52 Portraits 22: Paquetta Palmer

“Here is what you need to know about the Divine Miss P. She is an activist. She is a chef and organizer and honorary Auntie to what is now a few generations of this community’s children. She is a fierce mama lion for her chosen family and her community, especially those most marginalized by our society. She shows up where needed. She shows up when life hits you hard and others scatter. She will be present for her friends and those in need. She feeds us, challenges us to be better, forgives us, loves us, offers up wisdom with knowing humor and a belly laugh, and then she gets us up on the dance floor.” This is just the beginning of Jean Henry’s explanation of how inspiring Paquetta is to those fortunate enough to know her.

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52 Portraits 21: Dr. Rana Awdish

If you have ever experienced trauma and have had to deal with feeling less than human as a patient in the hospital, or even at your doctor’s office, this podcast has something for you. Rana is the Director of the Pulmonary Hypertension Program at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and a practicing Critical Care Physician. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed, best selling memoir, In Shock, based on the less-than-empathetic care she received during her near death experience in her own hospital. In this podcast we discuss the ways our medical care can lack empathy and humanity, and some of the things that are changing in order to fix that.

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52 Portraits 20: Arianne Abela

Arianne lives and breathes music and is part of the conducting faculty at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She is also founder and director of the Detroit Women's Chorus, and founder of Justice Choir-Detroit. Born without her left leg and most of her fingers, Arianne’s journey has been one about self acceptance and overcoming obstacles. In this podcast she shares a little of the story of how she came to be a person who is dedicated to “Using music as a vessel to help others come together and perhaps understand each other more.”

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52 Portraits 19: Satori Shakoor

Satori Shakoor is a storyteller, artist, former Parliament-Funkadelic singer, and social entrepreneur. After losing her son and her mother within 9 months of each other and being in the depths of a powerful grief, Satori found healing in her art of storytelling on the Moth Main Stage. This ignited the idea that maybe storytelling could also heal her hometown of Detroit, and The Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers was born. The mission would be to “connect, heal, and transform’ her community. Today SSTS is a mainstay at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and is doing just that.

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52 Portraits 18: Amber Buist

Leaving home at just 16 years old, Amber started off on her own with nothing. Fast forward to now and you will find a strong, passionate, people-connector whose life is abundant with community and purpose. Amber has reinvented herself many times and after a failed record deal, working in travel, getting her masters in social work, and fostering 50 kids, she is on her fourth successful career as manager of her daughters nationally acclaimed band, The Accidentals. I believe this podcast will inspire you to start asking your neighbors and friends over for dinner, to find a way to do the thing you’ve always wanted to do, and maybe even to accept yourself right where you’re at.

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52 Portraits 17: May Erlewine

May is one of Michigan’s most beloved, heart-centered singer-songwriters. We sat down together in her home in Traverse City and discussed her day-to-day life as an artist and mom. She shares about traversing the often tricky territory of activism in music and speaking your truth on stage. We also discuss the extroverted nature of our culture, having to be loud to be heard, having to know everything RIGHT NOW, the effect this might have on vulnerable voices, and whether or not this dynamic seems to be shifting.

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52 Portraits 16: Mary Stewart Adams

Mary has the magical title of star lore historian, “safeguarding the human imagination by protecting our access to the night sky and it’s stories.” She is perhaps best known for founding the 9th International Dark Sky Park in the world in Emmet County Michigan in 2011. In this podcast Mary offers us a wealth of poetic knowledge of the night sky, what it stirs in us, and what it can tell us about ourselves as human beings. She shares about her spiritual path as an anthroposophist and about her personal contact with the spiritual world. What has stayed with me most is her insistence that we as human beings need to “ennoble the sense of self as opposed to diminishing the sense of self.”

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52 Portraits 15: Tazeen Ayub

Tazeen is an Arabic professor at Henry Ford College, a singer-songwriter, and host of a weekly live series called Digging Deeper on Instagram and Facebook. What a pleasure it was to have the opportunity to sit in Tazeen’s home and hear some of her story. A few of my favorite points covered while chatting were: How she finds balance between trusting the “divine order” of things and taking action. How she learned not to expect anyone to be her “everything”. A beautiful description of her Sufi Muslim faith which includes “a meditative prayer where you can sit and chant Devine names and Devine attributes in hopes that you are connecting yourself with the Devine presence and also taking in the attributes and embodying them.”

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52 Portraits 14: Patricia Wheeler

Patricia is a writer, storyteller, sometimes wedding planner, and producer of the critically acclaimed The Moth StorySLAM series in Detroit and Ann Arbor. After Losing her partner to suicide at age 24, Patricia shares how the suicide loss survivor support groups she has attended all over the country have helped her heal and fueled her love of storytelling. She talks of the mindfulness required to not allow this tragedy to become the thing that defines her, while staying engaged with and helping others who have been through the same thing. Patricia also shares about her love of food and community, and how ritual has helped her deal with an immense, new kind of grief after losing her father suddenly to a brain aneurism 3 years ago.

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52 Portraits 13: Mariah Cherem

Mariah is a librarian at the Ann Arbor District Library, a musician, and a triple-negative breast cancer survivor. In this podcast we talk about scarcity mindset vs abundance mindset, and how her role as librarian fosters the question of “How to get across an attitude of generosity or a feeling of abundance” to help people feel like there’s enough. She also shares about the many aspects of her experience fighting cancer: chemo, surgery, radiation, going through it without a belief in a particular god, thinking at one point the experience had just made her “kind of a dick”, and the freedom that comes with surrender. Enjoy!

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