Sunday, November 15, 2009

EASIER - THAN - IT- LOOKS RECIPE: Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Linda is making this dessert for our Thanksgiving Dinner. I'm pretty sure there will be other things at our family Dinner, but I'll be looking forward to this as a beautiful ending to the meal. We haven't actually tried it yet, so I can't recommend it based on our own experience, as I usually do, but it seems to have all of the right flavors for me. And it seems easy. She found it as an advertisement in a PEOPLE Magazine (Nov. 16, 2009), and will add it to her RED COOKBOOK. We want to hear from those of you who try it. If you have a special holiday recipe that you would like to share, please send it to us.



1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. caramel ice cream topping, divided

1 graham cracker pie crust (6 oz.)

1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. chopped pecans, divided

2 pkg. (3.4 oz. each) vanilla flavor instant pudding

1 cup cold milk

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp.ground nutmeg
1 tub (8 oz) whipped topping, thawed, divided

POUR 1/4 cup caramel topping into crust; sprinkle with 1/2 cup nuts.

BEAT pudding mixes, milk, pumpkin and spices with whisk until blended. Stir in 1 1/2 cups whipped topping. Spoon into crust.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour. Top with remaining whipped topping, caramel topping and nuts just before serving.

Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus refrigeration time. Serves 10

It does look pretty easy, and there's no baking. I'm looking forward to it. Enjoy your holidays. For this one, take some time to give thanks for the good things in your life, including the strength that you have to change the things that you need to change.

[Photo copied from website; looks yummy, doesn't it?]


Sunday, October 25, 2009


I heard this comment on a TV show last week (Mercy, on NBC). It inspired me to revisit the subject of "drama" (Read my posting of 5/6/07, Mother's Day Drama). There is too much of it, real and imagined. Don't get me wrong. Stuff happens. Sometimes situations are emotionally charged. But too many people thrive on this. Often they pull other people in. So, there is 'mild' drama, as when you make plans with friends and something (drama?) comes up with them to require that you make last minute changes in the plan. Understandable, once in a while. But often is too much.

Drama has varying levels of severity. For example, there are those people who are always in conflict (arguing with the store cashier, cursing out their doctor's secretary, hassling the paper boy), and people ending up in the ER or involved with the police, or other "emergencies." Again, everyone has things that happen. But drama queens/kings (YES, there are drama kings too!) tend to have drama all the time, either their own or some to gossip about.

I don't mean to be judging. I am TOTALLY in favor of people living their lives in a way that works for them. But drama can be disruptive, stressful, and exhausting. So, first of all try not to involve others so much in your drama (unless they're into it too, but you better check). More importantly, take a look at your life. If you're having a lot of drama, consider kicking the habit. If you are not sure if you are a drama king or queen, ask your friends. They are dying to tell you.

If you want to make some changes, consider thinking more about options before you act. Some of the relationships that you have may need to change. Limit the drama that you allow people to bring to your door. It's easy to get sucked in. Learn to relax more. And finally, find other, healthier ways to add fun and excitement to your life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


A lot of people I know, including people I've worked with have suffered through events and situations that were traumatizing for them. They've been knocked down by life. People have lost loved ones, or relationships; lost their jobs, their homes, their savings. A lot of loss. Some of us have suffered through severe illnesses (our own, a friend's, or a family members). We also sometimes get bad news, that throws us for a loop. Life can be really hard to manage sometimes. It can feel like too much. How do you deal with it?

You have got to get back up. Here's how: (with some help from the November issue of AARP Magazine)

1. Give yourself time to grieve. Don't rush through it. The pain is difficult, but necessary. Talk to people. Write in a journal. Engage the sadness, anger, betrayal that you may feel, but don't allow it to engulf you. Allow yourself some distractions.

2. Rely on others. Use a support system of friends, family, your church, support groups (including online) to help you through the hard times. Consider counseling. A burden is more manageable when others help carry it.

3. Learn to be optimistic. People who think positively, and are optimistic tend to recover faster from tragedy. [see my postings, When Life Gives You Lemons, 8/28/08; The Glass Is Not Empty, 3/11/08]

4. Develop your spirituality. People who are active in a religious faith, have an sense of a higher good, or are in touch with spiritual values are usually more resilient.

5. Exercise, eat healthy, and be good to yourself. Play more.

6. Give back. People who give back to their community (by volunteering, giving to charity, etc.) are typically happier, and live longer.

7. Pick your battles. Focus on the things that you can change, and don't spend time on the things that you can't control.

