The Chicago Journal

Remembering Chicago Fire Lt. Kevin Ward: A Modern-Day Renaissance Man

In a heartfelt tribute, loved ones paid their respects to Chicago Fire Lt. Kevin Ward, a man who embodied the spirit of adventure and dedicated his life to serving others. Ward’s diverse interests and unwavering commitment to firefighting left an indelible mark on those who knew him.

Kevin Ward: A Modern-Day Renaissance Man:

Describing Kevin Ward as a modern-day renaissance man perfectly encapsulates his multifaceted life. He wasn’t just a firefighter; he was an adventurer, an explorer of various talents and passions.

Passion for Adventure:

Ward’s love for adventure was palpable. It was a defining feature of his character, akin to the adventurous spirit of Bilbo Baggins from his favorite book, “The Hobbit.” This passion for the unknown fueled his life and inspired those around him.

A Hero’s Farewell:

On the day of his funeral, hundreds of firefighters from across the country gathered to honor Ward’s memory. The Fourth Presbyterian Church in Streeterville became a gathering place for those who wanted to bid farewell to a true hero.

The Journey to Rest:

As a fire engine carried his casket, draped in the Chicago flag, to the church, two towering ladder trucks proudly displayed a large American flag over Michigan Avenue. It was a solemn procession befitting a man of Lt. Ward’s stature.

An Adventurous Heart:

His ex-wife, Corrinne Walenda, shared insights into Ward’s adventurous spirit. He was always immensely curious and thrived on challenges. This love for the unknown was a driving force in his life.

The Hobbit’s Influence:

Bilbo Baggins’ famous line, “I’m going on an adventure!” became a mantra for Ward. It was an expression of his eagerness to explore new horizons, both in his personal life and his career as a firefighter.

A Diverse Range of Interests:

Beyond firefighting, Ward pursued a remarkable array of hobbies. From iron welding to glassblowing, engineering to rock climbing, sailing to skiing, and even the obscure sport of underwater hockey, he embraced life with an open heart.

Engineering Skills:

Ward’s talents extended to engineering. He once rebuilt the engine of a Porsche, showcasing his ability to master intricate tasks.

A Love for SCUBA Diving:

Introduced to SCUBA diving by Corrinne Walenda, Ward’s passion for this underwater adventure knew no bounds. He logged more than 400 hours of diving in just two years, a testament to his dedication.

A Remarkable Encounter:

One of his most remarkable diving experiences was encountering a whale shark near the Darwin Arch in the Galapagos Islands. It was a testament to his adventurous spirit and fearlessness.

A Unique Bond:

Despite their divorce, Ward and Walenda remained close friends. Their two German Shepherds, Skye and her new owner, continued the bond they shared.

A Varied Journey:

Ward’s life journey was diverse, starting in Oxford, England, and leading to Ann Arbor, Michigan. He pursued numerous careers, from trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to working at ski resorts and as a hotel chef.

Versatility in Service:

Within the Chicago Fire Department, Ward’s versatility shone. He served as a firefighter, emergency medical technician, rescue diver, and played roles in airport operations and hazardous materials response.

A Dream of Retirement:

Ward had plans to retire to a cabin in Colorado with his beloved dog, Skye. He was building a glassblowing workshop at the cabin, where he aimed to continue pursuing his passion for glass artistry.

A City’s Loss:

Mayor Brandon Johnson recognized Ward’s sacrifice, describing him as a son, brother, friend, uncle, and hero who put service above self.

A Legacy of Service:

Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt spoke of Ward’s dedication to firefighting and how he embodied the essence of service. His memory will forever inspire those who wear the uniform.

A Special Bond with Skye:

Ward’s bond with Skye was remarkable, to the point where she became a fixture at the firehouse. A decal honoring their unique connection will adorn Ward’s Truck 9.

A Private Farewell:

Ward’s family held a private burial after the funeral, ensuring a personal and intimate farewell.


Lt. Kevin Ward’s life was a testament to the power of adventure, dedication, and service. His legacy will continue to inspire all who knew him.

The Windy City, Silver Screens, and Plush Pals: Nancy Goodman’s Story of Vulnerabilities and Triumphs

Nancy Goodman’s journey seems as eclectic as the skyline of Chicago, the city she dearly cherishes. As a mother of three, a published author, and a writer/director of the award-winning romantic comedy Surprise Me! currently streaming on Amazon Prime, Nancy’s accomplishments span across a spectrum of creative ventures. However, her most recent project, Stuff’n’Tuddles – the plush companions of her upcoming children’s book, A Most Unusual Wish, carries a unique significance inspired by the crests and troughs of her own life.

At first glance, one may wonder what ties a romantic comedy about emotional eating to a children’s book and its stuffed sidekicks. However, delve deeper, and a consistent thread emerges: the interplay of vulnerabilities, aspirations, and the therapeutic nature of self-expression.

Born on the South Side of Chicago, Nancy’s relationship with her hometown has been enduring and transformational. From moving to Evanston, raising children in the city, transitioning to Highland Park, and later returning as an empty nester post-divorce, Nancy’s roots run deep. “I simply love Chicago and would never consider leaving,” she asserts. 

The city, in its vibrant diversity and warmth, played a pivotal role, especially when choosing it as the backdrop for Surprise Me!. While the romantic comedy centers on emotional eating and binging, the backdrop of the city is non-negotiable. There was a stark difference between portraying a girl with eating issues from LA and someone from the Midwest. For Nancy, Chicago signifies diversity, grounding, and warmth.

But why stuffed animals? Aren’t they just for kids? Nancy’s pivot from the bustling world of filmmaking to the tactile comfort of stuffed animals was not as abrupt as it may seem. 

