Community Care and Heart Hugs


Over the past eight years, I’ve been sending emails to a mish-mosh of about 120 people from across all walks and stages of my life.  In the face of long distance moves and life changes and my habit of responding sporadically to messages, this has been my old-fashioned way of writing letters to people I care about and finding ways to stay in touch.

Yesterday, I sent them the following email and received an abundance of responses that went along the lines of: 

 “This is what building connection and supporting one another is all about.”

 Friends also sent me letters from their runs. Pictures of dogs on porches. Smiles on babies. Sun coming in from between trees. Hard stories and choices they will have to make.  Fear about what the future will hold.

And so while the world can feel as if it is seemingly going to shit, this has also felt like a reminder that there are, in fact, so very many reasons and reminders of how human beings have this amazingly resilient ability and capacity to be there for and hold up one another.


 Buenos dias to y’all–

 Apologies for being a tad out of touch the past few post-marathon months as life and school and everything have been moving and speeding around so rapidly. 

 It’s a grey blah day in Chicago and quite frankly, there’s never been more apt weather to match the overall Co-vid craziness. Let me be very direct and frank and probably echoing what many of y’all are feeling– 


 I had my last graduate class– EVER— on Thursday. 

 Said goodbye to students yesterday. 

 And spent an hour in line at the grocery store stocking up on chocolate chips.  

Overall, WTF.

 I say all of this because:

 1) I want to acknowledge that I am feeling those feelings and 

 2) Probably a lot of you can also relate to feeling those feelings or have experienced some spectrum of those feelings yourselves.

 The past few days have been scary and weird and infuriating and, for me, a major kick-in-the-butt of:

 “Ok, well, now I start doing Social Work.

 For real.”

 Which is interesting because social work is and can be–I think and believe– so very many different things:

 Connection. Community.  Relationships. Cultivation. Compassion. Understanding. Advocacy. Conflict. Hurt. Justice. Reparation.


 You do not need a fancy degree with a bunch of letters after your name to do social work. 

 You do not need to be “woke” or a “social justice warrior” or “liberal/progressive” to do social work. 

 Hell, you don’t need to be an adult who has read lots of books to do social work!!! 

 Social work, in a nutshell, is the work we all do, together–

 To ease suffering, to feel a sense of belongingness, to come together in solidarity with and for one another.

 It’s community care and mutual aid.

 It’s giving heart hugs.*

*(which I can demo to you if you’d like later and doesn’t actually mean a physical contact hug) 

 It’s making a gazillion chocolate chip cookies from the chocolate chips you’ve stockpiled from the Jewel and giving and sharing them with the people around you.

I can’t pretend to know what will happen or predict outcomes or say “everything will be ok.”

What I can say is I am here to offer cookies if you’re nearby, an ear if you need someone to listen, and a whole lot of resources I can share with y’all about how to manage the “!!!!” that is all around us. (one of which is at the bottom of this post.)

I really do mean this–  and will be texting you or showing up at your door (if you’re feeling well!) if push comes to shove. 

In the meantime, sending you all warm wishes and endless and copious amounts of hot beverages and Vitamin C from across the miles.

 Be well and Bisous,


 P.S. Shout out to my very old friend and running buddy, Jessie, who left the beautiful letter at the Red Covered Bridge featured at the very top of this post to share with the world.

And below is a social work resource I made that is useful for checking-in with yourself and your body:

Body Check