Doing My Work

I have been MIA on the blogosphere, but as Iyanla says, “I’ve been doing my work.”

I have been working hard to get physically stronger. I’ve been attending cardiac physical therapy sessions for a few months now, in an effort to build strength and endurance. When you have already have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, it becomes more difficult to maintain stamina.

Now, add to that mix, a heart attack. The exhaustion is almost unbearable some days. My therapy sessions are still going on because some days I couldn’t get it together to attend. My therapists tell me I am making progress. Slow and steady wins the race. I will win!

I’m learning how to pace myself, so the fatigue doesn’t knock me out for days at a time.  It’s not an easy task.

I am improving on the plant based diet I had already begun. Let me tell you, reducing cheese is HARD  for me to do. I’ve been told the serving size should be the length of a fingertip. Ugggh! Really??

My recommended diet is eating more fruits and vegetables, beans, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, whole grains, fish and lean meats. I drink tons of water. Eliminating or having less salt, sugar and processed food was something I had already started doing. Over time, it’s getting easier.  I’ve lost a few pounds and really hoping to shed more.

I’ve cut my locs which I’m still getting used to.

I loved my locs but were not as healthy as they should have been.  I’m giving my hair plenty of TLC to get it in great shape. My  5 year old locs and I went through alot together.

I suffered severe pain and stress and lost my job. I went on disability and faced financial difficulties. I coped with anger about all the aforementioned. I sought out a therapist to deal with depression (I’m great now, no more depression or medication but I still see the therapist, Everyone could use a neutral party to talk to.)

Then I had a heart attack and had to ingest lots of medications with side effects. The energy around me needed to be different. I will re grow them healthier and stronger than before.

I’m working on getting out more. My cousin and I have had lunch a few times and it’s been good. It’s nice to have conversations and laughter with people in my age group. I have family that call me all the time to check on me , give support and update me on their lives. It means so much.  I hope to see friends who have stood by me, checked on me regularly ,very soon. They think about me as a person, not a “sick person”.

I am working on not letting the radical changes in our country send me into a tail spin. The disregard for others is hard to comprehend as is the stupidity. I’m a news junkie but I now limit myself to just a few hours a week of television news.  I get ticked off and that’s no good.

I read The NY Times and Washington Post online. It’s real news. I can discern fake news. and alternative facts. I am a Librarian, Fact Detective.

I’m still cant comprehend Prince is gone and it’s been a year.  We still have the music to soothe our broken hearts. purpleprince

I’m catching up on television watching Timeless, a historical time travel show on NBC. I’m  hoping it’s renewed for season 2. Please watch it OnDemand, it’s so good! William Shatner and the Smithsonian Museum love it too.

I’ve also been watching Underground, Greenleaf and Feud. I like old Hollywood movies so watching Feud, a story about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as they  filmed, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. It was a guilty pleasure.  On Netflix, I binge watched The Get Down and missed it when it was over. Season 2 please?

I’ve been working on my life.

I’ve been on a quest for happiness and positive change for quite a while.

13 years ago today, with just some of my family members and a family friend present, I began my Buddhist practice by receiving my Gohonzon. A true renewal began in my life. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo has been a lifesaver.

I cannot begin to explain all the benefits I have received and the personal growth I have achieved since then. I am truly not the person I used to be. I fight for myself. It’s been my tool to be more courageous. I am more confident and outspoken. I don’t accept blame for everything. I do take personal responsibility for what I do.

It’s helped me lessen my own suffering and allows me to work towards building my individual happiness. I pray for the happiness of others as well as myself. I pray for the betterment of our world. I am able to look within and not outside of myself to become my best self. I see things, situations and people more clearly. 

When people are happy within, we are all on the road towards world peace.

I live with the never give up spirit of an SGI Nichiren Buddhist. My mentor is SGI’s third President Daisaku Ikeda who has spread this practice, with faith and courage to 12 million members in 192 countries and territories worldwide. He took faith at 19 and was told he would only live to the age of 30 due to tuberculosis. In 2018 he will be 90 years old. He encouraged the Japanese members here in the United States to widely spread our movement for peace and they surely did.

