Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two Thousand Eleven

'Twas the night before the New Year, 2011.
I look up to the stars, up into the heavens.
I say to myself, "Do I need some New Year's resolutions?"
To keep my life on track, is that the solution?
Tradition says to come up with 10 things to do.
But I know from experience that one can get the best of you.
So I think I'll come up with a new approach this year.
1 goal with 10 baby steps shouldn't be too much to bear.
My 2011 New Year's Resolution will be,
to move into the future with Information Technology.
Including the internet, iphones, ipads, even Wii.
It does seem like a lot, OMG!
I have to lol at myself, I don 't know what I'm getting into.
Maybe step 1 is figuring out what I'll actually have to do.
But wait a minute. I can text, and e-mail. I have a lap top.
I have my own website, and I have this blog.

No, I'm not on Facebook. I've left that alone.
But I can use the video and camera on my phone.

My ipod is goovin'. I don't need the itouch.
I think that some of this stuff is just too dang much!
Maybe with IT, what I already know (and don't) is fine.
Anymore that I need, I'm sure I'll get with time.
I think for now I'll stay where I am.
In fact, I've already come up with a better plan.
I'm gonna do what I do, and work really hard at that.
I'll eat healthier, and exercise more (find my hidden abs 6-pack).
I'll be more caring and kind , even in difficult situations.
I'll listen better, be more understanding, with friends and family relations.
More vacations, more beach time, more fun when I can.
That seems like enough of a 2011 plan.
As the new year approaches join me as I prepare,
And make time to be a BETTER YOU in this Happy New Year.

For more of my seasonal rhymes, see my blog: Two Weeks Before Chistmas (12/1/09); A New Year's Jingle (12/22/08); 'Twas The Night After Christmas (12/2/07, 12/12/07).

Saturday, November 20, 2010


It's the Holidays! How you do the Holidays depends on how you were raised, and the traditions you've developed over the years. These delicious, easy to make pumpkin pancakes are a great seasonal breakfast treat. And it's healthy. But more on the pancakes later. Yes, these pancakes will be a great addition to your family holiday traditions. However, for too many families there's a family tradition that can be eliminated,: The DRAMA! We don't need it.

Individuals and families develop a lot of emotional and relational baggage in the course of a lifetime. However families can provide a lot of emotional support, and provide strength to family members (and family friends). Love and happiness should be the plan at this time of the year (and all year!), especially when people don't live nearby or you don't see them often enough. Unfortunately, people bring their baggage. We fall into old family habits that create tension, and stress during a time that we're supposed to be taking a break from that. We need to be celebrating. Focus on enjoying each other this holiday season. And enjoy some tasty, nutritious, easy Pumpkin Pancakes.

2 cups of your favorite dry pancake mix (whole wheat mix worked well)
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup canned pure pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus more for the pan
Optional Ingredients: (I didn't find the need to use these additional ingredients below. The pumpkin was sweet enough, with a strong flavor without these.)
3 Tbsp dark-brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Add the ingredients to a large bowl. Stir until mostly smooth.
2. Heat a large lightly oiled frying pan or griddle. Pour the batter onto the griddle, using approx 1/4 cup for each pancake. Cook the pancakes until bubbles form in the batter and the edges begin to brown. Then flip them and cook until the other sides are lightly browned.
3. Serve with your favorite pure maple or Agave syrup.
(this recipe was adapted from MEN'S HEALTH Magazine, Oct. 2010)
Enjoy these pumpkin pancakes this holiday season, and enjoy each other!

The "bacon" in the picture is made of soy (put out by Morningstar Farms), tasty too!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Childhood Stress (Part 2: for Teenagers)

Grown-ups are often reluctant to acknowledge that young people get stressed too. Maybe partly because grown-ups, including parents sometimes contribute to your stress. It's interesting that they can also help you relieve that stress, if they make themselves available, and listen to you without criticizing. You have to do your part, though. Learn what stresses you. For example peer pressure to do things that may not be good for you; school and tests, if you're not prepared; parents treating you like you are younger than you are, or expecting too much from you; and other things that upset you. Learn what stress does to you. It can make you sick. Make you do things without thinking them through first, or without considering the consequences (like getting into trouble). Make you mad at people that may have nothing to do with the situation. Stress can make you try to escape through drugs/alcohol or unhealthy activities. Yes, stress can be messed up. But you CAN handle it.

