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Introspective Sojourner

The journey inward following Christ’s path to that person I was uniquely created to be.

If I had only known…

I wish I would have known while my dad was alive. I only traveled home about yearly, or bi-yearly. I only called about monthly, sometimes longer. Every time I would go to his house, he would invite me into the living room and ask me to catch him up on what was going on. My parents made me nervous. I felt like I never shut up around them. I felt like no one could get a word in edgewise. I was instantly tossed back in time, just a kid struggling for attention. I wasn’t a neglected child but there were six of us, and I was not the golden child – ever.

Still, every time I called, every time I visited, dad would focus on me, and ask about the details of my life.  How was my job, my kids, and my husband? What did we do for fun? He would get me started and a year’s, or a month’s worth of data would vomit out of my brain. I even asked my husband to give me a subtle nudge if I was talking too much. I don’t talk that much at home.  Oh, I’m not completely silent, but I don’t go on and on – most of the time. When I was around my parents, I couldn’t seem to stop myself.

I worried that they thought less of me because I couldn’t shut up. I tried to ask about their lives too, but they always turned the focus back on me. I never seemed to know much about their lives. I worried it was my fault. I wish I would have known. I would have called more.

My kids are grown now, with lives of their own. Still connected to mine, but separate. It’s wonderful when we get together and just talk about what’s going on in their lives. I want to know about their jobs, their friends, their kids, and spouses. I want to know about their dreams, even if they never come true. I want to know about their struggles and heartaches. Everyone has them. I don’t think less of them for having them too. I cherish the fun we have in group texts, and out for pizza, or playing cards. I cherish family gatherings. Mostly I love hearing about their lives, even the mundane things, because I’m not there, and it makes me feel connected. I wish I would have known.

You grow apart too easily. Life slips by too fast. There are too many chores, and not enough free time. There are too many good choices, and too much life to live. I want to hear about it all. They could talk a mile a minute – I wouldn’t care. They could tell me the same story two and three times over; I like hearing their voice. I like being with them.

To those of you out there who still have your parents, call them, write them, text them, keep in touch. Never feel like you talk too much. Stay connected. I say this knowing I need to call my mom, and my step mom. I need to catch up. I say this, missing being able to call my dad. I wish I had known. We weren’t super close but we weren’t estranged either. I was blessed. I am blessed with family connections that will always be there, even after a month or two, or a year. We get together and pick right up where we left off. Catch me up. Tell me your stories. I want to hear.

You could never talk too much. I wish I would have known.

Tell Me Your Story

I want to hear your stories.
I want to hear about that time.
Tell the one that made you laugh,
The one with your partner in crime.

Tell me how you took the train,
Across these great big states.
Tell the one about Uncle Horace,
And the cows getting through the gates.

I want to hear about it all,
To live a thousand lives.
To meet one hundred characters,
Get on memory lane and drive.

I want to hear your stories,
I’m waiting patiently.
You pick the topic, I’m all ears.
Oh won’t you please tell me…

By Vicki L. Pugliese

CEO of OurHome.Inc

Young man do you have big dreams of being the next Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerberg or Bill Gates?  Do you dream of being CEO or captain of industry or even a local manager at your own firm?  Leadership skills are often thought to be natural traits, one God wrote in the very fabric of the design of natural leaders.  Perhaps those potential leaders  naturally utilized  those God given talents.  Possibly those natural leaders took advantage of a training ground provided by God and learned to hone their leadership skills like any other skill you might learn instead.  Possibly you have been provided this same training ground on which you can learn leadership skills but you have not taken advantage of this supportive atmosphere.  Perhaps God actually expects you to step up and lead this little band of people that look just like you.  He expects nothing less than your best everyday.  Generations of people count on your abilities and performance actually!

Now if He gave you this training opportunity, He gave you a “second in command” who gives you a lot of input.  Are you wisely taking this input into consideration and utilizing the gift that is your second in command to the best of your ability, or are you shutting down this gift?  You took vows, you know her well.  Are you ensuring that your second in command is fully fed spiritually, nurtured and loved by you so that she is capable of passing on those qualities to the rest of your company, your children?  Are you praying daily for your second in command so that she is built up to fight any battle that comes her way?  You know there will be germs, hormones, trials and everyday things.  She needs all that support to keep her safe and spiritually filled.  She needs that support to be ready to help you lead that family of yours.

Many young men come home and have a need to talk about their day.  They need to unpack the events.  They go to work all day.   Jobs can be frustrating.  They just want to come home, have a moment or two to themselves and eat dinner.  They like to unpack their day and then after dinner just go and play a game on their cell phone or computer and let their attention disappear into the game.  They like to unwind that way.

They fail to see that their second in command who has been stuck at home alone with their children with little or no adult interaction also needs to unpack her day.  She spent her day prepping the meal, doing laundry, picking up after the kids for the hundredth time, assisting with homework, breaking up fights and helping with melt downs.  She also had a need to unload her day.  That young man may fail to see she needs to be filled up emotionally and spiritually.  He may miss signs that she is starting to run on empty and is in desperate need of prayer and his spiritual leadership.

