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.

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Too Many Hashtags

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.

human rights

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.

PRINCE

This says so much of what I feel right now.

MC's introvert Tales!

IMG_6872I’ve gathered myself enough to write about Prince. I’m still not all the way together, I’m still hurting a ton, but I felt the need to share how much Prince meant to me. So let’s talk about the great one, Prince.
Prince was so underrated, yet so legendary. You either loved him or you didn’t understand him. One of the sickest guitarist I have ever heard in my life, he could make a guitar do anything. One hell of a songwriter…I aspired to be just like he was. The way he could work metaphors, similes, song structure, and his creativity was mesmerizing. He was a hidden comedian in a sense because he could always make you laugh…such a great sense of humor. He was a game changer. Prince broke all the rules about sexuality, music, the English language, digital distribution and presumed roles for musicians. Prince re-wrote all those rules…

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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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Wrapping Up and Going Forward

When I thought about starting a blog, late last year, I wasn’t sure what I would write about. I knew I wanted to write and use my gift, but I didn’t know how I would take the thoughts in my head and make them meaningful enough for readers. I have never been a poet or one who very consistently kept a journal, as much as I tried. However, I knew there were stories, ideas and great writing inside of me that I wanted to share.

I soon realized that I could best write about myself, my experiences and life events. I was about to journey into my last year of my forties. I was  determined to be more courageous so I  moved ahead. Privately, I dubbed this journey, my Year of  49. I would follow myself down this pathway and see where I ended up. I wanted this year to have meaning, be fun and have some adventures.

I wanted to go to Las Vegas to celebrate my actual 50th birthday, something completely out of the ordinary for me. I have always played safe and by the rules. I could celebrate in warm weather for only the second time in my life with some family members; maybe bring in the new year on the west coast. It was discussed and agreed upon. It would be happening and I didn’t have to plan  it. I would be taken care of. Yay!

So, I decided to do things this year I wanted to do, fibromyalgia be damned. The money would come from somewhere. I would just chant triple the amount of nam myoho renge kyo than usual, so that I could physically be up to it.

I had a ticket to see Diana Ross in concert and that started the ball rolling for me to also see Gladys Knight, Guy, Jill Scott, Stephanie Mills and The Whispers in concert. Music gets me though the toughest days. I wrote about all these musical experiences and how they made  me happy, even though I sat through most of them in pain. I fought through it and won.

I suffered tremendous physical pain this year and I spent much time indoors, resting and also dealing with chronic fatigue. I am no longer able to hold a job, as my illness and pain levels are completely unpredictable. Living with and living on disability is not easy. I’m doing my best to live a good life and have faith both situations will change for the better.

This year, I had a few in patient medical procedures done to help my migraines.  I had aqua therapy to help the sciatica like pain running down my leg like shock waves. I had trouble sitting, standing and walking. All this was happening while dealing with the house guest from hell who threw a big monkey wrench right in the middle of my weight loss plans. Medication side effects and frustrated stress eating made a girl gain weight. Sigh……  I wanted to be slimmer and healthier by my birthday, but I got frustrated; I restarted a couple weeks ago and this time I’m making a lifestyle change. Nothing or no one will interfere with my progress again.

I wrote about my life as a person dealing with fibromyalgia. It was my most read and shared post.I was very proud of that post. It was relate-able to anyone with a chronic pain condition.

I follow news events and many touched my heart. I was angered or saddened by them, so I wrote about them. I wrote about personal sorrows and losses. I became more open about myself, more than I have ever been.

I  wrote about the importance of my faith and how it helps me to grow into the person I am meant to be. I want to create value with and for my life. I volunteer once a month to record readings of  SGI-USA publications on tape, for members who are visually impaired or unable to read them for themselves. I’m happy to contribute in this way to my fellow Buddhists.

The news events of 2015: mass shootings, domestic and foreign terror, police brutality, innocent Black Lives not mattering, slack gun control laws, presidential candidates spouting bigotry and spreading fear; it all became too much for my senses.

My faith and my humanity tells me and shows me all of this is wrong. Should I be packing my bags and leaving my homeland before it all goes awry? The hate filled tones may be coming towards me and my kind next. History shows this is possible.  My writing desires waned and I got stuck somehow. I haven’t made a blog post since September.

My year of 49 has two weeks left. I had a 50th birthday celebration in August, with women I have known since elementary school on an evening cruise with our teachers. We all turned 50 this year.  It was a great time and there was cake, 🙂  I really feel a kinship with them even though we don’t see other regularly.

My trip to Las Vegas never took off, I don’t even know what happened to it. I’m disappointed. So, the idea remains on my vision board.Next time, I’ll take control of my own plans.

Since the plans were altered,I didn’t know how I would bring in this milestone birthday. I wanted to do something I never did before. I refused to stay at home. I could do that any night of the year.

I was gifted a ticket to see a show, by the same Uncle who bought me a new bed this year (I’m so grateful to him); so that’s how I’ll spend my special day. I’ll see a production I’ve wanted to see for years. I have mused my way towards 50. I will continue writing this blog . I will be more consistent with it.

I want my 50’s to be incredible. I want better health. I want romance with real commitment. I want to walk without a cane. I want to travel to an SGI-USA conference. I want to meet my uncle and cousin. I want to stick to my healthier eating plans and get my sexy back. I want better finances and become debt free. I want to volunteer to help others to the best of my capacity. Helping others, helps me to grow.  I strive to be the person Buddhism,teaches me, I can become. I want my life to matter when people see me. I want the world to be safe, free from the worst humans can do to humans. I want supreme happiness for myself and for everyone.

I wish myself a Happy Fiftieth Birthday!!!!

The Christmas season is upon us and a new year is about to start. Let’s see what wonders will come in 2016. I’m taking control of my life and being true to myself. I will create a greater life for myself in my 50’s . Thank you all for reading and I wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season filled with joy!

 

 

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.