Saving lives

Got into a discussion with a couple sitting next to me at dinner and want to share with you some vital information that I hope you will never need. See he is a doctor and had to give a lecture on saving lives out of the box. One of the items is #DuctTape. Apparently, after his lecture a doctor (one who was in the audience) was called when a sailor on a sailing trip was hit in the head with a boom pealing back his head. Those on board rejected his idea as it would cause an infection. Well the doctor said I would rather treat the infection than a dead person. What was the controversy all about: using DuckTape to tape the persons head.

An Ecumenical Prayer in Times of Terrorist Attack

Guest blog by Rev. Holly Harwood Goodwin

In this hour of grief and loss, may we have the courage to go on. 
May we have the wisdom to react to violence with unyielding compassion, 
courage, and justice for all. 
To be fair to all people regardless of skin color, religion, gender, orientation, 
nationality or ethnic origin. 
To respect the beliefs of others, even when they conflict with our own. 
Bless the souls of the newly departed. 
Bless the wounded, and aid their recovery. 
Bless the families and friends of the victims. 
Bless the rescuers, the donors, and all that help in times of crisis.
Bless our military and government officials with the wisdom and resolve
to do that which is right for the world, regardless of the consequences
to their own careers. 
Cleanse our souls of fear and hatred, that we may choose life. 
Open our hearts to the suffering of all. 
May divine wisdom, comfort, healing, and peace be poured out upon
the nations of the earth. 
Let us love one another, remembering that we are all part of the family of humanity. 

Moving Toward Your Fulfillment With Gestalt Therapy

Guest blog by Hana Dolgin

We all have dreams, aspirations and hopes for a better life. Some of us desire improved health and a more attractive physical appearance. Some, a more satisfying career and increased financial freedom. Yet others aspire to more harmonious personal relationships with loved ones.

What is the source of these wishes? Human beings have an innate drive to grow and evolve. We are naturally drawn towards our fulfillment. 

What is the source of our limitations? We are each born into this life as a unique person of tremendous potential. Our environment, including our family and culture, encourages us to express certain aspects of our natures and to repress others. Early in life, we learn to behave in ways which will gain us the approval and support of others, which are vital to our survival and development. 

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have lost touch with the "parts" of ourselves that were not welcomed and reinforced by our environment. These "lost parts" are still within us, calling for our attention and acceptance. Sometimes, their call can take the form of problems and frustrations in various areas of our lives, as well as the appearance of physical ailments and illnesses.

In order to regain our wholeness, we need to reconnect with our true natures and develop more of our rich potential. This connection returns us to a sense of centeredness and gives us the resources we need to deal more effectively with our life circumstances. 

Gestalt Therapy is a holistic approach to personal healing and growth, which addresses all of our desires and needs -- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Using this approach, we can access our deep inner knowledge and the wisdom of our bodies, gradually releasing the limiting self-concepts and beliefs we acquired along the way. As we allow our true natures to come to light, our lives become unique creations that express our gifts and talents, and enrich others, as well. Let us live as the rich and talented people we were born to be, orienting ourselves towards our growth and fulfillment! 

JAZZ and GESTALT: The Art of Being In The Moment

Guest blog by Hana Dolgin

I am a seeker of good living. A life that feels good and does good. A life of peaceful vibrations, that extend outward, like a pebble thrown into water.

The peace is in this moment. In the now. In the stillness. In the simple being. 

Allow me to introduce myself: I am a jazz saxophonist and a Gestalt psychotherapist. While these might seem like two very different occupations, in fact they have a lot in common. What they have in common is the art of being in the moment. When we are able to experience ourselves free from preconceptions which arise from various sources (such as our personal history, cultural and social norms, even our own concept of who we "are"), we can let ourselves be surprised by the surfacing of aspects of ourselves we weren't previously aware of. These experiences enlarge and enrich our sense of "self". We are a myriad of potentialities and possibilities! We can encompass a host of traits and behaviors!

