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.
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.
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.
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.
I am drained. I didn’t sleep Tuesday night and I cried. I am concerned for all of us that are not the hue of he, who was elected into the highest office in The United States of America . White supremacy, hate, violence, bigotry, misogyny, were the winners this week. He will never be my President because he doesn’t represent me or people like me.
I voted at 7 am that morning. I’m never outside that early unless I have an appointment. I knew I had one job for that day; to defeat the orange one and his cronies.
Living in NYC all my life I knew so much about him, from his infamous marriages and divorces, to his call for the Central Park Five to be put to death (when they were exonerated he didn’t apologize),to his failed business and huge ego.
He politically came to fame by attempting to delegitimize the first black president, Barack Obama saying he wasn’t an American citizen and a Muslim. He even questioned President Obama ‘s education and intelligence expressing doubt on his ability to have been President of the Harvard Law Review. All total blatant,racist lies.
He kept demanding for the President to present his birth certificate, the way fugitive slave catchers asked for the papers of freed black people, in the 19th century. No other President had ever been asked that question. According to history books, this country was formed by people seeking religious freedom. There is no requirement that a person has to be a Christian to be the President, no matter what the Tea Party evangelicals say.
The election is over. How do we deal with the aftermath?
I’ve already read reports of Muslim women having their hijab pulled from their heads, Hispanic children being told by other children in kindergarten that they will be going back to Mexico. A black woman was told that now, she needed to sit at the back of the bus, it was now trump time. Another black woman was confronted by young men and they threatened to grab her by the genitalia. I saw a video in a high school where a few paraded around inside their school yelling white power holding Trump signs. All of this and more,in the first 48 hours and the inauguration does not happen until January 20th.
This man has emboldened racist people who lay dormant, nursing the wounds to their fractured souls, because a black man was President. Times have changed. American demographics has changed. They are scared to lose their white privilege. That’s why the slogan of the campaign meant going back to the times when they had all the power and could treat “the other” any way they wanted to. Non college educated white men and women came out to vote in droves, to get their power back. Let’s never forget, he was endorsed by the KKK and the Neo-Nazi movement.
Everything we didn’t like during the campaign rallies may become our everyday reality. That thought puts knots in my stomach, pain in my chest, body and soul. He has no sense of the average person’s life. He has no human feelings,so Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, Muslims, Mexicans, LGBTQ, the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the disenfranchised, the ill are all in danger with his policy proposals. I fall into a few of these categories. It makes me uncomfortable when I know Medicare and other social programs may be in jeopardy. What will I do?
I know I’m not alone not liking this choice. Our entire government is now majority GOP thanks to this election. Since the days of their patron saint Ronald Reagan, they have never cared about the life of others.
Life goes on, but this is wakeup call. All the groups I just mentioned must find a way to come together and start building something new from the grassroots level. I’m not even sure what that is… I’m willing to be involved, however I can. The socially conscious millennial may have to take the ball and run with it. The rest of us can help.
I always have to rely on my faith to help me during times when nothing else can. We press forward courageously. I am a Bodhisattva of the Earth, my mission is to help each person to become happy. We must have unshakeable faith no matter what happens in our immediate and wider environment.
In our November publication, Living Buddhism, our spiritual mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says. ” The defining characteristic of bodhisattvas is their vow. The vow of the Bodhisattvas of the Earth is to propagate the Lotus Suta. That’s why it is important for us to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo with this vow for kosen-rufu (world peace), resolving with all our hearts to help those around us to become genuinely happy”.
The book Introduction to Buddhism says, “Absolute happiness means that living itself is happiness; being alive is a joy, no matter where we are or what our circumstances. It describes a life condition in which happiness wells forth from within. It is called absolute because it is not influenced by external conditions. Attaining Buddhahood means developing absolute happiness. Beyond the troubles of just getting by in life, we often face unexpected problems. Happiness does not depend on whether or not we have problems, but how we perceive and deal with them. To cite an analogy, a person of little strength and experience who encounters a steep mountain path will view it as a daunting obstacle. But a strong, experienced hiker can confidently ascend a steep trail even while carrying a heavy backpack, enjoying the view along the way. In a similar way, one who has firmly established a life condition of absolute happiness can confidently face any difficulty. Problems can even become an impetus to bring forth a powerful life force, enabling one to calmly and confidently overcome any challenge.”
This is a daunting challenge, however, we may bend, but we won’t break. I have to believe we will get through this as hearts and minds change, as truths are exposed. They will be revealed on an international stage. A world wide audience is watching. We have some difficult times ahead.
2016 will surely go down in history. So many talented and creative people have left this earth. I have to wonder if they somehow knew what was coming. Brexit happened abroad and now the United States has elected a demagogue.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines that as a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power. The next four years will tell us how this plays out.
In the meantime I encourage you all, no matter your religious beliefs to go to this webpage http://www.worldtribune.org/ and read the SGI-USA’s online publications and gain hope, if you feel hopeless right now. You may be surprised that many of our humanistic beliefs are some you already have. There’s so much encouragement for everyone. My faith is for everyone who wants to feel confident and are fighters, filled with hope for peace.
