A few Sundays ago, my dad stood up to preach. He said, “What a time to be alive! It’s a good time to be alive in a time of trouble!” I immediately thought “What????” He went on to preach his message and I pondered this exclamation for the past two weeks. I called him yesterday to make sure I was on the right track as to what I thought he meant by this “being alive in a time of trouble” as a good thing.
He said “It was terrible to Esther to be alive with all that was going on. All the things that were happening to her people. It was until she understood that she indeed was appointed, anointed, for “such a time as this.” In Isaiah 61 it speaks of Jesus, being anointed with an oil of gladness, which is the Holy Spirit. We are anointed to with an oil of gladness for these troubled times. Even in my sickness, I have Parkinson’s, but it’s a good time to be alive. We are equipped to deal with the times, the trouble we are in.”
I was “near” the right track, but after speaking to him, I was on the right track. I get it. I have mild to severe Rheumatoid and Fibro, but it is still a good time to be alive. With all that is going on in the world, I am well equipped for this “such a time as this” moment (or moments as we seem to be having plenty of birth pains in the world) in history. I have the oil of gladness to endure my mission, my part, my role. And you too, are equipped with your faith, to endure, to play a role of your calling or choice, for these times of pandemics and civil unrest. In fact, I think I feel some joy about all of the changes, all of the exposure of broken health care systems, judicial systems, political uprooting, change in minds and hearts. In all of our getting ahead, getting promotions, getting things, getting of monopolies, most people and businesses are trying to get an understanding. “In all your getting, get an understanding.”
As I read Isaiah 61 I quickly realized the parallels of then and now. Amazing…
Oh and Psalms 45:7 Youlove righteousness, and hate wickedness: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows.
Self-love is loving the imperfect you. Believe it or not, you’re not perfect. You don’t and you won’t always get it right. It’s not always easy to forgive yourself. It’s not always easy to love yourself when you are not your best self. And it’s not so much that some of us want to be perfect, we just want to get it right. Don’t forget we are human, too. Give yourself unconditional love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. Give it to others. Self-love is loving the imperfect you, while you are striving to be the best you.
I don’t know what happened last night (Sunday night) but, I was ready for a good night’s sleep. Instead I woke up through the night tossing and turning. In the early hours of the morning I had a strange dream and then I felt pain in my right shoulder down the shoulder blade and in the bicep area. The usual suspect. It was too early in the morning for pain medication because I had things on my To-Do-List and I did not want to oversleep.
When I did wake up, it took me about an hour and a half to get out of the bed. I felt heavy and groggy. I put one foot on the floor, then the other pain shot through my back. And just like that it was gone. I got coffee on, some breakfast on the stove and in the oven. I sat down at the computer to read some emails and I realized that I had no idea what I was reading. I decided to do some other business and it was becoming increasingly difficult to comprehend each sentence. I knew then it was brain fog. This is something I was determined to do today, needed to do and it took me forever to understand what I was doing. Also, reading instructions over and over. This is brain fog. It is mentally exhausting. Draining before you can get on with a productive day. Especially, it involves reading of any kind, comprehension of any information, even if you are just reading for pleasure it’s like, “What did I just read?” It’s not longer pleasure, but a pain in the butt.
My head felt like it was stuffed with cotton and my thoughts were trying to get through. I thought I could feel my brain trying to connect the dots and that translates to even conversations seeming difficult. I can hear my self pausing so many damn times I feel and sound stupid. Of course, I know I am not.
“How can I savage this day? How can make the most out of it?” I asked myself. I thought about something Iyanla Vanzant has being saying lately during this pandemic and quarantine, “Instead of fear, why not possibilities?” So, I said to myself, instead of agitation about what I can not do, instead of frustrating the hell of myself with all f the reading, typing, thinking, talking, etc of the day I had planned, why not see what else I can do that does not involve deep concentration. I slather pain cream on my arm to dull the pain. I decide to tidy up my work space,
I finish tidying up my room. I worked on a crochet project. I was able to take care of some other financial business as the evening came around and my mind seem to work better. I got plenty of water down to help. I also did yoga and meditation to help. This is many of our lives with Rheumatoid Arthritis disease (not Arthritis) and Fibromyalgia. We call it RA fog or Fibro fog. Yesterday, I think BOTH were at work. I finally gave in to pain meds tonight. I need a better tomorrow.
