How to Fall Asleep

sleepingWho wouldn’t like a better night’s sleep? In today’s over-connected, 24/7 society, we could all use a little more shut-eye. The Mayo Clinic makes the following recommendations for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including weekends.
  • Stay active — regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep.
  • Check your medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
  • Avoid or limit naps.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don’t use nicotine.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep and only use it for sex or sleep.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.

If you’d like more in-depth suggestions, try these titles.

jacket-aspxThe sleep revolution : transforming your life, one night at a time / Arianna Huffington (Book)
Scientific recommendations and expert tips on how we can all achieve better and more restorative sleep, and learn how to make the power of sleep work for us.

 

Good night : the sleep doctor’s 4-week program to better sleep and better health / Michael Breus (Book)
Learn how to identify your sleep issues and what you can do about it.

Sleep smarter : 21 essential strategies to sleep your way to a better body, better health, and bigger success / Shawn Stevenson (Book & eBook)
A 14-day plan with tips and tricks like the exact time of day to exercise for better sleep quality, what to wear to avoid waking up at night, and ways to fall asleep faster.

Look It up on lynda.com

lyndatutorIf you don’t have time to take a full class or just need a quick answer, lynda.com can help. For those who have never used lynda.com, it is a site of over 3,000 online courses available on the cheshirelibrary.com/elearning page of our website for anyone who holds a current Cheshire Public Library Card.

I frequently use the lynda online classes as a place to find answers to software questions. Need to know how to display all worksheet formulas in Excel? lynda’s Excel 2016 Tips and Tricks course has the answer. Simply scan the table of contents on the left side of the page and click on Display all worksheet formulas instantly. Three minutes and thirty seconds later you will have the answer.

That’s one of the things that is so wonderful about lynda.com. All courses are divided into short videos that are easily searchable. Word 2016 got you down? lynda has a course titled Word 2016 Essential Training. From getting started to formatting text, to using style and themes and many more complicated endeavors, this course has the answers you’re looking for. The entire course is five hours and forty-one minutes, but the average video chapter is only two to three minutes. Videos like Adding pizzazz with special text effects, Illustrating with WordArt, and Getting documents ready for sharing, can save you loads of time.

The number of topics covered in the lynda.com courses is truly astonishing. Photography. Game Design. Microsoft Office. Music. Test Prep. Business Topics. Educator Tools. And on and on.

You can access lynda.com from our website at cheshirelibrary.com/elearning. You must have a Cheshire Library card to login. Once you do, all the answers you need  are only a few minutes away.

Note: lynda.com charges libraries based on the population served by the library.  So when a library subscribes, lynda.com restricts access to those who have cards from that library. If you are not a Cheshire resident, check with your hometown library. More and more libraries are offering lynda.com to their patrons. If you are a Cheshire resident and do not have a card, you can apply for a card online or in person at the library.

My Dad and the Library

National Library Week is April 9-15, 2017. To celebrate, I’d like to share a special story.

My dad wasn’t a reader.

I don’t mean he couldn’t read. He just didn’t read for pleasure. He read for information, to gain knowledge, to figure out how to do something. As far as I know, he never once borrowed a book from any library.

And yet he understood my love of books and the library. From the time I learned to read, I hungered for new books. I would bring home the little Scholastic book pamphlets from school and pour over them, checking off all the books I wanted and confidently handing them to him. He never said no, no matter how tight the budget was.

Then we moved to a lovely little town called Cheshire and I discovered the Cheshire Public Library.

I was nine years old. I couldn’t go to the library unless someone drove me. And there was Dad, driving me to the library after he got out of work, dropping me off while he ran to the store to pick up a few things, waiting in the parking lot while I scanned the shelves looking for a Nancy Drew that I hadn’t read yet. Like the Scholastic book pamphlets, he never said no when I asked to go to the library.

He almost never came inside. He told me I was responsible for keeping track of the books I borrowed and when they were due. He was responsible for getting me to the library so I could borrow and return materials.

Then came one cold night in October when I was twelve years old. Dad was waiting in the library parking lot for me while I selected some books. When I got back to the car, he was shaking. He told me he couldn’t seem to get warm. The next day he suffered his first stroke. He was thirty-nine.

He recovered, but it was six weeks before we could return to the library. I was apprehensive. For the first time in my life I had overdue library books. I had a little babysitting money but I had no idea how much I owed. I was truly afraid they wouldn’t let me borrow any more books.

To my surprise, my dad came into the library with me. He handed the overdue books to the librarian, took out his wallet and said, “I was sick and couldn’t bring these back.” He smiled at me. “It wasn’t her fault.”

The librarian asked what had happened and he told her about his stroke. She asked us to wait and vanished into a back room. She returned with a  smile.

“No charge,” she said. “The library has a heart.”

That was a big deal. My dad was now unemployed because of his health. We didn’t have a lot of spare money.

My father walked out of the library that day smiling. He said, “There are still good people in the world.”

I had already decided I wanted to be a librarian. I couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t somehow involve books. But that librarian’s kindness made me realize what a difference a librarian could make in someone’s day.

Three years later, I was hired as a library page at the Cheshire Library. The librarian who had been so kind to us was no longer there. I never even knew her name, and she never knew how much her action meant to me.

We all make a difference each day, even if we don’t know it.

