Connections have become more meaningful with those close to us

Ellen Emery

This past week, I loved the advice of Dr. Jen Ashton as she shared her thoughts on the television program “GMA3.” She spoke about the “power of a few nice words,” telling viewers they should express gratitude to those they meet each day.

Dr. Ashton’s advice was that each one of us should compliment the fourth person we see each day. Now that we are able to shop more and visit in person, this suggestion is actually possible.

What fun to look for something to compliment a stranger, newfound friend or longtime friend about when we meet. As we approach that fourth person, we are required to look more intently — say thank you for a kind action or perhaps compliment that person on a new mask design or smile.

I would like to take Dr. Ashton’s suggestion a step further and ask you to find something to compliment each one you meet this week — perhaps not a passer-by, but someone you interact with or talk to this week. How wonderful to set your mind on positive thoughts, which Dr. Ashton pointed out have a great deal of power.


This past year during our time of novel coronavirus quarantine with concern for the good health and safety of each one, there have been no handshakes and no hugs. There has been no touching of friends as we meet. And that has been a very good thing as we have been concerned about the coronavirus and its infection of so many.

Sunday as I met a friend, someone I hadn’t seen in some time, my friend came to me (with a mask on) and asked, “Is it OK if I give you a hug? I’m vaccinated.” I responded that I was fully vaccinated as well. I appreciated the request for a hug — the affirmation that there had been a vaccination, but what I appreciated the most was the warmth of a hug by a friend.

I had read recently in the Watertown Daily Times about “post pandemic must-do’s” that will “raise your spirits and boost your health.” One of the suggested “must-do’s” was to hug someone. The article said that if both parties were vaccinated, we could hug.

The article also told us that the human touch is soothing and produces “feel good” chemicals in the brain. According to the article, hugs not only strengthen relationships but can even lower blood pressure!

I am looking forward to hugging our family when they come here and our grandchildren as soon as a visit can be planned — now that we are all vaccinated. I have missed hugs — how wonderful that we are once again able to reach out and let someone know how much we care for them and how much their friendship means without saying a word. This past year has taught us to be grateful for each aspect of life — especially the hugs and human contact that we have missed so much.

How grateful I was this past week when a friend stepped forward with the simple question: “Is it OK if I give you a hug?” What a warm, friendly greeting. I hope that this week there will be other hugs and reacquaintances far from the Zoom screen (although I still love keeping in touch through technology).


My heartfelt thanks to the young woman who assisted us with a purchase at Tractor Supply on Friday evening. The Gardener was in need of an item. We had looked online and decided to attempt to make the purchase locally first.

This young woman was so kind and patient. She took time to show us the item we were looking for and make all the necessary arrangements for our purchase.

We returned on Saturday to bring our purchase home — Jeff and Mike were there to assist in loading the item in The Gardener’s truck. How kind they were as well and so very helpful.

Isn’t Massena a marvelous place to shop where clerks at Tractor Supply take time to lend a helping hand and exhibit kindness in making sure our purchase was exactly what we needed and wanted? I certainly think so.


Monday was a marvelous day. The sky was blue, and it was a bit cooler (a plus in our household).

There was a trip to Massena. There were some things in Walmart that I needed.

As I stepped to the checkout line, there was a familiar face ahead of me. A former Walmart clerk had just made her purchases. As we left the store, we had an opportunity to visit in the parking lot.

What a lovely woman Donna is — I have always enjoyed visiting with her. I first met Donna in the Walmart store that was located across from the mall.

She was always so pleasant; checking out in her aisle was always a joy. I even received amazing shopping advice from Donna that I use most times I stop at the store.

We needed to purchase gas on our way home. There was a stop at the Twin Leaf Plaza.

Gas attendant Kevin was there to assist us. It was such a joy to see Kevin, too. I have known him since he was in the checkout aisle at Hannaford.

Kevin attended to our needs for The Gardner’s pickup truck. It was wonderful to visit with him and hear his reflections on the day.

How grateful I am to live in the north country where gas attendants and store clerks become friends and who not only lend the kindest assistance but stop to visit on a Monday morning. The hospitality of the north country was demonstrated fully again this week. Life in the north country was an absolute joy on a May morning.


“If I wake up in the morning, I’m already winning.”

— Wilmer Valderrama

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