The Doctor is IN

Keen Observations on Life … Whether You Need Them or Not

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Congratulations, Peyton Sickles!

My son is a freelance photojournalist, and he’s been killing it lately. Last week at the 2022 North Carolina Press Association Awards, he took home two awards personally, and his community newspaper raked in a whopping 31.

Last month I had to cancel my daily subscriptions to the News & Observer, NYTimes, and USAToday because our newspaper distribution guy, Ben, was so inconsistent. We missed nearly forty percent of our papers, and it broke my heart. But Peyton, like me, is a journalist and in this industry. My dissatisfaction with the distribution asshole is no reflection on my support and interest in hardworking journalists. Truthful, vetted news from truthful, vetted news sources is crucial to correct information being disseminated in the community. Peyton’s accomplishments bolster my opinion of the importance of real news, and make me a prouder mom than usual because he has embarked on a career of truth telling that is often difficult. The way he sees and captures the world is a game changer

So, Bravo Peyton!

  • First Place – Siler City Controlled Burn
  • Second Place – Cyclist Chuck Gillis

Support your local news outlets, y’all. Support the truth.

*Thanks to publisher Bill Horner III for this spectacular photo of Peyton.


Farewell, print newspapers

I had to laugh at this full-page ad in the July 19, 2021 edition of the N&O because, in my experience, big tech isn’t the most harmful threat to local papers, it’s the distribution company and delivery driver. I’ve been taking some combination of local and national newspapers for the last 25 years. Always in the mix is the N&O; most of the time I get USA Today, and on Friday and Sunday I get the NYT. It’s expensive, but I like to hold the paper in my hand and read the news. I also have online subscriptions for Washington Post and NYT, but nothing beats a physical newspaper. But I’m done – my newspaper distributor has broken my spirit and love for the print newspaper. 

Between Jan 2 – Jul 21, 2022, my newspapers were late or not delivered 32 times. [Important note: May 22 – Jul 18, we had interim drivers who were ALWAYS on time and here, and corresponded by text if there were any issues.] And by late I mean, I had to text the distributor multiple times over the morning because the delivery driver never showed up. Never texted. Some days it’s because the driver was doing who knows what for who knows why (I don’t care). It’s not my job to remind the newspaper distributor to deliver my paper. My delivery driver is so unreliable that USA Today has us permanently on mail delivery only. It’s just not worth it any longer. I’m canceling it all.

And as I prepare this post, both the News & Observer and USA Today sent emails about cheap subscriptions. These rates are a honey trap for a newshound like me, but my good mental health can’t take another week of text-arguing with B.M., or leaving countless voicemails and still being ignored by B.A. My rural address is 42 miles from N&O headquarters on Fayetteville Street, where the paper is printed. It is a literal straight shot down one of the major highways that bisects the state. The distributor is just that shitty.

Here’s my takeaway: if you live in rural communities in North Carolina, you cannot rely on print newspaper delivery. So suck it up, because you can’t rely on high speed internet either. Good luck!

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It’s donation time

We’re big community volunteers at my house, which typically translates to a combination elbow grease, boosting the signal, working as community advocates, and fundraising. I’ve been helping the Chatham Cares Community Pharmacy with grants and fundraising since mid-summer, and wanted to put the plea out into the universe: if you’ve got money to donate this year, please consider Chatham Cares Community Pharmacy. They’ve got a bright, new, shiny PayPal donation page now, so flex your e-muscles and help someone in your community obtain the lifesaving prescriptions they need.

It may come as a surprise to learn that every county in North Carolina has a free pharmacy. Some counties have more than one, depending on need, but Chatham has just one – Chatham Cares Community Pharmacy. It operates on an efficient budget of less than $150,000, employs one full-time person, one part-time person, five volunteer pharmacists, and serves about 350 Chathamites a year. 

I wrote about them in the Chatham News & Record last week. Over the weekend the pharmacy will have its only fundraiser, the Celebration of Lights, which should be pretty. Event information is available at the Chatham News & Record, IndyWeek, and Chatham Magazine.

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Adventuretime! Cookie delivery edition

Me and Rah-Rah had an exciting day in Durham today, spending some time at Leighroy’s station, having a tour (wahoo!), and delivering a bunch of cookies! Rosemary shortbread, along with M&M, treasure chest, oatmeal raisin, and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Check out how capable our girl looks — and actually is. What a day! We even had time for lunch at Guglhupf on the way home. I mean …

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Early Voting Starts Today

Whether you vote on November 3, by absentee ballot, or by one-stop early voting–even if you and I cancel each other out at the poll–you need to VOTE. In North Carolina, early voting starts today (October 15) and runs through October 31. Check out the North Carolina State Board of Elections for information regarding where you can vote early, if that’s your jam.

