Live with Time; don’t watch it pass by

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I learned last night that I lost a friend, another friend, a dear friend, a man larger than life with a personality and conviction for truth unparalleled among my friends.

We do not control Time.

It treats us like the peons we are. We can either sit by and watch as it parades or we can swim in it, march with it, dance through it – because it does not stop.

People – friends, colleagues, acquaintances – ask me why I’m traveling so much and doing so much and living so much: visiting two or three countries and several states a year, attending tennis tournaments and concerts, seeing “Hamilton” twice and finding my way to big events such as inaugurals and small ones like PeeWee football games 1,200 miles away from my home.

As I’ve struggled this year with the loss of my mother and surgery that put me on my a– for weeks, I did hear friends tell me to slow down, take my time. But you can’t take Time. It is controlled by no one, save God.

I can occasionally operate at 33 and a third rather than 78. (Google records to understand that). But I don’t have to stop the adventures. I will still rip and run all I want. I plan to live every single day with gusto, frivolity and, occasionally, foolishness.

Why?

Because each sunrise is a revelation. Each day is a gift. Don’t spend your life planning to live. Live!

I lost a friend and didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. I plan to frolic in Time, play with it, laugh with it. Every day.

Because each day is what we have. Each time. And Time is not waiting for you – or me.

Rochelle Riley is a columnist at the Detroit Free Press. Read her columns at www.freep.com/rochelleriley. Read her personal reflections here, where she pursues life, liberty and whatever the hell else she wants. Follow her on Twitter @rochelleriley.

The world is small, and so is America.

I decided five years ago that I had not seen enough of the world. So I set a goal: See 20 countries.

Now, I am seeing the world through the eyes of people like me in cities that once were just dots on a map: Dakar, Senegal; Migori, Kenya; Johannesburg, South Africa; Capetown, South Africa; Queenstown, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia. These visits came after fellowship trips to the beautiful cities of Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Amsterdam, London, Paris, Rome and Turin, Italy. And those visits came after long ago, initial, close-to-home trips to Toronto, Cancun, Acapulco, which all opened my eyes to the truth:

The world is so small.

I was amazed by how comfortable I was, how easily I traveled. I stood next to buildings I’d dreamed of seeing, such as the Sydney Opera House, thousands of miles from home. And it felt so right, exciting, but like I was supposed to be there.

So on I go to two new countries: Myanmar and Thailand, which a New York times In Transit piece just mentioned yesterday, a week after I planned my trip to Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Thailand. Psychic? Read about them hereScreen Shot 2015-02-26 at 5.13.31 AM

While business takes me there, pleasure will keep me going back. And as much as I love Thai food cooked in America, I cannot wait to see and taste its origins.

I also am continuing to see all of America. I have visited 33 states. I pin my travels on two large maps of the world and the U.S. I used to keep the global map in my office in the newsroom. My editor would occasionally come by and point to the wide swath of the U.S. that I have skipped: Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas. “You missed a spot,” he’d say. And we’d both laugh.

With only 17 states to go, I’ve decided that, occasionally, I will drive. I understand, for the first time, why the family trips were by car, past places on the way to places. I’m the kind of person who would take the detour to see the world’s largest ball of string.

The journeys mean so much now.

And when I return, I’ll plan my next trip to another state, one of the 17 that await my arrival. Excuse me if it’s Hawaii. Continue Reading

Finding kindred spirits
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. Continue Reading

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. Continue Reading

End of financial fast is beginning
of different economic living

So what happened to the end of the 21-day financial fast, you wonder?

I completed it. But more important, I paid attention to the things I learned on it.

I paid off my car (and am about to pay off one of the only two credit cards I have).

I do not buy anything major now without giving myself a week to think about it.

And I’m cleaning up my house and life, getting rid of all the crap and not replacing it with things I don’t need.

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.09.35 PMWhen I began Washington Post columnist Michelle Singletary’s 21-Day Financial Fast, I figured I’d save a few bucks, learn a few things and go back to business as usual.

I saved a lot. I learned more about myself than my money. And things will never be the same.

Example? I went to have my annual teeth cleaning. I’m a big baby at the dentist’s office. The hygienist said “You want nitrous (the wonderful gas, nitrous oxide that makes you not care that she’s in your mouth)? Rather than immediately say “Yes!”, I asked “How much?”

It was $40. I said no.

What?!

I needed a new wallet. I went shopping in my closet. I found one with the tag still on, and I have had great compliments on the style and color. I don’t even remember buying it.

My next task is to clean the garage, so I can take the stuff I have in storage and put it in the garage. That stuff has been there since April 2012 because I didn’t have time to deal with it. When I realized that the money I’d spent holding onto it would have paid for a trip to Paris, I got motivated.

checkbookSo I want to thank Michelle and the fast. And she’ll be happy to know that, unlike some people who might not have wanted people to know what they were doing, I talked to everybody. The best encouragement I got was a gift from a dear friend, who knew that I would be experiencing several special occasions occurring during the fast, including my birthday. She gave me a checkbook whose checks were actually dollar bills.

