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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Caring for Myself—As Well As Others (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, March 7, 2016

This blog post from two years ago is a post about self-care. That is so important for people in caring work. (That was one of the most important lessons I ever learned when I attended seminary. Self-care!) Since we are now in the middle of Lent—one of the hectic times of the year for pastors—I thought this post was a good reminder for all of us. Take time for myself. Well worth the time.

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 in the barnyard, 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

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a Lenten journey. #PursuePEACE. Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)


 

Being Kind to Myself—Through Yoga

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, December 11, 2014

yoga tree pose

Being Kind to Myself—Through Yoga

It has been a busy week. Rushing to and fro, getting ready, hustle bustle. I almost talked myself into skipping yoga today. Am I glad I didn’t!

My yoga instructor Ine is marvelous. She has been doing yoga for more than thirty years. And does she know how to instruct! She tells people that they should try their best, but not to get upset if your particular body doesn’t want to or isn’t able to do some of the yoga positions. And not to worry about it! Even if I am not able to do several yoga poses and positions this week, I am encouraged to continue to try. To strive to improve, but to know my body. And, not to cross the point of pain, of hurting when I stretch and move.

Ine’s wise words are applicable in so many areas in my life! If I need to improve in healthy eating, or in regular prayer and meditation, or in practicing patience, or any one of a dozen other areas . . . I can apply Ine’s simple yet effective idea.

I was talking with a newcomer to yoga today, after class. He’s fit and healthy, but had never done yoga before this month. I believe today was his third class, and he likes it very much. He mentioned to me that an hour and a half of hatha yoga makes him as worn out as a strenuous hour and a half bike ride. We both laughed at that.

But, isn’t that the way? I need to stretch and bend and do poses regularly. And as I do these poses and work on my core strength, cardio-vascular training and flexibility, it’s one of the kindest things I can possibly do for myself. Good health, better circulation, stronger core, easier mobility. What’s not to like about that?

Plus, if I look at things from a more Godly, spiritual perspective, it pleases God when I keep my body fit, in good health. Again, what is there not to like? And, God, thanks especially for Ine, a caring, loving instructor who is interested in every single person, no matter how “good” or “bad” they are at yoga.

@chaplaineliza

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

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, September 9, 2014

best things in life aren't things

In Which I Am Kind to Myself, through a Massage!

I splurged. I really did. Since last month was my husband’s and my wedding anniversary, I took the opportunity to buy a half hour massage at the YMCA here in town. And, today was the day I enjoyed a half hour of pampering. Self-care. Being kind—to myself!

Most times, I do prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, and yoga to try to relax. Ease my stress levels. Calm my breathing and minimize my worry. But every few months, I go out of my way to try to fit in a massage.

In case anyone reading this has never experienced a massage, they are wonderful. Marvelous. Truly a splurge-worthy experience. Of course, I go to an awesome masseuse, when I can scrape together the money. Dori is absolutely fantastic. I told her, as she was working on my forearms and hands at the end of the half hour, that I thought I died and went to heaven. (And I was more than half serious.) And, I sincerely thanked her for the wonderful job she did on me—and my lower back, too.

Of course, there are other ways to be kind to myself. Slowing down, having coffee with a friend, going to the Botanic Garden, or reading a fiction book (my current favorite books are a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920’s). There are other ways to practice self-care, too. Regular exercise. Going on walks in nature. Practicing giving or encouragement. Listening to quiet music. Prayer. Meditation. Silencing my spirit and mind. And, countless other ways, besides. Self-care—caring for one’s physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual parts of the whole person, however that may happen best.

Listed above are all ways that appeal to me. I know they won’t appeal to everyone. (And for some, the thought of a few of these ways are probably like fingernails screeching across a chalk board.) I also give God a big praise for making each of us different from all the others—over the world, as well as over time. King David in Psalm 139 refers to each of us being fearfully and wonderfully made by God’s hands. No cookie cutter creation for us, no sir!

What about you? What kind of self-care particularly appeals to you, right now? Or, are you shy of making room or making time for self-care? Does caring for yourself sound selfish and thoughtless? If you are not clearing your calendar or your life for taking care of yourself, you are missing out! (And believe me when I say I am preaching this to me even more than preaching it to you.)

God, thanks for the awesome focus on self-care. Help me to not only practice this good gift from you, but to pass it on. Help others learn the importance of being Selfish—towards God, and towards each person. Individually. I’m no cookie cutter creation, and neither are you!

