Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sock it to Me!

I remember the phrase “sock it to me” from my childhood days in the 1960s. I was a big fan of the television show Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In.” Now that I’m older I have a different “sock it to me” tradition. Shortly after Thanksgiving I don my Christmas socks. I don’t know why, but this annual event makes me happy.

Last year my holiday stockings were so full of holes that I had to send them to sock heaven to live with all the other socks that disappear from the clothes dryer. Before I let my little tootsie warmers move on to that great sock and underwear drawer in the sky, I bought two replacement pairs. One is black with a red and white leaf design (holly?) and the other is decorated with white snowflakes against a blue sky. 

Of course living in sunny Arizona I rarely see holly wreaths (unless they are plastic) and spotting snowflakes would be a rare occurrence. But I don’t care, it’s officially the holiday season and my Christmas socks are out for all to behold. In fact, due to our warm weather (80 degrees) I’m wearing my socks with shorts making them even more visible than usual.

There would’ve been a time when I would have been too embarrassed to show my socks off to the world. They usually hide under a pair of khaki pants or jeans, but the older I become the less I worry about wardrobe rules. I can just let the world think I’m a golfer. That is the one sport where it is almost a requirement to wear odd color combinations. And what is up with putting  the equivalent of stuffed animals on your clubs? Just saying.

But back to my sock saga.

My love of socks goes back for decades. Maybe it’s because it was one of the few things that were not hand-me-downs from my older sister Diane. I inherited her clothes, but mom drew the line at making me wear Diane’s old socks, underwear and shoes.

When I was in high school I conducted a sock celebration of my own -sockerjacks. My mom packed my lunch and sometimes I would get a box of cracker jacks. Algebra was the class after lunch. I would have the guys who sat near me show off their socks (the girls didn’t participate because we had a dress code and they all wore nylons with their dresses.) Anyway, whoever had the loudest socks would win the crackerjack prize.

Even my algebra teacher, Mr. Reid, participated. In fact he even won the prize on occasion. He was the golf coach and almost always wore a white shirt, tie and dark slacks with white socks, but occasionally  he would show his wild side and don a pair of bright yellow or lime green socks. I never did figure out if he wanted to win the prize or his wife hadn’t gotten around to doing the laundry.

Other participants included Robert Respass and Lynn Sterling, two burly men from the football team, and Curt Hall, who I believe was a wrestler. We had a lot of jocks in this class. Curt was pretty conservative and didn’t win the cracker jack prize too often. I had a big crush on him, but he never asked me out. One of my friends, Julie Heasty, asked him about this. It was obvious to her that he liked me. He admitted to her that he did think I was cute, but we were different religions and that was too big of a bridge to cross in the early 1970s. But I remember feeling better that it was that and not me personally. 

Anyway, now and again I wonder if any of these guys remember my colorful sock contest. It’s a silly thing, but it was a small effort to brighten the day in algebra class. And who doesn’t want a cracker jack prize?
Another sock story is an excerpt from Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within, a book I wrote with my friend, Jacqueline Howard. This snippet is from Chapter Two - Reversing the Downward Spiral of Anger, Alcohol and Abuse.

“We were at a meeting and everyone had to say one thing they were grateful for,” said David.  “One guy was living in a half-way house.  He had been living on the streets.  When it was his turn to share he said he was grateful that he had a clean pair of socks in his drawer.  And he wasn’t kidding.  Having clean socks was a luxury to this guy.  It really made me stop and think about how many things I have in my life to be grateful for.”

Having an attitude of gratitude is a crucial step in developing an optimistic mindset. For those who find it hard to think of something they are grateful for, imagine the opposite - how you would feel if you didn’t have something – or someone in your life? Then turn it around to create an example of something you are grateful for. 

For me, as odd as it seems, I don’t need to experience a sense of lack to feel grateful. I think about my happy socks. For those of you who need more help, here is another excerpt from the book on how to prepare for daily optimism-enhancing exercises. 

Before you begin these exercises it always helps to engage spiritual help. Close your eyes and ask God, angels, spirit guides or another divine source to help you maintain calm and in control.  Even if you do not believe in celestial beings, create the image in your mind’s eyes as a tool to help you regain a sense of calm.  Whether real or imagined, these protective beings will always be there to assist you whenever you ask.
If you want to read more, I hope you will check out my book. It’s available in paperback through Amazon and the e-version can be purchased through the smashwords website.

Either way, I hope those who read this will share it with others. And one bit of advice, it is better to share words of wisdom than someone’s smelly socks. And if that isn’t cracker jack advice, I don’t know what is.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Let Negativity Gobble Up Your Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is next week. Many of us will have the opportunity to dine with family and friends for a special once-a-year meal. Many look forward to this event with anticipation – some with dread. And I confess, in my life I have approached this holiday with both mindsets.

I have seen the confidence of the strongest, most confident men and women become mushier than a bowl of mashed potatoes at the thought of facing the snide comments, comparisons and cruelty that some of our relatives bring to the holiday table.

How ironic that a feast that is supposed to be a celebration of gratitude and harmony can churn out more negativity and drama than a soap opera marathon.

But there is hope. We cannot change other people, but we can work on our own reaction to them. Last year I posted a short video on you tube on three simple steps on how to erase negativity. It’s not a cure all, but it can help us reduce our own negativity, which in turn can have a ripple effect on others.

Please check out this video and share it with your friends and family. Heck, share it with your enemies too. They probably need it worst of all. You can view it at
As an added bonus, I will offer a free ebook with the purchase of every paperback copy of the book. The catch is you need to contact me directly through this blog or my website The book is $14.99 or two for $25. You can also purchase the book at various independent stores as well as Amazon.

For those of you who are not familiar with the message in the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is a practical guide on how to reduce negativity and embrace happiness. From meth addicts to multi-millionaires, the book offers powerful experiences of individuals who have faced dramatic challenges, but did not lose hope. Using these compelling biographies, as well as practical advice and simple exercises, the reader is guided on an internal journey toward adopting a more joyful way to live.

We pay a heavy price for our negativity and I want to combat that with a free tool that provides a more optimistic alternative. I’m really hoping folks will spread the word and use this window of time to read the book and suggest it to others who are interested in embracing a more hopeful message.

So there you have it. No more excuses. Discounted book and a free video. Kick that grouch out now. But lest I come off too brash or too self serving, I do have one last bit of advice for this holiday season. Try to take a moment and find the love in your heart and send those laser beams of love out to those family members around you – especially those who annoy you. While we might not think so now, there will come a time when they are out of our lives and we will miss them. And more importantly, we do not want to miss the opportunity to summon up a little love and shine a little light in the world.