6.30.2011

Foodies Out There

Read Barry Estabrook's Gourmet article on modern-day slavery in Florida’s Tomato Fields, Winner of the James Beard Award, Politics of the Plate . And another selected article, The Greens of Wrath 

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More die in the United States from too much food than from too little
~John Kenneth Galbraith 

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The Breast Milk Cure, New York Times, June 22, 2011
"In the United States, about 13 percent of babies are exclusively breast-fed for six months, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
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Healthy Dining...check out the menu before you get to there.

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~We Become What We Receive~

6.27.2011

How to Recognize and Respond to Suicide Warning Signs in Friends and Family


With the recent homicide/suicides of three families in San Diego County, it is important to discuss ways to recognize when a friend or family member is suffering with thoughts of suicide. In the cases most recently publicized within San Diego, the parents had taken their lives as well as the lives of their children. How could a parent do this to his/her own child? While I have no personal knowledge of these specific cases, my experience and education tells me that these families had been in crisis for quite some time. Below are some helpful ways that you might respond to warning signs of suicide.

Many people feel a stigma in discussing their feelings of hopelessness and despair. Money issues, the loss of a job, a recent death or divorce, may be the final straw that sends someone over the edge. If your friend or family member begins to give away special items or appears suddenly giddy or happy, these are signs that your friend has possibly decided to end his life. Any recent decisions that seem impulsive or out of the ordinary are strong warning signs.
If there are children (under the age of 18) in the home, you may make an anonymous phone call to Child Protective Services to express your concern. The family will not "get in trouble" and your name will not be revealed. Your call for help will not "tip the scales" to put your friend over the edge. Quite the opposite - this will be the beginning of aid and assistance to the concerned party and his family.

Imagine the tragedy of those recently killed by their parents. If only the parent had known that help is available...there is medication to change the brain chemistry and provide a mental respite. There are ways to recover from financial loss. Heartbreaks and rejections are devastating but not worth ending your life or the life of your child.
Questions to ask your friend include, "Have you thought of harming yourself?" Do not be afraid to ask this! Many people won't ask because they think they might plant the seed. Not at all, in fact, quite the opposite.
If they respond in the affirmative, follow up with another helpful question, "How might you do that?" Again, be brave and forge ahead. This conversation may be just the conversational opening that your loved one has been praying for...it's a wonderfully courageous message that you can tolerate the truth and that you care!

What other steps can be taken? If you are concerned about a co-worker or family member, recruit other people who also care about the suicidal person. Organize a group sit-down (with your friend and discuss your concerns. You can do some internet research and formulate a list of free mental health counselors and agencies who can treat your friend; provide him the list with numbers. Suggest you'll go along with him to make the visit easier.

Suicide attempts are most "successful" when attempted by middle aged males. If the individual has tried to commit suicide before, they are at greater risk for succeeding at their next attempt. Sometimes drugs or alcohol play a role, or the individual has suffered from depression for years, becoming more and more isolated and emotionally disconnected, now unable to ask for help or reach out to the mental health community. Isolated lifestyles, in combination with great access to medications, also contribute to the aged population's increased risk of completing suicide.

Cultural considerations are also at play. Some cultures frame "asking for help" as shameful and humiliating. In this case, it may be very helpful to use the friend's cultural leaders or professionals as a liaison to communicate your concerns (religious figure, elder, etc). Do not worry about keeping threats of suicide confidential. This is an unreasonable request from your loved one -  "Don't tell anyone that I'm talking about killing myself" - that's one secret that must not be kept.

Factors that lower the probability of suicide which may put your concerns at ease; caregiving responsibility of another person or pet ownership. Pets keep people alive and give human beings meaning. Also, any pending event, such as a wedding or milestone birthday, are also positive signs that your loved one wants to "hang in there."

As a safety measure, if your loved one has weapons in the home, he may be willing to temporarily place them elsewhere until clear thinking returns, another good sign that there is hope that things will improve.

