The time I gave away my socks

"The time I gave away my socks #pinksocks via @lmsnapdragon"

Post written by Lori Maricle

I just want to start this with a quick explanation as to why giving away my socks was a big deal: I like my socks, a lot. This is the pair that’s bright pink, even though I’m not typically a “pink” kind of gal. But these are special because they have black mustaches on them, so they’re challenging gender stereotypes and that makes it easier for me to handle the pinkness. But they are also challenging other stereotypes, all kinds of them in all kinds of contexts, especially in health care. This concept of challenging the status quo to make a real and positive impact inspires me, so this is why I am very attached to my #pinksocks.


The Vacation That Almost Wasn’t (the backstory)

My husband, James, and I had been planning a trip to England for going on about two years. The purpose of the trip was to attend a wedding. James’ childhood friend married a wonderful English lady and they planned a beautiful ceremony in the English countryside where she grew up. James was the groom’s best man. We were very excited about it.

The morning we were set to embark on the journey half-way around the world to bear witness to this joy, I received a message. My childhood friend, the lady who was my maid of honor when James and I were married, had been in a car accident and was at the trauma center in Seattle. Since she doesn’t live near Seattle (she lives two hours north), her location was a key indicator that her injuries were severe and specialized enough that she was routed to the trauma center from the accident.

Needless to say, I was a wreck.

Luckily we were flying through Seattle, and on the way I took a crash course in the complicated process of airline ticket exchanges, refunds, and family emergency policies. I decided that if surgery was scheduled for my friend, I would stay with my bestie in Seattle and James would go on to England without me.

Miraculously, she did not need surgery. It was a relief to know she would not get stranded in a hospital and a city where she had no immediate friends or family. She insisted I go, so I decided that on the trip home I would just reroute to Bellingham for a few days to visit and help out.

Still a little shaken, off James and I flew to England.

A Very Long Plane Ride

The wedding was beautiful, by the way, an absolute perfect day. But the plane ride home is what I really want to tell you about.

You know that saying that if you can’t spot the crazy person on the bus, there’s a good chance you’re the crazy person? Six hours into the nine-and-a-half-hour slog of a flight from London to Seattle, I’m the crazy person attempting to do yoga in the back by the bathrooms.

But to my great fortune, there was someone just as stir-crazy as me and also brave enough to approach the small amount of communal space I was trying to occupy in a big way.

We ended up chatting and then sharing our stories with each other, in a way only a long plane ride can accommodate the mandatory extreme trespass into the personal space of strangers. But instead of putting in headphones and hiding behind our screens trying to avoid this reality, we ended up in the same space connecting like real people.

My new friend was a very successful woman, a social worker in Seattle. She was coming back from a big conference in London where she presented on her innovative practice methods that were making waves and blowing people’s minds. She told me about how she shared the stage with some real heavy-weights in the medical world. I could tell she was proud to be representing successful women everywhere, or maybe I was the one proud of her. I was so inspired by her.

Just before getting on the plane she received an email that confirmed her next book deal, for real. That’s the kind of level she was playing on.

What struck me about the transformational care practices she was talking about was her own disbelief at the reaction she often received from her peers when she told them about her medical practice. The methods she was using didn’t seem so mind-blowing to her, it seemed more like common sense. Her practice was based on a personal connection with her patients, customizing care plans that worked with the individual to find his or her right balance within recovery and wellness. It reminded me of a philosophy I see often in my Twitter feed. There was so much resemblance that I couldn’t help myself, I just had to ask the question. So I blurted out:

“Have you ever heard of the #pinksocks tribe?”

It blew me away that she was so excited about me and my story. I wasn’t even sure where to start, because I had not shared my #pinksocks story with anyone before this. Even more, she didn’t want just any pair of socks, she wanted MY #pinksocks. The only pair I had!

A Pink Transformation (a pinksocksformation?)

I guess you could say this is where I found my transcendental #pinksocks moment, because for a reason I cannot explain I found myself dragging my suitcase down out of the overhead bin. I then proceeded to pull it open in the middle of the aisle, in the middle of a transcontinental flight, and dig through its entire contents (creating a brief, yard-sale-type environment in the aisle between rows), just to give this woman my socks.

I needed to give this woman my socks.

In this moment of confined space with a stranger, we decided to trust each other. We opened up and shared our stories, and in doing so we made a real connection and found inspiration in each other. The #pinksocks mantra of “love more, fear less” really hit home for me.

In this moment, I realized these socks don’t just belong to me, they belonged to her, too. They belong to everyone out there who is not only passionate about making a difference, but willing to do something about it to bring us all one step closer to a better solution. I see a lot of others write about it all the time, and it really is true: #pinksocks is a state of mind.

Connecting the Dots

Yes, this story is a bit random and a lot rambling… but isn’t that the source of all random acts of kindness? And in this moment, I actually had my #pinksocks with me!

A lot had to happen for me to be in exactly this place and situation. If you think about it, two people had to fall in love and plan a wedding in England, then a social worker in Seattle had to get invited to speak at a conference in London. James and I fly with only one checked bag between us, so when I rearranged my flight home so see my friend that meant I was parting ways in Seattle with both James AND our luggage, so we moved all my clothes to the carry-on. All these things had to happen for her and me and my #pinksocks (now her #pinksocks) to be in the same space, somewhere over northern Canada, over 37,000 feet up and 550 miles an hour.

The serendipity of life brings our paths crossing each other, and how you react in the small moments are what move your path further towards something positive, something more collaborative.

Now, I am not a doctor; I don’t work in health care IT, delivery or administration. My contribution to the #pinksocks movement is through my ability to tell a story. I am a writer. It just happens that I write mostly about health education and health sciences. But I don’t have to be a physician, or a CTIO, or a hospital CEO, to make an impact on the human experience. And you don’t need to be something you’re not. Just be you. That is all it takes to make an impact, spread inspiration, and bring others to do the same. You are enough.

Love more, fear less. It will blow people’s minds.

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