“THE JEWS”…and WHAT’S Really GOING ON WITH ANOTHER PERSON.
This week was super-duper busy. November, (pre-pandemic) used to be one of my busiest months. This week even exceeded my busiest pre-pandmic months. It amazes and pleases me that people are back to valuing themselves, experiences, and their health. I’m grateful to all of you who took a class or booked a session for keeping my schedule full and keeping me growing professionally and able to be of service.
Being a trainer means the people I meet often confide in me about their health. Meeting many people means many more stories come out. This past week, one such story came full circle. I lost an acquaintance who never became my client but did become a friend and it taught me an important lesson about judging others favorably.
Nazi, my neighbor, was 52; just two years older than me, so it hit me harder than expected to learn of her sudden passing. She was Persian, and a Mom of 3. She’s probably still on this email list. To be honest, I really didn’t like Nazi all that much when I first met her. She parked in my driveway, and sometimes also parked her car in the middle of the whole darned street. (We had a chat about that and fortunately she did change and find a proper parking spot). I didn’t understand how someone could be so rude and inconsiderate. She also talked to me about wanting to start training etc. but never actually booked a session.
One day, she recognized me in the locker room at Equinox. She told me she meant to start training with me, but in the meantime at Equinox signed up with one of my colleagues- and didn’t know I worked there too [I left in Aug]. Her trainer (a tall Black man who resembled a super-hero) I assured her, was a fabulous professional and she was in good hands. I wasn’t hurt and I was happy for her that if she found he was a good match to stick it out and she would get good results. We talked about other things- her love for her children etc and I started to feel compassion and warmth for her.
Many weeks later she confided that she was battling lung Cancer and her weight had gone up and down and she was feeling hopeless. I tried to assure her that I knew many people who had beaten different forms of Cancer and that we know exercise has an affect on the body even if we don’t always see a result on the scale and that there are many studies which show exercise during treatment -if done at a proper intensity even if its a low intensity can be beneficial both for mood and metabolically. In fact, an ultrasound technician explained to me once that when you exercise, your body makes extra capillaries in the legs and these extra pathways for blood can help sustain a person in the event of a cardiac event because it offers alternative pathways.. so she should be assured that good changes are happening even if the clothes fit the same. I offered to pray for her.
Moments later, one of my own clients approached me and made disparaging comments about how Nazi’s weight fluctuated. Meanwhile, this client wasn’t consistent in her own workout routine. Though her own weight may have been consistent, it wasn’t clear if that was due to healthy or unhealthy eating choices or whether her response to stress (which she also had her fair share of) was loss of appetite. I tried to explain that you don’t always know from the outside what’s going on with someone on the inside. There can be many reasons someone gains or loses weight aside from a lack of discipline.
What I didn’t know was that Nazi was battling cancer for 4 years already and the doctors had given her 1 year. This past week, Nazi passed away. I called her trainer to let him know the sad news and encourage him to attend the shiva or memorial. He was heartbroken and as incredulous as I that she was here one moment and she’s not here anymore and it just doesn’t seem real. He asked me, “Kayla, since you are Jewish, what do I wear or what should I expect at the memorial service”. Um, I explained that even though I’m an Orthodox Jew, I have actually never been to a Persian memorial service. In fact, this isn’t an Ashkenazi custom and although we’re both Jewish, this is a custom with which I’m unfamiliar but I would ask a few friends.
So during the week where sports stars and comedians were all saying things about what you are and aren’t allowed to say about “The Jews” (as if we’re all the same), I found out about a Jewish custom for the first time after living my whole life as a Jew. I learned that sometimes following a Persian memorial they serve a lavish dinner, whereas communal eating wasn’t allowed during the week I sat shiva for my Father…THAT different. Attending her memorial helped me find closure and gave me perspective about my own perceptions of right practice in Judaism. [I think her trainer and I were simultaneously the lightest and darkest skinned folks in the room too and despite my own insecurity about that, nobody seemed particularly bothered by it.]
Reflecting back, I had assumed years ago that Nazi was rude and self-centered by parking in my driveway or in the middle of the street. Now I wonder if she was just exhausted from Cancer or its treatment, and needed to park there but didn’t want to tell me all about her woes. I hope my client understands Nazi maybe wasn’t lacking self-discipline in her weight loss. Maybe she was also battling stresses and fears like of dying, or years of a slower metabolism from yoyo dieting? What if the client who was being so disparaging of Nazi really was projecting outside to someone else, her own self-criticism and insecurities?
This was sort of the theme of the week… assumptions and learning to be kind. One of my new clients trains in her own home. She apologized to me for what she saw as her messy home. She assumed my home was neater. In fact, I had two sink loads of dishes piled way higher than hers when I left to go train her. Another client complained about how difficult it was for her to follow left hand from right hand. Yet another looked pregnant and was not, and another did not look pregnant and was. One woman talked of how her sister recently divorced and as close as they were, she never knew the problems she was having. Another friend told of how she could live with a certain thing and someone else said they could not. One woman appeared to have it all- kids, wealth etc.. and she confided that her husband may not be as religiously committed as it appears.
Bottom line is – be kind. People are more than they appear. Many times they are doing inner battles we know nothing about. We all have insecurities. The creator didn’t make any of us perfect. If we saw the things truly someone else is dealing with, with the skills and flaws they have with which to cope with those things, we might not be able to do it any better. Do the things..the best things you know how, in the best way you can. Even if it seems like it may not be making a big difference on the outside, you may be still making micro changes inside which will ultimately be worthwhile. Its normal to judge- ourselves and others. ..and I’m trying to take this weeks’ experiences as a reminder to try and judge favorably.