Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Not the Easter I Planned

I had a busy day Friday and was exhausted by the night. I went to bed and when I woke up it was Saturday morning. I don’t recall waking up during the night and I usually do. I was refreshed and headed out to the stores. It was my intention to bake a cake and to bake my famous wings. Well, after I returned home around about noon, I started feeling bad. I noticed my face was having an outbreak of seborrheic dermatitis. My face begins to swell and then I begin to simply feel bad all over. Malaise is what this is called. A general feeling of discomfort, illness, etc.

Fibromyalgia kicked in and man, I felt like all of my energy was drained. I ended up just lounging around the house Saturday feeling bad. I went to bed Saturday night and tossed and turned ALL NIGHT LONG. I did not make it to Easter Service or Easter dinner with my family and I have never missed an Easter dinner. I did get up enough strength to bake my famous wings but, not to bake a cake.

Today I feel much better, my skin is clearing up and the swelling has gone down. My daughter is back safely at college and all is well. I hope you had a wonderful Easter and enjoyed your week. I intend to put the last two days behind me and move forward into a productive and fun filled week.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Oh? Is That a Harvest?

I had a hell of a Tuesday. I had two huge financial hits. The person I was dating “ghosted” me. In retrospect, that should not have been part of the bad day. It is a blessing that he moved on! AND THAT is part of the beautiful harvest I want to speak to you about today.

My response to these things were so phenomenal, I was in disbelief. I didn’t have a melt-down. Anxiety didn’t ramp up and depression didn’t creep in. I was upset. I did briefly think, “What am I going to do about my finances? I was trying to save. God that was 75% of my SAVINGS!!!” But seemingly immediately after those feelings manifesting as thoughts popped up, they were met by a voice (thought), “It’s okay Nicole. God will take care of your financial situation. It will be replaced and built up so much more. Do not worry. More money is on the way to you. Money you will manifest, money owed to you, and money you never expected. It is okay,” I did cry. I felt terrible because part of the reason one of the expenses occurred is because I forgot about it. I shed some tears because I was in the process of building my savings back up. But when you think about it, I purchased a home this year. I had some home repair expenses. I had some car repair expenses. I took a much needed and deserved vacation.

I don’t regret any of those things. I am appreciative of the fact I had the money to do those things considering my financial standing. So, to settle my emotions I kept repeating, “It’s okay. It’s alright. Things always work out for my good.” We must remember in times like these, “I am one with the Creator. In the Creator or God, or whatever your name is for the Divine, there is no lack, shortage, or insufficiency.”

I feel as if my response to all three situations in a time span of hours was a beautiful harvest of seeds sown for years. It felt like something took root and blossomed at the same time. You may recall some of the blogs I wrote previously about intuition, clarity, and so forth. The Spirit (Holy Spirit) was guiding me all along. I heeded the voice to not put too much stock into that relationship and to hold back to SEE if things could be worked out. I needed to wait to see if our differences could merge. Obviously, they cannot. And I am okay.

This weekend was supposed to be one spent with the guy I was dating but, life had other plans. Some family came from Illinois and we went to Mississippi to visit my brother’s grave site. He transitioned this year from Covid. That was a rough moment for them and some of my other siblings. But after that, it was nothing but love, laughter, and creating memories. My dad, a retired pastor, preached an incredible sermon from St. John 14, “Another Friend”. It was indeed a anointed message. Our guests went with us to a Trunk or Treat. We had a blast. Then dinner and conversations. Visiting other family and breakfast together before they left Monday morning. WHEW.

I am tired. I really had a rough night last night with insomnia and Rheumatoid Disease pain. Yet, it was worth the pain to spend time with family. I can rest this evening.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Wrong but, Right

I wake up at 3 am from joint pain. I get up and take some pain medication. I doze off and I awake at 4:15 am to a beeping smoke detector that informs me the battery is low. Thanks. I get the footstool and I remove the batteries. I get back to bed. I am up at 7 am. An inbox from the speaker that is suppose to bring a message to the congregation cancels due to a fever. I call the pastor and the pastor will have to fill in. I get dressed only to look down to see the hem of my dress has unraveled and is shredded. I change clothes twice after that and I am ready to go. But, my daughter is not. I arrive at a church with 3 minutes to spare and I am asked to fill in here and there, all over the place because only a hand full of members are there. Just when you think it’s over we arrive to the restaurant for dinner only to find out they close at 2pm and will reopen at 4pm. New hours because there is a shortage on employees.

