SAN DIEGO (Press Release)– Project SARAH (Stop Abusive Relationships At Home), a program of Jewish Family Service, will feature Leslie Morgan Steiner, New York Times bestselling author and columnist for the Washington Post at the Glatt Kosher Luncheon and Program recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The event takes place at Congregation Beth Am, 5050 Del Mar Heights Rd.,on Wednesday, October 20, 2010 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Cost for the luncheon and program is $40 prior to October 1, 2010 and $45 after. Continuing education units are available for LCSWs and MFTs.
Leslie Morgan Steiner is the author of Crazy Love, a New York Times bestseller. Her memoir about surviving domestic violence in her first marriage takes readers on the baffling, terrifying journey of how she endured four years of domestic violence, eventually escaping and rebuilding her career and finding a happy family life with her second husband.
“Leslie’s presentation once again demonstrates to all of us about the critical need to recognize the devastating effects of domestic violence,” said Lauren Boucek, LCSW, Project SARAH Coordinator. “It reminds us that we need to do everything possible to keep the public aware of domestic violence and the urgency to fund programs and services to keep women and children safe.” Read more…
By Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.
LA JOLLA, California–So much anger in Washington, such acrimony and hatred out of control! What is happening to normally rational people to push them over the edge and make them act out? We read about fanatics and zealots in Africa and in the Middle East, who are extreme in their views, bent on killing, whose passions for a cause or a territory or a religion send them into a frenzy of irrational behaviors.
As a child, I remember feeling murderous against Hitler, but I have not had the wish to kill since then. Perhaps, if my home were threatened, or my family, I would defend them to the best of my ability, but I would always opt first for a peaceful meeting to discuss differences. I believe in civility—a word which, like the civil behavior it describes, has fallen into disuse.
The lack of civility in America today, is one of the factors of the breakdown of family life, unethical practices in business, and dishonesty in politics.
Civility is civilization at its best. It is control over one’s negative impulses, delay over the desire for instant gratification. It is the antithesis of “letting it all hang out,” it is the quest for calm, for rationality as opposed to shouting incendiary remarks.
Civility is the opposite of unbridled passions, the opposite of rhetoric or lies. It is more than mere politeness, it is the knowledge that personal well-being and the pursuit of personal goals cannot be separated from the well-being and goals of others, whether members of our family, our friends, our organizations, or our country.
Civility requires listening to others with an open mind and responding with an open heart. It requires knowing ourselves: our tendency to manipulate others, to serve our own interests first. Civility is learned at home by example. Children observe their parents in interaction with themselves and others and they imitate.
We are not born civil. We are born to grab from others, to hit the child whose toy we want, to have tantrums when we are denied a wish. Parents are the first teachers of civility, then schools continue when they do “time out” for unruly behavior in the classroom or the playground and never allow bullying.
Civility should continue in the place of work where people are respected whether the relationships are among peers or up and down the hierarchy.
Next time you feel anger and wish to strike out either physically, verbally, or emotionally, ask yourself whether you can predict the outcome of the lashing out as something positive. In other words, will that other person see the light, be convinced, and change the behavior to suit you? Perhaps all you want to achieve is to make the other person feel bad, guilty, hurt, punished. Will vengefulness make you feel better in the long run, or will a postponement of your reaction to a calmer time when discussion can ensue be a wiser choice?
Civility is a sign of true maturity, so let us resolve to remain civil no matter what the circumstances, to be aware of what triggers us to spin out of control and help others do the same by projecting calm, attentiveness, and thoughtfulness, understanding others’ points of view even when disagreeing with them. Allowing them to think differently from us is the road to world peace.
A Different Lens
by Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.
One of my hands
is being held
who agrees with me
and I smile
and feel comfortable
My other hand
is being held
who disagrees with me
and I sigh
and feel challenged
because I have an opportunity
to see the world
through a different lens
I am given the chance
Preceding column and poem appeared previously in La Jolla Village Voice
By Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.
LA JOLLA , California –The newspapers are full of traumatic events—from wars to fires to floods to earthquakes, civil unrest seems to be everywhere, all contribute to understandable paranoia. I started thinking about the kinds of fears we all experience and have categorized them under three different types.
