Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cori is 20 Feet Tall

My mom always says to me, “you always have a story.” I’ve always disregarded her statement until I really sat down and let her words marinate. I had to beg her pardon when I thought about it because every time I go into the world and come back home, I "always have a story".

For instance my cousins still laugh at me because of my numerous encounters with my Chinese dry cleaner. Cody, the dog that I have been dogsitting since August, decided to urinate on my bed comforter. I had an absolute fit and I took the comforter to the Cleaners. Once I’m there, I’m trying to think of a delicate way of saying that my dog pee pee’ed on my comforter. There were a couple of people behind me when I approached the counter and put my urine soaked comforter in the laundry chute below the counter. I didn’t want him to find out about Cody’s mishap by mistake and so I got real close to the speaker and told him it was dog urine. He held up the comforter and said, “urine? You mean Dog pee-pee?” I cleared my throat and said, “yes”. A couple of customers behind me started snickering but I was borderline mortified. Then he said, “ew wee, strong dog pee pee. You must feed he lot a vegetables.” Once again the folks behind me snickered. I managed a wry smile and nodded. He wrote out my ticket and in big bold letter he wrote “Gold Comforter (Dog P.P.) $20”. I took that ticket and got out of there so fast. Dog P.P. As if...

So color me surprised, when on a recent Tuesday the Lupus Alliance’s phones gegan to ring off the hook. Calls were coming from Oklahoma City, Tampa and even Jamaica. I didn’t pay it any mind because, me being me, I was pre-occupied with selecting Pizza Hut or Papa Joe’s for lunch. We had volunteers in the office helping us get out a large mailing and I was more interested in whether we were getting pepperoni or ground beef rather than who was calling from where. Still when our wonderful Social Worker playfully says, “thanks to Sherri, all of these calls are coming in from everywhere,” I reply with, “so that means you do or you don’t want mushrooms?!?”

Totally oblivious to folks are calling the Lupus Alliance because Black Voices has published a story about Snoop Dogg and has included my 10 minute PBS segment. And here it is, all this time, I thought that me and Snoop had very little in common. Come to find out that his now 11 year old daughter, Cori, was diagnosed with lupus when she was 6 years old. Lupus is the tie binds us.

We were so busy at the Alliance office that day that I didn’t have a moment to think about what was going on around me. Out of all of the lupus videos on youtube, the writer of the Black Voices article used my video. Within 24 hours, the video had more than 32,000 hits. So many folks had watched it that youtube challenged the producers of my PBS segment. I had to write a letter stating that I gave the PBS show ‘A Wider World’ permission to use my pictures and interviews for the segment. Wow. Now remember that I was the chick just running around only concerned about pizza toppings. The video currently has more than 35,000 views and counting.

Voila, here is the story and video.

Snoop, his wife Shante and Cori were on The View this past Friday. At one point, Shante got choked up as she spoke about her daughter‘s lupus struggle. She reminded me so much of my mother as she spoke. Both mothers. Both just wanting to get their daughters’ some relief. Then that little Cori opened her mouth and was just so sincere in wanting to let the world know about lupus. Wanting to let folks know that they can be anything and do anything they want to do even though they have this incurable disease. I sat on my little stool, looking up at her on the television screen. Her words transformed her into someone so much stronger, taller and wiser than an 11 year old. Those big inquisitive eyes had me in a trance as she spoke life into millions of situations. She wasn’t on television entertaining but educating. At 11 years old. A little later in the day, I watched the episode again and I began to cry. It hurt me so badly that she experienced things as a small child that I experienced as an adult. The weight loss. The never ending doctor’s appointments. The hair loss. The aches and pains. The parents wringing their hands because they don’t know how to ease the pain.

Then her dad, Snoop, piped up. He said that Cori would be alright because love was all Cori needed. Love (along with Benlysta, a lupus medication that has yet to be approved by the FDA) was what got Cori back to feeling like herself. I agree with Snoop. I know that it is because of the love of my family and friends that I am surviving and thriving. God will never let me and Cori be tested with anything that will consume us. He promised us (and you) that in His word.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Walk Tall Despite it All

It was a Friday and I was fit to be tired. I got home from a day at work and my mother is going on and on about a vegetable lasagna recipe that she printed out online. She was so excited for me to help her cook it. Pump your brakes, Ma. HELP you cook it. Give me that recipe. Let me see if my help was one of the ingredients. She didn’t understand that lasagna’s preparation was more of a challenge than actually cooking it.

I asked her what size lasagna she was making and she said “a small one” and then proceeded to pull out a pan that could hold a 10 pound child. Looking from the pan to the ingredients that she had purchased, she didn’t have the right quantities of anything. One (small) can of crushed tomatoes, one (itty bitty) can of diced tomatoes, one container of ricotta cheese. Now I know that Jesus fed the multitudes with 4 goldfish and a loaf of Wonder bread but Mom was just being a bit too ambitious with these skant ingredients. So I volunteered to go to the supermarket to get additional items that were needed. That made her happy.

I quickly got everything at the supermarket and checked out. I’m taking supermodel strides trying to get out of the grocery store. It’s hot and the market is filling up with the after work crowd. A kid stops me in my supermodel tracks and asks me if I could spare some seventy five cents. In a milli-second, I’m thinking what the heck can seventy five cents buy nowadays? So me being me, I ask him. He says, “ma’am, I’m just trying to get something to eat.” What the hell is he going to eat that costs seventy five cents? Blow pops? The red Swedish Fish candies? I’m sorry. I’m getting ahead of myself. Those are things that I would buy if I had seventy five cents. Silly me.

He had a plastic bag tied tightly but I could see about three pop cans (soda cans for you Southerners ;) inside of it. “Meet me at Subway,” I told him. “Subway?” he repeated. “Yes, do you know where that is?” He pointed across the parking lot and I nodded. He headed in the restaurant’s direction. I headed to my car. Even though the walk to the Subway had a covered walkway, I had to drive the 6 seconds that it took to get there. It was hot outside and besides I didn’t want my mom’s lasagna ingredients to melt. I mean who wants melted mozzarella cheese?

When I park my car and meet him inside, I visually access him. We were third in line and so I had time. He had on shorts to his knees and an olive colored t-shirt and gym shoes that were tattered and worn. He had a couple scratches lighter than his complexion above his right eyebrow. One of his top front teeth appeared not to have grown in all the way. I wanted to know more about why he was panhandling for seventy five cents and so I asked where his parents were. “My daddy in the grave. My mama strung out. I live with my uncle.” He had just finished up his 10th grade year at a local high school and “finished with a 2.5. I think that’s pretty good.” I agreed with him. I played up that 2.5 grade point average like he told me he had a 4.5 g.p.a. Hell, some kids with stable households bring home 1.7’s so his 2.5 was gold to me.

