I am a hugger. I come from a long line of huggers. We hug hello; we hug goodbye; we hug when we're happy; we hug when we're sad; we hug every chance we get. I am not a tree hugger, however.
I love trees; I just don't hug them.
I'm not sure you have come to understand this in your life, but there is definitely a correct way to hug. Please don't even get me started on side-huggers and back-patters. The correct way is to fully embrace belly to belly and hold as tight as you can. When Preston was a newborn while Hollie was living in Central America, Abbie and I went to visit to be a part of the blessed event and Abbie told me (as we were saying our goodbyes to leave) that I was hugging baby P so tight that she was turning red. I would not suggest this as an excellent way to hug a newborn, but what can I say? I was a grandmother saying goodbye and not knowing when I'd see her next. I have always, since the day they were born and until this day, hug my children and grandchildren unashamedly. We never had a moment when I felt I could not hug them in public when my kids were growing up. I just simply would hug them. I kept hugging them even if they were embarrassed. Ditto for my grandchildren. So what if they're embarrassed? Hugs ARE NOT a shameful thing!
When Hollie was little, a new line of dolls came out called Hugga Bunch. Do you remember those or am I telling my age again? Maybe you've at least heard of them. But Hollie got a Hugga Bunch doll for Christmas. There was really nothing special about these dolls that made them anymore lovable (or huggable) than any other doll; in fact, a few of them were a bit scary-looking! But they were made of the softest velour-like fabric so they were indeed huggable if for that alone. No sharp edges or hard plastic; just 100 percent lovable squishy-ness. And Hollie truly loved her Hugga Bunch. She loved her so much that she rubbed her little velour nose right off her face! I still have her today, and will include a picture of her if I can dig her out of the archives. I just cannot get rid of that babydoll she loved so much! I also still have Abbie's American Girl doll, but what can I say?
Some people think hugs are only just for those they love. Not true. I have hugged complete strangers when the circumstances called for it. I have hugged acquaintances, even those whom I might not have even especially liked but, if they seemed to need a hug, I gave it. Desperate times call for desperate hugs. A hug is the ultimate show of kindness. They say that touch is crucial for people, that babies need physical contact from Day 1 and may have emotional issues later in life if they do not get it. Why do you think they lay the naked baby on the mother's naked chest right after birth?! So my thinking is this: If I feel so inclined to hug someone, I do it. Who am I to say that a hug won't just be what gets them through the day. As a preschool teacher, hugs are huge part of my role. I hug those babies hello in the morning, if they cry or get a booboo, and hug them goodbye at the end of the day (if I can squeeze one in before they are whisked away; carline pickup can be a bit chaotic!).
But there are people out there who do not get their daily dose of hugs. Hugs are essential like the right amount of vitamins and minerals! Sometime it's children who are in a less-than-loving household, or elderly people who have outlived all their family and friends. There are a million other reasons why someone might not get the physical touch needed because they are isolated. This moment in our society is a time when that is probably especially true. Being quarantined is taking a toll on the hug quota! Even I have suffered. I get a lot of my hugs from my children and grandchildren (whom I've not seen in awhile), my preschool babies (whom I've not seen in a while), and my other family and friends (whom I've not seen in awhile). I tell my grandchildren that when I get to hug them again I am never gonna let them go. I'm sure they're dreading that moment! Thankfully I have my sister nearby, and we hug as much as we possibly can. Coronavirus or not, I don't want to die from a lack of physical touch either! You gotta pick your battles, people.
Hopefully you have a loved one with whom you're holed up right now and can hug on a daily basis. Don't you dare go through a whole day without hugging them. A hug can turn toleration into pleasurable cohabitation. A hug can turn a frown into a smile. A hug can make the difference between being blessed and being a blessing. When all this quarantine is behind us, why don't you plan to increase your hugging capabilities? Hug as much as you can, as often as you can. Because, really, it's a win-win for everybody. They benefit and you benefit and even those watching benefit. Watching someone give or get a hug inspires us to pay it forward in the hug department. I've heard many people say of a loved one who has passed, "I just wish I could hug their neck one more time!" Even I have said that about my own dear mother and father. Physical touch really is a basic human need, like water and food and shelter. Someone disagrees with me I'm sure, but that just proves they don't know nuthin.'
If you're not a hugger, commit to becoming one. It might annoy some people, they might even try to pull away, but don't you dare let them! They most certainly will get over it...
...and will even be a better person for it. Guaranteed.
I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.
- Ann Hood
How do you like your coffee? Black -- cream & sugar -- a hint of vanilla? Maybe you prefer hot tea with a splash of honey and lemon...or hot cocoa...or maybe a strong soda on ice that tingles a bit as it goes down. Whatever you have in your life that constitutes a simple joy, I hope that you're making it happen every day.