A musical example: When I began playing jazz, I had difficulty identifying myself emotionally with the blues, which is an essential ingredient of the music I play. I told myself I couldn't play the blues convincingly because: 
            a) I'm a woman
            b) I'm white
            c) I didn't "feel" that music
               (I didn't experience myself as raw, sensual, melancholy, gutsy, lusty, etc.) 
            d) I hadn't grown up around that music
               (Therefore, it wasn't a natural part of my musical vocabulary.)

As you see, I had preconceptions and judgments about myself, my abilities, and about "who I thought I was". With more time spent listening and more "in-the-moment" experience, while suspending my habitual internal self-talk, I "found myself" playing the blues, and that experience demonstrated to me that I could "be" and "feel" more than I thought I could. 

Jazz is a style of music that includes a lot of improvisation. When I improvise, I can "recycle" old musical phrases and patterns, which are time-tested and safe, or I can take the risk of following each note and seeing what musical idea will suggest itself to me next -- perhaps an idea I've never had or tried before! When I'm able to be open in that way, I allow a unique creation to emerge. If I get too "hung up" when I play a note or phrase that doesn't satisfy me, I miss my next musical ideas and spend time internally "berating myself" for a poor musical choice. Meanwhile, the music must continue to flow, so I'm playing with a divided mind -- part in the past ("poor choice, didn't turn out well...") and part turning out more notes. How much better, I've found, to let the notes that were played vanish into the atmosphere and focus on my next thoughts, and continue to try to create beautiful music.

Likewise, in our lives, we can stick to the time-tested ways of thinking and acting taught to us by others (which certainly may have merit and be useful in some situations), or we can open ourselves to the inspiration of the moment. If we aren't satisfied with the outcome, we can simply choose differently in the next moment, and hopefully not waste precious time berating ourselves for a choice, basically an experiment, which didn't turn out as we had hoped. 

When improvising, and particularly when recording music, I know that whatever I want to create and express must be done now! "The tape is rolling," as they say, and once the piece is played or recorded, no excuses such as "I should have practiced more... got more rest... had my instrument repaired" will be heard or accepted by the listener. Now's the moment, and I must seize it or forever hold my peace! Now is the time to reveal to the world the beauty I'm capable of!

This is a valuable lesson of life. Every moment we live is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, precious and irreplaceable. If we can be aware and present to its richness, we can live a rich and wonder-full life!

In Gestalt therapy, we learn to focus and be aware of our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations, all of which help us to connect with ourselves more deeply -- with our needs, dreams and desires. The more aware we are in-this-moment, the more purposefully and effectively we can move towards our fulfillment.

Who Can Benefit From Gestalt Therapy?

Guest blog by Hanna Dolgin

Many methods of psychotherapy exist, with diverse theoretical understandings of the human personality and of what constitutes "mental health." For many people, the term "therapy" carries with it an association of illness and impairment, since it is used in the medical context (as in chemotherapy and physical therapy). Therefore, they think seeking psychotherapy is an admittal of being 'sick' or 'unbalanced' in some way.

Complex theories aside, Gestalt therapy is, in fact, a method of cultivating awareness of one's self in the moment. This awareness allows a person to become conscious of their internal process of thoughts, emotions, perceptions and sensations, which go largely unnoticed in the course of daily life. This internal process has a determining effect on our choices and on the outcomes of those choices, which make up our life. 

Many times, people act without realizing what makes them feel compelled to do so. For example, Julie may have had a dissatisfying conversation with her friend Jane, finding her to be distracted and unsympathetic, and then gone to the fridge to look for something to eat, even though she had just finished eating.

If Julie were aware of her emotions and physical sensations, she might find out that she is feeling the emotion of sadness, but is actually experiencing a feeling of fullness in her stomach. This awareness would help Julie make a more appropriate choice for her organism, such as seeking a way to release her sadness, for instance by expressing it to a supportive person. If no supportive person were available, Julie could internally understand and accept her own sadness. She might then choose to soothe herself by taking a hot bath, or she might choose to release energy by engaging in a physical activity, such as running or dancing. There is no one 'correct' way to handle a situation. When a person is aware of what she feels and needs, she will find what's best for her under the circumstances. 