First, there is what I call the personal fears: the everyday kind of anxieties that many of us experience, usually as a foreboding that does not pan out. For instance, every time my husband was late coming home, I immediately visualized him in a car crash or having a heart attack, usually alone on a deserted road. Or if he was at a meeting in a hotel or an office building, I visualized him lying ill on a lobby floor. When I know that my children are flying, then there is the plane crash anxiety. Now that all of our grandsons are old enough to drive, I worry about their driving with friends (I read that the more kids there are in a car, the more likely an accident will occur). The personal fears can also be mild anxieties about a talk to be given at a conference or concern about the forthcoming dinner party where the mix of guests won’t work and the food won’t be good and the weather won’t cooperate.
Obviously being anxious about events that probably won’t happen is unpleasant and bad for our immune systems; feelings of anxiety impact our health. So instead of planning for a worst-case scenario, we should try to let go of the negative thoughts and think only about positive outcomes. If this is difficult, occupy your mind with tasks that need concentration. Being physically active also helps.
Then there are the universal fears—the kinds we’re all afraid of: getting sick, dying in pain, having Alzheimer’s (every time I misplace something I think, “This is it, dementia has set in!”), having a spouse die or dying before a spouse and leaving him or her bereft, or burying a child. Universal fears are shared by most people and are part and parcel of being human. In some parts of the world, fear of hunger is predominant, in others it may be fear of droughts or floods or of locusts, fear of war or civil unrest. In other words, there are realistic fears which may come to pass and about which we have little control except to prepare for disaster whenever possible. I go to the doctor for checkups and have a bag of emergency supplies in case of an earthquake.
The third type are the global fears:. These are fears of buildings bombed, water reservoirs being poisoned, houses of worship being burned, germ warfare, economic collapse, war, and now even fear of pirates. Fear of the dizzying challenges we face as a species in the next few generations.
I worry about our grandchildren’s children—with coastal flooding seemingly inevitable due to global warming, by mid-century, where will those millions of newly homeless go but more inland—inland into already overcrowded places where they will not be welcomed—will there be strife or will there be a solution before it actually happens? What about our coming water shortages? What will happen if the aquifers are eventually drained? Here in San Diego, we are planning for desalination plants—a good thing!
These are the global fears, those that threaten our planet and about which we can prepare with wind farms, solar panels, artificial lawns, alternative fuels, new vaccines, recycling, going green, and generally making our voices heard for better planning for the inevitable problems that may occur not in our lifetime, but in the lifetimes of our descendents: leaving a legacy of a viable earth.
And so whether our fears are personal: just some of us—universal: that’s most of us—or global: that should be all of us, we need to acknowledge the reality of those fears and deal with them by being there for each other and there for all of us—all of us inhabitants of the same home.
Josefowitz is an author and freelance writer based in La Jolla, California. This article appeared previously in La Jolla Village Voice.
By Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.
LA JOLLA, California– It starts in the morning: Voice 1: “Get up!” Voice 2: “I’m still sleepy.” Voice 1 impatiently: “You’ll be late for work!” Voice 2, pleading: “Five more minutes.”
It goes on at breakfast: Voice 1: “Whole-wheat toast and fruit!” Voice 2: “There’s a doughnut left in the fridge.” Voice 1: “It’s all fat and sugar!” Voice 2: “Just this once.”
And so the voices continue throughout the day with every decision we have to make—from “Shall I walk up the three flights to my office or take the elevator?” to “Shall I criticize my colleague’s report or let it go?”
We all have many voices that send us very different messages—there is a worrier voice that always says “Be nice, don’t make trouble,” another that tells you to have fun and forget about the consequences, and an often loud one that is always ready to criticize: “You shouldn’t have, you’re stupid, don’t believe that compliment, you haven’t tried hard enough, it is not good enough, you’ll never make it.” etc.
It is important for all of us to identify the different voices in our heads so that we can decide which ones to listen to and when, and which ones are too critical or too inflammatory or too protective. Among all the static, there is a self, an inner core, the ego that is the decision maker, who decides what voices will be listened to and which will be told to shut up. When facing a decision, ask yourself which voice of yours seems to be loudest, and then pay attention to the other one too.
The voices sometimes do not get heard in time—like when we lose our temper and then regret it, the rational voice too soft to stop us, overshadowed by the stronger voice of emotion. Generally, the emotional voices are louder than the voices of reason. Emotions flood us, we react impulsively, unable to lower the volume of the hurt, the anger, the frustration. Remember the advice of counting to ten before responding? It is to give time for the emotional voice to quiet down and allow the rational one to be heard.