Before you let stress get the best of you, figure out how to handle it better. Choose your friends carefully. If you notice them bringing you down constantly or trying to pull you into situations that you know are not good for you, dump them. Take responsibility for yourself, what you say and do. Followers are more stressed. Have people in your life that you trust. They'll help you see different possible ways to deal with problems. Some parents, or other adults are good for this. Know that you are important, valuable even. So you deserve to be healthy, and happy. If you are not, DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT. Also people who think positively, are less stressed and more successful. Focus on your strengths, even though people around you may try to point out your faults. Those things that challenge you (and stress you), are opportunities for you to be stronger. You may be surprised at how good you can really be.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Childhood Stress (Part 1: for Parents)

Yes, kids do have stress. And it is important to pay attention to it for some very good reasons. Including being able to help them learn to manage it healthily. As well as helping children avoid some of the negative effects of stress, including health problems (or making health conditions worse), delinquent behavior, alcohol and drug use, poor academic performance, and other behavior problems. I would say that over 90% of the children I've treated over the past 25 years presented with problems caused or exacerbated by stress in their lives. Children react to family crises, deaths, severe illness, and other traumatic events. However, they are also effected by the stress of family conflict, peer pressure, parental rules and expectations, school work and tests, and much more. Recall the stress of our childhoods. Similar to what effects children today in society (wars, crime, etc.), amplified by the media (and 24-hour per day news reporting), computers and the Internet.

Communication with your child gives them an outlet, and an opportunity to process their thoughts and feelings with someone they trust. Learn to listen to your children starting early. Situations will stress them differently as they grow. They need to have you available to them throughout their childhood and teenage years. Otherwise, certainly by the time they're teenagers, they will look for their answers outside of the home. Look for these signs of poor stress management: tantrums or other angry outbursts, declining grades, behavior problems (at school, home or the community), frequent health problems, drug or alcohol use, bad dreams or other sleep disturbance, bed wetting. Help your child by teaching them to relax, get exercise, eat and drink right, develop diverse interests, develop good study habits, learn to consider the consequences of their behavior, be age appropriately responsible for what they do and say. Of course, if you manage your stress well, and value the importance of stress management, you will be a good role model.

Next posting: Childhood Stress (Part 2: For Teenagers)

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I was surprised when I noticed that I had written very little on this subject over the past 3 years of doing this blog. As a people, we think about it a lot (even triggered sometimes by tv commercials). We get involved in sexual fantasies and secrets. But we don't talk about it with our partners as much as we should. I don't want to generalize, but we are often reluctant to talk about it with the person we should feel closest to, and likely are (or should be) having sex with. Even in therapy sessions I find that it's difficult for people to address this subject, though it may be contributing to the problem(s) they've come in to resolve. I will sometimes teach people the words to use (and not use) to describe various aspects of sex.

Why is it important to be able to talk about sex? Well, it is an enjoyable, intimate part of a relationship. Usually the participants care about each other, and should be able to talk about any issue that involves them. It is an intense physical, and deeply emotional act, that sometimes doesn't work so well for a variety of reasons. In some cases, open and honest communication about this activity would require people to depend less on medicines, drugs, and alcohol in order to perform well. Perhaps if people were having enjoyable sex more with each other they would argue less, and cooperate more in other areas of their lives. Communicate better. Trust each other more.

My most important point here is about improving communication in a relationship, whether you are having sex or not. There are many other enjoyable aspects of happy relationships. If there are ANY areas of your relationship that cause you distress, or you are not as happy as you want (and deserve) to be, TALK ABOUT IT!

One more thing. By the time your child becomes a teenager, you should have had the "birds and bees talk." The updated version which includes a discussion of the value of abstinence, STD's, and contraception. If you can't do it, get some help with it.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Linda says this is TOO EASY to make. And I can tell you it tastes great, especially as a healthy snack or nutritious side dish at your summer barbecue. We first tried it this past July 4th at my brother's house. His wife Lidia made it. A few days later a friend of ours, Cindy, gave us a few bags of mangoes from her mango tree. Perfect timing! Give it a try, it's easier than it looks.



1 large Mango (skin removed), chopped pieces

1 Avocado (skin removed), chopped

1 can Hearts of Palm

1/4 cup Lime Juice


Add the ingredients together in a serving bowl. This recipe serves 2 - 4 people. Increase the ingredients to serve more people.

[Be sure to check out our Easier-Than-It-Looks Mango bread recipe (posted 9/12/08).]

