30 Day Writing Challenge- Day 2

It’s Day 2 and I’m keeping my commitment to write for the next 30 days.

Day 2 – Write something someone told you about yourself that you never forgot.

Many years ago, I had a younger man whom I was friendly with,tell me I was intimidating to men. At the time, I was very perplexed by what he said. I did not know how to take his comment. We knew each other from our mutual workplace and had casual conversations.

So,I asked him what he meant. He replied that I had myself so together. I was very educated, had a good job,was attractive and smart. I could make a man feel very intimidated to approach me. I don’t remember what I said, but the conversation quickly ended.

So, I looked up the word intimidate.

The definition says: to frighten or overawe (someone), especially in order to make them do what one wants.”intimidate his rivals” Synonyms: frighten, menace, terrify, cow, dragoon, subdue.

I had to laugh at the definition because I’m the antonym of intimidating. I quickly came to the realization that I can only intimidate someone very insecure. I cannot or would not change myself to soothe or pamper someone else’s ego.

Perhaps, he or anyone “frightened” by me needed to work on themselves. I was still working on building my self confidence at the time, but savvy enough to know I didn’t have a problem.

Looking back, I see how that comment could have made me change myself to suit the needs of others. I didn’t allow that. I’ve seen women change to fit someone else’s narrative. It never turned out well.

Today,I wouldn’t even have to look it up and question myself. I would have told that guy some well thought out words that would have made him question himself. I would have him look it up and straighten out his thought process.

You don’t have to believe everything people say about you. That comment became food for thought. I didn’t allow it to change me.

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30 Day Writing Challenge Day 1

Today marks the first day of April and the first of a 30 Day Writing Challenge. I haven’t had the energy or inclination to write in some time. The world is topsy turvy and so negative some days. This winter was also very hard on my health. I decided this was a perfect way to refresh my brain, renew my skills and be accountable to write everyday. I can’t promise I’ll blog everyday, but I will write. Here we go….

30 Day Writing Challenge

Day 1

List 10 things that really make you happy.

1. Listening to my favorite songs that span all the decades of my 52 years and earlier. I like just about every genre of music. Sometimes I DJ a concert and “sing” (my version of singing) or lip sync, in my bedroom with my headphones on. I create playlists depending on my mood.

Don’t get me started on Lionel Richie, Gloria Estefan, Gladys Knight,The King Of Pop Michael Jackson, Diana Ross or Prince. I could go on for a long time with those artists. I also do this with YouTube videos and post them to Facebook.

I also really find it funny when I see the lyrics of songs and realize I’ve been singing them wrong forever.

2. Whenever I can get a good nights sleep without waking up too many times. It’s like winning the lottery.

3. When I prepare a meal that tastes exactly the way I imagined it would taste, with all the seasonings just right.

4. Getting up and realizing I have minimal pain, discomfort and have some energy. Fibromyalgia and all the other ailments are in the background of that day. I’m alive and breathing. Yay!

5. Watching entertaining television shows and sometimes watching online and discussing plot points with my friends. Empire and Scandal are really good shows to share with other people.

6. Reflecting fondly on past good times with family who have now passed away, especially holidays, inside jokes and the food we ate.

7. Knowing that I’m still able to create value with my life, helping others reach their greatest potential. I look forward to seeing them reach their goals. I get to keep my mind sharp. It’s a win win situation. Chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo every day helps to remind me; I still have a lot to

offer the world and a mission to accomplish.

8. Catching up and laughing with my family and good faithful friends realizing its best to keep my circle small. My small circle has many wonderful, generous, smart, witty and true people inside of it.

9. Getting out to a movie, concert, play or musical or restaurant. I don’t get to do them often, but when I do, I make sure I have maximum enjoyment.

10. Sitting down with a good book where I’m transfixed by the plot, wrapped in a blanket and drinking a hot cup of tea.

10a. Sharing a funny joke or video that has made me cry laughing.

I am attaching the 30 Day Writing Challenge I am using that I found online. Feel free to join me at anytime this month.

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

 

What a Year It Has Been!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Houston and Hurricane Harvey

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

Success Requires a Jump!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Jump

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.