Back to school can be stressful for students—and parents need to look for the signs

(Published Aug. 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

For parents, a new school may reduce stress as the kids leave home for the better part of the day. But for students, it could be a different story. 

A new school, or just a new school year, can bring on subtle signs of stress and anxiety which can lead to trouble.

Simple things, like sleep trouble, can cause—or be a sign of—problems for a student, according to Emma K. Adam, a Northwestern professor of human development and a faculty fellow at the Institute for Policy Research.

“That’s something that is both a reflection of stress and contributes to more stress,” Adam said. “So that’s one area I would suggest intervening.”

Sleep problems can be caused by something as simple as a return to a school schedule, and they can create a host of problems for the student.

“When you’re thinking about the back to school transition, it’s important to get a child’s routine on track prior to beginning school,” Adam said. “It can lead to a form of jet lag to suddenly switch your child’s schedule to a much earlier wake up time. When they have that jet lag, essentially when they’re sleepy or they’re short on sleep [and] they’re less able to engage in social relationships.”

Adam said research has shown adolescents tend to fall asleep later, meaning getting a solid sleep is difficult even under the best of situations when facing early school days.

“There is, in adolescence, a biological shift where they don’t get sleepy until later at night and that runs up against the early start times for high schoolers,” Adam said. 

“It’s not just the social demands that are keeping adolescents up late, it’s actually harder for them to fall asleep,” she said. “But you can slowly change you adolescents to get them on track to a slightly earlier bedtime.”

Adam said some adolescents don’t want to talk about emotional problems, so they hide what they’re feeling. Even so, parents shouldn’t be afraid to talk to their child if they see behavioral changes.

“By adolescence, kids can be good at hiding emotions,” she said. “But parents can see it turn into anxiety and depression, or the adolescent may be less interested in activities.

“Some kids can express stress by externalizing problems, through anger and lashing out. Whenever you see a major change in a child, it might be time to sit them down and find out what’s going on in their lives.”

Downtown cancer survivor runs to raise funds

(Published July 31, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

New Eastside resident Alan Goldman remembers what it was like when he got the news he had prostate cancer 12 years ago. It was during a routine physical.

“My first thought was, this is the first time I was exposed to something so severe, that could affect my entire life,” he said. “I wanted to fight it aggressively, and I wanted it out of my body ASAP. I wanted it done swifty and I wanted a finality so I wouldn’t have to fight this my entire life.”

The prostate is a small gland useful for reproduction found only in men. It is also a common source of cancer—after skin cancer it is the second-most common form of cancer in men. 

Goldman made it through OK. He said his brother in law had prostate cancer, so he had a support network in his family and these days, he is fit and healthy. 

“The surgery was very successful,” he said. “I’m very healthy. I’m one of the lucky ones I guess.”

But he is not done fighting—if not for himself, then for other men across the nation. 

For the past three years, Goldman has been raising money and running in SEA Blue Chicago Prostate Cancer Walk and Run. This year’s run is Sept. 9 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lincoln Park. 

The walk and run is Chicago’s oldest prostate cancer fundraiser and it raises money for Us TOO International, a nonprofit that supports men who are dealing with prostate cancer and their families.

“I wanted to get involved in something that’s had a big impact on my life,” he said. 

Goldman did more than get involved. He is now on the board of Us TOO, and he is co-chair of the SEA Blue walk and run. Goldman’s charity work helps hundreds, if not thousands of people. 

“The money goes to support groups around the United States and we have over 200 support groups,” he said. 

Goldman explained that prostate cancer is a disease that afflicts men, but it affects the family—even after the patient beats the disease. One of the side effects of removing the prostate, for example, is erectile dysfunction and that alone can cause trauma. 

“That could be devastating to a person’s psyche,” he said. 

Goldman also suggested men over 50 get a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test every year. This blood test can screen for prostate cancer and it can save lives. 

“Most men don’t go in for an annual PSA test,” Goldman said. “Men think they’re fine if they feel fine. But you could have a cancer growing in your prostate and you can feel fine.”

To sign up for the charity walk and run, visit ustoo.rallybound.org. 

