An unexpected gift brings joy

The event itself was a gift.

I moderated the recent first ever Latina Summit sponsored by the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on the river at the General Motors Renaissance Center. Three women of substance offered worthy observations about business and success in hopes their words might help someone seeking to make strides in both.

There were role models on the panel and scattered throughout the audience. There was great camaraderie of spirit. There was great food.

But before the afternoon ended, there also was a moment to left me dumbstruck.  A scarfwoman I’d never me walked up to thank me for participating, to tell me she appreciated what I offer through my newspaper column and what I said as I moderated the panel. I thanked her and complimented her attire, including a beautiful scarf of lavendar, turquoise, green and blue – my four favorite colors.

“I’d like you to have it,” she said as she took it off. I did what any self-respecting woman would and said, “Oh, no.”

But she insisted. So I did what any woman who loves a good gift would: I accepted it with gratitude and humility.

What she did I had done before:  Someone complimented a bracelet. I took it off and gave it to them. Someone liked a pen (I use Papermate Inkjoys exclusively.) I offered it to them.

There is such joy and giving and getting that I like doing both as often as possible. So I accepted the scarf, a gift from Sylvia Gucken, assistant to the chairman of the Ideal Group. At the moment she gave it to me, I hope an angel got her wings. But if they didn’t, I know that Sylvia may have made a case for her to get her own.

There should be a special place in heaven for people who make other people’s day.

She made mine!

 

Reflection on a thank-you from Lesotho

When I received the request to help build a water pump in the Lesotho village where a young woman I’ve mentored, a woman who is now my friend, is working, I didn’t hesitate. Her name is Jennifer Jiggetts, and she is a journalist. But first, she is a great human being. And she is spending some time as a member of the Peace Corps, teaching and building in Africa.

I didn’t hesitate. It was Jennifer, and it was needed.

I didn’t ask why I should spend money on a water project in Africa when there are people without water in Detroit.

I didn’t ask how spending the money would fit into my budget.

I didn’t think: If I respond to every young person I’ve mentored, I’ll be responding to hundreds of requests.

I decided instantly to help a friend who is helping make lives better for some children. I decided instantly, that no matter how bad things are in some places here, they are always worse where she is.

So I donated. And a month later, I received an envelope from Lesotho. get-attachment-11

It contained a beautiful handmade necklace and matching earrings. It also was filled drawings and a handmade thank you card card decorated with crayoned red stars and blue hearts and green leaves. The card read:

Thank you so much for contributing to our water pump project.

We are forever grateful for your support. Enjoy your goodies! 

Sincerely,

Tsoaing Primary School

The card was touching, but it was the individual messages from the children that took my breath away. Some were in English, some in Sesotho, their mother tongue.  Some were simple, some meticulous, all drawn in the global colors of life. Each child drew him or herself, what they see in their minds when they think of themselves. Some stood near the pump; others pumped water. Some told me their names. Others made sure I knew their gender.

Each reminded me that when the right thing to do comes along, you don’t hesitate. You don’t question. You just do it. You try to change a life, or change a school or change a village. And when you do, hands might just reach across the world to touch you and to change your life.

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Some of the drawings I received this month from children at Tsoaing Primary School.

 

 

 

 

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ROCHELLE RILEY is an award-winning writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

 

 

 

 

Conjuring up Mariel Hemingway
on a Detroit sidewalk

So my friend, Jocelyn, and I had just finished a Happy Moment at the Doubletree Round Bar (We didn’t have an hour, but we had wine, cheese and great gumbo just the same). jocelyn

We headed to the sidewalk, I remembered aloud that Mariel Hemingway, whom I had interviewed five days before,  was slated to speak at the hotel the next day. She was promoting her new movie “Running from Crazy,” and I had just spoken to her about “the Hemingway curse,” which referred to seven members of her family killing themselves. She talked about embracing health and happiness to change her own fate.

Suddenly, I turned and bumped into Mariel Hemingway! She had just arrived and was pulling her suitcase from a car to the front doors.

Mariel“Ms. Hemingway?”

She turned, and I introduced myself, reminded her of our phone interview. She remembered and said kind words about the questions I had asked. And I did something I rarely do. I  let J take a photo of the two of us.

It was a brief moment, not unlike hundreds of others in my line of work. Ms. Hemingway headed in, and J and I continued  down the sidewalk.  Suddenly, nearly in unison, J and I both began chanting “Denzel Washington! Denzel Washington! Denzel Washington!”