He was so excited because after next school year, he was going to enroll in Job Corps. He kept mentioning “free”. “I’m going to have free food, a free place to live, free education…” His excitement overflowed so much that the lady in front of him turned around and smiled. Not to be Debbie Downer but I cautioned him that everything that is free may not necessarily be good for him. Just a lesson as he goes about his life. He went on to say that his trustee takes all of his money and doesn’t give him any. He said the trustee was someone other than his uncle. I asked him why he doesn’t get a job for the summer. He has a job interview this weekend at Wildwood Flower Shop. He was so happy.

He got a number 7 footlong. Bacon and all those extra meats. He got a bag of chips and a fruit punch with no ice. The total was $6.36. He said, “see there. That’s why I don’t come here that often. It’s too expensive.” He told me thank you. I wished him many successes and to always be encouraged. I also reminded him that when he gets into a position to help somebody, help somebody. We walked outside Subway, me first and him behind me. Then the oddest thing happened. I started towards my car and when I looked back over my shoulder he was gone. I looked over my other shoulder but still didn’t see him. Now that I think about it, I’m glad I didn’t see him. I would have tried to get his contact information so I could go after this trustee who is taking all of his money. I can hear my aunt Deb now. “Sherri, you can’t help everybody.” I know, I know. And I’m going to kill myself trying. Help me, Jesus.

Over the next couple of days, I began to think more about those 20 minutes worth of events and I got angry. Not even two weeks ago, Lebron James had an hour long press conference just to announce that he was leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to make goo-goobs of money in Miami. An hour long press conference. Boy. Boy. Boy. Once again the powers that be are entertaining our asses to death once again. How about the powers that be give the Subway kid an hour long press conference addressing everything he has been through. I’m sure his story can help some other kid in his situation and spur some kind of effort to make sure that what is happening to him doesn’t happen to anyone else. No, we can’t stop his parent from dying or maybe not even his mom from being strung out but we can definitely do something about the aftermath. We can do something about him being taking advantage of by his trustee. We can do something about him not having the basic necessities such as soap. I draw this conclusion from his nails appearing that he had been potting plants all day. Something can be done about him thinking that Subway is “too expensive”. A $6 sandwich meal?!?! If someone takes him to the Olive Garden, he might fall out. Call the ‘medics.

It just gets me all worked up because the United States of America is supposed to be wealthiest nation but we have our 10th graders walking around here elated about going to Job Corps so they can get some relief from the hell that is home because the court system has obviously failed them. Now when they hear the words “free meals”, “free housing”, it gets them excited leading me to believe this Subway kid never had a childhood. He’s been too busy trying to figure out where his next meal was going to come from.

In an attempt to look at the bright side of things, I also observed that he had the sweetest demeanor. He was very kind and forthcoming. During our conversation he pointed out that “people always think that I’m trying to get money to buy drugs but ma’am, I’m just trying to eat.” Wow. I appreciated that he still had his child-look zeal for life. He was so excited about the prospect of his pending job interview and his Job Corps initiation. He spoke about the upcoming events with so much enthusiasm and it made me so happy that he was about to get some sunshine in his life.

I just felt the need to share this story because I still come across so many ungrateful people and I can’t handle it. Somebody somewhere will love to have your worst day and you are still complaining. I also felt the need to share because I’m just afraid that too many folks are getting caught up in the entertainment aspect of life. That’s what the enemy specializes in. He will attempt to take your mind of what is important and try to focus it on multi million dollar athlete’s press conferences while the city, the school systems or even your household become undone. Don’t be entertained. Be empowered.

A favorite of mine, Lamar, shared this video with me. It’s a segment from Oprah’s Legends Ball and it features the great Bishop Walter Hawkins singers (Hawkins recently was welcomed into heaven) , Yolanda Adams, Patti LaBelle and BeBe Winans among others. Valerie Simpson of Ashford and Simpson fame took to the mic and sang “we gone walk taller, we gone think higher, we gone be better.” Yes, I am. What about you?

Monday, June 28, 2010

It's Not Where You're From

April 28th was the last day that I posted an entry. Usually, I would apologize for staying away so long but no, not this time. I was away with good reason. I had to have time to grow.

May was not only when I had my growth spurt but it was also Lupus Awareness Month. It seemed that each day in May I was involved in some type of awareness activity. No matter how hectic my days got, and they did get hectic, I gave thanks because I remembered the fix that I was in two years prior. It’s amazing how far just a little faith can take you. This was on my mind as a PBS producer was affixing a microphone to my blouse to film me and my loved ones for a segment about lupus. I had come a long way since chemo treatments and kidney biopsies.

As the days turned into weeks, I started to feel the pangs of guilt and to be totally honest, I still struggle with bouts of guilt today. I don’t expect anyone to understand but I feel guilty because I made it. I feel guilty that I am alive to tell my story when so many people my age and younger have went on to glory. I mean guilt like tears streaming down my face guilt…simply about being alive.

It boggles my mind because according to societal norms, I’m not supposed to do well, motivate, encourage or aspire to inspire. For one, take the situation I was born into. I was born into a single parent household where me, my mom and two aunts lived in a flat with two bed rooms and one bathroom. We lived in what was considered the “hood”, Linwood and Davison. My BFF’s favorite story is the first time that she spent the night at my house, there were gunshots. She was frightened but I told her to “get her butt on the floor:” We were about seven years old. There were gunshots every so often but once the smoke cleared their was also a sense of community. Even though I played with the crackheads’ kids and my mom’s and aunts cars were being stolen everytime we looked up, I still felt safe.

Secondly, in an effort to share with me some history with me, my mom told me that people from the South were thought to be stupid and dumb when compared to their Northern counterparts. As a sensitive child, I remember this revelation making me sad. My mother is from Selma, Alabama and I didn’t want anyone perceiving her to be a dummy just because she was born below the Mason-Dixon line.

So having a country single parent in the one of the city’s roughest areas with gunshots going off like fireworks was supposed to limit me. Who knew?
It’s a funny thing because when you prop the door open to negative thinking, the adversary shows up wanting to kick that joker open. Couple those things with within the past year, knowing of 5 young ladies that have passed away from lupus complications and numerous more that have been hospitalized, I had a lot on my mind. All of the young ladies that passed were college age, about 22 years old with the youngest being 19 years old. All of them came from two parent homes. I’m sure their parents loved them no less than my mom loves me. I’m sure their parents supported them no less than my mother supported me. All of the ladies were born into marriages and not out of wedlock like me. All of the ladies had their own bedrooms whereas I was my mom’s roommate until I was damn near 13 years old. Not by choice but because economically that’s just the way it was. All of the ladies came from areas where there weren’t liquor stores on every corner. Where I come from there was Liquor Town on one corner and Chesterfield Liquor Store on the other. I’m sure the five girls didn’t pass prostitutes on their way to school but I did and I knew each one of their names. My mom’s from the country, remember? She told me to always be polite and speak to people.

