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EPISODE 002 – Get to know me: fierce and afraid


Episode 002 is where I go a little deeper into my childhood memories and briefly talk about some lessons learned.


We are a product of our environment, however, it doesn’t mean it’s our destiny. You can rise above it by the choices you make. By the age of 14, I declared that I would leave on the first thing out of town as soon as I could, by any means necessary. You see, I grew up in the hood, and yes, while the village did help to raise me, I wanted more for myself. And from what I’d seen, done and heard while living in the projects, I felt that I would be better off on my own. Yes, you can be selfish, even growing up poor.

picture of a young DaniLew

Growing Pains

Many of my family, friends, and acquaintances now call me brave and fearless for doing nearly everything on my own. I suppose being an only child helped in that regard because I had to either fight my own battles or talk my way out of them while saving face. No, It definitely hasn’t been all roses and crystal stairways; I have failed miserably at many things, made stupid mistakes, hurt others’ feelings, and took ridiculous chances but I never really had anyone to scold me, advise me, or pick me up afterwards, except myself. So the hurt feelings, broken bones, threats, skinned knees, twisted ankles, vengeful thoughts, and busted lips all healed and served as painful lessons learned. Whenever I’ve had to face my fears, there were no tears, I learned to suck it up, look the enemy in the eye, and step on its neck.

How did I become so fierce, so brave? It was a lot of things but one my earliest memories was when I was around 7-years old and I was fighting this neighborhood boy. He grabbed me and tore my shirt in half; my bare chest was showing and I was about to cry in front of all our friends. My mother had just stepped off the city bus coming home from work and she said to me: “If you don’t kick his butt, I’ll kick yours.” She didn’t say “butt”… Regardless, that’s really all the motivation I needed. My mom is still the only person that I’m actually afraid of.

So being the tough-girl, boss-babe, going outside of my comfort zone, traveling to far-off exotic places, and jumping in head first might’ve caused me pain on occasion but I survived. Of course I was scared! Those butterflies are always flying around in my stomach whenever I’m doing something for the first time. Anyone who tells you differently is lying. Life is scary. But you can’t go around being afraid of everything or you’ll do nothing.

A lot of my childhood friends who stayed in Pittsburgh became drug addicts or worse and I had direct access to do that to myself as well. To take the drugs, or sell the drugs, or deliver the drugs; to follow in family footsteps. However, I truly believe – in fact, I know – that I was more afraid to stay in the hood than I was to escape it. And that’s the way I decided to live my life; balls out. Plain and simple. Failures and successes go hand in hand. I worry about myself and my choices and no one else. No regrets.

Look Outside

To those of you who choose to stay put or are afraid to move, I’m here to tell you that 99.5% of the world isn’t out to get you or kill you; 99.5% of the world are nice people who return a smile with a smile. Growing up in America with its systemic racist policies ingrained in the fabric of its flags and monuments will keep you scared, will keep you home, will keep you down where they want you to be, will make you think that everybody out in the world is racist. That’s simply not true. As I said in the beginning, we are a product of our environment but regardless of how you grew up, it doesn’t mean it’s your destiny. You always have the opportunity to change your path; to grow in another direction but it takes willpower and determination.

Queen Life

You can’t call yourself a Queen if you’ve never ruled – and that means taking a chance. Making a bold move. Doing something completely different. Life truly begins at the edge of your comfort zone. Go on vacation outside of the USA, go on vacation outside of the Caribbean. Try one solo trip. It can be quite liberating and a definite confidence builder. And even if your solo trip isn’t what you expected or your vacation to another country isn’t all that you’ve been told. At least you tried. No regrets.



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Dani Lew

DaniLew is a podcaster and a retired nomad who loves to slow travel around the world and share her travel stories and personal photography.The Slow Traveling Soul Sister podcast is all about me and my travels around the world for the last 40 years as a solo black woman, My motto: travel nourishes the soul and broadens the mind, but solo travel frees our imagination and builds our Confidence. #slowtravelingsoulsister #GoSeeDoBe

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