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Diane Gillespie, January 30, 2021

In wintry Western Washington
Standing in rain-soaked soil,
Wearied by grey-drenched skies,
I gaze up at the tree in my backyard

And am heartened
By those yellow spindled flowers on its branches,
Becoming radiant whenever the sun
Sneaks out from dreary skies.

I long for the first pink blossoms
Of plum trees that will follow next.
Multitudinous, their tiny pink tongues reaching toward the sun
As if desperate for light.

Then primroses, too, and pansies will bloom in glory,
Row after row, in containers set out in front of stores —
Yellow, purple, red and white,
Sentinels of a new life singing out their songs.

I snip two twisted twigs, bringing the golden flowers inside
To remind me that the time will come when my tables
Will be adorned with branches, laden with pink blossoms
And my porches with primroses and pansies in a riot of colors.

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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

My Facebook Message to a Still-Trump-Supporting “Friend”

If you need a reason to unfriend me.” So began the flyer my friend re-posted: “I am pro Trump, pro military, pro law enforcement, pro gun, pro life, a Christian, and there is [sic] only two genders. P.S. All Lives Matter.”

No distance from Trump, even given January 6th: just a reposting of the flyer. I had to respond:

I have this picture of us from 2000, at our 40th high school reunion. We are laughing and swinging hula hoops on our 50-year old hips in a contest. The hoops are not labeled Republican and Democratic but are reminders of…

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from Wallpaper

A Cognitive Behavior Strategy

@DrJohnRose poetic tribute to Monet’s water lilies spurred me to consider how entering one of Monet’s paintings could lead one to sleep.

As a sleep struggler, I have been experimenting with sleep-inducing stories and images

Getting absorbed in a painting presented possibilities for me.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends Cognitive Behavior Therapy-Insomnia (CBT-I) as the first line of treatment for any sleep problems.

During CBT-I treatment, a person struggling with sleep is encouraged to become aware of their sleep hygiene, to reflect on what’s happening around them, internally and externally. …

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“This is probably the only workshop you will attend where falling asleep will be a great honor to the presenter.”

I have been teaching about Cognitive Behavior Therapy-Insomnia (CBT-I) for several years. When I say that falling asleep will honor the presenter, everyone laughs and, at least as far as I can tell, no one falls asleep.

Enter Covid-19: I started presenting to seniors via Zoom. At the last one in October, after going through various CBT-I strategies, I read a sleep story [] and started a discussion about how to use it. …

This grandmother creates interactive adventures that turn sedate video chats into all-out romps—and tells you how to do it yourself.

Little boy looking at laptop and smiling
Little boy looking at laptop and smiling
Image credit: SbytovaMN

After seven months of being isolated and having these fleeting and fairly routine Zoom interactions with my three-year-old and five-year-old grandsons, I despaired. With COVID-19 numbers rising in the USA and in Italy, where they live, the reality of the pandemic set in. Would I ever see them again? Did I have to settle for these stilted moments on Zoom and FaceTime where the interactions felt incomplete?

They paraded dutifully in front of my son’s Zoom to say, “Hi, Grammie.” Then they took off, only to emerge several minutes later to make silly faces and disappear again. My husband and…

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Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Of course there’s magic, but clear decisions from the beginning lead to sustainability.

I have been in writing groups for over thirty years. They supported me through tenure and promotion, through the acceptances, revisions and rejections of mainly academic articles. When I was an administrator, I organized cross-disciplinary faculty writing groups in which members shared pages from their current research with each other. Each group’s energy was palpable: they kept us all writing.

After retirement and now in Covid-19 confinement, my current writing group has nourished me more than ever — meetings are fresh-water springs for my socially dehydrated soul. …

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Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash

A Democrat Reconsiders Her Republican Upbringing

Born in 1947, I grew up in a Republican household in Illinois. Like most adolescents, I followed my parents’ political party. In 1964 I was a junior in high school and “a Goldwater girl.”

In college I became a Democrat because I liked the Party’s commitment to civil rights, equal education and their seeming commitment to ending the Vietnam War. I have voted for some local Republican officials, but by and large, after high school, I put the Republican Party behind me.

Since the election of Trump, I have been rethinking my experiences in…

How to overcome insomnia using this technique from cognitive behavioral therapy

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Image credit: FoxysGraphic.

I have struggled with insomnia, and with freeing myself from the use of sleep medications. An educational psychologist by training, I scoured the literature to find what sleep researchers and therapists were recommending.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is an approach that re-trains the mind so that the body is ready to fall asleep unaided by medication. It is now the first line of treatment for insomnia.

Of the CBT-I strategies, the one that has worked best for me is creating sleep stories — ones that I craft through experimenting with various narrative scenarios. …

Six Ways to Bring Empathy into Your Zoom Life

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

After participating in a series of Zoom meetings, I found myself thinking about an in-person experience that I had with one of my university students some years ago. Bennie was an older woman who came into my office and announced that she was not cut out for college. When I asked her how she came to that conclusion, she said that the younger students were smart and she “felt dumb” as she watched them stand around and talk confidently about the assignments before class.

Listening carefully to her account and thinking…

Diane Gillespie

PhD, Educational psychologist. Author and sleep advocate interested in learning as social/cultural process (Website:

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