The Heart Epiphany Summery (End of Blog Series)

Artwork by Nicole Jackson This piece has been sold.

It’s hard work, but you know what? It’s the best, most rewarding, hard work you could ever do for yourself. It builds this amazing confidence and resilience. It builds this relationship with yourself that is not built on lies. It makes you better for those YOU love, those that love you and those who are yet to love you. It makes you choose peace over pain. It teaches you to be less judgmental and more mind your own business. It strengthens the law of attraction. It sets you up to receive the greater goodness of life. It teaches you to let others be as free as YOU want to be. It’s a dangerous thing to be religious without self-love. It’s a dangerous thing to be spiritual without self-love. You know why?  It creates a self-righteous stench. Self-love can illuminate your path. It can make your journey so much clearer. It can make your purpose so much clearer. Self-love is dynamic; it grows through actions that mature us. When we act in ways that expand self-love in us, we begin to accept our weaknesses and own our strengths. We have less of a need to explain away our shortcomings. We have more compassion for ourselves as human beings struggling to find personal meaning. Self-love helps us to create a more centered life. But you must do the work that brings a gratification like no other.

~Nikki

Thank you for reading and following The Heart Epiphany Blog Post Series! This was my lecture at the first conference/gathering I hosted in March.

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Un-churched and Unhinged

My artwork. It is for sale but not my mug.

“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.

~Nikki

The Heart Epiphany Part 5

20200326_141052

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

fe8c7e1afb22dbd8c1c5e461a439dd0c

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.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: The CIRCUS of Life

 

The circus usually comes to town once a year. Sometimes, two or three times a year because there is more than one circus company. And let us not forget, the circus has a schedule of dates as it travels city to city. The circus, chaos, confusion, drama, confusion, whatever you want to call it, comes to all of us occasionally. Some of us live under the big red tent. Some of us look for big red tents. Some of us are drawn into it by the sounds, the smells of popcorn and cotton candy, or the weird music. It’s not until they bring out the animals we smell the poop.

Here we are in a big global circus. Shrink it down to your country, your state, your city or town. How much control do you have over what others do? Some want to to control because of the false sense of power they feel, but I believe some want to control out of a false sense of peace they feel. You see there are some of us that want everyone and everybody to be calm, at peace, happy, so that we can be calm, at peace, happy. Therefore, we try to control situations, people, influence their choices, etc. We get angry when we can’t. We get upset, anxious, we worry compulsively at times. It is okay to feel these feelings but I don’t recommend making it a lifestyle.

Here is what I know about the “Circus” or Chaos outside of my home, outside of my personal being:

  1. I cannot control other people.
  2. I can control my response.
  3. When I see what I feel is chaos, madness, and I cannot do ANYTHING about it, I repeat these words: Not my circus, not my monkeys.

The Circus inside is also filled with worry, concern, fear, and you have to find the root of that. Perhaps someone you love died or became ill because of something someone else did. Maybe, you didn’t have control over what happened to you, a loved one, etc. as far as an illness, accident, tragedy. Perhaps you, a child, someone you care about has an autoimmune disease, weakened immune system, or they are elderly and you are concerned for their well-being. Maybe you are just that person that worries about everyone. That worry, that fear, anxiety can be a barrel of monkeys on the inside. You are the Ringmaster of that circus. These thoughts, those fears, are your monkeys.

Here are a few ways I help myself:

I did what I needed to do to keep myself as safe as possible. I am at peace with this.

I did what I needed to do to protect my family. I am at a peace with this.

I did what I could, said what I needed to say to my family outside of my home, my friends, and associates. I am at peace with this.

I don’t have to agree with the actions of others in this matter, the choices they make. They don’t have to agree with my actions and my choices. I am at peace with this.

What they do or don’t do can affect me, it can affect others. However, I will choose peace by choosing prayer, meditation, affirmations, disconnecting from social media, turning off the news, making healthier choices, exercising. I choose peace by connecting with those that feel the way I do or those that are encouraging during this time. I am at peace with this.

When approached peacefully about my stance, I choose to engage peacefully or not at all. When attacked or approached negatively, I choose to respond with silence or wisdom. Silence is an answer and it is also wisdom. Do not go to their Big Red Tent. Do not buy tickets their circus. Do not be pulled in. I am at peace with this.

I can’t meet everyone at their level of understanding. If you argue with a fool, there are now two fools arguing. Do not be curious about this noise coming from the tent. It is a monkey. It is not your monkey either. You’ve seen this show before. You’ve been to the zoo. I am at peace with this.