In San Diego County, there is always access to free mental health services. Lack of income, employment, or insurance is not enough of a reason to avoid seeking counseling. Research shows that just one person can make the difference between another person's decision to attempt suicide or not. If you are a family member or friend of someone appearing in great distress, please share your concerns with others as soon as possible.
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
  • NAMI San Diego Family & Peer Support Helpline
    (619) 543-1434 or 1-800-523-5933
  • Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room
  • Call your physician, health provider or clergy
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness
    www.nami.org 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • It's Up to San Diego, read more about suicide prevention, 24/7 assistance
  • Resources for LGBT
 *****
confidential email 
 *
Stigma erodes confidence that mental disorders are real, treatable health
conditions. We have allowed stigma and a now unwarranted sense of
hopelessness to erect attitudinal, structural and financial barriers to effective
treatment and recovery. It is time to take these barriers down
 *
Mental illnesses usually strike individuals in the prime of their lives, often during
adolescence and young adulthood. All ages are susceptible, but the young and the
old are especially vulnerable.
 *
Without treatment the consequences of mental illness for the individual and
society are staggering: unnecessary disability, unemployment, substance abuse,
homelessness, inappropriate incarceration, suicide and wasted lives; The
economic cost of untreated mental illness is more than 100 billion dollars each
year in the United States.
 *
The best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective;
between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms
and improved quality of life with a combination of pharmacological and
psychosocial treatments and supports.
 ~

6.26.2011

Two Sunday Funnies...Creepy and Mysterious

 

Super Cool Creep Factor Here

 *****

(such as, Does your heart stop when you sneeze? What is freezer burn?)
 

6.25.2011

Yellow Deli, Vista, Ca


Yellow Deli in Vista, Ca. 
I heard about this funky restaurant ("great soups and salads".)
I havent been yet but wanna check out the co-op mentality of harmony and fresh farmer's produce at work. Gotta support something out of the box!

*****

with Your Kids (these are cool!) 

 *****

"Best Tuna Casserole"
Courtesy of Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tuna, drained
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 (4.5 ounce) can sliced mushrooms
  • 1 cup crushed potato chips

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta in boiling water for 8 to 10 minutes, or until al dente; drain.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  3. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix noodles, onion, 1 cup cheese, peas, tuna, soup and mushrooms. Transfer to a 9x13 inch baking dish, and top with potato chip crumbs and remaining 1 cup cheese.
  4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheese is bubbly. 

6.24.2011

How to Avoid Criticism


How To Avoid Criticism:
Say Nothing
Do Nothing
Be Nothing

6.23.2011

Veterans Village of San Diego (VVSD) Needs Volunteers and Clothing for StandDown



Veterans Village of San Diego:
Friday, June 24, 2011 from 6 AM – 3 PM: 
Drive Thru Clothing Drive - donate gently used clothing (especially denim jeans in XL, XXL sizes), new men’s and women’s underwear, gently used shoes, socks, bath towels, razors, shaving cream, tooth brushes, toothpaste, combs and deodorant.
Donate in person at - 4141 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, 92110. 
For more information, please call (619) 497-0142.

Volunteers Wanted! 
Help sort donated clothing in preparation for Stand Down. 
Sorting conducted - June 24, 2011 from 6 AM – 3PM, and June 25, July 1 & July 2 from 9 AM – 3 PM.   

Please call Jill at (858) 499-4051 or (858) 922-0660 for more information or to volunteer.
***** 
 It is the most beautiful moment in one´s life when there is neither confusion nor certainty. One simply is — a mirror reflecting that which is. With no direction to go anywhere, with no idea of doing something, with no future— just utterly in the moment, tremendously in the moment." Osho

6.22.2011

Viktor Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning

Re-reading Man's Search For Meaning...The autobiographical account of Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, a prominent psychiatrist imprisoned in Auschwitz. The writing is powerful because of Frankl's spiritual perceptions of his experience. Ultimately, it's his deep understanding of human psychology that makes his inhumane years live-able. I recommend this book, not because it's heavy and thoughtful, but because it is the essence of positive mental attitude. In fact, it could be touted as a Salesman's handbook, a simple book on relationships, a text on human psychology, or the how-to's of gratitude.
What a man, what a life.

"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
"...the story of the young woman whose death I witnessed in a concentration camp. It is a simple story. There is little to tell and it may sound as if I had invented it; but to me it seems like a poem. This young woman knew that she would die in the next few days. But when I talked to her she was cheerful in spite of this knowledge. "I am grateful that fate has hit me so hard," she told me. "In my former life I was spoiled and did not take spiritual accomplishments seriously." Pointing through the window of the hut, she said, "This tree here is the only friend I have in my loneliness." Through that window she could see just one branch of a chestnut tree, and on the branch were two blossoms. "I often talk to this tree," she said to me. I was startled and didn't quite know how to take her words. Was she delirious? Did she have occasional hallucinations? Anxiously I asked her if the tree replied. "Yes." What did it say to her? She answered, "It said to me, 'I am here-I am here-I am life, eternal life.'" p.69

6.19.2011

U.S. Life Expectancy's - Americans Are Living Shorter Lives, Ranked in 38th Place.

