Be the Solution

Finding your warrior spirit can be a difficult journey when faced with the daily drama of life and given what we see these days on the news and in social media.  Outside factors can be such strong distractions that they often make us forget how to look within, utilize our skills and talents to grow, prosper and serve the needs of others in our communities.

I believe that you can write your fate with your own hands when the rest of the world is sleeping or busy participating in the drama. Problems can be solved in many ways, including finding someone else’s experience and copying what they did, changing a limiting belief or attitude, or by joining a network dedicated to solving that particular problem. Being the solution is a great way to come out of the problem.

The Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities (ACHC) has encouraged and inspired individuals, families and communities to do just that – to be the solution. They’ve created numerous programs that help shape how well our communities live. This is especially important now since we live in a culture where every day, over 2000 teens begin abusing prescription drugs. 

I interviewed Julie Brenner, CEO of ACHC about their programs. With over twenty years of service in marketing, alliance and partnership development, Julie holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wilfrid Laurier University and a degree in Corporate Communications from Sheridan College, both in Ontario, Canada. She is a Certified Prevention Consultant (CPC-R), and is a graduate of Leadership Oakland XXVIII and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Non Profit Leaders.

Team

Julie shared their wealth of services. The Bear Truth is ACHC’s college outreach program which collaborates with Oakland University to reduce high risk drinking and misuse of other substances while integrating wellness practices and relevant resources. Their Greater Urban Community Coalition Initiative supports local experts and residents to ensure each child in every school has the necessary resources to live a safe, healthy and long life. A key component is to reduce and prevent underage drinking, prescription and opiate drug misuse, illicit marijuana and tobacco use among youth and adults in highly minority populated communities across Oakland County.

Pioneering social change in the realm of health and wellness, the Alliance strives, through their Integrative Wellness program, to reduce the fear of complimentary therapies. They want to empower individuals and families to take care of their health in holistic and sustainable ways.

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Keep Them Safe, Keep Them Healthy! is another program that strengthens families by building curriculum for families who have youth ages 10 to 14 years of age in the home. A compliment to that program is Life is Your Playbook led by former NFL linebacker for the New York Giants, and 2011 Super Bowl Champion, Greg Jones. He imparts knowledge and skills needed for today’s youth using several different “life plays.” These dynamic experiences are for youth of all ages so that they gain protective factors that will help them avoid destructive behaviors, including substance use, by helping them know their value, think about what they want for their futures and what they need to do to get there.

Love a Child is a year round program focusing on areas of mentoring for children, youth and young adults challenged by circumstances of abuse, neglect, and behavioral issues through one-on-one mentoring, home visitation, camps and special events.

With 5-10 meetings held every month in Oakland County, the Alliance serves as the Oakland County Chapter of Families Against Narcotics (FAN). A partnership was formed with FAN to increase prevention, recovery and support connections. This partnership encourages strong ties to all community sectors including parents affected by addiction, concerned citizens, law enforcement, judges, leaders in education, business, and healthcare and the recovery community. 

PEEPs (Peers Educating and Empowering Peers) is a unique group that brings together coalition youth members to promote healthy lifestyles through prevention education across Oakland County. And there’s Resolve, a 16-week comprehensive life skills training program designed and developed for individuals in recovery who are 18+. The purpose of this program is to empower individuals in recovery to move forward in their life skill development targeted specifically to areas of need, whereby addressing the health and well-being of the whole person.

Children

Through my extensive travels around the world and my journalism of over ten years, I discovered that what we do at home, in our own little corners, creates the environment we dream for ourselves and future generations. I love watching individuals, families, businesses, and corporations who understand the power of that. They make conscious decisions, placing their focus on the solution within their scope, spreading it to those in their proximity, then naturally expanding to larger circles. They take a proactive role in shaping their lives and helping those around them. They help make the world a better place. 

Here’s a wonderful and informative video about their Integrative Wellness Program, which is a sponsor of the Spiritual & Writing Conference & Retreat  Click Here

For more information, visit http://achcmi.org/

Envision Your Success Using Vision Boards

Long ago, a woman gifted me a book called The Power of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down. This was my introduction into the science of the subconscious mind, how we can, through habitual thinking, imagery, and the belief in a higher power create our destiny.        