~Nikki

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Mastering Anxiety. How I Survived a MRI

 

IMG_0239
Photo from Paris Trip

If you have ever had a MRI then you know how narrow and claustrophobic the huge machine can be. I didn’t have anyone to drive me so I could not take a sedative. But I really needed this testing done and I knew I would have to go all the way into the machine for almost an hour.

I didn’t sleep with my cpap machine on that night in the hopes that I would be drowsy enough to dose off once in the machine. Well, that helped. Once I was in the machine I quickly closed my eyes. I could feel my arms against the cold machine and I knew my face was only inches from this confined capsule. My first thoughts: “What if I get stuck? What if they can’t get me out because the table that I am malfunctions?” This may seem funny now, or to you, but to a person that has anxiety it is a very serious matter at the time. No matter how irrational it is to you. This is also where things go wrong with those who “don’t understand it” and the religious sector. This is the “Oh that’s sounds ridiculous. Now you’re talking crazy. Just pray. Think Positive.”

Mind you I am still learning how to deal with my anxiety. It hasn’t been long in my opinion since the diagnosis and when I look back over my life, if I only would have known that this is what was happening to me, I think I would have been so much better off in dealing with life. Instead I was labeled, emotional, a cry baby, weak, dramatic, and while I am proudly emotional now, and definitely can be dramatic (Hey, it’s part of my zodiac and artist DNA!) , it did not help me to understand what was happening. I suppose the double barrel is, “Black people don’t need therapy and if you are a Christian, you just pray about it. Use your faith.”

Back to the story. It is at that junction, of what ifs that I take deep deep yoga breaths until my heart rate starts to slow down. I focus on the breath. Then I address the thoughts. If I get stuck in here the table moves manually. What if the table doesn’t move manually? How do you know that? Did you ask? You should have asked. If it doesn’t, I can scoot out and they will help me. Whew, problem solved. Thank God I have been semi working on my weight. I do actually chuckle here.

I was aching that morning from joint pain, fibromyalgia, and muscle pain. I didn’t take any pain medication. I decided to first pray in the MRI tunnel. I prayed about everything and then I prayed for people, the Covid 19 plague (is what I call it). I prayed and gave thanks about my destiny, calling, lack of a love life, etc. I cast my cares and concerns on God. Then I meditated. I was at the beach. I envisioned my life, the way I wanted to see it. Then the lady interrupted me saying, “Okay. First part is over. You are doing well. Now, the table is going to move you all the way into the machine.” Me: “Okay.” Heck, I thought I was all the way in!

Part two: I finished meditating, never opening my eyes. I thought now what? I guess I will think about what I will do when “outside opens back up” and that means, when quarantine is over. I did that and then I did some affirmations. I know I dosed off several times during the hour I was in there.

I was so happy to hear the lady say, “That’s it! You did great for someone who is claustrophobic and has anxiety.” I told her, “I am surprised. In the past, when faced with tests like this or similar, I don’t always fair so well. I will take this victory. I did a lot of work in that machine to stay still and not panic.”  I just started telling myself days before the appointment that I could do it. I had to do it. I need to know what is causing constant pain in my hips, legs, shoulder. I need to know.

TRUTH: I didn’t just do a lot of work in that machine. I have been doing the work all along. I have been practicing meditation. I have been practicing the techniques from therapy. I have always prayed, but I have learned and I am learning to improve my prayer life. I have been listening to more positive videos, reading more positive things. I mean over years on the prayer and positive things. I can tell you that I have dropped off, “failed” techniques, just didn’t use them at all. It works more often than it doesn’t. It is because we are human. It is because we are faced with some things we have never been faced with and scales we have never dealt with. Yet, we get back on path. Crawling or walking. We get back on with life.

So let us, me, rival in this huge victory. Because last night, I had a battle with anxiety and it wasn’t pretty at all. Yet, I rise to focus on this victory from Thursday. One battle at a time, but I felt like Thursday’s MRI was a battle for the history books. It was like the movie 300! and I was fighting on that thing in the middle. I won. 🙂

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musing: Drive.

What happens to the “drive”, the internal force that propels some of us forward when something happens to us we never expected? Some have this “drive” naturally that seems unstoppable. Some have to develop the drive and others have to force the drive. I’ve seen stories of terrible things happening to highly driven people and they power through, make the changes and keep going. I have heard stories of the opposite as well.

