Disabled. Doesn’t Work. Still One Phenomenal Woman.

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She said, “You chose a person that is disabled and doesn’t work over me.” As if being disabled and UNABLE to work made me the lesser choice. It didn’t help that he didn’t come to my defense with tenacity, anger, and “pissoffity” (extreme pissed off-ness). But you know what did help? Knowing who I am regardless of my disabilities and the inability to work.

“Life ain’t been no crystal stair”  is something Langston Hughes mother would say to him. I truly understand this poem at the age of 44. I look back over my life and it’s been filled with tacks, splinters, torn up boards, and no carpet. I’ve been reaching landins’, turning corners, and going in places where there is no light. In other words it’s been filled with one challenge after another, heartaches and heartbreaks. It’s been one bad break after the other. It’s been filled with PAIN and TEARS. I’ve been sad and lonely. I have been alone in a room full of people and lonely in a relationship. I’ve had bad things happen to me, #metoo and saw a dream die after a hysterectomy. I’ve been made a fool of and made horrible mistakes. I am sure anxiety and depression was here before I had a diagnoses and to mention some childhood drama and trauma. Teased, talked about, and bruised. Diagnosed at 8 with JRA and it made it’s return in 2010 as Rheumatoid Disease and brought Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Osteoarthritis, and unexplained shortness of breath. Nope. Life ain’t been no crystal stair. And nope, that ain’t all folks.

However, I have raised a beautiful, bright, and intelligent daughter that is now in college. I have written three books. I returned to painting abstract art as a “black woman” and that may seem strange to some of the people in my circle. I have learned how to crochet. I have accepted my role as a spiritual teacher. I have found my authentic self. I keep rising from the ashes. Sometimes I am still standing and sometimes I get the wind knocked out of me, but I am still alive. I still believe in true, real, authentic love even if I never get to have it on this earth because I believe I have had it in another lifetime. I have learn to live fearless even when I am feeling fearful. I have went without so that my daughter could have. I love to give to other people. I love to fight for the underdog. I have traveled with friends and family and there are sunrises and sunsets engraved in my mind forever. It doesn’t really matter what someone says, even if it hurts. Even if it rubs salt in the wounds of dealing with being a different woman than what I use to be. I still know who made me. I still know I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not less. I am MORE. In fact I am a better woman because of all that I have survived and I look forward to spending the rest of my life thriving (with or without a man but hopefully with the one that matches my level of love and maturity).

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can’t touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can’t see.
I say,
It’s in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I’m a woman

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need of my care,
‘Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

~Maya Angelou

~Nikki

Disability and Reality Head on Collisions

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If you have been following my blog, then you know I am real, honest, and sometimes raw about what I think and how I feel. I am not here for the shock value, I am here because I love people that are honest about their thoughts, feelings, etc. Honest, not rude or mean or nasty. Just the plain old truth. So let’s dive in.

I hate being disabled, but I am grateful that I won my case. I hated my last job, but I was grateful that I had one and it could provide some income. I wasn’t making much and that job was killing me on every level. Yesterday early in the evening I thought I was having some sort of breakdown. I was going down slowly and then boom! I was falling down a dark hole that seem to never end. I reached out for help to a friend that wasn’t available. I reached out to a professional associate, she answered and provided a rope to pull me back to ground. I realized AGAIN yesterday, just how being disabled can restrict, constrict, and confine you financially. It can halt your endeavors. It makes me angry. It makes me sad. It makes me fell worthless. It makes me irrational. It brings up things from the past and shoves them in your face. Sometimes, down your throat. I felt like I could not breathe yesterday. It was anxiety mounting up to a panic attack. And depression was hovering around like a drone.

Before this episode, I had an encounter with a relative. Then I discovered just how limited I was  because of my disability with an endeavor I was trying to start up with a friend. And there came these waves of tears in my eyes that I fought back. By the time I talked to my professional associate, I told her 1st of all, I am crying. Secondly, I am ashamed that I am crying. Crying in my childhood was often made fun of or pointed out by my mother. “She’s so sensitive. She will cry if you look at her.” I thought something was wrong with crying. I also didn’t think it was funny. So crying to me can sometimes bring up a need to apologize for crying. In essence, apologize for being sensitive and weak (according to society, some friends, and in relationships). I do know a good cry is cleansing.

