On Sunday 15th April, 2012, I jumped in the car, and headed up into the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for what I just knew was going to be such a special day. I not only was taking part in my very first ‘Hug Patrol’ (a group of people whose ‘aim’ is to spread hugs and happiness to others by giving out hugs to anyone who would like one – while respecting the fact that not everyone wants hugs…especially hugs from a stranger), but this Hug Patrol was to take place in an aged care facility. Wow…(I had attempted to get to a Hug Patrol many times over the last year or so – illness, surgery, or postponement of the ‘Patrol’ kept it from me – but somehow, knowing that this special Patrol was my very first one, made me think that somehow, the Universe had planned it this way, to make my first one so special).
The drive up the Mountain was the perfect way to start the day – it was such a brilliant feeling to jump in my beast, crank up the music, get out on the road, and head into the hills – my life has been CRAZY busy lately, so to have this feeling of ‘freedom’ back was just…awesome. Maleny is on my doorstep, but in everyday life I just dont make the time to head up there – this was another reminder of how easily the feeling of ‘relaxation’ can be brought back into my life…just by simply going on a drive like this – being behind the wheel makes me feel ‘at home’ 🙂
After a beautiful drive up the curves of the misty mountain (it was GORGEOUS!…a little like something out of a picturesque tv commercial, Id go so far as to say!), driving past the turn-off to my last ‘tick’ (the William Whitecloud seminar held out at Eudlo) and feeling SUCH gratitude at that moment, I arrived at the gathering place for the Hug Patrol. Slowly the others Patrollers drifted in, and after some happy chatter about what we were about to head into, we donned our Hug Patrol uniforms, and we were headed off – I was excited!
We arrived at the aged care facility, and after some happy, huggy snaps out the front…and a ‘huddle’ (or huggle as we called it!), like sportsplayers on the field about to head into a game…we were ushered into a room where we were briefed on the protocol of this experience we were about to bring to the residents. As we were also to head into the dementia wing as part of our Patrol (which was a very delicate situation we were to be in), we were strictly told what to do..and not what to do, so as to not cross any boundaries that the residents, and the staff had in place for themselves. The ‘Patrol’ was very well organised – I wont go into tooo much detail obviously, to protect the privacy of the residents – but each resident was respectfully approached first, by the staff member who we were working with, before we approached them to deliver their hugs.
And we were off…..off to deliver some hugs, touch, and hopefully some smiles, to these beautiful souls!
Wow…..Wow. SO many heartwarming, heartwrenching, special, joyful moments were shared – moments of clarity and recognition where before ‘the hug’ (or the touch) there was none, eyes lighting up which signalled that life itself had just been ignited inside of someone, lots and LOTS of smiles, even surprise was expressed when it was realised that a stranger simply wanted to give them a hug, childlike happiness and joy, overhearing some of the residents in the dining room excitedly chatting about the hugs they had received that day…(that was special, to know and hear that we had, in our small way, made a difference to their day), even just having someone reach out their hand to touch mine (if not a full hug) was just beautiful…these beautiful human beings were experiencing what we all crave (and deserve) – the power of human touch, care and affection. Laughter was also a big part of the day, some of the actions and words that these gorgeous people came out with, were just SO cute! haha..
As we strolled from room to room, from wing to wing…it hit me – this was life in its purest form – we were fully experiencing the essence of life, we were giving ‘some’ life back to these people who had lived long lives of their own, through the simple act of giving (and receiving) a hug. From one heart to another. What a priviledge. Just simply spending the time (sometimes just a couple of minutes, sometimes a bit longer….it was totally governed by the person themselves signalling by speech or body language what time, if at all, we spent with them) with each person we approached felt like such a priviledge to me.
It was hard to hold back the tears at times (but we all managed to, of course…this was about ‘them’, it was not about us)…especially at one moment when one special ladys eyes welled up with tears, at the mere thought that we were there, simply to give her a hug. That tore so much at the heartstrings…but this was exactly what we were there for, to give her (and all the others) the gift of a hug…the gift of touch and care.
Then came the time for this unique experience to come to a close…while it would have been lovely to continue to ‘spread the love’, personally I was fulfilled…I wasn’t ‘hugged out’, but I was fulfilled in that moment. I had come to do what I had planned, why I had put this on my List…to experience life itself, in such a simple but powerful way.
….But WAIT…there was more…
After we gathered for a de-brief, and hugs shared in amongst us as a team – we decided we would head to the Maleny Markets for an impromptu Hug Patrol. “Awesome!”…I not only would experience the unique Patrol we had just shared…but I would also get to experience the ‘other side’ of what a Patrol does…heading out into the public, to spread the joy!
Arriving at the Markets, feeling so blessed about what we had just experienced, we gathered at the entrance to the Hall that the Markets were being held. Wandering in with our Hug Patrol sign, announcing that the Hug Patrol had arrived….what an awesome moment! haha….we slowly made our way around the Hall, asking people if they would like a hug (and again, as before, totally respecting if someone did not want one), sharing hugs, laughter and joy around the hall. This was such a different ‘feel’ to the Patrol we had just done – still special, but ‘different’ in ways of, being ‘lighter’, less emotional, more ‘joyful/happy’, than ‘touching’ is a way to describe it, I guess. I am so glad I got to experience the two ‘extremes’ of a Hug Patrol…both on the one day!
At the end of the Patrol, we were generously treated to some SCRUMPTIOUS cupcakes by a woman who runs a cupcake stall at the Markets – oh my GOODNESS, they were SOO good….SO naughty, but SO good! (hey…I hadnt had lunch yet, and was starving..hugging for hours takes it out of you..thats my story and Im sticking to it haha).
It then came time to head away from this absolutely magical experience, and head back home. After more hugs shared with each other as we went our seperate ways, I headed back down the Mountain – my body, mind, and soul totally embraced by this day that had just unfolded. Wow. On the way home, I turned into a lookout, partway down the mountain range…the views were just spectacular! Looking out over the views and towards the coastline of my home, the Sunshine Coast…such a warm feeling again rushed over me – I truely felt like I was a ‘million miles away from home’ (yet in reality I was then only about 20kms away from my front door). This day had been filled with so many ‘life moments’ in so many different directions. Yes, the ‘core’ of the day was all about the aged care residents, of course..that was my/our main focus of the day, to be there for them…but I would be lying if I said I didnt gain anything myself out of this day, at all.
This ’tick’ was yet another reminder of what my bucketlist journey (which is not just ‘at the moments of ticking something off’, its a total 24/7 lifestyle) is about, and has brought me – to purposefully create moments to treasure…to FULLY embrace life…and whenever I can, to ‘give back’ to others….whether I’m ticking something off or not…this is what life is all about, for me now.
Anything is Possible….with a Hug!
*I have since gone on to join in on other Hug Patrols after this one..and each one is just so special. The feeling of offering someone a hug, and in some cases them, while accepting a hug from you, as a stranger – saying “I really needed that today, you have no idea”, is just one of the most special feelings on this earth. The simple (and sometimes the most powerful) things in life really are free…