Sleepy bitch

I cannot wake up in the morning. I am not a morning person. I do not like mornings. I have serious F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out) but that still will only get me there some of the time.

I am really looking forward to EMDR therapy; really starting it. That stands for eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing. This will reduce the effects of PTSD.

My life has been turned into acronyms.

I’m going to chant about that when I go meet with my SGI friends ūüėČ

Anyway, I am hoping to release and turn around the old, bad memories of mornings and get to a place where I can wake up with a refreshed spirit and greet the day! I would like to emulate my mentor, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda. This man encourages everyone he meets, and your can feel good conviction in every word. I would like to have the discipline to wake up for an 8am toso (chanting for an hour). But at the moment, the sound of 8am repels me completely.

I have a strong faith in God. Now I need a strong trust in God. And, maybe more importantly, in myself.

That, or I will just never be a morning person and who really cares anyway when I run my own business?

Please leave comments if you have trouble sleeping and what you think. Should I continue trying to be like “normal society” or should I proudly wave my flag of sleepy bitch?

Orphaned at 26

Hey guys, I’m about to get real again. I know, I hate it too.

We had an overwhelmingly great time with my mom’s cousins and aunt that came in to Niagara Falls from California this weekend. They are beautiful, kind and courageous people, and I am honored to call them family. We had so many generations of incredible Italian people there. From great-grand kids to grand kids, and all the aunts and uncles one could hope for.

But I really miss my mom and saw her in all their eyes. We all have the same beautiful, large brown eyes in the Ruggerio family.

My mom passed away from metastatic breast cancer in September of 2016.

It feels like yesterday, one second ago, and forever that I have not had my mom on this earth, all at the same time. My heart has been broken open and there’s a gaping hole where she used to fit.

When my father passed 4, almost 5 years ago… wow. When my father passed, it was truly not as heart-breaking. I hadn’t really considered him a father for a many number of years before then anyway. But you can never, ever, replace the love of a mother.

There is no one that will ever support me in the endearing, enduring, never-ending loving way that my mommy has.
I have amazing support, between my aunts, my grandmas, don’t even get me started on my sister; along with my sponsor and my Buddhist members and leaders in the organization. I have so much support around me. If only I knew how to reach out and get it.

My father beat my mother and I pretty badly. The physical abuse was nothing compared to the psychologically damaging torture he threw our way with his words. It broke our psyches, our spirits and our self-esteem. We were shells of people living and bumping against one another in painful ways after my parents FINALLY divorced.

We did not know how to give or receive love for a long time.

Until I found the strength from the stars to end my period of not speaking with my mother, and everything suddenly changed. She was no longer the tormentor of my life, she was my frail, beautiful mommy that gave up her own life for her children’s.

I started chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo at the same time that I was seeing her again. Our relationship changed into one where I just wanted to take care of her and be there for her, as best I could.

She even chanted with me. And she was a devout Catholic. (She was studying to be a nun before she met my father.)

I don’t know what the point of this post is. I really just needed to write about my mom. I miss her like crazy, I feel like there is no point to living without her, but I carry her love with me and it keeps me going.

I have to be happy for her. I love you mommy. Goodnight.

Diwali 2017!!

We could not be more humbled than we were last night taking part in our friends Diwali celebration. My friend Julia and I were blown away by their kindness, their welcoming attitude, and the amazing food they made (less spicy just for us)!

It was a truly beautiful experience to be a part of. Everyone their was calm, peaceful, joyful and delightful. There was no alcohol, just vitality and fun. We sang songs, we danced, we ate and we talked. What more could you ask for?

Thank you to: Komal, Shika, Tejal, Purbarag, Vaibhav, Richa, Neha, Susan, Rimjhim, Bheeshma and all the others that made last night so incredible and special! We love you!!

sand artMeLightsKomalDiwali boardmenall of usdessert

What this blog really is.

Living with PTSD is hard. It warps your mind into negative thinking, it changes your hippocampus so you cannot remember a damn thing you need to, and it melts down your Broca’s area, so even if you had the words to describe the pain you were caused, you would not be able to express it.

All of that in addition to the flashbacks every time you pass your old house (which is pretty frequent for me as I live in the same small neighborhood I grew up in). The flashbacks come every time you are talking to your sister about the childhood you knew and the childhood she knew. They come when you see a happy father and daughter pair walking the streets, doing something wonderfully simple together, like going to the post office, or even worse, walking into a cafe holding hands. They come when you hear anyone talking about their parents and how lucky they are to have been shaped by such wonderful people, with their values and principles and disciplines (something you know nothing about).

See, I’ve lived my entire life with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or at least as far back as I can remember, which isn’t much because of that good old hippocampus damage I referred to earlier. The only reason I know there is another way to live is because as an introverted extrovert with a broken Broca’s area, I often have nothing to say, so I watch people, intently. I observe the way they do simple tasks that are a struggle for me. I see the ease of ordering at a restaurant, the lack of difficulty finding their way in the world. And I do not mean their dreams or passions. I mean simply remembering what their boss told them to do without asking 3 times. I mean understanding what their boss told them to do without asking 3 times. I mean not having to feel the shame of not knowing what their boss said and trying to figure it out without asking 3 times.

