Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This isn't the "Night Before Christmas," that story is old.
How to prepare for that night is what needs to be told.

By the night before Christmas, your work will be done.
So your Holiday time can be loads of fun.

It's 2 weeks before, you're still doing your shopping.
Count your pennies, and know when you should be stopping.

Stress tends to build as it gets closer to that Day,
And we give into it in a lot of unhealthy ways.

We eat and drink more, have less patience, get into fights.
Well get a grip, take a breath, this year do it right.

Let the spirit of the Season take a hold of you now.
Love and compassion, peace in your life, you should allow.

So go ahead, these next weeks, give a gift of love to your friends.
Offer family members forgiveness now, not after the season ends.

The holidays are also a time we remember people we've lost.
And the sadness it brings makes us feel worse.

Well acknowledge those feelings, but don't get stuck in the pain. Celebrate their life, enjoy good memories that remain.

During these 2 weeks before Christmas take stock of your blessings.
Don't get caught up in the materialism, and the need to buy things.

Prepare yourself and your family to enjoy the celebration.
And start the New Year with joy and jubilation.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Thanksgiving is a time of family, friends, football (no basketball this year, sad), and EATING.  Here are a couple of easy and tasty recipes to accompany your turkey (or Tofurkey ) meal.  Linda's preparing ORIGINAL GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE.    For dessert, along with the pies, are TRADITIONAL PEANUT BUTTER KISS COOKIES.  Yummy.

Original Green Bean Casserole
2  (16 oz) Cans of cut green beans, drained or 2 pkgs. frozen cut green beans, cooked and drained
3/4  cup milk (I prefer almond milk, but it depends on your taste)
1   (10 3/4 oz) Can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/8 Tsp. of black pepper
1    Can French Fried Onions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In medium bowl, combine beans, milk, soup, pepper, and 1/2 can of fried onions; pour into 1 1/2 qt casserole.  Bake uncovered, at 350, for 30 mins.  Top with remaining onions; bake uncovered, 5 mins. or until onions are golden brown.  

Traditional Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

1    Cup sugar 
1    Cup peanut butter
1    egg
18  milk chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine sugar, peanut butter, and egg.  Shape into 1 inch balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet. NOTE:  If dough is too sticky, refrigerate 1/2 hour or until easy to handle.  Bake for 10 mins.  Remove cookies from oven.  Press a chocolate kiss into the center of each warm cookie.

Enjoy the holiday.  Remember our goal to minimize the drama on holidays (No More Holiday Drama, 8/31/11; Drama Is A Drug, 10/25/09).  HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

OCCUPY YOUR MIND (no politics)

A couple of weeks ago my wife and I participated in the "Occupy Ft. Lauderdale" demonstration in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.  It turned out to be a lot of fun (I think that's the word), for several reasons.  Political beliefs aside, it felt good to have an outlet for some of the anger I've felt during this difficult economic time.  It was exciting to be a part of a real cause, and feel like my voice was being heard, in a movement that represents most Americans.  It was thrilling for drivers to ride by beeping their horns and encouraging the group of a couple of hundred people.  "No comment" on the guys that gave us the finger (though that was kind of funny).  I was energized.

Those of you who are feeling blah about your life sometimes need to find some things to energize you.  My suggestion, based on my recent experiences, is to find something that you believe in and participate in it.  It's especially invigorating if there are other people involved.  Something about a group of people all directing a positive energy towards something they all believe in magnifies the individual energy that you feel.  Religious activities demonstrate that.  Concerts.  The feelings that are generated trigger the release of hormones (and other chemicals in the brain) that make you feel good.

Other activities to occupy your mind with include volunteering, charity work, giving to and helping others.  So, in addition to your exercise, hobbies, healthy relationships, this is a way to expand your interests and enjoy life more.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


In preparation for Labor Day I thought it important to revisit this very important topic. I have written about it before (see my posting of 10/25/09, Drama Is A Drug), but believe it or not there continues to be so much unnecessary drama.  So I want to start a movement.  Let there be NO DRAMA on holidays.  This is good because holidays are supposed to be a time for celebration, relaxation, and fun.  It's the time of the year that family and friends get together to enjoy each other. And this is the beginning of holiday season. Unfortunately some of the worst, most dramatic drama happens at these gatherings.  One of the reasons for that is because old family issues resurface, and we can tend to act like angry, entitled teenagers.  Let's plan to break that pattern.  

