Hug freely

Hugging my sister enthusiastically when she visited NY

I wanted to share with you a delightful post by one of my favorite new (to me) bloggers, Girl on the Contrary. It’s all about hugs, and is linked below. I am a huge fan of hugging–it’s up there with kissing, compliments, dancing, and smiling. Yup, I think those are my top 5 stellar things to give and get. I’ll get a hug just about any way my friends/family want to give it. In fact, I hug my sister and mom regularly even though they live in the midwest and I live on the east coast. How? Well, sometimes at the end of a particularly touching phone conversation, we’ll do a “mental hug” where we both for a few seconds imagine we are hugging each other (basically replaying a memory of hugging in my mind). And it works. I always feel hugged, held, comforted, loved. It’s awesome.

There is a whole part of the art world that designates an act as a work of art. And there have been artists who HUG as their work of art. Of course I think this is fabulous, so here is a great video about the group Praxis and the piece they did for a previous Whitney Biennial exhibition:

Hugs as art

And another totally awesome video:

HUGS!!! and More Hugs! — check out the Free Hugs Campaign — it’s awesome and gives me warm fuzzies.

So here’s a challenge for you: hug someone every day (pets count–and if you’re a hermit, pillows do too). For some it might be easy, while for others maybe they’re a bit out of practice? I imagine it’s like riding a bike: a little uncomfortable at first, but eventually as natural as walking down the street! So, if you’re out of practice, give it a shot. It’ll get better and then I bet you’ll be like Girl on the Contrary–just longing to hug everyone! And maybe you’ll even declare your own free hug campaign in your town! Cheers!


Here’s the blog about hugs from Girl on the Contrary:

Do You Ever Want to Hug Strangers? I Do. I really do want to hug strangers sometimes. Like when I see someone walking by themselves without a smile, I just want to hug them. They probably need a hug. Or if I notice someone being really mean to someone else I just want to grab them both into a big hug and just let the love flow through me to them. If I acted on this impulse I am 100% sure I could single-handedly create world peace. Or get murdered. Is this odd? People seem to think this … Read More

via Girl on the Contrary

I married myself


My body and I have arguments. Pretty much every day. They go something like this:

Emotions: I want chocolate.

Logic: No you don’t. You shouldn’t eat it. It’ll upset your stomach and you’ll gain weight.


Emotions: See, I want chocolate. My body wants it. I NEED it.

Logic: No, your body wants it because YOU thought about sweets, but if we ate it we wouldn’t enjoy it and we would feel guilty after eating it. Don’t have the chocolate, you’ll just regret it…. Have fruit instead.

Emotions: Forget fruit! chocolate chocolate chocolate chocolate….. What reasons can I think of to have chocolate? Hmmm…. I’m stressed. I just went to the doctor. I’m PMS-ing. I am tired. I had a bad day. I feel like it.

Body: Sounds good. Chocolate.

And then, I eat chocolate.  90% of the time I regret it.

The arguments started in my early twenties. I was in college and as I gained weight year after year with processed food and drinking on the weekends, my digestive system decided to revolt. So in 2004 I went through this unplanned 2 year process of cleaning out all the crap in my life: negative friendships, unhealthy eating habits, personal setbacks. It was hard, but at the end of it I was 65 pounds lighter, in a healthy relationship (he’s now my husband), had rewarding friendships, was doing what I love (art and writing), and was 75% less affected by my digestive condition.

And then I went to grad school. And I moved 1000 miles from my family. And then came: emotional eating. I gained back 10 pounds. Doesn’t sound like a lot, and it’s not bad. But if you were always chubby and you got down to a size that was smaller than you were in junior high, you really don’t want to go back. And that’s where the battle is: I want two things. To eat crap from time to time, and to stay thin. Over and over, I fight with temptation. And sometimes, I lose.

Being a newlywed I think about the elements of a life-long commitment a lot. Why is it that I can commit to another person for my entire life, but when it comes to committing to myself for even 3 weeks, I balk? I could chalk this lack of self-commitment up to a heap of things: external rewards are easier to come by than internal rewards, a brownie can’t hug me, and it’s easier to have fun with cake or my husband than to exercise control by a living a consistently healthy lifestyle. Regardless of the reasons, I recently realized my personal expectations were pretty ridiculous.

With food and exercise, I haven’t allowed myself any leniency. My eating rules have been so rigid, I could have never succeeded at them for life. They’re just too hard (things my body physically protests : sugar, alcohol, sulfites, MSG, nitrates, fried or spicy foods, high amounts of fat, enriched carbs, dairy, caffeine, green/black tea, and–yes– chocolate)!

