Call me super late to the party, but the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced me to and given me a newfound respect for the beautiful RuPaul. I jumped down a rabbit hole and binged his series, RuPaul's Drag Race. Just ask my family -- I couldn't be pulled away from it. These Queens are stunning and so talented; of that I was not surprised. What I was surprised by, however, was the transformation that occurred to the ladies that were lucky enough to survive Lip syncing for their Life. Through each season, RuPaul guided these drag queens to become aware of what they have to offer to the world. And to themselves. In turn, they began helping each other. And not one, not ONE, I tell you, Queen had anything bad to say when they were eliminated. Because they were shown kindness.
Kindness. What a simple, yet profound word. Second only to love, kindness is something most of us were lucky enough to learn from our parents as children. By being taught to treat others as I wanted to be treated, I think I realized I liked to be treated nicely. It felt good! So, especially as a child, I focused on happiness and kindness.
Fast forward to adulthood, or even as early as age 14, when parents everywhere will agree that everything seems to be unjust, I've found kindness maybe isn't my number one directive. As a matter of fact, my awareness, I'm sure like many of yours, transitioned to what is JUST. What is fair? And somewhere in the mix, being kind didn't always happen. You all know it's true. And has, especially in the past several years, become more apparent. Our nation has become angry and mean, y'all. Kindness has been dismissed; however, as life as we know it came to a skidding stop, it almost seems that kindness is peaking its pretty little head out of the trenches and starting to make a comeback.
I've seen it in my neighborhood, with sweet Anna putting her croquet set out, after spraying it down with Lysol, so my girls could have some good, old fashioned fun in the sun. I read about it in Worcester, UK in March, 2020 after 5,800 people stood outside, in the rain to see if one could possibly be matched as a stem cell donor to a 5-year-old Oscar. You've seen it as nurses from all over the country flock to NYC and care for patients in our Nation's epicenter of COVID-19. You've seen parades of teachers, family, and friends pour out to form birthday, baby shower, or just plain "we miss you" parades. And after viewing these, and countless other exercises in kindness, you've no doubt found a smile on your face, a tear in your eye, or a little more warmth in your heart.
You see, it's not terribly hard, this thing called kindness. As Amit Sood reminds us in his book, Immerse: A 52 week Course in Resilient Living, "...kindness needs practice. Just as a tree doesn't straighten his roots the night of the storm, you can't develop kindness overnight; you'll have to practice it in the littlest experiences - to the moth visiting your home, to the telemarketer who trespasses into your peace, and the airline agent who botches your flight booking. With practice, you'll become instinctively kind; kindness will become effortlessness and will require no active thought." So, remember to wave to your neighbor, smile at a stranger, put up the shopping cart at the grocery store (while wearing your mask to protect your fellow shoppers), really listen to the friend who needs a willing ear, and see how it makes a difference in your own life. You need to be kind to yourself as well, because as my new friend RuPaul reminds us every week, "if you can't love yourself (or be kind to yourself), how in the heck are you gonna love somebody else?" Yes, Queen. Can I get an amen?
This week's blog writer Nicki Hopkins Sherman is a lifelong resident of Shawnee. Upon completing short stents in Ft. Worth and Norman, Nicki returned to Shawnee to raise her children. A Shawnee High School graduate, Nicki attended TCU, OBU, and OU to obtain her Bachelors of Music and Master's of Music degrees in Piano Performance. Once she realized her daddy was once again right and decided she couldn't make a living playing in piano bars, Nicki decided to become a nurse. After obtaining her BSN and working primarily as a Labor/Delivery and Hospice RN, Nicki returned to higher education, receiving her MSN from Vanderbilt University. She is raising her four daughters, Emma, Harper, Abby, and Maggie with her husband, Chris. Nicki has worked at SSM Health as a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner for the past 10 years. While not working, Nicki enjoys traveling with her family, skiing, reading, playing epic Nerts games, and volunteering on and off stage at Shawnee Little Theatre.