 

Women live 5 years longer than men but average U.S. life expectancies are reversing for both genders.
The U.S. prides itself on "the best health care in the world" yet, the statistics don't back this assumption any longer.
For the first time in decades - we are living shorter lives. We rank 38, which means 37 countries have citizens that live longer, and living longer is a sign of better health.
Virgin Islands and Costa Rica have better life expectancies than American citizens. 

Mississippi has the worst life expectancy in the country, worse than Honduras, Peru, the Philippines and Brazil. 
Many ideas about the American way of life can be challenged from this thorough research presented by the University of Washington: Good water? More vaccinations? Abundance of food? Wealthiest country in the world?
Maybe it all boils down to one ugly word...diabetes.
 
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While working with a family recently in their attempt to place an aging mom with Parkinson's Disease, we referred to this page as a resource.


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6.18.2011

Oceanside Museum - Beatles Photography Exhibit, Best Music of 2011, Weekend Activities




Come Together at OMA this summer; a special exhibition
of Beatles photography from the

VPV Photography Collection will be
on view June 11-19,
Beatles: I Saw the Photograph 

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Looking for New Music?
Check out NPR's Best Music of 2011's first half

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1 FREE TACO at PRIMO FOODS! Mention NCT Get It! 1535 W. Vista Way or 606 Morse St/Oside ONLY Exp. 6/23/11. Limit 1 760-724-1483

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COTTONWOOD CREEK ENVIRONMENTAL FILM SERIES June 23rd 2011 Sunset-9:00pm in Downtown Encinitas www.encintas101.com

The Cottonwood Creek Environmental Film Series is organized annually by the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association (DEMA), in order to help promote downtown Encinitas and to raise environmental awareness. The series consists of three monthly film screenings at the new Pacific Station plaza, 687 S. Coast Hwy 101. All film screenings are free and take place from sunset to 9:00 pm. Whole Foods Market will be popping organic popcorn- free for all film attendees! Roll up on or in anything besides a gasoline car for a free raffle ticket. Ride a bike, skateboard, strap on your blades, use your feet, charge an electric car or get creative. (Sorry, but hybrid vehicles do not count.) Bring your own beach chair because seating is limited. 
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We just got a new toy in our home. A chin-up bar, ($19.95) at the local Rite Aid. It pops in and out of the doorway frame. So far, we can all do more pull-ups than we could do last week.


6.17.2011

Vanguard's War Crimes Special on PTSD, Colorado Springs, and Incarcerated Veterans

Nearly a third of the two million soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Alarmingly, they are bringing the violence back home in increasing numbers, committing crimes that range from rape to assault to murder. In "War Crimes," premiering Wednesday, July 7 at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Current TV, Vanguard correspondent Kaj Larsen travels the U.S. to get firsthand accounts from PTSD sufferers now behind bars, and explores ways in which the justice system is dealing with the issue.
In Arizona and Oregon, Larsen goes in depth with two former soldiers, both incarcerated for PTSD-related violent crimes. He also travels to Colorado Springs, Colorado, the center of the PTSD controversy due to the city’s extensive military presence. There, Larsen interviews key army leaders, local attorneys (both prosecution and defense) and a local reporter (named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his investigative reporting on the issue) to explore the link between PTSD and violent crimes committed by soldiers.
While in Colorado, Larsen also looks at The Veteran’s Court, which takes a different approach, considering a soldier’s medical history and service background, along with the crime in question, to determine sentences that focus more on treatment than on incarceration.


Current TV to Explore PTSD-Violence Linkage Among Combat Vets
526px-afsoc_weathermen.jpgSome stories of servicemen returned home from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are inspiring and uplifting to the point where it feels as though they write themselves. Even when having experienced the horror and hazards of war presents lingering physical and emotional challenges to the combat veteran’s return to civilian life, we’re able to celebrate acts of compassion for those less fortunate and displays of remarkable endurance undertaken in an effort to raise the public profile of the challenges the returned veteran faces.
Vanguard, an investigative report airing on Current TV, may be expected with tonight’s episode entitled War Crimes to deliver precious little in the way of a feel-good depiction of the experiences of an increasing number of our combat veterans. Read more