So I wandered through May appearing in one commercial shown in Michigan and Indiana, one radio broadcast, two television shows, having two newspaper articles published and being a panelist at a Women’s Empowerment Conference. Due to all of the great press, we had an onslaught of calls from people throughout the state who either had lupus, had a loved one with lupus or lost a loved one to lupus. Yet, with all of this good fortune being shown towards the Lupus Alliance, my heart still ached for those 5 young ladies. They say good friends never let you forget your dreams and Cherish reminded me that once I said that I wanted to be a voice for lupus patients. I guess this was one of those “be careful what you wish for” situations.

Now that I think about it, maybe that is why I haven’t blogged in awhile. My caring and pensive nature had my lupus emotions scattered. I couldn’t write because guilt had it’s foot on my neck. Why was I selected for this? Quite frankly, why wasn’t I dead? The grim reaper had quite a few chances.

To combat my feelings of guilt, I had to reach back into my repertoire of bible teachings. I had to revisit the lesson that says God doesn’t look at things that man looks at such as where you’re from, how you look or the situation that you were born into. God can use anybody but you just have to have the desire to be used by Him. Don’t worry about not being qualified because He has a way of qualifying you. Don’t feel guilty about being used. Feel guilty when you aren’t being used.

My mama always said that it takes the foolish things to shame the wise. As usual, she is right. It’s foolish to assume that someone’s life will be stifled just because they come from a particular background or situation. I’ve learned that when someone comes from something “undesirable”, it’s just building character. It’s been said many times that I don’t meet strangers. I can sit with anyone and hold a conversation. Could that be because I didn’t speak to homeless folks with disdain? Or maybe because I spoke to the ladies of the night like they were misguided princesses and not whores. It’s important to treat everyone like the CEO even the janitor.

Don’t ever let society dictate your place in life. Regardless of what you’ve been through and will go through, it is just preparation for your destiny. God is one that sits high but looks low…even on little girls in the ghetto.

This is the segment from the PBS show "A Wider World". If the video is having problems loading, under it where it says 360, click on it and change the number to 480. Please tell a person or two about lupus. To learn more, visit

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

He Has Smiled On Me

 am more tired than a one-legged man in a cock fighting contest. Now that’s tired. That’s also an improvement. There was a time when I wouldn’t admit that I was tired. That’s probably because I never took time to access myself to truly determine how I was feeling. Now I perform self-assessments often. I have to. My life depends on it. There’s nothing like a lupus flare to get you on the good foot, I tell ya. Rest will have to wait though because May is Lupus Awareness Month and lupus events are in overdrive. I guess it is true. Whatever doesn’t kill you make you stronger. With all May’s activities, I had better have Popeye-eating-bags-of-spinach strength.

Speaking of strength, I get tickled so easily thinking back to a year ago when I was feeble and weak. So weak that my little cousin would have to pick me up and take me to the little girl’s room. Now, I’m strong enough to make it to the restroom by myself and evidently, strong enough that God has entrusted me with a powerful work.

Lupus is a disease that is more prevalent that multiple sclerosis, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and cerebral palsy combined. COMBINED yet it is the least known of all of the diseases. Nine out of 10 people who have lupus are women. Furthermore, African American women are three times as likely as white women to get lupus and tend to develop lupus at a younger age and have more complications. When I read those statistics it truly humbles me to think that I was spoke out to do something about this disease. Me, who every third or so word out of my mouth is probably a curse word. Me, who if it were left up to me, would laugh and giggle all day. Me who, contrary to popular belief, likes being in the background. Remember my life’s goal was always to be a published author (anonymity) and live quietly and in peace with my wealth and a Dairy Queen. That’s all. I don’t ask for much.

Clearly, my man-made plan wasn’t productive enough for God. Now He has positioned me to be the so-called Face of Lupus for the Lupus Alliance of America. It is my big head that’s the dominant photo on the website. Last week, I hosted a televised show introducing the Lupus Alliance of America to everyone that watched. As I drove to the taping of the show, I prayed that if just one person watched and got the help that they needed, we had done our job. Lo and behold, we had quite a few callers who said they were so glad to see someone doing a television show about lupus. Callers were so interested further clarifying there is a need for lupus education and awareness.

Upon the show’s completion, I called my mother from the studio. Just hearing the joy and glee in her voice somehow made being sick as a dog all last year made it all worth it (in some deranged sort of way). She said she saw her deceased mother and sister all through me. I asked her if I looked dead. She said no and that I just looked like them on television. She added that she was proud of me for doing a great job. I’m a thug but that made me tear up. I had to turn my back and collect myself. Just a little background about my mother is that she isn’t the most emotional person. She is as sweet as pie but “I love you. You love me” my mama is not. The last time she was this happy was when I got a scholarship to college. Even at college graduation, I think she was like “Thank you Jesus, I kept her off the pole (stripping), she isn’t strung out on drugs and she doesn’t have 5 kids by seven different babies daddies. Glory to your name, Lord!” She probably thought her work was done and she could die at that moment. But anyhoo, that day in the studio she was so proud that it even shook my composed self. I took her a copy of the show and she went in my bedroom and watched it again, like it was her first time watching it.

his Sunday, I will be a guest on the ‘Girl, Bye’ show at 7pm on WJLB, FM 98. Since May is Lupus Awareness month, they were gracious enough to include a lupus segment in a health related show they are planning. The following week, I will tape a segment for the Street Beats show to be televised at a later date. The following Saturday, I am a panelist for the SHE’s (Sisters Helping Encourage Sisters) Empowered Butterfly Bash. Someone actually wants me sit down and encourage other people. Who would’ve thought that one? I’m on the panel with local radio personalities and women are who are really doing it big. Like Pastor Lewis said, “it’s better to be called upon versus someone telling you sit your so-and-so down.” Okay, I threw in the so-and-so but you get the gist of what I’m saying.

During the week of May 23rd until the 29th, some PBS stations but not all of them because as I understand it, local PBS stations select shows at their discretion, will air A Wider World, A Show about Abilities and guess who will be profiled in a segment? That’s right, the one who just thought she was going to write books and live happily ever after with the Dairy Queen as her neighbor. The show will air in my hometown on Channel 56 at 5:30pm. It will be uploaded to their youtube website once the show has aired. My mom, cousin, God-sister, God-mother and best friend were interviewed. I wonder what dead family members my mom will unearth to say that I look like on-camera. “You look like your great, great, great aunt who worked on a plantation.”