Rules and regulations for disability are necessary. They keep most people from getting over on the system. However, for those of us that wish to do things to help ourselves, it’s often a challenge to figure out exactly what we can do. It’s also a shock sometimes to find out you can’t do certain things and therefore you can’t reap the benefits or joys of those things.

This morning my ground is shaky. But, I am still here. I am still fighting and coping with my thoughts and emotions. This is REAL life. This is a MOMENT that I have to work through. I am fragile in this state and I know I have to protect my mind.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy does come in the morning,” -Bible

I am really ready for morning.

~Nikki

Friday Jr and The WKND Weekend

 

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Well, I had such a busy weekend I am just now getting a chance to sit down and blog about it. It was Thursday, also known to many as Friday Jr. (smile), that I got up the nerve to show up at a Memphis Bloggers Exchange Happy Hour. It was sponsored by the Nashville Bloggers Exchange. The place we met up at is new to Memphis. It’s NOT a club, but a place where you come to hang out, have great drinks, great conversations, good food, relax and unwind with friends or you can fly solo. Service was top notch from our entrance to our exit.

First, let me tell you when I walked I was nervous. Why? Well, if you have followed my blog for a while you know I have been through a rough few years. I was worried about meeting new people. Something that use to not bother me as much before Rheumatoid Arthritis came out of remission and brought fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and diabetes with it. Long story short, it changed the game as far as friendships, my social life, and the how I deal with people all together. Well, after walking into therapy with anxiety on level 8, giving myself all the reasons I should not go, I left with anxiety on 2 and all of the reasons I should go. I am so glad I did! I made so many great connections and diversified connections at that. These are just a few of the bloggers, writers, vloggers and photographers that were at the event. These wonderful group of ladies and more are right here in my city and now we are connected via social media.

We were invited to not only meet up, but to take photos, blog about our experience at this new hot spot in our city. We were able to try their entire menu! And everything was delicious! The cocktails were worth the money and I say that because if you are going to pay $10-$15 or more for a cocktail, you want your money’s worth. Tiger’s Blood Cocktail is what you see pictured above. I liked it so much I had two!

We were able to explore the venue and take pictures. You can reserve the booths we are in and they have several packages to chose from. They are also now serving brunch on Sundays! I love a good brunch! The patio was my favorite. It was very chilly that night, but the fire kept us warm as many of took advantage of photo ops. We were snapping it up and especially with a photographer on hand we got some great shots of our selves!

This was definitely a busy evening. I left there and drove across town to meet another group of ladies and we had karaoke, food, and wine. You know that had to be filled with laughter and great meet and greet. It was all positive vibes.

As the weekend rolled around, Friday I was invited to a movie. Saturday I purchased a small bookshelf from Facebook Market. I drove downtown to get it. I stopped by the Mississippi River to finish up my coffee from Starbucks and then off to ACE Hardware for paint. This was going to be an easy, less than 30 minute project.

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I painted the faux cherry wood bookshelf a dark espresso color that matches my new furniture in my room. It was the perfect size.

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And for the finale, Saturday night was epic and crazy fun. I went to a tribute for Bob Marley performed by some amazing reggae, funk, soul bands from my city, Memphis. It was a friend’s birthday week and I invited her to get out and enjoy herself. We met up with two others and it was so much fun. Too much fun lol! We ended up at iHop and I haven’t been there in about 15 years. I made it home safely and Sunday I slept in. I was home all day recovering from a very long week as I was at the hospital every morning with my dad and then coming home to do my own personal business and parent. Add the weekend to that and you have a run down chic! I was feeling the pre-pain before the big earthquake that landed Monday evening. Serious pain and mental drain. I have a heel spur I think from walking the long walk daily last week to and from my dad’s hospital room and serious back and hip pain radiating to the thigh. I know for sure my back and shoulder is a fibromyalgia flare. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t trade that wild and crazy weekend for anything and it brings me great joy to be there in the mornings for my dad to help or keep him company until he can home.

~Nikki

Simple but Delicious Slow Cooker Pot Roast

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This is a simple slow cooker pot roast recipe. You know me! When it comes to cooking most of the time I love a quick recipe so that I can get on with my evening or day.