I continue to fight for victorious days, every day. No matter what assails me, I will win. My mentor is actual proof of the benefits of the practice. When I read his writings, I become encouraged, every time, no matter what he’s written.

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Nichiren writes ” When once we chant Myoho-Renge-Kyo, with just that single sound we summon forth and manifest the Buddha nature of all… living beings. This blessing is immeasurable and boundless” (Those Initially Aspiring to the Way, WND-1, 887)

 

I will keep doing my work, receive immeasurable blessings and happiness. I will encourage others to the best of my abilities. My work is not done. In fact it’s just beginning.

What About Your Friends? (Social Media vs. Real Life)

I’ve been healing most of the summer.  I had a torn meniscus that had to be surgically remedied. I was walking down a flight of stairs and POP!  Pre-surgery, walking was painful so I couldn’t do much. Post surgery walking is painful, and I’m moving around slowly on a different cane.

I’m going to physical therapy, attending some Buddhist activities and that’s about all of my activity level. This is the first summer I can remember when I didn’t get a tan line or even need to use my summer makeup colors because I’m still my natural color. (If you know me, that’s a shade of semi-pale.) As a fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue sufferer, I’m sadly used to pain and discomfort. I really thought I would have been moving around faster and farther than I am but, I know that the pre-existing health conditions are slowing it down. Migraines were also kicking my ass, so I’ve been down, but got my Botox injections so I’m better. I few of my plans have been put on hold.

I haven’t really had any fun. Hell, I think I had this year’s fun, last year!  I’ve been reading books and talking to some friends on the phone. I’ve rested or slept. I’ve spent a lot of time on both Facebook and Instagram to pass some of the time.

I came in from physical therapy today and was watching “America’s Doctor” on The  Dr Oz Show. I had a chance to visit the set and be part of a taping late last year. He had a quiz that I’d suggest others take, it’s called the  Adult Loneliness Quiz. Even the panelists admitted that they answered 4 or 5 out of 5 questions as true. Social media has truly become an important part in many people’s lives.

This blog wouldn’t exist if social media wasn’t my first outlet of expression. Looking back at some of my past FB posts, about 4 years ago, I became more reflective based upon the things that were going on in my life at the time.

I had kept a lot of my frustrations and confusion about my illness to myself, since I didn’t know how people would react and treat me. I wasn’t happy with the way people at my workplace made me feel about it, so, I kept it to myself, most of the time.  My reflections blossomed into this blog where I’m more open but sometimes I question my openness.  I have this blog, yet I find I’m not keeping up with it, the way I had planned to. When I feel the urge to write or express something weighing on my mind and heart, I use this platform that I paid WordPress a year in advance for (I’m not one for wasting dollars). Some days, I just can’t put words and sentences together to make coherent observations. Yet, everyday without fail I’m on Facebook and Instagram. Right now, I’m using my computer and have a tablet and phone next to my bed. I’m plugged into the world.

There is something about reading about the lives, loves and adventures of my connections. I feel engaged, even though I’m far from friends and family. I have friends beginning with elementary school all the way to workplaces. I’ve met some great people in Facebook groups, who have become friends that I would have never met without social media. I get to see places and people, when I’m too sick or too exhausted to move from my bed.

Over the past year I’ve deliberately disengaged myself from some “friends”. They never comment, like or even say Hi to me. Why are we friends? There’s been no engagement in maybe a year or more. They haven’t said Happy Birthday in 2 or more birthdays. These are not my friends, but acquaintances that know too much about me.

I have core groups of Facebook friends that are engaged, make me laugh and vice versa, love music and food. They are interested in current events, celebrity gossip, fashion and this upcoming election. They watch tv shows with me, with full commentary and just remain a part of my life. Not long ago, I had a problem and these connections help me make a decision. Some of these people I have never met or haven’t seen for years. They are my rays of sunshine every day.

