A holiday party, a meeting, coffee with a friend, morning, afternoon and evening hugs with my sweetheart. I enjoy giving and getting hugs. Randon sample-  I probably shared 30 hugs this past Saturday. Loved it, every single one of them.

I’m a hugger. Besides the Christmas party Saturday hug fest, I was completely in the hug lover’s element in 2017 when we visited a local school in Kauai.

Let me start at the beginning. The following is a revised blog from the year I got more than 54 hugs in one day. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality of hugs that made those endorphins start whizzing around. 

54 HUGS IN ONE DAY –  2017


Kids are amazing! Whether they’re pre-schoolers, wiggly giggly elementary age, highly energetic middle school, or inquisitive almost adult high school students, they capture my attention and heart. 

Even though I officially retired from teaching twenty years ago, if I have a choice to spend time with, entertain, or be entertained by kids, I’m there. So it was a no-brainer that when my friend Glenn mentioned his nephew and wife ran a charter school in Kauai, I immediately started figuring a way we could visit. 

The Kula Aupuni Niihau A Kahelelani Aloha (KANAKASchool is organized, busy, and welcoming. The school embraces an educational curriculum with respect for culture and people. The vision statement impressed me and impressed me even more during our visit.  

Following is the 2023 vision statement of Kanaka: Our vision is to educate our youth so that they may lead the direction for their own future and the future of Niihau by promoting, perpetuating and revitalizing the language of Olelo Kanaka.


Hedy and Steve Sullivan, the director and admin staff respectively, greeted us. Our introduction to the students was held outside. Students and staff led us through an official ceremony with Hawaiian chants to ask permission to visit and chants of acceptance. Three of the younger students made what was probably a long walk for them across the yard to present each of us with a lei and hug. This was followed by the entire school population, students and staff greeting us with “Aloha” and a hug. The feelings? Acceptance, affection, and admiration.


With a small population, the classes are shared levels so my husband, friend, and I visited the mixed high school class during science and another class during Hawaiian instruction. We were enveloped with laughter and smiles and vying for camera shots with the middle school age kids, and then totally enchanted with sixteen K-2 students. Their teacher, Heather Neumen, graciously allowed me to do one of my favorite things–sing and do some interactive reciting with the kids. Like most little kids, it was a mix of outgoing, curious, loners, and shy ones. And like most kids they were quick to laugh, sing, and hug. What a treat!

Being around beautiful kids who were open and curious reminded me how precious all children are. I think it was Herbert Hoover who said, “Children are our greatest natural resource.”

I still recall that wonderful day and the easy hugs we all exchanged.


Ethel Lee-Miller blogs regularly about people, the power of words, and her writing life. She retired after 30 years of teaching, semi-retired from coaching, editing, and gathering writers to publicly share their work. She is the author of Thinking of Miller Place, and Seedlings, Stories of Relationships. These days, in Tucson Arizona, she writes to inspire, to connect with folks, teaching about the power of words, gather writers together, and for the pure enjoyment of it. Ethel enjoys sharing stories at Odyssey Storytelling, Artists Standing Strong Together, and anywhere there’s a mic or a Zoom room.