I feel so fortunate to be in one of my favorite places, the blog of the most accommodating primate in the world, TSRA! Thank you for this opportunity Good Sir Ape. I wish for goodness and light to accompany you the rest of your days! Oh and bananas, lots of bananas too.
Who am I? Well depending on who you ask, I am Annette Rochelle Aben. If my family or dear friends were to introduce me, they may call me Netty, Nette, Netra, Annie or Pookie. My younger self would have you not speak to those who assigned me those nick names as I didn’t have much of a sense of humor regarding nick names as I was growing up. However my adult self has long since embraced the fact that try hard as I may to brand myself as one of the important three-named people of the world, to them I am still Netty, Nette, Netra, Annie or Pookie. (deep sigh) Pleased to meet you.
So, if you’d like to know where it is I am, hold up your right hand, turn the palm toward you and put your left index finger right about THERE… Too bad you can’t see that I am pointing an inch to the left of my thumb about an inch above my wrist but this is exactly how people from the great State of Michigan in the U.S.A. show you where they are from (provided they are from the Lower Peninsula for to demonstrate the Upper Peninsula, the left hand must be employed for full effect. Where I am pointing is at the City of Detroit, which is right about HERE! Glad we got that out of the way.
I might not have had much as a child in the way of material things however my parents made certain I had a younger brother and a younger sister and compliments of their 12 siblings each, so many cousins that I lost count ages ago. On pop’s side, I inherited the legacy of Canada as his parents were citizens of Quebec, Canada, along with the honor of being a great-great granddaughter of the Chief of the Ottawa Indians. Thanks dad, you rock! Mom graced us with the heritage of Europe with her father’s people hailing from England, Scotland and Ireland and her mother’s parents traveling to America from Germany which made my grandmother the first American born member of her family! Oh and rumor has it that my great grandmother was once the chamber maid to the Czarina of Prussia… Guess we can say that I’m bi-continental, eh?
I was born and raised in the Detroit, MI area and I credit my parents and the location of my childhood with my love of reading and writing actually. We may not have had much but we each had a library card and our feet worked so we hiked to either school, to the park and to the library daily. Our public school system set the stage for a proper introduction to reading and writing as we were required to write book reports regularly on the books we were assigned to read in each and every grade beginning in grade one. Because both my parents prized literacy more than fancy this or that, they saw to it we had dictionaries, encyclopedias and of course any number of books so we could explore worlds away without ever leaving the house. Many a day I curled up in between the covers of which ever book tickled my fancy losing all track of time.
Writing was just part of my schooling both in the classroom and at home. My mother trained me to be a gracious communicator so I learned to write letters, thank you notes, and of course to send cards at an early age. I believe our family could have claimed the postal service as a dependent on our taxes in those days. I actually had pen pals too. None of this was work mind you for I thoroughly enjoyed it all so much so that I spent my own allowance on things like monogrammed stationery and boxed pen and pencil sets. So when did it turn from fun to profit? How did it go from this was just what was expected from me to what I being a burning desire? Puberty of course!
Ah, now we have some meat here, the need to express my immature emotional confusion manifested in the form of poetry. It wasn’t all bad, just the majority of it. In my defense not only is that observation hindsight but as I rarely ALLOWED anyone else to read what I wrote, how was I to know? Naturally I was head over heels for a fellow who was head over heels for one of my best friends and of course it was the worst kept secret in our class. I thought the only ‘one’ who knew was the small gold notebook into which I poured my heart, HA! Eventually I was unmasked and as pride was at stake, I rode my bike to HER house one summer day to have it out with her only to have HIM answer her front door. They sure made a good-looking, happy couple and were even secure enough in themselves to invite me in for a soda and a swim in the pool. Did I mention they were tall, tanned blonde jocks with perfect teeth, above average grades and oh yeah personalities that MADE you want to just stand near them.
Not that I was any slouch mind you as my grades and writing ability were good enough to land me smack in the only high school in the state that presented you with a high school diploma AND a 2 year college degree upon graduation! Yeah well, not only did I never get that guy but I never got the degree as my family relocated mid 11th grade. What I did get were remarkable English classes and I took 20 of them in 1½ years, it was heaven. Side bar here… While in the first semester at that prestigious school, I submitted a not so sappy poem to be included in a young people’s literary magazine and it was PUBLISHED! Thank you, Detroit Public Library System!