Since I didn’t raise a lemming, and our son is awake, aware, and active, I thought I’d share a couple photos he captured over the last few months for WUNC of Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Amy Klobuchar; the 2020 Raleigh Women’s March, and moments from the Raleigh protests in May and in August. Vote for what’s happening in the world. Vote for what you want the future to look like. Vote your conscience. Vote because it’s your right, and your privilege. Just vote.


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Prepping for NaNoWriMo

Are you participating in NaNo this year? I am. I’m preparing for a training session during lunch where I’ll learn how to liaise through Discord. Should be interesting. Now’s the time to start brainstorming your project if you’re going to join in. There’s no winner or loser, no competition–just a challenge to yourself to start that novel you’ve been dreaming about. Or maybe finish that novel that’s been pushed to the back burner. Or try something new. I’ll be posting more regularly throughout November, but until then you can find me as BeckyMoore.

  • 2010: the year I joined
  • 272,287: the number of words I’ve written since I joined
  • 6: the number of years I wrote and actively created content
  • 5: the number of years I reached the 50,000 word goal
  • 4: the number of years overlapped by my TBI recovery
  • 2: the number of books that have been published from NaNo efforts
  • 2: the number of years I’ve been a Municipal Liaison


Great advice from the keynote

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-12-12-19-pmThis morning I had the pleasure of going to the Durham Technical Community College 2016 Scholarship Breakfast. Sometimes it’s nice to be the only Sickles in town … I had a lovely breakfast, and got to sit with this year’s scholarship recipient and her mom.

All of the speakers were interesting, but Vinnay Khanna, the keynote speaker, was particularly extraordinary. He spoke of meeting the Dalai Lama as a child, and kicked off his conversation with thoughts on not letting others dissuade you from setting (or pursuing) lofty goals. He shared three substantive pieces of advice, and I want to pass them on. These work for short- and long-term goals.

  1. Have lofty goals.
  2. Work hard. Even if you’re the most gifted person in the world, why would you not work hard? “Set your goals so high that you have to fail. Don’t set them so low that you succeed.”
  3. Don’t worry about others. Don’t let other people discourage you from aiming high. Where you have been is not as important as where you are heading now.

So … what lofty goals do YOU have planned for today?

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Me and Elvis: A Life Experiences Afternoon

I had the best day yesterday.

And it’s all thanks to my friend, Bonnie-Clare, who asked me to photograph a raucous special event at Life Experiences where her niece is employed. A colleague of BC’s has a side entertainment business, and man did he get the crowd going. I left with a smile on my face and lightness in my heart.

life_experiencesLife Experiences is a non-profit organization that offers a choice of satisfying work experiences for adults with varying disabilities, and at the same time allows those adults the self-esteem of earning a wage for their work. According to their Web site, they’re currently accepting applications. If you or someone you know has a disability and is interested in building self-esteem through work, contact them at 919-467-1973 to arrange for a visit soon.


Red Ribbon, yo!

SF3Though I gave a passing nod to my RED RIBBON from the 2013 North Carolina State Fair last week on Facebook, I wanted to write a little more about it here. This was the third time I entered the same Almond-Brandy pound cake, an action my sister-in-law found incredulous (“how can you give away half of that cake!”) and my mother found utterly charming (“you know, some people enter their green beans for fifty years and never win anything!”). I, on the other hand, found it to be extraordinarily satisfying. And fun. And a little kitschy.

Here’s what I included with my recipe:

“This cake is a family favorite! It’s reminiscent of my wedding cake nineteen years ago, which makes my husband happy … and I use my Granny Duck’s tube pan from 1947, which makes my mother happy. And making a cake that brings such enjoyment and nostalgia to my family makes me happy. A success all around!”

The first two years I delivered the cake, I didn’t place at all.

In 2010, it was labeled incorrectly. Since my recipe uses baking soda and flavorings (brandy and almond extract, among other yummy secretness), it’s actually a “mock pound cake;” not realizing the difference, I mislabeled it as a “true pound cake.” The blue-haired ladies accepting submissions made no attempt to help me rectify the situation. I think they just didn’t want a young whippersnapper like me to place. Whatever, yo. I labeled it correctly in 2011, but the mister theorized the slight was the result of another jab from the blue-hairs. I was sidelined in 2012 with my TBI recovery (and bad memory … and forgetting to register). So we all had an extra year to stew and plot and plan. What a bonus!

Retro RitaThis year, I baked the cake on a damp day, which made it super tall and fluffy. Really, it was a beautiful as it was tasty. But my true secret weapon: my mother delivered the cake to the table. Her beautiful silver hair blinded the bluest of the blue haired ladies, silencing them on the spot with her spectacular coiffure. I think it let the cake speak for itself rather than giving the volunteers time to focus on my young badassness.

To the 33 cake testers who enjoyed my cake: thanks for the great taste. 🙂 I’m perfectly satisfied with second place … red is, after all, my favorite color. To my husband and his genius idea to let Rah-Rah deliver the cake: two gold stars! And to my mother: may your halo of silver sassiness shine until the end of days.