I have “friends” that have basically forgotten I exist since we no longer work together. We enjoyed each other’s company at one time, hanging out outside of work, even had some of them in my home, but now,they celebrate their life events and I learn about it on social media. One of the Dr. Oz Quiz questions about this particular subject led me to write today.

Man, Facebook can hurt your feelings. I’ve tried to stay engaged, invited them to celebrate their promotions, reached out in death, without much response. I really meant -Let’s plan brunch, lunch, dinner, a drink. They know their schedule more than I do. Most people who have chronic illnesses know, we have to do things when the body is able. I guess I cancelled too many times, I don’t know.  I’ve said,  Come to my house and catch up, come to a small birthday celebration another friend was having for me and it’s like I never said a word. I turned 50 and no one who I had spent most of my days with for years said, Let’s do something for your special milestone. But, I see them celebrating or having their milestones in gatherings with other people I know.  Was my invite lost in the black hole of cyberspace? Nope, I was not a blip on the radar.

It’s been three years of suggesting, and I’m not trying anymore. I’m okay with that. I’m making room for what and who is to come. I’ve decided that these relationships are not true friendships and I will stay disengaged. I will stay connected through social media platforms only. I can’t continue to maintain what I see as one-sided friendships. The one constant in life is change. I needed to admit to myself that this was no longer working for me.

True friends are there for you in good and especially needed during the not so good. Life has truly been challenging for me and they really haven’t been there. No one is so busy that they can’t quick text -Hello, How are you? I have limited mobility and no family nearby. They’ve never asked if I needed a ride or have groceries. I do self blame for a lot of things, but everything cannot always be my fault. Other friends have asked and when I need them, I can truly say they will be there in whatever capacity is needed. I appreciate them. One real friend took off of work to bring me home after my recent surgery and made sure someone was with me the next morning. That’s a true friend.

I am extremely disappointed though I will not allow people to change me. I’m not angry or crying about it. Illness and hard times affect all parts of life. I’m a giving person to a fault and will remain that way. I have some true friends who pray and worship  with me and they have been real lifesavers. They’ve never given up on me and I contribute that to the humanism of SGI’s Buddhism. We pray for the happiness of ourselves and others. We do not want to see others suffer. Helping people become their best self is what makes a more peaceful society.

Social media can be both friend and foe. As in real life, it is the people who make it fun, exciting and meaningful. I’m a huge social media user, but real engagement is definitely necessary, even for a self proclaimed loner like myself, sometimes.

2016 Determinations

Last year,as I anticipated turning  50, I did things I always wanted to do. On my birthday in December, I had a lovely dinner, saw the Lion King on Broadway,

and had a slice of Junior’s cake and I enjoyed every minute of it.

So, 50 is here and this year I am determined to become my very best self, to help others to the best of my abilities, to grow in faith, and do everything I can to get healthier and stronger. I’ve started out both promising and not that great on the latter.  This month, I started with a healthier eating lifestyle. I had tried earlier last year but couldn’t keep it up. Now, I’m drinking green smoothies everyday, staying detoxed, eating clean foods, using stevia,eating healthy snacks and not starving myself. My Nutribullet is working overtime.

I’m hoping these new habits will heal my whole body. My intention was to attempt exercise, even though I pay later in pain, doing it sitting down, just to get moving. But as is the case with a person with fibromyalgia, my body had other plans.

I’d been having foot pain for about a month and walking became very difficult. I finally went to the orthopedist and was found to have severe tendonitis.  I’ll be going to physical therapy. I’m taking anti-inflammatories, wearing an ankle brace and getting orthotics. Guess I wont be doing Zumba or Rockin Abs anytime soon. Healthy eating will continue; I’ve lost about 18 pounds and lots of inches, my clothes are fitting differently since the year began. So goal number one is underway.

