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Charlotte’s Web: Learning to Live Differently

As I awoke at 2 a.m., I began to replay conversations from the past few days. Perhaps for the first time in years, I was wishing I did not live alone. If things go the way many are speculating, it might be weeks or even months until we get the next hugs.

Hugs have always been an important part of my life, at least during my adult life. When attending the University of Texas in Austin, I took my first of many psychology classes and learned that research has shown that if you get or give at least three hugs a day, your mental state is most often “happier” and that you will learn to have many more days filled with opportunities to share optimism than if you stay to yourself.

I have often joked that when I get to Heaven, that St. Peter will have to go enjoy something new, as I was going to take his place at the pearly gates and be the official greeter. And anyone who has been around me knows that greeting comes with a hug. Yet now, just days before my 58th birthday, I am being told that we cannot hug, we should not be in groups larger than 10 and that we should avoid any social activities. Can you imagine? For decades, I have been greeting at church services, Chamber luncheons, meetings and many public events. And now, I guess I can wave and smile to the few people I will be seeing.

Being a single mother who has lived alone the majority of the time since my youngest entered the Army in 2011, my life has been blessed to be a part of many groups and organizations that work in the community. Everything from comforting a young mom in prison, to offering my cell phone to a homeless person to use has provided opportunities to hug them, to pray with them and to try to brighten their lives.

Suddenly, I find myself more thankful than ever to have a position where I can reach out to senior adults and check on them via the phone. So many of them have stories to share and by the time you hang up, you cannot help but be thankful for the time you chatted with them. In these “different” days that we are living in, pick up your phone, look through your contacts and make a call or two. Brighten up the day of someone you have not talked to lately. Reach out to those parents who are “homeschooling” right now and see if you can assist in any way. Take the time to turn off all electronics and listen as you read a book. Start making that bucket list for your next vacation. Learn to enjoy the time with yourself.