In honor of National Library Week and the librarian who made a young girl happy a long time ago, here are some of my favorite children’s books about libraries and librarians:

lion-aspxThe Library Lion by Michele Knudsen.
A lion starts visiting the local library but runs into trouble as he tries to both obey the rules and help his librarian friend.

 

 

jacket-aspx The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.
When war comes, Alia Muhammad Baker, the librarian of Basra, fears the library will be destroyed, so she asks government officials for help, but they refuse, which means Alia must take matters into her own hands to protect the books that she loves.

jacket-aspxLibrary Lil by Suzanne Williams. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg.
A formidable librarian makes readers not only out of the once resistant residents of her small town, but out of a tough-talking, television-watching motorcycle gang as well.

 

 

jacket-aspxMrs. Roopy is Loopy by Dan Gutman.
A.J. and his classmates are convinced that the new school librarian, Mrs. Roopy, has multiple personality disorder because she keeps pretending to be famous people.

 

 

jacket-aspxThe Library by Sarah Stewart.
Elizabeth Brown loves to read more than anything else, but when her collection of books grows and grows, she must make a change in her life.

The World of Castle Waiting

jacket-aspxCastle Waiting by Linda Medley is a graphic novel in two volumes that depicts a world where horses walk upright and wield swords. A world of ghosts and amulets and curses. And yet, a world of  everyday life that deals with such things as the logistics of cooking for a crowd, doing the laundry, and whether it’s more important for underwear to be functional or interesting.

And through it all, one plucky heroine named Jain travels in search of the legendary Castle Waiting, a sanctuary for anyone who needs it. The characters are wonderful and no one bats an eye at any being, no matter how different: talking storks, annoying sprites, bearded ladies, the mentally unstable, the warriors are all taken in stride and regarded with compassion and a touch of humor.

A small demon  patrols the neighborhood around Castle Waiting looking for souls to corrupt. Sprites infest the castle walls. A lion with wings watches silently and mysteriously, sometimes from the roof and sometimes from the nearby woods. And Jain, who has spent months on the road, arrives just in time for the birth of her baby, whose father is as much of a mystery as everything else in the castle.

castleMeticulously drawn and by turns touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking, this story sucked me right in. With a deft hand,  Medley strews literary references throughout the story and skewers old fairy tales. One reading simply is not sufficient. Only through multiple readings will you be able to catch all the allusions and details. Each panel not only features the major characters but a wealth of of background action. (Watch for the sprites stealing things while no one notices.) The architectural detail of the castle made my wanna-be architect heart beat faster.

This is not a utopian story. People die. There are thieves, baby-nappers, and violence. Jain starts her journey by escaping from an abusive husband. Yet, in a way, Castle Waiting is a utopia. Bickering happens and personalities clash, but underneath it all there is an unquestioning acceptance of everyone.

It seems like a wonderful place to be. It is just quirky enough for my taste and there are enough adventures to keep boredom at bay. The characters bowl in the castle halls. They eat Turkish Delight. They dye their hair red and hold impromptu tea parties.  And each one has a story that is slowly revealed though the (so far) two volumes.

Jain Solander from the graphic novel Castle Waiting. Artist: Linda Medley.

From Castle Waiting, Vol. 1. Copyright Linda Medley.

Did I mention that Castle Waiting has a library complete with a ghost? I want to go live there.

Take a look at other Graphic Novels available at the Cheshire Library.

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Seeking Rest in a Busy World

Rest is hard to find. Our homes, schools, and public places are filled with sound and activities. People talk, electronic devices ping, beep, and trill. Machines hum. We are plugged in 24/7.

Our lives have become a hive of constant connection. We are never alone! And quiet time is so necessary for well-being. A recent study looked at the benefits of time alone. It turns out, even extroverts need alone time and that time spent alone makes people feel more rested, which contributes to their well-being.

james_tissot_-_quietAnd the activities that people in the study found the most restful?
1. Reading.
2. Being in a natural environment.
3. Time spent alone.

So grab a book and head outside for some quality alone time. It’s good for body and soul.

 

Want to know more about the benefits of rest? Try these titles. Just want to relax? Check out the downloadable music suggestions at the end of this post. For a full list of relaxation resources, click here.

jacket-aspxSilence : the power of quiet in a world full of noise / Thich Nĥát Hạnh. (Hardcover)
One of the world’s most beloved teachers and Zen masters shares a profound, concise, and practical guide to understanding and developing our most powerful inner resource—silence—to help us find happiness, purpose, and peace.

jacket-aspxThe art of stillness : adventures in going nowhere / Pico Iyer. (Hardcover)
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.

jacket-aspxStillness speaks / Eckhart Tolle. (ebook)
If you connect to the stillness within, you move beyond your active mind and emotions and discover great depths of lasting peace, contentment, and serenity.

 

 

jacket-aspxRelaxation revolution : enhancing your personal health through the science and genetics of mind body healing / Herbert Benson and William Proctor. (Downloadable Audiobook)
Using the mind to quiet the body not only eases stress, it actually alters the activity of thousands of genes, promoting wellness. Science now proves that relaxation not only changes how a patient feels physically and emotionally, it has the power to transform genes, molecules, cells, and other physiological functions to relieve a variety of afflictions.

vector-musical-1Downloadable Music

Positive thinking, vol. 1 – music for meditation, relaxation & yoga

Guided meditation guided relaxation & guided imagery for the body and mind

Classical music for relaxation vol.1

Spa music: relaxing music for massage therapy, spa, yoga, stress relief, meditation and sleeping

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