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What Dogs Teach Us

6 hours ago
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Our President likes to call people “dogs” – meant as an insult, but is really a compliment. I’ll tell you why.

"Humans stay on this earth a long time learning to be good. Dogs stay just a short time as they already are."

The unknown source who penned this was likely a person who not only loved dogs, but also learned from them.

Don't Tell Me To Be Careful

Sep 24, 2018



What's In A Ring?

Sep 21, 2018
Delwin Steven Campbell/Flickr / cc by 2.0

About fifteen years ago I heard a man’s phone ring and it played the William Tell Overture. This wasn’t a phone ring. This was a phone overture. Me, I’m old-fashioned. I set my smart phone ringer to the traditional sounds of, well, a ring.

Drama In The Backyard

Sep 20, 2018


It was a typical summer morning. Sitting on the back porch, I was enjoying the usual sounds of wildlife as I read the paper. Chirps and bursts of songs from the birds. Rustling chipmunks scurrying up the drainpipes. Chattering squirrels chasing each other in circles.


Suddenly, I became aware of an eerie silence. The birds were gone from the feeders. The rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels had disappeared from view.


People And Nature Carry On

Sep 19, 2018


A Little Act Can Make A Big Statement

Sep 18, 2018


One day, I stopped at the gas station and saw an old friend. She was busy picking up the litter throughout the gas station parking lot. After watching, I realized my friend had been simply walking by the station and had decided to take a moment to clean up. 

Paleoclimatology: What’s Past May Not Be Prologue

Sep 17, 2018


Most people have heard the most famous line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “What’s past is prologue”. It’s often used to imply that history determines the future. But the real meaning is made clearer by the line that follows: “What to come, in yours and my discharge”.

What it means in context is that all of the past leads to this moment. And all that will happen depends on what we choose to do right now.

You May Be Inspired, But Do You Share It?

Sep 14, 2018


Synchronizing heart and mind to better ends requires inspiration, which is the stirring toward an elevated plane of feeling or action. Literally to “breathe in,” inspiration breathes life into our aspirations. 


Hugging It Out Is Healing

Sep 13, 2018


If you’re like most people, you experience conflict with your partner on occasion. But if you leave the house on a truly sour note, you might be damaging your health, as well as your relationship. 

No Wall Can Separate Us

Sep 12, 2018


I recently worked in an I Care clinic in rural Mexico.  


Machetes, Mean Speech, And Genocide

Sep 11, 2018

The machete slices through the weeds, the stems bleeding milk, a plant toxic to my horses. When I read about people calling President Trump and his supporters Nazis, I hear the opening credits to Hotel Rwanda -- “The Tutsi rebels, they are cockroaches…we will squash the infestation.”  


Aretha: The Pioneer

Sep 10, 2018

Of course Aretha ‎Franklin deserves the title "Queen of Soul." She was the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She won numerous Grammys. She topped the charts spanning multiple generations. But these well-deserved honors understate her depth as an artist, and they fail to recognize the political and social importance of her career.

Fi‎rst, her artistry. On several occasions she performed opera to standing ovations. Opera singers generally cannot cross over to pop music, but this great artist crossed over beautifully in the opposite direction.

There's A Better Word For How It All Ends

Sep 7, 2018


Conclusion. The end. Resolution. Finale.  



"You're the enemy of the people, and we're going to kill every f---ing one of you,” said Robert Chain, now free on $50,000 bond for making threats against the Boston Globe Newspaper. 



A Curious Encounter -- Part 2

Sep 5, 2018



A Curious Encounter -- Part 1

Sep 4, 2018

Have you ever found yourself struggling with your values? Being an African American social justice educator, I often explore the theme of replacing judgment with curiosity and humanizing others, no matter what. Saying those values is always easier than living them. 

The Last Fox Tale

Sep 3, 2018
Susan Stephens / WNIJ


The America We Know And Love

Aug 31, 2018

Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham is bothered by immigration. Really bothered. According to her, "The America we know and love doesn't exist anymore." 

Getting Grounded Through A Cardinal Connection

Aug 30, 2018


Driving home from Florida in mid-August we pulled over for gas in Normal, IL. As I pulled up to the gas station I noticed a gentlemen watering flowers in planters by each of the pumps. I stepped out of my truck, stretched, and proceeded to fill my tank.  


Enjoying The Fruits Of The Season

Aug 29, 2018

Farm-to-table eating emerged as a trend years ago and remains popular today. It involves locally grown items that are sold to area restaurants or directly to consumers. 

The trend is a bit amusing to me, because I’ve been eating locally grown foods most of my life, and I’m now 56. 


Writing Spiders

Aug 28, 2018


You know how, when you see a thing you haven’t seen for a long time, suddenly you see it everywhere?  


It's 1984 Again

Aug 27, 2018


My brother and I had a conversation a few weeks ago that was a telling one. He told me he had started rereading George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, and stopped. It was simply too depressing, because too much of it rang too true in 2018. For reference’s sake, Orwell wrote this novel in response to the state terror that was Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union. 

STEM Needs Some LEGS

Aug 24, 2018

For well over a decade now, our education systems have been putting increased emphasis on developing the STEM curriculum. And there has been good reasons for this. Many of the celebrated innovations of the last 50 years are a result of work in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — the Apollo moon landing, the personal computer, the Internet, the smartphone.  

Trying To Save Summer Through Procrastination

Aug 23, 2018



Step Up, Future Leaders!

Aug 22, 2018

In today's world, the ongoing discord in “grown-up” national politics is becoming more pronounced, with an ever-shrinking middle ground and fewer common goals. A fresh point of view can alter the playing field and provide positive change. This is a call to action for all young people to get involved in any capacity.

Tapping The Money To Revitalize Downtown

Aug 21, 2018


Small, rural downtowns can grow when a community’s under-served population becomes the focus. Targeting a specific sector of the population is how Downtown Dixon is successfully competing with the big box retailers in the community. 

What's Urgent Vs. What's Important

Aug 20, 2018

Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante

Sometimes another language says it best. In Spanish, there is a saying that has no exact equivalent in English: Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante. A possible translation would be "The urgent things leave no time for the important things". How often have I thought that as I go through my daily to-do list?

A Knife Fight In The Band Hall

Aug 17, 2018

When I was in high school I got busted three times: once for having a knife fight in the band hall, once for throwing spitballs at my deadliest enemy Jimmy Green, and once for laughing out loud at a classmate in plane geometry who couldn’t quite grasp a theorem. Each time my Deportment grade was dropped to a D. My parents were frantic and ashamed. The knife fight in the band hall was with rubber knives, but knife fights in the band hall were strictly forbidden even if they only involved butter knives

Little Girl, Big Heart, Bigger Results

Aug 16, 2018


A Lincoln Elementary School student recently celebrated her eighth birthday with a party. Addie asked her guests to bring a donation for Barb Food Mart instead of buying gifts for her. The result was $50 for the DeKalb food pantry. What an amazing kid! 


Picnic Pleasures

Aug 15, 2018


Ants. Mosquitoes. Flies. Oh, My!


But other than that, what’s not to like about a picnic?