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.

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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.