Maintaining Positivity in Difficult Times

I talked with Ethan Bearman of KGO San Francisco about maintaining optimism.

Posted Dec 05, 2017

This blog has been attracting some media attention since we started doing the Optimism Challenge. Recently I talked with Ethan Bearman of KGO San Francisco about maintaining optimism on those certain difficult days, especially when the news is dominated by stories of public corruption and other depressing topics.  Here is a link to the interview: ethan-bearman (Scroll down to November 29, 2017).

In the last post, I was also kvetching a bit about the holidays. Please trust me, I'm not a grinch, although I am a Seuss fan by virtue of having three children. I was really happy to see this article, "Fourteen Ways to a Happier Holiday," in Parade magazine that features my work.  Many thanks to author Karen Rapenski for the mentions.

Deposit Photos
Source: Deposit Photos

So, just as a little bonus (and to prove that I am not completely devoid of cheer), here are my favorite things about the holidays:

1. Soy Nog. I buy it every time I go to the store from the day it appears until they take it down again. I put it in my coffee. I drink it straight. I put it on cereal.

2. Christmas lights. I especially like the multi-colored kind. The plain white lights look to me like they are taking themselves too seriously.  The multi-colored lights say, "Yes, we know we are tacky, but we're okay with that."

3. Claymation specials. Do you remember the old claymation movies? Of course, there was Gumby (my kids have no idea who that is), but there were also the ones that used to come on TV at Christmas time. I would Google it, but I'm lazy.  

4. Actual snow. I live in Augusta, GA, so snow at Christmas is pretty much not going to happen. But snow anytime during the winter is enjoyable for us in the south. I also lived in New Jersey and did my share of shoveling, but down here snow is a treat. We make snow cream and snow angels (sometimes they are more like dirt angels) and go sledding.  

5. Playing music. My dad always played the Bing Crosby Christmas album, and I am still partial to it. Bonus points if you have it on vinyl. These days, I play mandolin and ukulele, and any excuse for live music is worthwhile. My father-in-law and I play Robert Earl Keen's "Merry Christmas from the Family," with me on uke or mando and Tom on Guitar.

6. Not going to the mall. It is so nice to think that thousands of people are cramming themselves into these beige temples of commerce while I sit home with a nice warm (or cold) mug of soy nog.  

7. Not buying anything on Black Friday. In case you haven't noticed, it is complete insanity to trample someone to death to buy a flat screen TV for a slightly lower price. And I would rather camp in the Appalachian mountains or in the Rockies. I wouldn't camp in the Best Buy parking lot if someone paid me to do it. I do still wonder about that pay phone, though (shout out to Serial fans!).

8. Making glögg, a Swedish mulled wine. My friend, Josh Phillipson, initiated me into the rites of this ever-so-special beverage. You take some raisins and almonds and let them steep in vodka for a few weeks. Then you heat up some wine, port, and brandy and throw in some cinnamon, cloves, and anise.  This year, for a bit of spicy subversion, I will add Copper Horse Ghost Pepper / Carolina Reaper vodka (Swedes, please don't hate me for tampering with the recipe!). Add a little bit of the boozy fruit and nut mixture to each steaming cup. Your cheeks will turn pink, and you will instantly become quite the raconteur!

9. Hanging with my peeps. It is so nice to spend time with my family and friends.  It is also nice to have an excuse to contact people that I haven't seen in years.