I am aware that being married for a lifetime means I will experience disappointment, heartache, and pain. I know we’ll each slip up somehow. But I adjust for these things by acknowledging that we aren’t perfect. We each might take an appreciative look at a cute guy/girl who walks by. We might make flirtatious conversation with the opposite sex. We will likely take pleasure knowing “I still got it!” when we get hit on. I know I do! And that’s okay. I have learned from my grandparents that a little leniency and a little innocent “sinning” goes a long way for marital bliss. Like my grandma says (her qualifications? Married almost 60 years, faithful loving couple, raised 7 kids): Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you’re dead. You can look, just never touch!

So I have adopted a better attitude. I am marrying myself.

If I marry myself, I commit to loving myself in spite of all those things that bug or disappoint me. I accept that my desires, interests, and needs will change over time. I offer myself compassion and leniency, support and encouragement. I commit to staying healthy physically and mentally so that I can continue to find myself attractive. I am dedicated to balancing my needs against the needs of others. I put the love I have for me above the love I have for my family (I can’t do much for others if I secretly loathe myself–and loving myself well also means disallowing myself to become a jerk or egotistical).

I commit to the up’s and down’s that I’ll have over the years. I’ll exercise regularly for awhile, but there will come a month where I don’t get to the gym as often. I will remind myself that marriages take work. I can’t just lose 65 pounds and stop trying, just like I can’t be faithful before my wedding day and then “drop the act” (as so many do) once the ring is on the finger.

I am committed to make this relationship work, so I have to keep working at it. Forever. Because just like I don’t know what great things are lying ahead for me and Jake, I also will be pleasantly surprised at what’s lying ahead for me and my body and mind!


Thanks for reading.

Fear and hookworms

from Wikimedia commons and

Did I tell you I work a boring job? It’s good, don’t get me wrong. Benefits, decent pay for a recession. But it’s dull. Data entry. Is that all I have to say? I think so.¬† While I’m staring into my computer for those 40 weekly hours, I listen to my IPod and try not to think about the irreparable damage I’m doing to my eardrums. Recently I’ve become a huge fan of podcasts, and today listened for the first time to WNYC – Radiolab. On September 25, 2009 they did a segment on parasites (link to their page is here). I didn’t think I would like the subject, but ended up totally fascinated. Particularly I was interested in the story of Jasper Lawrence who suffered from ridiculous allergies which progressively worsened. Jasper tried everything it seemed, until he learned about the beneficial effects hookworms could have on illnesses like his. Determined to alleviate his pain, Jasper exposed his body to quite possibly the most disgusting environment imaginable so he could contract a healthy dose of hookworms. I won’t go into further detail–you can listen to the (free) podcast if you want to hear it! But within less than a year, Jasper went from allergy-attack victim (to the point of hospitalization), to nearly allergy-free!

The theory behind this “Helminthic Therapy” is that these little critters evolved with us, living in our digestive tracts where they could sustain themselves, and in turn offer us a little balance down there. But then we went and got all clean. You know: sanitation systems, clean water, bathing more than once every few weeks; and we ended our relationship with the sweet little parasite. Of course, back then it wasn’t so sweet–too much of them caused anemia, fatigue, malnourishment, and other issues. But what scientists have found is that these tiny guys may be the answer, or a very very effective treatment, to many disorders including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, asthma, IBS, lupus, and MS to name a few. The podcast asks, “Why aren’t people knocking down the doors of these treatment organizations to get some help?!” and one of the many reasons is the very old, but ever-new: fear.

And that’s what I’m writing about here. How many times has “fear” been the reason we haven’t done something? Something that would make us happy, make us feel better, solve a problem. I’m not just talking about infecting ourselves with hookworms either. Was there ever a person you were attracted to that you didn’t ask out on a date, for fear of being shot down? Or a job you didn’t apply for, because you didn’t know what you would do if you actually got it? There are so many reasons we generate for why we shouldn’t do something, and so few we acknowledge for why we should. And often, when we let fear rule our lives, we continue living in unhappy circumstances, being something we’re not, or being suppressed by some sort of liability (like Jasper’s allergies).

A good way to decide how to respond to fear is to ask yourself:

1. Are these fears based in anything tangible and logical? Do they have validity?

2. What are the odds that the “fear” would actually occur?

3. Is it a “safe” risk?

4. Will your actions hurt anyone in the process of being achieved?

5. What is worse: staying where you are now, or taking a risk and going for what makes you afraid?

Depending on your answers to these questions, you may be in a good position to make that move that causes you so much anxiety. Sometimes, however, the option isn’t worth the risk. But if I had an immune disorder, I think I’d take the hookworms.

