The past few days have been really joyful-lots of fun and random things have happened. They may not seem very “blog worthy” to anyone else but if you are a foreign wife trying your best to become part of the community where you live then there is real joy to be found when you have experiences that actually make you feel like you are part of the community.
There was a very cheap (cheap for our area anyhow) deal at the local fitness center. I’ve blogged about it in the past-the gym/pool center-AKA senior citizen kindergarten.
I thought I could be motivated enough to work out at home with my treadmill and weights but, well, I’m not. So, anyway-I’m back at the gym 8 times a month (the elcheapo package) and thankful for it. The other days I am motivated enough to use my home equipment. It’s a good blend of gym and home routines.
I’m normally an active person but I notice a definite drop in my mental health when I slack off on physical exercise and I seem to need more than the average middle-aged woman. But, then again I’ve always been kind of athletic.
I can’t even begin to describe how great that 2,280 meter walk/run in the pool was after such a long absence. I discovered pool walking/running here and it is the BEST exercise I’ve ever done. Pool walking burns many more calories per hour than walking on land. Why? Because you have the resistance of water working against you constantly. The way I walk/run I make it an entire body exercise. Depending upon your form you can get a really good workout-the 2,280 meters takes me about an hour and forty-five minutes to complete-and believe me, I’m pushing it all the way. I don’t just float along. I definitely feel the workout in my arms, legs, shoulders, and core when I’m done!
I walked into the reception area and got such a warm “welcome back” from the reception gals! They seemed genuinely happy to see me. I hit the pool and some of my old (and I mean OLD-like 80+ years old) buddies waved enthusiastically when they recognized that it was me. That was fun-really. I felt like-hey, I belong here.
After my pool workout I was drip-drying a bit before heading off to the locker room and one of the fitness instructors that had just come on pool duty came running (actually running) over to say hi and welcome back and we missed you!
It was SUCH a wonderful positive experience that left me smiling to myself. Living in a foreign country can leave you feeling a bit isolated and lonely.
I have felt like that here on more than one occasion.
My first day back at the gym was positive and uplifting and so motivating.
I chatted with a few ladies in the locker room and that was such fun because we ladies need to do that and in the past, because of my foreignness, I’ve been excluded from doing that.
It was definitely a day of blessings. After my workout I stopped by the grocery store on my walk home to pick up a few veggies and such. As I stood examining a bag of carrots and elderly man walked up to me and said-“konnichiwa” (good afternoon). I was so surprised-people stare at me but usually no one ever talks to me. He was such a nice man, very smartly dressed, and honestly he seemed so genuinely friendly that I struck up a conversation with him…what surprised me was that I had no trouble in keeping up with the conversation.
He mentioned that it was the first time in his life- he has ever spoken with a “foreigner” and he was so happy he did! Funny. He also said it was so nice to know that I spoke Japanese…to which I replied..oh, no! My Japanese is terrible (I think it is) to which he replied…well..I understand you so isn’t that bad! I could see he was genuine-sometimes people here tell you your Japanese is “fantastic” when you KNOW it isn’t….but I could tell he was sincere.
I know it sounds like a corny story but it was important to me.
After just having come from the gym and had such a warm welcome and then having a lovely little chat with a cute old man…I was feeling like I had a virtual hug from God.
I got to the checkout stand and had yet another surprise.
First let me say that for reasons unknown to me, all the cashiers at many grocery stores in our area wear surgical masks. I have no idea if it is for their protection or to give the appearance that the store does not want to spread unnecessary germs? Really no idea but, all the cashiers wear uniforms with an apron a scarf on their heads and a surgical mask. Sometimes I can’t tell who is who.
So anyhow-I approach the checkout stand and the masked cashier’s eyes twinkle at me and she said “oh…hello”!…as if she knew me. I said hello but I must have looked a bit puzzled because she pulled down her mask for me. That’s when I saw it was one of the ladies that worked at another store we frequent. She had quit her job and was now at our neighborhood store.
My reaction was …AH! Konnichiwa! To which she loudly said YA, HA! As if we were old friends…
I was just tickled. The old cashiers were so grumpy. They repeated the same old spiel they were taught to say to customers..as if they were robots. They rarely ever interacted in any way other than “business”.
I actually enjoyed paying for my groceries today.
I wish I could gather all the people that I interacted with this day. I’d sit them all down and tell them how important that day was for me and what a difference their kindness made in my life.
Imagine-what a difference our small acts of kindness have on a strangers life……I’ll just leave you with that thought.