“My errors give birth to my knowledge.” -Steps to Knowledge, Marshall Vian Summers
The other morning I was talking to a brother (friend of mine). He called to express his thoughts, feelings, and concern about the societal sickness of America and the World. In the conversation, he said something to me that was enlightening at the time and would become something I was suppose to add to my knowledge “kit”. He said, “You cannot have a conversation with emotions, but you can have a conversation with intellect.”
Three times between Thursday and Saturday, I tried to have a conversation with people that were emotional. As I am typing this, Spirit also made me aware that three times, I backed off and came to the recognition that I was dealing with an emotional person. Three times I became AWARE. Two times I had that hesitation to NOT respond just because I was invited via post or what I saw! I was getting ready to type that I failed, but no. THREE times I became aware and I learned. Practice makes mature. Practice makes growth. Whatever that person was feeling would dominate the conversation. It would be skewed to support their emotion. Backing off is seen as a weakness by the carnal, the fleshy, the ego, and a child like mentality. But knowing when to back off is WISDOM. It’s knowledge. It’s smart. It can save your life, energy, and time. And those are three things you can’t get back (You can get more of them, but that’s another blog).
Cost effective conversations is something I came up with after this happened to help me again Saturday. I need to ask myself is this conversation cost effective? Is it productive as it relates to my time, my energy, and my life? If they have their minds made up, why are we talking? If they are biased about the subject, have some ill will towards a group, why are we talking? If they are telling you from the jump, I am being petty, why engage? They are saying to you, “I am emotional and I am not willing to have a conversation based on intellect. I can’t even harness my emotions to have a conversation balanced with intellect.” This is a waste of my time, my life, my energy. I do not need to engage and if I can recognize this before I even get into a conversation, the better! If not, I at least need to be able to make a U-Turn before I get to far down the road.
What’s down that road? Frustration. Anger. Arguments over nothing that has to do with the main topic. You’ll never be heard or understood with a person that are in their feelings and out of their mind (lol! That was a good one!). You’ll never be heard or understood with a person who has already made up their mind and is not open to listening or understanding. This is where I call Shift into Reverse. Cars have a reverse for a reason and so do conversations. There is no weakness in backing off or up when you realize the road you are on is named Petty or Ignorance is Bliss. Sometimes you may notice a sign that says, Children at Play. Get out of there quickly!!!!
The knowledge that I present to you today has been brought to by my errors on this week. Wisdom will let you know, hence it was that hesitation for me, if there is an opportunity to talk, grow, learn or if you are headed nowhere fast.
And Note: You also can’t have a real productive conversation with someone that lacks the knowledge on a matter. Sometimes people don’t have the education or wisdom to have a conversation about certain things. I mean, I can’t talk to you about calculus or get to deep into a subject on global warming. I know I am limited in those areas. This is where you may hear me say or type: “Hmm. Tell me more.”
Self-love requires the excavation of your authentic self. Who were you before the pain? Before the heartbreak? Before the trauma and drama? Who were you before you were told what to do, what to think, what to be? What really makes you happy and brings you joy? Who were you before the events of life and your environment shaped you? Did you know you could shape and handcraft your own life? You are not bound by bad experiences. Ask the potter to shape you into the best you, the real you, the authentic you. Ask the “Universe” to reveal to you who you were. It may be painful sometimes remembering how happy, joyful, trusting, carefree, full of hope and dreams you use to be as a child or young adult but, it’s who you were before negative impacts. It’s hard coming back to life. You know why? The you, you think you are must die first. Self-love requires you to dig deep, knee deep, get dirty, and to excavate your authentic self. It’s messy. It’s hard work.
Note: When I read the book, Excavating Your Authentic Self, it was sad thinking about how I use to be as a child. I thought about playing outside on sunny days, laying in the backyard, coloring and painting, ice cream trips on Sunday evenings, and not knowing what was to come once I started school or once I realized the differences made between me and siblings, before I experienced being made fun of at school, etc. It was sad and it was scary to fast forward through some of the things that shaped me not for the good. But you do it to reveal to you who you truly are and how to bring that person back to this life equipped with experiences and wisdom.
