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STREET Smarts–Detroit Taught Me Well

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Today,  I am feeling very appreciative of my mom and the freedom she graced upon her kids.  She gave us so much space and exposed us to more than the average person, I’m sure of it now.

When I was a young girl, we would go and visit my Grandma and Grandpa in the Cass Corridor, Downtown Detroit area.   The Cass Corridor is where the riots broke out in the heart of Detroit in 1963.

It was a real raw city, indeed. 

My Grandpa would walk us to the park downtown where we would feed the pigeons.  He was in a very sick phase of his life, and there were many times that he would have to lay down on the side of the street and take a nap.

My sister, Valorie,  and I were about 8 and 10 years old.  We would just sort of linger there while grandpa napped.  We were harassed by all sorts of people.

We learned the subtle art of knowing when to speak and when not to pay any attention.  There is a huge difference. 

If you look someone in the eye that should not be looked in the eye, you learn quickly what you did wrong.  When you ignore someone that you should have spoken to, you learn quickly what you should have done.  Trust me, it’s a big deal.

Most of the people I know are afraid of going to areas that seem unsafe.  Quite frankly, most people just don’t go.  When I was  a teenager and driving, I would drive my friends to downtown Detroit.  There were some amazing ethnic festivals at The Hart Plaza down on the riverfront.   Talk about a place to party and meet people from all over the metropolitan area, this was it.

If my friend’s parents knew they were down there, they would have thrown a fit!

To me, being downtown was not a big deal and it was not dangerous.  My Mom worked downtown all of my young years, my Grandparents lived downtown, and it was part of my vibe.   

If you aren’t exposed to the diversity at a young age, when will you be?

That, I believe, is the problem with most people who are filled with fear about going to certain neighborhoods.  If they’ve never had any experience carrying themselves down a city street, you’d better believe they’re going to show it. 

Body language and posture is everything. 

If you have no confidence, it will show and you will be an easy victim if anyone were interested.

Just the other day, I was in an area in Los Angeles that I would not necessarily  choose to go to.  I had bought a Living Social deal and I wasn’t sure of the area it was in.  Sure enough, as I drove toward the address, things weren’t looking all that fabulous.

It was a run down neighborhood and the people were definitely diverse and,  in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, “not that there’s anything wrong with that”.

I had a voucher and it expired TODAY.  Since I was juice fasting, I was going to get my full supply for the day and take them to go–all juice.  As I handed the cashier my voucher to pay, he announced that it was dine in only.

Shoot, I had no choice so I decided to sit there and drink a couple hours away.  I needed my computer which was in my car.

I walked to my car, which incidently had my bicycle on top of it, and grabbed my laptop and walked back.

There were people of all sorts out there.  Some in their yard, some on the street, some lingering in the old garage business on the corner.

They were diverse and it did feel like I was on the streets of Detroit from my childhood. 

The beautiful thing, though, was that  they were not at all offended by my presence.  The tough chick walking by was one of those you just don’t engage.  The older woman, who seemed a bit out of sorts and maybe a little intoxicated,  was pleasant and a simple smile worked with her.

All I can say is, I am so appreciative of my upbringing and the example my mom set for me.

I appreciate her for exposing me to all the neighborhoods, not just the suburbs. 

Fear just wasn’t present in my body when I was out there.  All was well.

I guess if you are already an adult and you  weren’t prepared to navigate in such neighborhoods, you probably should stay out of bounds until you learn the art of posture.  Or, come with me and you’ll be fine.

All is well and it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood–wherever it is!

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Please Forgive Me

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I am at Peace.  My father is at Peace.  My father died a couple weeks ago.  I grew up without a father.  I only met him in person 4 times.

I was 10 when my mother drove us across Country from Michigan to California to visit him and meet him for the first time.

As a young girl who always wondered about her father, I was thrilled.  The next time I saw him I was 16, it was his parents’ 50th Wedding Anniversary.

He invited me out to California to visit him anytime.  I thought he was so cool. 

In all my years growing up though, he never wrote me, sent cards, answered the  letters I wrote to him.  The older I got, the more I made that mean something about him and something about me.

I began to form all kinds of negative feelings toward him.

The third time I saw him was a few years ago.  I attended an intensive weekend–a world renowned event called the Landmark Forum.

The Landmark Forum helped me see that things happen to us and we have our own interpretation about what happened.  Those interpretations aren’t necessarily what really happened!

After years of no communication, I simply thought he didn’t care about any of his children.

I thought he had no conscience, I thought he was a bad person. 

However, after finishing The Landmark Forum, I contacted my father and we created a new relationship.  We let go of the constraints of the past and started from nothing–it was so freeing.

I realized, with his help, that there are two sides to every story and the truth usually lies somewhere in between.  I learned a lot about my father in those few years.  I found lots of compassion for him.

Growing up he had gone to a total of 26 elementary schools.  TWENTY SIX!

His father had a job that kept relocating them.  Imagine how hard it would be to create lasting bonds with people.

He was young when he and my mother were together, he was still learning life and she and we were part of his learning.

He went on to have 3 more wives, and 2 more children in addition to the 5 he had with my mother.

In his last 22 years, he was married to Vicki.  She is an amazing woman and he raised her two kids from a very young age.  He confided in her everything about his life and she loved him deeply.  He was a great father for Linda and Michael and they loved and respected him all their lives.

Even so, he had so much regret and remorse over his past and he always shared with Vicki, the pain he carried with him.