Resiliency is "the ability to rebound... from a crisis or trauma." Some people are born with more of a capacity for this. Others of us have to learn it. Children tend to be more naturally resilient. However, there may be events that are traumatic for them, which wouldn't necessarily be for adults. Like moving, seeing or being involved in an accident, hospital stays, loss of a pet. They may not know to ask for help, but you've got to help them adjust. Know that there is life after the pain. Negative events can often present an opportunity to grow, to become a better person.

For an inspiring case study of this subject read Resilience, by Alonzo Mourning.

Friday, September 25, 2009


We lived in Yonkers (New York) before moving to S. Florida. In the Fall, Linda and I would take our two young daughters a little further upstate, to pick apples. She would then make this Apple Brown Budgie dessert (pronounced bood-gee, it's her her nickname) . It is a Fall dessert (think about it for Thanksgiving). It tastes GREAT served warm with ice cream.


Butter a deep baking dish. Put in it:

4 cups sliced tart apples (peeled)
1/2 cup water

Mix with a fork:

3/4 cup flour (we use whole wheat flour)
1 cup brown sugar (unless you prefer white)
1 teaspn cinnamon
1/2 cup melted butter
(optional: chopped walnuts)

Spread the mix over the apples. Bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees until the apples are tender, and the crust is brown. This recipe serves 6 to 8 people, but you're all going to want a second serving so plan ahead.

It's good, and it's easy.

Friday, September 11, 2009


As you know, I try to stay away from politics and religion (see my posting, Religion and Politics, 3/20/08). You really can't win discussing these things with people who have opposing views. Health care reform should not be political (nor religious). It seems like so many people know that things need to change, but fight strongly against the efforts being made. I listened to our President speak on it the other night, and I do believe that everybody needs to at least agree that some changes need to be made. For example: too many people can't afford health insurance (good health care should be a right, not a privilege), therefore many many people don't have it; people who don't have it end up in the emergency room more often, so we as taxpayers end up paying for it (and generally, it's a lot more expensive); and the "pre-existing condition" loophole that insurance companies use to deny coverage, often after you've already been paying for years, is TOTALLY RIDICULOUS. There's more, but I expect (and hope) that we pretty much agree so far.

I want to address this issue from 2 perspectives. I am a consumer, and a health care provider. As a consumer, at 55 I have most likely had some health issue that is going to prevent me from changing my health insurance because of a (here we go...) preexisting condition. So my current insurance company can continue to raise my premium, which my last one did every year, and I can't change to a new one. Did I mention that my policy is already quite expensive? With a large deductible. And my policy doesn't cover non-traditional medical care. I'm not happy with traditional care because of its focus on drugs and surgery (though I know they are both necessary in many situations). The last time I saw my doctor he told me that vitamins and nutrition supplements are useless (as he wrote my prescription)! I got a new doctor.

As a health care provider, I'm again aware of how many people who need help can't get it because they don't have insurance, and can't afford to pay (even with our sliding scale fee). Children, and families who REALLY need help, can't get the quality help that they need. Actually, some of these families do have health insurance, but their insurance company only allows their subscribers to go to a limited number of counselors. And there are very few (especially males) in our community who work with children.

This is definitely not all about insurance companies. There are actually a lot of great health insurance plans out there from my perspective as a consumer, and a provider. My point is that everybody should have access to those types of plans, and the best in health care coverage. This country needs universal health care (whatever name you give it). Can we all agree on that, and put our collective efforts towards making that a reality in this country? So many other countries are doing it so much better than we are, and America is paying a lot more for health care than they are. That is sad. Let's get it done.

One last thing. The most important part of changing health care, is improving how we care for our own health. We have to be responsible for taking care of ourselves and our children. That means (yes, I'll lay it out there, though this ain't nothing new) exercise, less fast foods, moderating our bad habits, less sText Colorugar (and high fructose corn syrup), etc., etc,. As I said earlier, let's get it done.

We send our positive thoughts and prayers to the families of those who were lost on 9/11/01.
(See my blog posting of 9/1/08)

Friday, August 28, 2009


I bet you think I write a lot about stress and stress management. [Stress, It Adds Up, 9/28/08; Change Your Mind, 5/10/08; Managing Job Related Stress, 4/10/08; Happy Holidays?, 10/18/07; Take A Moment,... Breathe, 10/10/07; A Happy Marriage Helps Relieve Stress, 6/25/07; Childhood Stress, 4/15/07 & 4/24/07; Managing Stress At The Job, 3/16/07] Well, I guess I do. It's for a good reason. There's so much of it in our lives. And it effects us a lot. But how can you tell when you've had too much? Well, that one's easy. You get sick. You get headaches, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, skin rashes, anxiety, depression, various addictions, etc. Of course, I could go on. But you get the point. Too much stress will killya! You can postpone that with medicines. And then more medicines to treat the side effects of the other medicines. But why wait until it's too late? We have to be aware of the less obvious signs that your stress level is getting dangerous for your health, BEFORE YOU GET SICK. You've got to know when you've had enough!