I have an opportunity to use my professional skills in a different capacity, as a volunteer, a few days a week. I’m looking forward to receive training as an adult literacy tutor. My services will not put cash in my wallet, but I will be richly rewarded, helping people empower their own lives. I am praying to stay healthy once I’m trained and be an active participant on the days I need to be present. Fibro, please leave me alone, I’m trying to have a life here!  Goal number two, is in process.

Through my faith and determination, I’m hoping to introduce at least one person to the Soka Gakki International the lay Buddhist organization I am a part of. This past year we were recognized a world religion.

My desire is that this person will accept and take faith. I have a leadership position taking care of members. I want to help each woman find her mission and become her best self and then have those women tell more people about our self empowering practice. From the deepest part of my heart, I sincerely want to help someone else become happy, despite the rigors of life.

Some may say that I suffer from illness, so does your faith really work? I say the only reason I continue to persevere is my faith.  I have many health issues, I have a shaky financial situation every month, but I have to cover co-payments for doctor visits and transportation. I’m choosy about appointments and going places because its costly.

I  count my dollars, to the penny to purchase healthy foods and still pay bills on time.  All my fun last year came with a price tag, I’m trying to catch up and clear the debt. I know I’ll get through this challenge victoriously, with no fear or anger.

What my faith teaches me is to never be defeated, to have the heart of a lion king (queen) SGI President Daisaku Ikeda says.”We should never decide that something is impossible and buy into the belief, “I’ll never be able to do that.” The power of the entire universe is inherent in our lives. When we firmly decide, “I can do it!” we can break through the walls of self-imposed limitations.”  “To fear hardships and resent our environment is to live with the belief that the Law [Dharma], the power to change, is outside our own life. Buddhism starts with believing in the great power of the Buddha within your own life.”

My faith says to believe in myself. I am powerful, I am confident and know I will turn around every adversity in my life, no matter what my past or present is. Through my prayer of nam myoho renge kyo, the future is bright. I will be happy as I continue to evolve. Suffering exists, but it won’t persist.

I’ll be writing this year about victories and overcoming challenges .

I truly believe these words of Daisaku Ikeda- Words have the power to save. Life is not sustained by material goods and well-being alone. People need spiritual sustenance in order to undertake fresh challenges and open new horizons. 

I’ll be using words, having thoughts and giving opinions in this blog. This first month of 2016 has already had a few bumps but I’m like a Timex watch. I take a licking and keep on ticking.

 

The Little Things….

The end of September, is always an emotional time for me. It’s the little things, like the smell of Juicy Fruit gum that floods my mind and heart with memories. I bought a pack this weekend and thoughts of my great aunt stayed in my head. She raised me from infancy, although my mother remained in my life.

When I was a child, every time she opened her purse the sweetness enveloped my nostrils. It made me feel happy. Now, it makes me a bit melancholy. She passed away 11 years ago on September 29th.  I miss her tremendously. We had a tight bond. She clung to me through her day to day illness; through the infidelity of her husband, through a life not lived to the fullest.

I was her company and I never wanted to hurt or disappoint her. Sometimes, the clinging felt like a choke-hold. I was restricted from most things kids and teenagers do. I wanted to go away to college, but was kept at home. Now,I think I understand why. The streets near do or die Bed-Stuy were mean as hell. Rap music had started in the Bronx. Crack had hit NY in epidemic proportions. Very “scary” things for a woman in her sixties, an immigrant to America, to understand and get accustomed to.

By keeping me off of the streets, in her mind, I was kept out of all kinds of trouble. If I went away to school, the control of situations (partying, etc…) would be over. I might not live up to my potential. What she didn’t realize was, I wasn’t so afraid of the Big Bad Wolf of life, but more afraid that my family wouldn’t love me if I did something wrong. Fear, for me was feeling unloved.

My mother was in my life until she passed away at age 51,  24 years ago on September 27. Every time I hear a Teddy Pendergrass song, I see my mother in my head. When I think of my first experience at Walt Disney World, I hear her voice. When I see recipes for shrimps and rice, I smell her food.

