I went for a run on my lunch break. Not even ten minutes in it started to snow!
I wasn’t expecting the storm to come in yet so I wasn’t prepared with my hat or gloves. I pulled my hood over my head, made fists to keep my fingers warm, and kept running.
“Oh well”, I thought. “I won’t go very far. I just want to get some movement in today.”
As I was running uphill, snow sticking to my sweatshirt, and beginning to feel a little miserable, I looked over to my right and there was a woman, younger and stronger than me, easily running (not jogging like me) up the hill.
I thought, “Good for her!”
Head down, I kept jogging. I focused on each step all the way up the hill in my slow run.
Down the other side and onto the main street there she was again, running toward me. It seemed we were on the same run route.
With the snowstorm growing in strength, visibility not awesome, she smiled and cheered me on as we passed each other.
I felt her camaraderie as two runners in the storm on the same path. It didn’t matter that I was older and slower. She saw me. I saw her. We cheered each other on.
Then I noticed something. Her smile and encouragement gave me energy! Even though it was snowing I felt the sun come out.
I felt connected to her in that moment of camaraderie and my run wasn’t as miserable! I continued to my turn-around point and headed back.
On the last stretch back to the office I saw her again. She was recovering in the parking lot.
We made eye contact and she smiled, raised her hand to me, and shouted that I was awesome. I responded with my respect and admiration for her form and speed.
We both smiled and waved as I kept running.
In that afternoon run, I made a friend. We don’t know each other’s names. We passed each other three times. But our ability to connect through a smile and encouragement was profound for me.
She started it though. She offered encouragement to me. I accepted and responded with a smile and a wave. It was an exchange. It was an act of kindness - a gift to me. And I hope for her when I reciprocated.
I share this story because I’m reminded of how we are built for connection with other people. It is profound and healing. I felt it that afternoon.
Now I look for opportunities to connect with people. I look for the opening to smile with someone even if I don’t know them. At that moment it may change the course of the day for that person.
It did for me on that snowy afternoon.
Wishing you lots of random gifts of kindness!
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