God gave him this wonderful practice company, practice ground if you will, for him to learn excellent people skills, and leadership skills, all in an environment where everyone wants him to succeed! The problem is that the company of home wants him to succeed at leadership and not in any way shape or form at selfishness, that’s where it gets a little stickier.

God gave man a company of tiny people to manage.  Man just has to look up from his phone.  He has to remember that God gave him that responsibility but that he also chose them and to that end he should begin on his knees. He should remember that his wife and children have that same need for validation, connection, intimacy and love that he does.  Their needs being met are his responsibility even if he needs to delegate some of it. He, as their tiny tribal leader needs to monitor that this is completed, especially for his wife.

His family is a true practice ground.  He loves them perhaps more than he loves himself. They will be his legacy and a testimony to the skills he acquired.  They will also be more patient than any corporation ever would as he learns and fine tunes his skills.

It’s up to him to view it as a leadership opportunity and directive from God. A chance to prove to God he is grateful for the blessings that God gave him when God gave him his beautiful family.

Will he start each day on his knees?  Will you?  Will he put his phone down or put away other distractions ?  Will you?  Turn your TVs off and plug back into your family!  Make sure your second in command’s needs are met.  Make sure her spiritual cup is filled because those children feel like a spiritual battle some days!  Make sure she is fully ready to support you in your leadership mission and goals.  Use the gift of a second in command wisely! Listen to her, God may be speaking through her.  The best leaders work as a team.

Put your pride away, it has sharp edges and you’ll poke someone’s eye out.  Use every resource you have and train every day!    Use this great opportunity given to you by the great provider!  Learn to be the best leader you can be.  Soon someone outside the home will notice your skills, how could they not?!  There are so few truly good leaders out there.

Be a great leader.  The one God designed you to be.  Then go do something really awesome!

 

by Vicki L. Pugliese

 

media by Elizabeth Balch
http://www.elizabethbalch.com

People, The new Big Business exhaust

Big Business exhaust, in terms of people, appears to be on a dramatic rise, in my opinion. That thing that factories use to do; taking the finest resources, changing them, stripping from them whatever the factory determined was valuable, and then spewing out the waste.  That is what Big Business is doing to its “Human Resources” today.  The problem is, once they have over used or devalued a human being, broken down a person’s spirit until this particular business or team no longer finds this specific person useful, they then label this person as useless or defective.  This is often so far from the truth it doesn’t even resemble the truth.  It’s just that team’s or company’s pride and puffery.

Layoffs have occurred for years and people, even good people would get cut. Teams would get eliminated and excellent workers would find themselves pounding the pavement looking for employment.  They would find work, occasionally they would end up in a job that was a better match because they had not been as good a fit in their previous job.  Perhaps they had been reluctant to leave and look elsewhere before the layoff.  Looking for new employment can be a scary endeavor.  Some people find even looking for new employment disloyal.  This is a good quality in an employee!

Turn the clock to current times, post housing bubble, post flooding the market with work immigration visas, post world wide web infrastructure, outsourcing and off shoring, and the job market is very small. Suddenly a reality that actually always was true is now right up in your face. We are all replaceable, like removing a branch that was sticking straight up out of a pond.  The water fills back in immediately, instantly, as if the branch never existed.  There may be ripples but overall there will be no difference.  We should not think too highly of ourselves, because we are like that branch, all of us!  It may take hiring someone new, or even two new people.  Perhaps someone who never would have stepped up while a rock star employee existed will finally find the courage to make their move.  Make no mistake, you are not different.  Your skills are not unique.  Someone out there will learn them.  It may be painful for a season but like a ripple, you will be gone.  Pride has sharp edges.  Big Business is an organism and it will move on without you.

At one point in my life Big Business invested in their people. They ensured they were trained and built good teams.  They had teams of professionals, “human resources managers” to work through problems.  These individuals were not primarily used to hire and fire people as they are in many businesses today.  Once you were hired, if you ended up a square peg, they worked to find a square hole for you.  They didn’t want human exhaust. They invested in people and their well being.  This has not completely gone away.  In some cases unions have preserved this.  In some cases smaller businesses work themselves to preserve this way of life.  But by in large, the tides have changed.

In today’s society if you aren’t a good fit, not only will we kick you to the curb, but we will label you as a bad fit causing it to be more difficult for you to find employment next time.  Never for a second thinking possibly, you might be a great match for a different business or another team.  Never for a second do we stop and think that our team might be unique in some manner, or have unique methods or processes, or even be difficult to get along with.

