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Introspective Sojourner

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

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respect

Open Letter to the NFL

Dear NFL, it’s time to have a Dr. Phil moment. “How’s that working for you?” We’ve spent so much time and energy fighting over ‘how’ this important message gets made. Players boycotting the anthem. Fans boycotting the games. Owners supporting and openly standing against the ‘how’ – on a very basic right to protest. Give the players a time and place to make this statement.

The issue has never been that you don’t stand against racism or police brutality. The issue was always the ‘how’.

Colin Kaepernick wasn’t wrong that football games are a far reaching mechanism to get the word out. He wasn’t wrong to risk his career defending a desire to make this country better for all.

The misstep was in the ‘how’ and YOU have the power to not only bring us together but to show us you believe in the message.

Kneeling during the anthem will never stop offending certain groups such as veterans. They too have a valid point, paid for by the blood of their fellow veterans. It’s not okay to dismiss their sacrifice, but until the anthem is for all of us – it’s true meaning is lost.

What if the NFL sponsored the protest – provided a time and place? What if before we sing the anthem, we show all Americans that the anthem is for them. Allow players to meet at the center of the field, perhaps wearing black hats. Both teams, all races coming together for a minute of silence on their knees.

Toss out fans who are disrespectful or unsupportive. Putting a stop to racism is that important. Let’s find our solidarity.

When the minute of silence is over, let the players stand united for one country. The land of the free and the home of the brave. Sing the anthem that should be an anthem for all of us.

Respect the message Colin was trying to make while respecting the sacrifices of those who fought for his right to say his message, and his right to protest. It’s an important message.

Maybe if we look at ‘how’ we say our words as well as how important the words are, we can say even more. The ‘how’ speaks volumes by itself.

Let’s end the division and fight for our unity. Let’s kneel together for an America that is better for us all. MLB, NBA, NHL feel free to join the movement.

Maybe this idea still needs to be refined. It’s a great jumping off point. Help us stop fighting over a message we agree upon!

Sincerely,

Vicki L. Pugliese

Make America Kind Again

We’re expert judges. Shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, American Idol, The Voice have given us years of experience and a feeling that we’re entitled to notice the mistakes of others. We have no problem, even though we are not in the industries discussing how a contestant is a little “pitchy”.  It’s easy to walk right on passed the line and declare a song or a dance a disaster, as if we could easily do better. Over a decade of judges like Simon Cowell and their harsh comments have desensitized us and sometimes find their way into our own words or at least our thoughts. We easily compare two dancers, singers and even songwriters now, forgetting that each person has their own gifts and strengths.

I can’t throw the first stone. As I have learned what the judges are looking for I now spot those tiny imperfections and jump to give my opinion to those watching with me. Not that I could ever dance or sing at those levels. I dismiss their hard work and dedication and the situation these reality shows have put them in as if it’s an easy undertaking.

Social media is not much different. We judge politicians, and even the general public without knowing these people at all. Sure some of us are very informed, but all of our life experiences and those things we hold dear color our perception of them. Words are taken out of context and compared with something someone else says. And for some unknown reason we have decided it’s fine for us to judge even common people we’ve never met. We make meme’s of silly pictures, ridiculing them. I can count myself among those who quickly share. I do enjoy a good chuckle. 

When social media first took off we were more careful, cautious with our words. We didn’t get into lengthy discussions with others of issues, some of which, don’t really mean that much to us. We simply get caught up in the conversation. Bullying on the internet is a well reported phenomenon and perhaps many of us have found ourselves on one side or the other of biting comments. We know better. We don’t treat each other this way in person. We’re much more apt to hold our tongue when we disagree face to face. Or maybe that’s just me. Little by little we slide. Little by little we change the line of what’s acceptable – so that we no longer expect people to be good citizens, kind and polite. We shrug off bad days and laugh when we feel like “what a B*!ch I was”. Little by little, that becomes the norm. Our language slightly looser than it was a decade ago. We’re actually impressed when someone is a decent human being. Suddenly they’re considered a hero. Someone who kindly brings a meal to the homeless, or helps a child with their bike chain. These are no longer common place and so, now, we consider them special for being so kind.

It didn’t happen all at once. The slip was slow and constant. I have seen the change in myself. In my expectations, my language and my actions. It’s easy to shrug them off instead of being saddened by the change, or embarrassed. It’s not really embarrassing anymore, if everyone around you is the same, is it? Or is that just me.