The Windy City, Silver Screens, and Plush Pals: Nancy Goodman’s Story of Vulnerabilities and Triumphs

Image internally provided

On an impulsive, emotion-driven night of loneliness, she found herself at the doorstep of a local Walgreens. Donning her pajamas, a determined Nancy rummaged through the aisles, “test-driving” stuffed animals. Inspired by the thought of her college-aged daughter who still cuddled a stuffed dog from her crib, it was a quest not just for a mere toy – but for a piece of her past, a fragment of her innocence, and a symbol of hope and comfort.

Once back home, clutching her chosen stuffed animal, she did something profound. She took to her computer and began pouring out her heart and soul. Titled “Dear My Answered Prayer,” this letter wasn’t just a spontaneous outburst of emotions but a deeply personal letter to the future. To a man she envisioned being a part of her life, a partner with whom she could share dreams, laughter, love, and life’s journey.

Her words flowed seamlessly, detailing her aspirations, wishes, and the very essence of the man she hoped to meet. She didn’t hold back, painting a vivid picture of their imagined shared life, their dynamics as a couple, their shared joys, challenges, and moments of love. This wasn’t merely wishful thinking; it was a manifestation of hope and a testament to the healing power of expressing one’s deepest desires.

For many, this might appear as a tale of seeking external comfort. But at its core, it is a story of self-awareness, introspection, and the sheer audacity to dream amidst despair. Nancy’s Walgreens escapade and her heartfelt letter are potent reminders that, sometimes, we find our most profound strengths in our weakest moments. It emphasizes that healing can come from the most unexpected quarters, be it a stuffed animal from a local store or the act of penning down one’s hopes for the future.

This seemingly ordinary act became the genesis of an idea, eventually leading to Stuff’n’Tuddles. These aren’t mere stuffed toys; they’re conduits of hope, bearing the unique call to action to pen down wishes and lay down a roadmap to achieve them.

Goodman says, “I wanted to craft something that serves as both a comfort and an inspiration. These plush sidekicks remind us of our dreams, urging us to chase them actively.”

Such tangible acts of writing down dreams and hopes are far from new to Nancy. Amid personal upheavals, she began writing her memoir, It Was Food vs. Me… and I Won, detailing her struggle with emotional eating. The physical act of writing became not only cathartic but also illuminative, guiding her through a maze of suppressed emotions.

Nancy’s vision for Stuff’n’Tuddles extends beyond mere play. She sees them as conversation starters, bridging the communication chasm between parents and children. These stuffed animals are about dreams that have depth, not just fleeting, materialistic wishes. And this is more important than ever. 

In the wake of the Covid pandemic, a fascinating trend emerged. When confronted with the challenges of isolation and uncertainty, teens and adults turned to comforting, tangible sources of solace. Recent studies have shown a remarkable surge in the demand for stuffed animals amongst these age groups. These plush companions seem to offer a kind of comfort and nostalgia that’s especially needed in challenging times.

These findings strongly resonate with Goodman’s vision behind Stuff’n’Tuddles. “Stuffed animals have always been seen as children’s companions,” Nancy remarked. “But, the beauty of them is that they transcend age. They remind adults of a simpler time, evoke memories, and offer tactile comfort. With Stuff’n’Tuddles, I wanted to take that a step further – making them a beacon of hope and ambition.”

The children’s book accompanying the stuffed animals, A Most Unusual Wish, narrates the tale of a bear with a big wish. Faced with obstacles and seeming impossibilities, the bear sets out on a journey, devising a plan and enlisting help from friends. The Stuff’n’Tuddles plush toys mirror this journey and serve as real-life cuddly companions. The combination of the book and plush toy reinforce the message of having a wish, but also having a plan to make that wish happen.

Expressing the therapeutic benefits of journaling, Nancy emphasized the significance of physically writing down thoughts. To her, the act of writing by hand is a medium through which deeper feelings and revelations surface. This concept is echoed in the design of her website, which features animated notebook papers and pens, encouraging visitors to engage in this therapeutic exercise.

Stepping back to view Nancy’s trajectory, there’s a remarkable synthesis of her experiences. Whether her memoir serves as a heart-to-heart conversation with readers or her movie, which portrays vulnerabilities with a backdrop of a city she loves, her work is consistently rooted in authenticity. As she articulates her passion for connecting with those grappling with issues, it’s clear that Nancy’s endeavors always stem from a place of genuine understanding and empathy.

As our conversation meanders to a close, Nancy shares her excitement about becoming a grandmother. The joys of family, she says, have been her most significant accomplishments. The heart remains in the landscape of her diverse achievements: stories of vulnerabilities, dreams, and the sheer joy of genuine human connections.

In Nancy’s narrative, there’s a lesson for all: Never underestimate the power of childhood memories, the warmth of a plush toy, or the therapeutic effect of expressing one’s emotions. Life has a peculiar way of reminding us of our innate strength, often through the most unexpected channels. And as her story beautifully illustrates, all it might take is a trip to Walgreens, a stuffed animal, and the courage to dream.

Aliana Ziva Seeger-Madsen’s book, “Unlocking the Mystical Menagerie- “Where Pets and Psychics Collide.”

Enter Aliana Ziva Seeger-Madsen, the psychic medium who is making animal contact and spiritual journeys the newest craze in a world where it often seems like the only animals that understand us are our dogs (and sometimes, a well-brewed cup of coffee)! Aliana is here to bridge the gap between people and their pets.

What’s the big deal, then? Aliana is not your typical animal whisperer, it turns out. She has a hotline to the hereafter for pets as well, so she doesn’t simply converse with them! Aliana is jumping into the metaphysical deep end with our pets at her side, while the rest of us are trying to decipher what our dogs are thinking as they tilt their heads.

Aliana, though, is about more than simply unraveling the mystery of the animal world. No, she is an expert psychic multitasker. She’s accessible for spiritual conversations with you as well. 

Need to communicate with your spirit guide? No issue. You may connect with Aliana. Want to chat with your great-grandmother who is sipping margaritas in heaven? Aliana can also make it happen. She can handle all of your spiritual needs. It’s like having a fast dial for a psychic hotline. 

