Book Review: Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

Book Review: Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick (MG) 4 Stars ****

Thirteen-year-old eighth grader Claire lives in present day Bethlehem, Pennsylvania experiencing all the angst, teasing, insecurities, and disappointments that comes with that age. Written in the first person, Claire is vocal and direct about what she does not like about her school mates, her teachers, her parents, and her brother. Claire’s incessant complaining comes to a stop when her father suffers a debilitating and life threatening stroke. Claire is at home alone with him at the time and her quick thinking call to 9-1-1 saves his life and gets him the emergency care he needs in this time sensitive situation.

This well-researched book takes the reader through the warning signs of a stroke, immediate emergency care needed and the long, painstaking road to recovery with help from therapists and family members. Claire’s father loses his will to fight the limitations of his condition, but Claire manages to reach him in a special way so that they both might reach their goals. Claire’s father struggles with physical therapy and speech exercises while Claire struggles with dance exercises so she may be promoted to a dance group with kids her own age rather than with the younger kids with whom she is now matched. Claire explains, “This is what love is, I think. Daddy was strong for me so that I could learn to be. Then I was strong for him until he could relearn his own strength. Now, here we are, strong together.”

Anyone who has experienced severe family illness will be able to identify with this story. The patient’s needs overtake everyone’s life. Nothing is as it was before. Everyone’s energy is focused on the patient’s recovery while personal goals and desires are put on hold.

Claire is a hyper-complainer. I found myself getting hypertense while reading this book because of the frenetic energy with which the story is told. Too many quips and one-liners for my taste. I would opt for a calmer presentation


Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at

I wish you all a life inspired by the wonder of the world around us. May you find and live your truth, in harmony with people, nature and the environment. May you be a force for good and a source of love and comfort. May the world be a better place for you having lived and loved here.

All rights reserved 2018

Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

In last week’s blog post, we discussed stressed out kids who lack the coping mechanisms most of us learn by the time we’re adults. We can help our children stay balanced in today’s world by helping them to learn emotional intelligence. What is it? Psychology Today defines EQ or emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage our own emotions as well as those of others. It includes three skills: the ability to identify, harness and manage emotions and apply this skill to problem solving, thinking, and cheering up or calming down another person.”  Think about it. Who has the most pleasant life – the smartest, the wealthiest or the one who is balanced and gets along easily with almost everyone?

According to an article “What’s Your Child’s EQ?” by Teal Swan which appeared in the November, 2015 Long Island edition of Natural Awakenings, “emotional health is more important in determining future happiness  than academic success or wealth.”

The author tells us we can ensure a child’s healthy emotional upbringing by avoiding these mistakes:

The Don’ts

1.  Disapprove of a child’s emotions -don’t reprimand or punish for expressing negative emotions                                                                                                                                                     2. Dismiss a child’s emotions – don’t ignore or trivialize emotions                                                                                                           3. Ignore a chance to offer guidance- don’t neglect to set limits on behavior and help the child understand and cope

The Do’s  

We should all value and respect each other’s feelings. Remember, emotions matter.
* Become aware of the other person’s emotions.
* Care about the other person  by seeing their emotions as valid and important
* Allow others to be vulnerable without fear of judgment. Understand rather than agree or redirect.                                                                                                                                                      * Acknowledge  and validate another person’s feelings by saying, ” I can see how you might feel that way.”                                                                                                                                                   * Only after the other person’s feelings have been validated, we can assert new ways of looking at a situation that may improve the way another person is feeling

By helping our children to understand themselves as well as others, they gain another tool to use in times of stress, be it their own, or when they’re witnessing an emotional reaction. Putting a lid on it isn’t always good. Yes, we must be appropriate, but that’s where the strong parenting comes in, whereby we teach our children to express emotions within certain behaviors. Children should learn to use their words, not their fists. Emotions in themselves are not bad. It’s the physical manifestation of feelings that will get us into trouble. Slamming doors, punching a hole in the wall, smacking someone across the face are not acceptable. Instead, children should be taught to state their feelings and know their point will be well made.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Selfie: Millennials As Parents

© 2016 All Rights Reserved


Kids Off The Hook? Maybe It’s Stress.

