Banter Bites

Hug At Your Own Risk

Did you ever notice that if you rearrange the letters in “hug” you get … “ugh”?

BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We started to ask how can something as simple yet meaningful as a hug not get universal acceptance, but then realized that was a ridiculous question because Red thinks about hugs very differently than Black.

Besides the fact both of us describe Red as a warm and fuzzy mom, emphasis on the words “warm and fuzzy”, Red strongly believes that hugs are an integral part of who she is. To the point that Black, as well as Red’s kids, think Red should wear a warning label that a big ole’ mom hug could be coming your way.

And Red’s proud of it, and although hugging comes to her naturally, she believes you can learn to be a hugger. Her challenge was the opposite because when COVID struck, she had to learn how to not be a hugger. But she did laugh (and roll her eyes) at Black’s dilemma,

Before the pandemic, I tried to avoid hugging (you already know I find it selfish – in that it is usually the person who needs a hug who insists on hugging), so COVID was the perfect excuse not to hug people. Now when I avoid hugs, people think I am either a germophobe or overly cautious, neither of which is true. Good thing I do not care what people think.

Red decided not to point out to her sister that she knows Black will hug someone if she feels they need it, or at least let them hug her; however, the body language can be amusing. But it wasn’t until Red had children that she learned Black wasn’t an anomaly and that not everyone needs or wants a hug. Still, she questions how she could have given birth to two daughters, with neither having “inherited” the hugging gene.

The funny thing is Black’s willing to acknowledge that, for most people, hugs represent affection, concern, love, appreciation, or even just the joy of seeing someone. Of course, she had to add the science behind the importance of hugs, including how they can relieve stress, amongst other health benefits. And even mentioned a specific study she found fascinating.

So, given that science supports hugging, Red couldn’t understand why Black still resisted hugging, and when she worked up the nerve to ask, Black explained,

We all know what we should do but often ignore what is best for us. When it comes to hugging, I will sometimes compromise and do it for the other person, so I guess you could say my approach to hugs is … it is better to give than to receive.

Which made Red wonder if Black is the one who should come with a warning label.

When Red first heard Black talking about the importance of "soft skills," she didn't even know what she was referring to, let alone that they would be important to her life. So, Black explained that it was a term used to describe intangible but essential skills, such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communications, and conflict management.

Red, trying to be sarcastic, then asked if there was such a thing as “hard skills,” Black matter-of-factly told her those are tangible and technical skills such as computer skills.

Of course, Black couldn’t pass up an opportunity for sarcasm and explained that although there’s consensus about the importance of soft skills, there’s debate about what they should be called, with her favorite being the Texas Education Agency (TEA) calling them "21st Century Skills" – although she's old enough to remember they were important in the 20th Century, too.

But would anyone call them “Mom Skills”? Well, Red couldn’t help but remember the time Black told her, “Your job is every bit as demanding as a corporate position, and, in fact, you use many of the same skill sets.”Not something Red could ever have imagined, but it made sense once she better understood what soft skills are and how they are used. But then Black took it a step further,

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Money. It’s the first thing Red thought about when her husband came home and, totally unexpectedly, told her he was fired. And what was the first thing she did? She freaked out (Black likes to say that Red finally used her theater degree), assuming the worst about their financial situation. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she was certain she couldn’t “do” personal finance.

She then made a third foolish assumption … that her sister Black, who had an M.B.A. in International Finance, would tell her what to do. Instead, after giving Red a few days to deal with her emotions, Black started to ask her basic questions about their financial situation, and it became obvious Red’s default setting was to “freak out”.

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Life rarely goes as planned. Sometimes, unplanned events only cause minor adjustments. But sometimes, they can put you in “crisis mode” and might require major transformations. Like the rainy Friday when Red’s husband came home and told her, totally unexpected, that he had been fired. In a split second, her life went from fairy tale to nightmare.

So, whether you freak out (Red’s default setting) or are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain where to start, when we relaunch this site in the New Year, there will be a section called **IT HAPPENS. Filled with tips and tools (and, of course, food for thought), we hope it will help you survive and thrive during even the most stressful life events.

Because we’ve experienced them, we know that a “crisis” can come in many different forms (financial, work, relationship, health, natural disaster, the list goes on), and what starts as one issue often impacts many aspects of your life. But, as Black recently explained to Red,

Every situation is different, but you can approach them in a similar way, although I did not tell you that at the time. I did not even let you know we were going through the steps one-by-one because, in your case, I knew we first had to deal with the emotional aspects. And, when I told you I thought your “crisis” would be the best thing that ever happened to you, you thought I was being nice. Even though I do not do nice.

Well, Black may not “do nice”, but she did help Red through her “crisis”, and along the way, managed to help Red see that adjusting her mindset and perspective could make all the difference.

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