In all his books, Dr. Murphy provides practical methods to help a person redirect their energy and achieve the result they want. Born in 1898, he was educated in Ireland and England in Eastern religion and later became a Minister-Director of the Church of Divine Science in Los Angeles. He spent many years in India and was a scholar of the I-Ching, the Chinese book of divination whose origins are lost in history.

I was fascinated by this subject and began to set clear intentions for what I wanted in my personal and work life. At first, I used only words and feelings to shift my thought process and manifest my dreams. Later, I incorporated pictures. I was young and didn’t know whether this exercise would work, but aligning thoughts and emotions in this way felt really good. It took me away from negativity and gave me clarity and a sense of purpose. Along the way, I read of many people who had practiced these techniques successfully, such as Olympic athletes who have used it for decades to improve performance. Over the years, people that understand and utilize meditation and vision boards for their success became part of my every day circle.

My friend and colleague Sonya Julie, for instance, used a vision book to change her life. Within a few years, she went from a job in the corporate world to being an entrepreneur, facilitating workshops, creating jewelry and writing her memoir. A co-creator of Rochester Writers, Sonya has published freelance content for a variety of publications including The Oakland Press, Michigan Sports Edge and Rochester Media. She is a Reiki Master and Energy Worker and will be leading a workshop at The Path of Consciousness spiritual and writing conference and retreat in October. In this workshop, called Creative Vision Board Workshop: Envision Your Success!, participants will dig deep into this highly effective practice to help one transfer their goals and dreams into reality. She’s doing somewhat of a similar workshop for the Detroit Writing Conference in November.

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Sonya’s Jewelry

“Every day we have a choice regarding how we live our lives,” says Sonya. “Society has told us what is expected of us and what the ramifications are if we don’t follow suit. Do you spend many hours each week working on something you don’t believe in or enjoy? Or perhaps you are working towards your dream but don’t know what steps to take? Perhaps you have too much going on and can’t seem to find the time to make anything happen.”

Sonya invites people to think about what they’d want to do if they had no limits.

“If you had enough money and security and could create anything imaginable, what would that look like? And how would you get there?” she asks. “Be specific – don’t just say you want to save the world or learn to paint – think of something more specific. What would you do if you had no limits on your power to create?”

She suggests taking perhaps 15 or 20 minutes to write down your ideas and dreams. Once you have a general idea, take time to further define your ideas. What kinds of steps would you take to get there? You can set aside time to work on this in whatever way works for you. Get a new notebook that you will enjoy using. Start brainstorming, doodling, and finding creative ways to express that which you hold in your heart. What resides in the core of your being? What are you here to do? To enjoy? To create?

Visualization is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do. For me, looking back, I see that the majority of what I’d focused on has manifested – except it didn’t necessarily happen the way I expected or in the time period I hoped for. Most of us wish that our dreams would come true more quickly or the difficult seasons would pass by more smoothly, but things worth having, including loving relationships, require work and patience. Otherwise, it becomes a continuous fantasizing that leads to frustration. So it’s important that one has a “vision board” and an “action board” to accompany it.

Watch the half-hour interview with Sonya and for more information about Sonya’s work, visit her websites www.SonyaJulie.com and https://awakeningthecore.com

She will be presenting at The Path of Consciousness Spiritual & Writing Conference & Retreat Oct. 5-7 http://www.ThePathofConsciousness.com

She will be presenting at Detroit Working Writers Conference Nov. 10  http://www.detworkingwriters.org/conference/

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The Beauty of Farming

My grandparents, from both my parents’ side, were farmers in Telkaif, a town in northern Iraq where, not long ago, Chaldeans [Christian Iraqis] lived a fairly peaceful life. My maternal-grandfather woke up every morning before the break of dawn, attended church, came home to eat a fresh breakfast he’d grown on his land, and worked in his farm until evening. Then he was off to church once again before having supper and calling it a day. They enjoyed good clean air, exercise, and a quiet time with nature. 

In 2012, I went to the home of a 111-year-old Chaldean woman, Warina Zaya Bashou, who lived in my neighborhood, to interview her for an article. She had just become the second oldest person to be granted citizenship to the United States. I asked her what was the secret to her longevity and she said:

  1. work
  2. don’t go to the doctors
  3. drink lots of tea

She too was from the village of Telkaif and, like my grandparents, had worked a great deal on the farm. Over the years, we’ve lost that relationship with the land and with eating foods grown on local farms rather than delivered in trucks from far away. But we’re trying to bring this relationship back. 