This human exhaust process is creating a workplace PTSD nightmare. Employees who at one point were excellent workers, who ended up in a job that didn’t match their best skills, or on a team with a person who lacked good leadership skills are being crushed by Big Business in droves.  Employees, who took a chance on a team or a project that was later cut, are being caught in this exhaust system as well.  They took a risk and then found themselves in a job that wasn’t a match.  Some of them go on to find a safe workplace environment and bounce back.  Then there are others who hit a second or third mismatch and their workplace PTSD spirals out of control.  The market is tighter now.  The search is harder.  Now they have multiple mismatches to either hide on their resume or explain in an interview.  The process gets harder and harder.  They could have years of successful service to a single employer previously but that won’t matter in the interview.  The recent bouncing around will look suspicious.  No one will take the time to bring the resource back to health.  It’s just business to Big Business.  It’s just a simple Big Business by product at this point.  A person is now a by product!

Who picks up that tab? We do!  The American people!  Health care costs, welfare and services costs, or worse yet, if they get desperate enough, crime costs!  It all stems from a lack of concern.  It all stems from an attitude that it can’t happen to me!  But it could happen to you!  The wrong boss and the right situation and we are all replaceable.  You say you are stronger than that, but for how long?  How many rejections that lack merit will it take?  What if there was no merit to why you were laid off in the first place?  Perhaps your boss had a best friend that wanted your job, so your boss piled the work onto your plate.  You complain but your boss manages to keep your workload too high and then sites that your quality is slipping.  Layoffs roll around and your record shows that your quality is slipping and out you go.  Like a stick in the water, we are all replaceable.  Months later your boss is out on her can too.  We are all replaceable.  Pride has sharp edges.

The issue is, do you care that Big Business is creating human exhaust? That Big Business sometimes promotes people who lack leadership skills.  Bosses who believe that people are resources to be managed and not persons to be lead.  They are demoralizing and crushing good workers in droves.  Do you care that these workers who were contributing members of society are now crumbling?  They are becoming a drain instead?  Do you care?  Or are you just going to watch it happen to your next coworker, leader, subordinate?  Could an investment into the resources that are the most precious in this country have made a difference?  Perhaps a different team or a different job or some assistance working through a conflict would set this employee back to their previous rock star status.  Wouldn’t that be worth the effort?  Is it really that easy to give up?  Maybe they just needed to be appreciated.

That Big Business resource exhaust group with workplace PTSD are growing in numbers. What is scarier is they are growing in dependence on our countries services.  They are getting angrier and Big Business has made them unstable!  We need to care.  We need to invest in the only resource that ever mattered, the human resource.  Selfishness and narcissism will ruin our country as it has all other great nations of the past.  Big Business has broken free from country boundaries, in case that missed your notice.  It’s eating up people for lunch!  When it does that in your country, then your country pays to pick up the pieces.

It’s time to start seeing Big Business for what it is. It’s time to care about the kind of exhaust it puts out.  We reined in factories in the last century.  We can rein in Big Business in this one.  We just have to care.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

The Next Shiny Thing

IMG_2044Living without focus or hyper focusing on one thing until I’m tired, bored or burned out, while ignoring all other aspects of my life seems to be a pattern for me. You may have missed me, or perhaps you hadn’t noticed that I ignored you recently. Sorry that I ignored you. I was focused on writing a book, one that is completed now and fully edited. I sent out my first volley of queries for it this morning.
Before I hyper focused on writing, I was working toward my Distinguished Toastmaster’s M … – I don’t even know what the M stands for. I dove into that goal and rocked out all of my advanced speeches and my leadership requirements that were not time bound in about a year. I got burned out on Toastmasters. I struggled to attend at all. Then I gave another speech, participated in a contest actually – and I was nervous! All those speeches that I gave building on each other, strengthening that public speaking muscle until it was strong and chiseled. I could throw together a speech in a day and still polish it up to a point where I was satisfied. I have high standards for myself. Yet, I was nervous. I hadn’t been nervous, really nervous, in so long that I can’t even put my finger on it. Somewhere in my first set of ten speeches, I’d guess.
I managed to pull off that speech and then I practiced again, for an audience of one, at work. My nerves receding already. I gave the speech again in preparation for the next level of competition and my nerves were manageable again. The muscles just needed to be used again. I had nearly tossed aside that goal of DTM. I’m usually pretty focused until the last mile or so.
Before Toastmasters, we trained to run a half marathon. I was diligent in my process that Disney put out for those who are new runners that want to complete a half marathon. I built up my long run, week after week. We ran in 10Ks, and split a half marathon all to push ourselves to complete that goal. I got just a little behind on the schedule and had only ever ran 12 miles prior to the actual event. That last mile and a half was the worst.
That darn timer lady was there over and over again as a silent goal. Once she reminded those of us running just behind her, that if we weren’t in front of her at the mile marker, Disney picks us up. That’s the rules. I’m a slow runner but a long line at the bathrooms put me with her for the last three miles. I pushed thru at twelve and put some distance between us hoping that would make it easier. The last mile and a half was brutal.
I injured myself and haven’t really run well since, my muscles losing all that I had gained, so I threw my focus into Toastmasters, then writing.
What will I take on next? Why am I driven to focus and achieve something, anything, one more thing? I didn’t use to be like this. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been one to lose interest in things easily, my whole life – that’s a “functions as designed” thing.