Largest biomedical research facility in U.S. opens in Streeterville

(Published June 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

In June, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine unveiled the largest academic biomedical research facility in the United States.

Opening ceremonies for the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., included local officials as well as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The facility will provide additional space for biomedical research and, according to a news release, the school is the fastest-growing research center among U.S. medical schools.

Pritzker said the Chicago facility will attract top talent.

“Building the best biomedical research hub right here in Streeterville means that we can attract researchers from all around the globe,” the governor said. “And it also means the best and the brightest will stay right here in Chicago.”

Kimberly Querrey, for whom the building is partially named, said she expects the research done in the facility will change human health.

“Lou [Simpson] and I are fortunate to be able to support the biomedical community and we’re humbled by the collaboration of the many scientists in this room committed to improving human life,” she said.

The 12-story building was designed by Perkins and Will and features a curved-glass exterior and offers Northwestern 625,000 square feet of research space. In addition, the building is designed for a future expansion that can more than double its size vertically, with up to 16 new floors in the second phase of construction.

According to the release, the site will be staffed by 2,000 people and is expected to generate $390 million a year in economic activity.

Largest biomedical research facility in U.S. opens in Streeterville

(Published June 18, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

In June, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine unveiled the largest academic biomedical research facility in the United States.

Opening ceremonies for the   Louis A. Simpson and Kimberly K. Querrey Biomedical Research Center, 303 E. Superior St., included local officials as well as Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

The facility will provide additional space for biomedical research and, according to a news release, the school is the fastest-growing research center among U.S. medical schools.

Pritzker said the Chicago facility will attract top talent.

“Building the best biomedical research hub right here in Streeterville means that we can attract researchers from all around the globe,” the governor said. “And it also means the best and the brightest will stay right here in Chicago.”

Kimberly Querrey, for whom the building is partially named, said she expects the research done in the facility will change human health.

“Lou [Simpson] and I are fortunate to be able to support the biomedical community and we’re humbled by the collaboration of the many scientists in this room committed to improving human life,” she said.

The 12-story building was designed by Perkins and Will and features a curved-glass exterior and offers Northwestern 625,000 square feet of research space. In addition, the building is designed for a future expansion that can more than double its size vertically, with up to 16 new floors in the second phase of construction.

According to the release, the site will be staffed by 2,000 people and is expected to generate $390 million a year in economic activity.

Headache Foundation honors Nobel laureate neurobiologist Eric Kandel

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jesse Wright

The Chicago-based National Headache Foundation honored pioneering neurobiologist Eric Kandel in May as part of their annual gala fundraiser.

Kandel won a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2000 for his work showing how memories can physically alter the brain. Kandel will be 90 in November, and in an exclusive interview with the News, he talked about his current research.

“I’m studying age-related memory loss,” he said.

Through experiments he has shown older adults can offset memory loss and improve memory through the release of osteocalcin, a hormone released from the bones. The best way to get it is by exercise and movement. Kandel said his discovery changed his life.  

“I walk everywhere,” he said. “I now walk to work, and I walk back (from)work, and I walk more than I used to.”

While Kandel said he personally hasn’t done extensive research in headaches, early in his career he studied spreading depression, which is thought to be the underlying cause of migraines.

“Headaches are a universal problem,” he said.

Among migraine sufferers is his granddaughter. During the awards ceremony, Kandel said might have changed his research if he was aware of  her condition earlier in his career.

“Had I known one of my grandchildren would develop migraine headaches, I would have continued to study migraines,” he said. “But, I’m still relatively young.”

Headache Foundation Executive Chairman Seymour Diamond praised Kandel’s work before awarding him the Lifetime Achievement Award.

“His work has contributed in so many ways to understanding headaches,” Diamond said.

The evening raised $225,000 for headache research.

Grilling guac: Why not grill the dip?

(Published May 30, 2019)

Guacamole is a popular side at any barbecue. While it’s usually cooked with raw ingredients, grilling the avocado, onion, pepper, garlic and tomatoes can add a complex, smoky flavor that improves the end result.

