Fuzzies: To Touch and Heal

By Jane R. W. Woodruff

You know it really works! or I still have mine! as people reach into their pockets and pull out what looks to be a small pom-pom. An eighty-five year old or a child or any age person may be carrying these in their pocket. What is it really? It is a warm fuzzy given in a time of stress and need. It is the positive equivalent of a worry stone. Now what may you ask is a warm fuzzy? Warm fuzzies are small, soft, warm creatures that curl up in your hand and make you feel better.

A warm fuzzy fable circulated in the 1970's and told of a land where people gave them to one another to cheer each another and to express joy and caring. The more that were given, the more there were. And of course, as in all good fables there was a negative factor (evil witch) who convinced people that there would be scarcity. This effectively got people hoarding and giving cold pricklies (negative feelings) to one another instead. And in one version children, learning of them from their grandmother, seek to return warm fuzzies to the people.

In recent years I was prompted to think of warm fuzzies again when I found a small ceramic jar with Warm Fuzzies imprinted on it. Finding some small pom-poms, I filled the jar and began giving warm fuzzies to people while giving an oral version of the fable that I had learned from Mr. Lessor, one of the authors of this fable. And while I searched for his out of print book, I more recently found another version of the fable currently in print by Dr. Steiner.

I had found that reading stress signs had become almost automatic for me after many years working as an occupational therapist with disabled elders and children. Stress, anxiety, fear, sorrow, tension; all negative emotions that touch the body were reflected in eyes, postures and hands. And so I found myself saying, "I know JUST what you need," and out would come a warm fuzzy and my captive audience would hear an abbreviated version of the fable. They would hear that it was up to us to return warm fuzzies and that we should join with the children in trying to bring them back.

Fuzzies found their way into the hands of the dying and their family members. Into the hands of saddened patients they went to help cope in their trying to regain independence to work their way back home from skilled nursing units. They found their way into little hands that needed to fidget and keep busy while their owners took long bus trips for school outings. They became hopscotch markers for active children in boring places. They found their way onto noses that brought laughter as they turned people's faces into clowns. They became noses for a birthday celebration in a classroom for an impromptu stick-the-nose-on-the-face game. They became strung together to decorate a Christmas tree that warmed the room of an incredibly brave man living with cancer. They always find their way into care packages sent to cherished children away from home. They sought the hands of strangers who, too, were making those stressful hospital tours with ailing family members. They became toys for cats that thought they were for them having batted them off tables to turn them into balls. In all the years there has only been one negative occurrence with their use. Once when a glass jar of red fuzzies was placed too near a window frequented by hummingbirds, they tried to fly to get them and hit the window until the jar was moved to a safer location.

Through them I made a new friend in Duen Hsi Yen, who too is sharing his version of the story with others with his website, and who aided me in finally obtaining a long looked for copy of the book. And for those out of reach, Monica Hübinette's Warm Fuzzy Greetings web site has enabled me to send electronic fuzzies to family and friends near and far when a quick warm thought needs sending.

So fill your pockets every day and go out knowing that with one small warm fuzzy, you can touch someone gently and help them know that there is someone who cares.

Hübinette, Monica, Warm Fuzzy Greetings
Lessor, Richard: Fuzzies: A Folk Fable
Steiner, Claude: A Warm Fuzzy Tale
Yen, Duen Hsi: The Warm Fuzzies Story, Islander version

Last updated 21 November 2002

Copyright © 2001-2 by Jane Woodruff, All rights reserved.

E-mail Jane Woodruff at: jane@mainmast.com