Also, the Lupus Alliance of America has a commercial!! Yay! We were able to get it underwritten by the good folks at Sinai-Grace Hospital and the Wholesome Smiles and the Traveling Tooth Station Mobile units. I can’t figure out exactly how to post the link but here Just cut and paste this link and viola. That’s me in my spring color, mellow yellow.

I’ve been humming this song for the past couple of days. Look beyond the writing across the video and listen to homegirl’s rendition of “God Has Smiled on Me.” Ya’ll we are so blessed and fortunate. Please take nothing in this lifetime for granted. Until next time…and in the meantime, please, pray my strength. The kid is a little tired!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Flyin' Above

It's amazing when things turn around, people start to have problems with you.

It's amazing when you are percieved to be down and out, folks flock to you with their hands extended and a cheshire cat grin on their face offering their unsolicited assistance.

It's amazing when life starts turning around in your favor folks start to get a little different. The girls get catty and the boys get intimidated. Just amazing.

One thing that I have always prided myself in is being able to rise above the fray. I don't fuss with the boys and I don't do the catty thing with the girls. In fact, I have always made it my business to avoid situations like that. I hate catering to stereotypes like the one that says women can get along. I absolutely abhor that!! Ugh! My girlfriends and I get along. I think that is largely due to the fact that we have 10 other side projects going on that keep us busy and productive. We go for sometimes weeks without hearing each other voices but when we do, it's like we have never missed a beat.

So color me surprised when word got back to me that a particular person had a whole lot to say since God has decided to use me to do some pretty great things. Now mind you Alex (I figure that's a nice name that could be either masculine or feminine) was my "friend to the end" when lupus was doing marathon laps around me. Everything was all good when I had more month than money. Our relationship was groovy when lupus drugs had me camatose.

ell, well, well, how quickly things change. To be honest, I was not going to blog about this but I figure I blog about the hellish depths of lupus so why not this? I hate the word "hater" and I think that it has been taken to an extreme. I never wanted any "haters" because I think that "hating" is not condusive to maximizing one's own potential. I decided to dedicate a post to my scenario because we all experience the same situations in one form or another and it is important to know how to manuever and decipher them when they arise.

That main thing that got a bee in my bonnet is that Alex had nothing to say about my character. Alex was unable to fix his/her mouth to say that I was unkind, unresourceful, slothful, lazy or anything of the like. Alex has a problem with where God is lifting me from and taking me to. How nutty is that? Alex loves to proclaim that s/he is a believer and wears crosses and speaks about "believing" pretty often. That just goes to show that a donkey with a load of holy books is still a donkey. Judge people by their actions and not by all that mumbo jumbo that escapes their lips.

Always know that when something is from God, those who have proclaimed to love you will for life could possibly be the first ones to "put their mouths on you" as my pastor calls it. Unfortunately, some folks can deal with you better when they perceive you as needing help or needing a hand. Those folks aren't your friends. I wouldn't even call them your foes. They are instead your step stools thrusting you to where you need to be.

Awards attrack attack. It took me over 30 years to experience this personally but honey, everyone isn't for you. No matter how deligently you tend to your garden of doing well, weeds will still sprout. Never cease in doing well and letting your light shine. We have too many people tucking away their talents because of what others think. Don't extinguish your light for anyone. No one can offer the world what you have to offer. As for me, my Sherri Blaise Bus is going to roll on. I have never been a drama queen and therefore refuse to be that gal. I always strive to maintain an aura of tranquility surrounding me and a few misguided weeds will not stop that. I implore you to do the same.

Oh yeah, I'm also Twittering now. I'm on there a bit more often than I blog. I know that's not saying much. Follow me: @SherriBlaise Be well and stay encouraged!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Exceedingly Abundant Blessings

The bible verse that reads God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above more than we can think or ask is really hitting close to home. Excuse me if I have jumbled up that verse. Let's just say it can be found in the book of St. Sherri until I can get to the accurate wording from the real thing.

It's a funny thing when you think you want something so bad and then that something is seemlingly snatched from you. When I left my mother's house 2 years ago this month, I vowed that would never return. I was going south to follow my dream of starting an eyelash business because there was a huge market for individual eyelash applications down south. In other words, this city girl was going south to get some of that country money.

There was only one problem. I hadn't consulted with God first. Everyone knows the story but this is a part that I find that I leave out more often than not. I didn't ask God whether or not this was His plan for me. I didn't ask God if this is where He could maximize my talents for his glory. I didn't do any of that. I got some business cards made, found an apartment and made sure that I could do eyelashes out of my stylist's salon. Once those three things were affirmed, we were on our way!

God is a funny God in that even when you are so out of His will, He will still keep His mighty hand on you. I got down south and was in paradise. Everybody knew the "Eyelash Girl" had landed from up "nawf". I was doing my own thing, making my own hours, socializing, just living "my" dream. Yep, it was mine alright. God was no where in that thang. Yet and still, He protected me. I didn't make a lot of money to where I had a bustling savings account but I had enough to get my sushi every week. See, I'm the fat kid that's after meals. I leave the shopping to the other girls. No shoe or purse fetishes here. My fetishes are allll edible and a have a nutrition guide on the side of the box.

Well, we all know what happened while I was down south. It has been well documented on this blog, with a youtube vid, a walk and in conversation. It's no secret that I left my southern comfortable surroundings fighting and screaming. That was a sad day....

This month marks a full year that I have been back the city in which I vowed that I would never return. I didn't want to come back to what I deemed to be the Titanic. I had no intentions on driving along roads where the potholes could swallow up a small child. Unwillingly, I came back and before my own eyes became a rose that grew from concrete.

I had to go through a lot to get where I am. It wasn't a picnic but the Lord said that He would be with me where ever I made my bed. Whether it be a hospital bed or a crack house (no I have never done drugs, I'm just sayin), God was with me. That alone got me through the tough times. I had the faith that God was with me through every ache, pain and chemo treatment that I encountered. I refused to have a spirit of FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) and besides it's written that we don't have a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. See there, told you. God has us covered.

What God has for you, is for you. The devil in hell can't tear from your hands what God has promised you, what He has ordered for you. What He has for you isn't going to come easy, no ma'am, but when you grasp on to what He has for you, you are going to wonder how you lived without it in the first place. I am a witness.