Colorado Springs is PTSD Central

PTSD, historically referred to as Shell Shock or Combat Fatigue, is a common news heading these days. Of those who serve our country, about 10% will show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Read more here on my website if you'd like education of signs and symptoms, treatment strategies, and contact information. www.christinaneumeyer.com.ptsd

6.16.2011

How to Find a Job, for Older Adults, PBI Exercises






"These are the new leads. These are the Glengarry leads. And to you they're gold, and you don't get them. Why? Because to give them to you would be throwing them away. They're for closers."
~Glengarry Glen Ross

For older job-seekers, check out this From Bedlam to Boardroom, How to Get a Derailed Executive Career Back on Track, by Colleen Aylward. Two friends of mine have recently found great resources in this book, in addition to the amazing offer from the author. When possible, she has kindly allowed a free 30 minute phone consultation (she's a head hunter as well).

Tips in the book include:
  • changing your email addy from aol to gmail (more current)
  • referring to your experience as "my work" instead of "my industry"
  • becoming social media-savvy (get Linkedin)
  • be adaptable
  • be found
  • utilize your non-employment experience, i.e. volunteerism, at-home tasks such as caring for an elder or children.
And, here are some Performance Based Interviewing (PBI) Questions to wet your whistle and get you warmed up for the interviewing process.
  • Describe a situation in which you had to use your communication skills in presenting complex information. How did you determine whether your message was received? (With the original question you are assuming the person did understand.)
  • Share with me an example of an important personal goal that you set, and explain how you accomplished it.
  • Lead me through a decision-making process on a major project you’ve completed.
  • Have you ever had many different tasks given to you at the same time? How did you manage these?
  • Give an example of a time you had to make a difficult decision.

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Job Central San Diego

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Biotech Future Hinges On Grade School Education


— More than 100,000 people in California are directly or indirectly employed by biomedical companies, which account for 13.8 percent of California’s entire workforce.
But biomedical leaders are worried about a shrinking workforce due to education problems that start as early as kindergarten.
The La Jolla based California Healthcare Institute (CHI) is a statewide public policy group representing 2,224 biomedical companies in California.
CHI says the future of California’s multi-billion-dollar industry greatly depends on a highly trained worked force.
David Gollaher, Ph.D. is the president and CEO of CHI. He said poor education in grades K through 12 means too many kids aren’t able to get into science programs in college.
“Right now only 30 percent of 20 year olds in California are in any kind of higher education, community college or university. We need to change that in order to fuel the future workforce,” said Gollaher.
Some biomedical companies hire scientists from abroad, because they say the pool of U.S.-trained scientists continues to shrink.
Regardless of where the researchers come from, CHI reports the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded $3.2 billion in grants to California’s universities and research institutes in 2009.
That means, California researchers received more NIH grant money that year than any other state.


    6.15.2011

    Kids and Tobacco, Underage Drinking, and Parent Discussion



    Parent Discussion}}}}

    Did You Know?

    • Smoking is the leading cause of premature, preventable death and disease in the United States.
    • Each year, tobacco use results in more deaths than AIDS, unintentional injuries, suicide, homicide, and alcohol and drug abuse combined. 
    • Twenty percent of high school students report having smoked a cigarette in the last month.
    • In 2008, approximately 1,000 young people (under the age of 18) became daily smokers every day.
    • Involvement in structured activities, parental boundary setting, adult mentoring, perceived school connectedness, religious involvement, and other protective factors lower the chance that youth will engage in health-compromising behavior, including smoking.
    Cool Site for Tobacco Info 

    Alcohol and Energy Drinks. It's Hot!

    “We’re seeing kids coming in with blood alcohol levels in the mid-.3s, even .4, which is four to five times the legal limit for driving. That’s the level at which 50% of people die,” says Dr. Mary Claire O’Brien, an emergency medicine physician and assistant professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina who specializes in alcohol-related research. “Ten years ago, we saw those levels only in chronic alcoholics...The practice of mixing alcohol with super-caffeinated energy drinks; the marketing of flavored malt beverages in 23.5-ounce cans, each containing a serious dose of alcohol; a shift in preference from beer to hard liquor; and the influence of social media, through which kids avidly share Jungle Juice recipes and tales of their exploits, have all raised the stakes.
    “The caffeine blocks the part of alcohol that makes you sleepy and might otherwise cause you to pass out. This enables you to drink far more than you might have. By the time many of these kids get to the hospital, they have to be put temporarily on respirators because of depressed breathing.” Disturbed by what they were seeing, Dr. O’Brien and her colleagues conducted a survey that year of 4,271 students from more than 10 universities in North Carolina. “We found that about a quarter of the kids who’d had a drink in the past 30 days said they were mixing alcohol with energy drinks, either the premixed kind or Red Bull and vodka. They got drunk twice as often and drank more per session than those who had alcohol without caffeine. They were much more likely to be injured, much more likely to be taken advantage of sexually or to take advantage of someone sexually, much more likely to drive drunk. We banned alcoholic energy drinks when we became aware of the extraordinary threat they pose,” he says. “What shocked us was the hospitalization of 11 students after a single party.”

