No More Sleepless Nights
I'm a big advocate of the health benefits of sleep. Health care was a significant concern for me when I started my first business in the 2000. I decided to meet with doctors I respected and ask what I could do to maintain the best health possible. The doctor I visited was board certified and also trained in ayurvedic medicine. She spent time in India learning and treating patients. She gave me mountains of excellent advice. Regarding sleep, she suggested I get up every morning at the same time and go to sleep at the same time.
I then became vigilant about my sleep. After nearly two decades working in corporate America under someone else's demands, I was shocked to learn I am a morning person. I think there is something extraordinary about working with the rhythms of the day versus battling them. I used to drink some pretty strong coffee when I was pulling all-nighters. When I worked in an office, my co-workers would warn others when I made the coffee. After receiving fair warning, they'd begin to back away from the carafe to find a beverage with less jolt.
Now I go to bed early and wake up with the sun rising over Lake Michigan every day. I do not use an alarm clock. The doctor was right - I feel great.
Because of my personal experience with the benefits of sleep, I was eager to learn what can be done to help children with sleep disorders. I always felt that children were run ragged, traveling to school, going to play dates, attending after-school activities, and perhaps going to the home of the parent they don't live with. From the outside looking in, it appears to be exhausting.
Dr. Dassani reviews all the physical and environmental issues in her book, The Tired Child, that may be impacting a child's ability to sleep. She offers suggestions to help parents understand medical diagnoses in plain language. She also discusses process steps with worksheets to help parents track and identify issues. The book further details how medical professionals with different specialties can aid in treatment and diagnosis. My favorite advice was "talk to other Moms." Any parent who reads this book will be more informed and able to assist their child in obtaining optimal health -- and probably a good night's sleep for all!
After being separated for two years due to the pandemic and political divisiveness, a good segment of my family joined in celebrating Christmas Eve in person. Some believe the vaccine is effective, while others don’t. Some praise Presidents Obama and Biden, while others think President Trump was on the path to saving the country. Climate changers, and climate deniers – we all got together.
The last two years have been painful as we were viciously torn apart.
However, for reasons I struggle to articulate, Christmas Eve was wonderful. Six children under six years old played together for the first time under their parents’ unacknowledged peace agreement. A high schooler and two college kids suppressed smiles while pretending they were reluctant to be there. Surprisingly no one brought up a topic that would trigger their opponents. By this time, everyone had chosen their perspectives, remained steadfast in their camps, and silently agreed to disagree.
There was PEACE.
No longer divided, the unvaccinated played and mingled with the vaccinated. Each individual was secure in the knowledge their health care choices were adequate. We shared what was good in our lives without attempting to solve global problems.
There was HOPE.
The display of pictures of my parents, who left this earth years ago, were gentle reminders that are parents valued family above all else. They often demonstrated this ideal by putting family harmony first and themselves second in the wake of painful disagreements or life challenges.
There was LOVE.
After two years of attacks, judgments, and arguments, we reunited to begin anew, as if we had never separated. We chose to BELIEVE the best in each other.
Christmas 2022 provided the gift of allowing us to live the Christmas story.
I am GRATEFUL.
We've had yet another horrific car vs. bicycle vs. pedestrian incident in Chicago. Due to a traffic jam, some drivers thought crossing the barriers and driving on the roads in a park was the right idea.
This Block Club Chicago article states that barriers need to be built. Unfortunately, barriers will not instill a sense of humanity in a person that thinks it's okay to operate a 3,000 lb. vehicle and risk lives of pedestrians and cyclists. If there is any sweet justice in this inconceivable act, it's that so many drivers decided to drive in the park, they created a new traffic jam. The pedestrians, cyclists, children, parents, and grandparents had a fighting chance of survival against the slow moving cars.
I wonder what the mindset of someone who justifies this behavior is. Does the driver say to themselves?, "I don't have time for this traffic. It's worth it to kill or maim a few people so I can get the parking spot in front of my house." Will a barrier avoid this kind of thinking? Or will we have to build higher walls?
In May 2018, I wrote a blog post detailing that cyclists are not always innocent and the new electronic signage is not intuitive. The previous day I discussed a road rage incident. In December 2018, I shared that Canada uses driver demerit points to sanction unruly drivers with higher rates. Perhaps if the trillion-dollar #insurance industry were to seek solutions, there would be some reform in the U.S. In the meantime, the best we can do is be aware and attempt to remain safe. Bankrate just published a Safety Guide for Cyclists.
I suppose conversation is a start. I've been blogging about this for five years. and with the recent crisis in Hyde Park. the situation only seems to be getting worse. I'm not sure cement barriers are a substitute for a sense of humanity, but anything that might solve this problem is worth a try. This situation I witnessed in June 2018 gave me some hope. A man and a woman got into a fender bender on I-290. They got out of their cars ready to do battle. When they recognized each other they broke out into big smiles and a warm embrace.
Let's try to remember that someone we haven't met yet, is a potential friend with many gifts to give to the world. Let's think about that and try to care about their safety too. Would that help?
