All posts by Jen

Born to Run Book Review: Bruce Springsteen’s Absorbing Autobiography

I’ve read many autobiographies and Bruce Springsteen’s is one of the best. My Born to Run book review in a nutshell? The book is a true work of art, which surprised me to some extent. Sure, he can write great songs, but to create a richly-nuanced, well-paced memoir of over 500 pages is a different skill altogether. Or is it?

Both must include great characters and a story that drives you to know what happens next.

Springsteen’s autobiography provides these in abundance. First, he introduces young Bruce: a lively, engaging, yet troubled boy who is profoundly shaped by his early experiences.

Unpredictable  Early Years

Young Bruce is both artistically awakened and emotionally challenged by the tensions of his unpredictable family life with a mentally ill father, a repressive yet colorful ethnic upbringing, and the passion that finds expression in the music of his 1960’s youth.

He enters his teen years just as rock-and-roll completely upends American culture. His lifelong musical obsession begins after seeing Elvis’ earth-shattering TV appearances on Ed Sullivan and by the Beatles’ first records released in the US.

Ambition Takes the Wheel

“It didn’t take me long to figure it out,” he writes.  “I didn’t want to meet the Beatles.  I wanted to BE the Beatles.”  From here, Springsteen takes us on an impassioned, sometimes unsettling journey through the years of emotional turmoil and focused artistic development these pivotal events set in motion.

I listened to much of the book in the audio format, which was quite an experience. To hear him tell his story in his own words, in his own voice – he reads the audiobook himself – made me feel very close to this endearing person – a man full of mischievous humor, wonder, and complex feelings he struggles to understand.

Highs and Lows Candidly Revealed

He describes his fears and desires and compulsive musical ambition in a very personal manner. He is honest and revealing, alternating chapters about his musical evolution with those of his struggles with relationships and depression. He lets us see both the highs and lows, etching the details in his warm, self-effacing style.

His complicated friendships with Steve Van Zandt and Clarence Clemons; his relationships with the women in his life, from his mother – the rock of his childhood – and grandmother to his first wife Julianne Phillips; and finally Patty Scialfa, his wife of 26 years, whose strength and courage helped him manage many struggles that had often derailed his relationships in the past.

It is all here.  Enough for the diehard fan to find many new revelations and nuances, but not so much information that casual readers will feel overwhelmed.  And his writing is so engaging and heartfelt that you’ll want to absorb every detail.    In fact, I found myself backing up to read or listen again to many of his stories or descriptions, beautiful in their imagery and feeling.

Young Dreams, Older Vantage

Ultimately, It is the story of every young boy – every young person – in America who is touched by desire and drive and demons, who is broken by life, but also finds hope and triumph within the struggle.   However,  it couldn’t have been written by a young man.   In his 67th year, Bruce offers the wisdom and finely crafted perspective – often amusing and sometimes sorrowful – that comes only with time and living and the courage to ask difficult questions.

For me, his story is epitomized by his iconic relationship with Clarence Clemons, his black saxophone player, and shamanic sideman.   Together they show the power of music to transcend barriers and unite us in strong, resilient bonds that no one can achieve in isolation.

We’re All Part of the Story

Springsteen’s music at its best draws the raw, broken, yet vibrant parts of our lives into a redeeming whole. Young and old, black and white, rich and poor, hopeful and not so hopeful.  He wants us all to feel we are all part of a bigger picture; that we all matter.

The story of the boy from Freehold, NJ, who makes it big yet carries his angels and demons on every step of the journey, Born to Run is an inspiration to all who struggle with the possibilities, pain and sometimes surprising victories of this always unpredictable life.

Try These Two Simple Home Thyroid Tests — And Take Charge of Your Health

Long before blood testing came along, many knowledgeable doctors evaluated thyroid health with two simple, reliable tests you can do in the comfort of your own home.night stand

These home thyroid tests can show low thyroid function that current blood tests often don’t reveal.

Why Thyroid Blood Tests Are Often Wrong

Thyroid blood tests, including TSH, can be inaccurate for several reasons. One is that blood tests can’t measure how much thyroid hormone is actually reaching your cells. Another is that stress can suppress TSH levels, giving a faulty diagnosis of good thyroid health.

These simple home tests were developed by Broda Barnes and Raymond Peat, two pioneering doctors who diagnosed and treated patients on the basis of primary symptoms. They understood that up to 40% of patients have low thyroid function, which can interfere with most bodily processes, resulting in a variety of illnesses if left untreated.

Continue reading Try These Two Simple Home Thyroid Tests — And Take Charge of Your Health

“Why Do I Feel Tired All The Time?” – The Answer May Surprise You

Feeling good is similar for everyone – the boundless energy,  the joy, the zest that makes life flow –  but feeling bad can take many different forms.tired man

Some of us have low energy.  We ask, “Why do I feel tired all the time?”  We wonder why we fatigue so easily, even when doing things we enjoy.

Others wonder why they can’t concentrate and become easily distracted; or why they feel anxious, depressed, or restless.

What Ties All These Conditions Together?

Still others have insomnia, migraines, perhaps weight or digestive issues.

Diabetes, heart problems and cancer wreak havoc with many lives. Serious health issues that can make every day a struggle.

I’ve often wondered:  does it have to be this way?  How can we prevent or mitigate this pain and illness?

