52 Portraits 25: Kayj Michelle Garrison

Kayj is the co-creator of First Fridays Ypsilanti, a thriving, self-guided monthly art and culture walk hosted at multiple venues throughout the downtown areas of Ypsilanti. She is a lover of travel and a spiritual seeker, and Kayj shares in this podcast how the two seemed to go hand in hand on her recent trips to Zambia and India. I caught up with her recently during a time of transition as she steps down from her role as president of FFY. If you are feeling like you’re “in between” things in your life, or you find yourself questioning how you spend your time, this conversation has something for you. 

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52 Portraits 24: Marianne Simpson

Marianne is a yoga instructor and has been a personal mentor of mine for over a decade. I have mentioned her in previous episodes as the friend who helped my partner and I heal after our car accident with what she called “trauma yoga”. She has been such a huge inspiration in my life and has taught me and many others through her example of what it truly means to love oneself. Marianne found yoga in her 50s when a nurse practitioner prescribed it instead of antidepressants. She had no idea what a huge part of her life it would become, and that she would eventually be leading others along the same path. In this episode we get to hear an example of how Marianne guides her students toward their center,

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52 Portraits 23: Rachel Redmond

Rachel is a licensed acupuncturist residing in East Lansing, MI. She reached out to me requesting to be a part of this project, and I feel there is no better way to introduce you to Rachel than by sharing an excerpt of the email she sent me. I was so moved by her courage and I’m hopeful that her words will inspire you to take the time to listen to her story. It contains so much love, so much grief, and ultimately, so much hope.

“I’m reaching out to you now because I'm looking for opportunities to share my story of having a so-called "late term" abortion. I feel a great urgency to keep sharing a perspective on abortion that often goes untold. 

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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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