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: It Was The Best of Times

Cafe Lateral in Paris

Imagine having a misunderstanding about your appointment and being dropped by your therapist via email. It happened to me Thursday. Monday, there was drama. Tuesday, there was drama. Wednesday, there was drama. And Thursday I opened up my email to a response by my now ex-therapist, that my time slot was no longer available. Well, I imagine not if I’d been trying to contact you via phone and messages since April and your office is open with no response.

I won’t go into details because it’s not necessary to make the best of this situation. I will say I was stunned. I will say I cried. I will say he was an EXCELLENT therapist and I progressed in leaps and bounds and I was READY to keep going. After sitting at the table I went to my room and journaled. I had my cry. I felt abandoned. I felt misunderstood. I felt sad. I felt angry. It felt some of my relationships, the end was out the blue. I felt like, “I didn’t even do anything. All I did was misunderstand the conversation, was ignorant that therapist offices were still open during the quarantine and they were considered essential.” I had no idea. Seems like to me, this could have been cleared up with a conversation. I realized I had left messages saying I needed some help and he didn’t respond. I was concerned about his safety. Hell, I thought maybe he had Covid because surely I would have heard back by now. I prayed he didn’t. This is when I became angry. I called. I left messages. And he didn’t respond. I sent an email and I got a response.

Talking to a therapist friend, I was given great advice and pushed to move on. I mean, I had no choice. And when I look back, when I got still, I knew this was coming. I had thoughts that “This was going to end.” Although, I couldn’t understand why God was putting this in my spirit. I thought it was just me thinking this because things seem to happen when things are going so well. I told myself I was just being negative. But the thought or message would float to me from time to time and I would shut it down as nonsense. I was wrong.

Well, Thursday evening I had accepted that this was reality. I definitely was not going to plead my case. I sent an email thanking him for his help during my journey. I started looking for a new therapist. I left emails with several therapists Thursday night. I got responses the next morning, but it was one that stood out. I made an appointment on line to go into the office. Her reviews were good as all of the ones I chose were. So, looks like I have a new therapist, a new journey, and instead of looking at things as if I have to start all over, I decided to look at it as, I continue. It’s a new leg of the journey and my ex-therapist, as great as he is, was not equipped for this next journey. I mean, this is 2020 and the 4 energy is on it’s high. It’s a 1 energy in June. Yes, I am talking numerology, energy, and Bible. It’s in there.

I also “shopped” for a new doctor. I’ve always wanted a new doctor, but was reluctant to change. My Primary Care Physician is good. We just don’t connect. He’s very text book, very mechanical, like a robot? He is void of emotion. Also, he is now looking for patients and I suspect this is one of the reasons why. I have now learned that for me, it’s not enough for a doctor to be good, it’s important I have a connection with the doctor. We should be invested in each other to some degree.

This week has been one for the books. I survived this week. As things crumbled and my relationship with my therapist ended, I remember my mantra for this year, “FOCUS, AND FEAR NOT.” Also, what came to me was, CHANGE, AND FEAR NOT.

Friday I celebrated Juneteenth. I grilled. I haven’t grilled in about 5 years and before that attempt, it was 2011 when I stopped because of Rheumatoid. I had a great time with my daughter at home Friday. Saturday, I spent time with my parents, one of my brothers, and my sister. We gave Dad his Father’s Day gift, a bench for the patio. He was surprised and pleased. My baby brother and I chatted as we headed to Home Depot to pick up the bench, look for material, pick out molding for his “man cave” he’s having built onto his house. We picked up dinner for Dad. Then as the evening began to wind down, my daughter and I hung out a little late last night. We’ve been spending more time outside in the evenings. All is well with my soul. It’s the calm of the storm.

~Nikki

On the menu for Juneteenth: Grilled jerk wings with a jerk seasoning I made. Crab cakes, with aioli sauce, sweet corn, chopped salad with avocado ranch dressing, and a homemade lemonade I have decided to name, Freedom Lemonade.

The Heart Epiphany: Part 9 “Boundaries”

Artwork by Nicole Jackson and is available for sale. It’s actually one of my favorite pieces.

Self-love is setting boundaries and enforcing them. SETTING AND ENFORCING boundaries is hard work. Especially, when you love that person. Especially, when people don’t understand your journey or your vision. And let me just say this, they don’t have to, and you need to learn to be okay with that. Self-love and setting boundaries is hard work. You have to stand your spiritual ground.

~Nikki

Brain Fog Leads to Cloudy with No Chance of Meatballs

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.

~Nikki

The Heart Epiphany Part 5

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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

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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: My Health Wealth

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My art. It is for sale. 

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.

~Nikki (Whew! That was long…sorry!)

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: Protecting Non-Traditional Space

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I’ve chosen a beautiful, peaceful, Sunday and it has chosen me. You are responsible for the energy you bring to my space (home, conversation, social media pages, inboxes), but I am responsible for removing it. Even if that means removing the source. I am responsible for setting the boundaries and enforcing them.