It was really an unpleasant trait as a child and in the Navy. Detail oriented people don’t understand that there are those of us who aren’t actually lazy or malicious, we just miss details, even with check lists. It took me a long time to love that part of myself.
I have other talents that detail oriented people do not possess. I just have to remember to use my “powers” for good and not evil. Evil is shinier and catches my attention, my sense of humor. It gets me in trouble a lot. Still, I have learned to love that part of me.
Nonetheless living in this hyper focus and unbalanced life is taking its toll. I have to find a love for myself even if I don’t live up to my inner standards, even if I don’t finish my goal, even if I gain back all that weight. I’m still worthy of love. No one else seems to be telling me I’m not, just that inner me, that voice that pushes me to improve.
Somewhere along the way I became my enemy. Christ asks us to love our enemies. I need to include myself – my imperfect self. God’s not done with me yet … as the song goes. If you miss me, if I disappear again, it’ll be something else shiny. Perhaps the next time, though, I won’t apologize because that’s just how I’m hard wired and I learned to stop questioning God’s ways.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

110%: Too Narrow a View?

“I need you to give 110%!”  I just cringe when I hear that.  Even people who are not good at math have most likely been told that you can’t have more than 100%.  Percent makes it “of the whole”.  You can’t have more than a whole pie of a pie.  You can however have too narrow a view.  Perhaps you are really only considering a slice of the pie.  If you give 110% effort at work, or at a sport, what was the cost to the other pieces of your pie?  Did you give less at home, perhaps to a spouse or your children?  That will cost you in the health of your relationship slice of pie.  Did you negate your need for sleep or exercise?  Those things will eventually cost you in your health slice of pie.  Burnout is right around the corner if you ignore those.  Did you skip picking up, doing the dishes, or laundry, or other household functions?  Those will eventually catch up with you, so your ability to give 110% to whatever you are focusing on, is time limited.  Did you cut out your quiet time with God or your spirituality as a whole?  That will affect… well pretty much everything else in your life.  Somehow it’s usually the first thing we cut out, isn’t it?  Yet it’s kind of the crust to our pie. It’s what everything is built upon.

You could have been thinking about the other valid way to get 110%, though that is still an incorrect way of describing your level of effort.  You could be comparing your effort to an expectation level that is actually too low.  Did you compare your full effort to someone else’s full effort and determine you gave significantly more than they did?  The way that they slice their pie does not change how you sliced yours.  Did you expect to be able to do less and surprise yourself?  Therefore you feel like your effort was more than your ability to give?  I’m guessing you see the issue with the this immediately.  Your ability to do more than you thought you could, is either that you underestimated your time and talents, or you took from a different slice of your pie to be able to focus more fully on the task requiring your effort, thus putting it back into our “too narrow a view” idea.

Looking more closely at the estimation of our ability, that we often compare our actual effort against, can easily go both ways.  On some occasions we are proud of our selves for achieving more than we thought possible.  It was obviously possible, so our theory that it wasn’t was incorrect.  Nonetheless, we also berate ourselves when we don’t complete our self-assigned lists, or complete them to a lower standard than self-assigned as a perfect score.  My supposition is that often the second one is another piece of the pie catching up with us.  It needed our attention previously, but we stole from that piece of the pie temporarily, and now the piper needs to be paid.  Frequently the piper that shows up is the ones we can’t ignore such as poor health or need for rest.

The Bible gives us a great example where God clearly expects us to get enough rest and take care of our own needs in the story of Elijah.  Elijah had just killed all of those prophets of Baal.  He had been on the mountain top in his career, and here comes Jezebel and she’s out for blood.  She wants Elijah dead, and she’s the queen.  Being hated by those in charge, even feeling like you are disliked, is completely draining.  Elijah ran away and hid.  Good plan! I think.  God sends an angel and tells him to get up and eat, and then go rest.  A second time God sent an angel to instruct him to eat and rest.  Finally God tells him that he really needs to eat because the journey is too far.  This is where most of us think the story starts.  This is where Elijah listens for the Lord but the Lord is not in the wind, or the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper.  Elijah had to really be listening to hear him.

I often fail here because I was too busy being a storm of my own to stop and listen.  I’m also a regular steal-er from the health and rest pies, when I’m completing a different task.  It always catches up to me and then I berate myself for not meeting my own standards.

What’s your point already?  Right!

My point is we need that balanced life.  God designed us to need a balanced life.  He then made sure to give us examples in his word where He shows that He values our need to balance our lives.  We innately know that we need a balanced life, that’s not news to us.  But our need to take pride in our effort is the root of the problem.  We get unbalanced when we try to give 110%.  When we stretch ourselves in one area of our life and neglect another, we eventually pay the price.  Sometimes there can be long term consequences such as divorce or estrangement, or long term health issues that can not be resolved or can’t be resolved quickly.