Be Nice Twice

exercise equipment

There is a very easy, simple and thoughtful way for any person to be¬†nice… twice!¬† It occurred to me when I realized how un-nice I was being and didn’t realize it. See, when I work out at the gym, I usually warm-up on the treadmill for 10 minutes and then pop down to the mats to do strengthening and stretching exercises, after which I do more cardio and wipe down my machine afterward. But what I was not doing was wiping down my treadmill the first time I used it. I rationalized my inaction by the fact that¬†I touched the buttons only 4-5 times when I used the machine and didn’t sweat. But touching buttons is touching buttons. Who knows what germs I may have spread by not wiping down the machine. Not to mention, if it were the other way around, I bet I’d be writing about whosoever was inconsiderate and didn’t wipe down their machine! Shame on me!

So, that’s how easy it is to be nice–twice: first, be nice to your body by working out in the first place. Exercise has a number of benefits that I will have to share another time. And second, thoroughly wipe down your equipment and your mat.¬† I’m sure we would all like the same done for us.¬†If we all thought the way I did before today, those machines would be pretty dirty! And no one wants to exercise on top of someone else’s sweat and germs.

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2010

Cleanliness is kindness

This post is in conjunction with the release of my newest postcard about washing hands. I thought up the postcard awhile ago, but it seems appropriate that it is being released now during the beginning of flu season.  Washing your hands is a conscientious thing to do in these germy times. While I do think some things take it too far (like anti-bacterial body wash and facial tissues), basic cleanliness and caution is always advisable. You never know if the person standing next to you might have some condition that makes them susceptible to illness, and while you may feel healthy, you may still have yucky germy-things that can make others sick.

Case-in-point: at my job, there is a woman who sits nearby that never covers her mouth when she coughs or sneezes. And she does it a lot!¬† Imagine all the germs that may be flung into the air each time she sneezes!¬† Or the women that leave the bathroom without washing their hands at work. EW.¬†I¬†know a person¬†who is allergic to¬†the¬†hand soap in her work restroom, so she brings her own. Now¬†that is considerate!¬†So these¬†non-handwashers have no excuse, wouldn’t you say?

But I think many of us believe that simply¬†running our hands under some water (sans soap) will clean them up. This is not the case. My friend Mandy, a medical professional,¬†explained to me that it is the friction that comes with hand-washing (plus the warm water and soap) that frees up the spores and whatnot attached to our skin, which makes our hands clean.¬†This is the purpose behind the¬†15 second rule for hand washing. I had no idea. I thought that was a rule made up to get people to wash in general (ask for 15 seconds, and you’ll get the 5 seconds necessary–seemed to make sense). So I guess we all better do a stand-up job at hand washing. Remember, you can get yourself sick too by touching some communal item and then touching your face! Cleanliness helps everyone!

Below I have attached the CDC guidelines for proper hand washing. You can find the info here. For a cuter website with an awesome rubber ducky in its heading, check this link out: This website is a great resource for all things handwashing related!

Steps to proper handwashing…

  1. Hands should be washed using soap and warm, running water
  2. Hands should be rubbed vigorously during washing for at least 20 seconds with special attention paid to the backs of the hands, wrists, between the fingers and under the fingernails
  3. Hands should be rinse well while leaving the water running
  4. With the water running, hands should be dried with a single-use towel
  5. Turn off the water using a paper towel, covering washed hands to prevent re-contamination.


Hands should be washed after the following activities:

  • After touching bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms
  • After using the toilet
  • After coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, using tobacco, eating or drinking
  • After handling soiled equipment or utensils
  • After food preparation, as often as necessary to remove soil and contamination and to prevent cross-contamination when changing tasks
  • After switching between working with raw food and working with ready-to-eat food
  • After engaging in other activities that contaminate the hands.


Note:  The VSP does not endorse the use of hand sanitizers in lieu of handwashing with soap and warm, running water.  Hand sanitizers containing 60-90% ethyl alcohol or isopropanol in concentration with equivalent sanitizing strength, may be used as an adjunct to proper handwashing.


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (, 2008-2009.

Too much

I am constantly reminded that not everyone is as outgoing and friendly and upbeat as me.¬† I get picked on for it (sometimes jokingly, sometimes seriously). I try to remind myself that it’s okay to be different when people make those comments. Every person is some sort of “too much”: too quiet or too talkative, too temperamental, too high-strung, too judgmental, too religious, too angry, too bawdy, too laid back, and so on.¬†I believe these “too” statements¬†have to do with the person on the receiving end¬†feeling out of control or overwhelmed. On occasion, it never hurts to temper my personality for others–especially when I’m at work. But I have to guard against being someone I’m not. Eventually that sort of behavior will make a person miserable. So be yourself, and just¬†remember that being who you are might not jive with other people all the time. And that isn’t your fault (unless you’re hurting them in some way). It’s the nature of being an individual, and it’s what keeps life interesting!


© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice.(, 2008-2009.