Puberty out of the way I was cranking out everything from short stories and essays, to enough poetry for the homecoming bonfire and an occasional 40 page letter to my dearest cousin Peg (okay I wrote her every week but hey, don’t judge). Writing was easy for me, ideas practically appeared on the paper and I felt like a magician for I could bring a smile to lips that had just eaten a lemon, remotely raise another’s eyebrow in thoughtful consideration as well as to own the most exhilarating feeling of accomplishment. No, I didn’t date much. I was the nerdy, fat chick with a constantly emptying pack of menthol cigarettes, a blaring transistor radio, a coffee addiction and a Smith Corona portable typewriter but I was happy.
Now we are going to spare you the variety of jobs I had until I landed the ONE that blew the doors wide open! Picture this, a 27 year old, married (different guy) sleep deprived woman has a major breakdown, quits clerical job at an international border crossing and falls deeper and deeper into drug and alcohol addiction. Divine intervention puts a stranger with a video camera in her path. She takes the video production workshop he offered her and out of sheer delight that his wife was finally showing interest in something other than tanning at the pool, her husband puts her into broadcasting school. Eureka! Guess what they let you do in broadcasting school? They teach you to write news stories, commercials and television scripts AND THEN they help you get jobs where you get paid to, wait for it, wait for it… TO WRITE! Oh yeah, you heard that celestial choir too, right? Zdang it was game on!
I wrote anything I was asked to write, even things I wasn’t asked to write. For example I interned at a radio station while in school and at the end of the run, I created a training manual for my successor. The person for whom I interned just happened to be the Vice President of the school I attended and he was blown away and told me he was so proud to use the manual. Then I created a children’s activity book for a cable television studio I worked for down the road and that book won their National In-House Marketing Award and they printed 250,000 copies first run. Happy fingers don’t fail me now! Of course they didn’t because that same year I was nominated for a local Emmy for my commercial copy writing. No, I didn’t win but I was the first and only person in the history of our company to be nominated. Go me! All this and I got a paycheck too. As I moved on, it only got better.
At the job I was to design, build and run an independent television studio so there was more writing but of different sorts. A published business plan, curriculum for students, grants and the revision of everything from by-laws to articles of incorporation were what I was PAID to WRITE for 4 + years. It was beyond heaven. At the end of that contract I marched into the office of the local weekly newspaper and landed the front page stringer position that I held for a full year, quitting only when they had the audacity NOT to hire me full time. What were they thinking?
Yeah, so that’s how I ended up at the funeral home (not what you think) working in marketing and advertising. Sure I can hear the jokes now, why would one need to advertise when everyone’s dying to go there… actually I wrote a few jokes to entertain the staff but I wasn’t paid for those and thank God I wasn’t fired for them either… Okay here’s the best of the worst… Me: “Hey John, how are you going to transport that gentleman to the cemetery today?” John: “What? Why do you ask, Annette?” Me: “Well all you have outside are hearses?” Get it, her-ses? Yeah well come on, the first 3 letters in the word funeral are FUN, right? The demise of that job began my career as a self employed writer.
I was a weekly feature writer for an digital newspaper, created newsletters, brochures, print ad copy and taught workshops on everything I was studying. When I became a Certified Hypnotherapist I wrote my own scripts for my clients. Writing was what I did so when I wasn’t selling word crafting to someone I was simply blog-mailing my poetry and free verse thoughts to family and friends.
At this time I was also a full-time psychic reader (there is a logical explanation for this career move, honest) and I was creating all my own promotional materials part of which was my own monthly newsletter The Reader. I had a loyal readership with distribution in 3 states. Later I transitioned to the Outta My Mind series where I presented a problem, told about how it made me crazy, and then explained that by shifting my perspective I resolved it and learned a valuable lesson. One problem was about having to have a tooth pulled and another was about trying to adjust to a stray cat who decided she NEEDED to live in my house. I was flying high writing these educational/entertaining essays. It was a grand time freelancing for people in all manner of occupations and I was having the time of my life, until… until I was grounded.