Well, it worked with Mariel Hemingway, so we had to give it a try, right?

We had a good laugh at the universe and made a pact to return to that spot. And just in case there was a crack in that sidewalk that lets us conjure up the people we want most to see, I’ve got a list:

Michael Ealy!

Idris Elba!

Matt Damon!

Terrence Howard!

Brad Pitt!

Denzel Washington!

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

 

Finding kindred spirits – and card stock –
in an office supply store

You meet the nicest people in the strangest places.

This time, I was at an office supply store to buy card stock for a church project. As I searched the shelves unsuccessfully for what I needed, I overheard a couple next to me talking about card stock. They had been looking for a while and hadn’t found what they wanted either.

1After five or six more minutes in a deserted aisle, I dialed the store’s number and reached customer service. Suddenly, the store intercom blasted  that a customer call was waiting. Apparently that isn’t allowed to happen. I watched a clerk rush to the phone and happily say:

“How can I help you?”

“We’re in the paper aisle and need some help,” I said. “Could you please send someone over?”

I heard the clerk laughingly and loudly tell someone “She’s calling from the store!”

Another clerk walked quickly over to greet us.

“Hi, I’m looking for white card stock, and I only need 40 sheets. Do you have anything close to that?” I pointed to the shelf filled with packs of 250 and 500 sheets.

Nope, he told me. I had to buy a 250-sheet pack.

Suddenly, the guy standing nearby said: “Well, that’s what we’re looking for, and we only need 80 sheets! Why don’t we split a pack?”

He was half of a really nice couple, the kind of people you’re glad to run into, the kind of people who say hello as you pass by.

A few minutes later, we paid for OUR paper at the register, and then split it in half: about 125 sheets each. Then we went our separate ways.

I don’t know why that moment made me feel so good, except this: Three strangers joined together and shared a little victory against a retail machine that doesn’t always work the way we want.

Yay us.

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

 

Use Lenten Season to become a good memory

1962651_10152085125563381_1856722289_nNo matter what church I’ve attended for worship – AME Zion, United Methodist, Baptist, United Church of Christ, we have always commemorated the Season of Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and is a time of penance, reflection and fasting to prepare for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection on Easter Sunday.

That resurrection is the door He left open for our redemption. It represents the moment that even the greatest nonbeliever understood who He was and whose He was.

But fasting doesn’t always mean from food. Many of the Christians fast rom something for 40 days, a sacrifice that helps them be faithful to the season and to count down to redemption.

I’ve given up something every year.  This year is no different.

Except that I’m sharing my time of sacrifice with a friend.

This year, my dear friend, Melia and I chose each other’s sacrifice. I shall not reveal hers, but she chose for me something that means I will have more time and money to devote to worthier causes than myself: No movies for 40 days and nights.

kinopoisk.ruThat’s right – no matinees, no $8 popcorns, no films.

That means I won’t see The 300: “Rise of an Empire” until after it’s been in theaters for weeks.  I predicted the success of “The 300,” a brilliant re-imagined account of the Battle of Thermopylae, when King Leonidas led 300 Spartans  into battle against Xerses, a magically powerful Persian who led a 300,000 man army.  The film earned more than $450 million at the box office. Its sequel, while just as flawed and just as historically accurate, will be just as good, I think.

I also won’t see “Veronica Mars,” the film I’ve been waiting for for almost seven years. It’s based on a CW TV show that I LOVED, and I was thrilled by the Kickstarter campaign to fund its filming.

MV5BMTQ4MDc0Mjg4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODk3NjYyMTE@._V1_SX214_I am one of those people who sees movies on opening day, on Friday nights, before the social network has anointed or killed them. I go to premieres as often as I can to see movies before they’re tainted by opinions I don’t trust.

I love movies.

So at first, I was horrified by Melia’s choice. But then I realize she chose exactly right, and I am grateful. I’ll save countless hours at at least $200 bucks, which I’m sure a charity could use more.

I have another sacrifice I’m making that is between God and me. It is a spiritual and special thing that probably means more to God.

But please use the season, whether you believe in only this world or this and more, to reflect on who you are and who you can be.

And no matter what age you are, please find ways to be a good memory after you’re gone!

ROCHELLE RILEY is a writer and blogger whose posts here are about her personal adventures. You can read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley and follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.