Category: Reflections

The Awkward Greeting

Awkward greetings are coming.

Have you ever experienced an awkward greeting with someone you know? It typically happens when you’re not sure if you should go in for the one-cheek kiss, double-cheek kiss, the air kiss, the no-kiss-but-casual hug, or the casual kiss followed by a hug. Whatever you decide to do, my advice: don’t hesitate. Go right in for the kiss or the hug. Otherwise, you may experience the embarrassing side-to-side head bob, ensuring that you and the recipient make complete fools of yourselves.

I remember this happening years ago with me and one of my husband’s relatives. He and I were doing the head-shake dance, but rather than the kiss landing on his cheek, I inadvertently smacked one on his lips. My face lit on fire afterward, as did his. In hindsight, we probably should’ve laughed about it, but instead, we walked away from each other pretending our embarrassing greeting never occurred.

Thanks to the pandemic, greeting our friends and family members with a kiss and hug has been strictly forbidden. Yet that feels weird too, especially when you haven’t seen someone in a long time, and you want to touch them. So you find yourself standing there, feeling out of sorts as your body pulls you toward the person, desperate to reach out, while fighting the urge to remain at an appropriate distance.

What about the person who has been living under a rock for the past year, ignoring the COVID-19 safety measures? That would be the man or woman who wraps their arms around you in an embrace––without your consent––or reaches out and shakes your hand. Afterward, you stand there, frozen and eager to dive head-first into a pool of antibacterial soap.

I would have thought that since these casual, social greetings have been discouraged throughout the pandemic, I would be grateful that I was off the hook for a while and not have to experience the side-to-side head bobbing again. But I’ve come to realize that having been deprived from physical contact with other people (outside of my immediate family) has only made me yearn for it even more.

One day soon, when this pandemic is over, I’m going to take my affection toward others to a whole new level (appropriately, of course). I plan to hug everyone, sometimes with a cheek kiss, sometimes without. Heck, I might even consider standing on a street corner and hugging random strangers.

Human touch is so important. It’s how we show a person that we care about them. It’s a sign of empathy. It’s healthy. It’s good for our hearts. It’s love. When our children are babies and toddlers, we’re always holding them in our arms, in our hands, on our laps, and smothering them with affection.

I remember when I was a teenager, my mother would say to me every once in a while, “Can I have a hug?” I would always give in and let her wrap her arms around me, even though, as a stereotypical teenager, I was usually a bit irritated that I had to stop what I was doing to let her hug me. Now that I’m a parent of teenagers, I get it. Back then, I didn’t realize how important that was to my well-being. It was one of the ways in which my mom showed me how much she loved me.

Maintaining this type of affection with my daughter is easy. At nineteen years old, she still loves to snuggle with me in bed or on the couch to watch a movie. As for my sixteen-year-old son, I have to remind myself to periodically ask for those hugs—even when he thinks I’m being annoying.

Along with putting nutritious foods into our bodies, getting a daily dose of fresh air and vitamin D from the sun, exercising, and laughter, we also need to remember the importance of mental and physical connection. And for those of you who, like me, have experienced a few awkward greetings in your lifetime and are still a bit self-conscious about it, let it go––because as soon we’re all feeling safe from catching COVID-19, follow my lead and jump right in for that social hug or kiss—and just be grateful that you finally can.

A Cure for the Other Disease Plaguing America

The other disease plaguing America.

Recently, someone in my community wrote a statement in the newspaper bashing those people who opposed his politics. When I first read what he had written, I was flabbergasted—to say the least. I couldn’t understand how a highly educated man who values family and religious tradition would make such harsh, negative comments about people who do not share his political views.

At first I went into attack mode—in my head and on the phone with my friends, lambasting this man—but once my anger subsided, I realized I was no different than him. After all, who was I to judge this man for having different views than me? Who was I to stoop to his level and spew venomous words out of my mouth about him?

Through my reaction, I had become his mirror image. Read more

To Be or Not to Be: Committed

Commitment.

Throughout most of my son, Judd’s, youth, he has been skiing with the Aspen Valley Ski School, where he learned how to freestyle ski, performing tricks in the air like an acrobat. I’ve witnessed some jaw-dropping, gut-wrenching flips and spins as Judd jumped off large cliffs on his skis. I am grateful every time he lands safely, his body intact.

In the summer months, Judd and his friends enjoy doing the same acrobatic moves from the edge of a mountain into a deep body of water. Recently, he was hanging with one of his lacrosse buddies at a lake, and the boys were flipping off a high peak. That evening, Judd showed me video clips of himself and his friend taking turns leaping into the air in a front somersault and landing (thankfully, injury-free) into the water. Cringing, I watched his friend open his body midway through the flip, flailing as he splashed into the water. With all that adrenaline running through him, it probably looked worse than he felt.

Judd explained to me how he tried to teach his friend the proper front flip technique, emphasizing that to do it correctly, his friend had to stay committed, which, from what I observed, he didn’t do. The word committed struck a chord with me. When I questioned Judd about it, he said that was how his ski instructors had taught him to do many of the tricks he had learned over the years. To get a perfect acrobatic landing, one must stay committed.

For the next week or so, I couldn’t stop thinking about how powerful the word commitment is. Commitment is derived from the Latin word committere, meaning “to unite, connect, combine; to bring together.” Com means “with, together” and mittere means “to release, let go, send, throw.” (https://www.etymonline.com/word/commit)

The above definition makes sense as far as teaching someone how to perform a gymnastic move, but the word has so much more meaning when it comes to mastering life goals. Read more

The Dog Park Gives Life New Meaning

dog park

Finding meaning at the dog park.

When my husband, Michael, and I were newlyweds, we had two fur babies: a black labrador retriever named Brocco and a yellow labrador retriever named Homer. Treating them like we had birthed them ourselves, their happiness was intricately tied to ours. I even wore a picture of them in a locket around my neck.

Homer and Brocco were a funny duo. Their opposite personalities were reminiscent of the main characters, Felix and Oscar, from the classic TV show The Odd Couple. Although, unlike the show, one wasn’t neat while the other was messy, but rather, Brocco was food obsessed and a bit lazy, while his brother, Homer, ate only out of necessity and could never get enough exercise. Read more

Don’t Listen to the Naysayers

We experience life lessons at every turn. Some lessons are big, some are small, but when we listen to them, each one offers insight and has the potential to guide us in the right direction. The key is to step back when something isn’t going our way and ask a simple question: why is this happening? The answer may not be forthcoming in that moment, but when we understand the reason, the lesson will appear. Read more