A Tip to Fall Asleep Quickly

A firestick plant at a neighbor’s house. They are beautiful but toxic succulents.

Lying in bed each night, Andy Buelow often finds himself thinking one thought over and over: How awesome it was to ride the ferry across Lake Michigan as a kid.

Mr. Buelow pictures himself back on the ship, imagining the whir of the engines, the smell of steam, the rushing water and the cold spray on his face.

“When I remember the feeling, I am asleep within minutes,” says Mr. Buelow, 61 years old, the chief executive of a symphony orchestra in Muskegon, Mich. 


That is the opening of a story from the Wall Street Journal by Elizabeth Bernstein called “A Happy Memory Can Help You Fall Asleep, If You Know How to Use It.”

According to the article, sleep researchers say what we think about before we fall asleep is as important as having a relaxing routine, turning off our screens, etc.

Here’s another excerpt:

They recommend that as we prepare to drift off, we practice something called savoring, which is imagining a positive experience we’ve had in great detail.

Savoring is well-studied as a strategy to improve our general well-being. A considerable body of research shows that it can boost mood and help reduce depression and anxiety. Now, psychologists believe it can help us fall asleep and have better sleep quality, and are starting to study its effectiveness.


So here’s the question, if you choose to try “savoring” what memory will you be thinking about?

I’m not feeling it

cactus with bird's nest
This cactus is fascinating to us. Right in the middle of it is a bird’s nest. How safe must they be!

Everyone is writing about their goals, their resolutions and how motivated they are for a new year. I’m not feeling it at all. I’m finding it difficult to get out of bed and to get outside for my daily walk. I’m feeling sad. This weekend I’m flying to help my son post his second surgery in six months. My daughter is angry with me. I said something to her that I wish I could take back, but I can’t. I can only apologize.

It’s not an auspicious beginning to a new year. Maybe I’m feeling a let down after our big Christmas vacation that we had planned for a year. Or, maybe it’s too cold outside. Maybe I’m still grieving the deaths of two friends. Or, maybe I worry too much about my kids. Neither my son or daughter is in a great place right now and it hurts my heart.

nest buried deep within a cactus.
Can you spot the nest in the cactus? I’d like a nest like that where everyone would leave me alone.

Sorry to be so negative. I’m mostly a glass half full person, but like I said — I’m not feeling it. I think I need to get out my gratitude journal and get to work.

What do you do when you feel blue? Are you able to snap out of it? Any helpful hints would be appreciated.

Amy Osaka — did she make the right decision?

Waffles the pug
Waffles, my daughter’s emotional support animal, has given her much needed comfort this past year.

I read this piece about Amy Osaka today. I’ve seen her name in the news, but until this morning I hadn’t read the stories. What I gleaned, the 23-year-old tennis super star is suffering from mental health issues and doesn’t want to speak to the press. She knew she’d be fined, she was okay with that. But in the end, she decided to withdraw from the French Open. I was interested in Osaka’s story because depression and anxiety are not foreign in my family tree. Here’s more from the article:

“Mental difficulty can be mysterious, even to the sufferer. We’re also still amid a pandemic in which ordinary interactions with other people have been stifled, and routines and lives have been disrupted. If you’re doing OK, it’s tempting to think everyone else should be doing OK, too. That’s not the way it goes, however. A little bit of empathy can go a long way.”

Listening to Naomi Osaka
Sports are getting more attuned to mental health, but there’s still a long way to go
Wall Street Journal By Jason Gay
Updated June 2, 2021 8:44 am ET

“On the matter of Naomi Osaka and the French Open: I suspect a day will come when people will look back upon this moment and be mystified by how agitated it all got, how a player opting out of routine press conferences and deciding to leave a tournament because of concern about her own mental health became such a global uproar. I suspect there will be a time in the future when an athlete’s revelation of depression and anxiety—or anyone’s revelation of depression and anxiety—won’t launch a zillion casual diagnoses or judgments about an alleged lack of mettle.

“I think (I hope!) we’re going to reach a point that when a person says they’re in mental distress, we will just…listen.

“But we’re not there yet. 

“We’re not there yet because mental health in sports, like in many occupations and environments, remains a complicated, under-discussed subject, still wrapped in stigma and dated notions about toughness and “gutting it out.” We’re getting better, no doubt about it—more workplaces are offering mental-health resources for employees, and in sports, Osaka has been preceded by star athletes like Michael Phelps, Abby Wambach, DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love, who have openly discussed mental-health battles of their own. 

“It’s a work in progress, however. The awkward debate over Osaka’s departure signals that athletes and sports are still figuring this out. We’re not yet ready to nurture mental health in the way we do a pulled hamstring or badly sprained ankle.”