In this strangest of times that most of us have never lived through, we are finding new ways to stay connected, keep busy and active, and find joy in each new day. I know I've had to "readjust" my thinking on more levels than one because, even though I am a person who enjoys a significant amount of alone time, I consider myself a people person, and it's been really hard not to be around the ones I love, the ones who make me laugh, the local clerks at my favorite stores (well, mainly I miss the stores!), even the ones who challenge me, like my 2-year-old preschool class! I miss those babies so much! I've missed going to the places that give me constant inspiration and unparalleled support, like my church and meeting up with friends and family for a leisurely lunch or dinner at a local dining spot.
How are you trying to stay healthy?
It goes without saying that social media has become our constant daily companion in light of social distancing. It's comforting to me to be able to FaceTime with my grandchildren and, even though I can't hug them or touch them, it a-l-m-o-s-t feels like I'm there with them. I can see their beautiful faces, take in their expressions, watch them playing, and hear their insatiable laughter. How can you not feel better when you hear children laughing and playing? This simple act gives me hope for the days to come when we're able to be together again.
Going to the grocery store has become the "social event of the week!" It used to be that grocery shopping was something I simply had to endure if I wanted to eat. Now, it's more of a contemplative planning on when I want to go, where I want to go, what favorite foods are on my list, how many treats should I really buy, and how long I dare stay in the store. That mostly depends on the time of day because if I go during a busy time it's pretty much an in-and-out event...get what you gotta have...ring it up and pay...and get the heck out of dodge! Sometimes I hit it just right, enter a store that is practically empty, and take my time perusing the gardening products or even the anti-histamines -- it doesn't matter, it's just good to be able to take a moment, even if it's on the cleaning aisle. And it's become an ongoing challenge to find that elusive roll of toilet paper or container of antibacterial wipes. Who knew we'd face this conundrum?
Having a date with a good book has also taken on a new role in my life. Whereas I used to feel a bit guilty and indulgent when I read, always feeling like I should get up and do something more productive, now I take my time to linger over a good book and don't have one iota of guilt about it! Books take me away from the everyday humdrum...in a book I can go to some exotic place, visit another time period in history, or learn about a person who's had a very storied life. Ditto for magazines...I'm a self-professed magazine junkie. Not that I spend my precious hard-earned dollars on a lot of them, but the ones that provide me with a reading get-away and inspiration are always on my to-do list for the day. When I get a new magazine in my mailbox, I'm like a kid!
And I can't forget the simple pleasure of nature. Just getting to go outside in my yard every day, or taking an evening walk, or simply sitting in the sun with my face turned heavenward helps to broaden my day and extend it from "just getting through it" to "it's been a really good day." There have been myriad articles written on the benefits of fresh air and sunshine, how it helps with depression and anxiety and makes us feel more connected to the world around us. I think in many ways I've taken this for granted in the past, but now realize more than ever what a blessing it is to get outside and breathe the fresh (sometimes pollen-filled!) air. I am especially thankful that his quarantine has happened in the spring...I don't even want to think about being stuck in my house all winter long, if it had happened that way!
Some other simple pleasures I've allowed myself to indulge?
Oh, wait, hang on...
I had to go brush my hair and change out of my pajamas because one of my preschoolers wanted to FaceTime me. No time to brush my teeth so glad there's no smell on FaceTime!! The call was so precious...see what I mean? Unexpected little joys in the moment!
Back to the other simple pleasures...Binge watching a fave TV series...sending snail mail...music blasting through the house with impromptu dancing (the Spinners, anyone? Best dance music ever!). And did I say chocolate?!! Then there's my cup of java. Every morning when my feet hit the floor, I shuffle straight to the kitchen to brew my one perfect cup of coffee (only one a day for me!). Two small sugars, one huge dousing of half&half, thank you very much! Then I go back to bed and sit there savoring it...good way to start off any day.
I'm sure you, like me, have had to forgo some plans you'd made for this spring. I missed a trip to see my daughter in Houston, haven't gotten to see my grandchildren in months...don't know when I'll get my annual beach trip (or if I'll get my annual beach trip)... And I know you like me have had to do the same. My heart goes out to all those who have had to reschedule weddings, cancel graduation ceremonies and proms and lifetime milestone celebrations. I'm especially saddened by those who have lost loved ones during this time and can't even properly mourn them with a service.
But during this time of uncertainty we, as in most things in life, have a choice. We can move forward reflecting on all the positive coming out of this season -- like all the people stepping up to help their fellow humans -- or we can get stuck in the negative. I hope you, like me, will choose the former. Life is too short not to take every day and squeeze all the goodness out of it that we can. This is the perfect time to spend minutes if not hours reflecting on good things in your past and feeling grateful, and dreaming about the future when things are better. If you're reading this post, you're breathing, and that's enough to remind us of all the possibilities we have if we embrace the day and what it brings, even if it's just enjoying a perfect cup of coffee.
What are your simple pleasures?
Postscript: During the writing of this post, I did a grocery store run. I left the store with a large pack of GOOD toilet paper, unlike the last I bought that was about like using a brown paper towel. SCORE!!
Flowers are absolutely one of my simple pleasures! I don't have them all the time, but most of the time...and when some blooms start to fade, I reduce the large bouquet to a short cute bouquet (or several maybe:). I make them last as long as I possibly can!
Posted by CC
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