Friday, April 10, 2015

A Hug Tour Coming Near YOU!

My dad, an awesome hugger!
Hugs. I love them. Love to give them. Love to receive them.
Defined by Merriam-Webster’s (Yep, the dictionary still exists!), to hug is “to put your arms around someone especially as a way of showing love or friendship” and “to stay close to (something).”

That explains my love of the hug.
Prayer Warrior, LaDonna Burr,
giving me a "squish."

Who doesn’t want to express friendship and stay close to folks we care about? I have an awesome job where hugging is not only allowed, it is encouraged. I work at a church. Wednesdays are a midweek hug fest because the 10 AM Prayer Group is a wonderful group of huggers. They range in age from their mid-60’s to mid-90’s and when I ask if they “want a squish,” they respond with some warm hugs.  That human connection is so important.

I have said before that I believe social media (despite contrary claims) helps bring us closer to people. We can keep up with grandbabies, graduations, and weight loss. We see vacation photos and exchange words of encouragement or humor. We can even arrange to visit when we learn that a friend is headed our direction for business. But, nothing replaces the human connection and eye-to-eye contact. That is why I have developed what I call, “The Hug Tour.”
LeeAnn Capps--brief encounters
 of the hugging kind!

If I am going on a trip, I try to cram in as many physical meetings with people I care about, no matter how brief those encounters might be. I have run over to Reagan National Airport to hug a friend as she climbed out of an airport shuttle before scurrying in to catch a plane back to Alabama. I just ran into that same friend in the lobby of the Opryland Hotel in Nashville. I was checking in as LeeAnn Capps was checking out, but we shared some laughs, a few hugs and of course, a selfie (or two!). Now when we email, text or Facebook message, the connection seems deeper because we have SEEN each other.

Kathleen Tresser sharing hugs
 & lunch near the airport.
I appreciate the friends (like Kathleen Tresser) who will meet me for a quick lunch near the Sacramento Airport in California before I hurry off to see family in Redding. Or Trish Clarke, who volunteered to drive me back to Sacramento two days later, saying that the chat in the car made the more than 2-hour journey (each way!) worth the trip. That’s love! Trish is driving across country in her RV as I write and we will be hugging and chatting in early May! And then there’s Terri and Mario who always put me up for the night in Sacramento and drive me at the “butt crack of dawn” to the airport the next day as I fly back east again.

I have enjoyed recent Hug Tours in Alabama, Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Nashville, California and Washington. When I let folks know that I am on a Hug Tour, it sets the expectation that there is only time for a brief, but important visit. Expectation management is a big component of a happy life. Expectation management and hugs  The world is small and life is short and unpredictable, so let’s get to hugging!

But Wait, There’s More…

Guy Farris, a hug from the past!
Yesterday I got to see a high school friend, who I had not seen in years. Guy Farris had messaged me on Facebook that he would be in DC for a few days for business. This week, my life is crazy and it was a stretch, but I left work to hop the Metro and meet him for lunch (and a hug and a selfie!). I am so glad I did. I left our lunch, thinking that I need to spend more time with Guy. We had some fun times as teen-agers. He just reminded me of the time when with a couple of my girlfriends (who shall remain unnamed to protect their reputations), I thought it would be funny to embarrass “poor Guy.’ So when he walked out to my parents’ backyard where we were in the hot tub, we tossed our bathing suits out at him and said, “Hi, Guy!” We had assumed he would be embarrassed. Wrong. He calmly shut the hot tub bubbles off and we had to beg him to throw our suits back to us. What is that expression about never assuming?

Friends with long memories can keep us humble. Plus they give great hugs.