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Welcome to my blog!

Are your kids acting out more than usual? Screaming, crying, not cooperating? Refusing to go to school or to an after school activity? Rebelliousness? Or, maybe they’re just stressed out. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress among kids is at an all time high with high school and college students often reporting higher stress levels than adults. What do kids have to be stressed out about? Read on.

According to Gina Shaw’s article pp. 61-63 in the September, 2015 issue of WebMD, there’s a whole list of things resulting from life in the modern world. Let’s take a look.

* Kids are asked to make choices leading to careers at a young age.                                             * Facebook and Instagram depict pictures of all their friends at social gatherings to which they were not invited and from which they are conspicuously absent                                                                                                                    * Kindergarten is the new first grade. What happened to blocks, finger painting, music, climbing and jumping?                                                                                                                              

* High stakes testing puts too much emphasis on performance on a few specific days rather than on how they function in the classroom over time
* Overscheduling sports, art and music. These are supposed to relieve stress, not add to it.                                                                                                                                     * Reduction of art, music, physical education in the school program eliminates outlets                                                                                                                            * Exposure to adult media content such as shootings, bombings, explosions, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, effects of global warming, prophesies of the end of the world, falling comets, black holes, drone attacks, terrorist atrocities, etc., causes anxiety and fear                                                                                   * Bullying and Teasing are no longer private matters since kids may be victims on Facebook, Instagram and through text messaging for everyone to witness                                  

* Too little sleep affects memory, judgment and mood
* Chronic illness has more than doubled in kids between 1994 and 2000 with obesity, asthma, type 2 diabetes, behavior and learning problems, and ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder at the top of the list
* Family disruption due to illness, death, deployment, divorce or separation, abandonment, physical or sexual abuse, addictive behaviors with alcohol, drugs, gambling                                                                                                                                * Stressed out parents lead to stressed out kids 

What can you do to counteract these stressors? “Talk with your kids every day. Don’t over schedule so there’s time for free play on a daily basis. Talk about stress and suggest ways to control it, deep breathing, for example. Speak with a doctor about counseling referrals, if needed. Manage your own stress and watch the calm trickle down.”

As adults, we are much better equipped to deal with the stresses of every day life. Our self-esteem is more highly developed. Our happiness is not so dependent on the approval of others. We found a support system that gets us through the day. Most of us are well- settled into the lives we’ve chosen for ourselves. We are in control of our destinies with  decisions and choices of our own making. If we’re not happy in a situation, we have the mobility and where-with-all to move ourselves up and out. Kids haven’t yet developed these coping mechanisms.

Let me leave you with these thoughts. Be the adult in the relationship. Calm yourself. Get your head on straight. Be a role model, and a source of comfort and support for your children, as well as the adults in your life. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Prioritize. Then, let go. Must your child excel in violin and football? Trust that your children can occupy themselves constructively within unstructured time. Let them be. This is how they develop themselves. Present the tools, then allow them to utilize them in their own time. Don’t live vicariously through your children. Their successes ( or weaknesses ) are theirs. If you want bragging rights, then do something constructive and amazing with your own time. That success will belong to you. Don’t hijack the accomplishments of others to try to make yourself look good.

As a former teacher, I have a great respect for education. However, it does not only come from a formal lesson in the classroom. Books; cable shows; YouTube videos; public, school and private libraries; zoos; museums; community and back yard gardens; a walk in the woods, around the block or outside your home; a visit to the beach, a river or a pond, can all offer learning experiences. How about behind the scene experiences at a play, concert, sports event? Think about what can be learned from watching a construction project. Look up at the sky in the day, then at night. What do you see? Answer those questions and fill in the gaps with books, Google searches, TV and Cable specials. Let your kids explore. Their natural curiosity will look for answers. You get the idea— we can learn from everything in the real world as well as what is focused on in the classroom.

Education is knowing things outside yourself. Authentic learning complements formal learning.

Allow them time to find their own path. With so many options available in today’s world, it’s unfair to force a young person to choose before they’ve had a chance to investigate and try it on for size. As we know, one size does not fit all.