You know stress is starting to effect you when,... you start to argue more; get angry quicker and about little things; you are more and more distracted at work; get more forgetful ("Honey, where did I put my keys?"); become more accident prone; start drinking, smoking, or eating more; you feel more tired; sleep is more restless, or you start having more bad dreams; you worry more about everything; you may develop fears, or old ones may resurface. I could go on and on. But that's probably ENOUGH! What do you do about it? You mostly know (and there's a list above to refer to). The important thing is to USE WHAT YOU KNOW. One thing I will mention is that you have to take your vacations (and not just the long weekends). In Europe they get 1 to 2 months paid vacations. We average about a week. Guess who lives longer. Stress effects us every day.You've had enough.

Our prayers go out to the family of Senator Edward Kennedy who died this past week.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

EASIER-THAN-IT-LOOKS RECIPE: Linda's Broccoli Feta Pasta

Linda's Broccoli Feta Pasta is one of my favorite dishes that she makes. We had it for this past Father's Day dinner. Quite tasty!! Very healthy (especially if you substitute whole wheat pasta). And, as you can see it looks good. She says that it is easy to make. Here's how...


1 Head of fresh broccoli (you can substitute frozen broccoli)

3/4 lb. Pasta - preferably ziti (we use whole wheat)

1 pkg. Feta cheese

2 -3 cloves chopped garlic

cooking oil (we use olive oil)

crushed red pepper (optional)

parsley (optional)


Cut florets of broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Saute chopped garlic in large skillet with enough oil to generously cover the bottom of the pan. Add broccoli and saute until crisp and tender. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package instructions, al dente. Pour the broccoli mixture over the pasta. Crumble feta cheese into pasta mixture, to taste. If you are using red pepper, add it to taste. Sprinkle a little parsley for color. Toss and enjoy. Bon Apetit!

Friday, June 26, 2009

"Date Night" (part 2):How To Find A Date...

1. Be sure you want a date.

Often people think they do want someone but may not yet be resolved about a past relationship (maybe anger, trust issues, etc.). If that is the case it's going to be difficult to welcome someone new into your life. We also tend to project that ambivalence to others, making it less likely that someone will approach us. On the other hand, it's important to KNOW that you are looking for a "date" and not a spouse. You'll tend to dismiss potential dates who may not "measure up" as someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with. Even if marriage is your long term goal, get a date first. Get to know them. Then (maybe) consider their potential as a partner.

2. Visualize Mr. or Ms. Right.

The better that you can visualize the person that you want to be with, the more likely you will meet them. This is not magic (although it can certainly feel like it), it just makes sense. If you know who you're looking for, you'll more easily recognize and be motivated to connect with that person. Also, you will send out a vibe that attracts that person to you. That is, when interacting with this person you will be more relaxed and comfortable, project and invite interest (ie. smile more, make good eye contact, feel and appear to be more confident, etc), and listen better. All of this makes it more likely that you'll make a connection, with the right person.

3. Pay Attention. Make Eye Contact. Smile.

Now that you know who you're looking for, it's important to be mindful of your goal in the various social situations that you find yourself in. And just about everything you do outside of your home is in a "social situation". When you are out pay attention to the people that you come into contact with. Project confidence (even if it is an act right now). Get into the habit of making eye contact with people. And smile more. Smiles are more inviting than frowns or the impersonal ("stay away") look most of us walk around with.

You have to be patient. It will be worth the time that you have to put in to find a good date. We've all been on bad dates. They are the opposite of fun! Practice paying attention to people who notice you. Practice making eye contact, saving your smile until you feel more comfortable (and confident) sending out that kind of invitation.

4. Go Ahead And Meet People.

The bar scene is not for everyone. And you really can meet people anywhere. Let's first address the internet. I have known people who have had success with dating sites (for example, and eHarmony), or the various social networks (for example, Facebook and MySpace ). Just because they weren't around in our earlier dating days is not a good reason not to trust it. But of course, be careful. Other places to explore are bookstores (sit, read, and be seen), Starbucks,the beach (many beautiful sights out there), bowling, skating, dog parks, the mall, etc., etc.

5. Be Careful. (Don't Trust Love At First Sight

Don't fall in love too quickly. Trust your gut feelings, and pay attention to "red flags". Of course, the "right" date is going to be fun. He or she may be a good listener, seem caring, and feel good. That is a great start, but you have got to get to know them. Give yourself AT LEAST six (6) months before "falling in love." The effort that you put in now will pay off later!

