Keeping in step at the parks

By Caryl Clem:

April’s monthly theme is for everyone to walk so put on your favorite soles and head for a park while practicing social distancing. Cook County Forest Preserves feature 70,000 acres and over 350 trails to investigate while Chicago’s parks cover 7,600 acres. To locate the scenic 31,000 acres with 206 pathways and trails to explore; the largest selection of endangered and wildlife species in Lake County along the Des Plaines River or the shores of Lake Michigan.

A contest had been held to decide what the best park should offer and the winner influenced the next 50 years of park designs, Frederick Law Olmsted. The New York Central Park in 1857, was a showcase of beauty, a park with rolling landscapes and graceful wrought iron benches. The most frequent visitors were the wealthy. The best roads were there for carriage races held on a regular basis. By the turn of the century parks were constructed for the working class in neighborhood locations.  The love of sports becomes part of park services in the 1960’s.  Parks offers a huge variety of activities from museums, conservatories, cultural centers in addition to exercise.  A majority of parks feature a younger child area with playground equipment and sand boxes. Any park is an adventure to walk through while studying nature. There are interactive maps with GPS available, for instance LCFPD.org/maps.

The Rails to Trails movement idea started in Chicago. May Theilgaard Watts in 1963 wrote to the Chicago Tribune proposing closed Chicago-Aurora-Elgin railroad line was a space to walk going to waste, this was a missed opportunity. In her words, “ if we have the courage and foresight..then from this strip we can create a proud resource.”  Years later, The Illinois Prairie Path Organization turned her words into a reality currently used by over 800,000 people who have walked along the Illinois Prairie Path. Outside of  Chicago, this site offers locations complete with ratings.

The best example of wetlands is in the Spring Bluff forest preserve in Winthrop Harbor that links to the Chiwaukee Prairie in Wisconsin. The 4, 500 acre is the highest quality of coastal area in Illinois and southeast Wisconsin awarded the Ramsar Wetland of International Significance in 2015.

History and culture exploration are offered in several parks; for example The Dunn Museum in Libertyville, Indian Park near the West Rogers Park area’s Cultural Center offering Native American themes to pay tribute to the former Pottawattomie tribes that occupied this territory,  and Chicago History Museum in Lincoln Park . Old roads and horse trails wind through Ryerson Woods in Riverwoods.

For dog owners,  (annual permits required )pawsitivly great spots In Lake County,

   Dog Park Maps
Duck Farm »              Independence Grove »             Lakewood »
Prairie Wolf »             Waukegan Savanna »

For Chicago, check out these trails for your favorite pet.

Currently, many parks are closed so check before going. Spend April walking, even around your neighborhood. Doctors advise a minimum of 30 minutes for at least 5 days a week. When the parks open again, explore and feel the excitement of a new adventure while improving your health.

Playing jacks and cats cradle

When I was young, bored and had few to play with, jacks would keep me occupied. I vaguely remember getting a set in a cloth, draw-string bag. You can play alone or with friends. And metal jacks with a ball were much easier to pick up then plastic jacks. But it was a great stay at home game…especially now. It was also called Knucklebones, known as Tali, Fivestones, or Jacks, which is a game of ancient origin. First, you need a set a jacks and a ball. Begin by throwing the jacks on a smooth surface or on ground in front of you. The old way to play the game is throw the ball into the air … pick up one jack … then catch the ball after it bounces one time. Continue picking up the jacks one at a time. When you have collected all the jacks, throw them again and start picking the jacks up two at a time. When you get to three you have to pick up the three sets of three first, and so on. Continue until you are at ten. Amazon still sells the old-fashioned metal set and ball with the pouch which is great to keep all the jacks in one place.

Cats cradle is one of the oldest games of all time and has always used string and more than one player. You build a string configuration using two hands and your partner tries to take it off one hand onto his or her fingers Actually, you complete three shapes..passing back and forth. The idea is too see how far you can keep going. I had to watch the video since I forgot a few of the shapes in between. Mom’s Minivan provides a demonstration of how to play the game solo. There is a book that describes Cat Cradle and different string figures you can make such as the Eiffel Tower, Jacobs Ladder,Cup and Saucer, and the Witch’s Brew.

What ever happened to sky blue?

The other day some of the kindergarten students were drawing a hopscotch game on the playground. When you get to the giant circle that was the number 10, somebody said they thought you die and go to heaven. No…I had to correct them even though now there are tons of different rules and regs for hopscotch. When you reach the circle, you yelled sky blue. I don’t know about others but when I am reminded of this game, the only words I can think about is SKY BLUE. But the children of today did not buy it.

