New Year 2014












Dear Readers,

In preparation for 2014, I am suggesting that we really become more connected with people that we like.   In the new year, my goal will be to sit down with at least four people that I have met on social media or just in passing.  You know the people who always make you smile when you see them but you do not know them well.  There are just some people who just make you want to give them a great big hug.
My friend, Teri’ Pete, is one of those people who make you feel wonderful when you see her.  She has a smile that can light up a room.  Every time I see her, which is usually at Speedway gas station, she is always in a great mood.  So after seeing her so many times, I thought to myself this must be happening for a reason so I asked to go with me to coffee and she said yes.  It just so happened that she was available on the same day I was going to be at a Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan Department of Civil Rights event.  We went together and had a great time.  Afterward, we went the restaurant at the hotel and just chatted. 
While conversing with her about what she wanted to do with her life, I found a sense of contentment.  We discussed the possibility that she would go into the human resources field and that she wanted to learn Spanish.  She also likes to workout, has lost weight and has a commitment to stay healthy.
I knew that she would the type of person that I could just sit down with and chat.  I also knew that she was the type of friend that did not need to talk to you all the time.  Friends still need their own space.  It is wonderful to be able to always pick up right where you left off.
Growing up in Lansing for Teri’ was interesting.  She mentioned that she felt as though she did not fit in all the time.  She went to Otto Middle School and she did not make friends right away.  She had excellent grades at Otto and she said that being an awesome student provided her with some of the most stellar moments in her life.
Even though she was not one of the popular students at Sexton High School, she fit in.  It takes time to make friends and becoming involved in extracurricular activities helps. She played basketball all four years and even though the team did not do well Teri said it was an important time of growth in creating friendships. 
“We were a sisterhood, every game was important to us so we played our hearts out.  The relationship that we had bonded us and it is something I will never forget,” said Teri’.
After high school she joined the United States Air Force, which was very challenging.  She lamented that being of service to your country is gratifying.
Teri’ stated, “It is unlike  anything that you think it may be.  There is school, training and very scheduled regiments.  It was another opportunity in my life to meet great friends. One thing I can say, is that the Air Force was very empowering for me.”
When it comes to her children Teri’ said she has been very blessed and is proud of them.  She said that she looks forward to is having grandchildren because she misses her own children just being children.
In the next year her daughter is graduating, and she hopes that she finds a place to be happy post graduation.  Her hope for her oldest son is for him to make the dean’s list.  For her youngest, she hopes that he embraces his intelligence and gets awesome grades. 
My experience with Teri’ was so beautiful.  Despite the snow and ice, we both were excited regarding our talk.  The crisp night air filled our lungs. She held my elbow as she helped me avoid slipping and falling on the way back to our perspective vehicles.  Her laughter and the simplicity of just talking about her really warmed my heart.
As we crossed the street, I told her that I forgot to ask her what her hope was for the world.  I believe that each one of us can make a difference.  As I expected, her words were profound.
“To the world we need to be more gentle and kind.  Our words can cause extreme happiness or pain.  Think before you speak.  I want to edify and uplift people.  We just have to think about the things that we let come out of our mouths,” said Teri’.
I needed not say anymore or respond.  I just gave her a knowing smile and kiss her on both cheeks.
She waited as I exited the parking lot and I drove behind her and watched until her lights disappeared.  I was moved by her and her positive spirit is what we all need in our life.  Are you dedicated to making 2014 a year of less drama and angst? Well, take the first step by concentrating on people who “love people”.
Rina Risper
This was published in the December 29, 2013 – January 11, 2014 edition.