Monday, April 17, 2017

Hug Life

I'm always looking out for cool shirts that catch my eye.  I've been on a tye dye kick lately, so when I saw this shirt with not only a tye dye design, but a cat and the words "Hug Life" emblazoned across the front of it, well, I was sold.  

What Does It Mean?

I got to thinking the other day and wondered what exactly it means to "hug life."  I came up with the following ideas:

  1. Embrace life:  Embrace each facet of your life; for example, relationships, spirituality, career, health, well-being, and financial.  Embrace it all, the good and the bad.  Be present in each moment and really feel it and experience it. 
  2. Spend time wisely:  None of us knows how long we will live.  It's best to take advantage of each day and live it to the fullest.  That doesn't mean cramming every possible activity or opportunity into each day.  Rather, it means, spending time on the people and things that you love and value the most.  Learn to say no when you're asked to do something you don't want to do.  Of course, there are always things you must do even though you don't want to, but I'm talking about the optional stuff.  Dinner with friends, membership to this or that committee, hosting the family reunion for the tenth time just because you are so good at it, and so on.
  3. Break down barriers:  Don't waste time sitting on the sidelines wishing you could do something.  Get out there and do what you can to make it happen.  Break down perceived or real barriers in order to live the life of your dreams.  Challenge naysayers, prove them wrong when they say you can't do something, work your butt off to make your dreams come true.  
  4. Get fit:  Get off the couch and ditch the junk food.  You've only got one body; it's up to you to take care of it.  Pick activities and exercises you enjoy and change them up every month or so, or whenever they get too easy or boring.  Gradually swap out less healthy foods for healthier ones.  Eat plenty of veggies, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats.  Yes, you can still indulge is your favorite treat now and then, too.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people:  Do you find that you come home from a gathering with friends feeling drained and unsatisfied?  It might be time to reevaluate your friendships.  Decide which friends energize you and which ones drag you down.  You don't have to ditch the ones who aren't as satisfying, just back off a bit so you have more time to spend with those people who deliver positive vibes.
  6. Be community-minded:  Volunteering is a great way to hug life.  Get out into your community and see how you can contribute.  I've found that there's no better way to help yourself than by helping someone else.  Even as little as an hour per week, or even sticking to seasonal events like a toy drive at Christmastime, or a school supply drive in the fall, helps.  Some places you may be able to volunteer:  hospital, school, church, community theater group, library, sporting event, or animal shelter.
  7. De-clutter your home:  Do you feel drained as you look around your living space at all the clutter?  Arm yourself with a box of large trash bags and start going through all that stuff, room by room.  I love a good clear out, but it gives some people the hives to think of getting rid of anything.  But it's a great way to hug life.  Getting rid of excess stuff can feel very freeing once you get going.  If you haven't used it or worn it in a year, pitch it.  Of course, you'll want to keep sentimental items, but don't go overboard on that either.  That can quickly turn your clear out into a pity party and clutter fest instead.  
  8. Reevaluate your job:  Do you enjoy going to work every day?  Do you find the work and comradery energizing?  If so, great.  If not, it's time to make some changes.  Volunteer to work on a special project that really gets you fired up, organize a company softball team or walking group, or bring in plants and photos from home to improve the ambiance of your office space.  If nothing works, start hunting for a new position that you can really get jazzed about.  Maybe you'd get more fulfillment out of working for yourself.  Do some research and see how you can make positive changes related to work.
  9. Reevaluate where you live: Is your home comfortable and pleasing?   Do you enjoy living in your town?  Do you find that there are more than enough ways for you to get involved in your community?  Do you find that the people are friendly?  Or has everything become old and stagnant and uninspiring?  Stay if you are thriving in your community, but consider a move across the country or across the world if you just can't take it anymore.  Sometimes a major shake up is what you need to live the life of your dreams.
  10. Reevaluate your relationship with your spouse:  Are you still in the honeymoon stage with your spouse?  Does your heart still skip a beat when that person enters the room?  Do you love to sit and talk for hours with the love of your life, or simply hold hands and cuddle?  Or, do you shudder at the thought of your spouse coming home from work?  Do you get irritated with each other for petty little things?  Do you find that you no longer have anything in common?  If things are great, yay!  Keep doing what you're doing.  But if they aren't so great anymore, take the time to sit down and talk about it.  Figure out ways you can try to improve your marriage, including increased communication, date nights, and taking little romantic get-aways.  If you put in a real, concerted effort to improve matters but it doesn't seem to be working, then you might want to consider separation or divorce.   
  11. Consider your spirituality:  Fit quiet time into your life so you can look inside to find out what really matters to you. What do you truly believe in?  Are you religious, non-religious, unsure, or still processing your beliefs?  What do you like about yourself?  What do you not like about yourself? What are your regrets?  What are the things you're most proud of?  What makes you really feel good? Answer these questions and find peace with yourself and your life choices so you can move on and grow.  Self-exploration can open your eyes and heal your soul.    
  12. Consider what family means to you:  Are you close to your family; or not?  Do you love spending time with family but your schedule doesn't allow for it?  Or does being around family suffocate you?  Do you feel as if your dear friends are more like family than your blood relatives do?  It's important to work this out and spend your time with those you feel closest to, without guilt or regret.  
  13. Consider your children and pets:  If you have children, remember, they will be on their own in a flash.  So, take the time when they are young to nurture and spend time with them.  Avoid letting cable TV, video games and the Internet be your babysitters.  Play games, reminisce, laugh, and have meaningful discussions with your kids.  Be sure to make it to their recitals, baseball games, and graduations.  Be a positive example for your children.  Let them know you are there for them without smothering them.  They will love you for it.  If you don't have kids, you may have pets.  Same thing; well, sort of.  Be there for them.  Take care of their needs, keep them well, fed, clean, and happy.  Schedule playtime and snuggle time with your pets.  Dogs and cats, in particular, can be very loving.  They snuggle with you when you're sick, they provide hours of entertainment.  They provide you with unconditional love; they need to receive it in return in order to be healthy and happy.  
  14. Be appreciative of nature:  Dance in the rain, take the  time to observe wildlife while walking in nature.  Be curious, watchful.  Really stop and experience the beauty of nature around you.  Really hear the birdsong, babbling brook, and the skittering of a critters in the tall grass.  Really see the brilliant colors in the sky, the flowers, and the birds.  Touch tree leaves and bark; take a deep breath and notice the scents of tree sap, flowers, and waters of nearby lakes and streams.  Be present.  Walk amongst nature with a sense of wonder.  Don't rush.  
What It Doesn't Mean.

Okay, so you want to hug life; make the most out of it and accomplish all sorts of wonderful things.  That's all well and good.  But don't go stepping on toes in the process.
  1. Being obnoxious:  Just because someone doesn't have the same goals or values as you have doesn't mean they are hugging life in the wrong way.  You do it your way and let others do it their way.  
  2. Being mean or dismissive:  Say you believe in living your life in a certain way and you feel passionate about that belief; so passionate, in fact, that you protest any other way of living life.  You have a right to peacefully protest, but you do not have the right to burn buildings, smash windows, vandalize vehicles, or inflict any other harm to others or their property.  That is just plain wrong.
  3. Being irresponsible:  Think before you hug life so hard that you suffocate it, or yourself. Donating to causes beyond your means, totally ignoring your family and friends for the sake of a cause, or quitting your job and moving your family to a remote area to live out your dream of a self-sufficient life without first discussing it with said family--all bad ideas. 
I would love to hear what it means to you to hug life and how you've actually put it into action.  Leave a comment below or email me at  Thanks!

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