Vicki understood him completely.  Just before he died, he was in a lot of pain the night before and kept waking Vicki and Linda.

Finally, come morning, he was calmer and he just kept telling them, “take my boots off”, “take my boots off.” 

They couldn’t figure out what he meant???

After my father died in Vicki’s arms, she realized what he had been referring to.

His very first child with my mom was Jay Ann.  She died of Leukemia at the age of 3. 

When he and my mom would bring her home from the hospital after getting a treatment, she would have extra energy and be full of fun and laughter.  She would go and slip her little feet into his big boots and run around.

He chased her and would say, “take my boots off”.  It was a joyful time for him…just to see her happy and full of life and energy.

My father was getting closer to that state of Pure, Positive, Energy that comes with passing.  He was happy and thrilled that he would be in that place with his first child Jay Ann.  The place is what we can all find glimpses of here, in this realm,  if we just try.

A place where there is no pain or guilt or judgment.  A place where there is only joy and vibrant energy.  A place, where if you learn to “let go” and forgive, you can be free.


I feel so fortunate to be able to say that I am at Peace with his passing.  I cleared my body of all the negativity that comes along with not being able to forgive.

Forgiveness is not something we give to the other person, it’s something we give to ourselves. 

Most importantly, I asked him to forgive me for all the judgments I made about him.

I came to know what compassion really is–the ability to see someone the way their Source sees them. Source=God=Infinite Intelligence.

My father was a good man.  He had so much going for him and I was able to see through all the veils I had in front of me regarding him and who he was.  We are all here doing the best we can and I feel fortunate to have been able to call him “Dad” later in life.

I AM AT PEACE!

Be Open

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One of my favorite affirmations these days is, “I AM OPEN TO EVERYTHING AND ATTACHED TO NOTHING”.

When I live with this intention, some of the most amazing things happen.

Last weekend, a series of events occurred that reinforce my belief in staying tapped in, tuned in, and turned on to the positive flow of energy all around us.

I had the opportunity to attend my high school reunion.  At first, I didn’t think I was going to go.

All the names of the people who RSVP’d were people that I didn’t hang out with in high school. They were all the jocks and I knew them but I didn’t have a strong bond with them. Then,  I thought I should put my name on the RSVP list so that I might attract some of the people I did hang out with.

When I arrived at the reunion, I studied the list of people who were inside the room already and not one of them stood out as someone I wanted to reconnect with.

This was not a good attitude and I decided to change it immediately.

I decided to go in and find out about people instead of go in and feel like I had no connection.  That is exactly what I did. I love finding out about people in general and I went into my interview mode. I loved it.

I had so much fun and started to feel a connection brewing.

Then, I noticed NOBODY was dancing. I grabbed a couple of women (who I did not know) and began dancing. We managed to recruit a guy out there with us who recruited another guy.

By the end of the night, as the song “Last Dance” by Donna Summer played (1978), almost everyone in the room was out there on the floor. I was glowing with joy.

Even though I didn’t really know these people in high school, I knew them now and created a connection out on that floor.

Later in the evening as I talked to one of the guys who had organized the event, I found out that his mother still kept in touch with his brothers widow. My very best friend from the age of 3 married his brother (his brother has since passed on). I haven’t spoken to her in a VERY long time. At the age of 16, she got caught up in a downward spiral of drugs and sex and I don’t know what else. We ended our friendship. We had been friends from the age of 3 until 16.

The long and the short of all of this is…I believe the reason I went to that reunion was not to dance the night away with a bunch of people I didn’t really know, but it was to get the number of my childhood soul mate. We were so close, we were so connected, we knew everything about each other and vowed to always be friends so it was extra devastating to have that end.  I always felt a deep empty space in my heart where Annette once lived.

I called my friend the next night (Johnnies mom gave me her phone number).

She has been clean and sober for 12 years now.

We exchanged our small talk and then really started to share ourselves with each other. We had so much in common, we were both on a clear spiritual path and we both cared about our health and well being.  It’s as if our life path’s reconnected at the perfect place.

She told me she had had a dream about me a few weeks earlier. She woke up from the dream feeling really good. Clear.

I asked her where she worked and when she told me the name of the restaurant–wow,  my mom and I had been in there about a month ago. It was a little out of the ordinary since it wasn’t a place near where we live. Then, she told me her first memory of me. The crazy thing is, I had been thinking about that incident it a–wondering if it really happened or.

We were 3 and 4 years old, throwing rocks to each other and she threw a rock at me and I have the scar to prove it on my forehead. I was never sure if that was how I got the scar….she confirmed that the memory was very vivid in her mind.

The 13 years we were friends growing up felt like a lifetime and the over 25 years we haven’t spoken didn’t even feel as long as the time we spent living life to the fullest in our childhood. We are friends again and we will always be friends now. My Thanksgiving couldn’t have been more perfect.

The moral of the story is…be OPEN TO EVERYTHING AND ATTACHED TO NOTHING. I wasn’t going to let the fact that I knew no one at my high school reunion stop me from attending. Had I been attached to the outcome of the reunion (a friend of mine thought I might meet the next love of my life), I would not have been open to the events that followed.

Imagine what I would have missed had I not gotten interested in others–I would have never found out about my long lost friend from her brother-in-law, Johnnie!

I have the first friend I’ve ever known in my life back in my life.annetteandtarayellowflowers

I AM AMAZED AT HOW THE UNIVERSE LINES THINGS UP FOR ME. I AM GRATEFUL! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!