I read another article from the Wall Street Journal about how employers are trying to accommodate younger employees who are much more open about their mental health:

“Naomi Osaka did something this week that would be unthinkable in many workplaces. Citing her struggles with depression and social anxiety, she said she wouldn’t be able to carry out what some see as a key part of a professional tennis player’s job: talking to the press.

What Happens When Mental-Health Issues Get in the Way of Work
Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal from the French Open is a public example of a private issue facing many companies By Te-Ping Chen
June 3, 2021 7:31 am ET

“The 23-year-old Ms. Osaka—the world’s highest-paid female athlete—isn’t a typical professional, nor is the French Open a traditional workplace. But Ms. Osaka’s openness about her mental-health struggles is a public example of private issues companies are increasingly facing as a young generation more candid about such challenges joins the workforce, employers say.

“Companies have been adjusting to meet employees’ needs with more mental-health support and services in recent years. Yet Ms. Osaka’s announcement and subsequent tournament withdrawal highlights an especially thorny question: How can an individual’s mental-health needs be accommodated when those needs affect the ability to do parts of the job?”

Waffles and my daughter at the beach
Waffles with my daughter at the beach last summer.

What are your thoughts about Amy Osaka? Should the tennis world have given her accommodations for her mental health? Or, did she make the correct decision to step back and take care of herself? Do you think employers should give accommodations to employees who are suffering from mental illness just as they would physical ailments?

I wrote a post a few years ago about the GOAT Michael Phelps and his struggles with depression after hearing him speak in the Palm Springs area. You can read that article here.

How Do Controlling Parents Harm Kids?

kat tub

My happy baby girl.

In a fascinating article about controlling parents on the Good Men Project, I learned about the difference between providing structure as opposed to being controlling. One is good, the other bad. But I had no idea how bad. It turns out children of controlling parents suffer from anxiety and depression. Kids who have parents who provide structure but allow autonomy, are more resilient.

Here is an excerpt from the article written by Wendy S. Grolnick, Professor of Psychology at Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts. There is a ton of useful information and tips in her article. It’s well worth reading the entire article.

Controlling parenting is counterproductive, undermining children’s self-regulation and their capacities for responsibility.

Parents can often feel confused when they hear that it’s good for children to have parents who are in control of their households, but that controlling parenting is bad for them.

Mom and dad may feel caught between these two pieces of advice, suggesting that control can be good but also bad for children. How is a parent to know what’s right and when?

That’s why our research has identified a more straightforward way to think about raising children. It distinguishes between children having ‘structure’ (healthy) as opposed to children being pushed through controlling parenting (unhealthy).

Difference between controlling parenting and parenting which provides ‘structure’

Structure can involve rules, guidelines and limits so that children know what’s expected of them and the consequences of their actions. That helps them learn successfully and avoid getting into trouble. But structure does not have to be imposed in a controlling manner.

Structure can be developed in ways that also support children’s autonomy. Parents can get together with their children to figure out rules and consequences. There can be back and forth. Dissension can be heard and discussed.

Parents can listen to critical feedback and empathise with children’s dislike of tasks, be it doing chores or homework. So structure can support autonomy and children’s agency. But, ultimately, rules and guidance are established, so this approach is not simply permissive. Supporting children’s autonomy is actually very active and does not involve a loss of parental authority or agency.

This approach contrasts with controlling parenting, where parents push and pressure children into actions over which they may have little say, and parents dictate without allowing genuine input from children. Such parenting can sometimes involve harsh discipline, including corporal punishment.

How controlling parenting can harm children

Controlling parenting can undermine children’s self-regulation and their capacity for responsibility. Instead of learning how to manage their own behavior, children may become reactive, responding negatively to being controlled. This may lead them to do the opposite of what is demanded, not from personal choice, but as a reaction against too much pressure.

We tested these two aspects of parenting, structured and controlling, in a study of 215 children and their families in several parts of Worcester, Massachusetts. We looked at whether parents were controlling and pressuring or whether they supported autonomy. We also tested whether they provided structure or whether rules and guidelines were lacking.

The article goes on to talk about why parents are controlling. Some of it is living vicariously through their kids and being too focused on performance. That makes me look back at how we parented and not in a good light. Rather than dwell on all my past mistakes, I think I’ll be grateful that my parenting evolved through the years. Also, today is a good day to reflect on all I’m thankful for. It’s time to get out the gratitude journal! I’m thankful for my husband and the kind and thoughtful adults my children have become.


Back when my son was young.

What are your thoughts about your parenting style or that of your parents? Have you crossed the line from structured to controlling?