Kindness is Cool

Two Words About Friendship
While working on my post about volunteering, I asked my friends and family via social media to tell me about their favorite ways to volunteer. I received many welcome replies including one from my cousin Lorena, who is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people I know. She wrote:

It is so much easier to be charitable with people that we do not know. It is much more difficult and much more important, in my opinion, to be charitable with the people that we do know, the ones with whom we have the most contact and on whom we have the greatest impact. It isn’t volunteering per se, but perhaps a name should be given to it and a logo, right?

She makes a great point. Volunteering is easy because it’s an organized activity, usually with a clear beginning and ending. On the other hand, being nice to our friends, family and neighbors isn’t so clear cut. There is no end to being nice to your neighbors, listening to your friends, or remembering to call your relatives.

Because I really love volunteering, I strongly encourage you to try it. Contributing to your community is incredibly rewarding. But remember to look at the people right in front of you, too. The way you treat the people closest to you will shape their lives, so act with love.

 

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I’m Stronger Than I Thought I Was

surya namaskar

Last month, I did 108 Sun Salutations, and for the next 48 hours, I couldn’t shut up about it. I kept mentioning it off-hand, hoping people would be impressed. It was a big deal to me because I’d been afraid I couldn’t do it. I’d simply never done all 108 together before, so I wondered if I would be strong enough. Luckily for me, it was a cool spring day, overcast and breezy, which made the challenge a little easier.

The whole practice was divided into four sections of 27 lead by alternating teachers with a short break for water after each set. The second set was my turn to lead the group. Oh yeah, did I mention I volunteered to help lead this thing I’d never actually done before? As one of the volunteer yoga teachers for a local nonprifit, I was asked to help with this fundraiser by leading the participants through 27 rounds, which meant I needed to do the practice and direct everyone else through it at the same time. This might not be the wisest decision I’ve ever made. My biggest fear was that I would not only fail to do all 108 rounds but I wouldn’t even make it through the 27 I was supposed to lead.

The first part of the practice went great. The teacher who started us off picked a nice pace and a simple, easy-to-follow version of the sequence. When my turn came, I was predictably nervous, but I decided to just go slow, follow my breath, and count on the practice itself to pull me through. Once I got started, there was no room in my head for counting how many rounds we’d done, much less for worrying. I was simply too busy doing the work, and before I knew it, my turn was almost up. When Kiersten announced that we had only five rounds left in my set, I surprised even myself by cheering a little too loudly. “I didn’t think I could do this!” I blurted out, in what might have been the most awkward admission by a yoga teacher ever.

In the end, doing 108 sun salutations was a challenge, but it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Rather, it was something I’d told myself I couldn’t do for a long time, and I got to prove myself wrong. I’m not a highly competitive person when it comes to my fitness. I don’t do power yoga or hot yoga, I don’t lift weights, and I don’t run without a damn good reason, but over years of slow, gentle, patient practice, I’ve become stronger than I thought I was. I’m glad I challenged myself to find out.

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