Caring for Myself—As Well As Others

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

yoga drawing - Zakar art by Chris Carter

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

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Being Kind on a Day of Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, January 20, 2014

lovely kitty

Being Kind on a Day of Service

Today is the day America celebrates the birthday anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. It is also becoming a day more and more people associate with acts of service. What an opportunity for people to do something for someone else! Helping the poorest of the poor, or those particularly needy in some special way, this is a significant way to remember Dr. King. Volunteers all across the country are donating their time to make a positive impact, a difference in the lives of others.

I had the opportunity to do a number of things for other people today. I even received several thank you’s and words of appreciation for some of them. However, I am going to concentrate on my favorite among them: preparing a birthday present for one of my children. She lives in a city out east, and she just loves (I mean, LOVES) one particular cookie I bake for the Christmas cookie plates I prepare every year. I took the opportunity to make this particular cookie for her tonight. I’ll pack up a few dozen of them, and mail them tomorrow. She will be so surprised and pleased when they arrive! (Unless she reads this blog post, that is.)

I’ve heard some people planning to do big things, difficult things, even out-of-the-way things for their act of service. To remember, to commemorate Dr. King. Any act of service is wonderful! God honors all of this service.  And when God calls people to do acts of service that stretch them, or move them out of their comfort zone, that is a marvelous opportunity to change and to grow. Going above and beyond the usual day-to-day activities can definitely be God-honoring, too! But what about the small things? The behind-the-scenes things? The things that people don’t really notice? Faithful obedience to what needs to be done? I think there is a special place in God’s heart for this kind of faithfulness. These unsung acts of service are extra special, too. And I suspect these loved ones of God receive special hugs, too!

True, my baking cookies this evening is a little thing. But I baked them with love, and I know my daughter will really enjoy them when they arrive on her doorstep! As I packed the container and put them in a shipping box ready for the mail, I prayed for my daughter, for this coming year, for her to have a fruitful year at her job, and blessing in her personal relationships. I prayed for her good health, for safety at home, at work, and in all her activities, and most especially—for her to have fun!

Yes, I’m a loving, caring person. Yes, I act as a chaplain, or a professional caregiver. I can jump right into service to others. But I’m also a mom. I love my children! It is good for me to take the time to serve them, too. God bless my four children richly, and bless my daughter the birthday girl, in particular.

@chaplaineliza