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Roxanne Wilder

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LONDON - JULY 02: Musicians David Gilmour (L) and Richard Wright from the band Pink Floyd hug on stage at "Live 8 London" in Hyde Park on July 2, 2005 in London, England. The free concert is one of ten simultaneous international gigs including Philadelphia, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Barrie, Tokyo, Cornwall, Moscow and Johannesburg. The concerts precede the G8 summit (July 6-8) to raising awareness for MAKEpovertyHISTORY. (Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images)

I’m a hugger. I remember reading a quote from a family therapist, Virginia Satir, about hugging.

She said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

I always said to myself, “Roxanne, you never know when you might be interacting with someone who lives alone and might not be anywhere near their hugs-for-growth goal.” So I hug tightly and often.

And though we could all use a little hug right about now to alleviate the stress and worry and anxiety, forget about it. Hugs are off the table. In fact, please adhere to my COVID-19 restraining order and keep your healthy social distance.

I mean, what is happening?! I get it. I will adhere to it. But could you ever imagine this world we are in now? I don’t think I’d ever used that term, social distance, until this week, and so I couldn’t have even predicted its meaning. We didn’t know such a concept existed. I mean social (media) distance would be…I don’t know…maybe the time between your last two Facebook posts. Or physical social distance might be, “I’m five blocks away from that bar. I’m closing in on the social distance.”

It’s not fun, but is it all bad? As far as the hugs go, take advantage of the quarantines and hug the crap out of your household members (assuming you are quarantined to protect yourself from the public and that none of you in the house have COVID-19). Get your twelve.

And I’ll tell you one little upside of social distancing. I saw a neighbor the other day walking her dog and we chatted. She yelled to me, “Hello there. I promise I’m maintaining social distance,” and we both had a little chuckle. Why is this relevant? Because pre-social distance we probably wouldn’t have spoken. We definitely would’ve given the polite neighbor wave. But now we feel compelled to reach out a little further, not physically but verbally. Humans have an innate desire for closeness and connection. In times of stress, the need is greater. Though we can’t close in with a hug or handshake, we can compensate with feeling and emotion…verbally and facially. Phone calls are great, too! The sound of someone’s voice who cares for you is wonderful. Reach out. You won’t catch any germs from the person on the other end of the phone.

One last little anecdote I’ll leave you with…My Uncle shared some great advice with me. It was back when the world was less fearful, but more angry (when all the headlines were about police shootings). He’s a retired Miami-Dade homicide detective. But whether the world is too angry or too scared, we need this advice. He said, “Roxanne, all I do is try to be kind to people. I saw this young couple having dinner last night. I bought them a couple of beers.” We are Americans and we are all in this together. Lead. Execute. Create. Buy someone a drink. Engage with a neighbor. Do you, whatever it is that you do, and do it with heart, compassion and a desire to help. But do it from across the room 😉

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