Aliana’s work is like a ray of sunlight shining through the storm clouds in a world where people often have trouble understanding their dogs. Let’s face it, everyone has secretly wished for the ability to be able to tackle puzzling pet behavior problems.

Who is the mysterious maestro hiding behind the curtain, then? Our psychic prodigy, Aliana Ziva Seeger-Madsen, is a multi-talented medium with a knack for bridging the gap between the spiritual worlds and us common folk. 

And what’s this? You may schedule a visit with this ethereal gem. Yes, you can communicate with your pet parrot Paulie, who has been murmuring something about global dominance, and learn the metaphysical mysteries. 

Visit Aliana’s website and Instagram for additional information.

Aliana Ziva Seeger-Madsen is here to solve the issues that remain unanswered in the world. Let’s go metaphysical, everyone, and never forget that sometimes all you need to do to get by in this crazy world is a little assistance from a psychic.

Choosing the Right Dog Trainer: A Step-by-Step Guide

Deciding to train your dog is the first step toward a healthier, happier relationship with your furry friend. A good trainer helps socialize the dog, correct behavioral issues and make your pet more manageable. Furthermore, the proper training can help mitigate potential legal problems related to your dog’s behavior, providing peace of mind for you and safety for others.

Ask For Recommendations

The best recommendations often come from those in similar situations. If your dog is a specific breed known for certain behavioral traits, asking within breed-specific groups could yield targeted advice. 

Finding a mobile vet near you open today, especially in bustling Chicago, could introduce you to professionals with extensive networks, including contacts with reputable dog trainers. 

Dogs living in a city-like environment might require different care than those in the countryside. Vets also have a wealth of knowledge and experience in dealing with trainers and could offer insights you hadn’t considered.

Understand Your Dog’s Needs

Identifying your dog’s needs will help narrow your options when searching for a specialized trainer. Whether it’s agility training, obedience, or behavioral issues, knowing what you need can also affect the cost and duration of the training. Some trainers specialize in rehabilitation for rescued dogs, addressing the unique challenges they may pose.

Dive into the World of Dog Training

Accreditations matter. Certifications ensure a trainer’s credibility and expertise. Researching these aspects can prevent potential future disagreements or dissatisfaction. Feel free to ask the trainer about their qualifications and what they mean; any reputable trainer will gladly explain.

Meet the Trainer and Gauge Their Techniques

Watching a trainer in action can tell you much about their suitability for your dog. If a trainer is open to it, ask to observe a session before you make any decisions. A transparent trainer will have nothing to hide. During this time, pay attention to whether the trainer is also teaching the dog’s owner. After all, training the human is often as important as training the dog.

Training Location Matters

In-home training offers an environment where your dog might be more comfortable, but may include household distractions. A professional setting might offer fewer distractions and more opportunities for socializing with your pet. Either way, ensure that your dog is comfortable and can adapt to the environment to get the most out of each session.

Ask About Their Experience

Experience isn’t just measured in years. Some trainers may have spent years dealing only with specific breeds or problems. Knowing their expertise helps you understand if they’re a good fit for your dog’s unique challenges. They should also be able to adapt their techniques to cater to your dog’s temperament and learning speed.

Communication is Key

The lines of communication should remain open even after the training sessions are complete. You might have follow-up questions or face new challenges as your dog grows or as you introduce new members to the household. A good trainer will offer post-training support, either as part of the package or for a nominal fee.

Cost and Commitment

Budget constraints are a reality for most people. Some trainers offer package deals that include multiple sessions and follow-ups. Evaluate whether this provides value for your specific needs. Also, consider the longevity of your commitment. A single session is unlikely to solve long-term behavioral issues.

Join a Session

Seeing other dogs’ progress can be a motivating factor. It can provide a realistic expectation of what to achieve through the training process. Also, observing how a trainer handles different behavioral issues can give you an insight into their versatility and adaptability, which can be crucial if your dog has multiple areas needing attention.

Feedback and Progress

The efficacy of a training program is often mirrored in a dog’s behavior at home and in social settings. Apart from professional assessments, your observations are essential for gauging progress. A good trainer encourages this form of dual feedback, enabling a more comprehensive understanding of the training’s impact.

Final Thoughts

Remember, the training process is as much an educational journey for you as it is for your dog. It’s a mutual learning experience that can deepen your bond with your pet while improving their behavior. So take your time, research and choose a trainer who resonates with your dog and your approach to pet care.

The process might seem rigorous, but the rewards far outweigh the initial investment of time and effort. A well-trained dog is a joy to have; the skills you both gain will last a lifetime.

Sophia Dias: A Beacon of Hope and Resilience in the Face of Domestic Violence

In a world filled with challenges, one woman’s journey from darkness to light shines as a beacon of hope for all survivors of domestic violence. Sophia Dias, the founder and CEO of Dias Worldwide, is not just a successful entrepreneur and fashion icon; she is a survivor who has transformed her traumatic experiences into a source of inspiration for countless others. As we approach Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Sophia is gearing up for the launch of her book, “BULLET PROOF: The Survival of Sophia Dias,” a gripping autobiography that unveils her harrowing journey from brutal domestic violence to thriving in business and helping others succeed.

The Unveiling of “BULLET PROOF”

Sophia Dias’s book launch is set to take place on October 31, 2023. It’s a date that marks not only the release of a powerful narrative but also the celebration of resilience and triumph over adversity. Sophia has dedicated her book to “ALL” survivors of domestic violence, emphasizing the universality of her story and its potential to inspire and heal.

In her own words, “It’s really a story of hope; no matter what trials you may be facing, there is a possibility of healing. The trauma and suffering that I endured and rose above through inner strength, God’s blessings, and help from people across the globe is a testimony to inspire others.”

The Path to Liberation

Sophia Dias’s journey from victim to victor is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. For years, she was trapped in a nightmarish marriage, subjected to relentless abuse and forced to travel the world with her ex-husband. Her escape plan was not just a desire for freedom; it became a matter of survival.

