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Feel The Hugs - A Professional Organizer's National Hugging Day Story

January 21st is National Hugging Day and, in my humble opinion, it is one of those national holidays that shouldn’t be a once-a-year thing. But apparently, it is something that a guy named Kevin Zaborney decided we needed to commemorate on January 21st beginning in 1986 as a way to get past the post-holiday blues. 

Ok, I get that but still…can’t we all agree that hugs should be given out ALL...THE…TIME???

Growing up, I learned the importance of hugs even though I wouldn’t say my family was extremely touchy-feely or mushy-gushy. I am sure we hugged when it seemed appropriate but my, dare I say, obsession with hugging probably became ingrained in me when I started going to camp when I was 7 years old. My counselors were surrogate mothers and my cabin mates were surrogate sisters. We left our cabin every morning walking to flag raising arm in arm and throughout the day we just found ourselves connected through hugs whether one of us was feeling homesick or swam across the camp lake and everything in between. 

This photo?

Two Girls Hugging

It was actually taken my last summer at the camp I spent 8 summers going to in Northern Michigan. I’m on the right in case you can tell…the crazy hair is usually a dead giveaway in any photo before keratin treatments became part of my hair maintenance routine about 15 years ago.

And 45 years later, here I am together with the same former cabin mate in Phoenix last year when I took a road trip to go to the Fiesta Bowl. It had been 28 years since we had last seen each other and hugging her when I first walked into the restaurant where we met to have lunch felt like it had been at most 28 days since we last hugged.

two women smiling

When my kids were young, hugs came freely…until they became teenagers and then all bets were off. Hey, if you’ve had kids you get it.

This photo?

grandma hugging child

It was when my daughter was about a year old and before my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It warms my heart to this day despite the poor photo's still a keeper.

So what does any of this have to do with being a professional organizer???

Well, the vast majority of It’s Just Stuff clients are, as I have mentioned so many times before, struggling physically and/or mentally. It has been a no-brainer for me to extend my arms and embrace them when they start to feel overwhelmed on any given day...if they are receptive. I never want any client to feel uncomfortable so of course I always ask permission before leaning in.

Going through any type of decluttering process is hard so whatever we can do to make our clients "feel the love" we are happy to oblige. 

This particular client?

two women hugging

She really needed a big hug as she is going through a big life transition and was extremely emotional when we helped her clear out her basement a few weeks ago. When she called me after about two years since we had previously been there, I heard so much sadness in her voice. That was not the same woman I had met two years ago so being able to create a sense of calm for her was, well, beautiful to witness. She cried tears of joy and relief when we finished and I did not hold back from shedding a few tears as well. 

And this client?

two women hugging

One of my team leads, Randi, works primarily with our senior clients these days helping them declutter and create systems for staying organized that they can easily maintain. 

For the past month, she has been at this client’s home at least 3 times a week along with another member of #TeamIJS removing over 20 years worth of clutter including copious amounts of paper, plastic containers, glass jars and other recyclable items she couldn’t get herself to part with. 

The progress that was made from the very first day has put a smile on the face of a woman whose health has been deteriorating and who had not had anyone other than her brother in her home for many years because she was embarrassed by the chaos she had swirling around her. 

Randi has become, to some degree, this woman’s caregiver but not in the traditional sense. She just cares about her as a human and wants to make sure that she can enjoy aging in place. 

BTW…I do not limit my hugs to people. I left my yoga mat and water bottle at a recent yoga class. 

smiling woman hugging yoga mat

Suffice it to say I gave both items a very big hug when they were returned to me the next day.

And finally this photo???

2 women smiling

I went to a concert on one of the coldest nights I have experienced since moving to Colorado in 2016 and really really really needed a hug to warm me up. My friend happily obliged. And the tshirt I was wearing? I actually got it probably 10 years ago at a conference in Tampa from a woman who ran a nonprofit at the time called, obviously, Feel The Hugs. I didn’t intentionally wear it that night to create a photo op for this blog, but glad I did because it does really help prove how committed I believe I am to the idea of creating opportunities to just appreciate human touch.

Bottom line, #TeamIJS prides itself on being genuine and authentic, caring and compassionate. So whether you are a hugger or not, we will still be there with open hearts and open minds. 

But if you do want a hug?

We will always be there with open arms as well.

Happy Hugging and Be Kind Always,


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