Continue reading “Why Do I Feel Tired All The Time?” – The Answer May Surprise You

Waking Up Too Early? How to Go Back to Sleep With Ease

If you’re like me, you may frequently wake up an hour or two before youempty bed - can't sleep
intend to rise and then stare at the clock in frustration.  “Why am I waking up so early?” You fume and toss about fruitlessly, often giving up and getting out of bed early to start your day, rationalizing that you’ll get a lot more done before anyone else is up.

But the irritation remains.  You wish you knew how to go back to sleep, but you haven’t found the key. Sometimes you may wake up startled – as if you suddenly realized you’re late for work or you heard a  sudden crash.

Your mind is on full alert for no apparent reason. Or sometimes you have the faintest touch of a headache or feel a full-blown migraine coming on.

It’s maddening!

Continue reading Waking Up Too Early? How to Go Back to Sleep With Ease

Are Eye Floaters Serious? Here’s What You Should Know

About a week ago, I was drying my hair and saw a woman's eyesomething crawl through my bangs.  I slapped at it quickly but it seemed to be nothing. Just my imagination. I didn’t give it much thought until the next morning when I saw it again.

“My eye spider”, as I have come to call it, is now my constant companion and has forced me to answer two important questions: (1) Are eye floaters serious?  And (2) Is it possible to make peace with a spider living in your eye?

I Was A Little Frightened

First, I made an appointment with an optometrist, relieved that she could see me the following day.  In the meantime, I sat in the dark to relieve the constant urge to watch the thing move around in my eye.  Watching it gave me a little motion sickness, as the dark spot danced uncontrollably.

Continue reading Are Eye Floaters Serious? Here’s What You Should Know

Is the Sun Good for You, Or Should You Avoid It?

When I was a kid, no one ever asked: “Is the sun good for woman in sunshineyou?”.   And it was a given that everyone loved the sun and would occasionally overdo it and get burned. Especially kids in the summertime. 

When I was 12, I went to a beautiful state park for a week with a friend and her family.  She and I laid out on a huge rock in the middle of a clear lake for the better park of a day.   The air was so cool and the sun so warm on my back that I didn’t want to budge.

Next Day I Paid the Price

I studied my painful, blistered skin the following morning and decided my lobster-like complexion was both funny and a bit scary. I looked like a creature from another world. Continue reading Is the Sun Good for You, Or Should You Avoid It?

Natural Skin Cancer Treatments – It’s Time to Take Them Seriously

I’m almost afraid to write a post about natural skin cancer treatments.  Some may say I’m being irresponsible. That I’m encouraging people to take their lives into their own hands.eggplant

But honestly, we’re talking about our own bodies, our precious health, and we need to take an active interest in our own welfare:  ask the hard questions, educate ourselves, and insist on the best answers.

We Can’t Afford To Just Do What We’re Told 

The truth is that conventional cancer treatments make people sick, kill healthy cells right along with diseased ones, and don’t guarantee that cancer won’t return in the future. Continue reading Natural Skin Cancer Treatments – It’s Time to Take Them Seriously

Aquasana Review – Best Home Drinking Water Filtration Systems

For many years, my husband lugged home bottled water every water faucetweek from our local grocery store. The plastic waste seemed endless.   But our city tap water had a strong chlorine smell and taste, and we questioned its safety as well, so bottled water seemed like the best option.

Then one day we finally had enough of the cost, waste, and inconvenience of all the plastic jugs. So we went on a quest for affordable, high-quality, home drinking water filtration systems.

Both Bottled and Tap Water Can Be Contaminated

We studied dozens of water filtration systems, insisting on the following: Continue reading Aquasana Review – Best Home Drinking Water Filtration Systems

5 Tips for Hula Hoop Beginners (and Mistakes to Avoid)

A couple of years ago, I decided to take up hula hooping for exercise. woman hula hoopoingI had very little experience but said: “Hey, if little kids can do this, how hard can it possibly be?”.

Excited, I bought a sparkly, plastic hula hoop at WalMart and eagerly rushed home. Slipping it over my head, I gave it a spin and started gyrating vigorously, only to feel it fall to the floor almost instantly. Again and again I tried. What was I doing wrong?  Did all hula hoop beginners have this much trouble?

Soon my sister visited and eyed the purple hoop in the corner of my living room. “I used to do this as a kid”, she said as she tossed it around her waist.  But like me, she watched it fall over and over. “I swear I can do this!” she said. Finally, she did, but she scowled as it started to seem more like work than play. Continue reading 5 Tips for Hula Hoop Beginners (and Mistakes to Avoid)

10 Healthy Steps for a Happy Brain

We all want to be happy.  Fortunately, our brains produce natural happy womanchemicals that can boost our pleasure, motivation, contentment, and joy.

Better still, we can take specific steps in our daily lives to increase these natural brain chemicals.   Let’s get started today with 10 healthful steps for a happier brain.

  • Set Challenging, yet Attainable Goals.  The best goals stretch our abilities a little bit but don’t overwhelm us.   Such goals require a little more focus and effort than something that comes very easily.  However, the brain thrives on attainable challenges and the happiness payoff is great when we begin to master the new skills involved.

Continue reading 10 Healthy Steps for a Happy Brain