Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Secret Life of Hugs - A Valentine's Day Contemplation


In the discussion of tactile greetings in our culture, it would remiss not to start with the most common - the handshake.  As social animals, these are chock full of information.  We may only make vague note of our first impressions and judgments based on a handshake, but they are there.

For example, we’ve all received the “dead fish” – the one where it just feels like a limp appendage comes to rest briefly in your palm.  Or how about what I have dubbed “The Lobster Claw?”  A lunging reach, culminating in a mildly painful pincer grasp.  What do you perceive about each of these people?  Is it different if it’s a man or woman delivering it?

 I should confess here that I often view handshakes as an awkward, antiquated greeting – and one of the best ways to spread illness.  So, it’s pretty tough to win with me on that front.  In my experience, less than half of the time do people land what I would consider the perfect hand to hand contact.  Let’s call it “The Classic.”  It is marked by a warm, unrushed, confident touch, coupled with simultaneous eye contact and a few kind words. 

Hugs are a completely different story.   Good, solid ones may well be the antidote for our touch deprived culture.  They seem to be regaining popularity, even in a casual business setting.  At least, it seemed like I received more of them at events this holiday season.  I tell myself that is because I’m getting more huggable with age.  Or more likely, with age, there is less risk of it being received as flirty.  Boooo.

Regardless, it set me to wondering.  Is there a cultural shift happening?  I really hope so.  While still giving rise to a silent opinion, they are virtually impossible to screw up because at any given time we all secretly could use a hug.

I decided a very informal text poll of some contacts was in order.  It turns out, the responses were surprisingly specific and heartfelt.  Here are some direct answers, though some partial, to “Tell me an observation you’ve made about hugs.”

 “Bigger people equal bigger, warmer hugs.”  VS

“If they give a quick one, it is just out of obligation.  If they hold on and squeeze for a bit, that tells me they are sincere.  This is true whether from a man or woman.”  -Pat R

Sarah states: “I’d just like to take boobs out of the hugging equation.”  I don’t care how they are perceived.  I just don’t want to be pushing my boobs onto people.”                                                           (it should be noted here that Sarah has magnificent boobs)

“Hugs with backpacks are awkward because you can’t get your arms all the way around.”  -VS

Beth says, “It’s the only way left to physically show affection to my kids.  Can’t kiss them anymore, but hugs are great!”

“A good hug feels like letting the air out of an overinflated tire – a stress reliever.”  -Jim

“Usually I notice what kind of clothes they’re wearing because I am short, so my face is on their chest.  Also, I’ll notice what they smell like and how warm they are and if they hug you tightly.”  - JP

“The verdict is still out on whether or not they are better than drugs.” –KK

 What’s it all mean?   I can’t answer for everyone.  But as my New Year’s Resolution, I plan to hug to the verge of being against social convention.  In that moment of hesitation, I hope you decide to embrace with abandon.  Turns out it’s what we are all craving…and it’s FREE!










Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Rock What You've Got - Recalibrating Feminism


The online dictionary defines feminism as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of woman as equal to those of men.”  I feel monumentally lucky to live in a time and country where, in a legal sense, this is true.  Things we and our daughters take for granted today, were once unheard of.

But now that all of this is in place, what are we doing with it?  On an interpersonal level, are you supporting the truths that those before us suffered to establish?  Just because we have all of the choices available, are we keeping ourselves from making them freely?

We all do it - call ourselves evolved, and then harbor a confused resentment toward those who go against our personal tenets.  If we are to truly support a group, we must allow for ALL choices, with only ONE judgment – that they are socially responsible, non-abusive and allow for the completely natural variations in human beings.

In the animal kingdom, we see plenty of it.  Some species mate for life, while others mate with multitudes every day.  Often, the females are the early nurturers.  But sometimes, it is the male who sits on the egg, or keeps the babies warm while Mom hunts.

So, if we are to support feminism, the same logic applies.  These completely natural, inborn differences are not to be tolerated, nor celebrated.  Just observe and accept them from your own place of comfort for how you live.  A true supporter of women’s rights would not take issue with a little girl who is dying to dress up as a princess for Halloween, or who dreams of growing up to be a mother.   More importantly, look at how she prepares for it.  It’s like the old saying – “Whatever you are, be a good one”

Have the Courage of Your Convictions

On the other end of the spectrum, much of the feminist rhetoric revolves around the traditional business world.  My husband had a booth for his business at a trade show recently.  We spent four days rubbing elbows with brush manufacturers from around the globe.  Scintillating for him, and my younger daughter and I got some serious people watching done.  I observed at least three women speaking, almost apologetically, about leaving their children at home.  Guess how many men were talking about that?   I kept thinking, “you can only be where you are.  You’ve chosen to be here, so why not just BE here?”  The way I see it, the power for women in these realms is one of refusal to spend time on emotional waste.  If you can separate yourself where appropriate (dare I say, the way many men do) from the weight of conjecture of others’ thoughts, feelings and motivations, you will transcend those that see you as a “girl” rather than colleague.  

Let me add….

In doing so, you must not deny your femininity.  Breasts and hips are not a handicap.  They are a strong, integral part of your identity.  If you have doubts, try asking any woman who’s had a mastectomy.

What Are We Modeling?

The above mentioned daughter was the impetus for this blogspot.  She is extremely interested in the disparity of social convention and the unique talents that may be wasted by following them.  At the tender age of 17, she has inspired me to explore my own judgments of women and their choices.  If your drives lean toward the stereotypically female, then the rejection of them would also be misogynistic, no?  And yes, I believe women can be very misogynistic. 

I am not encouraging you to be a cheerleader (or linebacker) for women’s issues. Just take silent note of those who choose differently.  It is my contention that most of the distaste we have for the “other side” comes from our own lament of the path we did not take.   Voltaire said, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing.  It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

And every time I see one of those “Live, Love, Laugh” signs I want to amend it to something like this:

“Live Unapologetically, Love Fearlessly, Laugh Louder than anyone else in the room.” … Admittedly not as aesthetically pleasing.

As always, I welcome your comments posted to the site, or privately at