Tag Archives: connection



Recently, I have been realizing more and more how at ease I have become with myself. Lighter and more present and genuine, in more areas of my life at the same time. For me, this is a startling realization, because it is not where I have been at for most, if not all of my life up to this point. 


For most of my life, I have seen myself as a victim. If someone expressed an opinion to me that I interpreted as negative or as a judgment, even in my own defense to the contrary, I would always take it in as the truth. In addition, I would get to attack them as the person who attacked me.  A tricky cycle, yet somewhere along the line I learned it carefully and never chose anything different for myself. The accumulating effects of this were self doubt, self loathing, feeling like a victim in all circumstances, and building of resentment and judgment. I did not know I could choose differently.


Then, beginning a few years ago, well into my adulthood, I started reading more books, studying more theories and concepts, and seeing that there could be another choice for me. I believed that it could be true to not see myself as helpless, not as a victim, but as powerful in my life. Yet I still didn’t choose it for myself; I was still enticed by feeling like a victim, a freak, like no one saw the goodness that I could bring to the world. And, that it was other people’s fault.


When, I first started offering hugs, I was just standing on a street corner. With my arms opened up wide. On the outside, I was seeming to show that hugs were available if someone wanted or needed one; that I didn’t care whether or not they would give me a hug. But, on the inside, I was placing the value of what I was offering on whether or not people stopped for a hug, or even looked my way for that matter. Even though I believed in what I was doing, I also felt weird, strange and odd for what I was offering. I wasn’t at ease yet with just being me, and having that be enough. 


Yesterday, I spent nearly three hours offering hugs in my city. I had so much fun, and the beautiful part is that, I didn’t get that many hugs. Yet I had so many beautiful interactions with other humans. I was just being myself, and I felt amazing and inspired. Even with moments of self doubt, I have become so much more loving toward myself about who I Am and what I do in the world. I know that who I Am is not given its meaning or value by others around me. And, that I get to honor the value of each person I see, meet, or interact with, for just being who they are. It is the most free and peaceful that I have ever been. 



Presence and Peace.


The past few days have been deeply shape shifting and mind altering for me. I tend to keep the same routine in how I do my learning about where I want to grow next: I read books, and spend time in the quiet. I remind myself, in the car, at work and at home, multiple times a day about how to come back to the present moment. Some days, I feel really successful in becoming present. However, there are many days in which I feel like I am completely in my head, a lot of the time. 

I don’t have the illusion that I have a capacity for a completely quiet mind; I call that an illusion, because there is always chatter in my head. Even when I am being as present as possible, and not choosing to worry on anything in particular, there are stories galore being hatched in my noggin. That isn’t bad in and of itself, but when I begin to tell myself a whole novel’s worth of tales about that one strand of thought, it becomes somewhat overwhelming and ultimately problematic. So, I do my best to open myself to the thoughts, allow them to float by like clouds, and not take them too seriously.

But something much deeper and intimate happened to me this week. I decided to begin “formally” meditating. Typically, I sit quietly, on the couch or in a chair, every morning before I get ready to begin the scheduled portions of my day. I also listen to books on CD in my car often, or ride without any sound at all, to extend that feeling of quiet and peace. I have not done an actual meditation practice in several years. After a series of stories a few days ago about me and others around me, I wanted to make a more concentrated effort to quiet them down. I began meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, sitting quietly and allowing my thoughts to float by. 

I don’t know if it is the actual meditation, the readiness within myself that I felt to do it, or the readiness of learning this particular lesson myself, but I broke loose of some really old mind and heart patterns. No matter how humble I like to think that I am, I still have periods of entrenched arrogance, telling myself that I have learned all that I need to, and that others just need to “catch up” with where I am at. It is gross at the same time that it is so comically egoic and human. Catching that arrogance this week was like doing a cleanse, and feeling this sense of emptiness and clarity all at the same time. 

I decided to meditate this morning, by concentrating on two words which I wanted to carry with me through the day. For every in breath, I would think Presence, and for every out breath, I would think Peace. Both are necessary and craved in my current world. After clearing out some old patterns and thoughts this week, I understood how critical both are in my world. And, how I can still find places in me that need smoothing to be more in synch with both. 

I love being a teacher, a leader, and a light for others. But, I know I need to be first and foremost, a student. 



22I am transformed

It is of no surprise to many of you that are reading this that I love giving hugs to complete strangers. For over two years now, I have been standing on the street, in my city and cities around the eastern coast, offering hugs to others, and writing about my experiences. It has been amazing, and I have literally grown an army of like minded individuals local to me who have been offering hugs with me over those two years. I have felt so compelled and inspired by giving hugs to others that I am writing my first published book about my experiences, and even registered The Hugging Army as a nonprofit organization. What a blessing.

Then, a few months ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the presence of Tex Allen, who is the co leader/founder of Hugging America. On the west coast of the country, he and his partner, in crime and in Love, have been offering hugs, smiles, and profound shifts in heart and connection. I have been watching their activities, from Burning Man 2017 to what they have in store for 2018. I have been in awe, and felt inspired even more to keep doing what I am doing.


Yet, the ever present Ego in me has been actively comparing myself to their beautiful gifts for the last few days. I love their logo. I love their plans to travel. I love that they have one another to support and cheer on as they go forward in this beautiful dream. And, I begin to not only doubt my own way of offering hugs and inspiring others, but begin to judge them for having it “all together”. Like they are treading on my turf, something that I am growing from scratch and is MINE. WHAT ABOUT ME????

