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.

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Inspiration

It’s been awhile since I have been inspired to write. There has been so much turmoil in our country recently and my mind became blocked. There was a lot I wanted to say, but couldn’t get it out. Three mass shootings, particularly the loss of the Emanuel 9 in South Carolina really hit me in the heart and mind. When you can’t sit in your place of worship peacefully, have fellowship and pray, something is wrong.

Guns are in the hands of the wrong people. The power that the NRA appears to wield needs to taken away. Ask all the parents and family members whose lives have been violently taken by a gun, how they feel? Nothing significant happened after the Sandy Hook shooting where first graders were murdered. Gun control laws should have been changed and thoroughly enforced since then.

There have been the deaths of unarmed black people, Freddy Gray, Sandra Bland and Sam DuBose and unfortunately too many more to mention in one sitting without me crying about the state of the United States.

More people appeared outraged about the death of Cecil the Lion than the deaths of so many humans. I understand completely the outrage and sadness of an out and out murder of a majestic creature. The American dentist who killed him may be extradited back to Zimbabwe for prosecution, He may even serve some time for his crime. He has received so much backlash he had to close his dental practice. I hope they throw the book at him.

But, lately, too many black humans have been losing their lives through out and out murders and the police brutality continues and some will never pay for their crimes.  With all of these stories, happening so close together I needed something to help me release.

Music has always been my solace and something that increased my joy throughout my life. I can’t recall a day where I did not have music playing in my ear. There was either the radio, albums, Walkman ,cassettes, CD’s, MP3’s, I-pod and music videos accompanying my days.

I recently lost a Facebook friend who was an encyclopedia of music of all genres. She died suddenly at age 46 and although we never met, we talked though Facebook for years. I celebrated with her this past May when she graduated. Her loss hurt, like I lost a family member. Again I sought solace through music and I remember her every time that I check out the music groups where we were both members. I miss you Note!

Music was the key to my inspiration. I had tickets a week ago to see Jill Scott in concert. She sang her hits and new songs from her new album Woman as she celebrated 15 years in the music business and I was incredibly blown away by her talent, confidence and humor from the stage. I wanted to write about it but my schedule was crazy attending aquatherapy (warm water pool is everything), going to an osteopathic psychiatrist for back and body pain and attending my Buddhist activities I didn’t have the chance. I did a lot of chanting about my situation and knew I would become inspired to write soon.

This past Friday, I was inspired by seeing veteran R & B acts, Stephanie Mills and The Whispers at the Kings Theatre . Stephanie MIlls came to fame as Dorothy in the all black cast of Broadway’s The Wiz which was later made into a film. Stephanie was in her late teens 40 years ago when she became a star.  She was a girl straight outta Brooklyn and she was excited to be back home. She talked about the 40th anniversary of the show and how she would be in the televised live version scheduled for this December, this time as Auntie Em. She revealed Queen Latifah would be playing the Wiz and Mary J.Blige will play the Wicked Witch of the West. They will be rehearsing in New York. She hoped the powers that be picked a girl from Brooklyn to play Dorothy. I’m looking forward to watching it.

In between her reminiscing she gave us the greatest hits she had as a solo singer. She wore a tight black dress and as she later told us, she is 57 years old and a hot tamale. The show started with Never Knew Love Like This Before and then we were treated to the rest: What Cha Gonna Do with My Lovin’, Something in the Way (You Make Me Feel), You and I (a personal favorite), Putting A Rush On Me, I’ve Learned to Respect The Power Of Love, Feel The Fire (here she held one hell of a note and showed all of her vocal prowess),

She then went on to I Feel Good All Over, her version of UpTown Funk by Mark Ronson ft.Bruno Mars (which was kick ass!!), Put Your Body In It (taking us back to disco days and Studio 54 and she gave a shout out to the late Rick James) and finally Home (her signature song from The Wiz and perfect for the woman returning to her childhood beginnings). She sang her heart out and did it with all kinds of passion. She did all kinds of vocal acrobatics! Her body did acrobatics as she shook her booty, dipped it low and dropped it like it was hot.

