Why Suicide?

The question is always, Why? Why suicide? The answer is different for each person. The commonality is pain. Imagine, the worst day of your life. Imagine living that day every single day. That’s what depression and anxiety feel like.

It feels like everyone is living in the light, but your switch has turned off. You are all alone in the dark. You are moving in slow motion. You are confused, but you don’t know why. People say to you, ”You seem depressed.” Your answer is always, No I’m fine. The problem is you aren’t fine and you won’t be fine unless you seek help.

I understand this too well. I believe I suffered from depression and anxiety for many years before I finally got professional help. Every time I had a physical problem, I was told by doctors that it was in my head. I was really physically ill with several ailments. I still am.

Doctors said I was just depressed. It had a negative connotation. I insisted I wasn’t. The first time I listened to a doctor, I was given Prozac. I didn’t sleep for a week. I threw them away, called the doctor. He said keep taking them. I told him, I was worse on the medication and didn’t go back to him.

Having any type of mental illness carries a societal stigma that you would rather not deal with. People think you are weak, don’t pray enough and need Jesus (Since I was Buddhist, I need to go back to Jesus) or think you are strange and they avoid you.

Since childhood, I always felt something was unlikeable or unloveable about me. This began with my parents and feeling abandoned by both of them. I felt that no one truly loved or understood me. I felt inadequate, despite all the other successes I was having in life. I never addressed my feelings.

I had been raised by family members and never wanted to upset or seem ungrateful to the people who reared me. I just followed directions and did what was asked of me at home, at school and at work. Admitting I had low self-esteem would just bring unwanted opinions. I would hear how fortunate I was and how other people had it harder. I needed to be stronger. I didn’t see things that way.

I lived through and survived several traumatic experiences, back to back, in a short space of time. I was harmed by the actions and lack of compassion of others. I kept in my feelings, as I always did and never really noticed the sadness was increasing. Nothing brought me joy, but I kept moving through life every day.

I reached a point where I didn’t see the point of going through life feeling the way I did. It was draining physically and emotionally. I stopped attending Buddhist activites. I stopped chanting. I reacted badly to everything and everyone. I was physically ill with a myriad of ailments. Was this all my life was and would be? I was dealing with major depression and anxiety, but I didn’t know that.

After days of not sleeping, I took a handful of sleeping pills, instead of one. I didn’t care if I woke up or not. I woke up angry that I was still here, suffering and unhappy. I ended up admitting myself to a psychiatric ward for a few weeks after someone convinced me to seek help. I couldn’t stop sobbing. I finally relented. I knew I couldn’t continue living this way.

Medication and psychotherapy brought me peace. It didn’t happen overnight. For the first time, I openly discussed my pain with my therapist. I was stronger by speaking up and out. I was finally brave enough to face my life and my demons.

That was almost 10 years ago. I still go to therapy every two weeks. Having someone neutral listening to you is so beneficial. At times, I still feel a bit depressed but I have learned to see the signs. I’m no longer taking medication, but if I ever start to feel the darkness creeping back, I won’t hesitate to take what I need.

I can say that despite all the illnesses I still suffer from, I’m a happier person. I’ve stopped holding everything in. It’s harmful to my health. When I resumed chanting, I became spiritually stronger too. I’ve never stopped.

I say to people all the time that therapy is needed and necessary. In our country, mental health is not taken seriously enough. There are never enough resources for something so critical to the well-being of our citizens. Regularly seeing psychologists, counselors and psychiatrists should be seen as normal. You are not crazy. It is self-help and self-love.

We all have times when life can feel absolutely unbearable. We may never know what led Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain to take their own lives. We may never know if they sought help or had a support system. Just know they were in a level of pain that they couldn’t see the end of. They wanted peace.

The darkness consumes you. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.

The tunnel just seems to go on and on. Don’t brush it off when people say they are sad or depressed. If they deny being depressed, just be available and listen to them. A subtle remark could be their cry for help. Be the lantern for people in the dark. Be kind. Be their friend. You could help save a life.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)’ is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Do not suffer in silence. Seek help.

Day 29 – 30 Day Writing Challenge

I can’t believe this 30 Day Challenge is almost over. The days really flew by.

Today’s topic- What are your goals for the next 30 days?

This challenge has shown me, I can be more consistent with my writing. I know I can write off the cuff and within an hour if I have to.  Writing more often is one of my goals. I will post as often as I can. Thanks to everyone who has offered encouragement and began following the blog during this month.

