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!



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.

Heart to Heart Connection

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything to this blog, I have been having trouble trying to put words and thoughts together.  Brain fog is evil!  I have been experiencing sciatic pain, in addition to fibromyalgia pain. I also have been having headaches on and off. Standing hurts. Sitting hurts. My legs hurt. I have spent much of the past month lying in bed. I have missed most of my Buddhist meetings and have missed seeing my Buddhist friends. A few have visited, chanted and talked with me. Others have called to check on me and for that I am very grateful. So many times when people are chronically ill, folks just don’t know what to say. They have said things repeatedly to soothe and comfort but when the pain appears to be never-ending, people have no more words.

After spending so much time lying down, I’ve learned a few things. The most important is that my bed is not as comfortable as I thought. A part of my bed is broken. Not the mattress, the bed. When the nerve pain runs through my legs or back in the middle of the night, the sinkhole in the middle of the bed doesn’t help. I thought about purchasing a new bed, but I am one of countless people surviving on a disability check. I’m grateful for the money and qualifying for it was a job all by itself. When I stopped working, my income was reduced TREMENDOUSLY!  I really couldn’t afford to purchase a new bed.

Recently, I have become reacquainted with my father, after 47 years of no relationship. Along with him, has come cousins I didn’t grow up with. I also have Aunt’s and Uncles that I knew nothing about and don’t know me. I’ve been in touch with one cousin and one of my uncles. My Uncle has had a really heartbreaking thing occur in his life, but he, at his core is a strong and intellectual man. His heart is wide open and accepting. He’s told me about family members, I have never met including my late grandparents. We both deal with ongoing pain. We have connected on a sort of spiritual level. and we think a lot alike in that realm, though he is Christian and I am Buddhist.

Last week, I got a text from him on a day when tears were running out my eyes and my pain was so unbearable, I was ready to go to the emergency room. I’m sure that would have made me feel worse, dealing with waiting and sitting, so I didn’t go. He asked how I was and I said terrible. I was in pain and about to lay down. Without him knowing anything about my bed situation, he asked about the type of bed I was sleeping in. Was it conventional?  I said yes and then…………

Folks, Love stepped in. My Uncle, who I have never met, offered to purchase a new bed for me.  A bed with wave massage and the capacity to change into in 1001 positions. What a very special gift!! A gift that will last a lifetime according to the manufacturer and people I’ve spoken to, including my uncle, who has one himself. A bed that has an ability to ease my pained body. Thank You is just not enough. We have not yet laid eyes on each other, but our hearts have touched.

In Buddhism, his gift to me, we call it a benefit. My prayers are always to feel better and work on my human revolution so I can work for world peace (kosen rufu), through introducing people to Buddhism. My suffering is causing me to chant more. As I chant more, my life is experiencing change. Some things are easy to see, others are not. I am still developing as a human.  I know one day, so much of what’s happening to me will be more understandable and make complete sense. One lesson already learned, Pain has made me more compassionate. I continue to learn so much as I study Buddhist concepts, almost 11 years into my practice. Buddhism affects my everyday life, every day.

The other thing I have learned while laying down and now preparing for my new bed to arrive, I have stored a lot of things under my bed over the years. OMG!  I’m working hard right now to clean it all up and have the area ready for new comforts. I do it slowly, as I’m trying not to flare up the fibro. I pray that everyone I know has someone in their life, like my Uncle ,who wants the best for you, no matter the cost to their wallet. Thank you and Besos, Uncle.

I hope I will now be able to write more often and post to this blog. Being out of bed for me means more experiences and things to write about. Here’s to more writing and more posting!!

Winter Woes…. Spring I Need You!!

It’s February and this weather is killing me. i have been in physical pain, no energy, filled with headaches and little sleep. I try to distract myself with Facebook, YouTube videos of favorite music and Vloggers ( GabeBabeTV, DearNaptural85, Daily Davidsons and Toni and the Boy are some favorites.) I’m addicted to The Golden Girls marathons. (Sophia Petrillo is one of the greatest characters EVER!!)