“They are going to back to church! Can you believe it?!” and “We are going back to church! We have faith over fear!” this is the talk of social media. Some are stating their thoughts (opinions), some are stating their overly righteousness, and some are stating their concern or outrage. You’ve got those that use to go to church, never been to a church, against going back to church. And those that use to go to church and those that have never been all for people going back based on freedom. You’ve got churches against other churches for going back, and you’ve got churches beating other churches over the head with faith over fear rhetoric.
Christians are people first. People are allowed to have difference of opinions. It’s obvious by the many denominations and divisions of churches. However, most people do not realize that their opinions are not facts even if they present them as facts. You can form an opinion (or draw conclusions) based on facts, your faith, your experience and your belief. What gets to me is when either side presents their opinion, laced with insults or superiority. When I see they have their minds made up, there is no need to engage in a “what do you think?” because if they can’t present their thoughts without insults or superiority I highly doubt they can engage in a respectful debate.
How do you quiet the noise of two toddlers arguing over a blue ball? One is saying the ball is round and the other is saying the ball is blue. Guess what? You tell them they both are right. Blue is a color. Round is a shape. They are essentially arguing over two different things and on a higher perspective, they are arguing over nothing. You know this.
First rule of maturity, “I cannot control other people. However, I can control my response and my OWN actions.” If gathering is permitted with guidelines for a church what can I do about it? If that church doesn’t implement or follow the guidelines based on “we have faith over fear” (which makes me cringe and I will be happy to tell you why), what can I do about it? I can NOT go to that church. People don’t determine my faith or how much of it I have if I don’t do what they do. They don’t get to call it fear. I can call it wisdom. You remember, we as Christians are always saying call it how you want to see it in your life. I can continue to worship on line, drink my coffee or tea and mind my business. I can put on my mask, wash my hands, and keep my distance because I may come into contact with the “faith over fear” crowd. Also, I can’t say ALL of the churches will not follow the rules because I can’t visit ALL of the churches to see what they are doing. I can however, SEE if my place of worship is following the rules and go with that. It’s actually easier for smaller congregations to do. Especially, if you have a leader with some respect for the law of the land, wisdom, faith, and a plan. Faith without a plan, works, is dead. Dead is not so good if you still have work to do.
Secondly, on the road to maturity, SONS and DAUGHTERS, you put away childish things. It’s childish to argue over something that is going to happen whether you like it or not. It’s not childish to have an opinion, to discuss or debate it. It becomes childish when you shout, insult, demean, and stink up the room with your arrogance. It’s not a sweet smelling fragrance at all. It doesn’t smell like Teen Spirit. 😀 Sons and daughters understand their duties to their collective and individual calling. It’s not to sit around and go back and forth with children about a ball. Sometimes sons and daughters get caught up, but they quickly realize they are trying to discuss calculus with elementary students. There is nothing wrong with elementary students. We all were elementary at some point and well, some of us still are. Hence, the constant bickering over much to do about something that you can’t control. We ALL have some childish ways and there very well may be some mature people going toe to toe about this issue.
Thirdly, recognize a hot topic. This is a hot topic. You don’t have to tell people how you feel or what you think just because they ask you. I learned from one of my great spiritual teachers when someone asks you as a leader or Christian about a hot debatable topic to pull you into a heated discussion, you can simply say “I don’t think about it or I don’t.” Nikki, what do you think about people going to church?” I don’t think about it. “Nikki, do you feel they are right or wrong?” I don’t feel about it. You see, I’m not going to go back and forth because I have already processed it in my mind and heart or it could be a topic I truly care less about. Furthermore, I can’t “be living my best life” if I am going back and forth. Back and forth means I am going nowhere! And neither are you!
All I know is you can be about your Father’s business, your life work, your journey in a building or outside of a building and both. All I know is, I can continue to pray for those I don’t agree with, for their safety and protection just like I do for those I do agree with.