As a witness, I had to retreat for my rebirth. There is nothing wrong with retreating to collect yourself. Most times, it's when God gets you all alone that He is speaking to you. In silence. I couldn't hear God as I doing the Roger Rabbit and doing the robot at the juke joint. I couldn't hear God while I was gluing eyelashes to ladies faces. While I did a marvelous job-clients' words, not mine-God said that is not what I commissioned this hard headed girl to do.

So a year later, I can sit here and tell you that God got his way. I was thrust in a situation not where I was able to Grow, Go and Glow. Since nothing that comes from Him is harmful, I could only stand on his word and believe everything from Genesis to Revelations.

As I lay in bed, body wracking with pain, I was actually GROWing. As my hair fell out, I was growing. With every pound that I lost, I was growing. God was talking to me, closer than a brother, easing my fears and letting me know that everything was going to be alright. Mama Jones brought me books and I would read them, increasing my faith. My Godmother would come sit with me further letting me know that this too shall pass. Phone calls, get well soon cards poured in from every end of the earth. Pastor Lewis once said that when the adversary messes with a child of God, he will have the entire kingdom of heaven on his butt (edited version).

I got stronger, wiser, so much better and felt it was time to GO. I had a good story and I needed to get it out to help somebody, isn't that right Summer? I drove almost a half hour from my home to buy a $5 Lupus Awareness shirt. Before I made the drive that day, I dropped off an application for a job downtown. While I was at the Lupus Allaince's office, not only did I come away with a cute t-shirt but also a rewarding career(read career not a job). A career in which I could use my journalism degree that I earned 8 years prior. A career that affected me directly being that I'm working with the Lupus Alliance. Remember when God said don't touch His children's annointing? He meant that.

Finally, when something is from God, it makes you GLOW. I am just so freaking happy right now, I can cuss but don't worry, I won't. I have a glow not just because my situation has turned out wonderfully and better than I could ever think or imagined, but because I know who has my back. God has you!! No matter what the circumstances are, He has your best interest at heart. You have to get in the spirit and let the Lord minister to you.

In my quiet time, I sit and smile thinking this time last year, my little cousin was carrying me to the toilet. It was always a crap shoot whether or not my legs were working a particular day. Then flash forward a year later-with a lot of prayers of gratitude and introspection- and I am sitting in my Congresswoman's face on Capital Hill in D.C. asking for 35 billion dollars for lupus research. Never tell God how big your mountain is but tell your mountain....

I wish you many days of glowing and mountain moving! You can do it. God is just waiting for you to make yourself available and He will orchestrate the rest.

Now for the accurate wording of that scripture that St. Sherri attempted:

Ephesians 3:20 (New International Version)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Ephesians 3:20 (King James Version)
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,

Ephesians 3:20 (St. Sherri's Ebonics Version)
Bless your heart, you think that you have it all figured out but-in my Fred Sanford voice-'you big dummy'. Consult with your heavenly father and watch Him exceedingly, abundantly blow your mind.

I can't wait to hear the Praise Reports.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Want to Thank You

My life went from 0 to 60 in what seems like overnight. I feel like I am behind on everything from reading, to cleaning to the 220 emails beckoning for my attention. This whirlwind that has become my life has also left me in limbo from telling my girlfriends that I love me and how important they are to me.

I had been meaning to buy cards and mail them but being that I don't keep with up with addresses, mailing cards would be another chore in itself. It is common knowledge that I am not particularly fond of the telephone and I really didn't want call all of those yahoos anyway. So I figured most of my friends read my blog and they would see their thank you electronically. To all of my friends that I have had since I was knee high to a grass hopper to the ones that have rallied around me within the past year, YOU ARE THE BEST and I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

I know some of you all, ahem April, consider yourself "thugs" and don't do well in the 'expressing your feelings' section but I love you and I refuse to take it back.

In my line of work as well of my everyday life, I come across many folks who have been betrayed by friends or whose friends have flat out deserted them. I can say wholeheartedly that that's not my story. All criticism directed towards me has always been constructive and has always come from a loving place (or I have been bamboozled to believe.)

It has always been said and I have always believed that to have a friend is to be one. Since I don't have any siblings, I've always kept my friends close to me. The ironic thing is that most of my friends are either only children themselves or the oldest child. That dispels the rumor that strong-minded women can't get along. We get along and we get whatever needs to get done, we get her done. We are the A-Team.

My longest friendship, which I think is common knowledge by now, has been with Cherish (last name with held in case she's on the lam). She says that we met when I offered her some of my birthday cake in kindergarten. She must really had the IT factor 'cause I don't share my cake with nobody. No ma'am. For those of you that are counting, that's over 25 years ago and she's been my girl. (Take that Oprah and Gail!) We have never fought about anything, agree to disagree often and our fashion tastes are like night and day. The ties that bind us are our strong wills, humor, desire to succeed and delighting in most things edible. We learned all these traits as Girl Scouts. Her mom was our troop leader. Brownies around the world, stand up![[EMOTICON:SMILEY1]]

So I just want to thank those who have nurtured me. Since my heart is so much larger than my hands, I hate to name names because I am bound to forget someone. However, whenever life seems a little rough, always know that you are the foundation that keeps Sherri Blaise together.

Whether it was a laugh (Sydni and the finger puppets)or a song (April and the Alicia Myers songs gone all wrong) there was always someone to deliver. Rosie (one of the best BFF's in the world. Whatever I needed, you made it happen), Ebony (your silent strength is the business. You have taken care of me forever. I still remember that mac and cheese you cooked for me when we were 12. Your mom is in heaven smiling, girl. You are an amazing woman), Q, (a lil pocket padding goes a long way, thanks), Ber (no one can stay down long with you and those one liners), Jean (thank you for letting me cry and reminding me of my power. You have a supernatural calling on your life, my dear. Me and your mama talked about it. That's right. I called yo mama!), Theda (giving me all those sweets that I didn't need and trying to counteract it with apples. I was constipated for days), Summer (you always say I encourage you but I dig your sunny outlook on the regular. You're a boss), Kelly (I know you can get a prayer through) Mai and Meg (did we exhale ladies or did we exhale? And look at us much better) Corin and Kim (your thoughtful texts don't go unnoticed), Shana, Brynna, Mama Jones (the visits were nothing short of hilarity and encouraging) and I can't forget mt Florida crew, KP, Yetta, Dia, Nicole, Miriam, Nay Nay-I would be literally dead without you gals.

To say that I am blessed is an understatment. To all the women I forgot to mention, remember blame my head not me heart. Be blessed...