Let's start this Labor Day.  Many of us are going to have picnics or barbecue and have people over.  Let them all know that there will be no arguments, no putting others down, no gossip (even about people who are not there), no pointing out mistakes that people make or weird outfits (or hairdos) that they have.  And this definitely applies to the kids.  Don't bring up their past behavior problems, school issues, or even chastise them in front of other people.  Also emphasize to them that they're not to bring any drama either, or they won't be able to share in the fun.

Some people may need reminders, because the real Drama Kings and Queens may not even be aware of how much drama they bring.  In fact, you should have a special chat with them before the gathering. And, if someone can't contain their drama after several private reminders, you may have to ask them to leave.  

At the end of the day you will feel less stressed (these gatherings are stressful enough without unnecessary problems).  You and your guests will have had a much more enjoyable time.  Everyone will look forward to the next holiday to spend together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Live Your Life

All of us have rules, or values, or ways of thinking about life that guide us forward. Too often there are fears, and old scars that interfere with doing things that might make us happier, or benefit us in some way. They hold us back. I say, LIVE YOUR LIFE. I mean that you should stop and think about what would make you happy in your life (if you don't already have that), and examine why it is that you are not moving closer to your objectives. For now, let's eliminate the obvious external limitations, like the economy, and the various responsibilities (job, parenting, etc.) that we have. I am referring more to the internal limitations that we allow. And for the most part, we have made choices that require the responsibilities we have.

For example: A middle-aged woman has had a job for 15 years, where she mostly worked out of the office, or at home. Loves her job. They're expanding, and she is the best candidate to travel to near-by cities to set up new offices. A great opportunity for her. She's afraid of flying. She gets anxious. Won't fly. Makes up excuses to her boss. Loses her job.

A man, a little older, has been with his wife for 22 years. He's had suspicions that she has been cheating on him for the past 3 years. He loves her. He doesn't believe in divorce (his parents stayed together in spite of problems they had), and is afraid to be alone. He's getting depressed.

There are many more examples of people not making choices that would improve their happiness because of fears, or beliefs that we have, many of which were developed in childhood. This includes people not pursuing career opportunities, avoiding new relationships (or staying in unhealthy, or even dangerous relationships), or tolerating otherwise intolerable life situations. Resolve whatever issues are interfering with your happiness. Often people are not aware of the obstacles that are causing them to remain stuck. Challenge yourself. Take a real look at your life, and notice what aspects of your life (big and small) you are not happy with. Consider what's holding you back, and start to take some action. Often when we confront fears, or identify values/beliefs that no longer apply to our current life situation, we can take a small step towards overcoming those obstacles. Unburden yourself (or get some help). LIVE YOUR LIFE.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


For many of us Monday is the most stressful day of the week, especially at work. We start to anticipate it and stress about it on Sunday night. It's automatic, a habit we've developed over years and years of Monday stressing. I think we can't make it a stressless day, but I know we can learn to stress less.

What's important is to change the way we think about Mondays. This may be hard because EVERYBODY seems to expect Mondays to be bad. What we focus on and anticipate often become real (especially negative anticipation). For example, if you expect to have a bad day you usually do. Let's start by anticipating 1 good thing to happen on Monday. Then plan it and make it happen. It will be something positive to look forward to.

Plan a special lunch, dinner, or other activity after work. Find 1 small thing to do differently at work, maybe make a bothersome office relationship more enjoyable (or just less annoying). Once you set your mind to changing how you experience the day, maybe Monday can be Fun Day. Ok, that may be asking a bit too much. But at least you can stress less.

Find other Stress Less Monday tips on our Facebook page

Sunday, May 8, 2011

School's Out Soon. What To Do...

The happiest day of my life used to be the last day of school. I can't be specific, but I'm sure I learned a lot during my summer vacations, mostly in Cape May, New Jersey (much different than summer in NY City). Plan some of what you want your children to learn this summer, and structure it. For example, if your child's had difficulty calling out in class (or other attention seeking), have them practice controlling that impulse at home a few times per week . And make it rewarding. If he can sit in the kitchen (maybe while you're doing something there), for 30 minutes (two 15 minute segments) and practice raising his hand and waiting for you to 'call' on him, he gets a special privilege. Let him practice relaxation breathing (see my post of 3/1/11, Take A Moment... Breathe...) to learn to control his impulses during this exercise.

