One of my favorite things about firefighters is that they are always up for a challenge.
While facing difficult situations and making them better is certainly part of the job description, I think this zest for summoning skills in the face of adversity runs deep in the veins of those who run head first onto the scenes of burning buildings, car wrecks and hazardous materials spills.
If you are a firefighter, you know that this enthusiasm for challenge seamlessly makes its way from the emergency scene back into the jovial atmosphere of the firehouse.
How many pull-ups can you do in forty-five seconds? I bet you can’t run the drill tower, six flights and back before I finish this crosswords puzzle. Can you throw that football into the open window on the 4th floor of the drill tower, from the apparatus floor? With your eyes closed? How many of those cupcakes can you eat in one minute? How much weight can we lose in 2 months?
The list of challenges at the firehouse is endless!
Recently, at the beginning of our shift, when we were having our morning cup of coffee, seated around the large rectangular dining table and catching up about the things we did on our days off, a crewmate asked me how I spent my weekend. I didn’t hesitate to say, with a gleam in my eye, “I went to a meditation workshop.”
Have I mentioned that my crew loves to tease me about all my colorful outside interests like meditating, women’s workshops, free-form dancing, artist’s gatherings, and the like?
I got exactly the response I was expecting. “Oh really?? How fun!” came back the answer–good-natured sarcasm dripping. “And what did you do, exactly?” Now the rest of the crew was listening with half an ear.
“Well for one thing, I learned the art of the perfect hug,” I spoke casually, reeling them in gently.
“Huh?” all ears poised.
“Yup, like the way you just hugged So-and-So–that was actually a burp, not a hug.” I offered.
“Ok, so how am I supposed to hug him then?”
Yessss, totally hooked! “Oh I’d be happy to explain. I need two volunteers though,” I continued.
The bravest of the brave got up out of their chairs, ready for this new challenge. For the next ten minutes we went over hugs that aren’t quite hugs, according to my workshop teacher. And my two volunteers did a great job demonstrating them, amid some manly laughter and a growing audience of their peers:
The Burp: Patting someone on the back while you are hugging him
The Bear: Squeezing someone ultra tight during your hug
The Hip Hug: The sideways hug some like to give, when they do not want to give a full hug
The One Handed Hug: Hugging someone with one arm only, and usually not looking at the person
The A-frame: Arms around each other’s shoulders, bottoms sticking out, away from one another
Now they were warmed up. The two courageous crewmembers were ready to follow my direction in practicing The Perfect Hug – one that is powerful, safe and nurturing.
Ok, stand facing one another and look into each other’s eyes. Boy, why is that so hard?
Ok good; now gently wrap your arms around each other in a hug, chest to chest.
Keep your hand still on the other person’s back.
As you are chest to chest, picture loving energy flowing through your heart to the other person’s heart.
Gently disengage and look into each other’s eyes once more to acknowledge the exchange of a loving hug. Wow, did that just happen at a fire station?!
As the two hugging experts laughed, one said, “Yeah I have to admit that felt good.” As other firefighters wandered into the dining room, we watched them greet and hug one another. It was out of my hands now.
I felt like a proud mama lion as one of the cubs said “Hey man, that was a Burp, not a Hug. Don’t you know how to give a hug?” and proceeded to demonstrate the art of hugging to his fellow crewmate.
There was a lot of laughing and hugging that morning at the firehouse, as the latest unconventional challenge was met and conquered.
Props to Truck 92. My crew is up to the toughest of challenges and they give the best hugs in the whole department.
For the complete guide to hugging by Helene Rothschild, go to the following link: