Happy World Hug Day

Friend group hug
Image: iStock

 

On a warm and fuzzy note: today is World Hug Day. It’s on the 21st of January each year.

Awwww. Can you feel the love?

Actually, it’s National Hugging Day and is formally celebrated in the US (damn!). However, it is also celebrated at some point around the world. Some celebrate it the week leading up to Valentine’s Day. National Hug Day originated in 1986. The founder of the day was Reverend Kevin Zaborney. He thought of a national hugging day when he realised people often felt down between Christmas/ New Year holiday period and Valentine’s Day.

I think it’s such a lovely idea. I’m a big hugger. I believe in the mental health benefits of hugging. Studies have shown that physical affection can determines a baby’s neurological development, which can determine a person’s state for the rest of their lives. The longing for physical touch is also evident for most people throughout their lives and can have great impacts on well – being.

 

The origin of “National/ World Hugging Day exposes a real weakness in humanity. Too often, we neglect human connection. To be honest, this generation (including  my generation), unfortunately try and use social media and technology as a substitute to real human interaction. Yet, while social media is great in keeping in contact with people, it can’t compete. People need real physical interactions.

“But I’m not a hugger”

Not everyone is comfortable with hugging and certain people will ask not to be hugged. These requests should be respected. I believe in body autonomy and after what has been exposed recently, I think it’s more important now than ever to respect personal boundaries.

Asking for hugs, gender and relationships

Having said that, asking for a physical touch shouldn’t be frowned upon either. In platonic relationships, it shouldn’t matter the gender/s of the participants. I love hugs from people regardless of gender. If everyone is comfortable with it, it shouldn’t matter. Hugs between men and women,women and women or men and men should be allowed and encouraged (when mutual).

Of course, hugs and caresses may lead to something else, but it shouldn’t be mandatory in romantic relationships. Sometimes a hug should be enough… at least that’s what I think. Many relationship experts insist that some form of physical intimacy is needed for a relationship to survive and thrive. In my opinion, physical affection in friendships (i.e. hugging), is also really important. It can create trust and further cement the relationship. It creates security and communicates full acceptance. I think hugs are great and needed during times of tragedy, loss or when someone is upset. To allow yourself to be vulnerable, and being allowed to be vulnerable shows the strength of a friendship.

Friends hugging
Image: iStock

 

 

So, happy “World Hugging Day” or for those in the US “National Hugging Day!”. I hope you all have someone that you can hug today and any day. Give your mum, dad, brother sister, other family member or friend a hug for me.

What have you been doing this National/ World Hugging Day? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

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The death of Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett should be a wake up call. Words hurt

Cyber - bullying victim distressed
Image: iStock

 

Content warning; bullying, depression and suicide

People were understandably shocked and upset to hear the passing of 14 – year – old Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett, the face of hat manufacturer Akubra. She took her own life after receiving abuse online.

This has sparked calls for Apple and Google Play to ban apps, like Saraha that allow users to make anonymous comments and posts.

While I sympathise with the campaignersa, I don’t think these calls for a ban get to the heart of the problem.

 

Here’s what people need to get: the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me’ is a myth. I’ll go one step further. It’s total bull.

 

Words can kill. I thought we got this through our heads after the death of former model, Charlotte Dawson in 2014. Apparently not.

 

So, how can we stop this repeating? Maybe we can’t stop it completely. But what we can do is get honest, with ourselves and each other. We need to teach children and young adults that what they say matters. It has an impact and if they choose to bully someone, they will destroy both their lives and that of their victims.

People die due to bullying. That’s the reality. And there’s more. Last year, HealthDayNews reported  on a study that suggested that half of teens admitted into emergency were victims of violence or cyber – bullying. Nearly a quarter (23%) showed symptoms of post – traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings were published in journal General Hospital Psychiatry. 

 

Verbal or cyber bullying can and does have other affects, many arguably not so extreme. You’re ability to trust can be severely damaged. For me, it took me a long time to be able to trust people again.

