Smiles and Hugs

Yesterday I attended a women’s conference called the Power of the Purse in a nearby city about 90 minutes away.  It was a day chock full of motivational speakers, videos that made us both laugh and cry, and opportunities to mingle and chat with people.

The theme of this event was near and dear to my heart – having goals, daring to dream big and do something about it, facing your fears and doing it anyway.  This is a topic relevant to everyone regardless of age or gender.

DSCF0264

hmmm – I think perhaps I should have focused on the foreground rather than the background.

I’m not a stranger to conferences – technical, industry-specific, general interest – but this one was different.  In a stroke of synchronicity, this morning I read a blog post by Paardje at Snail Mail, Books & Vanities that suggested why I found this conference different.

Being Smiled At Is So Refreshing.

This was a conference room filled with about 200 women (and 4 men), speakers, and a vendor market.  I knew 3 people going into this room … I left feeling like I knew so many more.

At all conferences we are encouraged to ‘network’ – that thing most of us hate to do and in fact is rarely done except by the energetic few.  Attendees normally stay in their familiar circles and don’t often break out of these comfort zones.

I’ve NEVER been to a conference where EVERYONE would so easily make eye contact, smile, and extend their hand in greeting.  I can’t remember ever being so easily engaged in conversations – not pleasantries – actual conversations with complete strangers.  I was even hugged – three times. HUGGED!

I know what you’re thinking … hugging isn’t for everyone, including me.  I’m picky … but this was different.

I live in a big city.  I live in a neighbourhood where I am a visible minority.  My encounters on a typical day are usually pretty restrained, rarely enthusiastic.  This was a new experience … and I decided I really liked it.

… because Paardje is right.  Being smiled at is so refreshing.

About Joanne Sisco

Retired but not idle. Life is an adventure - I plan to continue to embrace it.
This entry was posted in Attitude, Random Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Smiles and Hugs

  1. Sounds like a great event! Smiles and real eye contact are so important. I find I’ve become huggier as I’ve gotten older.

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  2. Claire Duffy says:

    That was the most brilliant advice I ever received when I moved to a new country, to just smile at everyone I saw. Not only did I make my first few friends that way, but smiling so much can’t help but put you in a good mood, so it’s win/win all round!

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  3. Alex Hurst says:

    Sounds like it was a wonderful experience. I agree that a positive atmosphere like that would be so refreshing, but I’d have to keep apologizing because I am positively AWFUL with names!

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  4. I don’t know, Joanne. I always seem to get into trouble with my wife when I smile or hug another woman. She just doesn’t seem to grasp the whole “networking” thing!

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  5. Joanne, I’m one of those huggy people. And likely if I saw you across a hotel lobby, I’d make a run for it in your direction, arms outstretched. But this is likely due to the fact that I love your posts –so it’s totally your fault.
    That said, I have become very aware of the body language of others as I’ve raised my two kids and now realize I have one on each end of the comfort spectrum. My daughter is almost entirely “hands off.” My son, thrives on affection and not only dishes it out, but eats it up with a spoon.
    It is a hugely personal thing. But the smiling. I will do my best, at most times of the day, to show you just how well I brush my teeth. A genuine warm and welcoming smile is worth a million bucks.
    And many thanks for the link to Paardje’s blog. It was a lovely post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joannesisco says:

      … and Shelley, if I saw you across the hotel lobby, my smile would be on high beams and I’d come begging for that hug 🙂
      I’ve become a firm believer that smiles and hugs just might be the most powerful force in nature ❤

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  6. My poor husband was raised in a family that didn’t do hugs and kisses. He thought my family was a freak show at his first Christmas with us when he saw the hugging and kissing exchanged so freely. I know many Europeans who just cringe at the idea of Americans and their propensity to wrap everybody in a bear hug at first meeting or so. I’m so glad you had a good experience at this conference. Did you learn things that may help you with the upcoming adventure with your son(s)?

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    • joannesisco says:

      I’m laughing at the image of your family freak show … all that hugging, and kissing, and hugging … 😉

      My youngest son was like cling wrap as a child. Up until he was around 11 or 12, he had a high need to be held, hugged, or touched.
      … but as an adult though, he hugs really awkwardly … turns into a block of wood. His personal space is really quite large. Funny how that one turned out. I would never have predicted it.

      The conference was more a confirmation to support my philosophy of embracing life on the edge. As I said in an earlier comment, I left with a heart full of happy.

      I’ve taken a lot of risks in my life, but absolutely nothing compared to what some people have done just to survive – or turn their lives around. It is inspiring, it is humbling and I’m reminded of how much we are all capable of when armed with passion and determination.

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  7. I love this post! I love those kind of conferences, I used to be a speaker at something similar, and they were always a lot of fun. Glad you got your smile on, and hugs too! 🙂

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  8. I’m smiling at you too Joanne! What a lovely experience.

