Why My Heart is in DETROIT
Why My Heart is in DETROIT
Being a transplant here in California like many San Diegans, I get homesick every so often. Eight years ago when I packed up my car and bought a one-way ticket to San Diego, I promised my mother I would go back home and often visit since I was not only the baby of my family but also her only daughter. I never thought that this agreement would turn into multiple trips a year back to Detroit.
Although I am thousands of miles away, I still make an impact on the people that mean the most to me in Michigan. If I can live and San Diego and make a difference in the lives of the people I randomly meet while networking or friends that I have made over the years then you bet I'm going to pour into my loved ones.
When I first moved to San Diego, my youngest niece just turned six months old. I was terrified that she would grow up not knowing me and forget that I was her Auntie Mary because she was so young when I moved. Now she's a thriving eight-year-old that has an amazing relationship with her Auntie Mary.
I have been asked multiple times how I am able to stay so connected to my family being so far away. The answer, for me, is always the same. Time, communication, and motivation.
Time: Since Detroit is on EST, I have to time block and make sure I'm skyping my nieces and nephews at a time when they're out of school. Since there are multiple families involved, we do a group skype call so that all my nieces and nephews can get on the call and also catch up with the cousins. Once we are on Skype, everyone gets a chance to share what they've been up to for the week. I also ask how school is going. We chat about their friends and things they're into whether it be school related or a project they're doing at home. I like knowing what's going on in their little lives.
Communication: I encourage them to use their voice and share their stories. I ask about bullying at their schools and ask them "what they would do" in certain situations. I encourage them to share their emotions and to confide in Auntie Mary and to talk about anything that's bothering them. I reassure them that they can talk to Auntie Mary about anything that's bothering them and that I'm always here for them.
Motivation: When I am speaking to my nieces and nephews, I always ask them, "what do you want to be when you grow up?" I inspire them to have dreams and goals. I let them know that they can be anything they want to be and that I believe in them. They share their goals with me, and we mastermind what they could be doing now to get them closer to that goal. I am their biggest fan, and it uplifts them to know they can become anything they want to be with the right focus. Their dreams and goals may change weekly, but I'm just glad the wheels are turning.
These young kids are our future. I believe that family or not, I would encourage the community to pour into our future generation and be that person you didn't have growing up. Outside of my father, I didn't have an adult asking me about my dreams and my future. I am honored to be able to give these kids the motivation and mentorship I was lacking as a child.