Free Hugs


On Tuesday morning, I came in the kitchen to make boiled eggs for breakfast. I said hello to Ms. Patricia who is one of our two Hospitality Assistants. She makes most of our lunches during the week when we have groups. Great lunches by the way, homemade chicken fingers, mac and cheese and red velvet cookies are just a few items from her menus. I am sure to gain at least 10 lbs while I am here, but I digress. After I said hello and went about my business looking for a pot, Ms. Patricia looked over at David, our tall young administrator and said “She hasn’t learned yet has she?” I was taken aback and thought I had done something wrong in the kitchen. I stood frozen with a dumbfounded “huh?” At that moment, she smiled and came toward me with open arms and went in for a hug. “Ohhhhh, I’m sorry. I TOTALLY forgot.” I had been warned my first week that Ms. Patricia is a hugger. A greeting without a hug is just unacceptable. “Now you can go about your business” she said. And I did smiling, feeling a little tickled and a bit of a pep in my step.

There is a saying by Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” I am glad I have somewhere to go for at least a few hugs a week, and good hugs at that. Ms Patricia gives the kind of hugs that make you feel comforted and fully embraced, a hug that lingers a bit. I wish more people gave hugs like that, and were not afraid to embrace one another.I wonder if the way a person hugs says something about them. Some people are not good huggers, they give awkward hugs, rigid hugs, side hugs (I slightly against these, but tolerate them), hugs where you barely touch. I read that a proper hug happens when hearts are pressing together. This kind of hug can boost happiness, strengthens the immune system, increases trust and security and the benefits go on (click here to read about 10 of them). I am glad that Ms. Patricia greets with a hug, a heart to heart hug. I reminds me that I am seen and fully received even though everything around me is still fairly foreign. Her touch awakened me from my morning trance and forced me into a moment of giving and receiving. It felt holy and it made this place feel a little more like home.


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