    People who consume the beverage might not notice tiredness and loss of coordination. "With (caffeinated alcoholic beverages) like Four Loko, when you reach a certain point you can actually drop like a box of rocks because what is happening, is the caffeine and ... all these other substances are messing up with the gradual and normal brain function depression that are signals that it's time to shut it down," Briggs said.

    and something fun!
    American Library Associations Website of Referrals for Parents and Teachers

    6.13.2011

    Electronic Affairs, Texting and Sexting. What is Emotional Cheating?

    I can just hear the search engine's humming away this week: How do I know if my partner is texting a porn star? Is my spouse sexting? What constitutes an affair? Have I broken my marriage vows? What a large issue to address, but since we cannot get way from it (drat!)...

    Maybe you can't readily identify where the line is crossed via electronic devices with a person outside the marriage, but this reminds me of the slogan about pornography -and good art- I know it when I see it. If you catch your spouse sexting (sending flirtatious texts, or text pictures with sexy material, suggestive emoticons), how do you know if he/she has cheated on you?

    In Therapy //
    As a therapist, this is a common topic of couple's counseling. This has become known as "emotional cheating" or an "emotional affair."  I'm not convinced that this is useful or accurate language, nevertheless, the aggrieved party will feel that the trust is gone, they have been betrayed and the hurt is ever-present.  Forgiveness is faraway.

    The role of therapist in this situation is to adopt the language that rings most true for both parties...often, there is not agreement on what the contact actually meant. This is a great beginning point. 
    • How is the marriage overall?
    • Is the issue of extramarital affairs new, or, has there been a history/pattern of such behavior?
    • What constitutes "cheating" for each partner?
    • Can the implicit and explicit rules for your marriage be reviewed and re-set?
    • How motivated are both partners to stay engaged and go the distance, with whatever emotional fallout may be coming?
    • What word do you both use to describe the incident? One partner may say "flirted" and the other may say "cheated," e.g. unfaithful, infidelity?  
    • Is each partner willing to improve on the relationship and take some responsibility for the current state of affairs?
    When to Leave :(
    The therapist  cannot determine whether a couple stays together or not, but, an expert therapist can reflect back to the couple areas of progress, their unique strengths, and remind them of their clearly stated goals, remaining neutral and collected. If communication has always  been a challenge, then this crisis will be difficult to maneuver. The less reactive two people are, the better they can problem-solve and keep their eyes on the prize.


    Couples Stay Together :=}

    Yet, as devastating as it is to discover your partner is having intimate discussions with another person, most couples choose to repair and recover. Most couples are interested in keeping a marriage or their family together. The "cheated" party can often learn to see the straying in a different light. After all, feeling as if your partner has cheated is NOT the same as your partner actually cheating; feeling like the plane is going to crash is very different than the plane really crashing. A few helpful books are available on this subject and your therapist can guide you through some trust-building exercises.

    Societal Shift :3
    With much thoughtful and meaningful discussion, it is up to each couple to decide their future.
    The truth is, this new electronic "cheating" is a scramble...what does it mean and how should we individually interpret it? If you can recall the introduction of Playboy Magazine in the 1960's - and to think of how radical and outrageous it was to see naked pictures of women - men would hide their cache of "girly magazines." Boy, we have definitely developed a new norm. Billy Graham is famously quoted as saying that he was never alone in a room with a woman that wasn't his wife lest he be compromised. Well, even that parochial position isn't a deterrent against our electronic lifestyle.