I believe this pride issue, that gets us out of wack, starts with our thought process.  That need to be proud of ourselves or gain the approval of others by giving more than expected is the catalyst.  That desire to overachieve in one area of our life, without looking at the whole pie, is the first harmful action.  Comparing your slice of pie to how someone else slices their pie, on the other hand, only breeds apathy and disdain.  It is even less healthy.  Both are a battle in our minds.  Changing our thoughts to be kinder to ourselves and others is at least part of the answer.  Stopping the internal slave driver, who is fine with you skipping your exercise routine, but forces you to stay late at work.  Stopping that internal comparison to others which keeps you driven to be the best you can be, until the other parts of your pie come crashing in around you, never works out the way we want.  Instead of expecting 110% from yourself, or that you must always get an A, do your best without stealing from the rest of your pie.  Take the whole whole of your life into consideration.

You can’t sleep when you’re dead.  You need to do it now and you need to stop beating yourself up for needing to do it now.  You can’t have the best relationship with your friends and family if you neglect them now, not without taking from another slice of pie to restore it later.  So next time you feel the need to give 110%, acknowledge where you are stealing from.  Acknowledge that you are cutting into another needed piece of your life.  If you are honest with yourself about that and you choose to do that for a season, then give more.  Otherwise look at the whole whole and stop expecting someone else to divide their pie the way you do.  Then most importantly, start with your crust.  Start by listening to God.  Spending time with Him and in His word.  Look at your pie the way He does.  He’s the recipe holder after all.  Who else knows how to make your pie the best it can be?

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Anatomy of a Non-Hugger

There is a hidden group within our midst, the non-hugger.  I can count myself in their numbers.  We have a different anatomy than most.  You see non-huggers have a bubble.  You can’t see it unless you are very perceptive towards our body language.  Ok, that’s a lie.  Everyone notices our body language, they just respond to it differently.  You can peg a person with a bubble, or personal space issue quickly when you go to hug them.  We have our coping skills, the pup tent hug, the side hug, the three second, pat your back and let go hug, or occasionally we get a handshake in to block the hug.  If you get a wave, or the slight backup movement, sorry, that’s a defense mechanism.  We like to hide out amongst the extreme introverts and germaphobes.  They don’t want to hug either, for their own reasons.  Introverts who are huggers do exist, they just won’t hug you unless you are in their inner circle of people.  I am not in their numbers.  The germaphobe has to make a choice between touching hands or hugging, neither of which is comfortable for them.  They also can be mistaken for the non-hugger, bubble people, as they do have a bubble but their mindset is different and I can’t begin to speak to it.

Being a person with an extra sensitive bubble and need for personal space, who is not an introvert, and is very compassionate, I have had to do some soul searching on this issue.  I’m from a great small town, very safe, and very friendly.  I talk to strangers, much to my family’s dismay.  I have been a Stephen Minister at our church.  This lay person’s job is to come along side someone in a crisis and support them, for as long as they need.  You could consider it a one on one deacon.  My point being that I am compassionate, empathetic and caring.  I can be warm and bubbly, not to be confused with my personal space bubble.  Nonetheless, I am NOT a hugger.  I come from a long line of undemonstrative people, some of which are also very personable and loving.  I can’t say my personal space issue is a result of environment or just how I am designed.  I have not lived in that small town since I was a child, and there are an awful lot of huggers out here.  My intuition tells me that my bubble issue is more of a design thing.  I only call it an issue because this is a hugger’s world.  I am not broken.

First, I have to describe the hugger to the best of my observations.  The hugger shows their compassion, love and any other host of emotions via their hug.  “I haven’t seen you in a whole week”, I should hug you.  “You are upset over an event”, I should hug you.  “You just got a new job”, I should hug you.  “I just flat out love you”, I should hug you.  It’s the obligatory “passing of the peace” or “I should hug you” time in church, so I should hug you.  Additionally, huggers get their needs met via their hugs as well.  “I’m excited about something God has blessed me with”, I need to be hugged.  “I’m upset about a trying or sad event”, I need a hug.  “We just heard a horribly emotional story”, I need a hug.  “You shared with me and let yourself be vulnerable about a situation in your life which touches my heart”, I need to hug you to show you I understand and care.  “I haven’t seen you in a whole week and I love you”, I need to hug you to show you that love.  “I’m feeling a little needy or vulnerable myself”, I need a hug to know your acceptance and to receive the gift of your love and compassion.  You see, huggers freely give the gift they have in abundance, the gift behind the hugs.  Those gifts include love, compassion, empathy, acceptance and acknowledgment of an inner circle of friends.  Huggers receive those same gifts from giving a hug, it is a two-way delivery system for them.

Huggers receive energy from a hug.  It is a positive exchange for them.  It fills their tank.  That tank can become empty, and require hugs to be filled.  Hugs initiated by others, gives more energy than those initiated by themselves but most of the time they don’t realize they beat you to the punch anyway.  You even have your super huggers who hold you so tight and for so long until that gift they are giving you is fully received and returned.  It’s a super power much like Superman’s gift of flight, or Captain America’s inability to age.  The super huggers receive healing with their super powers, and are positive you will as well, if you just fully embrace the hug.  They can fill their tanks quickly but prefer a tank that is overflowing so that they can give to others freely.  We avoid you, unless you are in our inner circle. 