I don’t think I was born with a drive. I think it developed over the years. I never “needed” to win, to be the top of the class. I wanted to. If I didn’t, I remember feeling bad about it. I could only imagine how bad others felt that were not even in the “smart and gifted children” section. I wasn’t gifted in the sense of “smarts” but I was gifted. We all are. I had to learn how to lose gracefully. I had to learn how to be okay with giving my best. I had to learn that some have a gift that exceeds my gift of logic and smarts and that’s okay because I have things they don’t, do things they can’t, understand things they don’t, it makes us all DIFFERENT, UNIQUE, WONDERFULLY made. Uh, individuals.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to turn my drive off once it’s on. It doesn’t matter if I am writing, studying or researching an interesting subject, painting, crocheting, cleaning, fixing something, etc. I find it sometimes difficult NOT to do, to let it be, to give up. I first realized this when I use to repair laptops. We had to meet a quota and pass quality inspections. I would get stuck trying to fix a laptop, determine the problem, and get behind on my other work. I did not want to give it up and pass it on to engineering. And even after it went there, I would follow up. So much so, they rolled out a policy where engineering had to let us know what fixed the machine. It was a wise coworker, that said to me, “Nik’, you can’t fixed them all as good as you are. We are engineers and we can’t even fix them all. You have to know when to let go and pass it on. You’ve done all you can do.” It sure was hard to learn this lesson. I am a problem solver, a quality over quantity (but also how can I have both) type of person, a highest form of service type of person. If I don’t get a hold of myself, I will crash and burn. I will become overwhelmed. Burnt out.

I use to be this way until Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease hit. I went through depression. I wasn’t immediately the “Oh, well, let’s beat this, keep going, person.” My type of drive died the day I got the diagnosis that it was back, out of remission, and kicking my ass. The struggle was real. My drive had to be revived, put on life support, and weaned off. My adjustment was rocky. It was and is a spiritual journey that took a sharp left turn. It really seems more like reached a cliff and drove off.

I notice the drive a few years ago when I started to paint again. The need to FINISH it, perfect it, for hours, or in the late night or wee hours of the morning. I noticed it when I started writing again. The “I must finish this chapter, this number of words, this goal.” I noticed it in my need to create quality crocheted items, meet my deadlines, have excellent customer service. I also, noticed the obsession to do these things when I am on the verge of crashing. I would ignore my body and common sense. I would crash, burn, and be in pain. I would cause a flare up of pain and swelling, unnecessarily.

I said yes to some events this year, way more than I did last year and I was overwhelmed because I didn’t expect to be received so well. (I am spontaneously SPONTANEOUS.) I didn’t realize I needed as much inventory as I did and that I simply couldn’t create it fast enough because it takes time and I do have physical limitations. It was one night before the first event and I had driven myself into a frenzy that I simply GAVE UP. I said, “I HAVE WHAT I HAVE AND THAT IS ENOUGH.” This has been my mantra this season in creating. It has been my saving grace. It has not prevented pain or swell ups, but it has lessened my actions being the cause of them. I have hurt more from the activities, late nights, stress, no help, etc. I am hurting now! It’s that taking it to the edge, when necessary, but not going over knowledge that kicked in like the technology that tells you you’re about to back into the garage lol. Beep, beep, beep beep beep beeeeeee…. Overall, this has been the best learning experience in a long time. I needed it. I had to quickly adjust, improvise, make peace with having what I have and letting that be enough. I had to say no to other things, people. I accepted it. I am better for it. I feel like I am being prepared for something AMAZING and something that requires me to be able to manage my illness, peace of mind, and health on a very controlled level. Also, these business skills I have learned, have been priceless.

~Nikki

The Separation of Self, Church, and Relationships

3c7f05f02558f68a228f60560b61d3b4

I don’t know what I would I do if I were  married to a person that was not motivated or disciplined enough to achieve their dreams and goals. What if you wanted a better life and they were okay with just getting by? I would be so miserable in either situation. I have known marriages to break up over one not wanting to advance, while the other one did and I have seen another break up because one was content just getting by. I’ve seen hardworking men and lazy women, hardworking women and lazy men. I’ve also seen Churches command people to say in these marriages and I’ve seen people encourage others to stay in misery. I mean yes, try, try as many times as you can, get counseling, etc. but at what point do you walk away? I guess only YOU can be brave enough to make that decision and that is the way it should be. You should be able to make it without judgement and without guilt. You should have the support of friends, family, and your God. After all, God is like a Father and I wouldn’t think any loving, caring, father would want you to be miserable in any relationship. And just remember, back then and even now in some countries, women had no say in who they would marry. I don’t think that was of God either! I think it was more cultural than anything.