@chaplaineliza

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

Telling My Story, Being Helpful

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, June 2, 2014

picking up nobodies

Telling My Story, Being Helpful

I don’t know about you, but I have difficulty connecting with people when they try to lecture me. (Well, not always, but usually. There are exceptions. Rare, but true.) If someone tries to deliver dry, dull facts and figures without something to catch my interest, good luck trying to keep my attention.

But this wasn’t the case this afternoon. I went to the YMCA, to my yoga and gentle stretching class. Excellent class, as always! I found my heart rate slowing down, my breathing evening out. Everything about my respiration and operation of my cardio system became much more even. Wonderful, how that happens. And these positive, physical qualities happen whenever I go to yoga now, indeed!

True, I had a number of things to do today. Plus, I brought my daughter to the store to get some containers. (She’s discovered she loves tea. So, she now has more than a dozen different kinds of tea. Thus—the containers.) I was almost late for yoga class! I did get in to the YMCA just a few minutes before class began. So, whew!

I honestly tried to focus on the various poses we had set for us. (Mostly the same, from week to week.) Because of the excellent teaching and facilitation of the class, I always am able to enter into this class. I become fully present for the stretching, yoga poses, and final relaxation—and it’s wonderful. But it was afterwards that I think I was helpful.

In the locker room, I changed out of my exercise clothes and put on the street clothes I had in my locker. I overheard the conversation between my teacher and one of the other students, on the other side of the bank of lockers. I laughed and made a second comment to my teacher, who was standing at the end of the lockers—visible to both my classmate and to me. The other woman piped up, “Who is that over there?” in a friendly kind of way. I came around and we greeted each other. The woman asked, “What was that you said?”

I told her that I had been going to yoga class since the beginning of December. And, my back has had so much less pain recently! I swear by yoga, and by the marvelous combination of yoga poses and stretching my wonderful teacher uses. The woman nodded, quite serious, listening intently. I told her a little bit of my story! Not about the scary, or the sad. But about the pertinent part. About how much of a difference yoga has made in my life, even though I have just been going to this class for only six months.

Telling my story? It makes a big difference! People sit up and listen! But if I lecture and inform with dry statistics and facts, I won’t have much of an audience at all. I’m glad I could give this woman a hopeful, encouraging outlook on yoga.

God, thanks for giving me the push to get into yoga. It sure helps me, both physically and mentally. And I had a great story to tell today, too. Always a good thing.

@chaplaineliza

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

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

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

 

Showing Love? Self-Care, Of Course!

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

winter_glow_-_etsy

Showing Love? Self-Care, Of Course!

The last few days have been tough. Really challenging for me, in several ways, including what I suspect is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Makes me hardly feel like slogging through the day, right now. In addition, what do I think of the continuing wintry weather today and the snow coming down almost all day? It’s the cherry on top of an ice cream (or, if you prefer, an icy) confection. Or perhaps, the icing on top of an ice cream cake, with extra snowy sprinkles.

I met with my marvelous therapist this afternoon. (And yes, our conversation was private and personal, and I’m not sharing it with anyone in a public forum like this. Sorry about that.) What I would like to focus on is the self-care aspect of seeing my therapist. As soon as I walk into his home office, I feel myself begin to unwind and become less tense. Today was no different. Today, he and I together dug up some interesting and potentially valuable insights into my life and experience.  And yes, I felt cared for at the end of my session, both by my therapist as well as by me. Self-care.

I started thinking about possible verses in the Bible that might refer to self-care. Lo and behold, I found several! One that really hit home today was Matthew 11:28, where Jesus says “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Check, and check. I do feel weary and burdened. And, I also feel like hibernating and not coming out until spring. When I feel this way, acts of service to others are not the first thing that leaps to the forefront of my mind. Gosh, it’s a good thing I have that invitation from God to come into God’s presence every day.

But my day of self-care wasn’t over. After the session with my therapist, I went to the YMCA. For the past two months, I have started to go to a gentle yoga and stretching class. (That’s what it’s called—Gentle Yoga and Stretching. Not quite euphonious, but certainly descriptive.)  A major difficulty was the weather. Because of the blowing snow and the snarled traffic on the streets, not too many people came to the yoga class. But I was there! And, so was the teacher, and a handful of other students. The simple and straight-forward yoga poses we were urged to try made me feel alive and invigorated. And the teacher’s calm, soothing voice made me feel welcome and comfortable.

As I finished changing in the locker room and left the Y, I was much more centered and content. And just imagine, I am invited to access that same contentment and peace that I felt at the end of yoga. I can feel the same welcome that I did just be coming into the home office of my therapist. Self-care! And You’ll help me with that, too, God.

Dear God, thanks for the reminder that I need to slow down each day, and perhaps even stop outright. And try a little self-care, too.

@chaplaineliza