I’ll say this, I think the phases of opening up in some cities are moving too fast and without caution or plans. This is very American arrogance to me. In some cities, I think they are taking the appropriate time. This is very American Care to me. The four sentences before this one are all…opinions. The fact in that is cities are opening back up.
Self-love is about being HONEST with yourself about yourself, and about others. You may have to admit that you are selfish, petty to the 10th power, maybe you do let people walk all over you, maybe you do think you are better than others, maybe you are lonely, maybe you do have insecurities. MAYBE they don’t love you or respect you. Maybe it is just about sex. Maybe you never wanted to be a physical therapist, nurse, warehouse worker and you really wanted to open a bakery. You may have to admit that you were wrong and that you hurt someone. The truth will set you free but only if you tell the truth to yourself and others. It is hard work.
~Nikki, from the Heart Epiphany Lecture March 2020
A day in the red zone can range from feeling like you are drowning to feeling like you are falling down a deep dark black hole that has no bottom. Today, I felt like I was drowning which I consider, lucky. This is not so lucky for others. It’s really not lucky for me, but let me explain. When I feel like I am drowning, I feel like I am fighting to stay above water, to stay in the game of life. I am trying to listen to something positive, read, watch TV, talk to someone, write in my journal, do some yoga, guided meditation, affirmations, pray and to sit outside. When I feel as if I am falling down the dark hole I have nothing to hold on to or very little. I do not know when or if I will hit the bottom and if I will be alive or sane. I do not want to do any of the things I mentioned before. And I don’t. That to me is worse than the feeling of drowning in my thoughts, experiences, and emotions.
In the black hole, there is no hope. You may feel pain, you may feel numb, and I have felt the worse feeling which is darkness. I know it’s not a feeling…but it is. Today, I tried to do all I could early on to uplift myself out of this red zone. It was frustrating because nothing seem to be working or it worked for the moment then quickly passed. I also was in shoulder pain and hip pain that didn’t go away. I tried eating fresh fruit, opening up the door and windows to light. So, I decided that I would just wait until the storm passed. It comes with a thought that says, “I can’t wait until this day is over.”
So, in my searching for something to express how I felt about depression today, I found this explanation on Pinterest. I shared in on my social media to help others understand what people like me go through. At least, some huge part of it. Then I decided to write about it as I watch NCIS. I am glad the day is almost over. I pray and believe tomorrow will be better.
One time I went to the grocery store with a friend. We both needed to do some shopping and once in the store we went our separate ways. When we met up near the meat aisle, I was SHOCKED to see their basket. It was filled with junk, processed food, sodas, and juices mostly. I literally was shocked because here is a person that has health issues. No wonder when I cooked they needed to add incredible amounts of salt to their food. Even when the food was already generously seasoned. For a moment, I thought it was me. My daughter said it’s not you Mom, it’s them. They were use to what we call soul food with all of the soul, salt, and fat of the ancestors and they were conditioned to love junk food.
I get it. I get when the CDC, the health experts talk about underlying conditions are high in the minority communities. Poverty is high in the minority communities and the wages are low. There are food deserts. No one should have to travel outside of their neighborhood for food and some CANNOT! I’ve been to stores in one neighborhood where fruits and vegetables look TERRIBLE and go to the same chain in a nicer area and produce looks like it was picked that morning. Pair that with the lack of proper medical care, the disparities of care, the cost of health care, and to be honest add the MISTRUST, DISTRUST between doctors and minority patients. It’s a disaster. I have seen the doctor say “It’s not good for you to eat an entire box of ice cream” and upon leaving the doctor, the patient says stop by McDonald’s and get me a number 5, supersized, add a sundae to that. The unwillingness to take health seriously runs deep. “Those doctors don’t know what they are talking about” has been heard and passed on generation after generation. The idea that the doctors are trying to kill us, us being minorities, stem from the history of experiments done on and to minorities without their consent, knowledge, and against their will. The torture, the inhumanity, is disgusting.