She took risks, made mistakes, because she was looking for love. She looked in all the wrong places and to the wrong people for her happiness. There have been many times, I’ve heard about her negatively, even from family members, but my heart understands her suffering. It upsets me to hear the negativity, it’s like people forget she was my mother, imperfect and flawed as she was.

She didn’t know that until she found self love, she couldn’t be happy. She craved attention,companionship and love. Her childhood was not simple. She came from a divorced family when that was frowned upon. She wasn’t very book smart, but had street smarts and could handle herself when she went out to have good times. Those weren’t taken as positive attributes by people that knew her. They failed to understand, we are not all cookie cutter images to fit into. She was flawed and there was a hole in her heart she was trying to fill.

I never lived full time with her, but she went back to school shopping with me, colored my hair, and taught me how to travel the aforementioned mean streets, including having a mean mug, or blank face so I wasn’t troubled by the unsavory. She studied and became a naturalized citizen before she left this earth.

I’m about to be 50 and she died at 51. She grabbed at life and understanding her early losses, I see why. She wanted more than what was presented in front of her. She wanted to be happy.

I’m also trying to grab at fun and enjoyment. I’m trying regardless of illness, loneliness, isolation, disappearing friends and acquaintances, disappearing invitations to celebrate life or accomplishments, lack of relationships, funky finances or whatever else life decides to throw at me .

I have my SGI-USA Buddhist practice which teaches I can be in the worse of circumstances, but circumstances shouldn’t control me. I can be happy within, no matter what happens. Big and little things, they may shake me, but will not take over my life or heart.

My mind and heart are filled with memories, things I wish I had done differently. Maturing and experiencing life will make you question how you have handled yourself.  I am who I am because of the women in my life. We don’t always appreciate the whole picture, but see things one frame at a time. Growing up I saw one frame at a time. Now, I see the full picture with total clarity.

If i had one more moment spent with either of them, I would say I’m sorry you were not as happy as you could have been. I hope I brought joy to your lives. I hope your next lives will be everything you need for joy and fulfillment.

The end of September will always be this way for me. Always thinking of the little things.

Catching Up

It’s been awhile since I wrote a new post. I just decided to do a bit of a followup on some of my posts.

My mind has been a bit cloudy of late and i have been having trouble putting my words together. Insomnia, back pain, shooting leg pains from sciatica  and a compressed nerve in my back have kept me awake at night. I also had new health diagnoses which I emotionally had to deal with. I like to make sense when I write, so I took a hiatus.


I have a few updates:  I love the new bed I received from my Uncle. It vibrates. The head and bottom raise up and down by wireless remote control. The first night I vibrated, wave massaged and raised it up and down, hundreds of times.  I’ve calmed down. I raise up and down only once or twice a day. The first week the bed was on wheels, but since I have hardwood floors, I was rolling every time the bed moved or I tried to sit on it, LOL. I called the company and they came to put on rubber casters to save me from rolling out of my bedroom door.

Last weekend, I fulfilled a life long dream as I returned to the Kings Theatre. I saw The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight in concert. She was magnificent and I was on a Gladys high for days. She sang all about love, sang all her greatest hits, including Neither One of Us. I teared up a bit when she sang, The Way We Were. She put all of her voice into every note and I detected a catch in her voice at the end. She then talked about friends who had passed away, including the late Marvin Gaye. Former Pip and Gladys’ big brother Bubba came on and had his own little portion of the show, including singing Happy by Pharell Williams. She had a hard time getting the show back from him, LOL. Gladys’ voice has always done something to me because it’s filled with richness. Diana Ross has the flash, Gladys has the voice. I was really happy that I made it to the show. I was recovering from a 2 day migraine, but Gladys was not to be missed. If I ever fall into a coma, please play Gladys at my bedside, I will surely awaken.


I was awed and amazed at the response I received from my last post about Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I spoke for many in my description of living with fibro. It is not an easy road that we travel and sometimes the road is filled with many bumps and detours.

Many people who deal with chronic illness deal with some level of depression. Let’s face it, if you were hurting all the time, your life and very being had changed overnight, depression may chase you too. There is confusion and feelings of loss of your former self. I have fought with depression and was brought to the very brink of despair.

