Introducing Chel Bell Guild!
:: Down with Detroit ::
As a relative newbie to Metro Detroit, I’m excited to be a part of this community! My husband and I moved to Southfield from Cape Coral, Florida, along with our toddler son and senior Chihuahua, back in February of 2016. We’ve spent nearly all of our free time exploring the area and have found so much to love! A few of our favorite things so far have been the Heidelberg Project, Campus Martius, the DIA, Detroit Kid City, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, the Heritage Park splash pad, and Mount Brighton…though we still have many bucket list adventures ahead of us in The Mitten!
Relocating to a new area without a support system can be tough even under the best circumstances, though. We’ve found there’s no shortage of groups for moms to make new friends here, but we found a gap in the market for dads. So, my husband started the Facebook group Detroit Dads That Drink Beer. If your spouse needs to make some friends who can relate to life as a father (and also needs a break from PAW Patrol) encourage him to join!
As for me, I’m always ready to discover the next best place to grab a glass of wine and have a few laughs. Who’s with me?
:: My Life ::
It became clear by the time I was three that I was an eccentric artist and a performer. One of my earliest memories is of my mother shining a flashlight on me in our darkened living room, as I crooned Sade’s Smooth Operator into a microphone for my adoring fans (or captive audience of sisters). I thought nothing of wearing strange wigs out in public, speaking in a faux-Swedish accent and telling the neighborhood kids I was from Europe, or making VHS tapes of myself dressed as a brash, old lady, book reviewer from New York City . . . and this was all before high school!
Because of constant indecision over whether or not it would be wise to go into the arts, I had a hard time choosing a career path. I studied film in Boca Raton, Florida before moving to Santa Fe, New Mexico to study fine art, acting, and psychology. I always knew, however, that I wanted to be a mother. That happened sooner than expected when I married a single father in my early 20’s. I didn’t think twice about making his daughter my own, so after we were wed, I legally adopted her. The marriage didn’t last, but I’m still a mother to my now 18-year-old daughter.
As that marriage was ending, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from Florida Gulf Coast University. The first job I landed was as the web editor for WINK News, the CBS affiliate for Southwest Florida, where, after a series of post-divorce dating disasters, I met the man of my dreams: my husband, Dan. (I know, gag, but I seriously made a list of every quality I wanted in a partner and almost a year later, he showed up in the flesh.)
Knowing what an NPR and PBS-loving, memoir-devouring nerd I am, he proposed to me in the Fort Myers Public Library by giving me a book he’d compiled of all of our adventures together up to that point. We were married in 2014.
After I gave birth to our son, I left my job to become a stay-at-home mom. That first year was tough (my son was not then and is not now a solid sleeper), but I slowly regained a sense of independence and my business as a virtual assistant and freelance writer started to take off. You can read about the lessons I’ve learned as a late bloomer on my own website: chelbellguild.com. I hope to inspire and encourage women who are going through any number of life’s transitions.
Oh, and I still make those embarrassing videos, but instead of recording on VHS tapes, I now upload them to YouTube. It helps that I married an awesome video editor, photographer and collaborator who is always down to bring my ridiculous ideas into fruition.
:: Babies & Beyond ::
I first became a mother when I adopted my stepdaughter, Jenika, during marriage numero uno. I actually credit her with making me a better person. I started paying more attention to what I put in and on my body, to what I said and did, and used every opportunity I could to help shape her into a well-rounded, intelligent and caring human being. As with most stepparent relationships though, ours was strained. That marriage has long since dissolved and Jenika is now an adult, but I am still grappling with how to have the best relationship with her. I want to be a source of support for other women who may be in the stepparent or adoptive parent role, as I know it’s a complicated, often isolating one to be in.
The second time I became a mother presented me with a whole new set of adventures with pregnancy and babyhood. My 2-year-old son, Angelo, is a constant source of comedic relief and a reminder to live in the present moment.
I hope to find a few kindred souls in this endeavor with Detroit Moms Blog, and more importantly, to help others to feel a sense of solidarity.