    [ Physical Contact ]
    In my experience, most email, phone or text contact with an outside person does not result in physical contact.  As recently reported Congressman Weiner appears to have had cell phone-only contact with several women, albeit sexual and graphic. This is a good example of art. I know it when I see it, and this is art, er, he has violated his marital vows of exclusive intimacy. But, when a partner does, in fact, act on a physical relationship, the strategy for repair is quite similar. Physical affairs are just what they have always been, affairs. It is a violation of monogamous vows. (Here, we can get into levels of physical contact, oral sex, etc, but, I'll save that for another time). Repair, responsibility, and remorse are the Three R's that become the focus. Often, an affair is a symptom of a larger problem...but not always. Either way, the steps towards reunification will be the same. Apologies need to be painfully spelled out and again, both partners must take some responsibility to recover and be highly-engaged towards repairing the damage. The stray-er holds a few cards but not all.


    Cognitive Restructuring ~
    Putting our cards on the table here, (and in therapy), let's acknowledge that fact that the "cheater" will almost always deny his/her behavior, then move on to minimizing, and rationalizing.  Conversely, the "victim" will now question ALL behavior as suspect, feel justified in her/his outrage, and may even tell himself that this is "the worst thing that has ever happened," "I'll never trust you again," or "Our marriage means nothing to him." The hurt party is utterly convinced that if her partner loved her, he couldn't have cheated. Not true. Cognitive restructuring is simply changing one's beliefs.

    Communication :+)
    Both sides need to be fully heard, utilizing effective communication skills, and acknowledged through new and different behaviors (something concrete such as transparency, accountability for the cheater and less accusation and over-generalizing from the cheater).


    Electronic Crack :y
    As most moms of young boys now must explain what P-O-R-N means, it's obvious that electronic imagery is here to stay. Neuro-imagery can explain why the male brain responds so positively, and quickly!, to sexual imagery; crack for the masculine hypothalamus.  While it can be monitored and delayed, the reality is that we are all struggling, sociologically, with how to make sense of it all. A husband who catches his wife undressing on Skype, to a man she has never met in person, is unsure if she has been disloyal! And, yes, women are sexting on par with their male counterparts. The "hit," an ego stroke, is chemically addicting; powerful...changes up the monotonous day. Frankly, it's not too complicated to understand. Read why we check email 17 times a day here.

    And, as with all cultural shifts, we won't have a clear understanding of what is exactly happening to us until it's behind us.

    6.12.2011

    Is My Young Son Gay? The Gender Gap, The New Great Academic Divide


    New York Times
    June 10, 2011

    No one has provoked a national conversation about children and gender norms like the retailer J. Crew. In its April catalog, the “Jenna’s Picks” page showed Jenna Lyons, the company’s creative director, playing with her barefoot son, Beckett, 4 ½. The copy read: “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”

    Chuck E Cheese Sued for "tot slots"

    Little Boys Need Comfort and Support
    "Young children, especially boys, may need their parents' help working through angry or fearful emotions. If you punish toddlers for their anger and frustration or act as if their fears are silly or shameful, they may internalize those negative emotions, and that may lead to behavior problems as they get older," said Nancy McElwain, a U of I associate professor of human development. 

    The Gender Gap, The New Great Divide 
    More girls than boys are now completing highschool and attending college. What's up with that? Have the tables turned and now girls receive preferential classroom time, more praise for their compliance and ability to sit quietly and still better than boys, resulting in teacher favoritism? Is Title IX to blame?

    Kids and Smoking
    The Monster Inside My Son 
    An honest memoir from a mother of an Autistic son.

    *Book Recommendation*

    6.10.2011

    Finances Cause Stress and Heartache, Cohabitation Agreements, Post Nuptials


    I am not a Financial Planner, far from it. Yet, as a therapist, I am always discussing finances. Numbers, math, accounting, calculus: all easy-peazy compared to sitting down with your child/parent/spouse and writing out the monthly expenses and long term goals. Just "do a budget" is fightin' words. The truth of it all is that money matters in relationships and we are all forced to face our financial thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, i.e., how money is spent, long term financial goals, who wins on the big choices, how to yield. Some folks even have beliefs about money being dirty or scary.

    Handling job stress and financial hardship affects each person uniquely. Many times old templates kick in; maybe Mom and Dad handled stress and money challenges in a way that was counter-productive, yet, you find yourself doing the exact same thing. Or, your spouse has one specific view of money and it couldn't be more different than your approach. 