  • About a 3lb beef roast (or your choice)
  • 2 cups of beef or chicken broth. That’s correct. You can use chicken broth as a sub!
  • Seasonings can be as simple as salt and pepper or your choice of seasonings. Just remember to over season your roast a bit because you’ll sear it and then it has to go into liquid so you’ll lose a little seasoning. My seasonings were: Weber’s steak and Chop (heavily) and then Garlic Salt, Black pepper, crushed Basil leaves (lightly)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or whatever oil you use)
  • 1 small onion or onion flakes (my daughter hates onions 😢) You can chop half or all…up to you or skip it
  • 1 can of cream of celery or mushroom
  • Celery flakes (optional)

1. Season your roast. I pierce my roast with a fork or if you have a meat cleaver use that as it is the proper tool. But, I like using a fork because I can pierce deep. You don’t have to do this at all.

2. In a large skillet add the olive oil and turn to medium high. Once it’s hot place the pot roast in and sear each side really good. About 4 minutes each side Remove pan and let the roast sit as you prepare the slow cooker.

2. Add 2 cups of broth, onions or a cap full of onion flakes (about half a teaspoon & they will become soft), sprinkle basil and pepper into the mix and turn slow cooker to high (5-6 hours) or low (8-10 hours).

3. Add roast. Take a spoon and put some of the broth on top. Let it cook for the time above but see next step!

4. One or two hours before your roast is done, mix one can of cream of mushroom/celery with half a cup of water. I added celery seeds. About half a teaspoon. Mix well and pour into the broth. Mix in. Take a spoon and pour some of that mix in the slow cooker on top of your roast. Let it finish cooking.

4. You’re done!

I like to make this when I have leftover vegetables from another meal I can add as sides or if I don’t have potatoes, cartots, celery. Also, I may simply want roast with mash potatoes or rice. Either way this is simple! And as my mom would say, “Add something green (a green vegetable) to your plate!”

 

Isn’t she a beauty?! But more importantly it’s DELICIOUS!

~Nikki

Vegas and RA: The Good, The Bad, The Really Bad and Ugly

I have shared with you my wonderful and brief trip in Vegas. The shopping, the entertainment, tourism, my fashion, and family fun. I know it seems so glamourous or maybe not lol! But, anyone can take a trip and it has nothing to do with having a luxurious job, which I don’t have. But, it has everything to do with finding the best deals and planning way, way, ahead. Remember, you can do whatever you set your mind to.

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Speaking of planning, when you have certain physical illnesses and diseases, limitations, etc. you have to learn to plan ahead as much as possible. We who have Rheumatoid Disease, Fibromyalgia, and other illnesses understand our dis-ease can be UNPREDICTABLE. So, this is where experience comes in, Google, and planning ahead as best you can.

  • I forgot my cute and much needed hot/cold reusable water packs. I have a small and a large one I usually take with me. You can find them at TJMaxx or on Amazon.
  • So, that was out! In Vegas there is WALKING, WALKING, WALKING, AND MORE WALKING! However, it is easily accessible for those with wheelchairs if you have one. So, don’t let that deter you from Vegas or anywhere else on this planet. I had my best pair of sneakers. This is not the time to break in a new pair. Go with a sure thing.
  • Pain meds ahead of time if possible. All meds on time. However, if I know I am going to have more than one drink, I will skip my meds. I am just being honest with you. You, however, follow your doctors orders. I’m not that big of a drinker meaning I can have it or not and still have a great time. I am allowed, per my doctor, a glass of wine per day if I want it. It’s not that serious for me.
  • Comfy house shoes with memory foam or something that is plush
  • Pain cream or gel
  • Foldable Flats and a purse that will fit them
  • Epsom Salt

Now, here is where it gets bad and ugly. I love heels and I can still wear them, but not the really high ones I use to wear. I blogged about that journey and halidux rigidus surgery a few years ago. I made the choice and sacrifice to wear some really cute heels to a club to see a celeb DJ. The walk there was fine. The dancing the night away was fine, but when I stopped I knew I was in trouble. The walk back was TORTUROUS. I can’t begin to describe to you the pain I felt. I knew I was going to have more than one drink so I skipped my meds. I had to rely on other methods and time to relieve my incredible pain.

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You are not suppose to walk through the hotel or casino with your shoes off. By the time my cousin and I got close to our rooms, we took off our shoes and sighed the biggest relief! Trust me! The picture below is how we felt after those “contraptions” called heels came off!

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But it did not stop there for me. I was swollen from the feet up to the knees. My feet were as red as fire and the neuropathy felt like shocks and this set off the fibromyalgia. I thought to myself, “WTH! I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS BAD!” But like I mentioned to you before, this disease is very unpredictable. I did not feel my bones hurting, but I figure they would be tomorrow. I could hardly walk on my feet and I had my plush house shoes with me. They only helped a little this time because the reaction was UNPREDICTABLE! I applied the pain cream and NOTHING! NO RELIEF!

