Be Kind? Even in the Locker Room!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, June 19, 2014

THANK thank you God

Be Kind? Even in the Locker Room!

When I went to work today, I did a lot of stuff, wrote some stuff, talked to some people.

Seriously, I did quite a bit. Got a good deal accomplished. I felt great when I left, and hightailed it over to the YMCA. I really needed to exercise!

Oh—I’m going to take a moment to insert a plug for exercise! I am a great advocate for cardiovascular activity. I think it’s wonderful. Exercise tones my muscles, helps me feel good all over, acts as a non-prescription stress reliever, and—best of all, starts those natural, positive endorphins bouncing all over my insides. So, for all of those reasons, I just love to go to the gym at the Y. (Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.)

I jogged on the track, stretched, did some yoga. Came back to the locker room, cleaned up. Just as I was getting dressed, a woman came in to the rear of the locker room, too. Chose a locker at the bank of lockers just adjacent to me. I can’t even tell you who struck up the conversation, but a wonderful conversation blossomed between us.

Did you ever just fall into conversation with someone? And, have a really nice time? I am so glad this happens to me from time to time. Today was no exception.

This woman opened right up. She started telling me all sorts of things. We never exchanged names, but she was so sweet! And, just before she closed her locker, she paused. Looked straight at me, and thanked me. Imagine, she appreciated my conversation! I did not talk too much. Like I said before, she was the one who opened up. But I suspect she might have been able to tell that I was also open, receptive. People often are able to tell!

I am so grateful that I was willing to connect with her, to be friendly and encouraging! And, upon reflection, how difficult was that? It took several minutes out of my day, true. I didn’t even need to go out of my way, because the woman chose a locker at the next bank of lockers! It’s almost as if God were giving me a “freebie” for my being-kind-stuff today.

I was just being me. And that was exactly what this woman needed. God, You never cease to amaze me. Gee, God, thanks!

@chaplaineliza

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Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 18, 2014

God what God knows about you

Social Media? Or a Kind Conversation?

Have you noticed? People pay so much attention to social media today. Smart phones, computer laptops and tablets. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Reddit and Tumblr. So many choices! So many ways to further fragment individuals and their communication. Even when I see several people sitting in close proximity to each other, chances are that they will be staring down at some electronic device, focused on that, instead of focusing on each other—sitting at the same table, or even on the same bench.

Call me old-fashioned, but I actually enjoy the art of conversation. I may not be the best at this dying art, but I do enjoy talking with people. In a small group or tete a tete. Intimate, joy-filled, heartwarming, sometimes even heartwrenching. But all the same, there is nothing quite like it.

I have been trained as a chaplain. I’ve done several extended internships as a chaplain intern, and served as student pastor for one year. I was employed as a part-time director of pastoral care, and then on call chaplain at a hospital in Chicago for almost seven years. And this was all in the past eleven years. Extensive, specific training. A great deal of spiritual, psychological and emotional understanding of people in highly volatile, fearful, or extended situations. Challenging, anxious experiences. Lack of hope, grief, trauma, end of life concerns. Yes, I’ve seen a lot.

Looking back on it all, I can see how many of these formative experiences have prepared me for what I’m doing and where I find myself, right now. God is awesome—how God fits this all together never ceases to amaze me.

Take this evening, for example. I happened to meet an acquaintance of mine. (I don’t think he knows about my new job.) He and I fell into conversation, and he started talking about how he used to be all caught up in the church, and went through years of parochial schooling. Then, he stopped church attendance some years ago. Now, he has recently started to consider God, and spirituality from a whole different perspective. In turn, I told him a little about my experience with God and spirituality. I encouraged him to continue to explore this! (And, no, I did not bash him over the head with the fact that I am a professional, in the “church business.”)

I looked on this friendly conversation as part of my being kind. Helpful. Making positive suggestions. And perhaps, when we meet again next time, my acquaintance might remember my kind words and ask me about my perspective—my experience, strength and hope. Please God, help me be ready to be kind, and to be of service!

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Showing Love—On a Bus?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, February 4, 2014

City Bus - Marin Dobson

City Bus – Marin Dobson

Showing Love—On a Bus?

I can get into the most intriguing conversations with people I meet, at a moment’s notice. My family rolls their (collective) eyes, sighs, and says, “Oh, Mom.” (Or simply sighs, in my husband’s case.)

I took the opportunity of a day off from work to go to the YMCA this morning, after bringing my son to school. I went into the women’s locker room to change into my workout clothes. Many of the same people were there, the usual denizens of the gym and the pool on a typical weekday morning. I took my time to change, relishing the extra time I had at my disposal.

A woman I had met a number of times before bustled up to a locker near me. We hadn’t seen each other for some days. After we said hello, she was reminded—internally—of the blog I’ve been writing. (Yes, this blog.) She turned to me as she changed and asked how the blog was going. “Fine!” I said, with a smile. She is involved with a non profit organization that assists women and children, and she wanted more information about the blog. So that some of the women could post suggestions about acts of kindness they are familiar with. I said that would be great, and thanked her so much! We talked a bit about how people could contact me. (Reminder: anyone can always contact me at the Facebook page A Year of Being Kind, or through my Twitter account @chaplaineliza, or through wordpress.com—just in case anyone was wondering.)

Another woman, a few lockers down, happened to be listening to us as we spoke about intentional acts of kindness and service. My friend went off to the gym upstairs as I began to talk to the second, older woman. She apologized for eavesdropping on my conversation, but I told her that was perfectly all right. Introduced myself, and the two of us immediately engaged in conversation, also! She told me about an act of service that instantly came to her mind, as soon as she heard about people being kind. “Giving people a smile. Just that simple action can help so much.”

I agreed, and told her about my smile (and I showed it to her, too—my smile just-sort-of happens, you understand). She smiled back, and we exchanged a few words about smiles. But then she went back to her story. She used to ride the bus here in our suburb to work. A bus driver on the route greeted everyone who got on his bus with a big smile, friendly and cheerful. As the woman told me about this driver, she obviously remembered him with fondness. A big smile came across her face. “I used to tell him that his bus ought to be called ‘the Happy Bus.’”

What a happy memory! And what a kind thing to do. A smile and a positive attitude may seem to be little things, but they can brighten a person’s day. They changed this woman’s day, this morning, just remembering. Thank God for small things—like smiles.

@chaplaineliza