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Traditional meals around the world

Every week in Los Angeles I walk a mile or so from my apartment to the putting green at Rancho Park Golf Course and work on the rhythm of my stroke for about twenty minutes then walk across the street to the Main Course restaurant for a taste of Eastern Europe! Each week I try a different dish just for fun. Last week I tried the Ukrainian stuffed cabbage, this week the Hungarian Beef Goulash and the week before the Romanian stuffed pepper. I love the diversity of LA, especially the food! A few weeks ago, Veronica and I tried Moroccan food. Persian is next!

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Feelings of relief

Yesterday, I received a text from the builder who is buying my house in Westport to tell me that we are good to go! The percolation tests on my property are fine which means the contract is now valid. I looked up and put my arms in the air feeling a sense of relief. Then I took a picture to commemorate the occasion! I was in Westwood near UCLA looking for a coffee shop to work on my book. I like to write in public places where I listen to music and don’t feel so isolated. Everyone has their own writing style and this works for me! The feeling of relief or letting go had been a long time coming. I’d left Westport, CT several times only to return, the last time under difficult circumstances, the gist of which makes up a large part of my story. The irony of my situation is that I came down with a head cold only a few hours later. I don’t consider this a coincidence. I’d owned the house for nearly 18 years and letting it go had been a huge emotional decision. Sometimes, when we let go, the body relaxes and then we get sick. I welcome the head cold!

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Training the mind is as important as training the body

I’ve been coaching more and more athletes on the mental game over the past several years! A reoccurring theme is what to do with criticism. It’s part of a larger discussion on mindfulness. When we are able to slow down our thought process and become more aware of our mental and emotional states we then have the capacity to unhook from our reactions and change our thoughts. This applies to parents as much as business people or athletes. Suppose you are pitching a solid game and have one rough inning and your coach comes to the mound all pissed off. He says a few words, goes back to the bench and kicks the water cooler. Do you let that rattle you? Get under your skin? Or do you pay attention to your breathe, settle down and redirect your thoughts to throwing a strike on the outside corner? It’s similar in extreme examples like road rage? Do you let someone’s idiocy get you going or do you pay attention to your breathe and redirect your thoughts to the possibility that this other person is dealing with an emergency?

Training the mind is as important as training the body. The more you practice the better you get. So the next time you find yourself overreacting to one of your children breathe, pay attention to your thoughts, and redirect them to something positive or something you appreciate about them. This works!!

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Mental health

Nicholas Kristof’s column in the Sunday Review section of The New York Times chronicles the travails of Mike Yurchison, an Iraq war veteran battling head injury and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). His girlfriend of three and a half years is struggling too, not sure if she can continue to hang in there with him considering all the challenges of dealing with a man shattered by war and mental illness. According to Mr. Yurchison, psychiatry has helped him become addicted to opiates and otherwise he has found these doctors “unhelpful.” This is too often the case. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are killing themselves at alarming rates. Mike’s brother and close friend, both veterans, recently killed themselves. We also see periodic rampages at military bases such as Fort Hood where medication is often part of the picture.

The issues are complex and challenging and some doctors are fantastic. War is a terrible thing too. However, mental health treatment, especially for veterans, too often relies on medication that is far more harmful than most doctors care to admit. Anti-anxiety meds are addictive and other meds prescribed for anxiety and depression are often toxic to the body. Prescription medication is a multi-billion dollar business after all. I recently had a dinner with a psychiatric nurse who is now medicating her entire practice. This woman was anti-meds just a few years ago.

As a society, we need more intense involvement well beyond medication for those suffering from mental illness. This would involve both communities and professionals and is especially true for veterans. I share this perspective from years of experience as a licensed psychologist helping countless people with severe anxiety, PTSD and depression to eventually get off most or all medication. We can do better.

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Environmental problems

I’ve wrote other posts about China’s environmental problems after reading various articles but this one in The New York Times Review section takes the cake. According to Sheng Keyi, a former resident of Huaihua, a village on the Lanxi River in Hunan Procince, the river is dead, destroyed by pollution from factories and animal waste. Cancer rates are enormous and citizens continue to drink unsafe, toxic water because they have no choice while the privileged send their children abroad or consume clean water through networks that serve the wealthy.

The author notes that more than 50 percent of China’s rivers have disappeared altogether, cancer rates are up 80 percent in the last 30 years, and nearly 200 million mostly poor people continue to drink unsafe water. He writes, “the illness does not just affect my village and my river. The entire country is sick. In our society, profit and gross domestic product count more than anything else.”

If more people could regulate themselves, we wouldn’t need government regulation that so many people in our country hate. In China, where business and political corruption is rampant, regulation is clearly not enough. I have a buddy who lives in Beijing and came home for Christmas with severe respiratory issues, a result of intense air pollution there.

Please stop the madness.

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Live a healthy, successful life!

I am a huge Gabriel Cousens fan. An M.D (psychiatrist), accomplished author, homeopath, and deeply spiritual being (enlightened), he exemplifies creativity, knowledge, grace, and contribution. His Tree of Life Foundation in Arizona offers all kinds of experiences and knowledge on nutrition, meditation, spirituality as well as a host of other important perspectives on living a healthy, successful life! His books science, spirit, and nutrition are profound. When I read his book Spiritual Nutrition several years ago after going through a devastating health crisis that cost me my health, my business, my self-esteem, my relationship and much more, I finally realized what had happened to me. Dr. Cousens is a true genius! In his words,”I am at peace in my body, mind, family, community, ecology, and with God.” Thank you Dr. Cousens!

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Modalities for Processing Life

According to Dr. Kosslyn and Wayne Miller, authors of a new book called “Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How You Think,” the right brain, left brain theory of different skill sets like intuition and logic is not true and based on a myth created from experiments on the corpus callosum decades ago. Instead, they propose an understanding of thinking styles based on top or bottom preferences: Mover, Perceiver, Stimulator and Adaptor! Their article in the Weekend Wall Street Journal Review¬† section is worth reading. Instead of thinking of people as basically left or right brained such as engineers or artists , this new research encourages us to understand that there are really four main styles not two!

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Dealing with insomnia

Having experienced several bouts of severe insomnia in my past I found it informative to find out something I ready knew: that although insomnia is painful emotionally and can lead to physical exhaustion and other challenges but one’s cognitive abilities remain largely intact. In other words, though you may feel less intelligent or capable as a result of much less sleep, in reality, you can function well regardless. I did. The challenge, of course, is to address the underlying cause and dynamics before one’s health and well-being is affected. For me, this was complex and multifaceted. For some, it may be less so: cut out substances that interfere with sleep like caffeine and change your job/ relationship or whatever is truly not working in your life. A really good coach or therapist might be helpful too. Sleeping pills are problematic and a slippery slope so be careful!