 

Bullying also erodes your self – esteem. My self – esteem has hit rock bottom before. While it’s better now, I wouldn’t say it’s high. I’ve questioned my self – worth and to this day, sometimes feel like I’m not enough.

I wrote what I did above not to gain sympathy. I wanted to be honest about my own experiences and to demonstrate that often, the effects of bullying can last for years.

Fortunately, I’ve never been the victim of cyber – bullying. The rise of the Internet, especially various social media sites and apps, has made combating bullying complicated. This generation of children can’t escape bullying when they get home from school. Another complication is anonymity. They don’t have to see the impact of what their words have.

As I said near the start of this post, I don’t think banning certain apps like Saraha will work, nor is it necessary. Whether people like it or not, social media is the way most people, especially of this generation, communicate and a way they can get information and current events. The world needs to learn how to cope with social media, not avoid it. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” needs to be exposed for the myth that it is and discarded. Words do hurt and cyber – bullying needs to be condemned. Period.

 

 

Love, love, love

Cosmopolitan (Australia) February issue.
Cosmopolitan (Australia) kicks off 2018 by celebrating love in all it’s forms in the wake of the same – sex marriage vote.

 

 

Last year was tense. My blogging last year was tense. So I thought I’d start 2018 on a light note. This is inspired by this month’s Cosmopolitan (Australia) issue.

Love.

Notebook with love heart
Image: Canva

Love can take many forms. At best, it’s reciprocated and combined with care, respect and kindness.

I’m glad that the Cosmopolian article went beyond the partnered/ romantic love. For many people, including those on the aromantic/ asexual spectrum, different types of love like familial and friendship take prominence.

Even people who are not romantic or asexual often have craving for different types of affection. In fact, it’s well known that in infants, the amount of affectionate touch  can determine further  (or lack of) neurological development throughout a child’s life.

 

Regardless of whether the love is familial, romantic or platonic, love is about caring about for the other person. It’s about respecting them as a human being and wanting the best for their well – being. It includes trying to understand the other person; their limits, their emotions, their wishes, etc. It’s about at least trying to keep their thoughts, feelings and desires into consideration, of course, without putting yourself or other people in any type of jeopardy.

The Beatles sang “money can’t me love”, which is ultimately true, but I think it’s nice to spend money on a loved one on special occasions, (birthdays, Christmases, Valentine’s Day, etc), or for no reason at all. Of course, if you’re crafty (which I’m not really), making something for someone will almost certainly be appreciated.

Love isn’t always about fun and games. It’s about being there for someone during good times and bad. You should be able to be yourself with the people you love. Love should, and even oblige, people to be honest, even if the truth is something that the other person doesn’t want to hear (not always easy.

I think the most important thing about love is that it’s unconditional. Love itself should not be a reward for preferred behaviour or other aspect of the person. Love should allow people to relax with each other and not have a care in the world. Whether it’s watching TV together, going out to dinner or even communicating on social media, love should allow each person to relax and not stress too much or fear judgement.

Love should build up, not tear down. Overall, I think people should feel better about themselves after talking to or being around someone they care about. When someone has low self – esteem or mental health issues, this isn’t always easy. Sometimes, people won’t believe you when you say that they are worthy, beautiful, etc (guilty). That doesn’t mean that we should automatically treat someone as lesser than because of it. Those people who dismiss it often are the ones that need to hear it the most.

 

Human love is complicated. It can be fraught with uncertainty. Sometimes love can hurt (we are human), but that pain should always be allowed to heal and should be prevented in the future.

That’s my take. What’s love mean to you? 

 

 

Last minute ramblings for 2017

Happy New Year WordSwag design.

It’s nearly the end of yet another year. Some have 2018 all planned; new year’s resolutions and goals included. Some will be living it up, partying with friends and/ or family. Some will be camping. And many will be living it up at Sydney Harbour (1.6 million people are expected to attend celebrations).

Others simply couldn’t care less. They may not even be awake until midnight.