Info about hippocampus and Broca’s area damage and PTSD from “The Body Keeps Score” by Bessel van der Kolk

I have often felt jealousy watching other people do all these menial tasks without so much as a thought to them. I have often been envious of Siobhan, for she seems to do things in such a natural way, life just being a snap for her. That is, until I knew better.
I am blessed to have her as a friend, because PTSD is not something you just realize you have and accept it right away. I don’t want to tell too much of her story because I am intrigued to see what she will come up with on this topic, but I will say that I can see the difference between someone born with PTSD, and someone who acquired this morbid malfunction later in life. And I am grateful for that. I thought my whole life that there was just something wrong with me. Part of that was my unrelenting standards I have learned about through Schema Therapy, but a major part of that was I really did struggle to make the connections in my head that come naturally and easily to others.

It is heart-breaking to feel as though you have nothing to contribute to life. And to not know what the fuck is wrong with you is even worse. I remember being so lost, so hurt, so scared. Could I ever be capable at anything?

I thought I just had negative thought patterns, and that if I tried really hard, I could overcome my difficulties and be “normal.” That was my goal anyway.

I began teaching toddlers in a very upper-class childcare center. I was terrified of speaking because my words would always come out jumbled up. I was anti-social and did the least amount of speaking as I could, which is hard when you’re working with a lead and a co-teacher, and the parents want to know how their child’s day was. I was in hell. My only saving grace was that I loved the heck out of those children, as they reminded me about how simple life can be.

I just let my faith carry me each day, and I have had many exciting adventures throughout my short life. I am grateful to be alive today, and to have so many people in my life who support, love and help me through this journey.

Each day, I learn more of what it means to have PTSD, and more of how to overcome and accept those things in order to live a happy, whole life.

I am living my dreams today, and no one can stop me! (Past, present or future!)

My friend and I climbing a mountain in South Australia.

A Story I have to tell.

If you like the creepy coincidental, read this.

I am an SGI Buddhist member. This stands for Soka Gakkai International (Value Creation Soceity for those that don’t read Japanese ;)). My friend Julia received her Gohonzon recently. (I will have a glossary at the end). A few woman’s division members, and my friend Gerry, went over to her house to enshrine her Gohonzon on Monday, October 2nd.

Julia Enshrinement

It was a glorious moment, everyone brought her gifts, books to read, a sentimental bell for her to ring while she is chanting, and she was so welcomed into our glorious practice.

When we were finished and everyone else left, Julia and I were talking and she was asking me plenty of great questions about her new journey. I felt incredibly moved to tell her a story from when I had only been practicing a few months.

This will show you proof that there are no coincidences, only tiny miracles ūüôā

My mother was passing away from cancer. If anyone knows cancer, they know it could take years. She was in her last few months of being on this earth. I had been helping her, taking care of her, and it really gave our relationship a whole new depth. All I wanted at that time, since I wasn’t working, was to help people, in any way I could.

The day before this extraordinary incident, my boyfriend-at-the-time and I¬† went to Buffalo State’s Anne Frank Project and saw a survivor’s panel of Bhutanese people who were in refugee camps for 17 years.. They all came together from around America to be there that day. They were showing off their beautiful artwork, and one of the men lead a guided meditation. It was absolutely harmonious, and I had been thinking I wanted to help refugees in Buffalo, since we have such a high population.

The day after this beautiful experience, I chanted strongly that I wanted to help someone that day. My boyfriend and I went on our usual bike ride. We were heading to Canalside, which is a straight shot down Niagara St from Black Rock. While on the ride, something inside me told me to go left. So, we took a left; then a right; then another left, just following my intuition without knowing why.

We passed a police car, and a tree, and then we saw a woman, barely coherent, on the ground. We rushed over to her and asked if she was okay. The police man in the vehicle couldn’t see her because the tree was in the way. I called him over and he called for back-up immediately.

While we were talking with her, I was trying to calm her down, but she was crying hysterically; she was very distraught. I asked her name, then I asked her last name, and she began to laugh.
Bhutanese people DON’T HAVE LAST NAMES.
It was a great way to bring levity to a scary situation, because she spoke little to no English, but apparently she understood it!

A few moments later, while the ambulance arrived, a woman walked over and announced that she had treated this woman at her clinic on the lower west side previously. That her husband had been driving by and told her one of her patients may have been on the ground!

It was then that the firefighters and EMTs were asking us if the Bhutanese woman was drunk. The woman’s doctor came at the perfect time to tell them, and us, that she has epilepsy, and that is why she was disoriented.

I had shivers in my bones and entire body telling Julia this story, and so did she.

Today, I was looking through facebook and realized that this event happened exactly one year ago on the day I was telling her about it!

I texted Julia immediately and she told me that she was just grabbing her phone to tell me that the George Harrison song, My Sweet Lord, that she played me last week that has spiritual and sentimental value in her life was playing on the radio at work.

There are no coincidences my loves.

Coincidence Stars

Navratri Festival

Oh. My. God. Do you know how much Indians like to party?!