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day Thoughts

Another Father's Day rolls around, and I think about the many children out there who would love for their Dad to be happy about being their father. Too many children, and adults too, feel bad that their father seems to not want them nor care about them. That is a shame. Aside from the burden that it places on mother, grandparents, and other caretakers, often the child feels rejected. Like there is something wrong with them that caused dad to leave their life. Often, they grow into adults who have gone through life feeling that they are deficient in some way. Moms and the others who have taken the responsibility on themselves do a great job of compensating for the absence of a male parent. However, children need a (healthy) male role model in their lives for many reasons. Research suggests that children who have an active father (and mother) in their lives generally grow up to be healthier, ie. do better in school, get better jobs, commit less crime, use drugs less, and have healthier and happier relationships. Boys, specifically, need to learn from their father how to be a healthy male adult. Don't get me wrong. When they have to, Moms do a great job of parenting without Dads, and have for years. But the absence of a relationship with a father who is still alive has long lasting effects on the child, that have nothing to do with the mother. And if dad chooses to not be involved (hopefully, he's at least sending child support payments), it can be very helpful to have other healthy males (ie. relatives, friends, and when necessary a counselor) available to your child. Your child needs to be acknowledged and appreciated by both gender parent-figures, even in single gender parent homes.

So Happy Father's Day to those Dad's who are involved (even if you got involved late), and to you Mom's who deserve a second day of celebration if you've been doing twice the parenting job.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


OK, so there are some good reasons to be angry. Just turn on the news. However, some people are too angry too much of the time. They seem to have an angry personality. As if nothing, and no one lives up to THEIR standards. Their kids will never get good enough grades. Their employee will never get enough work done. Their spouse has so many flaws you wonder how they could be together for so many years! People need to be more tolerant, patient, compassionate, and yes, more LOVING.

I do a lot of work with people who have anger management problems. Either they express anger too aggressively (sometimes resulting in violence); or they don't express it enough (sometimes resulting in depression). You can fix that (see my posting of 9/14/07, Anger Management). I'm concerned here with people who just seem angry at the world, and don't realize it's a problem. This can be the result of too much stress for too long. And/or depression. Maybe a sad, frustrating life. Sometimes having experienced a lot of hurt. Often they are alone, because people don't enjoy being around them. Take a real look at how you relate to people. Do they disappoint you too much? Could YOU be described as "mean" sometimes? Start today being nicer to people. You will be happier (and what have you got to lose?).

Anger is a normal emotion. Express it in a healthy way. It's best to respond to situations that trigger your anger when it happens (if possible). [REMINDER: Yelling, and demeaning the person is not a healthy way of expressing your frustration.] Then move on. Get over it! Use your anger to accomplish something productive, for example get motivated to resolve a relationship problem or fix a work situation, improve your performance (as in a game or sport).

Don't be a hater!

1/2-MARATHON (in Philadelphia) THIS PAST WEEKEND!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I've been talking to people lately about the benefits of developing a "Plan B" as a backup to plans that they may have in place. You know, just in case things don't work out the way you would have liked for them to. It is sometimes really hard to do. We often feel that if we think about other options, then we're not having enough confidence in our "Plan A," and won't put enough energy and motivation into making that work. That we're sabotaging ourselves. No. It really is better to have as many options available to you as possible. Allow yourself to be creative, to think outside the box. When possible consider Plans A, B, and C. So if there are goals that you have, for example in personal relationships, your job and career, your family, investments, develop a backup plan, so you don't feel lost if things don't go the way you planned.

Now, I realize that this is all based on the idea that you plan at all. Perhaps I should be talking about how important it is to plan in the first place. Of course if you don't have plans, a direction, or goals then it's hard to know where you're headed. And the more you are able to visualize what you want/need to have in your life, then the more likely you are to attain that. The more we focus on past unattained goals, failures (which we've all had), or obstacles in our lives, the more we'll repeat those errors. Look forward. Make a plan, then make a back up plan (Plan B). Remember: IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN, THEN YOU PLAN TO FAIL.


Sunday, March 21, 2010


"Patience is a virtue." Our parents used to say that when we were kids. Trying to get us to slow down, not to need things so immediately. It seems like many of us didn't learn from that. In fact we've even abbreviated the phrase, now it's "chill out." We rush here. We rush there. Not only do people speed around in their cars, but also can't wait until they get home to make that phone call. Or even wait to write that letter they want to send, so they're texting while they drive (read my posting of 09/16/08, Don't Text While Driving). OMG! Slow down.

Our need for immediate gratification sometimes causes us problems. We rush through relationships. People are "falling in love" before they know each other for a few months, sometimes even before they meet thanks to the internet (for more on the need for patience in relationships, read my posting of 5/11/07, Make It Through The Night, To Make It To Better Days). And we've learned a lot about the health hazards of "fast" food, and those "crash" diets. The hurried life style also contributes to a lot of anxiety. We worry so much about what's going to happen in the future that we miss out on enjoying the present. So whenever you're feeling rushed, or worried about tomorrow, take a deep breath, and acknowledge your life in the here and now. Be mindful of the good things in your life now ( see Turn Off The Lights, from 7/10/08 for more on mindfulness). In fact, don't rush off right now to do the next thing you have planned. Take a few minutes to appreciate your life. Remember: Good things come to those who wait!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Love Yourself Too (This Valentine's Day)

[Taken from Louise L. Hay's 2010 calendar: You Can Heal Your Life]

When we really love and accept and approve of ourselves exactly as we are, then everything in life works. It's as if little miracles are everywhere. Our health improves, we attract more money, our relationships become much more fulfilling, and we begin to express ourselves in creatively fulfilling ways. All this seems to happen without even trying.

