How About A Hug? Part 3: Give your arms a Rest.

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When I decided that I would spend an evening hugging persons blindfolded, I had no idea what my level of energy and stamina would be. I had a hunch that I would feel completely invigorated physically, because of the excitement within me around the project. And, to some degree, I was correct in that.

However, there were periods of time that I was holding my arms up for awhile, and they would get tired. I would lower them for a few seconds, stretching them out, and then put them up again.

But, something really interesting happened along the way, and it happened a couple of times before I realized it. Even when my arms would get tired, as soon as a person would come up to me for a hug, and I would wrap my arms around them tightly, after they would walk away, my arms would not be tired anymore. If anything, they felt well rested and light.

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Now, some of that relief was bound to happen, because in one sense, I was putting my arms down, and resting them on another person. Yet, my muscles within my arms were tense and strong when I would hug the person, and the rest would literally only be for a few seconds. So, I feel sure that the energized feeling my arms would experience were directly related to the experience itself, my own opening of my heart.

At one point, I had a person come by, who told me as she hugged me that she had hugged me earlier, and came by for a second one. Then, she went on to tell me, that her purpose was to help me to relax.

She told me after giving me a second, beautiful hug, to give my arms a rest. Her voice was gentle, kind and compassionate. And, her words went right to my heart. Right to the core of me, and was yet another confirmation of why this project felt so fulfilling to me.

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To be offering a gift to the world around me, with little anticipation of what would happen, and little ability to see what would happen, was opening my heart plenty. But, to then receive from a person, in such a genuine way, was to understand that my offering was how I was to deeply receive.

My life is so full of magic, wonder and peace. And, that continues to expand every day. Yet, to be in that small chunk of time, and encounter so many miracles of humanity, has exponentially increased my awareness and deep appreciation for the humans in the world around me. Even when we are so bombarded with how messed up this world is, there is kindness and love at every turn.

What a miracle.

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How About a Hug? Part 2- Hugs for Everyone.

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Hugs for Everyone. That was part of my thinking when I embarked on this project, which was just the beginning of continuing it into the future. Everyone should be hugged. We all crave human contact, human compassion in the form of a wraparound, and a tight squeeze. Or a gentle embrace. We all need that in order to feel fully human, loved and alive.

And, even if I had not had on a blindfold, the hugs would have been there for everyone, everyone that felt ready and willing to approach me and stand there, waiting. It gives me pause when I think about it.

You see, I have judgments most every day, about one thing, or one person or another in my life. Someone is driving too fast on the highway. A coworker doesn’t seem particularly chatty or interested in me. My daughter is tired and overwhelmed and seems aggravated with me. Judgment knows no bounds when I feel like my needs are not getting met. I don’t live in judgment all the time, but it most often comes out when I feel scared, or alone.

Standing on a city street, with no sight, and hugging people, sight unseen, was one way to remove my ability to judge, because I couldn’t see anything. I had to just trust that all would be well. And, more importantly, I had to remain with my heart wide open, to receive every nugget that came my way.

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Being judgmental serves me less and less in my life. And, opening my heart serves me more and more. And, this experience was a beautiful beginning to commit to letting go of judgment, and embracing love of others. Let go of wanting something in return, and open to receiving bigger than I have in my life, by wanting nothing in return.

What a rush.

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How About a Hug? Part I

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Last night, I did something, probably one of the craziest things that I have ever done, and the most profound. Last night, I stood on the sidewalk in downtown Scranton, during our First Friday event, and I was blindfolded. I held my arms open wide, and had a sign up:

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And, what happened after that will be the subject of many, many blog posts to come. It was a completely vulnerable, amazing experience. I waited, and stood, and people came up to me, only a couple at first, and then it grew. People that wanted, needed, or were offering, a hug.

Some people came into my arms easily, after letting me know they were standing close to me, either by a phrase, or a sigh, or a whisper to a friend. Some grabbed my hand before they came into my embrace. And, with all of them, I fully embraced them. Wrapped my arms around them fully, tall or short, small or bigger, I curled all around them.

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Before I arrived there, I felt a little bit afraid. What would it be like to be standing there, completely vulnerable? Knowing that anything could happen? Knowing that I was taking away one of my sense, my sight, in order to go through this? I asked Brenda to be there with me, and she chronicled it with pictures, and got to share in the full experience herself.

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All day today, I have not been able to stop thinking about the experience. The fact that my first hug was a small baby. The young man that hugged me, I think for a full minute, tight and full, not wanting to let go. The emotion of connecting in that deep, physical way with complete strangers to me.

