Caring for Myself—And for Others (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 6, 2017

Reading this post, three years later, my opinion has not changed. Yoga is marvelous for me, inside and out. (Especially with that exceptional yoga teacher! Who, sadly, does not teach on Monday nights any longer.) I have now gone beyond gentle yoga to regular yoga classes—hatha and vinyasa yoga. Yes, yoga is a wonderful way to care for myself. And, by caring for myself, I can’t help but care for others.

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

Posted on March 11, 2014 by chaplaineliza

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, March 10, 2014

yoga guy zacara spot

yoga drawing – Zakar art by Chris Carter

Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

I needed to dive right into the week, right off the bat this morning. Work today, running and fetching, some computer work, some necessary telephone calls that needed to be made. Then, I made dinner. At least, I started dinner and asked my daughter to finish turning the chicken in the covered skillet while it simmered. Why the hurry at the end of the day? Simple! I have a one word answer: yoga.

Earlier today I went out of my way to do things for other people. Yes, I did acts of service, intentionally. But I want to focus on what happened at the YMCA. In yoga class. The Y has a number of different classes and exercise opportunities each day. In the pool, in the exercise studios, in the big gym. There are several yoga classes each week, too. I am no expert at yoga, believe me! But the gentle yoga class on Monday afternoons is perfect for me. Yes, there are yoga poses and stretching that challenge me! But nothing is too hard. Nothing that the older instructor has the class do is beyond most people’s abilities.

I’ve been attending the gentle yoga class for about three months, and it helps me! The yoga teacher helps me, too. She has a kind and easy-going way about her. One of the biggest reasons I appreciate this teacher is the open, generous manner she has with each person in the room. She also invites people to leave their worries, troubles, and stresses outside the room. Inside the room is calmness and peace. We can take our time and stretch, and restore balance and harmony to our bodies and our inner selves.

Yes, I realize that there is a component to certain yoga instruction that is rooted in eastern thought and religious practices. Yes, true. But not this teacher, and not this kind of gentle yoga and stretching. I think this is why I enjoy it so much. But—I saved the best for the last. I find this regular yoga class is a superb way to care for myself. I run around most of the week like a chicken with its head cut off. (My father-in-law saw quite a number of these, and he said they were pretty funny!)

Sometimes I am running, or in a hurry, or worrying. Other times I am caring for others—my children, my family, my good friends, those at my work, patients or residents. It seems as if I seldom take the time or the opportunity to carve out an hour to rest, to release the worry and upset of the day or the week. That is just what my kind yoga teacher invites us to do. It’s no wonder I am dashing off to her class each Monday! I need to take the time on a regular basis to allow myself to unwind. And more importantly, to allow myself to become refreshed and recharged—as in this class. I am so grateful to the YMCA for employing such a wonderful teacher. Thanks, YMCA! And thanks, God!

@chaplaineliza

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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Epiphany and beyond, into Lent. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, January 5, 2015

On this snowy, frigid evening in January, this post from a year ago strikes a familiar chord.

 

A Year of Being Kind blog – originally published Monday, January 6, 2014

photo by Sergei Kvitko

(photo by Sergei Kvitko)

Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

It was cold in the Chicago area today. Frigid. I mean, exposed skin would freeze if uncovered for more than a few minutes. I understand that we broke a temperature record with -15 degrees. We won’t even talk about the wind chill, with wind gusts anywhere from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

I needed to be out and about today, going to and from work. Despite the extreme temperature, it was a beautiful day! Crisp, clear air. Blue sky. Since I had a functioning vehicle and wasn’t walking, I enjoyed the trip.

During the course of the day, I met someone who needed to get out of their garage. Thank heaven their suburb was on top of things and had already sent snow plows down the alleys. One wrinkle: in sending out the plow to clear the alleyway, the snow subsequently was piled in a heap against the garages. An anxious senior was involved, and I had the time and the ability. They had the snow shovel. So, I was happy to shovel out the apron of their garage and allow them access to the alleyway.

Another case of “who is my neighbor?” I didn’t live anywhere near this senior, not like my friend with the snow blower whose story I related several days ago. However, I felt compassion for this dear senior. Of course I shoveled the snow.

I try to keep myself in fair physical condition. I consider this part of my spiritual service to God, to keep up my physical self, to stretch and exercise regularly. I try to go to the gym three times a week and do what I can. Cardio-vascular, a little strength training, and (most important!) stretching both before and after. When I don’t go to the gym for a few days, my body starts to let me know through aches and pains.

This is a roundabout way for me to mention exactly why I felt so free to just pick up the shovel and go at it. I feel blessed that I am in decent physical shape, and I don’t want to lose that ability any time soon.