“Snack on these and stick to your fast,” she told me. Continue Reading

Fasting from unnecessary spending
becoming universal theme

1001029_017400100773_A_400DAY THREE _ Who’d have ever thought? Today, I walked into a supermarket, bypassed the carts and picked up exactly what I’d planned: rice, a pre-roasted chicken and pasta sauce (that I can, as they say on American Idol), make my own. I paid with $20 and got $6 change back.

And I left.

I didn’t peruse the cheese or international aisles. I didn’t pick up snacks. I didn’t grab any of the dozen things that, last week, I would have pulled off shelves just because I’d seen a recent commercial.

I am doing the fast, or as Roland Martin would say, “I’m doin’ the daggone thang.” And I still can’t believe it.

But I did cheat.

My Starbucks card already had money on it, money that I can’t use for anything else, so I got a coffee. And I talked to the barrista on duty, like I have with every other person I’ve encountered, about what I was doing – the 21-Day Financial Fast designed by The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary. She stunned me.

“I do my own fast every December,” she said of a program she designed that also is spirit-based. Every year, she said, she changes her payroll deduction to a printed paycheck. She buys Christmas gifts and accoutrements only with cash. And it works for her. (Her husband, she said, used his credit card at Target to buy a single DVD and had to replace all of his debit and credit cards).

I thanked her for her story, and I took the short way out of the store, rather than the long final walk I usually do – more focused than ever. I didn’t even buy a lottery ticket.

So I still have $6 and a resolve to finish this Financial Fast.

A found – and returned – wallet helps renew hope

CELEFANT2-womens-wallet-2__46269.1323709094.1280.1280The call came just after I’d walked in from a trip to the supermarket.

The woman announced that she was from my bank. A fraud alert? A mortgage loan pitch?

No, on both counts.

“I’m calling because someone found your wallet in the shopping cart at Kroger. They’re standing in the parking lot with it.”

Nah, that couldn’t be true. I never leave my wallet anywhere.  Except my wallet wasn’t on the kitchen counter, or the table, or in the car.

“I’ll be right there,” said, rushing and not doing what has come naturally to me for decades – asking questions.

So as I drove back to the store, I realized that I didn’t get a description of this angel who found a bankcard and called my bank rather than keep the cash, use the cards and toss the wallet. I realized that I didn’t have a name so that I could send flowers or a card or say thank-you.

When I pulled into the parking lot, I didn’t see anyone standing around waiting for a frantic woman in a Paul McCartney concert shirt to show up. I parked and walked in to customer service. I had to stand in line.

Finally, when it was my turn, I told the clerk that I was there to pick up my –

“There it is!” I said, pointing to my open wallet on the counter behind her.

She picked it up, looked at it handed it to me.

“You don’t need anything, to ask me anything?”

“No,” she said with a smile. “I can see that it’s you.”

Of course, the driver’s license that I had just driven to Kroger without.

I asked about the person who brought it in. She didn’t know anything about them. It was handed to her. But in that small moment, a moment that became so very big, a single person affirmed that there is hope.

Now, I’m stuck wanting to express huge amounts of gratitude to someone who could have ruined my life but instead made my day. I’d like to at least buy him or her lunch or groceries. But all I can do is offer a public thank-you to someone who didn’t just give me back my wallet. They reminded me – and everyone I tell this story – that the world still has good people, honest people, caring people. Continue Reading

Sometimes you need a silent weekend

WASHINGTON, D.C._ It is the silence that is most pleasant.

Yes, it is Washington, D.C.

Yes, we are two days away from the Presidential Inauguration.

Yes, there are hundreds of thousands of additional people in town.

But it took only a moment for me to decide how I wanted to spend my long weekend. I wanted to sequester myself somewhere without television, without distractions, without people so I could just write. And thanks to my friend,  Michael who found it for me, I’m there.

I’m on my laptop in a beautifully restructured mansion in Washington,D.C.’s Adams Morgan neighborhood. The lemon ginger tea is hot. And I am at peace having days, hours, moments totally to myself.

And it is really true: It is the silence that is most pleasant.

Sometimes you need to take a moment to reflect, to work on a book, to think about  what’s next, to just be. Everyone should take a moment, find a moment to breathe, to study your life map and make sure you’re headed in the right direction.

And if I may offer a bit of advice, do it where there is no noise.

The Jar: Counting our blessings all year long in 2013

The Facebook posting stopped me short.

A California nonprofit was encouraging Facefriends to find an empty jar and – beginning January 1 – filling it up regularly with good things that happen all year. Then on New Year’s Eve, anyone who does can open one of The. Best. Presents. Ever.

I’m in.

I’ve done this before – on a smaller scale. When I’ve hosted celebrations, I’ve given guests cards to write notes. No further instructions. Some of those have been among the most moving, special gifts I’ve ever received.

And at a recent work anniversary celebration, I hired a photo booth and I have dozens of photo strips of and with friends.

But this? This is something different. This is a reminder to take a moment every now and again over an entire year and celebrate.

I always say: Celebrate the small victories. They count.

Now, we get to count them.

I’m doing it, and I’m excited about it. Who’s with me?