The book delves into the raw and honest details of her life, marriage, and work, highlighting the abuse, abandonment, and the dramatic shift from being a multi-millionaire to facing extreme poverty. The title of her autobiography, album, and upcoming movie, “Bullet Proof,” reflects the relentless attacks she endured and the emotional and financial cruelty designed to crush her spirit.

Despite the unimaginable challenges she faced, Sophia’s story is one of resilience and hope. It shows that no matter how oppressive the circumstances, it is possible to rise above them.

A Charitable Heart

Sophia Dias’s commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond the pages of her book. On October 7, she is hosting a charity dinner for the residents of the House Of The Good Shepherd, Catholic Charities, in Illinois. This event reflects her dedication to giving back to the community and supporting those in need.

The House Of The Good Shepherd provides shelter and support to homeless mothers and their children, a group that often faces the harsh realities of domestic violence. Sophia, as a board member of The Women’s Board, is actively involved in supporting these families, making a real difference in their lives.

A Multifaceted Entrepreneur and Philanthropist

Sophia Dias is not just a survivor and author; she is a multifaceted entrepreneur and philanthropist. As the founder and CEO of Dias Worldwide, a high-end fashion brand with a global presence, she has achieved remarkable success. Her culinary skills, fashion designs, and the success of her albums in over twenty-two countries have made her a self-made millionaire with a far-reaching impact.

Now, Sophia is taking on a new role in the film industry as an Executive Producer. She is assembling a team of highly qualified professionals to bring her story to the big screen as “BULLET-PROOF,” further amplifying the message of hope and resilience.

Discover More About Sophia Dias and “BULLET PROOF”

To learn more about Sophia Dias, her incredible journey, and the upcoming release of “BULLET PROOF: The Survival of Sophia Dias,” visit her official website here. In conclusion, Sophia Dias’s story is not just about survival; it’s about thriving, inspiring, and helping others find their path to healing and success. As we approach Domestic Violence Awareness Month, her book and charitable efforts serve as a reminder that no matter how dark the past may be, there is always a glimmer of hope for a brighter future. Sophia’s journey is a testament to the indomitable spirit of the human heart, and her dedication to uplifting others makes her a formidable force for good in the world.

How To Build Your Dreams with Entrepreneur and African Filmmaker Onome Odometa

If there is one thing that Onome Odometa knows, it is hard work and sacrifice to chase dreams. She has been in the investment management industry for years where she helped clients preserve and grow their wealth towards financial freedom through financial planning and investment opportunities. After years of working in the financial industry, she has made it a goal to share her expertise and education with women in Africa to reach financial literacy and values. Now, Onome Odometa is internationally known as a leader in wealth management and the entertainment industry. 

Odometa built her wealth for the purpose of achieving her dreams in the film industry. She has now become the Founder and the CEO of Hedge Productions, an independent film and television production company that seeks to promote African stories. After years of working in finance, she found her true aspiration in the film industry. The problem is funding. 

“You have to have a lot of good investors to get funding for a project. When these platforms like Netflix or Amazon come to Africa, they don’t place too much pricing value on African produced movies,” Odometa said. 

This means Odometa had to spend a lot of her own money to execute the production of her movies. Sacrifice of her funds to reach her goals was vital for her success. 

Launching her film company, Hedge Productions, was a formidable undertaking that required an immense amount of determination and resilience. Onome Odometa’s journey to this pivotal moment was marked by years of unwavering dedication and personal sacrifices. Her vision for Hedge Productions was not merely about creating movies; it was a passionate endeavor to share the rich tapestry of African stories with the world and elevate the representation of African culture in the global entertainment landscape. 

The challenges she faced along the way were numerous, including the daunting task of securing funding in an industry where African productions often faced pricing disparities and underappreciation from global platforms. However, Odometa’s unyielding commitment to her mission saw her through these obstacles. Her tenacity fueled the realization of her dreams, resulting in the successful completion of two productions under the Hedge Productions banner, with two more projects currently in progress.

Through all the sacrifice and production, Odometa has always had the same goal. She has wanted to serve women and the African community through philanthropy. Her productions focus around African culture and provide an insight to what African culture is like. Through her drive for philanthropy, Odometa established the Onome Aid Foundation which focuses on innovation, human development, and empowerment to combat different things such as unemployment, abuse, poverty, and lack of education. She seeks to empower women and youth by providing opportunities to be self-sufficient through wealth management. The children’s foundation has helped thousands since its launch in 2020. 

Onome Odometa’s goals have never changed. She seeks to provide financial help through wealth management, representation in the entertainment industry, and overall better lives for African women. Her drive and experience have led her to become an internationally known speaker, entertainment industry leader, and empowerer of many women across Africa. To find out more about her story and passions, visit her website and follow her on Instagram

Suitcase: The Story of an Immigrant and His Unwavering Commitment to Succeed

Americans have long believed in the potential of the immigrant experience, which is reflected in the story of “Suitcase”, a true and inspiring story of one man’s American dream. Born and raised in India, the author of Suitcase arrived in America with only a suitcase filled with extraordinary dreams for himself, his family, and the entire world. Through hard work, focus, dedication, and a positive attitude, he was able to make his dreams a reality.

The story of Suitcase goes beyond the successes of his professional life, his daughter’s education, and his financial success. It also reveals his passion for politics, voting rights, racism, diversity, women’s rights, LGBT issues, climate change, and helping the poor and needy. To make the book worthy of the reader’s time, the author put in 12 years of literary work to produce a volume reflecting his story and message. The book also includes a photo gallery of the author’s journey.

A suitcase is a powerful reminder of what immigrants worldwide can achieve when they set their minds and hearts to it. It is an inspiring tale of determination, hard work, and belief in one’s own potential, no matter how difficult the circumstances. This book is sure to be an inspiration to all who read it.