One person who’s helping do that is Diane Dovico, who I interviewed on my show. Diane spent 21 years as the Executive Director of the Royal Oak Community Coalition, a 501(c)3 non-profit and currently, she serves Oakland County working as a Wellness Program Administer at the Alliance of Coalitions for Healthy Communities by designing and facilitating original programs, initiatives, and campaigns. She started So You Want to be a Farmer?  which is a free event she had for kids at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. 

My niece and I took our children to the event yesterday where kids had the chance to play games and do activities such as animal yoga poses, planting vegetable seeds to take home, designing your own farm, story book time, making a healthy snack, and pretending to grocery shop and to learn how to make health food choices. 

I try, whenever possible – meaning when there’s the least resistance from my children – to get them involved in the meal’s preparation or to take them grocer shopping with me. Sometimes the easiest way to get them to eat healthier is by being an example, biting your tongue (kids love to rebel) and limit the types of snacks that enter your home. 

It’s also important to support local farmers. Small farms renew a connection between the food people eat and the land they live on. They help create jobs, improve the health of the land and the people, and they provide a foundation for a more resilient local food system. As people become more conscientious, they understand the beauty and necessity of farming. They want to know where their food comes from, how it is produced, and that it is produced in a way that isn’t damaging the environment. It is this consciousness that will shift the economic attitude to “what’s good for the world is what’s right for the company” for the rewards of brand loyalty and profits.

What’s your relationship to food and the land?

The Women of WISDOM

In response to the divisions that emerged during the recent elections, many women have come together to form unity and a more peaceful world. They began taking on leadership roles, with over 25,000 women contacting Emily’s List about running for office. This is one small example.

But the pattern of women stepping up to create harmony during difficult times is not a new phenomenon. Many women around the world have worked hard to help provide equal opportunities and healthier environments so that individuals, families, communities, and nations can strive. Over a decade ago, Gail Katz, a Jew, Shahina Begg, a Muslim, and Trish Harris, a Catholic, reached out and brought other women together to form WISDOM (Women’s Interfaith Solutions for Dialogue and Outreach in Metro Detroit) which officially became a 501 (c) 3 in May 2007.

The 9/11 attacks and the Iraq War had caused a polarization as turmoil escalated in the world between and among the various faith traditions. In the belief that women could come together and form an interfaith movement where we could listen to each other, respect each other’s differences, and then take action towards change, these inspiring women started a beautiful circle of sisterhood that has gone on to present many empowering programs.

Wisdom

I met one of WISDOM’s co-founders, Trish Harris, through Padma Kuppa, who’s running for a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives. Trish is a Catholic like myself, and she definitely has a lot of wisdom to contribute to the world. In the book Friendship & Wisdom, she writes, “There is something distinctive about how women work together. We tend to take the time to build the relationships first, and then work on solving the problem.”

Friendship & Wisdom features true stories from over 50 remarkable women. One of the woman who shares her story in the book is Padma. Padma is a Hindu American and community activist working for social justice and understanding. Born in India, she arrived to the U.S. to start kindergarten in 1970 on Long Island. Returning to India with her family in 1981, she finished high school and college while living in a mainstream Hindu culture. Returning to New York in 1988 as a foreign student, she, her husband, and their two children have made Troy, Michigan their home since 1998. Padma is a founding member of the Troy-area Interfaith Group, as well as the Bharatiya Temple’s Outreach Committee.

Padma starts her story with profound words (page 89):

One of my favorite Bible verses from 1 Corinthians: “Faith, hope and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” This is a lot like passages in Hindu scriptures, including these words from the Maha Upanishad: “The whole world is a family.” There also is a prayer of peace in the Rig Veda that reads, in English: “May all be happy. May all be healthy. May all be prosperous. Let no one suffer.”

The Foreword by Barbara Mahany was also touching:

Day after day I wake up with my chest feeling hollowed. The space in my heart hurts so much, so immeasurable, I can’t fathom how to contain it. I shuffle down the stairs of my old shingled house, look out the windows into the quiet dawn, into the leafy arbors, and wonder how in the world can I stitch a single thread into the tatters of this world, this oozing brokenness all around?