As I write this, and read what I am writing, I have a ridiculous smile on my face, because I know I am being ridiculous. Yet, I also know how present, illicit and powerful my Ego can be. How controlling and possessive It can lead me to believe that I Am. It is sneaky, and the more that I am on to It, the more clever it becomes. I have it so cush right now. My life is complete bliss. So, what better time for my Ego to amp up the game and want to get my attention?

The beautiful, magnificent, real Truth of it all is that any offering that any one of us give to this world is amazing. Is magical and spiritual. And, to think that I have to have something, to put my name on, take possession of and call my own, instead of teaming up with beautiful, like minded souls, IS ridiculous. What better way to pass on the Light that lives in me, and show how it lives in all of Us, than by teaming up with those that are already awake? I am astounded at the Truth of that, and humbled by it as well.

The last year of my world has brought many difficult, painful lessons. And, in that time, I could have fallen into deeper sleep in terms of what I am here for and what I want to be inspired by. However, I have used every painful circumstance to become more highly conscious, especially when that is the hardest choice that I could make. And, the beautiful result is, is that I can show my humanness. My flaws. My icky and beautiful stuff. And, that one day very soon, I will be hugging these beautiful humans in 3D. What could be more magical than that? 

16Hugging Meditation







I spent a lot of time in nature today. I laid down on large rocks, I walked on trails in the woods, and I breathed deeply in the air of the day. Nature is close by our home and we spend a great deal of time there. Taking the beauty in through all of our senses is a deep, healing experience. And, it helps always to remind me of the freedom that I have to contemplate life and circumstances from a variety of perspectives.


I am grateful for knowing that I have a choice. Many persons, including many in my life, do not know or understand that they have a choice in their perspective on the world. Whether they see themselves as a victim, as flawed or defective, as better than or more evolved than others, as only being their life circumstances and nothing else, they cannot see beyond these roles or situations. And, in addition to that, even if they are told that they have a choice to see things differently, they don’t understand that because they don’t believe that it is true.


The truth is, life is different depending on the perspective with which you look at it. Today, I lay upon a rock, that was the length and width of my body, and somewhat suspended between other rocks. First, I sat up looking around, and had one view. And, then I lay on my back, and just looked upward, and the view of course was somewhat different. So it is with my life.


I have had a boatload of shit that has gone down in my world in the last year. And, I mean, A LOT. Good, bad, sad, frustrating, blessed, and everything in between. And, if I believed in accumulation, of good or bad circumstances, then I would be believing that 2017 was one of the worst years of my life. However, I don’t believe in accumulation of circumstances. I guess because I have stopped believing in past, or future for that matter. I still understand that memories of the past and projections of the future will occur in my life, I don’t take them as seriously as I have before. I now believe that more than anything, the present moment is all that we have. And, I don’t consider that as a point of view; I consider it to be a fact. This, right now in this moment, is all that we ever have.




That reminds me that peace is always in my grasp, if I only just choose it. To look upon a small pine seedling, a pile of leaves crunching under my feet, or clouds that look like cotton streaks in the sky, or the arms of someone whom I have never met hugging me on the street. Those are moments of sweetness, of truth, love and abundance. And I can only fully experience them if I am present, as present as I possibly can be.


But, there are times I choose strife, and anxiety, and worry and belief that the past defines me or that the future will save me. And, then I remember that I can always change my perspective, and I remember that this moment is all that needs to grab my attention, and it carries within it every possibility of greatness, beauty, magic and eternity and infinity within it. That is my saving Grace. 



Hugging Heals.



Life has issued to me some deep challenges in the last few days, in the way of loss. Although I am not a person that typically senses that life accumulates troubles, or that bad things “happen in threes”, I felt a bit overwhelmed and taxed by events recently. And, although how things impact me is always within my own choice and control, I felt spent. I felt like I had enough. 


In the span of four days, my beloved Hug Bug 1998 VW Beetle broke down 700 miles from my home; my wife’s sister died unexpectedly; and our cars were broken into and my work computer was stolen from my car. By Thursday, I felt tired, discouraged, and like I wanted to hide away in my home, under a blanket, and forget about everyone and everything. I had enough.


However, I am so grateful to have within me the gift of sight, the gift of awareness. I express gratitude for awareness daily, because without it, I see myself as a person in pain with no way to relieve it. With awareness, I can accept that I am in pain as it is, and love myself in spite of that. In addition, I can see another option to relieve the pain, or to accept things as they are. I have learned deeply about surrender, acceptance, and presence. 


This weekend, here in Scranton, is The Scranton Fringe Festival. I participated last year, talking about The Hugging Army, and this year was to have two shows again to tell stories, share photographs, and instruct people on mindful hugging. As my first show approached, my level of enthusiasm was diminished, because I was focused on the loss and sadness that I felt. However, once again, awareness assisted me in seeing things another way.


You see, when I first began offering free hugs in my community, I saw it as just that: an offering to others. A giving to them what I believed that they needed or desired. After hugging strangers for two years, however, I deeply understood that I was also receiving something in return, with every hug that I received, and even with those that I didn’t. I was gifted ten fold. A part of me wanted to feel selfish for wanting to receive that gift. Yet, being honest about that, and also understanding that the mutuality of the hug itself has deep healing powers, I saw the opportunity in sharing it with others. I get every hug that I offer to people. Plain and simple.


And, I offered and received many hugs so far this weekend. And, in those hugs, I cried, I breathed deeply, and was present to what I was giving and what I was receiving, right into my heart center. I felt what hurt so intensely was healing, slowly and methodically, through the exchange of deep love, presence and respect. I understood, yet again, the importance of what hugs do in the world, for myself and for others. 


I am not always sure why this became my path. Yet I know more and more each day why I will continue upon it. Why hugs are so important. And why my modeling of that opens me, and others, to a new way of being. 


16Hugging Meditation