A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails. ~Donna Roberts

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit. ~Albert Schweitzer

Soul-mates are people who bring out the best in you. They are not perfect but are always perfect for you. ~Author Unknown

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend. ~Henry David Thoreau

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Man's Rejection is God's Protection

I am about two seconds from renaming this blog, "Inspirations...About Once a Month". I was determined to post a message before March. I am ashamed that I haven't posted during the whole month of February which is also Black History Month. I clearly took some type of hiatus. Harriet Tubman would not be proud.

One thing I did do was talk to one of my former church members in Tallahassee. Her name is Dana. She is sweet as pie and she, too, was a Tallahassee transplant. She was from a small town in central Florida and happily made her home in Tally as we called it. We often spoke about how we never wanted to go back to our hometowns and how we would stay in Tally til death did us part. Dana also had a daughter and thought that Tally was the best place to rear her kid.

Just as my health problem started so did her financial problems. She begin to get eviction notices on her apartment door and her car had broken down. Like the image of the girl on the salt container walking in the rain with an umbrella, when it rains it pours. Like me, Dana was tenacious and decided to fight. She kept looking for jobs until she finally got one. It was also a job that she ultimately found that she hated. She found favor in that she was able to get a brand new set of wheels. Her new car sure was purty, all shiny and new.

She started to hate her job more and more. The bills kept mounting when one day she called me sounding defeated. "Girl, I have to move back to my parents house." I could offer no comforting words because at the time I had moved back to my mother's house battling lupus. So I mustered up, "Don't worry. Something good is going to come out it. Wait and see." She accepted the general verbiage but that was all I had to offer. I mean, I myself, was bedridden and was going through many things that have been very well documented within this blog. Heck, I was still waiting for my "good to come out of it" but I really didn't see the point of saying "girl, what we are going through is some bull@#$!" This was my church member after all.

She and her daughter returned home and the heavens opened up. She found a job that she loved. Her daughter is excelling leaps and bounds in school. She has been able to pay down and pay off some of her debt. She was most excited that now she and her daughter have top of the line health care insurance. Amen.

So, a couple of days ago, we were sitting on the phone, laughing at how we didn't want to leave Tally and how we left kicking and screaming. When we finally departed the city, we reenacted the scene from 'The Color Purple' when Celie and Nettie were playing Patty Cake. We were cracking up thinking about that image. Like those open hands that were used to play patty cake, our hands had to be open for God to grab it and take us to the next chapter in our lives.

I remember listening to a former mentor of mine, Crystal Mayo, as I accepted a journalism award as a high school senior. She said something that I will never forget and that I carry with me to this day. She held up her clenched fist and said, "with your hands closed nothing can get in and nothing can get out. It's when you open your hand that you can give and receive." Then she unballed her hand and waved her fingers. I will never forget that in life. Her voice cracked and tears began to stream down her face. I remember saying to myself, "damn, she meant that. I think I had better give that a try."

That scene from that evening thirteen years ago has been on my mind recently and especially pertains to me and Dana's situation. She and I thought we had hit our strides. Oh boy, were we having fun in Tallahassee. She being a career woman and mom. Me being the sought after 'eyelash lady' managing my own business and, in Jean's words, having the men all pause when I walked into the local jook joints. Now we don't even miss Tallahassee or what it offered.

I honestly have not thought about an eyelash since I have been in Detroit nor had any desire to do any eyelashes. My Godsister asked me recently to do hers and I almost asked her what she was talking about. I had to catch myself. Oh yeah, just last year I forgot it was embedded in my mind that I was going back to Tallahasssee and to eyelashes. So much so that I paid three months rent on an apartment that I wasn't even living in just waiting for my healing and so that I could go back south. My immediate healing never came but thank God I wasn't foolish enough to close my hand in the midst of my storm.

Coincidentally, Dana doesn't miss Tallahassee either. She thinks returning home was the best thing that has happened to her. I couldn't agree more. I feel the same way about my situation.

I guess it's true. When you make plans, God not only laughs but he hollers! I am constantly reminded not to get attached to anything in this world. When you are removed from a situation, it can be a blessing in disguise. As Lamar reminded me last week, "man's rejection is God's protection." Say that, Reverend Lamar!

If you say that you are for God, be prepared for some valleys but know that the peaks are just around the corner. God's grace won't take you anywhere that his mercy won't carry you. As you are being carried just make sure that you are going through with an open hand. You never know what sorts of goodies you will catch!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Promise to win in 2010

I'm happier than a fat pig in slop. So so very happy to be able to see another year. No I haven't won the Mega millions and yes, I have finished writing a book but no you won't find my name sitting high on the New York Times best seller list. I'm just happy.

The closing out of 2009 was uneventful. My family did absolutely nothing for Christmas and I was estatic. No one cooked macaroni and cheese, turkey and dressings and all the trimmings. My mom and aunts finally got that we don't need to have enough food to feed a third world country during the holidays. However, my aunt and I went to the movies and gleefully licked that artery clogging butter from our fingers. Absolute bliss. Quiet, uneventful. And peaceful.

The beginning of the year brought my friend losing her mom and my cousin losing his dad. The mom was 53 and my cousin's dad wasn't even 50. My cousin losing his dad really ate me up on the inside. It was bothering me so bad that I had to talk to my mom about it. I couldn't understand when so many deadbeat dads are running around why God allowed a good father to go home to glory. That just didn't sit well with me. She told me although it was natural for me to feel bad for my cousin, I was wasting my time being angry. "We all have to go sometime," she said. I knew that she is right and her words kind of shook me out of my funk. I mean, no one really ever thinks that it is their loved ones time to go, right? So if I were to take that attitude every time someone transitioned, I would stay upset.

So maybe that's why I've been a bit more chipper than usual. Grateful. Thankful yet always reminded that things could be worse. I could've woken up under 10 feet of rubble from the trappings of a earthquake. Instead I wake up each morning in my own bed. In my right mind (depending on whom you ask) with use of my arms, toes and being able to breathe on my own.

I think I'm finally growing up. It doesn't take much to make me happy, to make me smile with glee. My mother always said that I would get tired of running from place to place, flying here and there. In true mama form, she was right. There ain't nothing like being still. When you are constantly going and going, you really do miss out on the simple things. The joyful things. The "I don't want anything for Christmas except going to see 'The Princess and the Frog'" type of things. This grown up business is the bomb when it's done properly. So stop moving so fast and take time to grow up. And always remember to take time to say 'thank you'.