See, there was this slip and fall in my home early in 2006 and I didn’t walk for about 3 months. During that time I learned the true meaning of humility, family, friendship and grace. Here I was, a divorced woman about to turn 50 relying on people 24/7 for everything from meals to hygiene help. I had an established home based business that kept me going financially but as I was facing the potential of not resurrecting my professional singing or acting careers, never being able to go back to cooking in the restaurant or that I might never be that newspaper reporter ever again. I found myself instantly putting every last bit of my Spiritual beliefs into practical application and it was an experience I believe saved my life as well. Every night I would write about what I was grateful for as I knew how important it was to place to focus on that which I wanted to create. Then I sent those thoughts out in daily emails to family and friends who would write back with words of encouragement and love. It was sobering time in my life. It seemed that the longer I was on my butt, the higher my thoughts reached.
The day I took my first insanely painful steps again I felt a rush of gratitude for the entire world fill me in that single moment. It was like magic as I walked right into the kitchen while my caregiver was occupied with company and washed my hands. I am surprised I even needed water from the faucet for my tears were so strong I could have washed my dishes with them. So I began washing dishes much to the horror of the caregiver who flew into the room admonishing that Rome wasn’t built in a day and for me to get back to the bed. Yeah, whatever!
It was all that gratitude, not the fall that really changed my life. All those words, thoughts and observations that came pouring out of me were inspiring, so much so that people kept suggesting I put out a book and in 2008, I did. Perspective, it’s all about replacing one thought with another was self-published filled with poetry, prose and photographs. I wanted to show that by looking at a situation differently, a blessing could be found. I not only wrote that book, I lived it. Despite the circumstances presented to me, there was magic to be had. I had learned how to be a gracious receiver as well as had the chance to put my money where my mouth was. After all I had been teaching and preaching (yes I was Ordained in 2002) a lifestyle of gratitude and faith, so it was time to walk the talk. While full mobility recovery did not present itself, my life had to press ever forward. There were skies of blue all around me, smiling faces, laughter and music in the trees.
I HAD to slow down but because of that I found a world that accepted me, loved me and wanted nothing from me but to experience its energy. Yes, my perspective changed for the better, thank God.
And thank God I published that book when I did for my mother, who was one of my selfless care givers in 2006, passed on in 2009. She was so proud of that book. We had a horrid relationship until my fall and it was through that transition we began to build a stronger connection. Had it not been for her help, I might not have learned to walk again. Had I not been able to walk, I would have not been able to get to the hospital 100 miles away to say goodbye.
Life has a way of moving us along and so it has relocated me back to “The Mitten”, remember, hold up your right hand and turn it palm towards you… The ‘me’ who left here 35 years ago to get married, divorced, and move out of state, returned sober and drug free, with a walker and a better outlook.
My goals for 2014 included writing and publishing a book a month, after all I had close to 10,000 poems and bits of prose, right? While looking in a file box for something else I came across the notes for a workshop I never got to teach and in May of 2014 I published Choose, the 2-step plan, a how-to book offering 7 basic choices and a step to help make each a reality. A deceivingly simple book for the choices included choosing happiness, choosing peace and choosing love; easier said than done. As I was showing a new friend both Choose and the out-of print Perspective when she set Choose down and told me I should re-publish Perspective. I took her advice and did just that! It gave it a facelift by changing the cover and adding some new writings and photographs but basically it was the same book.
Well, what could be better than this? How about being a contributing author in a book that became a #1 Best-Seller! Oh yes I did. I was invited to participate by submitting a chapter to the book Global Voices of Social Media™ and on our release date of March 1, 2015, it reached the #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. Each of us had to address how using social media helped us over-come some sort of set-back. Get on over to my Author Central page on Amazon and get the book so you can read all 25 stories!
Now, she said taking a deep breath, what writing projects are on the horizon? Currently I am typesetting and editing a cookbook for a chum who is a Macrobiotic, Vegan Chef. My book idea for the non-profit organization, Wigs 4 Kids here in Michigan, just received the green light from their Board of Directors to move forward. I do function as a contributing writer and Editor for the digital magazine The Magic Happens, as well as have a WordPress blog. Somewhere over this rainbow are MORE of my own books to write and publish too! It’s my idea of heaven on earth!
You can find and contact me at the following links: