When Someone Has a Sad

Many years ago, I came across a woman who was crying. I didn’t know her. I didn’t know the reason for her tears. It didn’t really matter. I just knew she was sad, so I gave her a hug. Sometimes you just need a hug.

She clung to me like I was a life raft for a minute. And I actually felt her emotional pain pass through my chest and out my back. It was the strangest thing. It was palpable. I’ll never forget that.

I could tell she didn’t want to talk about it. We didn’t. She just gave me a weak smile and we went our separate ways, both of us, I hope, feeling a little better about ourselves.

Quite often when we need comforting the most, we are hesitant to ask for it. We don’t want to impose. We don’t want to be a burden.

But I submit that allowing someone to comfort you is like giving a gift to the comforter. It feels good to be helpful rather than feel helpless. It’s as nice to give love as to receive it. It’s wonderful to think that this gesture will be reciprocated if the situation is ever reversed.

I remember another time when I had a disagreement with the person I loved most in the world. We lay in utter silence, marinating in the tension, and I felt like my heart would break in two. Then, out of the darkness his hand reached for mine, and it felt as though life flooded back into my body. We hadn’t resolved our conflict. We still had work to do. But that gesture reassured me that it could be done, and at that moment, that was all that mattered.

Comfort, either given or received, is the most wonderful feeling on earth.

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Have You Ever Been Licked on the Eyeball?

My dog did that to me just the other day. It was not a pleasant experience. He meant well. It was just his way of showing me that he was very happy to see me. It’s not his fault that I was disgusted by it.

It’s always kind of unsettling when the gesture that is given is not the one that is received. You go to hug someone, only to be told, “Please don’t touch me.” Someone shakes your hand a little too confidently, not knowing you have severe arthritis. Or you experience the ultimate culture clash: your Latino sense of personal space intrudes upon someone else’s Germanic sense of personal space. Or you learn rather abruptly that not everyone is ready to be comforted.

Is it any wonder that there are so many misunderstandings in this world? It’s easy to forget that the overtures you make are coming toward the recipients wrapped snugly in a blanket of their culture, orientation, current mood, mental health level, and past experience. You never can be completely sure what your gift is going to look like to them. And that goes both ways. No one should take it personally.

So, will I stop hugging my dog? No. But I’ll probably make an effort to do so with my eyes firmly closed from now on.

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Have I Been Torturing My Dog?

A friend of mine told me about this article on the Mother Nature Network about why dogs don’t like to be hugged. Basically, many of them see this as a form of aggression, and it makes them nervous. It does go on to say, though, that not all dogs are alike. But it gives you advice to determine how your dog is feeling about the subject.

After I read this article, I was completely reassured that my dog Quagmire loves to be hugged. In fact, he will throw himself into my arms and bury his head in my neck at every opportunity. He’s a snuggle addict.

And then there’s Devo. Sweet, beta-dog Devo, my long-suffering best friend. When I hug him, he goes right to submissive pose, and he kind of makes this “oof” sound. On some level, I guess I have sort of known all along that it’s not his favorite thing, but… I love him so much! I have to hug him!

But do I, really? I mean, how inconsiderate. So now, I scratch him in his favorite spots. I tell him what a good dog he is. I throw the ball for him. And when he lies next to me I enjoy it, but I resist the urge to wrap myself around him like a blanket. It’s not easy. But in the few days that I’ve made this change, I can already tell he appreciates it. Now if I could explain to him that I don’t like my forehead licked, we’d be on the same page.

Sometimes the touch you’re giving isn’t the touch that’s being received. That’s the case with humans and animals alike. True love means taking that into account. Give it some thought.

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This dog does not look happy to me.

On Being Number One

There’s no lonelier feeling on earth than the realization that no one considers you to be their top priority. Sadly a lot of us can say that. That’s why so many of us have pets. You just can’t beat having someone who is happy to see you when you get home.

If you are somebody’s number one, don’t take it for granted. It’s a precious gift. And I hate to say it, but speaking from experience, life is so incredibly fragile that that comfortable feeling could pop like a soap bubble when you least expect it. So if someone loves you, cherish that person. Show your appreciation. All the time.

In fact, now would be good. Right now. Get up from your computer and tell the person that you love most in the world that you love him or her. Because nothing else matters. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for all of us who don’t have that gift right now. Because let me assure you that when you don’t have it, you ache for it.

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[Image credit: archstonerecovery.com]

Hug Vibes

According to an article I just read in Global Post, “Physical touch stimulates certain hormones that are essential for child development… premature infants who are touched regularly display 47 percent more weight gain… Physical touch has a powerful influence on brain function and mental health.”

I really never thought about the importance of touch until I moved to Seattle, where I don’t know a soul, 7 weeks ago. Since I’ve been here I haven’t been touched, even in the most casual of ways. I’m starting to feel as if my skin is going to atrophy, like one day I’m going to wake up and my skeleton will be exposed. Okay, that’s a little extreme, but you get the point. I need a hug.

Thank God for my dogs. I’ve been cuddling with them so much lately that they’re starting to get uncomfortable. “Here she comes again. Brace yourself.” I can’t even imagine how I’d cope without them.

I hesitate to put myself into the dating world in this state. I might very well attach myself like a barnacle to the first serial killer who crosses my path. I now understand how people get sucked into cults. If Charles Manson were to hug me right now I’d fall madly in love.

A long distance friend of mine sent me some hug vibes the other day. That counts for much. But still, I may start stumbling in large crowds so that someone will offer me a hand. Any port in a storm.

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[Image credit: db18.com]

Make up a Holiday Day

Yesterday was International Women’s Day and I should have written about it. I’m a bad blogger. Bad! I really should stay on top of these things. These types of holidays are prime opportunities to create awareness about various topics. I’m sure I could have spoken in depth about the fact that 90 percent of the women I have known have either been the victim of physical, sexual or emotional abuse at least once in their lives, and how that tells you a great deal about the violent yet silent world in which we live. Or I could have spoken about women who have achieved greatness, and women who do great things every day and yet fly completely under the radar. I could have told you one of a million stories about my mother, who was pretty amazing in her own right. But noooooo…I missed it completely. Sorry ladies.

But there are so many things in the world that are unsung or ignored. Here are some holidays that should exist, and for all I know, do exist but have been overlooked by me. Feel free to add more in the comments section below!

celebratePicture credit: http://www.colourbox.com

  • International Cease Fire Day
  • Thanks for Doing the Dishes Day
  • Resist Road Rage Day
  • Make Waves Day
  • Expand Your Horizons Day
  • Give Shy People Some Space Day
  • International Day of Peace and Quiet
  • Make a Fool of Yourself Day
  • Work in Your Jammies Day
  • Think Outside the Box Day
  • Try New Food Day
  • Learn from Your Irritants Day
  • Foot Massage Day
  • Explore Another Religion Day
  • Sleep Late Day
  • Get Your Own Damned Coffee Day
  • Spoil Your Pet Day
  • No Electronics Day
  • Step Out of Your Comfort Zone Day
  • Stay in Your Comfort Zone and Make No Apologies Day
  • National Day of Nurturing
  • Jump in a Puddle Day
  • See the Sunrise Day
  • Hug a Perfect Stranger Day
  • Don’t Underestimate the Elderly Day
  • Cook a Meal for a Migrant Worker Day
  • Stop, Look, and Listen Day
  • Teach Someone Something Day
  • Learn Something New Day
  • Breakfast in Bed Day
  • Defy Gravity Day
  • Burp in Public Day
  • Don’t Spend Any Money Day
  • Compliment a Stranger Day
  • Focus on Yourself Day
  • Tip Extravagantly Day
  • Stay Home and Read a Book Day
  • International Appreciate a Blogger Day
  • Be Kind to Bridgetenders Day
  • Skinny Dipping Day
  • Change Your Mind Day
  • Day Trip Day

When She’s Just Not into You

I have this coworker who doesn’t like me. I don’t know why. I’ve tried to figure it out for years. I suppose I could come right out and ask, but what would be the point? It would just open me up to insults, and her mind is already made up. She is the type of person who doesn’t change her mind very easily. I’ve seen her get into an argument with someone and never speak to that person again. Ever. It must be exhausting, trying to keep track of who you’ll speak to in any given crowd. She does speak to me, but it’s safe to say we’ll never be besties. We’re polite to each other, but she’s not going to invite me over to her house for an “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie marathon or ask to borrow my sweater. This used to hurt my feelings, but then I realized that, well, frankly, I don’t particularly like her, either.

Now and then, when things are slow on the bridge and I need a giggle, I imagine ways to disarm her, such as giving her a really big hug. That would definitely freak her out, but I can also see it backfiring and me getting punched in the throat. It could go either way.

It’s a pity that we can’t seem to connect because I bet she has a fairly interesting history. She’s six months younger than I am, but she looks at least 20 years older. She doesn’t appear unhealthy. She just seems like someone who has squinted into the desert sun during a sandstorm her entire life. I know she has had some interesting jobs in the past. And SOMETHING must have happened to make her a cast iron, rigid force to be reckoned with. But I have resigned myself to the fact that these are mysteries that I’m never going to solve.

Sometimes you have to let a junk yard dog be just that. Let her roam the yard and have her routine. Yes, occasionally you’ll have to hop onto a car when she goes on a rampage, but other than that, just leave a sufficient amount of kibble in the bowl and live and let live.

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Dog Wisdom

I had just settled down to write this blog entry, and was feeling rather stressed out because I couldn’t think of a topic, when my dog brought me his toy. It is Blue’s philosophy that no one should ever be too busy for a rousing game of tug-o-sock. How right he is. Once we have lost our sense of fun, the joy drains completely out of our lives. He’s very wise. Both my dogs are, actually. Here’s what I’ve learned from Blue and Devo, and their many predecessors, over the years.

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  • If you need attention, put yourself right there until you get it.
  • Once you’ve learned how to relax your entire body with one big heavy sigh, all your problems will seem to melt away.
  • Sometimes you have to bark to be heard.
  • Put yourself right in the middle of the bed and let the rest of the planet adjust to you.
  • Sleep is the most wonderful thing on earth.
  • Learn how to look cute and the world will beat a path to your door.
  • If you really want to maintain a healthy body weight, eat the same boring thing every day, but do it with enthusiasm.
  • If you don’t talk, people will usually assume that your motives are pure.
  • All you need is love. And kibble.
  • If your natural instinct is to tell the truth, someone is bound to call you their best friend.
  • Everything tastes better with gravy.
  • It’s usually best to keep your opinions to yourself.
  • Every once in a while, howl at the moon.
  • Never go for the jugular when simply baring your teeth will do.
  • Be comfortable with who you are.
  • Allow yourself to be hugged.
  • There’s nothing quite like a good back scratch.
  • Squirrels are highly overrated.
  • If everyone around you believes you can’t do housework, then you’ve got it made.
  • If an artist catches you playing poker just once, you’ll never live it down.