"Tragedies are commonplace
All kinds of diseases,
people are slipping away
Economies down, people don't get
Enough pay
But as for me all I can say is
Thank you Lord for all
you done for me
I wanna thank you for your love
Thank you for your power
Thank you for
protection, every hour
Thank you..."~Mary, Mary and Walter Hawkins and any choir around the world.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winter Blossoms in Detroit

When I landed in Detroit, it was winter but I was feeling warm on the inside. Maybe it was emotion or maybe it was lupus, who knows? I was back in the loving arms of my family and friends. My mother was relieved about my return but my illness weighed on her. It was apparent each morning that she had to leave me each morning for work. When she returned in the afternoon, I was in the same position, my back propped up on pillows in her bed with my chin on my chest. I was so weak that she had to help me put socks on my feet because I stayed cold. She also had to assist me to the restroom because lupus was wrecking havoc on my legs. To stand for long periods of time made me hot, light headed and dizzy. All of these elements combined to form a mother's nightmare. She finished eight hours in the school system and then had to come home and fight the adversary that was messing with her only child.

I just didn't want her to worry herself to death. I might not have been the healthiest but if there is one thing that I know how to do, I know how to fight courtesy of my mom. We don't war with flesh and blood but with spirits of evil. Meaning I had to pray like hell to get this spirit off of me. I didn't do anything per say to bring lupus upon me but the devil will find any way to enter our lives. Unfortunately, he chose my health but I guess he didn't get the word that I'm covered on that end also.

Now I know that it may sound like I fought my battle with ease but it was a truly a nerve rattling thing. I was never scared for myself but moreso for those that loved me. I remember asking God just to spare me for my mother. My mother didn't sacrafice her whole life for her daughter just to bury her daughter. I rebuked that wholeheartedly.

During this time, the rest of my family pulled together which was nothing new. We had buried my aunt two days after my birthday in March of 2008 and my mind fell on a voicemail that she had left me when I first moved to Tallahassee. "Sherri, you are blessed. You are blessing. Whatever you want in this world is yours. You are blessed. Thank you, baby. Thank you. I love you." It almost became my victory chant that only I could hear and reply in my spirit. Auntie Helen told me that I was victorious from the grave.

At the time, my youngest cousin was 20 years old and he was just beginning his conversations with God. I feared that if I took a turn for the worse that he would curse God. I wanted my cousin and God to get off on the right foot so to speak so I always prayed that God would let Justin's prayers manifest. He would buy lots of anti-oxidant and herbal teas for me. Justin made me promise that if I recovered that he would get us front row tickets to a Beyonce concert that upcoming July. (He kept his promise. We were there shaking our tailfeathers and we even shook her hand.) My other little cousin would brew me cups of tea at a time. I remember my aunt rushing over with cocoa and shea butter to heal my face from the lupus rash that was covering my nose and cheeks. My other aunt, whom I have written about before, was back on her post cooking things that don't mix. Shrimp and hamhocks. Cinnamon buns and taco salad. Days like that I was glad I was on medication.

I can recall anticipating my uncle's visit. As he neared my bedroom, I put my hands over my face so he couldn't see my scars. I didn't take my hands from over my face until he called my name. I was ashamed to let my uncle see me. Everyone else could see me, no problem, but it hurt me to let my uncle see me. In true Uncle Bill form he said, "Oh no, we gotta do something about this." He has never let his niece suffer. Never.

Word got out that I was sick. Satan's head was pelted with prayers as far away as London. The Holy Spirit interceeded for me many a days. I just didn't have the strength to pray. Satan's attack may have compromised my body but he didn't have my mind. I said, 'thank you, Lord' plenty times in mind and spirit. When the pains were hitting me the worse, I was too exhausted to cry but I knew how to say 'thank you'.

My ordeal made some of my friends convert from "thoughts" to "prayers". Some of them never uttered the word prayer til the devil started to meddle with me. Those thoughts turned to prayers, pronto. The ones that were already prayer warriors kicked their prayers into overtime. How grateful I am for the entire Jones family. They visited often, prayed with me, laughed and spoke encouaging words over my situation.

I've always thought myself to be the example. God knows who can handle what and like Job I did believe that no matter how hot it got in my kitchen, God was with me. He said where ever we make our beds, whether it be the hospital bed, the outhouse or the whorehouse, He was with us. God is always available. If God needed to use me so that others can see His power then so be it. Take me, I'll go. I knew in my heart of hearts that on the other side of the potential tragedy was powerful triumph. It is a terrible thing for the adversary to meddle with royalty. God is going to get His glory.

Sometimes you have to go home to get your blessings. Sometimes you have to retreat to regroup. Most times God has to get you alone to speak to you. Most times the trial isn't chastisement but rather Him covering and re-creating you for what's to come. Many times we aren't going to understand it but we must stand in knowing that all the time, God is good. I praise His name for me blossoming in the winter.

In the bed in Tallahassee (Dec '08) Lupus rash and fat cheeks.

Sorry about the blurry pics. Started chemo and my scalp is scarred and my hair is thining (Jan '09). Lower pic is a closer look at mean lupus.

In Detroit (April '09), a couple months into chemo treatments. My hair had fallen out considerably but I was still grinning. I wasn't surrendering my joy!

Looking better and feeling stronger (May '09). Still on the thin side (I can tell by looking at my neck). Still smiling.

In Orlando (Nov '09) and In Detroit (Dec '09). God said it and I believed it. I took Him at his word.
(Still grinning and looking like my old self.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tallahassee in the Spring, Pt. 2

I woke up one morning freezing and safe to say, delirious. October in Florida still equaled eighty degree temperatures but tell me why I am rummaging through my sock drawer trying to find my third pair of Betty Boop socks to cover my feet? My feet felt like bricks of ice. I turned the heat up to ninety. I went back to my closet and put on a tank top, a long sleeved t-shirt and a hoodie in addition to the long johns and jogging pants that I had on. I remember just getting back under my covers praying that whatever "this" was, it would be over soon.

The next morning was a doctor's appointment and pretty soon, the appointments were coming fast and furious. My poor doctors, haha. I can laugh now but honey, when I was going through it, I wanted to snatch that stethoscope from around their necks, pound on the bottom of it and scream, "yoo-hoo, is anyone there?" My physicians were concerned but their hands were tied because they didn't have a clue as to how to treat lupus. I remember Dr. W coming into the exam room and standing about three feet from me. She said, "my goodness, I can feel the heat emitting from your body." Heck, by the end of my visit, I thought I was going to have to resuscitate her. Poor thing. She probably wanted to be somewhere walking her goldfish versus looking up in my face.

Work was becoming a near death experience. Each morning, I would use my apartment hallway's walls to guide me to my bathroom. I used anything sturdy to lean on as I got dressed. It was bad. I would get to work and my supervisor would take my hand and lead me right back to my car. Sometimes I would insist that I was "ok" but by lunchtime she was demanding that I leave my desk and go home. I've always said that God protects fools and babies. My supervisor will always, always have a place in my heart. So many people say their employers don't understand lupus and were treated poorly once it was revealed they had lupus. My experience was totally different. My experience was nothing short of miracles that were crafted by God.