Many neighborhood friends when I grew up played hopscotch together. When I was little, like 4 or 5 years old, the older kids would draw the chalk games on the sidewalks in front of our homes. Using a rock to roll to the basic numbers of 1 through 10 and skipping on each number with one foot but picking the rock up with your hand on the block(number) you rolled to. Now, we did not get creative as the game does suggest today. The rules can include   calling out “one foot”, “left foot”, etc. Children also have to hop backward to return, which requires the reversal of numbers. Depending on the rules of play, children may need to call out the numbers as they land on them.

An ancient form of hopscotch was played by Roman children in the 17th century. The original courts were much longer.There are many other forms of hopscotch played across the globe. And in some games, sky blue becomes plum pudding or cat’s cradle according to the English.

Make a cardboard game for indoor fun and by doing so in the example, you actually separate the letters with longer spaces in between to help build coordination and fun. Its a wonderful way to learn how to hop on one foot or two which is exactly what kindergarten students are learning in physical education classes. You can actually purchase indoor hopscotch games.  Learning Carpets 79” by 26” Hopscotch Play Carpet is available on Amazon in different patterns. No chalk required! Toss a stone, coin or bean bag and hop your way through the numerical maze.

The next time I see a hopscotch diagram being draw on the playground, I am just adding sky blue in the top circle whether they like it or not. That is why I am one of the playground supervisors at recess!

iHerb: the beloved online retailer

Medical research has proven that chronic sleep deprivation can create many health issues and during deep sleep, recent brain studies are finding that the brain has the ability to clear out dangerous toxins. Though consistent exercise and diet is important, getting a good nights sleep is more essential in protecting brain health than we may realize. Sleep has always been an issue for me; though clearing my mind with a good book most nights and a natural supplement helps me maintain a deeper sleep cycle.

Daylight Saving Time began this week which means earlier sunsets and shorter afternoons. With the extended night-time hours – many feel more fatigued than usual. As we settle into the “fall back” routine, our sleep-wake cycle becomes disturbed, with people reporting excessive daytime sleepiness, restless nights, and frequent nighttime awakenings.

Dr. Michael Murray, one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine has some great tips regarding how to reset our biological clock and combat the malaise and other challenges associated with the time change. He also recommends natural supplements as they could help ease symptoms (iHerb, the beloved online retailer that specializes in natural wellness products is a great source for natural supplements). Some of his tips include:

· Practice good sleep hygiene by developing a regular nightly routine that might involve taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book and doing light stretches. Consider ear plugs and/or a sleep mask to block out light and noise as much as possible and limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes

· Be active during the day – regular exercise is particularly important

· Stabilize blood sugar by avoiding foods that case a rapid rise in bluff sugar levels

· Clear your mind – practice letting go of worry, plain, fear of future circumstances and control

· Natural supplements like Methylcobalamin and Melatonin can dramatically improve quality of life in people with a disturbed sleep-wake cycle. Just one month of methylcobalamin (a form of Vitamin B12) in the morning and melatonin at bedtime can be very effective in resetting your biorhythm

On iHerb, consumers can browse over 30,000 health and wellness products in a variety of categories. For more information, visit www.iherb.com

DuPagePads 15th Annual Run 4 Home

WHEATON, ILLINOIS – You can end homelessness one step at a time at DuPagePads Run 4 Home. The 15th annual run/walk will be held Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 8:00 am, beginning at 703 West Liberty in Wheaton. The 10K and 5K CARA certified race and USATF certified course appeals to serious runners, casual joggers and walkers. Your whole family will enjoy the event with a 1K Family Walk and Kids Corner featuring games, prizes, face painting and more.

Following the race, enjoy music, refreshments and the award ceremony. These special recognition s include King/Queen of the Hill, Largest Participating Group, Top Fundraisers and more! In addition to the award, the Largest Participating Congregation will also receive a complimentary table at our Wake Up Your Spirit Breakfast on November 6th, featuring Chris Norton, professional speaker and author.

“We are incredibly thankful for our supporters. From our sponsors to attendees and volunteers, all funds raised make an impact on our mission. This year, we are thrilled to announce our Diamond Sponsors: Continental Motors of Naperville and Mike Lifts 100 Tons, who have amazed us with their generosity,” said Carol Simler, DuPagePads President & CEO.

In addition, other generous sponsors for DuPagePads Run 4 Home include: Exelon Generation, First Trust Portfolios, Innovator ETFs, Invesco, ACCESS Community Health Network, Mitchell Swaback Charities, Ostrander Construction, The Schulte Wealth Management Group of Benjamin F Edwards & Co, Tuk Tuk Naperville, Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Daily Herald Media Group, DynaCom, Kindred Coffee Roasters, Naperville Running Company, Professional Wealth Advisors LLC and Jim and Kathy Schlesser.

Registration is available at http://www.padsrun.org. For additional event information, visit www.dupagepads.org/events or contact Carrie at 630.682.3846 ext. 2290 or CFlick@dupagepads.org.

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With over 30 years of experience, DuPagePads is the largest provider of services to those who are homeless in DuPage County. DuPagePads’ solution to ending homelessness is housing, coupled with support services and employment to transform lives. The administration office is located at 601 West Liberty, Wheaton, IL 60187. Additional information can be obtained by contacting DuPagePads at 630.682.3846 or at http://www.dupagepads.org.

Last days of recess

I take a break on the wooden bench, reflecting during outdoor kindergarten recess, the last week of school. My…… how they have grown physically. The difference from the start of the year is uncanny. They have learned how to use their words and handle issues between them….less tears. Though sometimes the girls emotions are triggered out of nowhere, at a Grandma or Grandpa passing away over a year ago or losing their favorite pet. Some days are still just too long for those in kindergarten. However, they have learned about hands to self and not walking up the slide. Sometimes they fall with minor injury and dirty clothes, but they get back up, brush the dirt off and move on. Overall, they have come a long way.

One spring day at the school playground for me in the early sixties during second grade was not fun. A bully from our school was trapping some of the girls, including me, on a school step in front of our door outside that lead to the playground. I took a run for it and he began pulling on my skirt to stop me and it fell to my knees. A teacher at Buckingham school did see the event and he was taken to the Principal. His parents were called and I didn’t go to school for several days out of embarrassment. Finally, someone convinced me that the girls on the step wanted to be my best friend forever. I saved them, thus, becoming popular overnight.

My opinion of boys did improve for me on the sixth grade playground at Warren Junior High School when I was asked to go steady and wear his gold id bracelet. The bracelet was beautiful with his name elegantly engraved. This was a first and I was more interested in wearing the bracelet than the boy himself. I was popular, once again, among the girls and the boyfriend lasted two weeks.

For my children growing up in the 1990s, I don’t recall any significant events happening to them on the playground. Then again who knows? What I still don’t know may not hurt me or them. Maybe, I will ask them when I am in a silly mood.

I watch the girls on the swings now…five or six in a row…some trying to pump as high as the one next to them, surpassing others. Then I see her. I have written about the little one before. She was very tiny and younger than most with less experience in kindergarten when she began the school year. I pushed her most days on the swing or a friend in class helped. We tried to teach to her to push,many, many times, but no luck for months.

I looked at her face and I caught glimpses of what she would look like when she grew up…confident and breathtaking. This young woman smiled at me and her legs were pumping on the swing. Slowly, at first and then she began to swing. A look of surprise completed her features as she swung higher and higher; knowing her best was yet to come.

And so it ends…….. a wonderful year for me. Consequently, trusting in the true magic beginnings of growth, possibility and fulfillment for all of them. Will they remember? Probably not, but I will, right here in the written word especially if age-related problems take over. That is all that matters!

 

 

Walking turns back time

By Caryl Clem:

The cosmetic business thrives on the illusion of “looking good” and “looking younger”.  All the major retailers feature an array of make-up products and skin enhancers close to the front of the store within sight of cash registers. Heart research offers another way to look and feel better, walking.  In an article written by the Mayo Clinic about health benefits from walking, your life expectancy increases by two hours for every one hour spent walking.  In shopping jargon, spend one hour for a double return, better than buy one, get one free.  Since 2007, The Heart Association declared the first Wednesday in April as National Walking Day.

Who needs to walk? Anyone with a heart, type 2 diabetes, joint issues, high blood pressure, who wants to improve bone and muscle tone while increasing balance and coordination and reducing body fat.  Doctors recommend physical activity for kids daily is 60 minutes as a minimum; adults should do 30 minutes daily. Time management to allow time for walking may take some compromises such as 10 or 15 minute walking intervals. Walking in spurts is still better than the alternative…gravitational opposite of sitting or reclining.

Walking is not boring when you have props in place to make the time enjoyable.  I manage to walk 5 to 6 days every week at a park district facility near my home. Talking to a walking partner is the best option for making the time goes faster. The ability to listen to music or the news is done by the majority of single walkers I see with various ear bud equipment. Deepening a friendship you have or meeting new friends happens when you walk on a regular basis.

Every walker has their own story to share; overcoming a challenge in life with determination and a plan approved by a doctor. I have Multiple Sclerosis, a condition that has mandated regulating my diet and exercise. I had a massive attack when I was 38. I returned to full time employment 9 years later to retire from that career choice 21 years later. My neurosurgeon made me promise to never stop exercising and I have been able to honor that promise. I have an in-law in my family who exercises to control and manage her MS along with monitoring her diet. We are both drug free and enjoying life’s activities in spite of MS.

Soon the weather will allow my favorite form of walking, exploring the outdoors. Chicago land area has so many places to go sightseeing; I can hardly wait for a weather report predicting sun and comfortable temperatures.