There are a lot of huggers in this world, or at least in America, as I have barely left this country in my lifetime.  At very least there are a lot of huggers, who hug those who are at least in their inner circles.  The degree of circle to hug intensity is often relational.  Since introverts can also be huggers, that leaves the non-huggers in the very large minority.

Let me describe the non-hugger now.  The non-hugger requires you to use your imagination to understand.  The non-hugger has a bubble of personal space that they maintain at all times.  Keeping the bubble intact requires the least amount of energy.  It’s a little like the old moat around a castle.  A non-hugger has to expend energy to allow you into their bubble.  The draw bridge has to be lowered.  It acknowledges that you are accepted or loved.  Just lowering the bubble, is a gift from the non-hugger, as well as a drain on our energy.  It does not refill our tank to hug you.  Let me repeat that, we do not get energy from hugging you.  We do receive the gift of love, compassion and empathy.  What appears to be the biggest difference from my point of view, is that we do not receive energy from it.  Much like the introvert who goes to a party and comes home drained.  They may have even had a great time, but they are exhausted, it does not build up their stores. 

The non-hugger is offering you the olive branch by simply lowering the bubble.  The longer the bubble remains down, the more energy the non-hugger has to expend.  It is a choice that we make because we live in a hugger world.  We know that huggers take the side hug, or the handshake move offensively.  We know that you can tell we hug you stiffly.  We may need that pup-tent space to keep from being completely drained.  We may only have three seconds of energy to give.  Our worst moments are when we care for someone so very dearly, who only wants to comfort us, but we do not have enough energy in our tanks to lower the bubble.  We feel your pain.  We know that you also have a need to hug us.  We have experienced this hugger world our entire life.  We are perceptive enough to know that our lack of energy feels like rejection to you.  It is not.  It is self-care.   We simply may not have the energy needed to give to you what you need.  We are used to being the giver.  That may shock you. 

It has been expected of us to choose to let down our bubble because of your needs.  We face that forced choice regularly.  No one would force a child with autism to hug them.  We understand that you are hurting that child not helping them or loving them.  We understand that to love that child, you meet them how they can receive.  Non-huggers do not get this understanding.  We get looks of hurt, judgement and dismissal when we make the choice to not expend our energy.  That choice may have nothing to do with our relationship with you, though it often takes far more energy to lower the bubble for those outside our inner circles.  Yet, the responses we get, regularly reinforces, that to make that choice we will offend you.  If we have chosen that, it was most likely not lightly.  We don’t like the judgement either.  We are perceptive enough to know, unlike the child with autism.  If we care about you, it hurts us even more.  That is a sign!  If you are in our inner circle of friends and family, and we are incapable of lowering our bubble, our tank is flat empty.  We have nothing to give you.  We will not receive the love, empathy or compassion that you are trying to give us to fill up our tanks, because we don’t have enough energy to maintain the bubble’s integrity.  It is not a positive exchange any longer for us.  That has nothing to do with our relationship with you, but with our own energy stores within our very spirit.

The East Coast has a tradition of torturing grieving families, called “Visitation Hours”.  This terrible tradition lines a grieving family up so that you can share in their grief and support them.  Which may work wonderfully for huggers, but is a lot like a nightmare for a non-hugger.  My dad was a very loved man in the small town I grew up in.  It’s a much larger town when you are forced to be in the receiving line at visitation hours.  Approximately 500 people came through those receiving lines.  Each with stories of how they knew my dad, and loved him.  Each with the offering, the gift of their shared grief in our loss; most of them huggers.  After the first ten or so people, my tank was beyond empty.  There was no longer any room for my own grief.  Luckily my oldest son arrived half way through, he was able to be light hearted and perhaps inappropriately silly with me.  I had nothing left to give those who came by that time.  It was a lot like immersion therapy.  It changed me.  My bubble was irreparably damaged, not necessarily a bad thing.  While the night itself was the worst thing I can imagine doing to a non-hugger, it has opened up an ability to receive the gift huggers have long been extending to me.  I have been known to initiate a hug since that night!  It’s quite the transformation, but only for my inner circle.  If I have hugged you, initiated the hug, that was a gift.  Not only did I lower the bubble, which still exists, but has changed, but I extended and received the gift of love, compassion and empathy that huggers intend.  Now if you aren’t in my inner circle, sorry that part of my bubble regenerated. 