This man’s journey is told through twelve years of literary work, culminating in a book filled with anecdotes and insights from his experiences. At the end of the book, readers can explore a photo gallery that captures more of the man’s journey and paints a vivid picture of his inspiring story. Not only does this story show the power of hard work and determination, but it also serves as a reminder that dreams can come true regardless of one’s financial or social circumstances. This book will surely be an inspiring read for anyone who wants to pursue their dreams and believes in the American Dream.

Written by this extraordinary immigrant, the book seeks to share the lessons he has learned in his life and career. It goes beyond the milestones achieved in his professional life, career, daughter’s education, and financial success.This Platform of Success in life,Meet the challenges  and courage to change has been revealed in the book. 

The twelve years he took of literary work to complete the book contains elements of success that can be applied to everyone’s life today. It also includes a photo gallery at the end of the book is worth The author has served as the President of the India Association of Greater Boston from 1984-85, supported Affordable Care Act 2010, generated 100 million in revenues with his teams in pharmaceutical companies, and was a member of Massachusetts Business Oversight committee in 1985. 

The Suitcase is more than just a memoir of an ordinary immigrant with a humble suitcase; it’s a testament to the power of determination and hard work. The story showcases how a single individual can make a difference in the world and how achieving one’s goals can help bring about broader change. Along with an inspiring narrative, the book provides tangible advice on how to succeed in business, career and education, along with a photo gallery at the end. In addition, the book highlights the importance of defending democracy, fighting for voting rights, diversity, women’s rights, LGBT rights, climate change, and helping the poor and hungry. By overcoming obstacles and achieving his own dreams, the author of Suitcase has been able to make a real contribution to society and has been successful in his role as President of the India Association of Greater Boston (1984-85), a member of the Massachusetts Business Oversight Committee (1985), and the First Vice President of the Hopkinton Lions Club since 2019 . His twelve years of literary work are a testament to his dedication and determination to create something of value for readers. The Suitcase is genuinely a story of the American Dream in action.

The Suitcase is a heartwarming and inspiring story of an ordinary man who immigrated to America with nothing but a suitcase. This book uncovers the journey of a man who strived to achieve his dreams and those of his family through hard work, determination, and a positive attitude. Through his story, readers will learn advice that can be applied to their own lives and inspiring stories of success in politics, business, and education. The Suitcase also includes a beautiful photo gallery of the immigrant’s journey, reminding him how far he’s come.

All in All

A suitcase is a true and inspiring American Dream story about an ordinary man who came to the United States with only a suitcase and extraordinary dreams. It chronicles this man’s journey as he persevered through many challenges, difficulties and failures to achieve his goals. Along the way, he discovers many lessons that can be applied to everyone’s life today, from his focus on hard work, positive attitude and determination, to his passion for defending democracy, voting rights, racism, diversity, women’s rights, LGBT rights, climate change and helping the poor and feeding the hungry. The Suitcase is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn from an extraordinary individual’s life journey and be inspired to achieve their goals.

Suitcase is available on  Amazon Kindle  ebook $9.99  Paperback $ 17.99 and 

Hard cover $ 27.29. The readers can order the book by clicking the link below .

Check this out!

Navigating the World of U.S. Infrastructure Private Equity: Interview with Riddhish Rege

Infrastructure stands as the silent guardian of our modern society, orchestrating the delicate dance of our daily routines and powering the metropolises in which we live. Yet, behind the scenes of this vast network, there’s a fascinating interplay of finance and strategy, primarily steered by the world of Infrastructure Private Equity. To shed light on this intricate domain, we sit down with Mr. Riddhish Rege, a luminary in the sector, to delve into the past, present, and future of U.S. Infrastructure Private Equity. This conversation promises to be an enlightening journey, offering a rare window into the forces molding the very framework of our urban existence.

The Chicago Journal: Welcome, Mr. Rege. Could you give our readers an introduction about yourself?

Riddhish Rege: Thank you for having me. I am an Infrastructure Private Equity professional based out of New York, focused on investing and asset managing Infrastructure investments across the U.S. Over the past decade, I have been deeply involved in the U.S. Power and Infrastructure sectors through M&A, Capital Markets, and more. I started this journey as an Investment Banker and working with reputable institutions like TD and J.P. Morgan.

The Chicago Journal: That’s an impressive track record. How did you get into Private Equity?

Riddhish Rege: It was a natural progression for me. I originally started my career as a public accountant based out of Mumbai, India, auditing large scale infrastructure projects that got me interested in the sector. After my graduate education at Brandeis, I joined J.P. Morgan as an Investment Banker focusing on credit underwriting to the Power & Utilities and the Hedge Fund Industry and slowly started working on a whole gamut of financial transactions such as restructuring, M&A, capital markets. Having worked on a great deal of transactions, I realized the transformative power and actual change I could execute by being an Investor and helping shape the direction of portfolio companies and Private Equity felt like the best fit for me, especially in sectors like Infrastructure that need long-term investment and vision. The chance to play a role in shaping the future of U.S. infrastructure was too good to pass up.

The Chicago Journal: For those unfamiliar, could you explain what Infrastructure Private Equity is? And how does it fit into the Infrastructure Landscape?

Riddhish Rege: Certainly. Infrastructure Private Equity refers to investments made in infrastructure assets or companies, typically with a long-term horizon. Unlike traditional Private Equity, which often targets a broad array of companies in various sectors, Infrastructure Private Equity targets essential infrastructure like transportation (airports, toll roads), utilities (power, gas, water), communications and renewable energy. It’s an essential part of the infrastructure landscape because it provides the critical capital needed to upgrade, maintain, or even build new projects. Think of it as the financial muscle that pushes many of such projects you see around.

The Chicago Journal: How are Infrastructure Businesses run, and why are they so critical to everyday life?

Riddhish Rege: Infrastructure businesses are the backbone of our modern society. They provide essential services like power, transportation, water, and more. They are run with a focus on long-term sustainability, reliability, and public service. Without them, our daily lives would come to a standstill—no electricity, no clean water, no transport. Their importance cannot be overstated.

