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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 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 were not labeled Republican and Democratic but were reminders of our memories as girls growing up in Danville, Illinois, trying to master the newest fad. We disagree, certainly on many issues, but I could never “unfriend” you. Now if at 85 you are able to swing that hoop around your hips longer than I can, I might have to reconsider.

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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 I read books to them for the first several months of lockdown, first by hand, showing the pictures, and then reading the text or by using an app that allows you to read a book ( …

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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 my parents’ Republican household. I remember how my father thought that Eisenhower understood the gravity of war and dignified my father’s service in WWII. After “Ike,” it seemed he was in the habit of being and voting Republican — Nixon, Goldwater, Nixon. …

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 about my own experiences with those same students, I tentatively replied, “Bennie, I think that they’re faking it. They feel like you do but can’t say so in front of their friends. Go find one of them alone and ask how they are dealing with the class.” …

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

We’ve all been there. We wake up at 3 AM to go to the restroom or check on a child or a phone we forgot to silence. And then we try to get back to sleep. Sometimes we can. Many times we can’t.

Our ineptitude might boil down to the moment that we say to ourselves, “Oh no, I’m awake. I’ll never get back to sleep.”

It’s downhill from there: the lists of things not done, the relationship gone sour, the excitement of a new project just begun. Active and alert, our minds can’t shut off. Prophecy fulfilled.

The thought —” I’ll never get back to sleep “— is pivotal — and worth examining. It’s a habit and, lucky for us, habits can be changed. And it’s not just the thought. It’s the bodily responses triggered by that thought — short breaths, rapid heart rate, and tightening muscles. …

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Yesterday, a friend asked me, “Could you write another sleep story? I have used your last one a lot.”

“I could use a new one. I’m struggling with my anxiety about the coronavirus,” she said, sighing.

So here it is. This time I am putting you right in the sequence of events.

The Sleep Story

Imagine that you are walking briskly through a city that you love, taking in the storefronts, walking through galleries and small parks, and enjoying waterfront views. As you begin to feel the strain in your legs from so much walking, you notice the air turning colder and the sky filling with dark clouds. You pull your scarf tighter around your neck and decide to return to your houseboat, a whimsical place that you rented for a weekend getaway. As you turn the corner toward the dock and the houseboat, big drops of cold rain fall. …


Diane Gillespie

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

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