There are a lot of things our kids can learn during this time off. In addition to reading, and practicing math problems (for a few minutes daily), you can help them learn good studying habits, less defiance, controlling whining and tantrums, to eat more healthily, improve social skills. I know, it's not sounding like fun, yet. These practice sessions can be fun for the child, especially if you're practicing your new and improved 'special rewards' system(s). But your fun really comes when you are less stressed by not getting phone calls from her teachers, or improved grades, better behavior, your child's improved self-esteem. If there are particularly stubborn bad behavior habits that you and your child haven't had time to address during the busy school year, now's the time to get some help with it. In some cases kids who have been working on issues in counseling during the school year, take a vacation from the work during the summer. Often the old habits return when school (and the school stress) starts again. By all means, the summer break should be an enjoyable time for your family, use it wisely.

Monday, January 24, 2011


No matter which team you want to win the Super Bowl (my team is out of it), you will want to serve your guests tasty foods that are easy to make (and possibly healthy!). I have here a yummy Artichoke Dip that our neighbors made every year for our building Christmas party. Here's the Easier-Than-It-Looks Recipe.



2 15 Oz. cans unmarinated artichoke hearts

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise

2 cups parmesan cheese (grated)

Preparation Instructions:

Drain the artichoke hearts and shred into small pieces. Place in a casserole dish. Mix in mayonnaise, then parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve hot with crackers or bread of your choice.

That was easy!

A couple of other dishes that you might want to serve are Touchdown Taco Dip (see my posting of 7/19/08), and Lisa's Satisfying Spinach Balls (see my posting of 5/26/08). ENJOY THE GAME!

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Elevate your level of Positivity! Really. That's one of my goals this year. And I am sure that this will increase my success and happiness this year. Yours too (I mean, if you do it). Now, as you know I'm already a pretty positive person. And I do feel that I've reaped some of the benefits of that. But there is always room for improvement. By Positivity, I mean, in what we think, say and do. It mostly includes optimism (anticipating good outcomes in the future), positive thinking (focusing more on the good things in life, ie. seeing the glass as half full, rather than half-empty), and hope (a general sense that we can be happy in our lives). The cost of doing this is minimal, and the benefits are enormous.

Optimism about the future is the opposite of worrying about what's going to happen. When you anticipate positive outcomes you live life more confidently, more assertively. For example, if you are optimistic about the outcome of a job interview, or a new relationship, you tend to be more relaxed, more self-assured, and ultimately more successful. What you focus on tends to play itself out in your life. I am not suggesting that you walk around in denial, and have unrealistic expectations. However, you can at least balance your thoughts of the negative possibilities with thoughts of positive opportunities. Little to lose, and lots to gain.

Positive Thinking is taking note of the positive things in life, at least as much as you give attention to negative things in life. When offered the choice of focusing on the fullness of "the glass" (ie. half empty or half full), we often tend to focus on what's missing. For example, our kids come home with A's, B's and C's on their report card, and we spend more time chastising them for the A's they didn't get, rather than showing our appreciation for the A's they did earn. It has become our nature. When it's cold we miss the heat, and when it's hot we complain and wish it were cooler. Of course I exaggerate. But there are at least as many positive things about life, as there are negative. I know some of the negatives seem to take over our lives sometimes, and it usually has more drama associated with it. But the positives about ourselves and the people we care about, will enhance our lives and relationships. It will help us appreciate the people and things that we have, as opposed to missing, and yearning for the things (and relationships) that we don't have. There's a lot of happiness to gain from that.

Overall, I see hope as the most valuable asset. It seems to me to be a deeper, more spiritual level of positivity. It includes positive thinking and optimism about life in general and what to expect for the future. Hope is knowing that goodness is right, and that what is right will ultimately win out. So, for example, the wars that we shouldn't be fighting will end. People who are hungry will be able to eat. It requires a bit of denial, so we can continue to expect that the bad times will pass. A lot of people deal with hopelessness. Do not stay there too long. THERE ARE THINGS TO BE HOPEFUL ABOUT. Have some friends help you figure that out, even if you've had some losses.

Elevating your level of positivity this year will elevate your life.