I felt so lost, pained and alone thinking that this was all that was left for me. I couldn’t chant and felt no one understood what I was going through. I was unhappy for a myriad of reasons. I didn’t care anymore and thought that was okay. One night I took some prescribed sleeping pills, because that MF insomnia had me up for five days straight. I took a few extra pills, not caring if I woke up the next day. I wanted to rest and have peace and not pain in my body. I cried because I woke up. (Damn, I can’t even do this suicide thing right. That is what my brain told me, SMH)


After a serious crying jag for hours and talking with someone, I sought medical help and was diagnosed at the hospital with major depression and anxiety. I was put on medications to help me and also started going to therapy to finally talk about issues from my childhood to adulthood. Therapy and also learning how to use my faith to uplift me in dark moments were the greatest gifts I received from that life moment.


A few of my Buddhist sisters were the first people to visit me in the hospital. For the first time in months, I chanted. It’s a memory I will always treasure. The compassion that they showed me made me feel very loved at a time when I felt empty. At that time I had not really, reached out to people who could and would have helped me on the path. They could have shown me how to utilize my faith and still get medical help. Buddhism is reason and I wasn’t using it.

Many years later, I’m no longer taking medications, but I still go to therapy, because there are many bumps and detours on the road of life. Depression can be a long battle for most people who have experienced it. I have fought and won over the major hurdles.  I plan to live, live well and live the greatest life possible, filled with happiness no matter the circumstances that I am facing.


I reveal myself so transparently because June is Mental Health Awareness month.

We don’t know what other people are going through. They may appear fine, but be in a dark place. Your health is important, Your mental health is also important. You are not “crazy to take medication for your mental health. Don’t refuse to see a “head shrinker” because no one in your family ever did it. In order to open our lives and change it, we have to do something different from what we are accustomed to.  There are many people trained to help us get out of the darkness. If you see someone who seems down, be kind to them. Kind words without judgement is what they need. Everyone could use a helpful and compassionate ear. Compassion is sorely lacking in our world.


I chant Nam myoho renge kyo to uplift me and I read encouraging guidance and books from SGI President Daisaku  Ikeda. He reminds me, I have a mission for my life and it is to help others and show them through my life that they can be happy. We call this actual proof. I know I went through the hardest struggle so I can encourage other people, as I am now on the other side of depression.


My faith keeps me on the right path through this journey of life. No matter what, I will continue to chant everyday, morning and evening prayers to stay the course and never give up. That is what my Buddhist faith has taught me.

Selma

I went to the movies this week to see the film, Selma, directed by Golden Globe nominee, Ava DuVernay. I heard so much about the film which is about events leading up to and including the historical 1965, March from Selma, Alabama ,across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the steps of the state capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, led by Martin Luther King Jr.  This march was to demand equal voting rights for Negro citizens of Alabama . The result was The Voting Rights Act of 1965 .The film stars Golden Globe nominee, David Oyelowo as Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.

New York was one of the cities that offered free admissions to 7th, 8th and 9th grade students from the opening day, January 9 until the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday on January 19th.  I shrewdly decided to take in a matinée  on January 22, so I could be with adults seriously taking in the subject matter, I had only seen in history books.The events of the film took place 50 years ago, the year I was born.

As my ride rolled up to the theater, I saw 4 school buses parked nearby, but figured the students had a trip, nearby. I got my phone scanned with my pre-purchased ticket, bought some nachos and took the elevator (these days I’m using a cane, due to chronic back pain) up to the theater. I found a good seat near the aisle so I could stretch out my legs, leaned back and the previews began.