The Chicago Journal: What do you believe makes Infrastructure an attractive asset class for private investors?

Riddhish Rege: Several factors make Infrastructure an alluring investment for private capital such as stability and predictability of cash flows backed by regulations and long-term contracts, Inflation-hedge as essential services are sticky in nature i.e. customers will always need and be willing to pay for such assets, high capital and regulatory constraints making it a difficult sector for everyone to enter and finally having the ability to partake in the impact created by such infrastructure projects on society and communities around which they are built

The Chicago Journal: Given their significance, how does the government support such companies in building out Infrastructure?

Riddhish Rege: The government plays a pivotal role through various legislations and policies. For instance, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and the recent Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 have laid the groundwork for increased investment in Infrastructure. These acts provide financial support, create a conducive environment for investments, and ensure smoother regulatory processes. Asides from the Federal level, State and Local level agencies, regulators, and organizations play a greater role in the execution of the larger vision. More so that one could imagine, as they are best placed to draft suitable policies, approve or deny mandates, disburse funds for grants or reimbursements and maintain long-term plans for their jurisdictions. A company’s success is very much dependent on how the local body sets its rules and executes on them. 

The Chicago Journal: And what is the final outcome that these companies aim to achieve?

Riddhish Rege: The ultimate goal is multifaceted. It’s about providing reliable and efficient services to the public, creating jobs, ensuring a sustainable and green future, while at the same time offering returns to investors. In essence, infrastructure companies aim to lessen the burden of construction, operation and management of local infrastructure from the government and help hopefully help build top-notch projects.

The Chicago Journal: With your deep insights, what are you currently observing in the market?

Riddhish Rege: The U.S. infrastructure space is witnessing a transformative phase. There’s an increasing emphasis on green and sustainable projects, and technology is playing a pivotal role in modernizing existing assets. Private equity, with its long-term vision, is perfectly positioned to leverage these trends.

The Chicago Journal: Lastly, how do you view the evolution of Infrastructure Private Equity as an Asset Class going forward?

Riddhish Rege: Infrastructure Private Equity is poised for significant growth. The ever-increasing need for modern Infrastructure, coupled with government support and the push for sustainability, means there’s a tremendous opportunity. Additionally, Infrastructure Private Equity can free up government resources, which would otherwise be funded by government debt, which is at historical levels. I believe we’ll see even more innovation, collaboration, and investment in this sector in the coming years as the government opens up for P3 projects. Finally, I believe we will also see more integration of technology and infrastructure being more tech-savvy.

The Chicago Journal: Thank you, Mr. Rege, for sharing your valuable insights with us today.

Riddhish Rege: It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Lisa Doggett, MD, Goes from Doctor to Patient with Four Little Words

Lisa Doggett is a family doctor living in Austin, Texas. Her story is one of triumph and hope in the face of a frightening diagnosis. Nicholas Alexander caught up with Dr. Doggett recently, and she shared her experience with us. Get ready to be inspired. 

Nicholas Alexander: Tell us about yourself, including when you were diagnosed with MS and how that happened.

Lisa Doggett:  I’m a family doctor, a mom of two girls, and a native Texan. I’m married to a pediatric hospital doctor, and we live in Austin, where I was born and raised. I grew up in a family where public service is a way of life. I am passionate about improving healthcare for vulnerable populations and helping people with chronic conditions live their best lives. My own diagnosis with MS happened in 2009 when I woke up dizzy, didn’t get better and started getting new symptoms. I got an MRI showing probable MS, which was confirmed later with a spinal tap.

Alexander:   You recently wrote a book called, Up the Down Escalator. What is this book about?

Doggett:  This memoir is about my transformation from doctor to patient while I was directing a clinic for underserved and uninsured patients near downtown Austin. Before my diagnosis, I already was overwhelmed taking care of patients who struggled with major difficulties – health challenges and also a lack of resources. I had a patient with bats in her apartment. I had a patient who couldn’t pay $4 to refill his anxiety medicine. I never expected to get sick myself, esp. with a condition like MS, a chronic neurologic disease that is a leading cause of disability in young adults. This book is about my journey coming to terms with the illness and about the insights I gained on the frontlines of the messy and dysfunctional US healthcare system. 

Lisa Doggett

Alexander:  Why did you decide to write it?

Doggett:  My diagnosis was a huge shock. I had two kids under five and a really challenging job. I was a health nut, and I never expected to get sick. I’m a planner, and I’m ambitious, but suddenly I faced a life sentence with a chronic disease. Writing this book was really a self-indulgent exercise – it was a way for me to process what happened. I’ve always written in a journal – I started writing every day at age 11, and I’ve only missed about 5-6 days since. It was therapeutic for me to tear apart my experience with MS and put the pieces back together. Of course, I also wrote it to help others dealing with a tough medical diagnosis and those who care for them. I hope they can find some validation and some ideas about how to think about their experience that may be helpful. Finally, I wrote this for my patients, many of whom struggled with conditions and circumstances far worse than mine. I wanted to shine a light on the extraordinary health disparities in this country and challenge our leaders and elected officials to prioritize true universal health coverage and health access.

Alexander: For many people with MS or other health conditions, it can be hard to open up and share their diagnosis with others. How have you navigated telling people that you have MS?

Doggett:  I’m obviously not secretive. I mean, I wrote a memoir! I started telling people almost right away after my diagnosis, and I found it helpful to share my story, to share the burden. I realize not everyone can do that. Diseases like MS still carry a stigma with some people, and it can impact peoples’ careers and friendships. But I was fortunate to get support from friends and coworkers who really stepped up to help. When I’ve changed jobs or met new people, sometimes I’ve had to think a little harder about if, when and how to share that I have MS. I’ve varied my approach, depending on the situation, but in almost every instance, I’ve received a supportive response and been glad I was able to be vulnerable and authentic with sharing this part of myself.