Help your children develop a high self-esteem so they might feel confident in the path they’ve chosen for themselves. A strong self-image counteracts negativity from immature and/ or aggressive sources. Allow them to pursue what they’re good at and what gives them happiness. This is how they learn to accept and like themselves.

Please let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Emotional Intelligence For Kids – A Coping Mechanism

© 2016 All Rights Reserved

Precocious Puberty – Bodies Developing Before Emotions

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Welcome to my blog!

Little girls with breasts, pubic hair and menstruation? Little boys with enlarged testicles and penises, facial hair and deepening voices? A Sci-Fi movie? No. A real life phenomenon? Yes.  In recent years, puberty has begun at increasingly younger ages for American children. Scientists are somewhat baffled. They can point to a number of factors  but not one cause. Childhood obesity, pollutants and hormones in food, water, home environment and stress factors are the likely culprits. Brain tumors, inflammations or injuries only account for a tiny percentage. Some of these can be controlled, some cannot.

Let’s take a look at the statistics. Precocious puberty  (early maturation) is ten times more likely to appear in girls rather than boys, but the numbers for boys are rapidly increasing.  Dayton’s Children’s Medical Center website lists the percentage of pubescent girls at 10% for whites, 20-30% for blacks and an intermediate percentage for Hispanics before 8 years of age, with some as young as 3 years old. I did not find any information on the percentages for boys, but Forbes Oct. 20, 2012 lists the precocious ages for boys at 10 for whites and Hispanics and 9 for blacks.

According to Newsweek’s  Jan. 26, 2015 article, “Puberty Comes Earlier For Girls” by Susan South, cites plastic compounds, in particular phthalates (pronounced thal-ates), man-made chemicals found in plastic food and beverage containers, carpeting, shampoos, insect repellents, vinyl flooring, shower curtains, plastic toys and steering wheels and dashboards of most cars.”  (Additional research revealed their presence in perfume, fragrance in cosmetics, and the non-recyclable PVC found in vinyls, lunch boxes  and folders.)

The Newsweek article goes on to say, “Also, exposure to certain compounds known as endocrine disruptors ex. pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls and bisphenol, mimic the effects of estrogen in the body and could partially stimulate breast growth. Usually menstruation begins 2-3 years after breast growth.”  (Additional research revealed exposure to hormonal creams, medications and supplements as a possible contributing factor.)

To summarize an article in the Queens issue of Natural Awakenings October, 2015,  “Early Puberty – The New Normal?” by Kathleen Barnes emphasis is placed on “BMI Body Mass Index as the predominant factor in early puberty for girls – more important than race or ethnicity. Fat tissue  produces hormones, including estrogen that can accelerate the process of puberty, especially early breast development. Burgers, fries and soda are to blame. Endocrine disruptors increase estrogen production, ex. chemicals found in children’s clothing and antibiotics found in meat and dairy may create a greater danger than added hormones by disrupting the digestive tract which can lead to obesity and may influence puberty. Also, stressors such as sexual or child abuse, stressful family relationships, low emotional investment on the part of parents or a depressed mother can raise levels of cortisol which is associated with obesity. Experts agree that a clean diet is one of the most powerful strategies to protect young girls. Eat organic wherever possible.

Complications from precocious puberty? Not only are most children not emotionally and psychologically ready to deal with the changes in their bodies, they are often victims of teasing, socially outcast, depressed, prone to obesity, drug and alcohol abusers, cigarette smokers and prone to eating disorders. The girls in particular get unwanted sexual attention from older boys and men.  (Let me take this opportunity to recommend your kids cell phones be limited to flip phones only without Internet, so they cannot fall prey to cyber sexual predators.) It is believed the incidence of cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke, diabetes, higher blood pressure and breast cancer is higher for this group.

Medications are available that will slow down this early maturation process, which parents may or may not want to utilize. This decision should not be taken lightly. Think five times before doing this.

It’s obvious that hormones and toxins in our water systems and food supply adversely affect our children now and our future generations. Where does the medicine go when we throw it down the drain or flush it down the toilet? Are the fatted calf and big-breasted chicken pumped with hormones? Is the grass and feed contaminated by toxic run-off?