And then the stories of this book landed on my desk. This, I knew right away, is where the answer lies: In ordinary-extraordinary stories of women who reach across doorways, and hallways, and kitchen counters – who see beyond burkas and veils and prayer beads and venerations.

Being in the presence of these women, you know there’s something special at work that you want to be a part of. Wisdom received from anyone is very important. With women, their wisdom allows them to see in another woman what she herself might not be able to see or articulate so clearly. When I opened the book that Trish had gifted me, I saw these words: “Weam, thanks for helping to change the world – one relationship at a time.”

I’m grateful for women like Trish and Padma and others who help make communities a better place. May their sisterhood circle continue to grow, prosper, and embrace the whole world.

To learn more about Wisdom, click here:

To learn more about Padma Kuppa, click here

The People Around You

Before the publication of my first book in 2004, I was eager to launch my writing career. I imagined the wonderful life of an author that awaited me and expressed this to my Native American teacher as he sat crisscross in his La-Z-Boy, smoking his pipe, staring at me with his inquisitive eyes. After some silence, he said, “The only people that matter are those around you.”

His words remain in my heart today, revealing their wisdom whenever I get too caught up in my work. Although I always strive to improve my craft, to expand my career, and to create beautiful things in the world, what my teacher had said becomes clearer and more meaningful with time. I see a lot of people get mystified and obsessed over famous names or becoming famous themselves – neglecting to discover the treasures within their own circle.

Myself, I try to see the wonderful attributes of those who cross my path, like Siete16 Guevara. He’s an author who cares to make an impact on the lives of those around him. That’s the first thing I recognized when we met over a year ago at a book signing. He didn’t talk about his books as much he did about creating unities between literary communities. He has regular poetry readings, free for the public. In honor of National Poetry month, he will host two Open Mics at the Dovetail in Warren, Michigan (April 13th and 20th) where performers, poets, storytellers, musicians and singers are welcome to join.

Siete 16 was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and after high school moved to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas where he lived for about eleven years. When he returned to Michigan, he sought out the artistic scene of poets and writers, like the community he encountered and became a part of in Texas. It was happening in Saginaw for about three to four years, but it had dissolved so Siete16 moved out to the Metro Detroit area and found several groups and communities where he made friends and connections with.

His work was accepted by college magazine – The Gallery at the University of Texas and in ARTIFEX at Macomb Community College. He has published three books of his own poetry, and currently works on his fourth book. He’s also publishing a second book of poetry written by students in Sterling Heights. The first book of student poetry was from Saginaw.

“My greatest accomplishments are two things, my daughter, and my nonprofit organization that I started with my dad,” he said.

The nonprofit is called Artistas Latinx en Accíon Siempre (A.L.A.S.) In Spanish it means, Latinx Artists in Action Always.  A.L.A.S. means wings in Spanish, which ties into their motto: Perform with Us, Soar with Us!

Sieta 16 reminds me of Will, an artist I met in Suttons Bay a few years ago. He owned a store called Casey-Daniels where he made jewelry and sold handmade handbags. He’s also the publisher of Exposures, a Leelanau County Student Journal that has been around for nearly 30 years. He’d said to me about his artwork, “I make weird things. I’m not going to stick myself in art shows. You know why? Because I’m not looking for the approval of others. I’m going to authenticate me. You’re going to authenticate yourself.”

With that, I returned home with a whole new perspective.  

Sieta’s books on Amazon

Siete 16

Ano Dos Mil

Siete 16 -2

Where is the Sexto Sun?

Siete 16 - 3

 

 

 

An Extraordinary Doctor

 

This time last year, I flew to Los Angeles to participate in an incredible documentary called The Staff of Mercury, which is produced by Dr. Homayoun Sadeghi, MD.  It is a visionary film intended to transform people’s lives around the world, especially with regards to health and wellness. It launches in 99 days and recently, I had the opportunity to interview Dr. Sadeghi on my show. It’s always wonderful to reconnect with him as he has a wealth of useful information and enormous positive energy. Furthermore, his story is truly fascinating.

For the longest time, Dr. Sadeghi dreamt about being a healer, but it was years of hard work and persistence before he found his true purpose in life. In his 20s, he felt a calling to be a healer, to do something greater than himself. He went back to school to become a doctor. After he attained his license, he realized that being a doctor didn’t necessarily make him a healer. He was helpless in trying to cure chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Little did he know that this is the beginning of his “Medicine Man” journey.  

