We are a lifestyle company that believes in the power of self-care. We focus on inspiring our readers to live their best life and embrace life’s challenges. My website is home to stories, tips, and experiences that bring joy, hope and insight into our readers’ lives. As a Public Health Professional I am passionate about promoting mental, physical and emotional wellbeing and aim to create a safe and welcoming community.
Endo, Adeno, Cranio, & Me
The Journey Continues...
"You never know how strong you are until being strong is your only choice."
Resilience, chronic pain, self-actualization & affirmation were some elements that brought me to start Meraki Life & Style, LLC. Here is a peek into my 20+ years of reproductive health challenges that have shaped me into the woman I am and continue to transform into.
Almost 25 years ago I was diagnosed with the chronic and extremely painful disease, StageIV Endometriosis. I'll never forget the night it happened, my life as I knew it was about to change forever. This searing, gut-wrenching pain awoke me out of my sleep during my sophomore year in college, causing me to fall out of bed. The pain was surreal, almost out-of-body, screams of pain were the only thing that enabled me to catch my breath. My boyfriend at the time was startled awake by my sobbing and screaming as I lay on the floor gripping my abdomen, writhing in pain.
He jumped into action and reached out to his fraternity brother, who had a car on campus, to rush us to the emergency room. I was in so much pain I began to hyperventilate and was unable to walk on my own and they had to carry me through the dorm, to his fraternity brother's car and ultimately into the ER. Considering none of us knew the cause of what had brought me to the ER in such distress, the doctors consequently had to rule things out - unfortunately, this process took over 4 hours of Xrays, ultrasounds (regular and vaginal - which was further excruciating).
The ER called in 4 surgeons to examine and observe me and decipher my lab results as I lay on the gurney in mind-numbing pain. It wasn't until about 2 hours into my ER visit was I informed that the ER doctors were trying to determine if my appendix had ruptured and if so, that is why they couldn't give me pain medication which could mask this possibly life-threatening condition and would require immediate surgery to remove the appendix. Once it was determined it wasn't my appendix, 4 hours later, the symptoms were attributed to a multiple cyst rupture, and I was finally given some pain relief. At the time the attending physicians were still not sure what had caused the rupture, but eventually sent me on my way with the potential diagnosis of endometriosis - which can only be definitively diagnosed through surgery, and that was my welcome into the 1 in 10 women world of Endometriosis.
As a result of this diagnosis, I was told at 19 to get a hysterectomy and I wouldn't be able to conceive or even carry a child to term because it would be put my life in danger. Knowing that this may become a reality has always been at the back of my mind but having to actually go through with it is entirely different. Some days I feel so numb.
In 2019 almost 23 years later, 20+ OB/GYNs, 5 surgeries, 2 runs on lupron (horrible side-effects), 3 runs on Mirena, the last pelvic MRI, it was found that I had a 10cm fibroid-the size of a melon, (1 of too many to count - that was only just 2 small ones years ago- my severe Adenomyosis and Endometriosis) that it's time to go through with a hysterectomy. Unfortunately, the hysterectomy has had horrible lasting side effects resulting in a transected ureter, chronic pyelonephritis, several hospitalizations, 2 in ICU, 3 additional surgeries, a blood transfusion and added daily pain. It's still a struggle some days just to get out of bed and do regular day to day activities. During my 3rd surgery, in 2012, I was also diagnosed with the Adenomyosis and Fibroids, which added another dimension to my journey with chronic illness and pain. I continue to persevere and push through as I was diagnosed with a Craniopharyngioma, a unique type of brain tumor in 2018. I pray one day there will be a cure (NO having a hysterectomy or babies does NOT cure it). I am so happy to see it's starting to get the long-overdue attention it deserves. EndoBlack is a phenomenal resource! I look forward to sharing the reality of being an EndoWarrior and what some of us go through in our daily lives and provide resources for others as we press through this life. Thank God I don't look like what I been through. 🙏🏽😁#smilethroughthepain
For years, I have happily served in a helpful role to those seeking inspiration, coaching or advice. In 2019, I finally decided to own that role and be intentional about it.
For over two decades I silently struggled with a painful chronic disease and other various health challenges, while donning my 'armor' to serve a brave, makeup-enhanced face to the world as if everything was wonderful. When In actuality, in some parts of my life, it was quite the contrary.
Living with an invisible illness and balancing a 'self-inflicted' social butterfly M.O. can be a bit counterintuitive. I realized that the more I tried to 'act' normal in the face of my body constantly attacking itself, the more I was doing a disservice to my attainment of better self-care, something I promote as part of my career and to my loved ones (yet I wasn't practicing it).
It constantly wears on your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. The laundry list of diagnosed ailments and surgeries go from Stage IV Endometriosis, Adenomyosis, Fibroids, Chronic Pansinusitis, Migraines, and most recently to a brain tumor.
I knew I had to channel my angst, pain, feelings of being constantly broken and overwhelmed into something positive and beneficial for my sanity and soul, a.ka. Securing Your Oxygen Mask First, but how and into what?
I decided to create a lady cave, she shed, sacred space or zen den - whatever you fancy - to give myself a place to be vulnerable, creative, meditate, cry, pray...to rediscover pieces of my soul, partake in my hobbies, and indulge my love for decorating and staging spaces. My beloved sacred space is located in our basement, in the midst of my husband's Gentleman's Lounge - that's a story for another time.
Throughout this process of thinking of decor ideas and what vibe I wanted my room to have, I began to realize how therapeutic the entire process was. I really had to pause and reconnect with myself and spend some quality time with my thoughts and feelings about how to process everything going on with the numerous health challenges that were trying to take over my life.
I had to become more aware of not being on autopilot to deal with my current existence, acknowledging my wants, likes, and goals of this new space. Transforming my room turned into a physical manifestation of my soul's imagination, creating my sacred space.
It's been a dynamic journey that led me to figure out a way to articulate what this on-going process has meant to me, and then one day surfing the internet I stumbled upon the word Meraki.
I am realizing the best way for me to share where I am in my current space, I had to be selfish with my time, needs, and wants. If I was going to truly embrace my reality, my loves, my process, and open up to others in a way that may help them,I needed a place to educate, inspire, and share pieces of myself to celebrate that I don't look like what I have been and continue to go through.
I pray that through my stories of struggles, faith, strength, and resilience that I can help someone else along the way.
I started writing about my passions, my pain, my thoughts, and curious wonderings about navigating life.
I founded Meraki Life & Style, LLC with a mission to give others a taste of how I am healing, coping, and channeling my energies in a way that may help others Secure Their Oxygen Masks First! while I help others create their own sacred spaces in it.
Through hosting workshops, lecturing, design, staging, and decor, let me help you create a physical manifestation of your soul’s imagination - a sacred space...