But what about people who are less-abled? Like several of my friends and acquaintances, who have lost some or most of the physical range of motion and ability they were born with? They are growing more and more dependent on others to do things for them. This dependence can be a source of griping and grumbling, or of gratitude and thankfulness. I see any number of reactions and responses to offers of service, on a regular basis.

However, I can let those I serve (or offer to serve) respond as they will. God has not made me an arbiter of people’s thoughts and actions. Instead, God has encouraged me to serve. And this year, my hope, my intention is to find some kind of service each day. Not to judge people on whether they have gratitude for the service, or whether they thank me. Service is what God has called me to do.

I wonder what will show up tomorrow? God willing, I’ll find out.

@chaplaineliza

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com

Praying for Others? You’ve Got It!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, July 1, 2014

God Faith God is already there

Praying for Others? You’ve Got It!

What about today, when I found some reasons to be a faithful member of Christ’s body? In confessions made, or precaution ministry? What about when someone has a birthday? What then?

I went to the YMCA earlier today, to work out and exercise. Wouldn’t you know that a kind, generous someone who works at the Y is celebrating a birthday? Yes! That is so positive an event. Great idea!

Some sweet older person had even gone out of her way to purchase a card. The card was lovely, and many people had signed already. Great job in being kind and encouraging, too.

I wished this person a very happy birthday. Of course I did! And, I also signed the card.

This staff member was very much touched and appreciative of my prayers. Hey, I pray most every day, at least when I’m putting others first, in the forefront of the day. Not tomorrow, not next week, but today. And that was what I prayed for, wished for. Praying God’s blessings, protection, and care come upon this loved one of God’s.

Such a small thing. Except—not in this staff member’s eyes. Praise God! Something simple, that anyone can do. Yet, something profound, too. Any time that a person agrees to provide intercession in prayer? Pray for someone’s encouragement, and to reach out in prayer? Priceless, as the television commercial and the ad agency tell us.

Yes, God bless this Y staff member. And family. Send every good blessing and every worthwhile thing their way, too! Amen, dear God.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

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

Being Kind, Showing Love—To Myself!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, February 5, 2014

love for real

Being Kind, Showing Love—To Myself!

I know I’ve mentioned this before, and I suspect I’ll mention it again. I try to go to the gym on a regular basis. I see this as being a good steward of my physical self. I honestly do try to go to my local YMCA three times a week. This not only helps me physically, but also emotionally and psychologically, too. (I can point you towards applicable studies done by researchers at universities, and articles written up in peer-reviewed journals, if you’re wondering.)

The positive endorphins that bounce around my insides after a good round of cardio-vascular exercise ought to be enough to keep me coming back, time after time! But wait, there’s more! I not only get this positive feeling after exercise, but I also have the muscles in my core (or, torso) strengthened and toned, too. This helps me, in all kinds of ways. Now that I’m firmly in my fifties, I need every little bit of help I can get. If going to the YMCA three times a week helps me in all of these ways (and more, besides!), I would be just plain silly not to go.

I ran into Bill Geiger yesterday, the president of my local YMCA. He and I have a nodding acquaintance, and I hadn’t seen him for a number of weeks—not since December. I told him about this blog. I asked him whether he could think about positive, helpful acts of service at the Y, and let me know about them. He seemed really intrigued, and we stood there in the big exercise room and discussed acts of kindness for several minutes. He was quite approving, and urged me to continue with the blog.

Then—he got thoughtful for a moment, and told me about a pressing problem he has heard about, time and again. People working, acting, running—doing things for everyone else, but not thinking of themselves. Bill was quite concerned about this common tendency he had noticed, and lifted it up as a potential problem. I nodded, and agreed. Indeed, it is! Especially in our local community, where many people are outwardly-focused. Altruistic. God-centered. Mission-minded. (Whatever your preference.) Bill had to run, so we said good-bye. But Bill’s words stayed with me.

As I said at the beginning of this post, exercise is a marvelous way to deal with stress and worry, and a positive way to get the blood moving and heart pumping. Many gyms have exercise programs for most (if not all) levels, and some have personal trainers, massage therapists, and yoga and pilates instructors, too. (Check with a qualified medical professional before starting any physical program, though. Just to be sure it’s right for you.) However, there are additional ways of taking time for yourself. I’ve used prayer and meditation, listening to soft music, walking for pleasure, gardening, going to museums and zoos, meeting with friends, and a whole host of other helpful things to do. For self-care. For showing myself love and kindness. And God will be pleased that I’m not so stressed and worried, too.

What a wonderful reminder! I’ve got to thank Bill, next time I see him. And thank God for friends, too.

