Learning Wellness in Detroit

Recently, I took a road trip from Philadelphia to San Francisco with a good friend. We felt that since we are in the middle of summer, this is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the northern route across our country. Most of the states we picked to travel through are usually packed with snow during the winter, making the summer the most ideal weather to travel. We started in Philadelphia and moved our way through major cities, national parks as well as small towns and hidden gems! Throughout the trip I kept an open mind observing wellness and the meaning of wellness to people across our country. Living in a major thriving city on the east coast, I realized how different my definition of wellness is compared to those I would meet on my way towards San Francisco. I learned the importance of traveling within our own states in order to gain a better understanding of what makes this country so inimitable and distinct. Every state is different and each small town is corky in their own way. Major cities take pride in showing how they are unique, which was fascinating to observe. I could write for hours about the different vibes and stereotypes I found in each city (And I will in a later post) but for now I want to focus on the wellness aspect of the first city we visited, Detroit.

Who knew we could make it to Detroit in one day? I’ll give you a hint, not me! Detroit was never on our lists of stops. When we texted our family to let them know we had made it to our first destination, they responded with the same text saying “Really, Detorit?” We stayed in an “up and coming” neighborhood at a hotel resort and casino. On our way to the hotel, we passed by countless abandoned houses, crumbling schools, overgrown grass and garbage filled streets. Everyone is aware of Detroit’s economic struggle, but driving through the city and the suburbs verified the seriousness of the problem. I am aware not all of Detroit and the surrounding suburbs are tangibly and economically devastated. However, compared to other major US cities, there is no doubt they are truly struggling. Once we got to our room, our view of the city was breathtaking as we looked directly at the general motors headquarters. I had chills down my spine as if the building was trying to explain a story to me as I glared at it for a minute. Even though we stayed in a great hotel in Greektown, we were inadvertently advised by several people on the street to stay on the hotel property due to an unexpected violent night on a busy street just one block away.

In the city of Detroit, wellness means clean and safe water. Wellness means protected streets and plentiful law enforcement. Wellness means abundant jobs. Wellness means hope for the future generations.   Wellness means feeling appreciated and accepted. Wellness means receiving a smile from a stranger. The people living in the city of Detroit can be harsh to outsiders, and I don’t blame them. The meaning of wellness in Detroit is very different compared to other cites. The meaning of wellness is simple to the people who walk along the streets. Accessible grocery stores make the people of Detroit feel fortunate. Only eight years ago the city was considered a food desert. They have a come a long way, emphasizing what the city prioritizes when it comes to providing wellness to their people.

Wellness is unique and individualized to the person who is on the journey towards personal health. There is no specific workout class that makes everyone fit. There is no special or secret diet that makes everyone lose unwanted weight. No specific meditation class, health book or podcast can set everyone on the perfect path towards achieving his or her best idea of wellness. The journey must be adjusted and tailored to a person’s current situation. That is the beauty of working towards personal wellness, it is uniquely your own. Detroit, I am grateful for the time I spent with you and appreciate the impressionable life lessons I took away from my visit to your city. Stay well and I will be back!

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