It is the emotional voice that gets us into trouble, yet it is a voice that needs to be taken into account. It gives us clues as to what is going on inside of ourselves. People who have shut down their emotional voice cannot connect to these voices in others and thus may be missing important information as to the emotional climate around them. People who have dimmed their voice of reason are prone to the seesaws of their feelings, buffeted by the both ill winds and soft breezes of emotional ups and downs.
If you watch and listen to people, you will be able to figure out which voices control them and you will be able to better predict their behaviors. Knowing this will also help you find the best ways to communicate with them and to appeal to their predominant ways of thinking.
And if you can figure out what your voices are trying to achieve, you’ll never again say, “I don’t understand why I did (said) that.” You’ll be able to blame that mischievous voice of yours.
Josefowitz is an author and freelance writer based in La Jolla. This article appered previously in La Jolla Village Voice
By Natasha Josefowitz, Ph.D.
LA JOLLA, California — Yes, it’s possible to make yourself happy even when you’re not feeling it. Some things you should know:
• Contrary to popular opinion, satisfaction with life increases with advancing age.
• On average, men and women experience emotions similarly, even though women have more fluctuations between positive and negative moods.
• Married people are happier than unmarried people, but people in unhappy marriages have lower levels of happiness than unmarried or divorced people.
• Most people who face a serious tragedy, such as an illness or loss, return within a year to their former level of contentment.
• Conversely, people who win the lottery or have a successful experience revert to their former level of satisfaction. Studies show that we are genetically programmed to live within a fairly narrow range of possible happiness. An inherited positive attitude will help a person in dire circumstances to deal with these events in a more positive way.
This said, we are not stuck in that range for life, just as many other genetic tendencies are influenced by our environment, so is our potential for feeling and expressing negative or positive emotions. In other words, the same news may impact me positively, you negatively, and someone else indifferently. However, if my life is made up of mostly good events and a supportive environment, even if I’m programmed to look at the down side of life, I will be able to overcome this to a certain extent.
Even though there is much that is not within our control, there are significant variables we can influence. That is, we can learn to control our thoughts and feelings; we have control over how we feel over the past, the present, and the future.
1. The past: Do you dwell on past grievances? Can you forgive the transgressors who caused the pain? Can you move on from past injustices?
Visualize the negative events while taking deep breaths and try to understand the perpetrator’s point of view. Create a story he or she might tell. Decide to forgive and move on. Sometimes writing a letter forgiving the person can help, even if you don’t intend to mail it.
2. The future: Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you always dwell on the worst-case scenario? The difference is that pessimists believe bad events are permanent while optimists think they are temporary. Also, pessimists overreact to adversity; expecting the worst makes them experience events as worse than they are. Optimists tend to see the world in positive outcomes and are able to get over negative events quicker. They are also more tolerant of their own foibles as well as those of others.
3. The present: Do you enjoy the moment, grateful for the sunshine, the good friends, the good meal, the good book you’re reading? Take a few minutes each evening to write three things from your day you are grateful for. Mine for today are my granddaughter called, I read a good book, and I walked on the treadmill for twenty minutes. Do you live fully today, not worrying about past misdeeds nor being anxious about an unforeseeable future? Of course we learn from past mistakes and prepare for the future, but it’s important to appreciate the moment.
Meditation calms the brain and physical exercise reduces stress. Adequate sleep and good nutrition are important factors in our feelings of well-being. If you feel cranky and out-of-sorts eat a piece of chocolate to boost your serotonin; peanuts, bananas, and turkey contain tryptophan, which has a calming effect. And, finally, laugh more—be with jolly people, keep funny things around, send jokes so that you will also receive them.
“Put on a happy face” is not an old wives’ tales. Research has shown that by changing your facial muscles you set off different physiological changes that will in turn affect your mood. Even when you don’t feel cheerful but you smile, the blood flow to the brain increases production of the neurotransmitters which make you feel happier.
So, if you can’t laugh, then smile, and if you don’t feel like smiling, fake it. Your brain won’t know the difference, and it will send you a message that something pleasant is going on. You might just believe it and feel better.
Josefowitz is a freelance writer based in La Jolla. Her column appeared previously in La Jolla Village Voice.
By Norman Greene
SAN DIEGO–My hands are bloodied. My eyes are ringed with dark circles. My house is in shambles. And I am exhausted. Why? It’s all because of my children’s last Chanukah present, some eight months ago.
We had been a five dog, one cat family for a very long time. We hadn’t exactly planned it that way, but that’s what happened. One by one, after long lives, our dear animals passed away. The last was Maverick, a Maltese Poodle who looked like an English Sheep dog. He was my favorite. But on August 4, 2008, he left us.