Loving and approving of yourself, creating a space of safety, trusting and deserving and accepting, will create organization in your mind, create more loving relationships in your life, attract a new job and a new and better place to live, and even allow your body weight to normalize. People who love themselves and their bodies neither abuse themselves nor others.

Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives.


(for some ideas about that go to my posting of 2/12/09, "Go Ahead Be A Valentine")

Sunday, January 10, 2010

YOU ASKED FOR IT: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

One of my readers suggested this topic, " How do you know when to end a relationship?" I'm surprised I haven't spoken on this before. I guess that's because my intention is for relationships to work out. However, sometimes they don't, and then it's time to split. Let me first say that if you are in a relationship in which you are being mistreated, and forgiveness isn't a realistic option ( see my posting of 10/1/07, Forgiveness ), you should consider ending it sooner rather than later.

Most relationships that you choose start out being fun, but too often they go bad. You do want to get to know the person as well as possible before committing yourself to them. However, as soon as you see it's not working out the way you want/need for it to you have to take action. The sooner the better. Talk about what you see happening. The two of you commit to making some changes, even if you're partner is happy with the way things are. If you are not happy in the relationship, then something is wrong that the TWO of you have to fix. You are not responsible for your partner's happiness. We are responsible for our own feelings. However you are responsible for, and have made a commitment to the relationship, and to making it work FOR BOTH OF YOU. You're both responsible, 50 - 50 (mostly), for what happens in the relationship. And you, individually, give 100% to making it work.

Many people say they've done "everything" thing they could, "tried everything," and it still doesn't work. Before splitting, try counseling. Another perspective on the relationship can help you see how you're both still contributing to the problems. Usually it's bad habits that the two of you have developed with each other, that continue to undermine your efforts. I often suggest that the couple identify 2 or 3 things about your partner that you like and want them to keep doing; a couple of things that you don't like and want them to stop doing; and a few things that you want them to start doing. Choose 1 in each category to start working on. Choose a time frame, maybe 3 to 6 months, to see some effort and change. Determine that at the end of that period, if things are still not working, that you consider changing the relationship, for example trial separation or something more permanent. Of course, during that time you want to communicate as much as possible, without arguing (after all what's the use in arguments at this point), about progress (or lack thereof) that you see. Progress should include improved communication and trust (two of the biggest complaints I hear from couples), improved expression of love (see my blog of 9/22/07. All You Need Is Love), and improved feelings of happiness and optimism.

If you decide to split, it should be with mutual agreement. Especially if you have kids, you want to be able to maintain a healthy co-parenting relationship. I have seen, and continue to see parents who are angry and antagonistic towards each other be unaware of the damage being done to their kids (even though it is obvious). That is very sad. A happy relationship is the best thing you can have in your life. You deserve to have it. Do what you need to do to fix yours, or find the right one.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I'm sure you're thinking that I have come up with a new way to get you to promise to do some things in 2010 that you really won't be able to do. No. I'm not. I believe that resolutions, promises you make to yourself (and sometimes others) and then usually break, are not what I want us to do this year. That has become a bad habit that we've developed, that gets triggered by the New Year. Also, I heard on the news that 35% of people make New Years resolutions (I'm sure more than that at least think about making a few), and only 8% keep them. That stinks! So I'm going to suggest, NO resolutions this year, go ahead and live your life.
I am continuing to encourage you to think (some) about the choices you make, and the short and long term effects of your actions. Of course we don't feel great about all of the decisions that we make, but make them CONSCIOUSLY. That would mean not automatically lighting a cigarette as soon as you get in the car. Think about it first. The same with having that last drink "for the road" before leaving your friends' house. It means thinking about what you're doing, when you allow your partner or your kids to talk disrespectfully to you. Also not just automatically being rude (or mean) to someone, especially someone you love.

This approach to life helps you be more responsible for your behavior. No more, "I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking." You won't have to feel like: "Wow, I gained those extra 20 pounds before I knew it." You'll know. You will also be more aware, more focused, and I think more confident as you make things happen in your life. You'll be happier with yourself, and the people that you choose to spend your time with. So I would say for 2010, to Live Your Life! Have a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year, if you choose to.

Look what we did...