Watching her do all this in heels on a under hot stage lights made me even more aware that 57 doesn’t have to equal old unless you want it to be. She has inspired me to really work hard to put these chronic illness’ and pains behind me so I could be like her in a few years. I want more fun in my life. She was bouncing all over that stage and I felt so good watching and admiring her voice and youthful spirit.

Part two of the show featured The Whispers who are celebrating 50 years of being in the music business. As one of the twin brothers Scottie said, They never would have thunk it that they would still be on stage performing. He said we even have merchandise to sell now and they were available in the lobby. They took us back in time. They began with And The Beat Goes On, then went on to entertain with In The Mood, Is It Good To You, Keep On Loving Me, Say Yes, In The Raw, Lady, Love is Where You Find It, Olivia (Lost and Turned Out )Chocolate Girl, I Wanna Know Your Name and finished off a magnificent show with It’s A Love Thing. They were smooth, silky and energetic, as they crooned and danced and made us laugh and reminisce in their royal blue jackets with gold insignia.

I walked out feeling so full of life and energy even though I was exhausted. I had great aisle seats but had to keep getting up so others could get to their seats. I felt like I ran a marathon and my back and knees were beating me up the next day. Even though I have physical limitations I am determined more than ever defeat them. I want to really live during my fifties and sixties and do the things I’ve written and posted on my vision boards over the years.

I’m chanting for peace in our world, for more happiness with less violence and hate for all humankind. I’m chanting for  a full and happy life for myself. Thank you to music for opening the block. Thank you Jill Scott, Stephanie Mills and The Whispers for the entertainment and joy you have given to me over the course of your spectacular careers.

It took a month and a half, but I’m back to writing. I am happy and grateful.

Go Away Pain!- Please!!!

I have been trying to write a blog post for most of the month of March. First, I was in the middle of a 10 Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. I had a few expected detox symptoms, so I laid low and rested. I read the book by JJ Smith and participated in the Facebook support group. The Ambassadors and Administrators do a phenomenal job answering questions and offering support. JJ Smith makes appearances daily.  I followed the full cleanse regimen and it went really well.  I had 3 green smoothies everyday and approved snacks I lost 11.5 pounds at the end of the 10 days. I will continue to drink at least one green smoothie everyday, to continue losing weight and truly commit to a healthier lifestyle.

For the last two weeks, I have been in so much pain, I haven’t been able to do much writing. Writing requires concentration and communing with your thoughts. All of my thoughts have been filled with expletives, when I try to walk, move and sleep. I don’t want my followers to see a string of curse words across my page, that’s not a good look.

Right now, I am suffering from my usual back pains, in addition to unusual, first time, sciatica. Oowweee, how these shock waves of pain have torn me into itty bitty pieces! Every movement and step literally feels like hot popping rubber bands hitting me over and over again. Both my legs are weak, I need my cane to walk in the house. I am aching everywhere. My right hip and continuing downward is hurting, my foot is numb, I’m used to this pain. Now, my left thigh is experiencing the hot excruciating tingles all the way to that foot. There are areas in my body that are experiencing a level of pain, I have never experienced.

I am yearning for relief. Nam myoho renge kyo is my battle cry, but I think I need to yell louder.  I am laying down more than usual and there have been nights when, sleep could not find me, even if I sent Christopher Columbus out to discover it. Then again, Columbus, never really discovered anything that wasn’t already there. When I don’t sleep for a day or two, I get a migraine, so guess what happened to me?  Alas, I keep fighting.

My pain management doctor plans to do an epidural steroid shot in my lower back this week and it can not come soon enough. I had two, quite some time ago for my back pain, and I did not have much relief. A few days at the most.  But, this time it has to be different. If I can bring down my pain levels from a 10 to at least a 6, I will be doing the Dougie in celebration. I have plans next weekend and this expletive pain has gotta go.

So, I hope to be more active and interactive with my readers in April. I have found that I have readers from all over the globe. Thanks for subscribing and for all your comments! My dream of sharing my writing is really happening. Now, I need less pain and more ideas to write about. Any suggestions?