I have long considered myself a social butterfly with an active life and large circles of friends and family members. In the “Before Times,” prior to the pandemic, I travelled often to spend time with my tribe in the DC area, I facilitated Cuddle Party workshops, I created lots of FREE HUGS events in which I hugged numerous strangers. I estimate that since Hugmobsters Armed With Love was founded in 2014, I have embraced thousands of willing folks throughout the US, Canada and Ireland. It has been one of my greatest joys and one of the things I was born to do. During the pandemic, that was curtailed out of necessity, concern for my own health (cardiac and respiratory issues) and that of my family. I have two grandchildren (3 1/2 and 16 months now) whose health is of the utmost importance to me. I tell them that they are my two favorite people on the planet. They are my ‘why’ in terms of my peace and social justice activism and advocacy. I want a sustainable planet with equal rights for the next generations.
As I am writing this, I am wearing a tie dye sweatshirt with the words BE KIND emblazoned on the front. I donned it after coming in, drenched from being in a torrential rain while wrestling my grandson’s new car seat into the back seat of my car. I bought it so that I can take him places with me. My son will be installing it tomorrow. I took a two hour nap which I have indulged in more often, sans guilt or any thought that I should be doing something, accomplishing something, or being purposeful. Before the 2014 heart attack, I used to say that sleep was highly over-rated. Now I relish it and find it restorative. As I am approaching 65, I notice that I don’t have the stamina my parents did at my age. I work out at the gym 4-6 times a week, but huff and puff walking in town.
If circumstances had been different, I would be spending the weekend at my favorite event of the summer for the past few decades, The XPoNential Music Festival sponsored by member supported radio station WXPN. In part, the weather is keeping me away, with rain and wind, courtesy of Tropical Storm Ophelia, as well as feeling a lack of stamina to traverse the grounds of Wiggins Park, even with my ‘buddy,’ my aluminum hiking pole. In previous years, I would have clocked several miles as I offered FREE HUGS while strolling about and dancing enthusiastically. Instead, I have been watching the concerts livestreamed from the cozy comfort of home. Yes, it’s more convenient, since I don’t need to travel the two hours and some roundtrip to get there and back and shlep a backpack, a chair, and a mini cooler. What I miss is being in the crowds of celebrants who become family of choice as we sing and dance along to heritage artists and newly discovered musicians. For years, I have reunited with festin’ friends who I only see there. I was so looking forward to being there tomorrow in particular to witness the musical magnificence of Allison Russell, Low Cut Connie, Josh Ritter and Bruce Hornsby. Once again, I will watch from home rather than being there live and in person.
Instead of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), I am feeling JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). I am noticing more often than not, I am turning inward and becoming more contemplative. I explore my past and find myself wanting do-overs. I consider my co-dependent, care giving, savior behavior and wonder what my relationships would have been like if I had simply been authentic. For sure, I would have been happier, not second guessing my role in their lives. I walk into the ‘way back machine’ and look with compassion at the younger version of me who wanted to be loved best of all and sometimes felt I needed to sell myself to do it. These days, as I reach the seasoned senior age that many people want to deny, I am celebrating my cronehood. I wish that I could boost my cognition, improve my memory and increase my stamina. Instead, I am