Let's say that Julie's mother says: "Go see a movie, you'll feel better!" and Julie obediently goes to a movie. She may feel better after seeing a comedy, or may decide that her problem is insignificant after seeing a movie about a war or natural disaster. Another possibility is that she may find herself unable to get into the movie. If she is aware of her experience, she may realize that this movie isn't what she needs, and decide to leave before the end of the movie, and do something else.

Julie's state of mind will most likely have an effect on the way she interacts with the people she comes into contact with. If she is still feeling sad and disappointed but is unaware of what caused it, she may withdraw from others, feel lethargic or something of the sort. This, in turn, may cause her boyfriend to wonder why she isn't her usual lively self, and he may think it is due to the fact that he forgot to buy her flowers, or that perhaps she's losing interest in him. (As you see, things can get unnecessarily complicated.) 

When we are aware of our internal workings, we can communicate more effectively, first of all with ourselves. Julie can communicate consciously to herself: "I feel very disappointed and sad that Jane was so unsympathetic when I was telling her how my boss put me down in front of my co-workers at the meeting. I will tell her, at an appropriate time, how I feel. "

Julie may tell her boyfriend "I'm not in such a good mood tonight." When he asks why, she'll have an opportunity to tell him and hopefully get his support. This will also save him from trying to guess why, and from attributing her lack of enthusiasm to some imagined shortcoming of his own.

The above is a short and relatively simple example of how awareness, or the lack thereof, can play out in daily life. However, when people are unaware, they usually accumulate "heaps" of interactions that affect their lives and the lives of those they come into contact with, creating a tangled web of actions and reactions.

As a result, they may feel out of control, as though "things just keep happening to them". They may not know why they are having difficulty in their relationships, why they can't seem to control their eating habits, why they are having trouble sleeping at night, etc. This is because, as a result of their lack of awareness, they are missing crucial information regarding their motives for acting as they do, and their contributions to the situations they find themselves in.

If one is unaware, how does one go about gaining awareness? The way we learn is through practice. In a Gestalt therapy session, the therapist serves as an awareness coach, and gently assists the client by asking questions or setting up experiments that direct their attention to their experience in the moment. Through the therapist's training and experience, they have become more sensitive to their own internal process and can help their client regain access to her or his own. Gestalt therapy can be an invaluable tool in gaining the ability to monitor ourselves "in real time," thus having more internal clarity about our motives and desires. This allows us to make choices that are more in line with our deeper needs, and are more likely to bring about their fulfillment. Gradually, we can transition from feeling 'acted upon' by life's circumstances, to feeling that we have greater power to create our own reality and be active participants in the great dance of life.

My Sister's Obituary

Guest blog by by Hunter Darden

I never dreamed that I would be writing my own sister's obituary. Her death had come unexpectedly and unnecessarily. Through the foggy haze of it all, I managed to write:

Fran was a rare and special person and you knew it while in her presence. She had a multitude of friends and an ability to extend herself to others. She took great care in the nurturing of her
friendships. Fran not only had beautiful porcelain skin on the outside, but a rare and precious porcelain heart as well. She radiated kindness, intelligence and great wit. She had a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh. Her friends were naturally drawn back for more helpings of Fran's great company. In lieu of flowers, love your familycherish every moment.

My family and I had been on vacation with my sister and her family. She was forty-one years old and the mother to three small children. When she first began getting ill, we thought she had a typical stomach virus. However, shortly thereafter she was in severe pain. She soon became unconscious and went into cardiac arrest twenty-four hours after her first symptoms. The doctors noticed the rash and removed her tampon. There diagnosis: Toxic Shock Syndrome caused by that tampon. She was on a ventilator for two weeks before being disconnected.

How could this have happened to someone so vital? 