Lisa Doggett

Alexander:   What was your darkest moment during your initial struggles with MS symptoms?

Doggett:  There were two very dark moments. One was just before my diagnosis when I thought I had a brain tumor. I had never personally diagnosed anyone with MS, and that diagnostic possibility just never occurred to me, though now it seems obvious. I couldn’t explain my symptoms, and I really thought a brain tumor was the only thing that made sense. The second awful period was after my spinal tap, which was done to confirm my diagnosis. I got very sick. Looking back, I don’t even think it was the spinal tap that made me sick, but I was completely incapacitated for several days, and I didn’t know if I would ever recover. Both incidents were particularly difficult because my kids were so little. I didn’t know if I would be able to take care of them. It just really amped up the level of concern I had for my own health and well-being.

Alexander:  How has MS affected your relationship with your patients?

Doggett:  I think MS has granted me a new level of empathy and understanding with patients that I didn’t have before I got sick. I know on a very personal level what it’s like to have scary symptoms, to undergo a diagnostic work-up, wondering what you’ll find, and then to hear that you’re suddenly stuck with a chronic illness that will forever change your life. After my diagnosis, I think I was a little more gentle and compassionate when I spoke to patients about difficult health news. I don’t share my own story with them, but with many of them, I feel a deeper connection.

Alexander:   How has MS impacted your family and your daily life?

Doggett:  MS has impacted my family – more so at the beginning, but even now, it touches all of us. It has been a strain on my marriage, and at the same time, it has brought us closer. It’s similar with my kids. My dizziness in the early years was very difficult to manage, and it made me impatient and irritable. I think with a lot of other friends and family, it’s brought us closer. We’ve learned to be grateful for the time and experiences we have together. We don’t take each other for granted.

I remember soon after I was diagnosed, I met another MS warrior – another mom with young kids who had MS. She told me that after she would go days without thinking about MS. I couldn’t believe that was possible because, at first, it was so all-consuming, but now it’s true. I don’t think about MS every day. I sometimes go weeks without symptoms, and I feel good and healthy most of the time. I’m super lucky that MS medications have improved so much in the last 20 years, and especially in the last six or seven. MS can still be a devastating illness in some cases, but for many of us, it can be well-controlled with medication.

Lisa Doggett

Alexander:  What are the key lessons learned since you first got sick with MS? What has surprised you?

Doggett:  There are lots of important lessons I’ve learned since my diagnosis! 

Here are 3 of them:

  •  Self-advocacy is really important. Whether it is fighting an insurance company over an unfair bill or calling multiple times to get test results from the doctor, it’s critical to stand up for yourself and seek answers to your health questions.
  •  Prioritize self-care. One chronic disease is more than enough, and I want to do everything I can to prevent another, so I make sure to exercise every day, eat a healthy diet, and protect my sleep.
  • Know your purpose and always have a goal or a project of some sort. In recent years, I’ve trained for the MS150 bike ride every spring. I’ve developed writing goals and work goals. Having something to work towards gives me a reason to get up in the morning and a sense of accomplishment. 

Alexander:  In what ways has your experience as a doctor with MS been different from nonphysicians?

Doggett:  Being a doctor has given me some unique advantages, since I have connections with other doctors. I also have enough medical training to know what questions to ask and where to go for reliable information. I was diagnosed nine days after my main symptom – dizziness – started, and I think that’s because I was able to contact physician colleagues to be seen quickly and discuss the tests I needed. That said, I want everyone to be able to get that high level of care. When I was diagnosed, I was leading a clinic where a lot of my patients didn’t have insurance. I was constantly struggling to get them in to see specialists and to get medical tests that they couldn’t afford. The contrast of my experience to theirs was so stark and really brought home the inequities in our healthcare system. Everyone should have timely access to care. Unfortunately, the reality is very different.

Alexander:  You talk about “silver linings” – what are some of the silver linings from having MS?

Doggett:  I think MS has shifted my perspective so that I am more focused on the present moment, since I have an extra dose of uncertainty and don’t know what the future holds. It took me a while, but I decided that MS was not an excuse to give up my dreams, but rather to seize them – that includes fitness goals (triathlon), trips I’ve always wanted to take, writing a column for a national news organization (Public Health Watch). It also means prioritizing what’s important – my parents and I bike together at Lady Bird Lake or Southern Walnut Creek every weekend when we’re all in town.  Overall, MS has taught me to do more and do it now. I think – or at least I hope – that MS has made me wiser, more flexible, and more grateful for the many gifts of my imperfect life.

Alexander:  What advice would you give someone who is facing a new diagnosis of MS or another chronic condition?

Doggett:  I think every situation is different, and of course it depends on the condition and your support circle. In a lot of cases, getting the diagnosis – or the process leading up to the diagnosis, when you’re still not sure what’s wrong – is the worst part. I think we are often programmed to think of the worst-case scenario, and yet most of the time things actually get better. It’s important to give yourself time to feel whatever you’re going to feel and not judge yourself for it. I felt shock, anger, and sadness. I think that’s pretty normal. I experienced a lot of grief for my former, healthy self. But then you have to move on.

So my advice would be:

1) Stay hopeful and know that things are likely to get better.

2) Make sure you have a doctor you can trust as your partner to help you live your best life.

3) Build a strong support circle of friends, family, neighbors, health care providers.

4) If you can’t go public with your diagnosis, at least tell someone who can provide support, be a sounding board, and help you process what’s happening and plan for the future.

5) You may have to adjust some plans, but figure out what you want to accomplish – set those goals – and then go for it.

Alexander:  You’ve done pretty well with your MS. You’re still able to work and be active. Tell us how you’ve taken care of yourself since your diagnosis.

Diagnosis:  I’m so fortunate to have excellent healthcare from my doctors and one of the newer, most effective MS medications available. Sticking with my treatment plan has been very helpful and kept me healthy. But I also prioritize self-care by exercising first thing every morning, eating a healthy diet with lots of fruits and veggies, making sure to get enough sleep, and avoiding dangerous substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol. Mindfulness meditation has been key to controlling my dizziness and helps me feel more grounded. But I’ve also learned you can do everything right and still get sick. I do what I can but luck still plays a bit role. I’ve been lucky.