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, skinned, cut in half

2 small tomatoes, halved

1 jalapeno pepper, halved (seeded, if you don’t want a lot of heat)

2 large ripe avocados, halved and pitted

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

1-2 large cloves of garlic not skinned

The juice from one line (or ½ depending on taste)

Cumin to taste

Salt to taste

Chop up the cilantro and set it aside in a bowl. Add a dash of cumin and some salt.

On a grill over medium heat, place the avocados face down, so the flesh is exposed to the heat. Toss the rest of the vegetables—including the limes—face down to the heat. The avocados and onion will take 3-5 minutes to char, but the tomatoes, garlic, and jalapeno should be turned regularly, exposing all sides to the heat. The lime should be checked and, once it begins to char, taken off the grill.

Once all vegetables have been charred, scoop the avocado flesh from the rind into the bowl with the cilantro. Remove the garlic skin (after it’s cooled) and add that to the bowl. The garlic should be soft, but if not, mince it first. Mince the onion and add that to the bowl. Squeeze half the lime into the bowl. Chop up the jalapeno and add that to the bowl. Roughly chop up the tomatoes, add that to the bowl.

Mix everything together by hand with a large spoon or fork or a pestle. Taste; add more lime juice, salt, cumin as needed.

Serve immediately with chips.

Unique spring runs in Chicago include bubbles, colors and love

(Published April 29, 2019)

Abhinanda Datta, Staff Writer

Although April did bring snow, it is safe to say spring has finally sprung on Chicago. Just in time for spring are healthy, fun activities to get the body in shape before beach season. If ordinary 5k races are boring, here are some weirdly fun runs:

Superhero Run 2019

Where: Diversey Event Harbor

When: 9 a.m., May 4

Wear a cape and run for a good cause. The Superhero Run, the biggest fundraising event of the year for DePaul University’s Cities Project, provides Chicago Public School students with critical mentoring and after-school support. All proceeds go toward maintenance and expansion of the program. Tickets: $35-$40.

Night Nation Run

Where: Soldier Field

When: Gates open at 5:30 p.m., May 18

The Night Nation Run is a running music festival. More than one million people have participated over the years. The run begins and ends at the Soldier Field and the course includes studded bubble zones, live DJs, light shows and black and white neon lights. As participants enjoy this unique, musical running course, the major attraction awaits near the finish line—an epic main stage after party with top headliner DJs. Tickets: $30-$60.

Bubble Run Chicago

Where: Bridgeview

When: May 25

Participants wear white t-shirts, and run, walk, dance and play across three miles, with groups starting every three to five minutes. At each kilometer, participants run through Foam Bogs where they get doused in colored foam from head to toe. Each of the four Foam Bogs along the course will be represented by different colored foam. Tickets: $40.

The Color Run Chicago

Where: Soldier Field

When: June 15

A race that celebrates love, The Color Run requires participants to wear white and bring nothing but good vibes. As participants run through the course, they are plastered with colors and once they cross the finish line, there is a party with music, dancing and even more colors. Tickets: $25-$50.

Spark joy with organizing tips from Chicago’s experts

By Elizabeth Czapski, Staff Writer

With spring warmth just around the corner, it’s time to clean house and local pros have some advice.

Monica Friel, president and founder of Chaos to Order, a Chicago-based organizing company, recommends decluttering the house twice a year, in the fall and in the spring, to keep on top of the clutter.

Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method of tidying emphasizes discarding anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” The method suggests going through items by category (books, clothes and so on) and touching each one. If it sparks joy, keep it—then, once you’ve gotten rid of the things you don’t want, you can organize the rest.

Friel said Kondo’s Netflix show has resulted in an uptick in her business.

“I think it’s great that Marie Kondo has inspired us to declutter and get rid of things that don’t bring us joy.”

While Kondo’s methods don’t work for everyone, Friel said getting rid of excess baggage is healthy. “I believe that the clutter that accumulates in and around our homes really weighs us down, and it’s kind of a burden that you carry,” Friel said.

Terri Albert of The Chicago Organizer said the KonMari Method doesn’t tend to work well for her clients because they often need more hands-on coaching.