We should ALL treat ourselves as solo agers because we may be regardless of our family situation. This essential guide provides so much information with creative solutions, it encourages the reader to embrace and look forward to retirement decisions vs. fear them.
This very thoughtful guide includes many important aspects of aging -- remaining healthy, having strong social networks, coming to terms with spirituality, and exploring creative living solutions.
I enjoyed the idea that it's wise to keep working and create a portfolio of work options. As people age, they've acquired many skills. Income alone is not likely the retirees' main driver at this stage in life. I thought the idea of re-exploring your first dreams at this stage in life was tremendously insightful. If not now, when?
This book was thoughtful and well done; after reading it, I'm sure many people will embrace this critical stage in life versus dread it.
The Heart of Money
I'm pretty well-versed with the mechanics of money; however, The 10% solution by Marc Allen showed me the heart of money. Prior to reading this insightful book, I was following an analytical plan which left me feeling empty.
Publisher Marc Allen is a self-proclaimed "lazy" millionaire. He published Eckhart Tolle's Power of Now among several other notable titles. He made a commitment to himself that he would be successful doing exactly what he wanted to do in his own relaxed way. Until then, he spent his time drifting from one activity to the next, avoiding debt collectors and scrambling to pay bills. The 10% Solution shifted my perspective on of giving. Any philanthropist or person who wants to create a better world will enjoy The 10% solution.
I've been a book reviewer for the Nonfiction Author's Association (NFAA) for over a year now. So when I agreed to review nonfiction books for their reward program, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. I'm so grateful to Stephanie Chandler for starting the organization ten years ago. She found, as I have that many associations and development of the craft of writing are devoted to fiction writing; leaving nonfiction authors to attempt to garner what we can from the fiction world.
The most recent book I reviewed for NFAA was Battle Carried: Imperial Japanese Tiger Flags of World War Two by Michael A. Bortner. Wow, did I learn a lot. The book is well-researched and insightful on a very specific topic. Not only is the book well-written, the graphic design is thoughtfully laid out, organizing the illustrations of tigers by their position and stance. This was enjoyable to read and to view as there is so much to learn. This experience felt like being immersed in a wonderful museum exhibit.
When I'm asked to select a book to review for NFAA, I choose a topic to learn something new. This one certainly helped me to meet that objective. If this book didn't find me through NFAA, it may have found me at a used book store or on a table of unfiled books at a library. Fortuitously, the right books seem to find the people who are meant to read them.
I found Don't Shoot I'm the Guitar Man by Buzzy Martin in one of those take a book, leave a book boxes. There's serendipity when books find you, when they reach out asking to be read. I'm fascinated by musicians.
I gave this book a four-star Amazon review. The story is good but the writing needs a little tweaking. As stated in other published reviews, there is too much repetition in the daily journal entries. I was surprised to see that the book was published by a traditional publisher and made it through editing. The book was later turned into a film.
As I started to connect the dots, the reason a traditional publisher picked up this book started to make sense. Buzzy's experience took place in the late 90s. The world was an interesting place then. Pre-teen Polly Klaas was captured in her own home during a sleepover with two other young girls and ultimately murdered by a repeat offender. Her notorious crime created the "three strikes law," putting many in prison for life. It was also the time of the TV show Scared Straight! which was supposed to give at-risk youth insight into what prison life is like, scaring them to stay away. Buzzy, in addition to volunteering at San Quentin, worked with at-risk youth, teaching them music and trying to share the reality of prison life so they might make better choices.
The book was painful to read, and I'm sure, even more difficult to live through. The thought of prisoners serving life touched by the power of music and forgetting where they were for a moment is profoundly moving. Reading Buzzy's stories of interacting with child molesters and murders was harrowing. I'm grateful Buzzy's career path took him to work with at-risk youth and, ultimately, San Quentin prison. He touched people's lives in a way he never could have on a big stage. It broke my heart to learn how the prison was dubbed "San" Spanish for Saint. Like any good memoir, this book provides the opportunity to learn and grow. I can forgive the repetition in the writing. I'm grateful to Buzzy for sharing his gift and then sharing the story with the world.
An Unlikely Neighbor
Mrs. Farley lived in a neatly kept frame two-flat in the middle of our block on Maplewood Avenue. I remember it was a blue-grey color with white trim. The top floor had a porch. It was a tidy two-flat and I believe I remember a garden. Many of us had gardens in our Chicago city urban neighborhood. Most families grew vegetables. Some had beautiful, immaculately maintained flower gardens. Most of us had 25 foot lots — a small yard in front and a bigger yard in the back. If there was an empty lot with no house built on it, we would refer to it as a prairie.
The neighborhood kids would run around and play in the unkempt prairies. Mrs. Farley was like every other old lady on the block. She wore a house dress and a hair net and had an old lady shopping cart trailing behind her as she walked down the very long city block of Maplewood. Maplewood was an odd block as it was nearly two blocks long from corner to corner. Mrs. Farley lived right in the middle.