There’s so much to be concerned about in our modern world. Industry advances its products without concern for the impact on people or the environment. Sales oriented, they ignore the dangers and monopolize the market with what is essentially poisonous  and detrimental to health. Don’t get me started on drug companies. They foster drugs whose side effects are worse than the disease itself. Just watch the TV ads. Scientists must curtail “advances” that destroy our planet and the people in it. They have a responsibility, as doctors do, to do no harm and it should be taken seriously.

It’s time for us to demand more from government regulators, but also from captains of industry who must put our health before profits. We have the right to expect safer products. People friendly. Nature friendly. Environmentally friendly.

Our children are noticeably paying the price for this unnatural world in which we live. What will we see in twenty years?

Please let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Kids Off The Hook? Maybe It’s Stress

© 2016 All rights reserved

How To Kill Dirt and Grime Without Killing Yourself

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Welcome to my blog!

Is it your imagination, or does cleaning just make you feel sick?  It’s closer to the truth than you may think. You’re on to something. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) verifies that many common cleaning products act as indoor pollutants at home and at work causing short-term  effects of headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and irritation of eyes, nose and throat while exacerbating symptoms of asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Long term effects may include respiratory and heart disease and cancer. Let’s see how we can substitute non-toxic common household products at home and at work.

This is Part 2 of a two-part series. See my Jan. 30, 2016 blog post, “Creating A Non-Toxic Home Environment,” for more information.

Check out Laura Newcomer’s article,” 27 Chemical Free Recipes For DIY Spring Cleaning,” Greatist, March 19, 2015. Ms. Newcomer’s recipes for cleaning solutions include simple household ingredients: baking soda, castile soap, vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil and essential oils for fragrance and anti-bacterial effects. She warns against using borax since it has been known to act as a skin and eye irritant. Also, don’t mix castile soap with lemon or vinegar. You’ll find a lot of helpful information in this article, so Google away.

Let’s take a look at an article by naturopathic doctor Sarah Cimperman, ND “Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning” from the May/ June 2013  Wisdom NYC/ Tri-State Edition as mentioned in last week’s blog post.

Dr. Cimperman suggests these basic supplies: white vinegar, pure essential oils, fragrance-free liquid castile soap, olive oil, baking soda, spray bottle, rags or old towels, sponge with scrubbing surface, steam or regular mop (no throw away pads).

*Dust furniture with  a clean, slightly damp cloth, ringing often                                              *Spray cleaning mixture on counters, sinks, stove tops, appliances, tiles toilets, mirrors, windows and floors, them wipe off with a wet sponge                                                                       *Sprinkle baking soda on extra-dirty areas, then scrub with a wet sponge                                *Don’t used vinegar on wooden or natural stone surfaces                                                              *Clean natural stone with liquid castile soap diluted with warm water                                      *Polish wooden surfaces with a dry cloth to rub in a small amount of olive oil                  *Use isopropyl alcohol diluted with water for extreme stains. Use sparingly. Wear rubber gloves. Flammable. May irritate.  (I’m surprised and uncomfortable about this one, but I’m no expert. Please use your own judgment.)                                                                                                      *Mix 1 cup white vinegar to a bucket of hot water faith a few drops of tea tree oil or hardwood and tile floors with a steam or regular mop                                                                   *Unclog drains with 1/4 cup baking soda, followed by 1 cup white vinegar. when foaming subsides, flush with copious amounts of boiling water                                                           *Soften laundry with 1/2 cup white vinegar per load and organic wool dryer balls                 *Replace fragrance, chemical based detergents with those that are biodegradable

Remember to rinse cleaning cloths often and clean sponges by wetting, then microwaving on high for 2 minutes.

So, now you have a plan. You can make a list (Nov. 7, 2015 blog post), declutter and organize and create your own cleaning solutions for very little money, time and effort. Best of all, you know you’re taking a giant step toward ridding your home or work place of harmful toxins, thereby caring for your health and well-being, and that of your family members and  c0-workers.

Let me know how you do. I’d love to hear from you.

Next week’s blog post: Trustworthiness – The Most Precious Valentine’s Day Gift

© 2015 All rights reserved

Saturday, March 14, 2020- Barnes & Noble, Massapequa, NY 12:00-4:00pm

May 2020
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