Since spring has decided to show up and stay around, I’ve gone back to tutoring adults twice a week. It’s fulfilling and gets me out the house for four hours every week. I really like my students and want to help them reach their personal goals of getting their high school equivalency diplomas, getting better jobs or just being able to read to their kids. I’ll do my best to assist them. Juggling multiple health conditions can be a challenge but my goal is to tutor everyday that I’m scheduled to be there.

I recently re- joined Weight Watchers to keep my weight under control. I’ve eaten healthy but I gained back some pounds I lost last year.  I’m not happy about it. Taking medications with side effects of weight gain and not moving enough has been an issue. Tracking what I eat allows me to see when I’m about to overindulge. I can also see when I can give myself a treat. Over the next 30 days, I plan to adhere to the program.

Winter was rough on my body and I didn’t physically feel good or pain free enough to exercise. Yesterday, I got myself back in the gym and rode on the incumbent bike for awhile. I’m taking it slowly. I hope to get there twice a week over the next 30 days. I also walk 9 city blocks each way when I tutor. That’s a bit more exercise. I rest half way there, drink water and then start again.

Another goal is to meet up with a few people and catch up. It’s been awhile. I have also lined up a few “out of my box “ adventures that I’ll do by myself. I’m trying to have some fun, with little expense.

I joined a women’s study group in SGI-USA where we will be studying the history of our lay Buddhist organization as written by our mentor and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. There so much to learn and so much guidance on how to handle situations and life in general. I’ve been part of this group before and it’s always rewarding at the end to see how in-depth study can change your perspective and understanding. We meet once a month, in addition to the other monthly activities that we have in the SGI-USA.

My practice of Buddhism has helped me learn and understand how to make myself better and how to help others. President Ikeda writes, “Altruism is the most effective means of self-realization and self-perfection. Doing good for others is the best way to develop one’s own character and find greater happiness for oneself.”

With this in mind I’ll do by best this month to attain my own goals and do good for others at the same time.

Tomorrow is the end of the 30 Day Challenge, the start of new goals and the continuation of challenging myself everyday.

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.

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!



Catching Up

It’s been awhile since I wrote a new post. I just decided to do a bit of a followup on some of my posts.

My mind has been a bit cloudy of late and i have been having trouble putting my words together. Insomnia, back pain, shooting leg pains from sciatica  and a compressed nerve in my back have kept me awake at night. I also had new health diagnoses which I emotionally had to deal with. I like to make sense when I write, so I took a hiatus.

I have a few updates:  I love the new bed I received from my Uncle. It vibrates. The head and bottom raise up and down by wireless remote control. The first night I vibrated, wave massaged and raised it up and down, hundreds of times.  I’ve calmed down. I raise up and down only once or twice a day. The first week the bed was on wheels, but since I have hardwood floors, I was rolling every time the bed moved or I tried to sit on it, LOL. I called the company and they came to put on rubber casters to save me from rolling out of my bedroom door.

Last weekend, I fulfilled a life long dream as I returned to the Kings Theatre. I saw The Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight in concert. She was magnificent and I was on a Gladys high for days. She sang all about love, sang all her greatest hits, including Neither One of Us. I teared up a bit when she sang, The Way We Were. She put all of her voice into every note and I detected a catch in her voice at the end. She then talked about friends who had passed away, including the late Marvin Gaye. Former Pip and Gladys’ big brother Bubba came on and had his own little portion of the show, including singing Happy by Pharell Williams. She had a hard time getting the show back from him, LOL. Gladys’ voice has always done something to me because it’s filled with richness. Diana Ross has the flash, Gladys has the voice. I was really happy that I made it to the show. I was recovering from a 2 day migraine, but Gladys was not to be missed. If I ever fall into a coma, please play Gladys at my bedside, I will surely awaken.

I was awed and amazed at the response I received from my last post about Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I spoke for many in my description of living with fibro. It is not an easy road that we travel and sometimes the road is filled with many bumps and detours.

Many people who deal with chronic illness deal with some level of depression. Let’s face it, if you were hurting all the time, your life and very being had changed overnight, depression may chase you too. There is confusion and feelings of loss of your former self. I have fought with depression and was brought to the very brink of despair.

I felt so lost, pained and alone thinking that this was all that was left for me. I couldn’t chant and felt no one understood what I was going through. I was unhappy for a myriad of reasons. I didn’t care anymore and thought that was okay. One night I took some prescribed sleeping pills, because that MF insomnia had me up for five days straight. I took a few extra pills, not caring if I woke up the next day. I wanted to rest and have peace and not pain in my body. I cried because I woke up. (Damn, I can’t even do this suicide thing right. That is what my brain told me, SMH)

After a serious crying jag for hours and talking with someone, I sought medical help and was diagnosed at the hospital with major depression and anxiety. I was put on medications to help me and also started going to therapy to finally talk about issues from my childhood to adulthood. Therapy and also learning how to use my faith to uplift me in dark moments were the greatest gifts I received from that life moment.

A few of my Buddhist sisters were the first people to visit me in the hospital. For the first time in months, I chanted. It’s a memory I will always treasure. The compassion that they showed me made me feel very loved at a time when I felt empty. At that time I had not really, reached out to people who could and would have helped me on the path. They could have shown me how to utilize my faith and still get medical help. Buddhism is reason and I wasn’t using it.

Many years later, I’m no longer taking medications, but I still go to therapy, because there are many bumps and detours on the road of life. Depression can be a long battle for most people who have experienced it. I have fought and won over the major hurdles.  I plan to live, live well and live the greatest life possible, filled with happiness no matter the circumstances that I am facing.

I reveal myself so transparently because June is Mental Health Awareness month.

We don’t know what other people are going through. They may appear fine, but be in a dark place. Your health is important, Your mental health is also important. You are not “crazy to take medication for your mental health. Don’t refuse to see a “head shrinker” because no one in your family ever did it. In order to open our lives and change it, we have to do something different from what we are accustomed to.  There are many people trained to help us get out of the darkness. If you see someone who seems down, be kind to them. Kind words without judgement is what they need. Everyone could use a helpful and compassionate ear. Compassion is sorely lacking in our world.

I chant Nam myoho renge kyo to uplift me and I read encouraging guidance and books from SGI President Daisaku  Ikeda. He reminds me, I have a mission for my life and it is to help others and show them through my life that they can be happy. We call this actual proof. I know I went through the hardest struggle so I can encourage other people, as I am now on the other side of depression.

My faith keeps me on the right path through this journey of life. No matter what, I will continue to chant everyday, morning and evening prayers to stay the course and never give up. That is what my Buddhist faith has taught me.

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day- May 12

Today, May 12th is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day. I know many people don’t know much about it. The commercials for the drug Lyrica, that I see on television from time to time, say fibromyalgia  is overactive muscle pain, but that doesn’t give it justice. Fibromyalgia is a life changer. It’s a fun taker, It’s a relentless pain giver. Taking one pill, 99% of the time, doesn’t help. I’ve tried Lyrica and my result was 70 pounds of weight gain. Needless to say, I couldn’t stay on it. I have a bag filled with medications, and I still have pain.

These are some of my symptoms: headaches, nerve pain, back pain, chronic fatigue, neuropathy,  irritable bowel syndrome, rib cage pain, carpal tunnel in both hands. I’m in pain when it’s too cold. I’m in pain when it’s too hot. I have dull pain, sharp pain, persistent pain and aching in my shoulders, I have burning, numbness, tingling in various stages, different times of the day in different parts of my body.

For more years than I can recall, I have had Doctor’s tell me the pain was in my head, it couldn’t be that bad. I had one doctor tell me if I just got married and had some kids, I wouldn’t have time to think about pain. I should do it soon, because I didn’t want to be alone when I turned seventy.  He was almost a dead man walking!!!! Seriously, I was about to jump off the table and slap the hell out of him, but my better judgement prevented me from having an assault charge on my permanent record. I have a wonderful pain management doctor now and I’m so very grateful for all he does and how he treats me as a patient and a person.

Some people in my life  just stopped calling after I’ve turned down invitations or had to cancel things, one time too many because I was too sick to attend. When I say sick, imagine not being able to move because your whole body hurts. Then imagine, if you can move, you are so tired that if you try to move around, you might fall down. I’ve had falls in the street in the last few years, for absolutely no reason. I use a cane now when I’m going out, because I don’t want to go splat again. One minute I was up, the next down. One analogy to what we fibromyalgia sufferers face is, imagine having the flu 24/7 all day, every single day. If you know how bad the flu can be, then you have a slight clue. I’m speaking about my own situation here but I’m speaking for thousands who have to face the sting of fibromyalgia everyday.

You never know when a flare will strike or how long it will last. I believe i have truly been in a flared state for the past 2 and a half years. I was let go from my employer, when I went out sick ( an injury I received at work started the flare.) and my fibromyalgia specialist wasn’t able to provide a return to work day. I had to file for disability and now live off that money. The majority of my savings is gone. I had to pay  doctor’s out of pocket when my health insurance was cancelled by my employer.  I went from a manager to waiting on my monthly check. I fought my body, for seven years, so I could get my graduate degree. It was one of the hardest accomplishments, I have completed. I even graduated with honors, thanks to a good friend and a professor who helped me my last two semesters. I can’t work any longer. Bending, squatting, sitting, typing,stretching and standing all hurt me tremendously and were part of my job as a librarian.

It’s difficult to walk up and down the bus and train steps so I now use a service that picks me up and drops me off. They are notoriously late and I spend so much time waiting to be picked up from appointments, I have to pack snacks in my purse or risk passing out from hunger.  I used to love going for long walks and lose myself, popping into stores and doing what I wanted when I wanted. I can’t do that anymore. Walking a few blocks hurts too much. If I walk it has to be short, as I also tire very easily.

I take supplements to boost my immune system and keep my energy up. I blend juices, take vitamins. I have rubs, salves, heating pads all next to my bed. I feel older than my years. I pray everyday to not give up the fight for good health. I have accepted my condition and its limitations., but I will also find ways to enjoy myself and not just remember good times past.

My life isn’t over, but it has slowed down considerably. I’m going to concerts of artists I’ve been waiting to see.  I’m looking at the summer tours right now. I’m looking for cheap Broadway tickets. Maybe, I’ll hit up a baseball game. I don’t mind doing things by myself. I don’t like making promises to people, that I might have to break. If I make plans with someone, I chant extra for days to be able to go. I buy the insurance that goes with ticket sales, just in case…… I have to find ways to stay upbeat when circumstances could drag me down into despair. When I am attempting to have fun and do something exciting, know that I am hurting, but will never give up living.

Even though on the outside people with fibromyalgia may look fine, just know we are sometimes putting on a happy face when we really want to cry. We fight hard to do things, like bending and tying our shoes or standing up and washing dishes or cooking food. We may have to delay chores in order to lay down and feel better. So, please be patient with us. Support us and continue to include us in your lives. If you don’t know what to say to us, a gentle hug would be just fine. Be sensitive and please ask us first, we may be having a flare.

In the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin there is a gosho named Happiness in this World,that says, Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, no matter what happens. How could this be anything other than the boundless joy of the Law? Strengthen your power of faith more than ever. Whenever I read it, I know with all my heart that my circumstances will charge. My mission in life is to show actual proof of my spiritual practice. I will regain my health.

Speaking of Mother’s Day

Their activity list may include: brunches, lunches, dinners, a spa day or just a day for themselves, Mother’s Day is on Sunday. This day has become a bittersweet one for me. I have no children, not even a pet  ( I’d love a small dog but with recurring pain and uncertainty about leaving the house, I could not with a conscience have a dog, I can’t walk ). I had birds as a teen and I don’t want fish or a snake. LOL!   In Panama, where my family is from they celebrate this day on Dec 8. So, I can’t call my Aunt that lives there on Sunday. Both women who raised me have passed away.

This leaves my Aunt in NJ as the one I send my card and gifts to on Mother’s Day. I appreciate her so much because there are days I will call her and I ramble on and on about my health or my faith ( She introduced me to Buddhism) and she listens.  I don’t often get a lot of the older female wisdom, that so many take for granted. She has lived a life and knows the important things going on in mine. She is my mother’s older sister. So, I say thanks to her and I love you, as she fills a void in my life. She wishes for me the best things in life, most importantly my happiness. For 20, plus years she wanted me to chant and become happy. I was a very hard sell, but she planted the seed of knowledge and after chanting for me and having extraordinary patience, I became a Buddhist. Buddhism has changed me and my life.