Instead of “sparking joy,” Albert uses three words with her clients: need, use and love. Items that you need in your life, use regularly, and have a strong attachment to can stay. Everything else can be thrown away or donated.

The time it takes for someone to go through their entire house varies, so Albert suggests setting a timer and working for 15 or 30 minutes at a time. “People will be very amazed that they can get a lot more done if they really focus,” she said.

As for staying organized, Albert said it’s necessary to have a realistic “baseline,” or vision of what your ideal space looks like.

Albert said changing habits is hard but can be done by taking baby steps.

“A good one is to open up your mail every single day, immediately recycle the junk mail, immediately enter important event dates in your calendar, and if you can’t get to the rest of it, attend to the rest of it as soon as you can,” she said.

Single this Valentine’s Day? Focus on yourself

By Elizabeth Czapski | Staff Writer

Valentine’s Day can be a bummer for single people.

While some are content flying solo, for those who are not happily alone, the holiday can provoke anxiety and loneliness as friends post photos of roses, sweets and dinner plans on social media. But it all comes down to perspective.

Relationship expert, Sara Haynes advises singles to see Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to celebrate all kinds of love, not just romantic love.

Self love is also important. “[Think] about yourself and what you love about yourself. [Use] it as the time to reflect on you, and celebrate you as a person,” Haynes said.

It’s important to treat yourself with compassion on Valentine’s Day, as well as every day, Haynes said.

”“Really lean into the hard feelings of what it’s like to be single. It’s definitely not always easy, especially if you’re at a certain stage in your life where you thought you would be somewhere else. … Say, ‘Yeah, this kind of sucks, but I am here right now and I want to focus on what is present in my life.’”

Sue De Santo, a relationship coach and licensed clinical social worker, believes loving who you are is vital. “Before we can be in [a] relationship we have to really focus on, ‘What is it that I want [and] need in my life, and what do I enjoy?’” she said.

Valentine’s Day can be a good opportunity to hone in on what your interests are. In short, do something you like.

Buy yourself flowers or make yourself a nice breakfast, De Santo said, and focus on “developing a relationship with yourself.”

“We have to give to ourselves first so that we are open to receiving that [love] from another person,” she said. “Really [allow] yourself to receive that love we say we want.”

New takes on the Thanksgiving table

By Stephanie Racine, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving does not have to consist of the same canned cranberry sauce, cornucopia and bread stuffing every November. This year, throw out the rulebook and use these tips to augment your favorite holiday classics.  

 

Lighter dishes

Staying on the lighter side of Thanksgiving can be satisfying. Try adding cauliflower to stuffing in lieu of bread or rice. For vegan guests, swap out animal byproducts for lentils or chickpeas in a stuffing-type side dish. Sweet potatoes are a good substitute for regular potatoes in mashed, baked, or fried forms, while butternut squash soup is a light and classically-inspired alternative to heavier side dishes.

Cultural additions

For extra flavor, try adding a cultural twist to Thanksgiving favorites. A chile rub on the turkey can give your bird a Southwestern kick, while pumpkin egg rolls or turkey dumplings can make great finger foods. For a simpler option, add a dish from a favorite international cuisine: carbonara, stuffed grape leaves, rice pilaf and spring rolls all fit in with Thanksgiving mainstays.

 

Fun with pumpkins

Pumpkins aren’t just for Halloween. Spray paint pumpkins gold, white or silver for a unique addition to a table or decoration. Painting the menu on a pumpkin is a bold way to announce what will be on the table. Mini pumpkins can be used as seat markers or to denote what cheeses are on a cheese plate. Add flowers and glitter or string lights to pumpkins for an extra dimension.

Say goodbye to turkey

For the main course, consider going with a Midwestern classic like a  honey baked ham, and make your stuffing with a meat such as lamb or beef. A pescatarian Thanksgiving could feature lobster or salmon with a cranberry sauce. Or get rid of the meat altogether for a vegetarian spread – mushroom and chestnut “beef” Wellington can substitute turkey for a vegan main dish.

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