I thank the President and First Lady Michelle Obama for the dignity, class and example they have shown. They gave us all so much to aspire to. They faced incredible obstruction and pure hate from day one, but always stood tall, never flinching.
They have been the most personable and fun First couple in my lifetime. Watch them interact with kids. Along with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr Jill Biden, they have been an awesome quartet. The Obamas have raised two beautiful well adjusted young women, one is headed for Harvard next year.
They allowed the White House to be the people’s house. Many who thought they would never live to see a black president had a dream come true. They were invited to come inside. They met and some even danced and sang with a President and First Lady. I wish them an incredible life after January 20th.
I think once the keys are turned over, the locks will be changed and things will never be quite the same.
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.
My heart hurts. My soul hurts. My mind is racing. It could have been any of my male relatives. It could have been any of my male friends. The occurrence has become so common, it could have been me. How many more have to die? I’m emotional and angry and filled with questions about humanity.
Why are all black people a threat even when we don’t behave or do anything that suggests that? Our mere presence is not a threat. We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. That doesn’t seem to ring through for my people, who possess melanin in their skin.
How many parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, sons, daughters and cousins have to hold a press conference, rally, protest, pray, cry in front of the television cameras, before my people are viewed as humans beings with full and meaningful lives?
If someone made mistakes in their past, and had run ins with the law; they deserve due process, if suspected of wrongdoing. They don’t deserve 4 shots to the chest with a cop on top of them. Use your handcuffs and arrest them and leave them to the judicial system.
Black Women, Black Men, Black Children, Black Teens- none of us feel safe anymore. Apparently we are all threatening, no matter what we do or how we are dressed or our educational level-even when we are not doing anything wrong. When we do what others do on a daily basis- selling things, looking at merchandise to purchase, playing in a park, listening to music with friends, driving, seeking help after a car accident or just walking home, we end up DEAD. Not just one shot to stop us, we get 41 shots when they mistake our wallet for a weapon. Why is that??? We know why. It needs to be acknowledged.
People will openly grieve for killed gorillas, lions and jaguars, but not for black people. I then hear he/she asked for it and a myriad of reasons why they deserved it. Enough already. What has happened to our moral compass and humanity?
There have been too many hashtags. Each one represents lives lost. The names drop like thunderstorm rains. Since the first video seen in 1991 showing the horrendous beating of Rodney King by the LAPD, we began to see up close, modern-day versions of lynchings. There were 3959 lynchings of black people that occurred in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia between 1877 and 1950. No one went to prison for beating Rodney King.
In 1955, Emmett Till’s mother showed the world, the face and body of her son. A group of white men in Mississippi, kidnapped him out of his bed, beat,shot, tortured and drowned her 14-year-old son. No one went to prison for this child’s murder.
12-year-old, Tamir Rice was playing, like a child should in the park, with a toy gun, Police drove up to him and in 22 seconds, he was shot and later died. They wouldn’t even allow his sister to comfort him in his last pain filled moments. A gun was drawn on her. No one went to prison for this child’s murder.
His life was worth $6 million dollars. That’s what his family received from the city of Cleveland as a settlement for their lawsuit against the city.
There have been so many more deaths since young Tamir. According to The Guardian 136 black people in 2016 have been killed by law enforcement This includes Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. In the past two days we watched one man being executed (2 different views from survelliance and cell phone cameras) and the aftermath of the execution of the other.
Mr. Castile’s girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter are forever traumatized, because they were sitting in the car, while he was shot. If not for video, no one would have known. I’m surprised his girlfriend was not shot. After the shooting, she was arrested and held for 5 hours. I am no fan of Facebook Live, but we wouldn’t have had the video without it.
Black and Brown people have the task of telling their children how to talk to the police. It’s a conversation that white parents don’t have. But what do white parents tell their children about black and brown people? These white children grow up to join police departments around this country.
Please tell them this about black and brown people- we love, we are spouses, we dance, we worship, we like to have fun, we go to movies, we love our children, we find work we love, we attend college, we read books (I’m a librarian), we make mistakes, but continue to grow as people. We enjoy the company of our friends and family, we have feelings. We are flesh and blood.
We are not pets (People try to touch and stroke our hair, invading our person without asking us.) We are not here on this earth for your amusement or your abuse. We are your equals and not beneath you. Do not be afraid of us and then take a job to serve and protect us.
Anyone who is not black, please start having different conversations with your children, with your friends and your co-workers. I know that many white people understand and are with us, they support us and protest with us. Thank you for being human. But, there are so many that are not with us.
Activist and actor Jesse Williams made a speech recently and he said “we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.
The time is now. The last two days prove it. How do we start? There has to be a change in how police departments are run, how officers are trained, including learning cultural sensitivity. They need to be held accountable when they do wrong and kill unarmed people. The good cops need to be courageous and expose co workers who are not up to the task that their difficult jobs entail. If they are racists, they have no reason being on the job.
I looked to my spiritual and life mentor, Daisaku Ikeda for some guidance, this is what I found and I believe everyone should read it.
Let’s be human and respect one another. This pain,suffering and bloodshed has to stop. It’s just too much for the psyche and for the heart.