I’m out of my mind, staying up until now. I have not been to bed yet. I’m thinking about so many things, and a lot of them have to do with food, music, my life, and finances. This was supposed to be a lengthy, reflective post on what I’d do if all those spam mails I get all the time were real. What if all those people and European banks had millions waiting for me? What would I–some Brokey McPoverty dame from the Southside of Chicago do with all that cash? Would I empty out my Amazon list, would I make smart investments, or would I turn into a freak of nature, stashing huge wads of cash all over the house in a hoard-like fashion?

I’ve heard stories about people like that–money changes them, but not so much for the better.

A lot of my writing heroes have become millionaires. Or, at least have enough dough for Prada sunglasses and Nars lip tars and glosses. Folks constantly say that money doesn’t buy them happiness, but let me be very honest–if I could skyrocket into my writing career, reach people, do what I love AND kick Sallie Mae and Great Lakes in the butt, I would be very happy. I would march to both offices in person, throw a bag of money at somebody and be like “y’all can’t bother the kid no f*cking more!”

I would be very happy to donate money to my uncle’s church, pay off my dad’s bills, and invest in all the cool companies that pretty much run the world. However, isn’t that material happiness? AH! Nichiren Buddhism strikes again! So early in the morning. I suppose it reminded me of a discussion meeting that happened some time last year, when we talked about relative happiness, and absolute happiness. (it took a minute for me to remember what it was, lol. I KNEW in my heart it was there, but the words were failing me.)

Relative– That kind of happiness that comes from money and material things. It comes, it goes. Always in transition. Fleeting, moving, might be here today, might not be here tomorrow!

Absolute– Longer lasting happiness. Nothing and no one can take it away from us. Comes from internal transformation. In the discussion, we went over absolute, and defined it as an emotional-type feeling from doing good for other people. In other words, perpetuating kosen-rufu.

Believe me, it would be a blessing to come up from where I am right now. However, what I’m doing right now is just as important. It’s MUCH more important. What is money, materials, and riches if my soul is not at ease? What is a fancy house, cars, and an Amazon wishlist if I still don’t like who I am? I can be debt free but still not like the person I am. Wouldn’t that be bonkers? Wouldn’t that make the windfall very hard to celebrate? There would always be something missing.

It would also be very lonely to have all those things, and not have someone to share them with. As sticky and sickening as it sounds, I would like to have a family someday. I’m pushin’ 30, and let’s face it–sooner becomes later, later becomes a regret. I think I’ll fight that part tooth and nail just to prove I’m worthy of a husband/wife, and some kids. I’m not a Susie Homemaker, but I think I’d make a pretty great wife and mom. I’d love to share the fruits of my labor with more than just myself, other fam, and community.

I think moments of reflection allow me…any person…to see where they are, and what work still needs to be done. What parts of selfishness still linger? Where do I still need to change and grow? Lots of places! Inside, and out! Those are things money could probably speed up, but time and wisdom create a much more organic progression.

(although tbh, I would LOOOOVE to donate a big ol’ fat check to the SGI Pride Parade committee, and have a sparkly, fabulous float!)

Open Up

Given circumstances as of…well….the past couple of months, you’d think that I’d be lacking the interest to open up to anyone. What would they do with the secrets and thoughts of my heart? What would they do, knowing the things that way heavy on my mind? If I open up, they could be used against me at any point in time. They could be used against me to hurt my feelings. I could be judged and eventually dropped. They don’t have to read my writing, but they’d be in the know just the same–and I’d be vulnerable and ready for the bruising.

It’s different with the SGI fam. They ask me questions that inspire me to open up, because I don’t talk to a lot of people about my issues. I don’t talk to a lot of people about much of anything, opting to write. Why? Because of a few bad experiences with folks in my past. But, my time with a few people on Tumblr and with the SGI just sort of changed things. I mean, I won’t be out here shouting all the things in my head and heart, but I feel like I have a safe space to get all these things out…as well as a way to begin working on them from within.

I had a talk with Ariel (The YWD leader for my district) and she just asked one simple question that just unlocked a dialogue. I was so scared, but I kept my brave face and held back the tears. I had so much on my heart and mind, and as I gathered my feelings to tell her, I kept asking myself “why are you telling her so much?!” I wanted to shut myself up, feeling bad and typically like I always do. I walk around with all these problems, forgetting that I’m a human being and it’s okay to have them. I often feel like there’s so much more going on in the world, and the issues of some lady such as myself do not matter.

I sort of took that time with Ariel to realize and affirm that I AM someone. And, for a long time, I’ve been hurting over a lot of stuff and keeping it to myself. I didn’t want to tell anyone because it’s the same stuff and it’s all connected to a past that I had no business picking back up. As they say with baggage–you’re supposed to leave it at the door. For emotional reasons (wanting to be nice, wanting to be honest with myself, wanting…period) I picked some of it back up, along with old problems.

I hate to burden new friends with problems. And then worry about them going home and judging me. But, Ariel is a part of my religious family. She is here to advise, to help, to encourage. She is there to help this ol’ faithless creature find faith, find happiness. She and the rest of the crew are there to help me find myself in this Human Revolution. As they say over and over–“get into this Buddhism and it will work for you!”

I have to stop thinking I don’t deserve anything. Especially love. Like, that’s so silly of me. So cruel. Not just love from family, not just love from friends, but that special kind of love. Something authentic, healthy, and without emotional pretense. Someone who sees me as an equal, a friend, and a confidant. Not an emotional stepping stone based on ulterior motive or to stroke poisoned egos. Ands that’s the other part–no more catering to poisoned people. No more poisoning of the self.

My time with Ariel just reminded me of all the work I need to do. It also made me think back to the wonderful poster I made at our first district YWD meeting. And like, just the day itself–SGI DAY–we sat in the Ikeda Auditorium and listened to stories of people talking about strife and having faith. We watched wonderful dancers from India, Ghana, and Korea. It was all just wonderful and warm. It was what I needed not only to get out of the house, but meet new people. It was me, going to an event and seeing the world.

I need to open up. I need to take chances and get close to people. It’s scary, but sometimes it’s not. Sometimes, it’s just what I need. And, you never know who is out there willing to help. You never know what others have been through. Obviously, you have to pick your chosen folk. I feel so blessed and comfortable knowing that there’s people here for me. I don’t have to worry about them using information against me in my time of need. It’s deep when people actually care.

I talked to Ariel about so many things in that short time, feeling the weight of the world and some of my sadness falling off my body….my soul. I told her about wanting to get healthy, go back to school, get a job, work on my social life, and be with my family. It was hard seeing the pic my cousin posted from the baby shower. Harder today to see the pic she posted of the game she played with my eldest. I fell apart from the family ages ago, and never completely found my way in. It’s hard seeing them connected, and feeling very disconnected. But, with all things I need to work on, I’ll just have to step around what I missed out on….and focus on what I can do, now.

Part of making this year and every year my year is to move. Be fearless, be brave, but move. Stop letting every little thing hurt me, use me, abuse me, take from my happiness. That is what I want the most–to be happy. The past is the past, the future’s mine to work on and shape…and the time is now.

A poster that I made during the SGI Young Women's Division meeting...

A poster that I made during the SGI Young Women’s Division meeting…