Ninth Grade Advice: Build An Effective Online Presence

This morning, I was one of four panelists in the AHS AOIT presentations on soft skills. My topic was Establishing and Building an Online Presence, and I focused on using technology to build a good resume and personal platform. Talk about FUN. Those kids were totally interesting.

I suppose I could resent the term “soft skills,” but I choose instead to embrace the importance of its theory: the skills that either get you in the door or keep you there. Soft skills are your people skills, and they are a nuance — aspects of your personality that allow you to excel with problem solving, teamwork and adaptability. Critical thinking is a soft skill, and it’s a critical piece of the puzzle, man. The world is full of computer programmers and doctors and CEO’s; what it needs is effective, charismatic, engaging communicators. Some things you’re born with, plain and simple. So take these diamonds of wisdom for what they’re worth … and they are diamonds, people. There’s some good stuff here.

Online PresenceRemember: this discussion was for ninth graders in the NAF’s number one AOIT academy in the nation. These kids breathe awesome. But they’re 14 and 15, and just starting out in terms of considering their future selves. To this point, most of the kids counted as their social media presence apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Snapchat, and Tumblr, so we focused on LinkedIn and WordPress, and the death of paper resumes.

My great friend, Angela Connor, used to be the managing editor at GOLO while we were both with Capitol Broadcasting Company. She is awesome, and is now the Senior Vice President | Group Director at Capstrat. I reached out to her for a little sage advice to share with the kids. What follows are some take-away tips from her thoughts and mine, in no particular order.

  • Your online self is NOT different from your real-life self. Protect it.
  •  “When someone Google’s you, you want to be 100% sure that they will find information that has been provided and updated by you. You don’t want them to find all of the pictures you’ve been tagged in on Facebook or Instagram that don’t put you in the best light. Even though you don’t trust the privacy settings, be sure to set them. If there is an option for you to approve something before it posts, do it.” – AC
  • “Treat your online presence like a resume.”  – AC
  • Establish yourself as an expert and thought leader. Even at your age, you have something important to say.
  • It’s never too early for you (AOIT students) to begin building your LinkedIn profile. By the end of your first semester in ninth grade, you will have three professional Microsoft Certifications (Outlook, Word, Excel). By the time you graduate from high school in 2017, you will add to that certifications in SAS, Cisco, C+, along with programming skills in Visual Basic, and a formal internship. You will enter college leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. THAT is the basis for a spectacular online resume. Using things like LinkedIn make it easier to network, and that makes it easier to get where you want to be.
  • Once you publish your first comment online, anywhere, you’re in the system. Every Tweet is stored in the US Library of Congress, if that tells you anything, so remember that the hurtful comment you posted about your ex-boyfriend or that embarrassing party photo you Instagrammed, or the questionable racially biased video you shared on Reddit is lurking somewhere, like the Lost Ark. Until you have a substantial work history, the only thing potential employers or colleges have to go on with a Google search is your online profile. Do you want to look like a jackass, or a rock star? Protect your image.
  • “If you are passionate about a subject or gifted in a certain area, consider creating a blog about it.”  – AC
  • Remember: never trust privacy settings. If you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see it, don’t post it. And if you wouldn’t say it to your parents or a friend face-to-face, you should probably rethink posting it online.
  • Everything you have to say is worthwhile. Every opinion you have, every question, every observation is worthy. Just because you’re 14 and 15 does NOT mean you are inconsequential or unimportant to the conversation at hand. Develop your voice and learn how to present it through a personal blog. Using a tool, like WordPress, for blogging and as a Web site (with different pages) is a great way to build your blueprint. It’s free and easy, always accessible, and under your control. Post your resume and references there; add a portfolio and lots of visuals. Make it stand out and impressionable. And always keep your mother in mind. Think: would I show this to my mother? If no, then maybe you need to rethink your approach.
  • YOU are millennials! Think about it: you are the high school graduating class of 2017, and the college graduating class of 2021 … that, in and of itself, is pretty badass. Use the technology at your fingertips and that which will come along in the future, to your best advantage. How can you best represent yourself when you aren’t there in person? What will make you memorable?
  • Consider a Living Resume … by the way, I just found this on Pinterest and think it is Awesome with a capital A!
  • Build a strong LinkedIn profile, and keep it current.
  • Reverse engineer your resume and training. When you find a career that’s interesting, find somebody in the world who has that job. Look at their education, look at the skills they list in their resume/profile, and figure out how to add them to your bag of tricks. Google universities that offer that course of study; find community colleges or corporations that provide industry certifications; contact professionals in the industry and ask them to be a mentor or for advice. Who knows: YOU might be the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

And if you’ve gotten this far, here’s a note to parents: know what your kids are doing online. Listen to the social media sites they talk about and join them, too. There’s a big difference in participating and policing. You don’t have to be Big Brother to help guide your kids in their natural progression to a more technological world. Like I said above: they’re millennial. They’ve got to live up to their names.