My musing on health issues: Where there is a will there is a way. Where there is a will, there is an opportunity to research. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, fibromyalgia, which both lead to diabetes and a slightly elevated cholesterol reading recently. I learned from a white woman, who I took care after she had a complicated childbirth, to ADVOCATE for your health. “I am a nurse and they still would not listen to me. WE KNOW OUR BODIES. If you can, find a female doctor. At least you may have a chance of her listening to you or understanding you.” These were her words to me in my 20’s. She told several male doctors, nurses, something was wrong, something wasn’t right. They dismissed her concerns and when she went into labor, she had to be airlifted after birth. I never forgot the conversation. It was later on I also learned that when you are African American, male or female, a minority, you REALLY have to advocate for your health. We are seen as less than intelligent and assumed to be uninformed. WE can comprehend and learn just like anyone else. Obviously, there are all kinds of well educated working class minorities.
I once had a black male doctor that told me I had acid reflux. I went to the emergency room a few times with incredible pain. I remembered what this lady said to me and I began to look for another doctor. The week before I saw my new, female doctor, I went to the ER because I thought I was having a heart attack. The hospital drew blood and dismissed me. When my new doctor drew blood she rushed into my room. What hospital did you go to? She rushed out the room. She came back in. She made a phone call in the room and lost it on the people in the ER! She said the labs showed my white blood cells count was HIGH. In a week I was schedule for emergency surgery for the removal of my gallbladder. It was inflamed, swollen, and on the verge of bursting.
I also had to advocate for my health with a female doctor years ago at a clinic. I had no healthcare because it was too expensive and I needed that money to pay my bills and take care of my daughter (you see the choices some of us have to make!). She insisted I had diabetes. I insisted for another blood panel test and to see another specialists for rheumatoid or lupus. She told me the clinic already spent money for a test on me last year. This is when I could no longer be nice. I had photos of my swelling joints. She did not want to look. I went ballistic. I was not ashamed either. I asked her was it her money? I asked her did she not think I had any common sense or an education because I was at this FREE CLINIC with partial payment plans? Do all black people have diabetes? I KNOW MY BODY. SOMETHING IS WRONG. THIS IS NOT DIABETES. She ordered another test. I had been suffering for a year. It turned out, after seeing another specialist she referred, that I indeed had Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease, and fibromyalgia, and diabetes was a result of the Rheumatoid. She apologized that same day I lost my marbles before she ordered the tests again.
I am not a health expert. I am not a work out fanatic. I do know ORGANIC and NATURAL foods are EXPENSIVE (and I could say hospital bills are high but, that’s irrelevant to someone struggling to make ends meet). Medication is EXPENSIVE. I have had to pay for 15 pills when I needed 30. I have had my parents “charge” my medication on their credit card. I have gotten a full bottle of pills and took them every other day or every two days to make them last.
I walk. I do yoga (gentle yoga, yoga for seniors, yoga for rheumatoid, fibro, lupus, etc…it’s out there). I don’t have to have a gym membership but, I do. There are YouTube work out videos. It’s not safe in some neighborhoods to walk. I don’t really like to walk in this neighborhood because I am not comfortable. In my old neighborhood it was different. It was better. So, I go to the park in my old neighborhood. You can find work out equipment at the dollar store. You can find equipment for sale on Facebook Market. Walking in place “seems” silly but it works. I don’t walk fast. I can’t.
Eating healthier? Choose more fresh fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to fry inexpensive cuts of meats. You can ween yourself off so much sugar, salty food (I love salty and sweet) sweets, and sodas. I went from 8 lumps of sugar and 8 packs of creamer to 2-3 lumps of sugar and 2-3 creamers in my coffee. It was rough. I didn’t know how addicted I was. There are so many ways to cut back, add other choices, use coupons, and to try something new. Yes, my people, try something new. You can still have soul food without it raising your blood pressure and doubling your insulin levels.
These are some things we can somewhat control. Most of us. Not all of us. There are always EXTENUATING circumstances. I can’t do all the things I use to do and I can’t do the things others do. But I can do what I can do. I do have the power of choice. I am in no way at the weight I will be happy with, not what my doctor would be happy with. I had to figure that out, too. There are carrots and celery, ginger shots, and water in my fridge. There is birthday cake ice cream and a Pepperidge Farms lemon cake in the freezer. I rarely buy sodas because I will drink them just because they are there! I don’t have all of the answers. But, I do know things have to change in the minority communities and it starts with conversations and choices.