It’s no secret to many of you that I spent my senior year in college in a convent. I lived with six members of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Northwestern Pennsylvania, and I entered the convent with the intention of becoming a nun. (Some folks assume I just couldn't find an apartment..)
Sister Nancy was the most opposing of the six sisters - with her tight curly perm, ferocity for Notre Dame football, and a deep commanding voice that could bring a room to attention in seconds. In fact, she seldom needed to speak to command attention.
She scared the ever loving snot out of me.
But underneath the tough exterior, Sister Nancy was quite kind and compassionate. She worked in education and in leadership within the community and was well-respected and well loved by her students and fellow nuns.
She was a blend of toughness and kindness - and while I mostly feared her for the toughness, I also knew she was compassionate and caring (even if the outer-layer seemed thicker. Much thicker…)
Sister Nancy came to mind a few weeks ago when a client came in and mentioned that her previous few weeks of summer had been filled with too many parties and too little exercise.
“I know you preach kindness,” she said. “But I really need to get my butt in gear.”
I preach kindness to combat the self-judgment so many clients are already placing on themselves. As one nutrition coach recently put it, most of us already have our own drill sergeant playing in our head - as a coach, I’m not interested in adding to the punishment.
But as I’ve said before, kindness is not separate from accountability. Kindness is not apathy. Compassion does not mean listlessness. It doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard or that you throw in the towel because you fell away from your nutrition plan for a few weeks in the summer.
That's not compassion and that's not self care. But it's also not focusing on what's in front of you. Which is opportunity.
Kindness and compassion can look a lot like Sister Nancy. A little toughness on the exterior - but a lot of patience and kindness on the inside.
Make a plan. Move forward. Find someone to help keep you accountable to your goals and that plan. But don’t judge it.
This is the time of year when many of us start thinking about the reset button. August is winding down, kids are going back to school, and we start thinking about our plans for the fall. It’s good to start thinking about what you need, where you want to be, and how you want to get there. We’ve got some good stuff planned for September to help you with all of those pieces.
And if you need a Sister Nancy to get you fired up, I could probably give you a little of the tough Sister Nancy.