 

 

I was like OMG and then I was like Dear God, please let this ease up. I tried to sleep and I could not. Below is a picture of the next evening (note I did well all the next day with my sneakers on), when we were going out again but decided on a fancy dinner instead. This is the results with flat shoes which is what they looked liked the night I took off my heels. I was in so much pain and discomfort that night I wasn’t thinking about anymore photos lol! But no lol! The only difference is the pain was minimum but the swelling was MAX. And the crazy thing is, I wasn’t in these shoes but a couple of hours. My feet were like, “No ma’am! Not again!”

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So, what did I do the night I had on heels and the pain was off the charts. I GOOGLED what to naturally do to ease neuropathy, fibromyalgia, RA. I read until I found something I could do. And here is what I will always want in a hotel from here on out. A good CLEAN (I am so OCD about bathrooms and what they look like) tub I can soak in AND once I get to my destination buy some Epsom Salt! This is my new thing to do or find a small pack if I am flying, to bring with me. Add that to the list. Thank GOD the Luxor Hotel in Vegas had a soakers tub! I filled it up with hot water, grabbed my phone and started a guided meditation session on chronic pain with my Inside Timer App, and soaked for about 20 minutes. I felt 50% better. If I would have had some Epsom Salt, I would probably have been at 75%. I was able to feel the difference and fall asleep.

The meditation app helped because I was in BIG pain and feeling so anxious, defeated, a bit jilted, and was slipping into a “Wish I never had this stupid disease rant” and I miss my old self. The meditation helped bring my emotions down and helped clear my mind and bring focus. Here I was finding the best solution to my problem at the moment.

I wish I could tell you that I won’t do that again. But, I don’t want to lie to you. Vegas is my YOLO ZEN place and it’s only once a year. I don’t how long I will be able to travel because of RA and it’s complications. I can tell you that I will bring a purse big enough for my foldable flats!!! I didn’t think I would need them because where we were going was close to the hotel. I did not factor in how much dancing I would be doing. Oh well, you live, you learn , you survive another day.

I had other pain in Vegas because of the walking. It’s like I said, this is not something I do every day and it’s expected when I travel. In the RA group many had to stop traveling or keep it to a minimum. I think I am midway at 43 with traveling. I have a few places I would like to see and hope I don’t ever have to give traveling up completely.

~Nikki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Confetti!

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WOW! What a weekend! I met one of my favorite, most influential authors of all time and got the last book of a series signed. I met Kimberla Lawson Roby! It was her book Casting the First Stone that led me to believe it was possible to be a Christian and still write novels with a spiritual undertone. My novels may be a bit more unconventional as far as most Christians would think, but I am not really concerned about that! I have my own path to take. Anyway, I was over the moon and treasure the book and the moment. My daughter was there to help me stand in a very long line. Some day I’ll be signing books!

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I also went out for cocktails and small plates with…brace yourself, my daughter’s father mother….and his wife. Yep. You read that right. As a single parent, the road has not always been easy and neither are the relationships involved with raising my daughter. Some of our thoughts, actions, and ways are different and well that makes for conflicts of interests. It was extremely rough starting out, but we try to get along and sitting down with all of together was a miracle within itself. Conversation, cocktails, and food made it a pleasant outing.

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Oh, yeah. I got a new hairstyle! Lol! I think it may last for a few weeks. Natural hair can be a challenge. Especially, for someone like me who has Rheumatoid Disease and Fibromyalgia. Which took a toll on me by the time Sunday rolled around. I felt so bad, but I am grateful for the two days, Friday and Saturday, in which I had little discomfort. Sunday was very difficult and I am feeling better on today. I hope you enjoyed your weekend, too!

~Nikki

Keep Out. Only God & the Experienced Allowed.

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It’s down right ugly the mood I am in. This war in my head and heart after my second hearing this year only to have the judge subpoena more records and a test to prove worsening conditions. I thought we had what he wanted. I thought we had enough. My anxiety was already through the roof and I’d had a panic attack before I even arrived this morning. I thought it was going to be over today. Needless to say, I bolted out of there and cried like I needed to in the car. I am so very tired. Over three years of struggling to survive and to stay sane.

