Being of Service, Being a Mom

A Year of Being Kind blog –Monday, March 17, 2014

Awesome photo of dad and son in capes (need more direct citation, please!)

Awesome photo of dad and son in capes (need more direct citation, please!)

Being of Service, Being a Mom

This morning started out to be the usual weekday morning. Wake up, pray, go to the computer (to look and see if I got anything REALLY important since the last time I looked), and then drive my son to the high school in good time for his first class. I did so, and he and I talked about the gymnastics practice after school. (team photo shoot today!)

Today was a little out of the ordinary, after that. I dialed the office (I currently work a part-time position), and informed them that I was giving my two weeks’ notice today.  I also sent a brief email, telling them the same thing—I now am employed as interim part-time co-pastor! Then I went to my other job. I enjoy my other job, I really do. However, I have lots of other training and schooling and internships in pastoral care and counseling, leading small groups and group facilitation, and a whole host of other things. Now, I get to put all of them to work!

But—not quite yet. I have several more days at my old job. As the morning continued, I received a call from my son. He told me—in a sad voice—that he was starting to get a migraine headache. He was going to try to stay for two more classes, but then would like me to pick him up at the nurses’ office. I told him of course! That is, as long as I could finish my four-hour shift.

Sure enough, one of the nurses at school called in a little over an hour. As I drove to the high school, I could feel my mom-hat slipping into place. My son waited for me as I pulled up, and I (naturally) asked him whether he had eaten, reminded him of some likely foods and beverages up in the kitchen, and urged him to lie down in a dark room when he got home. What can I say? I’m a mom.

After a couple of errands, I came back home. All of those things were on his list, and he said he had accomplished them. I ended up taking him back to the high school for practice AND the team photo shoot.  And then, off to the YMCA myself, to their gym and fitness equipment! Yay! (I suspect my son appreciated the ride, so he wouldn’t need to get killed.

My son’s a junior in high school, but he’s still “young” in significant ways.  That made me think about me. True, I sometimes push through disease and not-feeling-well. Sometimes a bit too much, too. God, help me to know when to work, but also when to stop. And God, I usually know when to offer my service to others. But sometimes, I put my foot in my mouth. It sure would be great if You could help out with a little guidance! You know, in those difficult-to-assess situations. God, thanks for helping me be of service. And thanks for helping me to be a mom. More effectively and lovingly, of course!


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An Act of Service and a New(ish) Friend

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

An Act of Service and a New(ish) Friend

running person - clip art

running person – clip art

My son took special care in getting dressed this morning. He had his first gymnastics meet today, and the whole team dressed up for the occasion. So, dress slacks, oxford shirt, dress shoes, tie.  He was so proud to be all spiffed up! (I know—I saw him looking at his reflection in the mirror after tying his tie.)  And even though he didn’t say so, I suspect he was excited for the meet.

I dropped him off at the high school on my way to the YMCA. He stood on the sidewalk, and was all smiles as I waved to him.  He disappeared from my rear view mirror as I carefully threaded my way between the students and staff crossing the street. Yes, it was just another weekday morning, with just a slight variation.

As I’ve said before, I go to the gym several times a week. Today was one of those days. The Y is a familiar place, now. I’ve been there pretty much three times per week for the past five years. I don’t know most people’s names, but they often come to the gym about the same time. Being a naturally friendly person, I smile and sometimes say hello. This morning, I kept passing by people I recognized—so I was saying “hi” a lot.  As I went up to the track, I ran into a recent gym acquaintance. We did a few circuits around the track after I did some preliminary stretching.

My friend is a little older. A senior, and a moderately active one. My friend started telling me about the challenges of being a senior citizen—in an upbeat, uncomplaining way. Even humorous, at times. I listened, interested to hear about my friend’s viewpoints. But I also listened to some sadder stories. I heard about a few senior friends, who are not as physically active. For seniors, this can be very problematic. It’s circular. As people—and especially seniors—decrease in their activity level, they usually decrease in stamina and strength.  Which makes many even less willing to be active at all.

My mind shifted, remembering an older relative, now deceased. She broke her ankle a number of years ago, and the orthopedic surgeon needed to place several pieces of hardware into the joint. However, she was stubborn. She wouldn’t do physical therapy after surgery. It didn’t take too long for her to become more and more sedentary, which caused her to dislike physical activity more and more. Just like the other seniors I heard about today—decreasing in activity, stamina and strength, in a downward spiral.

What was my act of kindness today? I kept my friend company—and we went around the track together. I encouraged my friend in being physically active today, too. I gladly affirmed my senior friend for doing whatever they can, regularly, to the best of their ability. I delivered this act of service with enthusiasm! God, thanks for my friend. And, thanks for sending me a new service opportunity, today and every day.


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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.


Hush Up!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 8, 2014

runner wall decal

Hush Up!

Rhetorical question: am I doing an act of service if I keep my mouth closed?

Let me back up, and give some context to my question. After I dropped my son off at the high school in town, I went to the gym at the YMCA, as often is my practice. I really like using the track on the floor above the main gym most days. Today was no different. I quickly changed in the locker room and went upstairs, through the cardio and weight room through to the large gym. I had totally forgotten that this was Wednesday. (I usually don’t go to the gym on Wednesdays, for a variety of reasons. But I did today.)

As I warmed up and stretched, and started my workout on the track, I noticed some people coming in to the main gym. Oh, no! Today is Zumba day. Don’t get me wrong—I sometimes watch the people doing Zumba to the energetic, pounding music, and it’s wonderful cardio-vascular exercise. It’s the music that sometimes gets on my nerves. Today was particularly annoying. The first song that was played as I power-walked and jogged around the track had four chords. A four-chord progression, played over and over and over and . . . you get the idea. Repetitive, mind-numbing. It almost made me want to scream. It went on for seven minutes. (Yes, I watched the clock as I circled the track.)

I’m a classically-trained musician. Piano is my primary instrument, and composition was my emphasis for my undergraduate degree in music. I usually can “turn off my ears” and ignore or just not pay attention to poorly composed or performed music. But not today. As I went around the track for a good part of those seven minutes, I felt like giving someone a piece of my mind. Grrr! But I didn’t. It came to me (I suspect God brought this thought to me) that by complaining and kvetching to whatever unlucky YMCA staff member was on duty this morning, I really wouldn’t accomplish much of anything. The Y staff member would probably cluck his or her tongue, nod understandably and say, “There, there.” Or words to that effect. I know. I’ve worked in customer service, and that’s what I would have done in a similar situation.

Instead, I had another thought—also inspired by God, I think. This morning was an opportunity for me to practice forbearance and patience. Two fruits of the Spirit that are not as readily apparent in my character as they ought to be. I kept my mouth shut. I did not blow up or gripe to any Y staff or to the Zumba leader. People have a perfect right to listen to whatever kind of music that they like.

What about a positive act of service? Later, I saw another Y staff member wearing a really pretty sweater today. I smiled at her and gave her a sincere compliment on the sweater. She blossomed, telling me that her daughter had given her the sweater for Christmas, and she’d be sure to tell the daughter.

I think both were acts of service. I was proud of myself. And I think God was amused.