@chaplaineliza

Being kind? At the YMCA

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 18, 2014

be kind to others

Being Kind? At the YMCA

Week in, week out, I try to keep to some sort of weekly schedule. Not daily schedule, no. For me right now, each day is a little different. Some days have more involvement, others have various meetings or errands, and most days have at least some work-related activity. However, rare it is to find myself at home all day (and all night, too) with no social interaction whatsoever.

Saturday morning is a time I set aside for going to the gym for one of my several-times-weekly exercise sessions. I am fortunate that I don’t find it very difficult to get to the gym. I understand that motivation is a large barrier to some people when they begin an exercise routine. Thank God, not me. I understand the benefits that come from regular stretching and exercise! So, I try to make it to the YMCA here in town three times a week.

Today, I happened to pass S in the hallway at the Y, a lovely woman I’ve known for a number of years. S so often has a bright smile and a sunny disposition. S and I greeted each other this morning, said a few words, and parted after exchanging big smiles. That’s all.  It was only a brief interaction, but I remembered it. Distinctly. As I reflected on the chance encounter in the hallway outside of the women’s locker room, I thought of S’s job. She’s now on the janitorial staff at the YMCA. My town is pretty egalitarian. I’ve found that people generally greet each other regardless of the employment or society position they hold. But the situation is somewhat different for those ladies who work in the locker room.

Sometimes, the denizens of the locker room have no interaction at all. Admittedly, the locker room is an intimate place. Women get dressed, undressed, take showers, dry hair, and a hundred and one other little things involving personal, intimate details. I have been working out at the YMCA here in town for five years, and I’ve noticed. On occasion, those in the locker room don’t even speak a word to someone changing at the locker right next to them. What about the women on the janitorial staff who take such excellent care of the locker room? Who keep it clean, welcoming and usable for the many women who change there on a daily basis? Sometimes these kind, generous women might just as well be invisible. (I observe things like that, especially since I have a personal and professional interest in how people interact in different social situations.)  True, the locker room can be an odd place, due to the emotions, mores, and upbringing of all those who inhabit it.

But for me, I always try to have a kind and friendly word for S, as well as the other janitorial staff who keep the YMCA clean and inviting. What a way of being kind to all of us, who use the place on a regular basis!  I thank God for all of you.

@chaplaineliza

Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, January 6, 2014

photo by Sergei Kvitko

photo by Sergei Kvitko

Being Kind with a Snow Shovel

It was cold in the Chicago area today. Frigid. I mean, exposed skin would freeze if uncovered for more than a few minutes. I understand that we broke a temperature record with -15 degrees. We won’t even talk about the wind chill, with wind gusts anywhere from 20 to 30 miles per hour.

I needed to be out and about today, going to and from work. Despite the extreme temperature, it was a beautiful day! Crisp, clear air. Blue sky. Since I had a functioning vehicle and wasn’t walking, I enjoyed the trip.

During the course of the day, I met someone who needed to get out of their garage. Thank heaven their suburb was on top of things and had already sent snow plows down the alleys. One wrinkle: in sending out the plow to clear the alleyway, the snow subsequently was piled in a heap against the garages. An anxious senior was involved, and I had the time and the ability. They had the snow shovel. So, I was happy to shovel out the apron of their garage and allow them access to the alleyway.

Another case of “who is my neighbor?” I didn’t live anywhere near this senior, not like my friend with the snow blower whose story I related several days ago. However, I felt compassion for this dear senior. Of course I shoveled the snow.

I try to keep myself in fair physical condition. I consider this part of my spiritual service to God, to keep up my physical self, to stretch and exercise regularly. I try to go to the gym three times a week and do what I can. Cardio-vascular, a little strength training, and (most important!) stretching both before and after. When I don’t go to the gym for a few days, my body starts to let me know through aches and pains.

This is a roundabout way for me to mention exactly why I felt so free to just pick up the shovel and go at it. I feel blessed that I am in decent physical shape, and I don’t want to lose that ability any time soon.

But what about people who are less-abled? Like several of my friends and acquaintances, who have lost some or most of the physical range of motion and ability they were born with? They are growing more and more dependent on others to do things for them. This dependence can be a source of griping and grumbling, or of gratitude and thankfulness. I see any number of reactions and responses to offers of service, on a regular basis.  However, I can let those I serve (or offer to serve) respond as they will. God has not made me an arbiter of people’s thoughts and actions. Instead, God has encouraged me to serve. And this year, my hope, my intention is to find some kind of service each day. Not to judge people on whether they have gratitude for the service, or whether they thank me. Service is what God has called me to do.

I wonder what will show up tomorrow? God willing, I’ll find out.

@chaplaineliza