Over the Memorial holiday weekend, I held a special cookout on my deck for family and friends to celebrate my first year back in my home state of Michigan – something I couldn’t have done in Brooklyn, where I didn’t have a deck or a grill! In addition to expanding my consulting business across two states, my primary challenge this year was to help the family support my older brother Gil, now 77, in his health struggles after a diagnosis of acute AML leukemia. He chose to enter a clinical trial at Henry Ford Hospital and for a while was so weak he needed a wheelchair and heavy family involvement.
But now, almost 10 months after starting treatment, he has managed to maintain an independent lifestyle and while never pain free, seldom needs even a walker and refuses to slow down. My other brother Bill is retired from Chrysler and keeps a shop where he works on antique cars, involving Gil in his projects. A cancer survivor himself, Bill is a source of calm reassurance that miracles do happen. It helps that Gil has two daughters who are accomplished chiropractors overseeing his care, Dr. Linda Holland, who lives near her Dad, and Dr. Cheryl McFarland-Bryant, who flies in from Florida. They changed his dietary habits to organic, hormone free, low sugar and supervise his supplements. Gil also escapes regularly upstate to the family farmland he inherited and the country life he adores.
I’ve also been able to reconnect with amazing neighborhood and college friends and their families, celebrating milestone events like birthdays, theatrical productions and graduations with them, as well as with my family’s youngest generation –something I’ve too often missed in the past. I’ve also rediscovered my old college campus and observed the ways Wayne State University keeps growing and fostering the kind of innovation that I hope will be key in the revitalization of my old home town of Detroit, now under an emergency manager and facing bankruptcy. In particular, the campus is developing new businesses, including an incubator for green businesses called the Green Garage that hopes to contribute greatly in making Detroit a leader in sustainable living in the future.
Yes, I miss the energy of the green movement in Brooklyn, where I was on the Board of the Flatbush Food Coop for many years, as part of a great, diverse team overseeing its expansion and growing community involvement despite the economic slowdown – and also the energy of the city streets, missing from suburbia. I continue to be active on the board of NAWBO-NYC, believing that it is also entrepreneurism that will drive the changes we need to survive in the future. I learned from my experiences in the recovery of Los Angeles back in the 90s — when that city’s future was endangered by a bad economy and the aftermath of a bloody riot and disastrous earthquake—that it was the innovation of the city’s entrepreneurs, increasingly women and minorities, that brought it roaring back. I miss my California years also because of the amazing times I’ll always treasure with my late husband Tim Robinson and his family and special friends, often over a grill. Yes, it is a time for miracles and we need to make them happen!