We decide to go to a restaurant that is close to where we are but, it is very expensive. We are seated with no issues and the food was delicious. I stuffed myself silly as it was a brunch buffet. Sad but, true.

With everything that happened this morning before I could leave my home, I almost said, “Everything that could have went wrong this morning did!” But, before I could finish it, I stopped. I thought, “Words have power. They have the power to create and to evoke emotions.” Instead I changed it to, “Everything that could have gone right this morning did!”

I know that may seem opposite of what happened. I reflected on what was going on and how at every turn I talked myself into remaining calm and hopeful. When I woke up for the third time at 7 am I was still in quite a bit of pain from Rheumatoid and my muscles were aching from fibromyalgia. I am in the middle of a flare up of both! A bowl of cereal and coffee. CBS Sunday Morning. Nodding off at times and praying things would calm down. During the getting dressed fiasco, “That’s ok. It’s alright. I know I am running short on time. It’s ok. Next dress. Next pair of shoes. Next on the accessories. Keep moving Nicole.” I am ready! My daughter is not. We will be late! It’s okay. It’s alright. Breathe. Write your notes. Start the car. Wait. Wait. Breathe. Wait. Don’t fuss when she gets in the car. She is having a rough morning, too.

She gets in with college size attitude. I ignore. At church, I kept going with the flow of the turn of events. Dinner, I may have been a bit frustrated but, adjusted my attitude before walking in and hoping they had space. I realized, I had ACED the TESTS of the day. Everything that could have went right, did. It may not have been RIGHT but, it was happening and this was truly a series of tests to see if I could put into practice things I have been reading, experiencing, learning, over the years. We are tested often in this life but, there are times when we get an EXAM. This was an exam. I aced it. I felt joy and then I thought maybe I shouldn’t be too happy. After all, this is spiritual stuff. Is it okay to be happy about this?

Absolutely! Understanding brings us joy! Enlightenment brings us joy! Why not celebrate when we pass tests and exams in life? It made my heart happy to see growth. I would have gotten angry. I would have given up. I would have been miserable. But, no. I just went with the flow of things and rode the wave on out to shore using a set of skills developed over time. Breathe. Self talk. Flow. Adjust. Think. Adjust Attitude to a better one. Smile. Ignore. Adjust internal emotions with truth to override facts. Pep talks. Shuffle. Repeat. Repeat.

Ahhhhhhh the day is done!

Don’t’ believe the hype in your life that can come from what you SEE. Seeing isn’t always believing. It looked like I was having a bad day but, it was all an illusion. Are there bad days? Of course! But this was just an exam and I am glad it is over.

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: Housewarming

It finally happened. I had a housewarming for family and family-friends. And it was GREAT. We had a really good time fellowshipping with one another. Most of my immediate family is vaccinated and if not they have had their first shot.

It took me two weeks to prepare for one day because of physical limitations. Really, I started to prepare three weeks in advance. The last two days were brutal on my body and I had a few days along those weeks that were bad days and many sleep issues at night. However, I persevered. I also had help from my brothers, my daughter, and parents. I am grateful for that.

Today, I begin the process of recovery. It takes about a week and sometimes two weeks to recoup from an event like yesterday. Today, I feel like I have been hit by a ton of bricks. My body is exhausted. I am fatigued. I have a huge amount of pain and soreness. So, I have cancelled all plans for this week. I only have one goal, each day, for the next seven days that require my physical energy. I am also not taking any phone calls or dealing with any negative energy. It’s just not happening this week. No extra tasks for anyone else. This is the epitome of self care for those with autoimmune diseases. We must heed the lessons learned and the good advice given to us by others in order to preserve and improve our health.

Take Care!

~Nikki

Sunday Morning Coffee Musings: What Can You Do?