My rheumatologist told and not suggested that my last day of work be December 2, 2008. I'm sure that took weight off of my supervisor. She didn't have to cut me off in the parking lot and make me go back home. While I was on bedrest-and still refusing to my family in Michigan-my team of about 25 people at work took up a collection that totaled more than $300 plus a $50 Target gift card for me. I was floored, truly floored, for two reasons. Like my mama said, charity begins at home and spreads abroad. She always encouraged me to do good by people no matter the circumstances and when I needed it, God's grace would kick in on my life. My mama was right, per usual. It was a bit overwhelming that people thought enough to come out of their pockets like that for me. Little ole, sick and spotty faced me. Wow.

Secondly, I had only known my co-workers since April and they were genuinely concerned about me. They would come by my place and bring me food, get my prescriptions, make me laugh, just whatever I needed would get done. No questions asked. One of my co-worker's brought his wife and kids by my apartment. That was very heartwarming because this world can be very 'every man for themselves' and for a whole family to come by, I was thankful. Once again, by the grace of God, that wasn't my story.

My breaking point came when I wasn't responding to treatment that the rheumatologist recommended. I was sitting in the exam room and he was looking at me and rubbing his chin. I'm sitting on the exam table, watching him rub his chin and waiting on him to say something miraculous. The miraculous statement didn't come. Instead, he told me to go to Michigan to be with my family. Then, he helped me to my feet, patted me on my back and said "good luck". Yes, those were his parting words to me. "Good luck". So what did 'good luck' mean? Would I last til suppertime? Or should I be read my last rites? I don't know how I made it home after that appointment. I think it involved waiting in my car for my neighbor to arrive so he could help me up the steps to my apartment. Lupus is bitch like that.

Later on that night, I remember this clearly, I was sitting on my couch. I had taken my lupus meds and on top of that I took some over the counter medicine to fight a cold. Then, I decided to call my mother. Terrible mistake. I felt myself talking incoherently about horses and dressers. She let out a shrill scream that I can hear still to this day. It was a scream that said to me that she had lost her child. I was scared but kept my mouth shut because I wanted so badly to talk about trolls but she was screaming. She said she was on her way to me. I told her no and I was going to sleep and then, I hung up. I was tired (high of meds).

Then, as if I hadn't caused enough damage, I decided to text my cousin. The text read "Weng Weng Facebook dresser midget". He and I laugh about it to this day. He said "I looked at the text and rolled back over and went to sleep. I thought you were out of your mind." I keep that text saved in my pink phone. It wasn't funny at the time but it the text is hilarious to me now. As far as my mama went, I remember Jeopardy being on meaning it was about 7 pm. The last flight for Tallahassee left about 7:30. Of course, all of this was reasoned once I sobered up, later that night. I called her back and explained that cocktail of drugs that I had ingested. She was calmer but she asked when I was coming home. The gig was up. I was on a plane to home and healing that next week. I didn't know exactly what was going to happen but I did know that everything was going to be alright.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Tallahassee in the Spring

It was March of 2007 and I had finally made it Tallahassee, happy yet anxious to pull of something that I could call my own. I remember going to my apartment’s leasing office and getting the key to my apartment, Apt D-12. The only thing that I got out of my car was a comforter and a pillow. I stretched out on the floor and went to sleep. I had driven from Michigan to Florida, alone, and a sister was beyond tired and hot. I had forgotten that Tallahassee could reach 80 degrees in March.

I hit the ground running with my eyelash business. My friend had designed some pretty fly business cards for me. They were all professional looking and I was very proud. I went around town leaving cards in various businesses and passing them out at different events. Everyone from the beauty supply owners to students on the city’s three college campuses were extremely supportive. On top of the eyelashes, I hadn’t yet resigned from being a flight attendant. Due to the economy, my airline offered leaves to flight attendants where I didn’t have to work but I was able to keep my flight benefits. I was all over it. Having my own business and free travel? Are you kidding me? Making my own schedule and doing things that I wanted to do. Eureka! I had finally made it!

When I did have to return to flying, it became apparent that I couldn’t maintain a business in the south and be a flight attendant in the north. The unpredictability of an aviation schedule left me unable to consistently service customers in Tallahassee. So in March of ’08, I resigned from the airline and accepted a job as an eligibility specialist. I hated it, bottom line. I needed the job because I needed medical benefits. I was back to a place that I didn’t want to be, behind a desk. Ugh!

The project that my team was working on was very stressful to say the least. Every other day, there was a protocol change being made. Then a week into training, my Aunt Helen passed away two days after my birthday. So now I have to hightail it back to Michigan to bury my aunt. Florida sunshine+job I hate+aunt’s death=perfect combination for a lupus flare. I remember being so tired. I also remembering saying that I couldn’t stop because I had things to do.

That August, I drove to New Orleans to meet my mom for her birthday. I know I made it there and back on a prayer. Talk about someone being exhausted. I just wanted my mother to enjoy herself in New Orleans. I could’ve laid up in that nice hotel for three days with no problem but what kind of birthday would that have been for my mother? On the final day of the trip, she hugged me and said “your nose is raw.” I knew there was something going on but leave it to my mother to put a name to it. My skin surrounding nostrils were pinkish. I don’t know if it was denial but I chalked it up to being tired. Saying that it was a lupus flare-up wasn’t even on my radar.

A week later, I had five wisdom teeth pulled. Then, all physical hell broke loose. The corners of my mouth split so bad that it left me looking like the Joker. I was beyond miserable with my job becoming increasingly more and more stressful. I was beginning to get tired of the drive from my office to the salon to do eyelashes. I remember walking around thinking that something was going to have to give.

Getting up for work each morning was becoming a chore. I know some folks don’t like their jobs and dread going to work but I literally had to plot and plan to make it to work at 7:30 a.m. Once at my desk, I would take pictures with my camera phone of my ears that had turned black like coal and open sores had began to form. A dark rash started to cover the underside of my chin and my back. I chalked it up to being the dye from a weave that I had sewn into my head. I figured that I was just having some sort of terrible reaction to the weave hair. I found a couple of my clients who said that the same thing had happened to them. In my mind they had corroborated my story and therefore, I was good to go. Once again, lupus never crossed my mind. Until one day when I woke up in a cold sweat and it was 100 degrees outside....

Dark lupus rash forming on my ear.

Lupus discoloration behind my ear.

Dry rash forming under my chin (it didn't stop me from eating though :).