy. Even, the therapists said I was in bad shape and looked exhausted for months. I’m getting stronger and getting my energy back. My goal was healing and returning as a tutor. I knew the students needed me and I knew I could help them.

I jump towards my goals. I jump to find balance in my life. I jump everyday when I get out of bed. I jump to get where I want to go, every moment of the day.  No one succeeds standing still.

You must jump to get all the things in life that you desire. You can’t listen to others voices. You must hear your own. Winning is my goal.

I have to pursue goals with the heart of a lion, who defeats all other animals in the jungle.  I have to fight to be successful.  I have to try and take risks.  I can not be successful. without jumping every chance I get.

I may win or I may get disappointed.  Disappointments happen but they prepare me for something better.  I won’t limit myself, even when I’m afraid.

 

I will get back to writing and musing in this blog more often. It’s really been a long time.

Jump

Writing Again

I’ve been MIA, but, I had my reasons. First I had a flu bug, which just put me out of commission. Flu Shots are not for me. I’m not sure what’s in that concoction. The side effects may be worse for me, cuz, frankly  I’m sensitive to medications.

Two days a week of physical therapy, is kicking my butt. I recently started an Adult Literacy Training Program that I am so excited to be a part of. I’ll be helping adults to improve their literacy skills. One part of the training is writing. I had to select an object and write about it for 30 minutes. I’ll share what I wrote.

Walking stick or cane, I have used one at different times in my life. Once, I broke my ankle and one was given to me after months of using, its cousin, Crutches. I graduated from you to gradually walking on my own again.

A few years later due to illness, pain and fatigue, I had to fight vanity and accepted the fact that I needed a cane. I had the belief that canes were for the elderly or the disabled. I  later accepted that I did have invisible disabilities. Canes were for those who needed the assistance. There’s nothing wrong with that, however, I didn’t think that was me. But, I had to accept that it was. As time passed, I fought my hidden feelings and opinions and challenged my life as a 47-year-old cane user.

Soon, I couldn’t go anywhere without you. You became my personal companion. We’ve become Inseparable, like that Natalie Cole song.  As people drifted away from me and didn’t include me in their life’s events, you were there. Perhaps, seeing you disturbed them, but we are a package deal.

I was in physical pain, but still I felt the stares from strangers. Kids seem to be drawn to you, perhaps it’s your bright and bold color. My last one was purple and you are cobalt blue. My thought was, if I have to use a cane, it might as well be fashionable. When kids, under 8, pass me, they look in awe at the metal in my hand. Their eyes follow my steps. They are walking forward while their heads turn backwards. It always makes me laugh and lift my spirits.

I like that I can fold you and not always have you visible.You were supposed to be a quick fix to help support my body, but you’ve been with me for three years and hanging on. I want a divorce from you, yet scared to quit you. My balance is bad, I sway to the side unsteadily, and I’ve fallen. Yes, I’ve fallen and couldn’t get up. I’ve violently met the sidewalk with my whole body, and it wasn’t pretty. Since you entered my life, I have managed to stay standing upwards.

I’m only 50 and have a lot of years ahead of me. I just can’t stay with you. I feel no one sees me. They see you first. I’m standing still and know their minds are wondering why I need you. I get asked by people who like your three-point legs and color, “Where did you get your cane?” “My mother needs one like that.”(Bummer)  😦

I get asked, “Did you hurt your leg?”

I never have any easy answer. Replying, I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue along with lower back and balance issues, just doesn’t roll off the tongue easily. I don’t think they understand that anyway. At times I say its my back, other times, I say balance problems.

You have helped me get out of chairs, in and out of cars without tripping over myself.  On the days I’m so fatigued or my back is aching so badly, that I can barely get up;  I appreciate you.

Very recently I started physical therapy and the goal is to “get me off that cane.” I hope you are not too upset.

She has me doing balance exercises and wall squats to strengthen my core. Painful, but I’m pushing through. Significant change will take time. I can’t stand for long periods, but I’m doing better. I couldn’t climb a flight of stairs at all. I’ve graduated very slowly, climbing up, stopping to rest, often, with you helping me all the way. I’m gasping and panting when I get to the top. They say I’m getting stronger and could be getting rid of you by the end of the summer.

We are walking farther now. I’m planning to walk around the track at the park with your help. Gradually our contact will become less and less. I’m happy and I’m honestly scared. I want you gone, but afraid of swaying my way upstairs or falling and hitting the concrete. It hurts like hell during and after that type of event. It puts holes in the knees of my pants. My budget can’t afford new clothes.

My pride gets taken away and my self-assurance gone. How will I be able to handle our breakup?  Is this what’s called a dysfunctional relationship?  I think so. We have done so much together. I don’t know if I can get along completely on my own.

I’d like to walk and not get weary. My new orthotics are helping.  I’d like to do things on two feet instead of three. I’d like the questions to stop and for people to ignore the obvious. I have trouble walking on my own. Looking at me, minus the cane, I look like nothing is wrong with me. Looks can be deceiving.

I am strong in other ways. I know there are people who need a cane and refuse to use one. That used to be me. Maybe they can adopt you  when I put you away for the last time. For me, it will show my progress. There will be joy and jubilation, tempered with some trepidation.

However,  I am a survivor and I’ve been through a lot. This is another obstacle to persevere through and overcome.  My cane and I will be together for just a bit longer….just a little bit…