I trusted God as I have throughout this process. It seems as if we were nearing the end. I feel like the rug was pulled away from under me. I feel heavily disappointed. Angry. Pissed. Exhausted. But, not defeated. I feel as I want to pull away from the rest of the world and at the same time I wish someone would console me. But, I don’t want them to see me crying. You know, crying in this world is a sign of weakness to most (NOT ME) and it makes people uncomfortable (NOT ME). In my not so humble but, honest opinion the only reason people feel that way is because they feel weak themselves when they cry and the are in fact uncomfortable with their own feelings.

So, here I am. Weary. Wounded and Sad. But unwilling to stop trusting God for a favorable outcome. I am confused. I don’t know why all of this has happened to me or is happening. I do know I did nothing wrong. It was not because of sin (rolls eyes). It just is a part of my journey. My story. So, as I try to figure out how to keep the lights on, pay for a cavity fill in my insurance doesn’t cover, pay my rent, pay other bills, and STILL be pleasant to others, I have to feel what I am feeling. I have to go through the thicket that has thorns. I remember the sticker bush at parents house and getting knocked into it playing or trying to hide and having to squeeze through it and another bush. No matter how you tried to get around or through it you were scratched up. There is just no way around pain sometimes. Only through it.

~Nikki

 

Creative Confetti. Fashion Confetti. Learning At My Own Pace.

Here are a few of the things I have crocheted for the fall and winter 2017-2018. I thought I would share! I am getting better. Above is a chain scarf/necklace with a flower.

The one on the left is a shawl I made for breast cancer survivors. The one on the right I a shell stitch scarf infinity scarf for a sorority.

The peaches and cream ear warmer headbands, the beautiful brown button up cowl, and the fall green infinity scarf.

I want to do some crafts festival this year. I hope I can sell more items. I did really well for a beginner this fall and winter. My new goal is to perfect my sewing and do what I really want to do….create fashion! Practice makes perfect and as I realize I can do it, I just have to do it differently because of my ailments, I feel more confident. I haven’t decided how I feel about that or if it’s worth it. When I feel confident, I feel optimistic. So this Spring will me more of me learning to sew. I still have some learning to do with crocheting and knitting. Here a little there a little…learn.

~Nikki

Happy Saturday!

RA BLOG/Anxiety: Walk With Me

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It’s Saturday evening and suddenly things begin to spin out of control. I am flustered. I can’t breathe. I am becoming irritable. I have things to do and many of those things won’t get done. I have only been gone for 4 hours and it feels like I have done a full day of labor. I hate Rheumatoid Disease and Fibromyalgia. I am frowning and I remember I took a prednisone pack and this has the propensity to change my mood dramatically but, no, no that’s not it. Thoughts swirl in my head. I am dropping things, the door jams, I curse, I get into the house and I see things are getting junky, I am angry that I seem to always run out of energy before I run out of time.

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When I worked for an adult mental health agency there was this phrase said to a patient after a “meltdown” subsided in order to move the patient from one area to a calmer environment. That phrase was, “Walk with me.” After I made my sandwich I sat down and I took a deep breath. Why are you so angry? I asked myself. It’s because I am so tired and I was thinking in the car not only about being fatigued, and all that I needed to do but, also about my current situation and what will I do if…you know…things don’t work out. Where will I stay? How will I survive? I started to imagine myself broke down like those who sacrificed their bodies to provide for their families. I felt sorry for them and then I thought they were mothers and fathers with illnesses, too. I thought about how sad and depressed I would be. Then I started to get angry with God for letting that happen even though it has not happened.

Walk with me…

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I ate my sandwich. I saw this photo I saved and I thought there is where I want to be at the end of days like this. Walking on the beach at sunset. Sending all of my thoughts and cares of the day on the waves. And then what would you do?

I would no doubt feel peace. I would return to my beach home and prepare for the night and the next day (Sunday). What would you cook? I asked myself. It surely wouldn’t be a lean cuisine warmed in the microwave. I would make a salad, pan sear some salmon, steam some veggies and pour some strawberry lemonade. Sounds good.

Walk with me. If you can steady your thoughts by steadying your breath and just take a mental walk somewhere else. Find a photo of where you would escape to and just imagine what you would be doing. So, as I came back to present, I decided on what needed to be done and what must wait. I feel so much better I didn’t go into a full anxiety attack or need the inhaler or remained frazzled and angry the rest of the evening.

#Expansion2018

~Nikki