I usually have high hopes for the new year. I used to be obsessed with New Year’s resolutions and have stayed up until midnight every year except one, since 2000. Now, I’m more relaxed. I’ll most likely stay up to midnight, (until recently, I’ve been a bit of a night owl and often stay up until after midnight, anyway).

 

Not long after 1 January, (or it might on that day), it’ll be twelve months since I’ve started this blog. It’s been a blast!  I’m so glad I did it! I really have high hopes for it. Thank you to all those who have read posts, commented and followed this blog and supported it on social media. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how far it’s come. Thank you, again.

Next year, I would love to take this blog and make it even better; take it to the next level. I would love for this to be a dotcom site. That’ll be my first one ever! I’m excited in what I’ll be able to do with it when I do. The frequency of posts, at least for the first half, may not be as frequent as this year. If, for some reason, I take a prolonged break from blogging, I’ll try and let you know beforehand.

 

That’s all for the moment. Have a safe New Year’s Eve and a great 2018!

Reflections on this year and visions for the next

Sorry for the sporadic posts. Been busy lately.

2017 is quickly coming to a close. Christmas is just around the corner.

I love the Christmas/ New Year period (although, I’m starting to think maybe New Year’s is a wee little bit overrated, more on that another time).

This year has seen a lot happening both nationally and personally. This year has seen me grow as an individual. It has seen me develop skills, both personal and professional. I’ve loved the course I’ve been doing; Certificate IV in Professional Writing and Editing. My main aim next year is to get it done!

This year has also been tumultuous. I still can’t believe how hard the same – sex marriage debate hit me, even after the result was announced. It’s been emotionally draining. It brought back feelings that I though I had left behind years ago: sadness, feeling of not being good enough and the paranoia (not clinical), that people won’t accept me for who I am. I think it’ll take time to heal. That’s going to be another of my goals next year; to get to a space where I’m happy and not worry so much.

I also need to learn not to worry about timelines so much. Things will happen as they are mean to, when they are meant to. I’ve been so worried about getting things done before the age of thirty.

 

I’ve just got myself a journal. My aim is to write (hopefully) daily affirmations. Hopefully this will change my mindset. Maybe 2018 could be a year for a real overall health kick. Sounds good, eh? Let’s see how it goes, how many temptations I have and how many I give in to (fried food, etc)!

But seriously, this year, while good, has also frankly shown me how fragile health —especially mental health — can be. We all have emotional limits to how much we can cope with. I think there should have been more times when I switched off, especially from social and mainstream media. At least I know now.

Word Swag display: Daily affirmations

 

Now, here’s to the upcoming Christmas, enjoying the rest of this year. Then bring on 2018!!!

 

What are your goals/ plans for 2018?

 

‘Yes’ won, so let’s stop the abuse

gay wedding cake with couple, aerial view of Australia
Images: iStock

December 7 was a historical day for Australia’s LGBTQ+ community. The Bill to legalise same – sex marriage passed the House of Representatives in a landslide.

January 9, 2018 is to be the day when same – sex couples can start registering their marriages, (excluding one special and sad circumstance).

We have won. But has love won? Daily Telegraph, news.com.au columnist and Studio Ten host, Joe Hildebrand has slammed  some ‘Yes’ voters for using the victory as an excuse to bully prominent ‘No” campaigners.

I agree with his assessment.

Australian LGBTQ+  won the opportunity to marry the person that they love. Yes, it was a hard battle. It was taxing. It did see many in the LGBTQ+ distressed. Counselors, including at Lifeline, saw a spike in the calls for help during the debate. Unfortunately, a number of LGBTQ+ people felt let down when finding out family members voted “no”. I won’t got into all the horror stories I’ve read about the tactics of some of the “No” campaigners.

However, despite all the the antics of some “Yes” campaigners and — dare I say it — scaremongering from the “No” camp, 61.6% of those who chose to participate in the voluntary survey decided that LGBTQ+ people can marry the person they love. Most of those seven million did not have a personal stake in the fight. They weren’t fighting for their rights. They chose to fight on behalf of many LGBTQ+ people. We can’t take this for granted!

