Connection, My Work, My Gift, and My Salvation 

Remaining members of the 47th Street  Temptations, L-R Azell Madden, Robert Brown and Don Arnold

“We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it, there is suffering.”— Brené Brown

Talk About Connection! I recently attended a childhood friend and classmate’s seventieth birthday party, so now you know my age! It was as well planned as a wedding reception and probably as expensive. But my friend’s intention was celebration and reconnection with those with whom she had shared intimate, and longtime experiences. She understands the importance of being with longtime friends and family members. Funerals don’t have to be the new family reunions.

During the party, I barely had time to sit. There was hugging, selfie-taking, dancing, talking, and laughter with friends with whom I have grown up. Our roots are deep. These are folks that I don’t need to explain anything to, they appreciate me for me! And I appreciate them for them!

Toward the end of the seventieth celebration, during the few minutes the photographer took to stage us for a group photo, our DJ played “My Girl” by the Original Temptations. Knowing we had performers in our midst I jokingly requested an impromptu performance from the three remaining members of the former “47th Street Temptations” singing group. When the lead performer came to the front and began, his backups one by one joined. Rising to the occasion, they delivered a soulful rendition of a performance we all remembered as untarnished by the years. The emotional connection between these men is strong. And while they performed, was it my imagination or did I really feel the spiritual presence of Wilbur Mitchell, a transitioned member of the group. For a fleeting moment, in my mind, he was there performing with the close friends. Connection is magical!

70th Birthday Celebration with Yvonne Brown center in pink.  Photo Credit: a773studios Photography ( Yvonne’s grandson)

Connection is my lifeline, my life’s work, my gift, and my Salvation

In 1979 I pivoted away from my family and friends and immigrated to Liberia, West Africa. Away from home and the certainty of my cultural roots, I was suddenly awash in a cultural framework, unlike anything I had ever known.  And as always, God provided. My life is forever enriched by profound associations and friendships I made with Africans and Lebanese in West Africa. Those cherished memories of our shared experiences are deeply buried in my heart.

I have learned that authentic connections endure. Even after my eleven-year hiatus and traumatic return home, the bonds that have connected me to the Southsiders that I grew up with remain strong. Being together is an experience akin to plugging an electronic device into a charging station-instant connection and subsequent rejuvenation.

Connection is my lifeline, my life’s work, my gift, and my Salvation

Over the years, I’ve held many professional titles; Director for the Liberian National Red Cross, connecting indigenous women to health and childcare services. I’ve been a National Conference Director, a Manager of Corporate Giving, I’ve worked in community relations and radio production. My success in these roles has been predicated upon an ability to build bridges between people and resources. It’s my gift.

Brene’ Brown says that without connection we suffer. The difficult truth is that people who are sleeping in the parks and alleys are in many ways disconnected from meaningful connections with support systems that have largely been exhausted. And yet, even in their disconnection, they seek, in ways we may not understand, to find connection. Is begging merely for resources, or is it a cry for human interaction? I once read an account of a Chinese dissident held as a political prisoner in solitary confinement who admitted to periodically provoking the guards to beat her because those beatings kept her spirit alive.

Consider the interspecies connections we have with our animals. These days many pet owners describe their relationship with their pet as parental and have tee shirts and vehicles proudly sporting bumper stickers affirming, “Proud Pet Parent,” which certainly implies a connection very different from being an owner or master.

Somehow, even though the ways we connect have changed from face-to-face and letter writing to more remote means of connecting like emailing and texting, instinctively we are driven to seek connection with humans or other species. Connection is our lifeline.

It is my hope that we can evolve so that one day, no matter what we see in the face of another person, we can affirm Namaste, which in Sanskrit means, I behold the essential good in you.

Susan D. Peters

Susan Peters Promo Portraits 060212Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Broken Dolls, Susan’s second book, represents her foray into the mystery market and is the first of a series featuring Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. Her most recent publication is Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Her work is featured in three anthologies, Baring It All, the Ins and Outs of Publishing, Signed, Sealed, Delivered … I’m Yours, a contemporary romance anthology, and The Anthology of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Buy her books online and at

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