I was at a low point then. Illness was ripping and roaring through my entire body. It still is but my attitude towards it, is different My great aunt who raised me (Mimi) was in a nursing home and didn’t remember me any more, due to Alzheimer’s. She had recurrent pneumonia and I couldn’t imagine my life without her. You see, as she raised me, she sheltered me too much. No friends, no hanging out or parties.  School, studies and education were of the most importance. She wanted me to do something with my life and didn’t want any distractions, including boys. All types of distractions were sorely needed. To this day my socialization skills are not the best because I didn’t have a lot of practice. Chit chat is not my forte’.  Through my Buddhist practice and meeting new people all the time, I am getting better. I did graduate from college and worked as a paralegal for a time. I went back to school for my graduate degree and became a librarian. My career goals were fulfilled. Health issues have now shoved those careers aside for me. Maybe new ones are emerging…

Since I was at home practically all the time she was more than my mother, she was a beloved friend. She had a cheating husband and was unhappy. I became her happiness. Something no person can fill for you. We watched TV and I got any book I wanted to read. She got me hooked on The National Enquirer, Star Magazine and People Magazine before I was a teenager.  I also got most of the junk food or clothes that I wanted. I still fight with myself not to reward myself with food and clothing. I am so unsuccessful at it. LOL!!

Download-Happy-Mothers-Day-Images-3Later on, when I could have left home and was making my own money; I started having health issues. When her already unstable health became worse, I wanted to provide her with the care she had given me. Looking back, my actions were well intentioned, but I hurt myself and my own growth in the process.  We had formed such a bond, I was devastated, confused and relieved all at the same time when she passed. The pressure to make serious decisions for her life was over.

I had felt similar loss when my mother passed away when I was in my twenties, but it was different. My Mother didn’t raise me but she was a presence in my life. She was present at graduations and holidays. She taught me how to ride the buses and the trains. She took me to the nail salon for the first time and to Disney World. She made incredible potato salad and loved Teddy Pendergrass, Barry White and The Jones Girls. She even loved country music. She liked to have a good time, have boyfriends and dance. My mother just wasn’t ready or prepared to be a mother, because she didn’t experience it in her own life. I felt baffled as a child and resentful as a young adult thinking that my mother didn’t want or love me. We never got to talk on a deep level about my feelings. My mother passed away at 51 from cancer and I had many unanswered questions. I think that as time has gone on, I understand her as a person much better now as I have had time to learn about her life, experiences and not just what people wanted to tell me. She wanted the love she never got as a child. I still miss and mourn her because I know our relationship could have been better.

As a kid I felt torn between two women. One was mothering me and the other was my mother.  Who did my loyalty go to?

Mimi and Mommy, I love and miss you both terribly. I wish I had just another day with both of you. For anyone who has faced a similar struggle just love them both and know they both love you. Don’t feel conflicted. Treasure them, tell them how much you love them, everyday no matter what has passed. Start from today onward. They won’t always be here to say those simple words, that come with such difficulty for people.

I won’t be making breakfast for anyone on Sunday morning but I know I am not alone. So many have lost their mother, grandmother or mother figure. Let’s never forget them and I wish them, and every Mom out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

https://youtu.be/4I3TxyYDcSw Céline Dion – Goodbye’s (The Saddest Word)

https://youtu.be/3CLlo82PPB4  A Song For Mama- Boyz to Men

My Night at Kings Theatre’s Grand Reopening with Diana Ross

This year before I turn 50, I’ve decided to do things that “I” want to do. Even though I have health issues that hinder me so much of the time, I know that life has to go on, chronic pain be damned. My pain is not going to conquer my spirit. I don’t get out too much, however when I do, I’m going to do it up BIG!. At least big in my eyes, LOL!

I saw an article about the re-opening of a movie palace that had been shuttered since 1977. Halfway down the article, I saw that Ms. Diana Ross (The Boss) was going to be the first performer at Kings Theatre in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn NY.  I gasped and my heart skipped a beat for a few reasons. As a child of the 70’s, Ms. Ross was the style and fashion icon little black girls like me could look up to and aspire to be. The possibilities were endless. Her solo musical career, after she left The Supremes, was at an all time high. She was making movies and scored an Academy Award nomination, right out the gate, with her portrayal of singer Billie Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. She was incredible, even Michael Jackson knew she was special. Michael was the greatest performer ever, so he had to know something. I never got to see Michael perform live which I deeply regret, but Diana was still here at age 70 about to be in my city. I had to go. The tickets were a bit out of my budget, but this might be my last chance. This is my year towards 50, so I was going. When I checked the date of the show, it was on my late brother’s birthday, February 3.  That solidified it– off to Ticketmaster online to get my ticket along with insurance.  I was getting money back, should disaster strike. I don’t mind keeping company with myself, so I didn’t ask anyone to go with me. Remember, I’m doing me!