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  9. Sammy D. says:

    Joanne – why do you think this particular event was so different in terms of most women interacting so willingly and easily and not forming their typical exclusionary “I’ll talk to those I already know” cliques? I can’t recall ever experiencing what you did, and I’m happy for you.

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  10. Lynn says:

    I am a hugger Joanne, but I do recognize that not everyone is comfortable with a friendly embrace. To me, the world would be a better place if we could just hug it out!

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  11. Ooh. Just thinking about networking events gives me the heebeejeebees. I’m OK with hugs, but not a roomful of strangers. What, do you suppose, made this conference so different in terms of the warm and fuzzies? Was it simply the right alignment of the stars?

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    • joannesisco says:

      I think you’re right about the alignment of the stars … including my ability to recognize that people are actually smiling at me . I’m often the shy one returning the smile then quickly breaking eye contact and running away 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was thinking about your response later this afternoon. That’s a great part of the dynamic, isn’t it? The fact that it takes two to engage – transmitter and reception. I have learned from this. Thanks

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        • joannesisco says:

          Actually that makes 2 of us Maggie, because until I wrote that response to you, I hadn’t really considered my role in this and perhaps it was me who was different that day – not everyone else.
          We spend so much energy trying to protect ourselves from potential rejection, we inadvertanly reject everyone else around us.

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  12. It’s always nice to get a hug.

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  13. bulldog says:

    I love this… hugging is definitely more on the cards these days… I’m not a fan, but find myself enjoying it

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  14. I’m a hesitant hugger even with friends I know well (but I’ll take a hug over a kiss any day) but my most memorable and most welcome hug came from a total stranger. One kilometre from the Oxfam Trailwalker finish line last year, waiting at the bottom of the last steep hill for a slow teammate to make her way down, a volunteer came over and said “You look like you need a hug.” I really did and I gratefully accepted one.

    A smile costs nothing and you never know the impact it may have on the other person.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joannesisco says:

      Random acts of hugging can be creepy under some conditions and yet surprisingly welcome under others.
      Knowing how and when to hug is a complicated science …. but smiling is always nice and you’re right, it’s impact can be huge!

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  15. Paardje says:

    So honored you linked to my post, Joanne ❤ And I can imagine what a great experience this friendly conference turned out to be. Bet you were walking on sunshine on your way home 🙂

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  16. Heyjude says:

    I was brought up by a mother who didn’t really do hugging, but my aunt (her sister) was a very tactile person and used to throw her arms around us kids when we saw her. I always felt very tense when going to visit, but actually quite liked her hugs. Although I hugged my kids much more, I am still not a very touchy-feely person.

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  17. I admit I’m often reluctant to break out of my anti social shell and perhaps you feel somewhat the same. It’s so nice when these things turn out to be a positive experience. Good for you Joanne!

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  18. M-R says:

    Well, I’d bloody hug yer, in spite of any withdrawing. You got yer work cut out avoiding being hugged by me, I promise ! [grin]
    But I know what you mean, Joanne, I really do.
    It was obviously a most uplifting experience, and I’m very happy for you to have had it !

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    • joannesisco says:

      I’ll see your hug and raise you two!! ❤

      These mingle-and-chat things are normally really awkward for me. I never know what to say and it seems that everyone feels the same way because no one wants to make eye contact.

      How wonderful that it's still possible to be surprised and delighted!!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. It must have been such a nice surprise to get there and have such an engaging time……it sounds like a great program with just the kind of goals that would pull you right in there. I guess we’ll add being hugged by strangers and liking it to your list of 52 new things for the year!

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  20. bikerchick57 says:

    That is the reason why I love being a door greeter at church. I get to smile at everyone and hug all of my friends. Makes my heart happy. I would have loved that conference for the theme and the smiles.

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    • joannesisco says:

      MJ – I just found several of your comments in my spam folder! I don’t know how that happened but I’m so happy I found you 🙂 I’m going to blame Windows 8 which is a pile of pure, undiluted crap … I hate it. Whew – so glad I got that off my chest.

      Smiles and hugs!! … and hope you have a wonderful long Memorial Weekend ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Sue Slaght says:

    Oh Joanne I would have loved to have been there. I am a big time hugger so I think I would have been in bliss city. I have learned ot ask those who are looking a bit hesitant whether they would like a hug or not. I can appreciate not everyone does. Glad to hear you had such a warm experience.

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  22. NancyTex says:

    I have “personal space issues” myself, so I’m not a hugger by instinct. Yet, when I find myself in a hug, it feels wonderful. It’s that moment before the hug that I cringe at. 🙂

    Smiling — and being smiled at — is a wonderful thing!

    Like

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