The odd thing about Mrs. Farley was she was the only Black person in Brighton Park in the 1970s. She rented to a single Black woman upstairs. A woman I knew was a nurse. I would see the nurse walking the very long block home in her white nurse's uniform and her flat rubber-soled sensible shoes. I never spoke to her and didn't know how I knew she was a nurse. Mrs. Farley's niece and nephew would come to visit. It was then the neighborhood kids went to play with Marcus and Marla. Marcus and Marla were teenagers and I was less than ten. I don't know how I knew they were coming. The kids would run up and down the block, excited when they arrived. They were new kids to play with, and they were teenagers! One day Marla showed up with a newborn. I don't even remember her being pregnant or if I had a concept of what it was to be pregnant. I just remember one day we saw Marcus, Marla and the baby, a welcome new playmate. We squealed with laughter as we passed him around, a baby boy of about six months, and played with the curly hair sprouting from his head.
Mrs. Farley would sit on the porch chatting with the other old ladies. They would watch their properties and make sure we didn't run on their lawns. We would be yelled at fiercely if we did. Keeping an immaculate house was a source of pride in our working-class neighborhood. The Polish ladies would scrub their sidewalks on their hands and knees with steel brushes, many times just wearing a bra and a skirt. We never asked them about it, although we thought it was peculiar. If anyone mentioned it, we were told, "it's hot out and it's just like a bathing suit." The men were often shirtless or wearing a white tank T-shirt while they worked. That never seemed strange. I grew to accept it.
The 70s was a time where racial equity was talked about often. Black TV shows and commercials were touting Black is Beautiful. There were dialogue and debate about how Black people should be addressed. Negro? Black? Colored? African American? One day the old ladies sitting on the porch chatting just asked Mrs. Farley straight out. "What would you like to be called?" We never, ever discussed Mrs. Farley's race. Although she was an oddity living in a White community. It was just there, neither good nor bad. It just was. Perhaps the message of the day brought about the conversation. Mrs. Farley seemed to be pleased. I remember the soft smile on her face as she responded, "I'd like to be called Black."
The other old ladies giggled with relief as they all agreed Black would be the term if there was ever a reason to describe Mrs. Farley's race. As she left the afternoon chat I remember my friend's grandmother in her house dress and hair net chuckling at her bravery in asking the question. "Hey" she proclaimed, "when I want to know something I just ask." This grandmother was kind of rogue. She would let us have a sip of a whiskey drink, eat candy and read steamy romance novels to 'teach us about life". She was fun to be around.
In the 90s now I was a teenager. I was struck by the unusualness of this Black woman living west of Western Avenue in Chicago where no other Black people lived. Unfortunately, I would hear about the line. Halsted was once the line but as I grew up. Western was the line. We were three blocks west of Western. While Bridgeport, the neighborhood we originated from, was an enclave east of Halsted. Bridgeport was a world within itself. Italians, Irish and Lithuanians lived there and in certain sections. Bridgeport was insular. I left when I was three and still remember the community and culture of living there.
I remember moving to our 3-flat frame house in Brighton Park with a lot next door with nine trees. I remember being in a station wagon watching a ketchup bottle bounce, not knowing we were moving but feeling a sense of excitement. I remember we would live on the first floor, not a three-floor walk-up. I remember my mother had big dreams for this house but my father wouldn't have any of it. He pronounced the house would stay the way it was and there would be no changes or upgrades. We lived very simply, not in a tidy house like Mrs. Farley.
In the 90s, I asked my Mom if anyone mentioned an unlikely Black woman who lived in the middle of the block. She said they did. She said that the neighbors remarked that Mrs. Farley was a nice woman and a nurse lived upstairs. My mother said she figured it would be okay because she was nice and she was a woman. My mother would always seek the other mothers and women in the community for solidarity. It was likely a reprieve against their husbands who would make proclamations like 'this house will stay the way it is,' and it just did.
One day the old ladies on the porch asked Mrs. Farley why she lived on our block. Mrs. Farley explained she was one of first residents on Maplewood Avenue, back when the block was all prairie. She replied "I didn't know all White people were going to move in.”
I was given a copy of Publish Your Knowledge by Vilius Stanislovaitis in exchange for my honest review. The book is written in a nice, straightforward style. The wisdom is freely shared and there are many quotable pieces of advice that will help anyone that wants to self-publish. I liked comparing yourself to yesterday vs comparing yourself to others and not setting your expectations too high or too low. The book is so loaded with practical advice, the reader can start implementing the tips right away. No need to wait until the end of the book. There is value throughout. I give this book an enthusiastic five star review. It's the best I've read on the topic.
I was given a complimentary copy of The Broken Contract in exchange for my honest review. This book is very well written and thoroughly researched. There were several forward-thinking ideas including innovation agencies, special criminal sanctions for abuse of power, parallel competitive departments requiring them to compete for talent, and secondment assignments. The thorough citation that constituents are not represented is eye-opening. Examples of public abuse were disturbing and well-documented.
Alicia Dale is a strategic thinking Creative that understands the power of words to influence, change and build new infrastructures. This Blog is to capture ideas that have no where else to go at this very moment. Who knows how they will be developed? Or where they will go? For now they are sparkles of light easily stored where I can search and find them when they call my name again.