The Kings Theatre was built in 1929. They closed their doors when they could no longer compete with modern multiplexes and neighborhood decline. Over the years the building had been looted and suffered water damage. The restoration cost $95 million dollars and when I got there I saw why.

My ride (I get picked up and dropped off by a special service, since I can no longer get around alone on buses or subway.) got me there early. The streets were still icy and temperatures were very cold. I thought, only Diana could get me out of my house on a night like this. There were luxury buses lined up in front of the theatre ,so the driver dropped me off at the corner and the police were out in force. The driver had to tell them he was dropping off a customer and he helped me navigate the ice. I walked towards the Kings and there was a newly restored and lit up marquee. I was really here, OMG!!

Kings Marquee

Kings Marquee

I was greeted very warmly at the door and welcomed inside. At first, I felt like I was at the airport . There were tables and a scanner to check your purses, wallets, bins for cell phones and keys and an employee to scan your person. I beeped, but I was wearing my blinged out pants, so OK. You couldn’t help but look up since everything was so opulent. Gold, red, bronze colors, chandeliers, 3000 seats. lots of restrooms. Everything Spectacular! There were places to buy drinks, including alcohol and snacks on every floor and event paraphernalia on the first floor. Women were wearing furs and sequins. Men wore suits and tuxedos. People were taking pictures, everywhere. This was going to be a big night.

I got to my seat on the balcony and all I saw was beauty and an old fashioned red curtain. I took pictures and updated my Facebook status while I waited for the show to begin. The lights dimmed and her band, including a  brass section, keyboards, bass, guitar, drums and percussion, along with 3 backup singers started.  I heard familiar sounds, heard her  singing but couldn’t see her. The sound system was great. The crowd started roaring. As I looked down, she was coming down the aisle, in a sequined teal blue outfit with matching wide open draping cape like an angel bathed in light, famous hair flowing. She was reaching out and touching folks in the crowd singing, I’m Coming Out, as she made her way to the stage. Flashes from cell phones were going off.The crowd was singing with her, everyone was out of their seats as the Diva did what Divas do, put her ALL into her performance. All of the standing up and sitting down was painful for me, but I wouldn’t have seen a thing. Everyone in front of me on the balcony was on their feet.

She sounded strong in voice as she went into a string of The Supremes songs. I Love You More Today Than Yesterday, My World Is Empty Without You, Baby Love, Stop! in the Name of Love, You Can’t Hurry Love and Love Child. She encouraged us to sing along and people were dancing too. The fans, my people, knew all the words to every song and we did not hesitate to sing along. She then, went backstage for one of four more wardrobe changes. The band and singers, continued with Love Child until she returned. She was back, exquisite in a red sequin number with a long draping red cape and started with some solo Diana songs. The Boss,( my personal favorite), Touch Me in the Morning, an extended Upside Down, (An audience member was invited up to the stage at this point and started dancing. He was amazing and got a hug from Ms. Ross, I hope he was there with some who filmed it.), Love Hangover, Take Me Higher and Ease on Down the Road. Everyone was up and she showed tremendous stamina never slowing down while belting out hit after hit.

I think she took a breath when she wanted us to sing a line or two. The laser lighting was so gorgeous all over the theatre. At this point she still had not spoken to the audience directly, but I was OK with that. She gave band members and backup singers their moments of spotlight, showing their immense talents. Then she was off for another wardrobe change. She was slinky in silver and the stage took on a blues club feel. The sax player began the well known wails of The Look of Love. The next song was Don’t Explain. She may have been getting a bit winded from the last costume change as I noticed her voice was not as strong, but she was very into the ambiance and performance. There was another change of clothing,a black and silver number. Next was the remake portion of the show- Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Do You Know Where You’re Going To (Theme from Mahogany), Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and I Will Survive. I had forgotten she remade the Gloria Gaynor hit until that moment. With a big disco ball as scenery behind her she killed the song, the voice was all the way back. She had everyone singing and bopping again. Before she did I Will Survive, She spoke to us and said that the theatre was a palace and that she felt like a Queen. She had the house lights come on and told us to take a look around.