Obviously, I am an educated and empathetic human being and I am speaking of Indians that come from India; not the disastrous and hurtful term Americans sometimes use while speaking of Native Americans.
I have actually corrected a Native American about this before. It did not seem to bother them, but that is why everything is subjective, and we Americans fight like little babies about everything (including if a cup from Starbucks should be red or not -wutt??).

But, seriously, Indians can freakin dance! And if you thought their weddings were gigantic affairs, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve been to a Navratri Festival, a.k.a The Festival of NINE NIGHTS.

Yes, nine nights in a row, these people come together to pray, to eat, and to DANCE. This festival is specific to the Gujarati culture.

Here we are, washing blessings over us from exquisite plates with tea candles that have been prayer over on them.

Navratri Blessing

And oh, let me tell you about the stick dance!! That was the most fun, albeit challenging, dance. I think we mastered it. Everyone is in a line, facing a partner. You tap your sticks to your partners in 5 different ways, and then you move over two people to your left. Raas, as it is called,¬†is “actually the staging of a mock-fight between the Goddess and Mahishasura, the mighty demon-king, and is nicknamed ‘The Sword Dance'” (wikipedia).

My friend Julia and I, being the only white girls in the place, felt so incredible welcomed at every moment. We also kicked some serious Raas ass. Really though, the people at this huge, remarkable festival were so kind to us. They went out of their way to make sure we were having a good time, that we were comfortable, and they even showed us the moves!

Navratri Sticks

It was the most welcoming event I have ever been apart of. And I cannot wait to go back Friday night!!

Navratri Dancing

Even if my calves hurt for three days after. It was the most fun night of our lives! I think Mr. Trump could use a night or two dancing with folks from another culture to see that all people just want peace and happiness. And that does not have to come from money.

A woman at the Navratri festival did walk around bestowing gifts on all the participants. And it was Julia’s first day as a practicing Nichiren Buddhist, so she and I were both extremely grateful to have received these beautiful elephant incense holders and patches from India.

Navratri Gifts

I cannot thank my beautiful, radiant friends Shika and Tejal enough for inviting us to celebrate Navratri this year!! I am sure it will be a part of our lives for many years to come. And I hope I can inspire at least one person to find out if there is a Navratri festival near you, and attend!!

Navratri All

This really was an amazing spectacle of humans.

The Spiritual Side

This post is where I get real. To get real with me, I need you to open your mind, and let go of what you believe if that belief does not include God-coincidences.

Because last night, I awakened. Again.

I had my hopes wayy high up about getting this editing gig at a really established company. This is what I want to do with my life, but I’ve been super lazy about working on getting better at my craft -like I never have. I thought getting a degree would teach me everything I needed to know. Turns out, the ONLY relevant class I ever took was in Australia, and I was not exactly dedicated. I was in the greatest country, experiencing the coolest things, just by walking outside my door. I did not have the motivation to put my all into my class work. I was there to have fun. My bad.

But it all led me to this moment, where I didn’t get the job, even when the owner was rooting for me to get it after speaking with him on the phone. My skills just were not up to par. Because I have never practiced, honed, or worked on making them better.

My naive little self thought that my talents were enough to get me by in life. Not so.
So, I was a bit devastated, and thought all the negative things I could think, just to¬†really¬†drag me down. So I sat, watching¬†The Good Place and wising I was there instead. I tried to shake it off and read “The Freelancer’s Bible,”¬† but every time they wrote of some idea that is part of your career as a freelancer, I would think to myself, “You’ll never be able to do that.”

What a crock.

I had scheduled to hang with my Buddhist friend and chant together, so I dusted my self-pity off and went to her house. My spirits were lifted within minutes of speaking to this girl, as they always are, and for that, I love her dearly.

After leaving her house though, I felt saddened again. The wave was coming back, trying to pull me under. Luckily, I met up with some friends from another spiritual practice of mine – and boy, did they let me bitch!

It was going on 10 pm when they finally said, okay, time to go home now.

And as I was pulling away to go home and mope some more about how stuck I am and why can’t I believe things will get better for me, it¬†instantly hit me.

I WANT ATTENTION. Negative, positive; it doesn’t matter -as long as I can play the victim, which I am¬†tremendous¬†at.

So now, I am awake to that fact and can change it. I can decide I want attention for the things I am doing good at, for the things I can accomplish in life.

I was under the smoke-screen of resolving to live a life as a nuisance, as someone always trying, but never actually achieving the goals they want in life, who they want to become.

No longer! I am taking full responsibility, as best I can on any given day, for MY LIFE. And it feels sooo good. Not at all as scary as my mind makes it out to be.

So, my friends, I wish you the same clarity, and the same determination. To make your life whatever you truly want it to be!

And, it’s not just words. I put this thinking into action immediately. I began reading the tools that came from the proofreading course I signed up for. The thoughts again, came at me, that I am just not good enough. I dashed those instantly. I emailed the company and asked why they didn’t hire me and what I can improve on. And, you know what? The owner replied this morning and gave a heartfelt wish of sorrow that we could not work together, and helped me see what I can do better for the next interview!

Follow your heart, and you will never be disappointed.