Alexander:  What are some of your greatest achievements since your diagnosis?

Doggett:  I’m super proud of finishing and publishing my memoir – it’s been a major effort, and it’s gratifying to have it out in the world, but I’m also proud of a lot of other things:

  •       Learning to tackle my symptoms and accept my diagnosis and the uncertainty of MS
  •       Raising two amazing kids who are now strong and caring young women
  •       Maintaining a supportive marriage
  •       Training for and completing two marathons
  •       Finishing a half Ironman triathlon (70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running) in April
  •       Finishing the MS150 bike ride – 160+ miles from Austin to College Station (it used to be Houston to Austin) four times.

Alexander:  Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

Doggett:  I just want to emphasize the importance of having and nurturing a support circle – you never know when you might need them. But even if you never get sick, it’s important to have close connections in your life, people you can count on and who count on you. My life is enriched by my friends and family, more than anything. MS really showed me how important those connections are.

For those who want to hear more, check out my book: It’s a story – not a how-to guide or advice column – more like a novel that happens to be true. I hope you like it!

Lisa Doggett, a family physician, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2009. She is passionate about improving care for vulnerable populations and helping people with MS and other chronic conditions live their best lives. She is the author of Up the Down Escalator: Medicine, Motherhood, and Multiple Sclerosis. 



Exploring the Fascinating Geometric Tattoos by Jeanmarco Cicolini

Tattoos have evolved into an intricate form of self-expression, where creativity knows no bounds. In the realm of body art, Jeanmarco Cicolini’s geometric tattoos in dotwork have gained notable attention for their captivating and daring designs. From the subtle interweaving of lines to the profound statements etched into the skin, Jeanmarco’s work is a testament to the fusion of art, sacred geometry, technology, and personal narrative.

The Enchantment of Blackwork Geometric Tattoos

A Brief Overview of Blackwork

Blackwork, as its name suggests, involves the meticulous use of black ink to create stunning tattoo designs. This technique encompasses various styles, including dotwork, linework, and solid black designs. The minimalist color palette allows for intricate detailing and a strong visual impact 

Jeanmarco Cicolini, an Italian geometric tattoo artist currently working in the United States, is a visionary who has elevated blackwork to an entirely new level. With a keen eye for detail and an innate understanding of the human form, Jeanmarco Cicolini’s creations transcend the conventional boundaries of tattoo artistry. Each piece is a masterpiece, a fusion of the client’s vision and Jeanmarco Cicolini’s creative ingenuity.

The Fascinating Portfolio

Exploring Nature’s Poetry

One of the most striking features of Jeanmarco Cicolini’s portfolio is the seamless incorporation of elements such as mandalas, hexagons, and mazes that come to life on the canvas of the skin. These tattoos not only adorn the body but also capture the beauty and poetry of the natural world.

Exploring the Fascinating Geometric Tattoos by Jeanmarco Cicolini

Photo Credit: Dotwork Geometric Tattoo Artist

Exploring the Fascinating Geometric Tattoos by Jeanmarco Cicolini

Photo Credit: Dotwork Geometric Tattoo Artist

Exploring the Fascinating Geometric Tattoos by Jeanmarco Cicolini

Photo Credit: Dotwork Geometric Tattoo Artist

Geometry and Symmetry in Chicago

Geometry becomes a work of art in Jeanmarco Cicolini‘s hands. Intricate patterns and symmetrical designs transform the body into a living canvas of precision. Every line, every angle tells a story of balance and interconnectedness, resonating with those who seek harmony in their ink. Jeanmarco Cicolini’s designs even delve into the realm of sacred geometry, where shapes and proportions hold deep spiritual significance.

His celestial tattoos invite us to look beyond the earthly realm. Shapes, dots, mandalas, and hexagons converge to create a cosmic ballet on the skin. Each piece is a reminder of our place in the universe and the mysteries that await our discovery.

Beyond Aesthetics

What sets Jeanmarco Cicolini’s geometric tattoos in dotwork apart is their ability to tell stories. Each piece is a chapter in the wearer’s life, a visual representation of their journey, beliefs, and emotions. Jeanmarco Cicolini’s skill lies not only in the art of tattooing but also in the art of understanding and translating human experiences onto the skin.

Symbols, whether ancient or modern, hold immense power. Jeanmarco Cicolini collaborates with clients to understand the symbolism they hold dear and then weaves these symbols into breathtaking designs. These tattoos become personal talismans, guiding and empowering those who wear them.

Dotwork and Sacred Geometry

Within Jeanmarco Cicolini’s portfolio, the technique of dotwork takes on new life. The meticulous placement of individual dots forms intricate geometric patterns that resonate with the concept of sacred geometry. These designs have spiritual significance for many and represent the harmony of the universe within the confines of the skin.

A Journey Within

The Creative Process

Jeanmarco Cicolini’s creative process is a journey that begins with an email consultation. It’s a dialogue where the client and artist collaborate to bring a vision to life. Jeanmarco Cicolini listens attentively, asks questions, and suggests ideas, ensuring that the final design not only meets but exceeds expectations.

The Tattooing Ritual

The process of getting a tattoo is a ritual, a dance of the needle on the skin. Jeanmarco Cicolini’s skillful hands bring the design to life, transforming the canvas into a living, breathing work of art. The experience is as much about the process as it is about the result, a memory engraved forever.

Jeanmarco’s dotwork geometric tattoos are more than just ink on the skin; they are windows to the human soul, expressions of identity, and testimonies to the boundless possibilities of art. With a masterful hand and an empathetic heart, Jeanmarco Cicolini creates art that resonates on a profound level. Each piece is a testament to the stories we carry and the beauty of sharing them with the world.