She went backstage one more time and came out ready for her encore. The people behind me and I agreed that Ashford & Simpson’s, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand) would be her finale, as it is her signature. She did not disappoint us, wearing a canary yellow feathered draping gown. We swayed back and forth (I was swaying just my hands, I was exhausted) as requested by our Queen for the evening. We sang and got to know the person next to us.  She quickly changed again into a sparkly black number and sang I Will Survive once again. She invited her daughter Rhonda onstage and the girl can SANG! She also invited from backstage her son Evan and his new wife Ashlee and her son. They did not sing and seemed to be ready to get off the stage, but stayed while the show reached its completion. Afterwards, I sat in my seat not in a rush to leave like so many around me, but wanting to soak it all in. In this beautiful environment, I got to sing, seat dance and lean on the pillar next to me when I got up, so I could see past the folks in front of me.

On my slow walk down the many stairs, (my only complaint, but there were no elevators in the 1929 building, so there couldn’t be any in the restoration) with my cane, several employees asked if I needed assistance. I appreciated it. I had to wait to be picked up and again there was a police presence and the big luxury buses were back too. Many people were in the outer lobby waiting for cabs and I for my ride. The driver called and said he would be there in 10 minutes. No one was asked to leave even though you could tell they were almost ready to close. While I stood inside waiting because of the frigid temperatures, a lady outside tried to hijack my ride. You have to sign a form when you get in and while a police officer came inside to ask if there was anyone there with my name, the lady got in the ride and refused to tell the driver her name. When I got escorted outside by the officer, she was coming out and the driver was calling my cell phone.

Then I was on my way home. The driver wanted to know what was going on there and we talked about how this place was going to be great for Brooklyn. A new place for performers to come to and revenue for the borough. Thanks to ACE Theatrical Group and the former and present Brooklyn Borough President’s, there is an alternative to The Barclays Center.  These are the upcoming shows at The Kings. A Queen performed in the Borough of Brooklyn in the County of  Kings and it was amazing, incredible and all I dreamed it would be. Thank you Ms. Diana Ross for a fun-filled evening.

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Let Me Introduce Myself

I decided to start a blog. Why would I do that?? I have to take myself back to high school, Bishop Loughlin Memorial, 1979, when as a freshman I joined the newspaper, as an after school activity. I found out I expressed myself well and often better, when I wrote. I was basically shy and sheltered, but I felt free and happy when I wrote.

I thought I would become a journalist like Barbara Walters or write for a newspaper, like The New York Times. I had attended free workshops at Columbia University for aspiring high school journalists, and received an honorable mention award in a Catholic newspaper for catholic school high school students. I was listed in both my junior and senior years of high school in Who’s Who Among American High School Students for my journalistic endeavors. I was ready to study journalism. I was ready! Maybe I could be an entertainment reporter since I loved feature articles. I had been reading The National Enquirer and Star Magazine since I was very young. Celebrity gossip was so cool. I knew all of Liz Taylor’s business.

Even with all this momentum around me, I felt no one around me truly supported my dreams. I didn’t have the self-esteem and inner strength to be a cheerleader for myself. Oh, if we could do a rewind, the things we could change……..

I believed the negativity hype. I heard that it was harder for blacks in that industry or how someone they knew didn’t do well in the profession. Instead, I pursued less creative paths. I was a paralegal and then a librarian, but always kept journals and didn’t turn down opportunities to participate in newsletters at work. I had a knack for writing and I knew it.

I have had a lengthy period of health issues. Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines, carpal tunnel and chronic pain finally took their collective toll and I could no longer work. Fibromyalgia makes it difficult for my brain to put thoughts together. Reading and writing that has always come easily, became a process of labor. It still is a struggle to get my thoughts down. This is why I decided to blog. I don’t want my gift to disappear, because of my chronic illness. I know now to fight for myself and for what I want.

I have practiced Buddhism with the SGI-USA for the past 10 years and my goal is to be happy. Nichiren Buddhism, teaches that each person has within the courage, wisdom and compassion to face and surmount any of life’s challenges. If you watched the film, What’s Love Got to Do With It, about the life of Tina Turner, starring Angela Bassett, you heard her chant -Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. We all see how Tina’s life changed when she started to chant.

So, I’m going to be happy despite the obstacles in my life. I have changed from my core, so I am brave enough to blog. I’ll write about the everyday, give insight about living with chronic illness. I’ll write about the mundane and the amusing. I’ll blog about what upsets me, enlightens me and what makes me, ME. Winning in life is what’s important no matter what. So as I blog I may face failure, criticisms and everything in between, but I believe in me and know this is the right time to write for me and to share it with others. I hope you will join me on my journey, finally fulfilling a dream.