Monday, June 15, 2009

"Date Night": If The Obamas Can Do It, So Can We

Michelle and Barack Obama have a date night every week. At least they try very hard to do so. Of course, if the President is visiting troops in Afghanistan, and attending high-level meetings in the Middle East one week, then they may have to reschedule. The First Lady stays pretty busy too. They both have parenting responsibilities, and do many of the other things you and I have to do. But as busy as they are, they usually find some time for each other. Date Night.

Perhaps the Obamas don't have some of the obstacles that the rest of us do. Finances, babysitters, getting reservations, or having Secret Service protection available (just kidding!). But those are things that we just have to figure out. The value of finding time to spend with your partner is priceless. We all need the opportunity for individual loving attention. The acknowledgement that we are worthwhile and appreciated that is reflected in our loved one's eyes. And it doesn't have to only be date "night." It could be date day, or weekend, or couple of hours alone. It can be breakfast out, a sporting event, or exploring some new activity. Find some time for the two of you to enjoy together, alone.

And for those of you who ask the question: "What's date night, without a date?" Well, it's an opportunity to find one. But I'll address that in a future blog posting.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Parents, ... Your Kids Will Follow Your Lead

This applies more so to younger children, but also to adolescents depending on how good your communication is with your teen (see my blog of 11/9/07, "Teenagers,... What Can I Say?"). People are sometimes surprised when I tell them that I work with very young children. I have frequent success helping families fix their kid's behavior problems. That would be tantrums, aggression, self-stimulation, defiance, eating problems (eg. pickiness, or refusal), bed-wetting/toilet-training, hyperactivity, school problems (once they become of age), or other problem behaviors. Actually, my experience has been that young children's behavior tends to change fairly dramatically shortly after they begin treatment. This primarily depends on the participation of the parents.

Your child's problem behavior is often in response to their effort to adjust to a new situation, the stress level in the home (or school), a need for more or different attention, their diet, or other situations in their life. Parents are typically the ones with control over the child's environment. Young children also have not yet had time for the behavior to become a habit.

So if your child's behavior needs to change, consider changing yours and see how it affects them. The approach I use (and not just with children) is ABC. 'A', for antecedent (what's happening before the behavior that may be triggering it). 'B' for the behavior. And 'C' for the consequence of the behavior, ie. what typically happens as a result of the behavior. Try changing 'A' or 'C' and the behavior is bound to change. Figuring this out can be as simple as A, B, C!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Healthy In, Healthy Out: Be Careful Of Eating Meat

Once I decided to be a vegetarian, I was very proud of myself. At the time, I wasn't really sure about doing it, but thought I'd give it a try. That was about 35 years ago (wow! Am I that old??). I did slip back into the meat-eating world for a few years, early on (and I have to say, I enjoyed it!). But for the last 30 years I could call myself a vegetarian. I do eat fish. I believe in healthy eating, and the vegetarian lifestyle. I'll tell you why.

I basically try to be a healthy guy. Especially since I'm getting "older," I want to pay more attention to my genetic predispositions, effects of cumulative stress, possible danger lurking in the drugs and food products that people make ga-zillions of dollars selling to us, and my own bad habits. I also feel a responsibility to my family to be as healthy as I can be.

So with all of that in mind, here's what I think. Meat is not good for you. If you're a meat-eater, eat it in moderation. I'm not saying that it's totally bad, obviously it's not. But there are enough bad things about it to pay attention to how much of it you eat. Much of the meat that's sold comes from animals that have been given antibiotics, and other drugs to help them survive unhealthy living conditions. Meat generally has a lot of saturated fat (and if you're going to eat fat, you don't want it to be "saturated"). It's high in cholesterol. It causes an increase in blood pressure that a vegetarian diet does not. The vegetarian diet is high in complex carbohydrates and fiber (found in plant foods), and low in fat and sugar. These are very important things for people concerned about (or having a family history of) diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and cancer. Also pay attention to this if you are overweight, because that can be harmful long term.

All I'm saying is to think about what you eat before you eat it. Especially think about the meat that you eat. While I've got your attention,think about including more fruits and vegetables in your diet. They can be quite tasty, and have long term health benefits. I'll discuss that more in the future. HEALTHY IN, HEALTHY OUT!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Change Your Mind... (Managing Job Stress, part 2)

I wrote last time about changing some of your behaviors to reduce stress in your life, and manage your job stress better. There are some things that you can think about differently at work, which will make your job (and your life) more enjoyable. Could you believe that you could enjoy your job, instead of just suffering through it everyday? You definitely can. These are some of the things that I try to do, and that I suggest to people trying to manage their job stress better. (from Don't Stress The Small Stuff at Work, by Richard Carlson).