So, my advice for huggers is to not immediately be offended by the pup tent hug, the side hug, the three second hug or the stiff hug.  You can go ahead and be slightly offended by the quick handshake or wave.  Instead if you know the person well, especially if you are in their inner circle, look for a deeper reason.  Maybe this person is a non-hugger.  Maybe this person’s tank is running empty for circumstances you are unaware of.  Understanding our emptiness with that overflowing compassion you can tap into, is greatly appreciated.  We know in those instances, it’s harder for you not to hug.  Choosing to help us maintain our energy stores, our depleted tank, is more loving.  Instead offer a prayer, or a simple touch on our arm or shoulder.  We will receive the intended hug.  We will appreciate, if not immediately, it will occur to us when our tank is replenished, that you respected our needs.  You see, it doesn’t happen often, so even if we are too drained to notice immediately, we will remember.  But most importantly appreciate the choice we make to show you how much we love you, when we do hug you.  You are special to us, worthy of our energy stores.  You are worthy to be given to, without a return for us.  The reasons for our bubble can be numerous.  Our anatomy remains much the same, it’s just that you can’t see part of it.  That bubble, and the energy store required to maintain it are just as real as our tears, our limbs, or our heart.  It excludes us, we wouldn’t keep it if we had a real choice.  We would choose to receive what you receive with a hug if we could.  Yet, we are not broken, we are designed differently.  We only ask for understanding and acceptance, like everyone else.  Dismissing, or making fun of our bubble is the opposite of what we would prefer, even if we acknowledge and make fun of it ourselves.  So, continue to offer us hugs.  Hug us as long as we allow, and as hard as we can return.  Nonetheless, do not take offense, we have offered all we can.

 

Signed

The Non-Hugger.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

Feel Free to Say

On Veteran’s Day in the wake of a close election, in a divided country, I am grateful for my freedoms.  As we realize that our friends, coworkers, fellow service men, and family, even our parents, spouses and children believe differently than we do; even vehemently different, rejoice in that freedom.  Because our beliefs, no matter what the topic, we do not have to be retrained.  Celebrate that right.   Value the ability to share differing opinions openly without reserve and without fear of retribution.

California had 17 propositions on the ballot, from an educational state bond, to legalizing marijuana and taxing cigarettes.  We had two plastic bag propositions, three propositions on incarceration and the death penalty, and one to limit guns and ammo.  While the debates over what passed in the propositions still hotly continue, thank you to those who serve so we have that right.

I am pleased that my children feel safe enough to argue their differing views, whether or not we should be kinder or more gentle with our words.  It matters less that we perhaps should choose our words more carefully than our ability to feel heard and validated by those with like views.  It does us good to be challenged about what we think by those with opposing views. 

It is a privilege paid for in blood. The blood of good men and woman who believe in that freedom. Morals aside, it is our constitutional right to have and speak our views freely.  The ability to argue tooth and nail for our beliefs, is a gift. 

On this Veteran’s Day, I thank all of my fellow service men, who serve today, in the past and those who will in the future.  You make America great, by allowing all Americans to be themselves.

God Bless America.

By Vicki L. Pugliese, U.S.N

My Father’s Daughter

I miss being my father’s daughter.  Dad has been gone two years and days over six months.  Most times I love to talk about him.  Some memories still bring tears.  Sweet tears.

I miss calling him.  Though anyone who knows me just laughed.  I’d rather chew off an arm than talk on the phone.  Nonetheless I miss his voice; his corny jokes even his pointed questions.  I miss making him proud.  I didn’t do that enough.

All that to point out how amazing it is to be a daughter.  Even when you could be closer, it’s a privilege.  One we take for granted until we no longer are our fathers daughter.  One we search for when that relationship is failed.  One we long for as a child from a broken home.  Daddy’s girl is no joke.  It’s a thing we girls covet.  It’s a thing many treasure and some miss.

Its so important that we make fun of it, as if that could possibly make it less important.  It does not.  We know.

As I think about missing my own father, I look at my daughter and my husband and my oldest son and his daughters, and I know how amazing being loved like that is.      My husband and son have done a better job.  Perhaps they have better daughters.

But I am still a daughter.  Though my own dad is gone and perhaps let me down in life as perhaps I did him.  I have the ultimate father, Abba Father.

I don’t call Him enough either.  I take Him for granted too.  But he doesn’t disappoint me and He isn’t disappointed in me. Satan may try to tell me different.  Satan may have loved that I got separated from my own dad from time to time in my life.  Separated emotionally as well as by miles.  Satan can only lie and hope I’ll fall for his lies when it comes to my Abba Father.

Christ understood the importance of that relationship.  He uses that name when the woman touches his cloak.  You may not know this story.  It’s in Mark Chapter 5.  They had just crossed the water after sending demons into a herd of pigs.  This was so amazing and scary that the people sent Him away.  They could not handle this person who is Christ.  There were crowds around when a ruler Jairus comes running in and begs Christ to come.  Begs for his daughter who was near death. She’s just 12 years old.  Still a child but in those days, almost not.  She’s still his baby girl.  He ran to beg for Jesus to come and heal her.  He’s a man of faith.  A leader in the synagogue.