  In the middle of the previews. suddenly the lights came on and the busloads of students started pouring into the room. Damn!  I thought I had escaped them.
Ms. Karen loves the kids, I was a children’s librarian for many years, but these kids looked like 5th or 6th graders. I knew this historical journey would have many bumps along the way for me, with kids in attendance. It was bumpy every time their tiny bladders, hungry tummies or thirsty throats made them get up. They kept bumping me and my seat, every time they got up. They got up in little packs of 4 or 5.
  They laughed at the southern accents of the Selma citizens in the film. The kids next to me immediately recognized Oprah Winfrey as she appeared on-screen and I heard all around me, It’s Oprah! They expressed shock when Dr. King, lit a cigarette and the kids behind me said, He smoked!!??? They expressed horror during the Bloody Sunday scene on the Edmund Pettus bridge when the marchers were tear gassed and beaten. Then, their laughter stopped and there was silence all through the theater except  for the subtle sounds of crying from some of my fellow adult viewers and myself.

Dr. King is seen not just as a cultural and historical icon here, but as an ordinary man who was shouldering heavy responsibilities. He is seen as a husband and father.  He was a man who took out the trash. He is shown as a man who was not always faithful to his wife, Coretta. He is seen as a preacher who relied on the word of God to lead him. He was making decisions that affected the masses, who followed his words. He’s seen as a regular man who cracked jokes with his friends. David Oyelowo was magnificent as Dr. King, truly capturing his essence throughout the film.
 He met many times with President Lyndon Johnson who wasn’t quite ready to sign a Voting Rights  bill into law after already signing, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, that outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, required equal access to public places and employment, and enforced desegregation of schools and the right to vote.

Ava DuVernay doesn’t take the easy road to show this story. She shows the brutality that these citizens faced from the law enforcement that showed them ignorance at every turn. The hate and anger towards the men and women alike was palpable. There were moments when I sat there crying ,feeling the blows and thinking how man can be so inhuman towards one another.  The scenes after Dr. King’s call for the clergy to come to Selma and help them march made me proud and later gave me a moment where I almost couldn’t stop crying.

 I cried thinking about these brave young men and women who helped to provide the opportunities I have been afforded. They were in their late teens and twenties. Dr. King was in his thirties and died at 39.  Could I have had their courage? I cried thinking many of these heroes have gone unknown and unacknowledged. Ralph Abernathy, Rep. John Lewis, and Andrew Young are names we are familiar with. But, now, Amelia Boynton Robinson, James Bevel, Jimmie Lee Jackson, Diane Nash and Hosea Williams will be known by even more people. I cried because we have come so far and yet things seem to be reversing themselves.

 The students around me got vocal whenever Governor George Wallace appeared on screen (I can’t blame them) and I had to even hush them like a librarian during a few scenes when guns and batons were used.  I’m still a great husher and they quieted right down. They were saying, “That’s wrong and why did they do that!?” “Guns are wrong!” “There was no need for violence.” I know those kids left the film with a different outlook on this part of history.  It seemed more real to them. They remained seated, singing along to the Golden Globe winning and Oscar nominated song, Glory by John Legend and Common, when the lights came back on.

 Selma has been nominated in the Best Picture category for the Academy Awards and the song Glory has been nominated in the music category. Alas, the two driving forces of David Oyelowo and Director Ava DuVernay were not nominated. That’s how things go in Hollywood.
 David will always be remembered for this career changing role.  Ava doesn’t need the Oscar to justify her work. It was outstanding and will live on past this awards season in Hollywood. Years from now, when people want to see, feel and understand what went on during The Civil Rights Movement, Selma is where they will turn.  I thank Ava and David,  the producers, including Oprah Winfrey and executive producer, Brad Pitt for bring this film to the big screen.  My mind was opened, my eyes were cleansed. Give yourself and any young people in your life a history lesson. Go see the film Selma!

 selma-montgomery-march

 This guidance from SGI-USA President Daisaku Ikeda is fitting after seeing Selma. The book, Buddhism Day by Day- Wisdom for Modern Life,  for the date January 24 says, Buddhism teaches equality and absolute respect  for the dignity of life. Educating people to be citizens of the world begins with cultivating respect, compassion and empathy for others. I am certain that friendship and limitless trust in people can empower us to overcome socially disruptive discrimination and hatred. Open-minded exchanges on the popular level will be increasingly important in the years to come. When people engage in mind to mind dialogue, they are grateful to see ethnic and cultural differences not as obstacles but as expressions of society enriching diversity that engenders respect and a desire for further exploration.