  1. Dare To Be Happy. Most of us wish we didn't have to work. Fortunately you have a job, enjoy it. People often assume that someone who is relaxed or happy at work must not be a hard worker, or lacks motivation. Happy people are usually highly motivated, creative, enthusiastic, and fun to be around. Give it a try. Don't worry, be happy!

  2. Create a Bridge Between Your Spirituality and Your Work. Take the essence of who you are and what you believe into your daily work. If kindness, patience, honesty, forgiveness, and generosity are spiritual qualities that you believe in, make an effort to practice these qualities at work. Even if you must reprimand or confront someone, do it with love and respect.

  3. Examine Your Rituals and Habits (And Be Willing To Change Some Of Them). Sometimes our habits (which we may not even be aware of) cause us additional stress. For example, always being in a hurry, drinking too much caffeine and feeling nervous a lot, being grumpy in the morning instead of friendly to the people you work with, going to bed too late or too early, etc. See if it helps to change them.

  4. Pat Yourself On The Back. Your mistakes get pointed out enough. Give yourself credit for the good stuff that you do.

  5. Recover Quickly. We all mess up sometimes. It's important that you recover quickly, and learn from your mistakes.

  6. Let go of battles that can't be won. Continuously beating your head against the wall will only give you a headache.

  7. Don't Let Your Own Thoughts Stress You Out. We sometimes forget that thoughts are only thoughts, not reality. Our worries can stress us out just like the real thing. Also our worries interfere with our focus and concentration.

Think about changing your mindset regarding your job. Try making a small change, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Plan Your Summer (Now)

Isn't it time you took a vacation? Or planted that garden? Or even got in touch with that relative that you've been angry at, and agree to forgive and forget? Hey, maybe it's time to check on your progress with those New Year's resolutions that you made a few months ago. Recently, there's been a lot of things to feel bad about. Of course you could get into a negative head. DON'T DO IT!! [see my posting of 3/11/08, The Glass Is Not Empty] Use this summer to do something good for yourself.

For example, for the past couple of years I've suggested that parents plan a summer in which they work with their kids on overcoming an obstacle, or developing a skill (Summer Play School, 5/11/08; School's Out, What To Do, 5/20/07). How about we all choose something to work on this summer. PLEASE take my word for it, some small change, for a few weeks can have long lasting, beneficial results. Here are some examples...

  1. Let's say, you're a smoker. You know it's not good for you, but you like it. How about you see if you can survive for 30 days, smoking 1 less cigarette per day. So if you smoke a pack-a-day, try smoking 1 less per day (19 instead of 20) for a month. In about 3 weeks you'll have saved a pack's worth (about $5?). If you can reduce 1 more cigarette (per day) per month for 9 more months, you'll be down to 1/2 a pack-a-day. At that point you could just enjoy feeling more energy (maybe less coughing and throat irritation, improved skin tone, etc.), or decide about quitting completely.

  2. If you're trying to drop some weight, like me, then perhaps you can use these next 2 months to experiment with some eating, and/or exercise changes. Make a goal of losing 1 pound per week. That's a good small step. 10 pounds by September 1. Then decide if the diet/exercise change is too much to maintain. If not, you could be down 20 lbs. by the end of November. Down 25 lbs. by the end of the year.

  3. You know how important I think stress management is (Stress, It Adds Up, 9/28/08; Take A Moment, ..Breathe, 10/10/07; A Happy Marriage..., 6/25/07 ; Managing Stress At The Job, 3/16/07) Try something new to manage your stress for the summer. Keep a journal and see what ideas come to you about getting unstuck in an area of your life (see The "Jump Start Your Life" Plan..., 2/6/09).

  4. Have a Summer Date Night once a week.

  5. Take a computer course.

Take the opportunity this summer to do something different, fun, and life enhancing...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Managing Job Related Stress (part 1)

This is a subject that we've all got to deal with. Including those of us who are looking for a job. This topic includes dealing with the stress of managing relationships at work, including doing the job itself (of course some jobs are more stressful than others), and, what many of us are not as aware of, the stress related to your job that occurs outside of the work place. These are things like scheduling (for example juggling meals, appointments, the kids' activities, etc.), commuting, managing finances, level of personal job satisfaction. To a large extent our lives can revolve around our jobs. And for the most part, we're happy to have one, but the stress adds up.

