From kindergarten to fifth grade, I lived with my maternal grandma with my mom and older brother. My G-ma was an amazing woman. She was one of seven children. She had seven children of her own. I was the youngest of 27 grandchildren and I’m not sure anyone has count anymore of the great and great-great-grandchildren. The total number of decedents of Geraldine Doris Canion (Harper, Hendricks, Heathcock, Pace) is definitely over 100. Her running gag was that when God spoke and said “Go and replenish the Earth” she took him literally.

She had an amazing sense of wit and humor. Grandma never knew a stranger, and upon meeting she would throw her arms open and say something to the extent of “Oh honey, we hug around here!” or “Don’t be a stranger, I’m a hugger!” Some people don’t particularly like physical contact. That’s okay. Grandma was going to hug you anyway.

I don’t know many people anymore who invade your space with happiness the way she did. She wasn’t a petit lady, (she’d phrase it that she had a lot more to love) so when she hugged you, she engulfed you in a laugh and a good squeeze.

Hugging is scientifically good for you. It releases serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Those are all the feel good chemicals our brain produces, for the non-science minded readers. Hugs also lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, and create social bonds.I genuinely believe people were happier around my grandmother because she did show her positivity with hugs.

I am a hugger, and this Valentine’s day I want to challenge all of you to embrace your inner G-ma and give someone who needs it a hug. Not just family, or close friends, but someone who could use a physical reaching out for reassurance. Yes, even a good side hug if you’re worried about the HR representatives of the world.

To promote this culture of sharing physical positivity, I am selling both vinyl decals and T-shirts with my “Bring it in, I’m a hugger” graphic, especially with what my son calls “Love Day” just around the corner. His school promotes Valentine’s as a day we share love and affection to everyone who matters to us, not just one special ‘Valentine’ and I love that idea! Let’s spread some love.

Decals will be 5$ for a 3.25 inch, and 10$ for a 5 inch. Shirts will be 20$. They are a ladies cut v-neck with 100% soft cotton. They are hand screen printed, so expect slight handmade imperfections. If you want a men’s cut, just let me know! They are of course, red, like my G-ma would have requested. If you order by Wednesday the 12th, I can have them to you by Valentines! Link to purchase here.

Now get to hugging. You’d be surprised at how even giving the hug can bring about happiness.

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