Well, what about those of us that are dating, in a relationship, living with a significant other? If you see they are not motivated or disciplined enough to pursue their dreams and goals how does that make you feel? Are you slowing down to be their 24/7 cheerleader? Are you doing things for them they could do for themselves? Filling out applications and calling to see if someone is hiring? Googling and researching how to start a repair shop? These are things they can DO FOR THEMSELVES. We can get so involved in helping others we neglect our own dreams, goals, and visions.

Listen, I am about to say something to those of you that are NOT  married. You need to continue to go after your dreams with all of your might and heart while you are not married. Especially, if you have a partner that seems to be lethargic. I mean if your fire doesn’t light their fire, if your encouragement is not enough, if your support and help is not enough, it never will be. I’d rather see manifestation before I say I do, than to see it after and the person lives off of my success. I don’t think there is enough love in the world for me to marry someone that wants to struggle, makes crazy decisions about finances, or that is unstable in employment. I guess in the past, I may have been so blind and so in love, I would have. BUT now that I am more mature and have a better understand of myself, I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. If it’s a strain NOW it will be a BURDEN later. The same stands for me spiritually. If I am in a spiritual place they are not in, if our souls are not aligned, I must say good-bye. I don’t have the time for them to play catch up at my age (44). I mean to be 3 miles behind is different than being 30 miles behind. Our ideals, hearts, minds, souls, have to line up somewhat, close I would think. Not perfectly, but certainly not miles and miles and ideals apart which leads to and unequally yoked environment. Personalities and temperaments matter! Comprehension levels and upbringing matters. Maturity levels matter! No relationship or marriage is easy or perfect and I get that. But, should I be sad, mad, 5 days out of 7? Should we be pretending to be okay at church, in front of friends,  and on social media?

I don’t know what the other person is going to do if they are not trying to build a stable life, live out there dreams, or grow. I just know that I have chosen to go forth, full steam ahead, making stops and slowing down to help those that are trying to help themselves as far as dreams and goals are concerned. I don’t want to be bound by Church to stay and I don’t want to be bound by a relationship. I have a right to peace and happiness. Contrary to popular belief, God does care about my peace of mind, my happiness, and what I am called to do. I don’t know if I will ever marry, I hope so. I want to. But, I would have to be 100% certain. In the meantime, I will continue to wait on Divine Intervention. 🙂

~Nikki

 

The Art of Suffering?

a9a0455ea3c6dca0fc6350a0c7b416af

I don’t know if I will master the art of suffering, but I know that I have suffered a lot in this lifetime. My suffering is not to be compared with others. I don’t believe in who suffered more because as I have said my whole life, “We all have our own personal hell(s) to live through.”

Speaking of hell, I had a migraine last night that could be considered and EF4 if it was a tornado. It was a 9 on a scale of 1-10. As I lay on the couch in darkness, a lavender candle lit, I thought to myself, “Why do I have to suffer so much? I have suffered my entire life physically and with matters of the heart. I want this suffering to be over. I deserve more peace, love, and joy the rest of my years.” And then I said to myself, “You can endure this. You can get through this. This pain will not last forever. You just have to wait it out. You’ve done everything you could in the natural and spiritual. Wait it out. Think of things that bring you peace and comfort.” It took seemingly forever, but after a migraine that started with a suddenly stiff neck around 4pm and turned into a full blown migraine around 7pm, after 11pm I could finally sit up without the feeling of severe nausea. I got up from the couch and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning I saw this quote. How true I thought. Even though I get tired of suffering, it is better that I work with the suffering, instead of against it. Working against it only makes it worse. I get upset about the migraine, start to go into why and my heart rate raises. Blood pressure goes up and the pain worsens. I go into panic when what I am doing is not working fast enough. It only makes the pain worse. I let go last night and just endured. I have decided not only to not compare my suffering to others, I have also decided to not accept that I suffer more because I am stronger than others. Hell, I get tired of being strong. I am also weak in my suffering many times in private, but it is my God that is stronger during those times. God sends angels and earthly angels to help me through my sufferings. I am thankful and grateful for them. I may never know why we suffer more than others. I accept that it just is and this is why I cherish the simple things in life as if they were the most valuable because many times those are the only things I can focus on in times of suffering.

~Nikki