A BIG concern for me when working with a client suffering from job stress (I do a lot of Employee Assistance Program counseling), is determining if their job IS their life (and their life IS their job). This can be a big part of their problem because it means that if the job situation goes bad, then their life goes bad. As opposed to having a life outside of their job, which can allow them some outlets, and provide them some support when they need it. My first recommendation is to find some enjoyable activities outside of work. This provides stress relief. An important part of this is the relationships that you have outside of work. A loving enjoyable relationship with a partner, or a happy family life, adds so much to your life. You can come home and get rejuvenated. You end up not taking your work so seriously. Of course, if you have a stressful family life, it makes things ten times worse. You can end up going to work to escape your home-life stress. You have to fix that.

The phrase "get a life" has a lot of significance especially if you have a lot of job related stress. Exercise, get a hobby, go to the beach, get some friends to spend time with, and by all means USE YOUR VACATION TIME.

In future postings I'll discuss how to manage stress at work (for now take a look at what I wrote on 3/16/07, Managing Stress At The Job), as well as describe some of the effects on your health and life, of not managing your job-related stress well. And as you can imagine, it can get pretty bad. TO BE CONTINUED...

Thursday, April 2, 2009

An Open Letter To Rihanna and Chris Brown

I would have written sooner, but in addition to the sadness I felt about your situation, I was angry. Rather than judging your struggle to manage your relationship, I wanted to write something that would be helpful to you (and my readers). I counsel people in troubled relationships, as well as people with anger problems. If you two are going to stay together you have got a lot of work to do.

I've known of a lot of explainations for why people tolerate domestic violence, or other forms of abuse. There are theories that suggest that childhood experiences set the stage for giving or receiving violence. My advice is for you to grow up. You can grow beyond those experiences. And, you can get the help that you need to learn to communicate in a loving caring way, including to resolve conflict. If you do love each other, as you say you do, then act like it. (By the way, this goes for those of you who think it's OK to beat your kids. You need to learn to communicate with them better also, even when their behavior frustrates you.)

So Chris, is this you being a man? You get mad so you feel that you can beat your woman? Come on brother. And where is all of the cool that you display, and "man-ness" you represent to the kids who idolize you when you walk out on the stage to perform? Is it ALL an act? You were angry. I get it. Sorry, that's no excuse.

Rihanna, you present as a strong, together, model of womanhood. Don't fail yourself, and the girls and women who look up to you. Taking abuse or any form of mistreatment is not love. No. You, nor anyone, deserves to be punished like that. I don't know if this is the first time this has happened to you, but believe me, it will happen again (and again) if you don't make some changes. Now.

I'm told that you guys are taking a break from each other. Good. Usually as the wounds heal and the memory fades, people resume their same relationship habits. DO NOT go back to what you had. Get it right.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Easier-Than-It-Looks Recipe: Seafood Lasagna

This is quite tasty, however I'm not so sure that it's that easy to make. It apparently is for Linda, but lasagna is not easy for me to make. I'm not sure why. It is DEFINITELY worth the effort. One of the main ingredients, the noodles, has been changed from the original recipe. It was originally made with white lasagna noodles. It does tastes good that way, but as you probably know by now I've tried to eliminate white carbs from my diet. Whole wheat noodles contain more fiber, and are more easily digestible (and don't so easily turn into sugar like white carbs). We actually had this dish for our Valentines Day dinner. Economical and enjoyable. Try it!

Seafood Lasagna


1 (16 0z) pkg. whole wheat lasagna noodles (white noodles will work too)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove minced garlic

1 lb. sliced portobello mushrooms (I like mushrooms, but we chose not to use them in this dish)

2 (16 oz.) jars Alfredo-style pasta sauce

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 lb. bay scallops

1 lb. chopped imitation crab meat (we used 2 6-0z. cans of crab meat)

20 oz. ricotta cheese

1 egg

black pepper (to taste)

6 cups shredded Italian cheese blend


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and mushrooms until tender. Pour in Alfredo sauce. Stir in cooked seafood. Simmer 5 to 10 minutes, or until heated through. In a medium bowl, combine ricotta cheese, egg and pepper.

3. In a 9x13 inch baking dish, layer noodles, ricotta mixture, Alfredo mixture and shredded cheese. Repeat layers until all ingredients are used, ensuring that there is shredded cheese for the top.

4. Baked uncovered in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Cover, and bake 15 minutes.

Servings: 12

Inspired by our sister-in-law Kate

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Asked For It: Tell The Kids,..."Times Are Hard!"

This may be a tough one for parents. Especially if your kids have gotten used to getting the latest gadgets, coolest (do they still use "cool"?)fashion, or newest video games. But times are hard. We know it, and have to deal with it. Why shouldn't they? I know we want our children to have all the things that we didn't have when we were growing up. But enough is enough. How did we survive without those things? I bet a lot of us didn't even know that we didn't have them back then (I guess we didn't really need them).