I can no  longer work because of  chronic pain and fibromyalgia. I remember a time not that long ago when I was using my Librarian degree, working at a public library.  February was like tax season for librarians. Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, President’s Day all in the same month. Children and their parents came in droves for information and books. I learned a lot every February during Black History Month. Teachers never seemed to do their homework, before they gave out an assignment. Sometimes there was only a line or two about a person the child had to research.They asked for pictures of people who lived and died before cameras were invented or whose faces would not have been drawn in a portrait.

Black History Month was started by Carter G. Woodson, a scholar, who knew that Black people were more than just slaves. We have contributed to every part of American History.

An improved refrigerator design was patented by inventor John Standard of Newark, New Jersey on June 14 1891. Benjamin Banneker invented the first wooden pocket watch and so much more. Judy W. Reed patented a hand-operated machine for kneading and rolling dough. Lewis Latimer invented the carbon filament for the light bulb. Gerald A. Lawson invented the modern home video gaming console. Charles Drew invented improved techniques for blood storage creating, the blood bank.

My elementary school was named after Granville T. Woods. Woods invented more than a dozen devices to improve electric railway cars. His most noted invention was a system for letting the engineer of a train know how close his train was to others. We studied Black History when I was in elementary school. I first heard a Nina Simone song within the walls of Granville T. Woods Elementary School.

Black musicians and entertainers have invented Blues, Jazz and Hip-Hop music. Click on the Hip- Hop link for an interview with DJ  Kool Herc considered by many the Godfather of Hip Hop.

During February all the book shelves with black inventors, entertainers, sports figures and politicians would dwindle fast. The obvious and easiest  would go first, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and Harriet Tubman. I would have to encourage people to go beyond what they already knew.

They didn’t know about Lena Horne signing her Hollywood contract with a clause  that her father insisted upon, she would never play a maid in films. While looking at the cover of books about Ms. Horne, I was asked, She’s Black?!??  She was always glamorous, but her parts were easily cut when the films played in the south. Some people didn’t know who Jackie Robinson, Langston Hughes or Nelson Mandela were. I was teaching history lessons while doing Readers Advisory .

I was busy all day long changing book displays, adding books. Every February, I became a teacher, a scholar and used my own knowledge ( I love reading biographies, so I know a few things…) to help others. I was exhausted but I liked doing it.

February is different for me now. I post Black History facts on my Facebook page so I can keep learning and teach others. We need to be aware of the past and open our eyes to the state of our present. There are some that say there is no need for Black History Month. I beg to differ. Many in the generation behind me do not know much history; much less Black contributions to America and to the rest of the world. It’s unfortunate, but true.

Schools spend so many hours preparing students for testing but are not teaching about some of the aforementioned black figures. Many black families are very unaware of the greatness of our people. Today, not positive reality TV stars, singers, rappers and ball players are most popular and worshiped. There are scientists, doctors, researchers, engineers and others that need to be known. Every family of all denominations, owes it to their children to know the history of other groups. If you live in an area where there are no people who look like you, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month and even, Women’s History Month are there to teach you. We have traditionally been taught European and early American history, so let’s step outside the box. Let’s break down barriers. Let’s embrace one another. Let’s embrace culture. Please keep the libraries full and those shelves empty of books and gain knowledge. Knowledge truly is power. Ask a Librarian. Librarians are the best source in the world!

This winter can’t end soon enough for me. The polar vortex has become too much. As I type my fingers hurt. I’m walking a bit hunched over from back pain. My bed has become a place where I can not find sleep but I spend a lot of time in it as chronic fatigue  syndrome plagues me.

There’s a passage in the Writings of Nichiren Daishonin that says: Those who believe in the Lotus Sutra are as if in winter, but winter always turn to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. ”(The Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1, p997). I know this is a fact, but sometimes it feels like this is never-ending, as the weather and my body engage in a fist fight. I am really feeling the body blows.

