From Rebuilding to Renewal

In a few hours, we’ll begin the countdown to 2018. Here in the East Coast we’ll be having the coldest New Year’s Eve since 1963.  I always chuckle on this night, as my family called it, Old Year’s Night.

People will be popping bottles, kissing those closest to them and making resolutions that may be quickly broken. It’s our mindsets that determine what we will do in the coming years.  A few years ago, I started making themes for the coming year.  Last year, it was the Year of Rebuilding. I aimed to rebuild my body, mind and spirit, after having a heart attack.  All of it was difficult, but rewarding.  I kept active as instructed.  I kept up my weight and my eating plan right until Halloween…. Candy was my treat and mini Snickers was the trick.  Kids didn’t ring the doorbell and I couldn’t resist. I kept eating through Thanksgiving and this month and gained a little weight back.

I aim to make myself better than the year prior. I would rather improve overall than make one shaky resolution. I’ve failed many times at those. Just ask the 20 pounds I’ve gained and lost so many times, I have lost count. Once again I will work towards a healthier lifestyle. I’ve got to be much healthier.  I want to live longer and live well.

2018’s theme for me is The Year of Renewal. I’m renewing vows to myself.  My health is number one. I’ve been fighting one health battle after another since my late 20’s. I can not keep living with this poor health karma. I will defeat it!  I vow to be happy no matter what’s going on in my life. I vow to live with gratitude. I will be even more consistent with my Buddhist practice  and just be a good person. I hope to travel, have better finances and live surrounded by the love of family and true friends in faith.

The world needs renewal. America needs Renewal. It’s been a rough and depressing year.

There are people still suffering in the aftermath of the hurricanes this summer. There are still US citizens living in Puerto Rico without electricity. They need our help. Our government, their government is not doing all they can. Grassroots organizations are doing as much as they can handle.

Women’s voices are finally being heard about sexual harassment. They should have listened when Anita Hill spoke out and brought it to the steps of Congress, so many years ago. If they had listened we wouldn’t have Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court. She’s about to head a task force on the subject.  Now, they are going to listen to her.  

We need reasonable gun control laws. Mass shootings are not normal. We have to shut down that narrative. We have to understand climate change is real. Our planet and our future is in danger.  We can’t tell young adults that abstinence is real birth control. That doesn’t work.  We need Planned Parenthood. America is not a solely Christian country. Coal isn’t coming back as an industry.   America used to be smarter than this. Dumb is not impressive.

The GOP continues to discriminate against the poor, elderly, children and the sick. It is ugly. Cutting needed social services tells me, they don’t care about us. Their tax bill shows who is important to them. We can do better. We must do better.  The midterm elections are coming, Please vote and take your friends with you. We can not leave it to other people. The last time we ended up with #45. We have an ignoramus, white supremacist and a bully in the White House.

With so much going on, I know that some days it maybe harder to keep my theme in mind.  However, my Buddhist faith tells me, “When our fundamental mindset changes, we ourselves change. And when we change, the environment and the world change, too. The source of this great transformation is found nowhere but in a radical deepening of our own chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo to the Gohonzon. This sort of prayer to the Gohonzon is completely different from that found in a dependent, supplicant faith; we do not weakly and passively beg someone for salvation or assistance. Prayer in Nichiren Buddhism is fundamentally a vow. It is a pledge or commitment to follow a chosen course of action; it is a declaration to challenge a clear objective. (March 17, 2006, World Tribune, p. 3)

We’ve reached a place where we need to respect the dignity of humankind. I talk a lot about my Buddhist faith because it helps me to become a better person everyday.  Here are some basics of of the SGI-USA and what we believe. These are tenets for all people.

The SGI youth are about to join together in September 2018 and fight for a better world. 

My prayer is that  in 2018, we all become renewed in one way or another. We can have an internal change and not just for a New Year’s resolution.

Daisaku Ikeda said,

“When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution.”

Let’s have our human revolutions in 2018!  Happy and Healthy 2018 everyone!!

 

Rest in Peace Reggie Osse’  – fellow Buddhist, district member and Myoho Brother         #CombatJack         #CombatCancer

 

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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…