Seriously, during these difficult economic times families have to pull together, make sacrifices. Parents are losing jobs, having problems paying their bills, maybe needing to change living situations, perhaps change schools (from private to public). Younger kids don't necessarily need to know the specific details, nor be burdened with your worries. But they all need to know the meaning of "tightening our belts," that is adjusting to a reduced family budget. Another thing to be aware of is the need to help family members manage the stress, and negative emotions that may result. It's hard to adjust to not having control over our life as we once did.

The answer is good communication. Listening.Allowing kids to have input into what the family does, where possible. Parenting consistently. Maintaining a regular schedule and routine. Remaining optimistic, and projecting those positive expectations to your loved ones. You are in control. Make the changes that you need to make and work things out.

Thank you to our friend Ann for suggesting this topic.

Friday, February 6, 2009

The "Jump Start Your Life" Plan: 30 Minutes For 30 Days

[Please read last week's blog, "YAHOO, You Can Teach An Old Dog New Tricks," before reading this.]

I developed this Jump Start Your Life (JSYL) Plan as a simple way to approach making changes in your life. For those people who feel stuck, or in a rut, or stressed to the point of not being able to figure out where you want your life to go, this is the Plan for you. The idea is simple: Take 30 minutes a day to reset your brain, for 30 consecutive days. The idea may be simple, but many of the people I know will have a lot of difficulty finding time to do this for 1 day, let alone 30. But to get the beneficial effects, and jump start your life, you have got to do it for 30 days. "Resetting" your brain allows a brief but important relief from all of the mental work that stresses you daily, often all day, and sometimes at night (that's your brain working overtime). Allowing your brain to get a break from the daily habitual stressful thinking patterns that you've developed can not only be restful, but can also allow you access to parts of your brain that you don't typically use.

Brain plasticity is a scientific term for the brain being able to change to adapt to your needs. Usually this is an involuntary process. This can also be a voluntary process, meaning you can have some control over how your brain works. This is what happens when you break a bad habit, and develop a new healthier one. Your brain breaks some old connections, and develops some new ones. So our "Jump Start Your Life" Plan will give you an opportunity to take a break from your daily, habitual (often very stressful) thinking pattern and explore other possibilities in your head.

For 30 minutes everyday (for 30 days) you do an activity that relaxes you, and stimulates parts of your brain that are usually not active. Usually, during exercise it's easier to escape from the days' stress, or when listening to music. Your brain is still active, but (hopefully) not the same activity as during the day at work, or picking up your child at school, or arguing with your partner. The goal is twofold. Get a break from your stressful thinking habits, and activate less active, potentially productive, other areas of your mind. Additionally, you improve your concentration, mood, energy, and stress level. I list some of the activities below. Also during the 30 days you need to think about your life the way you would like to live it. Think about it everyday. As you take 30 minutes each day to make yourself a priority (no, 30 minutes for you is NOT selfish), your motivation will build, and you'll become more committed to taking action to change your life.

Here are some examples of 30-minute JSYL activities:

1. Physical exercise (non-competitive); 2. listening to relaxing music; 3. dancing or other rhythmic movement; 4. loving, attentive physical intimacy; 5. relaxing or informative reading (no murder mysteries); 6. relaxation breathing; 7. watching a comedy; 8. playing a game where you're not concerned about winning or losing; 9. sitting on the beach, relaxing; 10. fishing. 11. Knitting, cross-stitching, crocheting; 12. Looking at family photo albums; 13. catching up on the phone with a friend (no gossiping); 14. a warm bath; 15. yoga; 16.meditation; 17. cooking (if that relaxes you).

This is not a time for a nap, nor to have a beer or smoke. Pay attention to new ideas that come into your head during the month (including your dreams), even things that may seem to not make a lot of sense. Keep a journal (or have some other way to record your ideas). Use your record to help you generate new choices that will help you out of your rut. Use your improved mood, energy, motivation, and creativity to make some changes. You're now in a better position to develop some new habits. Go ahead, enjoy the rest of your life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

YAHOO!! You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks!

You Always Have Other Options! YAHOO! This is something I believe, and I encourage you to. I came across YAHOO in a book I was reading by Dr. Frank Lawlis, The Stress Answer. He talks a lot about brain plasticity, which is a scientific term for your brain being able to make changes as needed throughout your life (even if you are an "old dog"). I've been reading about this fairly new concept, plasticity, for the past few years. It offers a mechanism for what I've thought about how people are able to break bad habits, and develop new good ones. I knew we could do it, now I understand better how it works in the brain. Often it happens without direct effort by us. For example, when someone goes blind, their brain makes other senses, like hearing and touch, improve significantly to help compensate for the loss of sight. However, we can make it happen for us to make important but difficult changes in our lives.