Diary of a Migraine

I finally started my blog, and apparently the news upset my body. It felt like lighting struck the back of my head. My bed became my refuge and the place to uphold me. This past week, I was stricken with a migraine. It was one for the record books. I have been having migraines for years, but they are not traditional, because nothing about me is. These headaches can last for days.

I once had to wear sunglasses in the house for a week, because the light from the sun outside was slowly killing me. WebMD describes migraine symptoms as moderate to severe pain (often described as pounding, throbbing pain) that can affect the whole head, or can shift from one side of the head to the other.Sensitivity to light, noise or odors.Blurred vision, Nausea or vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain.Loss of appetite.Sensations of being very warm or cold.Paleness.Fatigue, Dizziness Fever(rare) Bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines(aura).

You can read about it but feeling one is very different.

I peeked at the Golden Globes Awards, Sunday night with one eye squinting at the television. Common gave a fantastic acceptance speech after winning Best Song (Glory), his collaboration with John Legend for the movie Selma.
I checked into Facebook on my phone a few times. I know if I don’t post something folks may think I am on the deceased list. I have a bit of an addiction to Facebook (Don’t judge me. I have a few simple pleasures in my life, LOL) I have made great friends with total strangers, reconnected with people and stay connected with family.
Day 2– Absolutely nothing was working and believe me, I have a lot of medication to choose from. My regular migraine medications were laughing at me. Pain was all over my face. I was not standing up too straight. I was drinking tea, trying to sleep and basically waiting out the day hoping for relief.
Day 3- My Facebook friends were sending me healing vibes and wished me a speedy recovery. I needed that kind of optimism and so appreciated them. A brother in faith sent me a home remedy and I tried it. I lay down in bed chanting quietly to myself, that this had to STOP! I felt beaten and defeated, but I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t sleep and fibromyalgia symptoms started kicking in. My back decided it wasn’t going to work anymore. Come on man! Are you serious with this?

On the final day of the beating and throbbing, I felt like Sheila E, was living inside my head playing percussion. I was living in the house without lights on. My bill should be low next month. I struggled to my prayer altar.

The SGI-USA webpage describes our Buddhist practice as this: “The practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and recite portions of both the second (Expedient Means) and the sixteenth (Life Span) chapters of the Lotus Sutra in front of the Gohonzon. This is the fundamental practice of Nichiren Buddhism, performed morning and evening.”

I read the daily guidance for January 14th. It said, Everyone at some time suffers from illness in one form or another. The power of the Mystic Law enables us to bring forth strength to overcome the pain and suffering of sickness with courage and determination. The Daishonin writes”Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle? That final sentence is engraved in my head and heart, since I need to remind myself of this often.


I sat at the altar, even though I felt dizzy and discombobulated. I knew I couldn’t give in to defeat. I live my life like this all the time, because I’ve suffered from chronic illness for at least 15 years. I hurt everywhere, somewhere, all the time, everyday. I’ve been through major depression. I no longer take medication for it, but I can’t let my mind master me. We need to pay more attention and take more seriously people who suffer with depression. (Another conversation, for another time.)

I said my prayers with the determination that I will win over this Boom, Boom, Boom in the front of my head. The following morning, I could feel the heaviness in my head lifting and I actually got some sleep. I rested, I told Facebook my status. Rejoicing was in the air! My face pain is better, but the rest of my body still hurts.

Here I am, back at the blog. It’s been a rough week and yes my computer screen is a bit dim, my carpal tunnel is bugging me, but I am here. I am fighting like Muhammad Ali. I take blows on the ropes, but I keep coming back. Migraine be gone and don’t let the door hit ya! The Lioness has roared! I am a Fighter, a Winner and I am Victorious!