For me it’s time to turn around. Start the walk back up that slope. Be intentional about acts of kindness. Put others before myself – at least as often as I put myself first. It’s time to take my standards and place them somewhere above my expectations, not below. I’m only one. I can’t change anyone else’s mind. I can’t drag people up the hill with me. But I can openly admit I’m turning around, so at very least there are others out there who might question me if they find me heading back down. Accountability. I need that and if you find yourself on the other end of my unkindness – feel free to point that out. Because I want those standards of years gone by, and if my actions or my words might inspire you to join me – even better.

Today perhaps America or even the world is the tiniest bit kinder because I made that choice.

 

Written 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

A Vow of Respect

I vowed to “Respect” in my wedding vows.  My husband vowed to “Cherish”.  We went with those traditional vows.  We actually fought to keep them more traditional.  That was nearly 27 years ago. Perhaps God saw the people we would become and tried to assist us by making us promise!  Back then it didn’t seem like any big deal to either of us.  It was just who we were.  It also was important.  Not as important as it would become, as we became more strong willed or stubborn, if you will, after nearly 27 years.

People in general, tend to try and show our love and affection for each other in our own love language.  The five love languages being Affection, Quality Time, Gifts, Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation.  That last one is not the same for men as it is for women, so it is misleading.  Then my husband and I went and put that last one in our vows and promised to do so!  Both my husband and I have different love languages.  I know, that’s shocking, right!  He likes quality time.  I like acts of service.  Those can be directly opposing.  It’s hard to do something for someone if you are just sitting there spending time with them.  My little A.D.D. brain feels like I am monopolizing the quality time, which I probably am.  Then I want to show him that I love him by running off and doing something for him; MY love language.  Then I get hurt when he doesn’t reciprocate.  He got hurt because I left while we were having quality time.  You see how this works.

God tried to help.  Both of us have a second love language of Words of Affirmation.  Here is where there’s a wrench in the system.  No one told me that the expression of love that men need is different from that expression needed by women.  I’m a slow learner.  How you show Words of Affirmation to a man is different from how you show Words of Affirmation to a woman.  For years my husband would complain that I didn’t respect him.  I didn’t understand.  There it was in our vows all along.  God tried to help me.  I just wasn’t paying attention.  Neither was my husband because that whole cherish thing had been borderline at times too.  Not paying attention, that’s normal for me, but a little surprising for my husband.  He usually misses nothing!

Here is my new truth.  I wish I had learned this years ago.  Men need words of affirmation that include respect.  Ephesians 5:33 says “let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Telling a man that you love him, cherish him or adore him is like the wind.  He doesn’t hear it.  He thinks, “Of course you do we are married!”  What he needs to hear is words of respect.  Those words he craves and his soul needs for growth and strength.  Instead tell your husband, “I’m proud of you.” “I admire that.” “I respect that.” “Thank you.” Also you should throw in those occasional “You’re hot” (especially after all these years, he needs to know he’s still hot) and “What a stud muffin you are.”  Those are the language that men, my husband included, craves.  He wants me to see his accomplishments and to be proud and grateful for all his efforts.

I said I would in our vows 27 years ago.  He needs that to be his full self as God created him to be.

Here is the rub, to support him fully, I need him to cherish me like I am fine china, beautiful but fragile.  It’s hard sometimes to be respectful and admiring when I have been treated like paper plates or everyday wear that’s chipped and stained.  When he starts noticing my appearance and not my heart or who I am inside then I get chipped a little more, because I am fragile.  I am just like fine china, I chip and crack easily.  Those chips and cracks do not repair well, it may take years to heal.

But when he does treat me like fine china and care for me, then it is easy to respect and natural to reciprocate.  What a terrible Catch-22.  When we are careful to go back to our vows, others outside of our marriage always notice how well we are getting along.  It only took me 25 years or so to figure it out!  I’m a slow learner.  I can still be stubborn.  If you haven’t been told the secret, I hope I saved you 25 years!

Guys if you want her to care about her appearance, cherish her.  Cherish the person she is inside.  Love her with all that you have like she is fine china, fragile and precious.  She will respond and before you know it, you really won’t care about the outside, but maybe she will.  1 Peter 3:3 says “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves by submitting to their own husbands.”

Girls respect him, even if sometimes he doesn’t earn it.  God told you to do so.  He will become the leader of your home that you are looking for.  Even if that isn’t his love language, he still needs those words of affirmation as well.  His soul needs it.

It’s just a truth, like women all need to be cherished.  Marriage makes us stronger, better when done the way God intended.  That’s why we say vows before Him.  That’s why we ask Him for his blessing on our union.

 

By Vicki L. Pugliese

 

Media by @agphotographysd

 

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