What I realized today, among many other things, is that in the moment of standing there in my vulnerability, and opening myself to a world that I know, but I don’t know, I was choosing between fear or peace. In every breath, and every sound that I sensed around me, I got to actively choose to be peaceful. To have no expectations and to know that anything could happen, and that I knew that it would all be magical.

For two hours, I stood there, and it was complete bliss. I could have stood there even longer. It was engaging and addictive, and so necessary for the world that I encountered, and for me.

I actively reminded myself how good it feels to open my arms to the world, all of it.

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A Beautiful Ache.

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Last night, my teenager and I sent off her girlfriend, who was here for prom last week. We all drove to Philadelphia airport the day before, amidst tears of goodbyes, and her flight was cancelled. So, we got to repeat it all last night. It was emotional. It was touching. And, it was one of the most beautiful things I get to witness first hand.

Love.

As we drove to the airport, the love that these two share inspired and touched me in so many ways. I am so fortunate to have such love in my life, but to see my child experience it, so tender and beautiful, is a miracle. It has been a challenging couple of years for her, so for her to find another human being that loves her, for who she is, and figure out how to make a distance of 700 miles from one another work, gets my admiration.

As a young adult, I often thought that the power of love was in the romance and lightness of it all. Give me candlelit dinners, gifts and flowers, and lots of expressions of love and affection, and that was love in a nutshell for me. With my family, it was openness, honesty, and lightness, humor and hugs. Love was warm fuzzies and cuddles and smiles. Love lost, through death, or break up, or disagreement, felt awful, painful, and not something I cared to experience.

However, I more deeply understand all of the aspects of love, as I experience it, and through observation of others. Love is heartbreaking at times; times when the pain cuts deeply and we feel like we don’t know how to manage it. It is confusion and loss of light and hope. It is expectations that aren’t easily realized. It is not just flowers, cuddles and hugs, but difficulty, pain, loss and confusion.

And, it is ALL beautiful.

Love is the ultimate, only answer for what we need to build connection with others. Love comes in many forms. Love never ventured is not gained, not felt. An open heart is the only way to truly feel and experience this world, from my perspective anyway. So, when I view the world in this way, and the relationships that I have, build, and observe, EVERY aspect of love and an open heart is a risk, but so very worth it.

So even an aching heart is well worth having.

It Doesn’t Matter.

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A few days ago, my fiance’ and I had a blip on the screen. At the time, it felt like more than that. We were having a variety of conversations, in which neither one of us seemed to be communicating to or understanding one another very effectively. As a result, by the end of the day, we were both annoyed, hurt and irritated. She felt like she wasn’t being listened to or understood, and I felt like I was not being listened to or understood. In the moment, it felt all important and serious.

A couple of hours later, when I was ready to take down my wall, and she was ready to sit and be still, we were able to come back together, talk about it, and reconnect. All was well, as it had been all along, but in the moments of what seemed like difficulty, it seemed all important.

What I realized at the end of it all, is that the stuff of life, which is everything, seems so all important when we are in the midst of it. But, in actuality, none of it matters at all. It doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things if she seems annoyed by me, or I feel hurt by her. It doesn’t matter because none of it is the truth. However, as humans, it often takes us awhile to get to the bottom of something, because the story seems so all important.

For me, I wanted my story of importance to be understood, for her to not assume that I didn’t care about her love of music. I wanted to feel hurt that she would view me in that way. She wanted to feel that I don’t listen to her when she talks to me. We both had our buttons pushed by each other, our most vulnerable spots were exposed, and even though we know each other well, we still default to not seeing the real story at times.
So, I put up a wall of silence, and detachment, and she leaves for awhile. And then, when we are sick of ourselves, which doesn’t take long, thankfully, we come back to a common ground.

Our common ground is Love and Forgiveness. We always know that it is there, but there are moments when we forget. When we forget that we have a choice in how we interact with one another, and others in our world, and we resort to old habits and the need to be the one who is right. We want to feel justified in our anger, or hostility, or hurt. And, often when we as humans feel that way, we build a wall around ourselves and stop connecting with others. And, there is no feeling for me that is more lonely.

I don’t want to be lonely in this world.

So, after the tears, and talk, and connection, we realized at the end of the day that none of the stories really matter at all. There is no one of us that is right, or wrong; there is nothing that has to be justified or defended. All that matters is that as two humans swirling through this world, we get to keep coming back to a place of love, of forgiveness and understanding.

And, we get to remember that the one that we most get to love and forgive is ourselves.

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