Saturday, June 5, 2010

Just Wondering

My mind sometimes gets on a tangent of wonder. Many of the things I wonder about aren't exciting or potentially life changing, but they do amuse me. Here's some things I'm wondering about today.

  • I wonder why people wear sunglasses on cloudy days or indoors
  • I wonder why parents scream at their children to stop screaming
  • I wonder why drivers yell obscenities at other drivers for committing a rude act while driving
  • I wonder why people order whipped cream on their Skinny Lattes
  • I wonder why people order a diet soda with their Whopper and Fries (super sized)
  • I wonder why people complain about being stiff, yet never stretch
  • I wonder why people say they are good Christians and are following the teachings of Jesus, yet judge other people
  • I wonder why people complain about having wrinkles, but don't wear sunscreen
  • I wonder why people smoke, yet complain about being out of breath or coughing all the time
  • I wonder why people complain about the high cost of food and still buy empty calorie snacks
  • I wonder why people claim to be exercise fanatics but will drive around a parking lot repeatedly waiting for a closer parking space to open up
  • I wonder why people cheat on their calorie counting
  • I wonder why people share their email addresses, but never check if they have messages
  • I wonder why people say yes when they mean no and then complain about doing what they said yes to
  • I wonder why people complain about being depressed and continue to focus on things that are depressing
  • I wonder why people lament that they have no friends, yet never make a move to be friendly to someone else
  • I wonder why people complain about rude or mean things people may say to or about them, yet continually say similar or worse things in their own mind
  • I wonder why people complain about other people (loved ones, co-workers etc.) behind their backs, but don't tell them directly what it is they expect, or how they feel
  • I wonder why people stay in relationships, jobs or habits that are not at all fulfilling and make no efforts to improve their situation
  • I wonder why some people call themselves fearless leaders, but are afraid to tell the truth
  • I wonder why people demand respect, yet don't show respect to others or even themselves
  • I wonder why people avoid eye contact with another while they long for connection
Yes, I know these may be some of the great mysteries of life, yet I will attempt to answer them, since wondering for me always takes me somewhere else. Stay tuned for the next post. I invite your responses in the interim.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Hug Connection

I have always been a hugger...friends, clients, seat mates on long flights...doesn't matter. It's easy for me. In fact, sometimes I have to stop and remember that not everyone is comfortable being hugged. I realize personal space issues may preclude some from opening their arms to another, and I respect that, although I believe everyone is longing for connection, rather than separateness.

My hug value was recently stimulated when I saw a You-tube video of a young man holding a sign that read "Free Hugs" while strolling a busy thoroughfare. At first, he was ignored, but eventually the hug fest began and grew quickly. If I was on that street, I would have surely accepted his offer. I loved watching the easy connection these apparent strangers made with the hugger when they let down their guard and allowed themselves to be hugged.

After enjoying and watching it several times, this hug video stimulated an idea for a fundraiser for my Relay for Life team that raises money for the American Cancer Society. There were quite a few tourists in town this holiday week-end, so sidewalk pedestrians were in high number. We set up on the sidewalk on Main Street with a sign that advertised Hugs for a Cure and a bucket to accept donations. It turned out to be an even more inspiring time than I had anticipated, and not just because we collected a nice sum of money for our cause. What I did not expect was how uplifting it would be to hug so many people. I noticed my joy soared with every hug I gave.

Some of the huggees were friends, but most were total strangers. As I offered hugs, many a passerby did not even look my way. Others, glanced in my direction and said "No, thank you". When someone responded to my offer with "Sure, I'd love a hug", my heart sang. What I soon realized was that it was the shift from anonymity to connection that touched my heart. Part of the joy for me was to know that many people are willing to reach out, be touched and to touch another....without knowing each other's life stories, let alone approving of one another. It was a great example of unconditional connection.

The more I greeted pedestrians, the more I enjoyed the experience. Those stepping up to be hugged were from all age groups. Some were fellow cancer survivors like the woman that is now in remission after Stage 4 ovarian cancer. We held on to each other for an extra long time.

One woman shared she was on vacation alone and now she didn't feel alone. She came back for a second hug a bit later.

One woman wept on my shoulder as she told me how much she missed her mother who passed away a few months ago.

Another was an elderly man that dropped twenty dollars in our bucket, holding back tears as he shared his daughter's cancer story.

Several of our huggee donors were wee little ones that would drop a dollar in the bucket and then oh so sweetly wrap their little arms around my neck as I stooped down to their height. One little girl (that I will never forget), joyfully leaped into my arms and hung on. She apparently had no personal space issues.

At one point, a group of a dozen Harley motorcyclists were waiting for the traffic light to change so I called them to stop for a hug. One fellow while on his bike, put out his arms to mimic a hug, so I ran out to the street and filled the space he offered.

Another young man that I pre-judged to not be a likely hug candidate due to his multiple piercings, tattoos and hard edge style of dress accepted my hug offer without hesitation. Sweet.

During both days of my hug shifts, I was exhilarated. It became easier and easier to offer a hug and remember not to take it personally, if I was turned down. Missing out on some hugs did not detract from those that occurred. Those that chose to engage with me, hopefully walked away feeling the same joy of connection that I did.

So if you ever see me on the street, in the airport, conference room, theater lobby, grocery store or anywhere else, feel free to open your arms and offer a hug....I will surely accept.