I’m angry at all groundhogs and their predictions of more weeks of this frigid hell. I am waiting for Spring. I want to throw Spring a party. I think Spring should be a national holiday. I want to celebrate the sun and warmth. I know Winter always turns to Spring. I wish it would hurry up, we are running out of places to put the snow. Sigh…….spring

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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Diary of a Migraine

I finally started my blog, and apparently the news upset my body. It felt like lighting struck the back of my head. My bed became my refuge and the place to uphold me. This past week, I was stricken with a migraine. It was one for the record books. I have been having migraines for years, but they are not traditional, because nothing about me is. These headaches can last for days.

I once had to wear sunglasses in the house for a week, because the light from the sun outside was slowly killing me. WebMD describes migraine symptoms as moderate to severe pain (often described as pounding, throbbing pain) that can affect the whole head, or can shift from one side of the head to the other.Sensitivity to light, noise or odors.Blurred vision, Nausea or vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain.Loss of appetite.Sensations of being very warm or cold.Paleness.Fatigue, Dizziness Fever(rare) Bright flashing dots or lights, blind spots, wavy or jagged lines(aura).

You can read about it but feeling one is very different.

I peeked at the Golden Globes Awards, Sunday night with one eye squinting at the television. Common gave a fantastic acceptance speech after winning Best Song (Glory), his collaboration with John Legend for the movie Selma.
I checked into Facebook on my phone a few times. I know if I don’t post something folks may think I am on the deceased list. I have a bit of an addiction to Facebook (Don’t judge me. I have a few simple pleasures in my life, LOL) I have made great friends with total strangers, reconnected with people and stay connected with family.
Day 2– Absolutely nothing was working and believe me, I have a lot of medication to choose from. My regular migraine medications were laughing at me. Pain was all over my face. I was not standing up too straight. I was drinking tea, trying to sleep and basically waiting out the day hoping for relief.
Day 3- My Facebook friends were sending me healing vibes and wished me a speedy recovery. I needed that kind of optimism and so appreciated them. A brother in faith sent me a home remedy and I tried it. I lay down in bed chanting quietly to myself, that this had to STOP! I felt beaten and defeated, but I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t sleep and fibromyalgia symptoms started kicking in. My back decided it wasn’t going to work anymore. Come on man! Are you serious with this?

On the final day of the beating and throbbing, I felt like Sheila E, was living inside my head playing percussion. I was living in the house without lights on. My bill should be low next month. I struggled to my prayer altar.

The SGI-USA webpage describes our Buddhist practice as this: “The practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and recite portions of both the second (Expedient Means) and the sixteenth (Life Span) chapters of the Lotus Sutra in front of the Gohonzon. This is the fundamental practice of Nichiren Buddhism, performed morning and evening.”

I read the daily guidance for January 14th. It said, Everyone at some time suffers from illness in one form or another. The power of the Mystic Law enables us to bring forth strength to overcome the pain and suffering of sickness with courage and determination. The Daishonin writes”Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is like the roar of a lion. What sickness can therefore be an obstacle? That final sentence is engraved in my head and heart, since I need to remind myself of this often.

I sat at the altar, even though I felt dizzy and discombobulated. I knew I couldn’t give in to defeat. I live my life like this all the time, because I’ve suffered from chronic illness for at least 15 years. I hurt everywhere, somewhere, all the time, everyday. I’ve been through major depression. I no longer take medication for it, but I can’t let my mind master me. We need to pay more attention and take more seriously people who suffer with depression. (Another conversation, for another time.)

I said my prayers with the determination that I will win over this Boom, Boom, Boom in the front of my head. The following morning, I could feel the heaviness in my head lifting and I actually got some sleep. I rested, I told Facebook my status. Rejoicing was in the air! My face pain is better, but the rest of my body still hurts.

Here I am, back at the blog. It’s been a rough week and yes my computer screen is a bit dim, my carpal tunnel is bugging me, but I am here. I am fighting like Muhammad Ali. I take blows on the ropes, but I keep coming back. Migraine be gone and don’t let the door hit ya! The Lioness has roared! I am a Fighter, a Winner and I am Victorious!