I believe that everything is energy. I believe you can feel it, observe it, and absorb it. If you can put it out, you can take it in. We often think of protecting spaces like our home, our office, and this invisible space around our being known as our personal space. But what about our social media spaces? What about our timelines, comment sections, inboxes, and DMs (Direct Messages)? What about the people we like, but we have a stark contrast when it comes to what’s funny, what’s moral, beliefs, ideals, etc.? Some things are just too much for me. Even if it’s too religious. Yes, if it’s too religious, too political or too dark for me, I will either remove them, snooze them, hide the post, unfollow and unfriend. I will delete what I don’t want to see or what is causing ruckus. I cannot stand bickering. I do enjoy a respectful discussion. I have control in my space. You have control in your space.

Everyone has their own stage, platform, and microphone. Your page is your venue. It’s up to you what type of crowd you want to have. Who stays and who goes. Who is muted and unmuted. It’s disrespectful for you to grab the mic on someone else’s stage when you haven’t been asked up. Even on open mic night, there is an order.

It would be nice if we THOUGHT about “how”, what energy we are bringing, when we do respond, inbox and DM. I personally bypass things I don’t agree with 98% of the time. I usually wait for a “What do you think?” or an “opinions, thoughts?” I read the comment section to see how the person is responding before I jump in. “It is better to be asked up, than to be asked down.” -Bible. If I know you personally (your energy, your personality), I know whether we can dialogue or not. By wisdom, I know there is a time and place for it, too. Rarely, is the comment section the place. An open rebuke is given by a friend (Bible) and even in that, it doesn’t necessarily mean in public. Once again, wisdom. Who, what, when, where, and how.

I don’t care if it’s outrageous to me, I have learned and I am learning to respond without a like or an angry face because you’re expressing “what’s on your mind” and I have a space for “what’s on my mind”. If I don’t have anything nice to say, I scroll on. You’re not a news outlet (That is an entirely different beast). I also don’t follow people or businesses I don’t like just to comment with negativity. That is a very low form and a waste of energy. It is also the planting of seeds I don’t want to harvest. And just like buildings that are VISIBLE to the public, not all are open for the public. Some have dress codes and rules. My social media space is public, but I decided what I tolerate and how I respond. AND YOU DO, TOO.

You log onto your social media sites with this good vibe (well those of us that are creating good energy and vibes) and it can easily be dampened when you start to scroll or you read insulting, mean spirited, brash comments to your opinion or positive post. Some have made me say silently “WTFudge? or Who asked you? I know there was not a question mark at the end of my post. I know I didn’t solicit your thoughts, opinions. You don’t know me like that.” But I just either leave what I deem ignorance blowing in the wind or I delete it. If the comment differs from my idea, it’s all about how you word it. Your delivery matters to me.

Lewd memes and videos are not my style. Being badgered with bad news, negativity, anger, political news, conspiracy theories, religious dominance, is not my vibe. I am part of several groups and thank God I can snooze them, too. I can’t hear about depression, anxiety, Rheumatoid, etc each time I log on. I have those things, battle those things, etc. and enjoy supporting others in it. I am grateful for the support of those groups. But it can be overwhelming. Certain things in my inbox and DM I don’t want to see. If I don’t hit a like or respond with a smile, yet you keep on hitting me up with it, I began to think you are a bit slow at grasping that I am not feeling it. Therefore, I am learning to say, “Please don’t send me things like this. Thanks.”  or “I’m not interested, but I will reach out to you when and if I am. Thanks.” I’m not someone’s vibe. I expect them to govern themselves accordingly. In all things, with love and peace.

~Nikki

 

 

The Heart Epiphany Series: Part 1

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The Heart Epiphany by Nicole Jackson 

Love is in each one of us. You are love and you are loved by the Most High, the Creator, God, the Universe, angels, and ancestors. Yes. I said ancestors. You are a walking living breathing temple, sanctuary, goddess, and your heart is a sacred place. Of course, the temple needs maintenance. We should take care of ourselves. Spa days, manicures and pedicures, the beauty shop, deep tissue massages, and “me times” are wonderful. Traveling the globe, a girl’s night out, and going on shopping sprees are fun. We should be able to do these things without being attached to a mate or friend. This is self-care and self-care is a part of SELF LOVE. Self-care is more like the maintenance of the outward appearance. But SELF LOVE is the inward maintenance. Self-love is an inside job.  “Self-love is not simply a state of feeling good. It is a state of appreciation for oneself, that grows from actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.”-Psychology Today, Dr. Deborah Khoshaba.  And while self-care does make us feel good at the time that it is happening, SELF-LOVE can make us feel good about who we are as a person for a lifetime. “If self-care is a sparkler then self-love is an eternal flame.”-Nicole Jackson

~Nikki