    Current reports indicate that 30% of Americans have borrowed against their 401(k)'s, and 70% are on target for NOT being able to pay off those loans. If you lose your job, the loan must be repaid within 60 days, which can only be damn near impossible. By 2014, these numbers may have doubled.
    Credit lines may be the better option; while the interest rates are higher, the loan won't be called due immediately and the interest rate is deductible.
    If your finances are causing great heartache, spend the scarce $300 and make an appointment with a Fee-based Financial Planner. 

    I force myself to read the Sunday Los Angeles Times money section. I enjoy Time's Moneyblog, Cheapskate and this Facebook Page, Get Rich Slowly


    Cohabitation Agreement

    PostNuptials 

    Here are 3 recent questions posed to financial expert, Liz Weston:



    Dear Liz: My husband recently was placed on a pricey medication ($20 a day) that is not covered by insurance. Any suggestions to getting help with this added $7,000-a-year expense?

    Answer: Doctors can be surprisingly ignorant of the cost of medications, so your first call should be to your pharmacist to see if there are more affordable options, such as a generic drug. If so, call the doctor back to see if your husband can switch.

    Either way, start shopping around. Medication costs vary enormously from pharmacy to pharmacy. You also should check to see if a mail-order pharmacy might save you some money.

    Be sure to ask about discounts. Pharmacies may offer discounts for cash or with certain memberships, such as with AARP. Prescription discount cards are easy to find — just type "prescription discount card" into an Internet search engine — but steer clear of those that charge fees.

    Also check NeedyMeds.org, which lists discounts and assistance programs specific to hundreds of medications. NeedyMeds also has a free prescription discount card.

    Protecting yourself against identity theft

    Dear Liz: A copy of my wife's Social Security card and driver's license were stolen recently. I immediately contacted the credit bureaus. The first one tried to sell me a protection product. When I tried another number for that bureau, I got the automated runaround. The second bureau agreed to put a fraud alert on my account, then they too tried to sell me a product! Please tell everyone what will happen when they report issues like this, as you and so many others recommend. I still don't know if I have done everything I can do.

    Answer: If she hasn't done so already, your wife should call the police to report the crime and get a copy of the report in case she needs it later to prove she's a victim of identity theft.

    Your wife is the one who needs to have fraud alerts placed on her credit reports at all three of the major credit bureaus: Equifax at (800) 525-6285, Experian at (888) 397-3742 and Trans Union at (800) 680-7289. These alerts are good for 90 days and can be renewed. It's unfortunate the bureaus are using these help lines to pitch products, but you don't need to buy anything to get a fraud alert placed on your files. In two or three months, she should use http://www.annualcreditreport.com to get a free look at her credit reports to make sure no one has opened accounts in her name.

    Your wife also may want to consider a credit freeze, which locks up her credit reports to make it much harder for someone to apply for credit in her name. Get more information about these freezes, which typically involve fees, at http://www.financialprivacynow.org.

    In addition, she needs to call your state's department of motor vehicles to report the stolen license. If she discovers later that someone is using it, she can request a number change.

    For more on coping with stolen information and dealing with identity theft, visit the Identity Theft Resource Center at http://www.idtheftcenter.org.

    Dear Liz: I have always carried more debt on credit cards than I should have. However, I have always been responsible in making payments. Before the economic crisis, my credit scores were around 780 and I had all the access to credit I needed. But my lenders have slashed my credit lines and closed accounts. Suddenly I find myself using 90% of my available credit, not because I'm spending more but because my credit lines have been reduced. Last I checked, my scores were around 690, and I haven't had a late payment in more than seven years. Now with interest rates so low, I would like to refinance my house (that I am underwater with), but that seems impossible with this new "credit reality" for me. What is my best course of action? And no, I can't just pay off all my credit card debt without a significant lifestyle change such as putting the kids back in public schools, eliminating vacations, etc., which I am not willing to do at this time.

    Answer: If you can't pay off your credit card debt, you can't afford your current lifestyle. You never could, really, but that fact was obscured by loose lending practices that didn't punish you for carrying big credit card debts. Times have changed, and you need to change with them.

    Carrying credit card debt has always been foolish, of course. It's expensive and a signal that you're living well beyond your means. Furthermore, as you've learned, you're vulnerable to the changing whims of credit card companies, and those whims can have serious effects on your perceived creditworthiness.

    Paying down your balances may not boost your credit scores right away if your lenders continue to slash your available credit — an industry practice known as "chasing down the balance." But you need to do so anyway to free yourself of this toxic debt.