“People do get healed here and there but when they do it’s often not because of what we doctors do but because of the inner resilience and tenacity they themselves must erupt to overcome their challenges,” he said.

He spent the last decade of his life interviewing, experimenting, and researching and studying things like alternative medicine, mind-body approach and the like. He found none of these in and of themselves are 100% effective. The ultimate cure for all these disease probably already exists. We just haven’t found it yet.

“We keep searching for answers in darkness,” he said. “As we touch new sign posts, we keep shifting our beliefs and mindsets.”

Dr. Sadeghi reminds us that there was a time not long ago when we thought the earth was flat; when we gave our soldiers free packs of cigarettes; when doctors endorsed their favorite cigarette brands; when we gave estrogen to even pregnant women. He adds that most doctors who practiced long enough know that many of the treatments they once learned in medical school are now considered acts of gross negligence.

“That’s because we keep learning and shifting our mind sets,” said Dr. Sadeghi. “We constantly keep changing the landscape and growing, evolving.”

He asks, “What if there was a way for you to be healthy and disease free well into your retirement years? What if you can live a much more vibrant and energetic life with just a slight shift in your mindset?”

Over the years, through a lot of ups and downs and trials and errors, he has gained amazing insights and knowledge that he hopes will change and inspire people’s lives. He shares it through these incredible insights through a brilliant mind expanding documentary called The Staff of Mercury.

“Why do I want to share?” he asks. “Because my own life and growth depends on it. Long ago, I realized that my own redemption depends on my ability to give, help, love, and serve others. We are all on the same planet. We breathe the same air and share the same earth grown food. We all depend on each other. I can’t elevate myself unless I help elevate you.”

Dr. Sadeghi is the author of The Art of Healthy Living: A Mind-Body Approach to Inner Balance and Natural Vitality. In it, he explains how health takes effort, and that this effort starts from the inside out. 

To learn more about the Staff of Mercury, visit

 

A Journalist Serves Through Tarot Reading

I had no idea that my friend’s daughter, Christina Salem, did Tarot readings, but once I found out, I invited her on my show. Aside from all the other aspects that make Christina interesting, I wanted a Tarot reading!

Last year, Christina called me asking for advice about traveling abroad. She was then a senior at Oakland University, majoring in Journalism and Public Relations, and she was getting ready to travel as a PR spokesperson for a study abroad program to teach international journalism while observing the economic and refugee crisis in Greece.

Christina had studied astrology, Tarot reading, and other supernatural phenomena. After venturing the other side of the world and walking in and out of refugee camps as a student journalist, she realized her true calling by helping others along their journey through life’s obstacles. 

As she did more research and history on her Chaldean culture, she came across fascinating information about its history regarding astrology. The Chaldean astrologers were famous for their love and pursuit of knowledge in every branch of science and the basic characteristic of ancient Mesopotamian religion was its view of the numina (spiritual force) behind natural phenomena. 

Christina was gifted The Wild Unknown tarot deck in 2017 after studying tarot for two years and has given readings, clarifications and counsel all around the world. The information and experience she gathered led her to start a Tarot readings business online called Salem’s Vision. 

“After enduring a lifelong battle with confusion, discovering my vision gave me the opportunity to help people understand theirs,” she said.

Most people envision Tarot card reading to be performed by a woman in flowing robes, leaning over a small table with a crystal ball and candlelight, maybe with a little incense smoke too. They think that it’s a form of fortunetelling, but really, it more so helps you look within. Similarly to coffee grain or tea leaf readings, Tarot reading highlights the aspects of your life which you may not be entirely aware of at the moment.

Tarot Cards are a tool used for divination and the reading is usually performed by someone with strong intuition and clairvoyance who uses his or her gifts to provide answers and guidance for people. They help you take a look at what are the influences in your life, what conscious and subconscious control you are exercising on your life, and how these numerous aspects may manifest in the future. It puts specific weight on what blocks are in your way and how to overcome them.

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 

Watch the half-hour segment to learn about Christina’s story and to watch the Tarot reading she did for me which was pretty insightful.  

For more information about Salem’s Vision, visit https://www.salemsvision.com/