The 61.6% result was better than what I expected. I thought it would make fifty per – cent, if lucky, or just under. I read comments on blogs about how people changed their vote because of the disgusting behaviour of some of the “Yes” campaigners. And, “No” campaigners and other skeptics of same – sex marriage, exposed that as much as they could.

Now, despite the antics of some of the “Yes” campaigners and scaremongering of the “No”, about 7 million Australians agreed that same – sex couples should be forwarded the right to marry. This is a victory for the LGBTQ+ community. About 5 million still oppose, or were scared off voting “Yes”. We shouldn’t treat them appallingly. In our victory in another step towards LGBTQ+ rights, let’s be civil towards opponents, even though some of our scars may not have fully healed. Let’s use this opportunity to reach out to our family members and friends who did vote “no” and be the first to build bridges.

 

On social media, STOP the abuse! (CW: cyber – abuse, coarse language)

 

This does NOT, I repeat, NOT represent the LGBTQ+ community or their supporters as a whole. But this vile minority will no doubt be used to prevent further rights and protections for LGBTQ+ people. Or worse, it will be used to demand a backpedal of existing rights and protections.

Final thought: These tweets, and probably more examples I haven’t yet stumbled upon), are nothing more than blatant hypocrisy. They scream “love is love”, then abuse opponents. I know many people have been hurt by the vote process. It’s been hard and taxing emotionally. I get it. Frankly, I felt it. But let’s use this time to all heal, rather than inflict more wounds.

Same – sex marriage is won. My hopes for the future

D5ED582A-D349-49C2-8E65-BA6091F0DB33
Images: iStock

It’s happened. The Upper House and Senate voted overwhelmingly for legalising same – sex marriage on Thursday. There were celebrations and tears across the nation.

61.6% of eligible voters that decided to take part in the postal survey made the decision that people in same – sex relationships should be able to marry. This is quite an optimistic result. It has made me positive for the Australian LGBTQ+ community in the future.

 

Over seven million people believe people in same – sex relationships should be treated legally as those in opposite – sex relationships. They have the choice to make that commitment.

So, what does this mean for young people who are yet to recognise their sexuality or those who have been previously married (in a straight relationship), but find themselves in love with someone of the same sex? Will it easier to admit their same – sex attraction, without fear of retaliation from those who they care about?

The extremes of the ‘Yes’ campaign were right in one sense. This does go beyond marriage for same – sex couples. It should. Here me out and I’ll explain what I mean. My hope is that with this embrace of same – sex couples, that other members of the LGBTQ+ community waill also be embraced – that bisexual and asexual people will be believed and safe. That bisexual men are believed. That transgender, including non – binary people feel safe to come out and express their gender identity. I hope that intersex people will be granted the right to be autonomous and have a voice in what happens to their bodies medically, rather than being forced into having invasive surgeries without their informed consent.

I hope that schools become safer places for LGBTQ+ students and their families. I hope that anti – LGBTQ+ bullying will not be tolerated and that victims don’t have to doubt whether they should speak out in fear of further attacks or rejection from family, school staff, or peers.

I hope that asexual people will be acknowledged in school. I hope that when there is talk about sexuality, there is a separation between sexual and romantic orientation, allowing potentially asexual students the ability to experience their romantic attractions (if they have any), without the worry or confusion.

 

Even though the process was painful for many in the LGBTQ+ community, I hope the vote showed that many non – LGBTQ+ people are willing to treat us like people, not outrageous stereotypes or caricatures. I hope that this means that lesbians and bisexual women are not treated or viewed as a porn fantasy. I hope this means that gay and bi men aren’t negatively stereotyped and attacked because they are not “masculine” enough.

My guess is that over seven million people didn’t buy into the paranoia that gays were out to get kids, or to turn them gay, or that transgender people (especially transwomen) are predators. Like the general population, the vast majority aren’t!

 

So, here’s to love. Here’s to acceptance. And, most importantly, here’s to LGBTQ+ people being free to be who they are without fear.