    Your problems refinancing aren't just due to your scores, in any case. Your current scores won't necessarily prevent you from refinancing (although you would get a higher interest rate than if they were 740 or above). Your bigger problem is the fact that you owe more on your loan than the house is worth. You could explore the federal government's Home Affordable Refinance Program at http://www.makinghomeaffordable.gov to see whether you qualify for an underwater refinance; otherwise, you're probably out of luck.
    Liz Weston is the author of "The 10 Commandments of Money: Survive and Thrive in the New Economy." Questions for possible inclusion in her column may be sent to 3940 Laurel Canyon, No. 238, Studio City, CA 91604 or via asklizweston.com. Distributed by No More Red Inc.

    Oxy Express, Florida's Oxycodone Epidemic



    Read about Florida's Oxycodone Prescription epidemic, also known as The Oxy Express. The statistics show that during 2009 Florida distributed 523 million doses of oxycodone, up 100 million from 2008.  To put these numbers in some perspective, the next leading state for 2009 was Pennsylvania which accounted for 267 million doses for 2009 — almost 50% less than Florida. However, California leads in Oxy-related deaths.
    I have long been concerned about Big Pharma and the "accidental addict" that is often created behind chronic pain symptoms, insomniacs, and those suffering from other mental health concerns. In other words, physicians attempt to treat (which means manage) a symptom such as sleeplessness, or back pain, with Oxycodone or Xanax. These are mental health conditions, as well as physical conditions, that benefit from top-to-bottom assessment and require a whole treatment strategy. The ideal therapeutic approach to managing pain involves diet, mental health counseling, lifestyle changes,  education, AND, sometimes, medication - but  that approach is time-consuming, labor intensive and often more costly. Sleeplessness, for example, is an issue for many Americans and best treated from a larger lens, e.g. meditation, exercise, lifestyle changes, and SOMETIMES medication. Of course, lobbying of physicians and how/what they dispense is an ugly secret that the FDA is struggling to address, in addition to which meds. the FDA approves.
    I sense a correlation in Florida's increase in pharmaceuticals to their elder population, an on-going national concern that seniors are being over-medicated, often taking contraindicated medicines.

    6.09.2011

    What Personality Traits Make a Person Successful?


    Six traits of successful [happy] people:
    • intelligence [ability to deal with complexity, knows how to separate what one thinks from what one feels]
    • drive [independence of thoughts, faith in one's decisions, optimism]
    • sociability [reciprocal friendships]
    • capacity for intimacy [able to trust and be vulnerable]
    • happiness [byproduct of other things, negativity turned off in the brain]
    • goodness [can think of another's perspective, empathic]
    These traits all point to the concept of one's inherent character. Read more in this month's Psychology Today, it's an excellent article.
    Or, check out Emotional Intelligence by William Goleman. Great guide to instilling these traits in your children or honing them for yourself.

    6.08.2011

    How to Stay Intimate and Increase Sex in Your Relationship



    Guidelines for Revitalizing and Maintaining Sexual Desire
    I like this article (maybe print and read with your partner?). It is difficult and awkward to begin this dialogue - and one component that isn't addressed here is the process of foreplay, which is simply letting your partner know that you are moving towards wanting to become intimate in the next 24-48 hrs.


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    Did Ya Know: Diabetes is responsible for more deaths annually than breast cancer and HIV combined?


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    Terrific Positive Parenting site for parenting download-ables, utilizing positive and healthy discipline tools in
    Spanish and English.

    6.07.2011

    Painkillers, Weiner, Debt & Facing The Storm


    "Is Weiner a Dick?"
    read a terrific piece from my favorite website, The Good Men Project

    Do Weiner’s Tears Mean Anything?

    What do we make of yet another confession? June 6, 2011

    By Tom Matlack

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    Hot off the press, a new book recommendation:
    Facing the Storm Using CBT, Mindfulness and Acceptance to Build Resilience when your World's Falling Apart, by Ray Owen


     
    We live in a world where bad things can, and do, happen irrespective of whether we are good or bad, whether we consider ourselves lucky or doomed, and with no regard to fairness. Any of us can find ourselves facing redundancy, the breakdown of a relationship, bankruptcy or any number of life changing crises, or supporting someone else who is. And sometimes, no matter how much we might try, there’s nothing we can do to prevent or reduce the problem. But that doesn't mean you have to be helpless; no matter how bad the situation you're about to deal with, there are things that you can do to become more resilient and that will help you face the storm that's coming towards you or yours.