People used to think that the majority of our brain development is done by the time we're young adults. Not so. We can make changes in how our brain works, all the way up to the end of our lives. Those of you who have ailing older family members who seem stuck in their ways, or like they can't learn new things, should consider this. Of course you need to have a lot of patience.

I am putting some of this information together to develop a Plan to help those people who feel themselves to be in a rut, not happy with their lives or certain aspects of their lives (for example, liking your job, but not your relationship). My "Jump Start Your Life" Plan will require only 30 minutes for 30 days, to get yourself unstuck. And not complicated at all. Sound too good to be true? Well the toughest part will be you finding 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days, to take care of YOU. After that it will be easy, and fun. YAHOO!!

Look for my Jump Start Your Life Plan in next week's blog posting. Think about what changes you might want to make.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

You Asked For It: "If You Were In Her Shoes..."

I agree with the reader who suggested this topic, and said that "people should always consider how they would feel if the same hurtful things they do to people were done to them." And I left the "her" in the subject title (although I know that in relationships hurtful things also happen to men), because I actually hear this complaint more from the women that I work with than the men. Women in general tend to be more in touch with their emotional side than men are. And the emotion men tend to be more in touch with is anger, not so much with sadness, hurt, fear, etc. In fact some of the men that I help with anger management problems tend to get angry in situations where they should be sad, or fearful. I think it has a lot to do with avoiding the sense of vulnerability that comes with those emotions, and replacing it with the feeling of power (or in some cases, invulnerability) that can come with anger. We have good teachers, our fathers. I also believe that in a lot of ways society condones a double standard for men versus women. But you shouldn't!

So when you consider that men who do toxic things in relationships actively avoid empathy, trying to feel what their suffering partner feels, they likely aren't going to put their feet in your shoes as it may hurt too much. Then it falls on you to decide how much mistreatment you will tolerate. This is a very difficult decision for some people to make. You may have to consider children, whether or not he even acknowledges his behavior is a problem, and how committed he is to repairing the relationship or changing his behavior.

I do want to emphasize that most people are capable of having empathy, including men (yes, men are people are too). Actually it is an important ability that counselors use to effectively help people make some of the changes that they come to us for. Your partner is likely capable of understanding your feelings, but he (or she) has to want to. This is not something you can force him to do, but if they love you then it may be something he would be willing to try. It definitely can help improve communication. So let him try on your shoes. And maybe you should try on his. There are likely some things you can learn about how he feels.

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King!
CONGRATULATIONS !! President Obama

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Healthy In, Healthy Out: Good Eating (And Drinking) Increases Productivity

You are what you eat. This year we're going to explore that in my blog. This is an important concern for me and, fortunately, my family (my daughter suggested this topic). They're not all vegetarians like Linda and me. So I'll be careful not to impose all of my 'vegetarian values' on you. I will talk more about that in the future. And, as always, I will welcome your comments.

I became more aware of healthy eating during my college years when my older brother exposed me to bee pollen, and vegetarianism. Books I read on the subject early on were Back To Eden (by Jethro Kloss), and Diet For A New America (by John Robbins, of Baskin and Robbins). Looking back I would say that I ate pretty healthily growing up, including the wheat germ my mother snuck into the meat loaf and the daily morning spoonfuls of cod liver oil (yuck!). A couple of years ago I made some major changes in my diet in order to lose weight. Bye-bye donuts, pizza, white pasta and rice, white bread, etc. Over 2 years I lost 25 pounds and have been able to keep them off (mostly). The Abs Diet (by David Zinczenko) helped with that.

"Healthy In, Healthy Out," will focus on how paying attention to what you eat, being more mindful (see my posting on Mindfulness, 7/10/08), can help improve your mood, thinking, health, energy level, and overall productivity. I will ask you to consider some of the things I've learned about eating (and drinking) and see if they might help you. I am not a nutritionist, nor a food expert. But I know enough to be happy with the changes I've made in my eating habits, and I will offer them to you.

Here are some things to think about. Drink more water (we're mostly made of it). White carbs turn into sugar, and add a lot of calories. High fructose corn syrup, which seems to be in everything you eat and drink(read the labels) is a sweetener that adds calories that are very hard to burn off. And there's lots more. I don 't recommend any dramatic changes, but gradual lifestyle changes that will be more effective long term. For now, just think a little more about what you eat and drink.

Thank you for the blog topic suggestions I've been getting.