TSS was more rampant in the late seventies. I believe that women are under the impression that the problem was resolved; however, the warning is still in the box. My sister's doctors felt that the applicator had caused an abrasion and that is how the staph germ got into her system. It systematically shut down all of her organs. The other symptoms are confusion, diarrhea, dizziness, fainting, fever, and pelvic pain and a sunburn-like rash that usually appears on the soles of the feet and palms of the hand. It can, also, be caused from leaving the tampon in for too long. It is certainly rare now, but one death is too many. We are told that OB that is made out of cotton with no applicator is the safest form to use. Don't let something so unnecessary happen to your friends and family. I feel that creating awareness is the only way to make something good come from something so bad. I think Fran would approve.

Fran's left nostril used to quiver when she laughed real hard. I never told her. I so wish I had. Enjoy every moment with your family and friends. If a relationship is in need of repair, repair it now. In case, there is no tomorrow with a loved one, make sure and tell them you love them more than they will ever know.

Tamarind-Glaze Flank Steak with Mango-jicama Salsa

Guest recipe by Hope Fox & Chef Kunz
Author of Impress for Less! (finally...terrific recipes from the finest restaurants that you can really make at home) 

Legendary chef Gray Kunz took New York by storm when he opened Café Gray in 2004, a 200-seat brasserie designed by David Rockwell in the Time Warner Center. With its leafy Central Park views and high-profile address, Café Gray is the perfect showcase for Kunz’s synthesized cuisine, a product of his international upbringing and stints in the illustrious kitchen of Fredy Girardet in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Regent Hotel in Hong Kong. New York magazine described Kunz’s cuisine as “not so much fusion as the product of a man fluent in the food languages of Europe, India, China, and Southeast Asia.” After all, this is the same chef who earned a four-star rating from the New York Times while at Lespinasse, which Zagat rated as New York’s Best Overall Restaurant for three years in a row. In 2003 the Culinary Institute of America heralded him as a Master of Aesthetics, an award given to only a handful of culinary professionals.

Chef Kunz creates layered dishes composed of intriguing ingredients that add up to a single, bold statement. A few cases in point are his bouquet of pencil asparagus with fresh peas, mint, and yogurt; black bass with ancho chiles, coriander, and mussel-clam broth; or coconut-coated red snapper with crabmeat and green papaya. Ask for a seat in the showcase kitchen, where the chefs dance the well-choreographed waltz of impeccable gastronomy.
Chef Kunz uses concentrated tamarind paste to give an exotic jolt to the barbecue glaze for this steak.

Tamarind Glaze

1 cup tamarind paste (or 1 cup pureed mango)
2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped (or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh ginger
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cup water
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup peeled jícama, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Cayenne, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Flank Steak
11/2 pounds flank steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Cayenne, to taste
Coarse salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Serves 6

1. To make the tamarind glaze, in a medium saucepan, combine the tamarind paste, tomatoes, ginger, honey, cumin, coriander, and water. Place over low heat and simmer, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discard the solids, and return the sauce to the pan. Simmer again, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is syrupy, 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.
3. To make the salsa, in a large sauté pan over high heat, heat the oil. Add the bell pepper and jícama and cook, stirring occasionally, until warmed but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Add the mango and remove from the heat. Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Season to taste with cayenne, salt, and white pepper. Set aside.
4. To make the flank steak, brush the steak with the oil and season with cayenne, salt, and black pepper. Preheat an outdoor grill or heat a grill pan over high heat. Grill the steak, turning once, until it reaches the desired doneness, 6 to 8 minutes for medium rare.
5. Let the steak rest 5 minutes, then slice into thin slices on the bias. Coat the steak with the tamarind glaze, garnish with the salsa and chopped cilantro, and serve.

chef’s notes:
Tamarind paste is made from the pods of the feathery tamarind tree native to Latin America and the Caribbean. The pulp of these pods is mixed with water, and the resulting liquid is used as a souring agent in beverages, curries, soups, and other dishes. Tamarind is a very common ingredient in Thai and Indian cuisines. It is available in Asian markets and in some large supermarkets.
Jícama is a large, bulbous root vegetable that is popular in Mexican and other Latino cuisines.