A few weeks ago I posted in a rheumatoid arthritis support group a tip on relaxation. One of the tips involved soaking in a tub to help relieve tension. And that is where the drama from the trauma began.

I define it as trauma because you must be experiencing some type of trauma that pushes you to release drama on unsuspecting strangers. Sadly, people that deal with you on a regular basis know you are about dramatization. They know that when they see you, you bring the drama. You see, in the comment section there were responses to my post like: I CANT SOAK IN THE TUB! HOW IS THAT RELAXING? I CAN GET IN BUT I CAN’T GET OUT. HUMPH, THAT IS SURE TO CREATE TENSION AND NOT RELAXATION. I AM TOO LARGE FOR A TUB. I HAVEN’T SAT IN A TUB FOR YEARS. NO WAY THIS CAN WORK. One lady even said to me I should have modified the post. I wanted to say, “Ma’am, I didn’t write the article. DUH. And you should have modified your thinking.” BUT…I respect my elders most of the time (because I don’t believe it’s okay to be 80 and say whatever you want to people). Also, the Spirit told me to be quiet. She’s traumatized by Rheumatoid and many other issues. This is her sadness, pain, hurt, gushing and lashing out.

Pause. When you see a post of something that you don’t like such as one that reads: “I love strawberries.” Do you hop on and respond: STRAWBERRIES ARE DISGUSTING. I HATE THEM. THEY ARE THE WORST FRUIT ON THE PLANET. CAN’T SEE HOW YOU EAT THOSE. Has it ever occurred to you, that post was not for you? I see people raving about things that are not for me. Unless I see a “what do you think?” I don’t bother UNLESS they are family or close friends. Many times, I don’t bother then. It’s one thing to say you don’t like berries or I am allergic but I wish I could eat them. It’s whole other thing to BASH and INSULT and have a total meltdown over nothing. A simple positive post or someone’s opinion over if they like pumpkin spice lattes (ugh).

Press play. I wonder did those people stop and think, I can do ALL of those other things except soak in the tub. Great article. No. They saw the ONE thing they couldn’t do and “went to town” about it. They didn’t think: “Gosh, I can follow all of these tips in the shower, in my shower chair, or however it is I get clean.” Nope. They honed in on what they could not do. The trauma of what I cannot do. The trauma of WHAT I USE TO be able to do.

This trauma is VERY real. I know about it. I live it and if you keep on living, as the elders say, you will know it, too, in some shape, form, or fashion. Sometimes, I think about my life B.R. (Before Rheumatoid Arthritis Disease) and B.F. (Before Fibromyalgia) and MY GOD! I miss ALL of the things I could do. Even the simplest things. Sometimes I stay in those memories a little too long and I become sadden, blue, depressed, compressed…oppressed. And then I have to free myself from those thoughts with therapy, journaling, talking to a friend, or…THINKING ABOUT ALL OF THE THINGS I CAN STILL DO and even if I have to modify them or have help they still can be done! “Glory to God!” in somebody’s southern church goer voice (:-D). You can heal yourself, or get some help, from the trauma of what has happened to you, whatever it is. The trauma produces the drama and quite frankly, people get tired of it. We know you are hurt but, there is a more EXCELLENT way to deal with it and release it. It’s called prayer, meditation, yoga, sound baths, therapy, Yeshua, Yaweh, spirituality, your choice of religion, forgiveness, etc. It’s called reading a books about it. Going to your temple, church, mosque, and REALLY walking in your religion. Developing a relationship with your Creator. SOMETHING! Something other than bringing the drama, spreading the hate and hurt. Lashing out has cause your relationships to be severed or strained.

What can you do? Huh? THINK ON THOSE THINGS. Think on the things you can do! Those things are TRUE, too. Those things are lovely. Those things “are” admirable. Those things “are” excellent and praiseworthy. Think about such things!

~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

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

Day 5: RA/RD Blog: Buddy

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Buddy – Who’s your RD buddy?

I don’t have a pet or object, blanket, etc. that helps me, perse. What I do have is a Rheumatoid Disease group that I am a part of. This group is very interactive and supportive. There are people in it from all over the globe. For it to be so large, it seems tightly knit. It has it shares of woes, but those fires are usually extinguished by the administrators of the group. GREAT ADMINS is what keeps a group GOOD.