And Jesus gets up to go.  The crowd pushing in on all sides just to get a glimpse.  So much so that when the woman reaches out and touches his cloak, the disciples completely dismiss Jesus when he asks who touched me.  Completely dismiss the notion that they could even determine who did.

But Christ knows power has gone out of him, healing.  The woman has been ill for 12 years, every year Jairus’ daughter has been alive.  She’s got a bleeding disease.  Technically that makes her unclean in Jewish culture and anyone who she touches or touches her is defiled by her touch.  Except Christ.  She is healed and made clean by His touch.  It goes the other direction there.  Instead of Him being made unclean she is made whole!  She knows it instantly too.  You can’t be sick, probably horribly anemic for 12 years, and when you are healed entirely, not know.  She knows and drops to His feet, afraid.  She’s been called out, Jesus knows.  No getting out of this now.  She had previously spent all of her money on doctors to no avail.  She’s desperate enough, yet has a tiny amount of faith.  She thought if I could just touch His cloak… but now she’s exposed.  And just like the defilement could not touch Him, and only good flowed out, He does not judge or cause her any shame.  Instead He calls her “Daughter”. The most precious word in the world.  She’s no longer an outsider and an outcast but wholly accepted by Him.

Abba Father means the same to His other daughters.  He’s not ashamed of us.  Though we may deserve that.  He does not label us outcasts, outsiders or unworthy.  He should.  He calls us not only child, but daughter.  Such a precious gift to be His daughter.  We are made whole, He is not made low by us.

Jairus’ daughter passes away it takes so long to get there.  Christ is rebuked by the family for saying otherwise.  He kicks everyone but her parents out.  Her dad is there but Christ knows she’s His daughter too. He heals her as well.  She was that ripe kind of dead too.  Jesus makes her whole.  No one questioned she was dead until Jesus says she’s just sleeping.  Why do they never believe Him?

Not only does He heal her returning her to her family, and to her dad.   Maybe to prove she isn’t a ghost or something, He tells them to feed her!  He cares for her health in multiple ways.  There before her dad.  Christ got how important it is to be the daughter.  How loved and special that title is.

Our Abba Father understands our need for that kind of care and love.  That kind of status of being adored.  He adores us.  Just as we are.  He heals us, makes us clean without shame.  Instead He adores us.  We must NOT listen to Satan.  Good flows out of Christ, evil does not touch Him.  Though we should never take this love for granted either.  Unlike my dad,  Christ will never leave us or forsake us. He will never let me down.  The perfect family umbrella.

Christ calls me daughter.  How sweet the sound of that word.  How amazing to be whole and clean.  Nothing I could do will drive Him away nor make Him love me anymore!  I am cherished.  Daddy’s girl.  No love can surpass this one.

Still I really should call to Him more…

 

Miss you Dad!

By Vicki L Pugliese

I guess it’s time?

She was just four and a half pounds.  There was nothing left of her except her big beautiful personality.  Half her full weight. She had been in continent for a couple of years now.  She couldn’t see and could barely hear.  She struggled to breathe at times and slept a lot.  But she got up and nudged me at exactly the time I was supposed to leave for her final appointment.  Tears streaming down my face, I asked her, instead of telling her.  “I guess it’s time?”

She just wanted to be held.  I was putting things away, dilly dallying.

I’d spent the day trying to make sure everything would be perfect when I brought her home.  Her headstone and burial box all ready.  I should have spent it holding her but I couldn’t.  The vet commented that her box was set up like a princess.  She’d been our only female dog and indeed was a tiny princess.

She didn’t mind wearing a sweater as long as it was fluffy and pretty.  She walked with a girly swagger.  We’d even had her nails painted once and she loved it.

What she got annoyed with were the boys, our other dogs.  A couple of them just barely smarter than rocks but bubbly, they just didn’t get that she was the princess.  And that can be so annoying!  Especially in the end, when she would snap at them like, “I’m sleeping here!”  But I got it.

I made her a silk pillow and blanket.  I decorated the box and headstone.  She’d be laid to rest like the princess she was.  We had picked a nice spot under a tree.  Seemed like a great idea until we started hitting roots.  We would have hit rocks elsewhere on our property, so it didn’t probably matter.

She got up from where she was napping and came over to be held.  I had planned on using a dog carrier in the car.  She doesn’t ride in the car well.  She was no trouble today.  She just laid across my arm.  Struggling to breathe occasionally.

I sat in the car until our appointment time, unable to go in a minute early.

In a quiet darkened room, she fell asleep against my heart.  Her breath slowed.  The vet reappeared.  “I guess it’s time.”  I said barely audible, tears covered my face.  “She looks peaceful.” The tech said.  A few minutes later I gently laid her on her pillow in her box and brought her home.  Where she belongs.  Though this friend I’ve known for fourteen plus years will always be a sweet memory in my heart.  A heart so filled with sorrow right now.  A heart she laid her head against in her final moments.  A heart that loved this tiny little princess to her final breath and beyond.

Rest in Peace my sweet Roxy.  Rest in Peace.

 

By Vicki L Pugliese

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