I found this group upon the return of RD, when it came out of remission. The Arthritis Foundation and Creaky Joints kept me informed. But, it was the community of Patients Like Me and RD Online group that is more like a buddy. I also go there not only when I am at my lows, but also at my highs and to uplift, support, others. It’s a give and take, an ebb and flow of the group that keeps me going.

~Nikki

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Day 3: RA/RD Blog: Disability

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Discuss your feelings about our position within the disabled community with variable disability.  How do you deal with limitations that are present some days and not others?

It’s a strange thing. One moment you’re seemingly okay and the next you’re in pain. You never know when you’re going to have a good day, a good few hours, or when pain and brain fog is going to kick in. You don’t know what part of your body is going to hurt and for how long. It’s enough to drive some mad, to depression, to anxiety, to God. 🙂

When I perceive I am going to have a good day or a good few hours, I start to do things I normally don’t do and sometimes I do them in a hurry just in case something swells or starts to hurt. A few weeks ago, I woke up feeling normal. I mean after I moved around, I still felt normal. I don’t know how to describe it, except feeling like I felt before RD. I didn’t know how long it would last so I started some intense cleaning of the kitchen, the downstairs bathroom and I made it to the living/den area before I began to lose stamina.

I deal with it as it comes. I no longer get angry. I do however, get upset sometimes. Especially, when it’s really something I want or need to do. I have to put it off or cancel. It’s hard to make plans, but I am a firm believer in making plans and following through. When I can’t follow through is when I am the most disappointed.

We also have to deal with people who may see us doing “regular things” or enjoying the life we have and question if we are really disabled. Disabled people have a right to enjoy their life, family, take vacations, shop, and do whatever they can on the level they can, when they can. You have no idea the things people go through in 24 hours.

~Nikki

Day 2:RA/RD Blog Week ADJUSTING

Adjust – How do you adjust to the affects of RD on your career, dreams, goals?

Wow! What a loaded question. In the beginning it was devastating thinking about all of the things I may no longer be able to do. My exact thoughts as I had a melt down were “What about all of the traveling I wanted to do? What about sewing and fashion? What about writing my books and traveling as a motivational speaker?” How on earth would I be able to do all of that if I can’t even hold down a 9 to 5 or 9 to 1?

I first acknowledged my disappointment and sorrow as some things died and somethings were modified. I was in awe when hidden gifts and talents emerged, came to life,  such as my abstract art and crocheting. They both happened on a whim although painting was always in the background. I was in Hobby Lobby exploring the option of crocheting after I saw someone with a crocheted scarf. There was a woman in Hobby Lobby, a customer, that was in the same department and I asked her about it. She was so happy to share with me how to get started. I worried about my hands so I researched and reached out to a community of crocheters and knitters and they recommend so many crochet hooks to use and so much advice on what to do about hurting and swelling hands. It dawned on me that there are crafters who have RD and other illnesses that have blazed this trail. I am not alone.

The biggest challenges I face when writing and learning patterns is brain fog and I have a hard time connecting things in sequence or remember directions that I read or are being shown to me. I have to sometimes read it over and over. It can be VERY frustrating. Like throw the crochet hook against the wall or crying because my hands are swelling and I am trying to type a chapter for a new book. The best thing about working on my career as a writer is that I get to decided when I can write. I keep a notebook in my room and I use my phone’s note pad to jot down ideas that come to me. I am looking into voice typing software as well. At times I may be experiencing concentration problems, anxiety or depression. I can decide not to work on a project or to write or paint. However, painting is therapeutic. I like to wrap the spongy tape around my brushes or crochet hooks to make them comfortable for my hands. I pave myself.

Being disabled has limited my income, but it has not limited the God I serve. I work on my writing and try to re-invent myself as a speaker and author. I take it day by day and try not to worry about if I become successful will I be able to do it. What if I have a flare and can’t make an event, or show up on set, flying can drain me, etc. etc. I dial it down a notch and remember I am not at that bridge yet.

~Nikki