For a year and a half, our house felt empty. My wife was happy, but I was not.
Growing up. I always had a dog. There was Rusty and CoCo who were an integral part of our family in those formative years. Sometimes I thought my parents loved them even more than me. They had no pedigrees, but they exuded love and obedience.
Skip to a number of years later. One week before our daughter was born, and probably because she was a week late in her arrival, Roberta and I adopted our first dog, Brandy Alexandra. The middle name was a slight bow to my Father who wanted a name for his late brother Al…not my most favorite uncle. Brandy was a little, scraggly love machine. She adored our baby and then her brother. We never had to buy toys for either offspring, because they had the best toy in Brandy. (Saved me a fortune over the 13 years Brandy was with us.)
After Brandy came Morgan, whose sister, Maxie, was my mother’s dog. This is probably telling tales out of school, but together, having no shame, they produced Mandy, who came to live with us. Morgan was a very attentive father, constantly licking Mandy’s ears and before you knew it, they had Maverick. I feared that with such inbreeding, Maverick would never go to Harvard, but he was the most intelligent of the four dogs.
As things worked out, we inherited Maxie. Then our daughter moved home from the East Coast with her dog, Brindle. Voila! We were a five dog family with one poor suffering Siamese cat.
In mid-2009, despite warnings that my wife would move out if I came home with a new canine, I began to look for a rescue dog. My daughter flooded me with books on Portuguese Water Dogs, French Poodles, Briards and some exotic breeds that all looked as though they would be too complicated and too high strung.
In early October, my daughter asked me to pick her up to help with some errands. She wanted to drive to North County. I immediately became suspicious and loudly proclaimed that I didn’t want a puppy. I wanted a housebroken, year or two old dog. “We are just going to look,” she said, as my wife of 40 years began to pack her bags. “I’ll miss you,” I said, as I found my car keys.
So we drove to Fallbrook where a breeder had a pair of Standard Poodles, one chocolate and the other snow white. They had 13 four week old puppies, three black, two white and the rest every shade of apricot. They were cute.
“Which one do you want?” the breeder asked me, and then proceeded to tell me that the sizable deposit my son and daughter had given him was non-refundable.
Four weeks later, we brought home cognac colored Remy Martin, named to honor his French heritage and the first cognac I had ever tasted at 18 years of age.
We were advised to “crate” train Remy. This meant that our daughter in law provided us with a cage in which Remy would sleep at night. Within the first few days, he was house broken. What an intelligent animal! Of course, it also meant that at 3 a.m. and at 6 a.m., I had to let him out of the crate to do his business on our back lawn. I never remember getting out of bed in the middle of the night with either of our two children. Guess I was not a liberated father in those long ago days.
At eight weeks when we brought him home, Remy could be held in the palms of my hands. Within two weeks, he had doubled in size. Each morning, he was two inches longer. Today, at nine months, he can comfortably rest his head on our kitchen table and take anything off our kitchen counters. If he doesn’t stop growing soon, I’ll have to teach him how to smoke in the hopes of stunting future growth.
Remy is adorable, except when he destroyed an expensive, new pair of my Italian shoes and the spiked heel of one of my wife’s. Fortunately, she didn’t care for those shoes anyway. Nordstroms was kind enough to send the remains of mine back to the factory where miracle of miracles, they were able to rebuild them even before my credit card bill to pay for them came in. You gotta love Nordstroms. They only charged me $10.
Next, just as I was emerging from the proverbial doghouse, Remy chewed up a kitchen cabinet at the base. “Do something. This is ‘your’ dog,” my wife fumed.
“Oh, it’s just that he is going into puberty,” our trainer told us.
I bought an electronic collar at Petco for Remy, but even on blast, it had no effect, none at all. I returned it and sought help on the internet. A new collar arrived this week with four times the amount of stun power, but not in time to save the torn skirt on our living room couch, a floor to ceiling screen in our den, or an antique night stand next to my bed that he lovingly chewed in the eight minutes he was out of my sight.
You may be wondering about my bloodied hands. Well, a playful Standard Poodle’s baby teeth are very, very sharp. Judging by the condition of my night stand, the permanent set are not dull either.
Remy is boundless energy incarnate. Lately, my athletic wife has been taking him for long walks when I feign exhaustion. Except for the destruction, and the food and vet bills, I think she is slowly falling in love with Remy. One day, she may even forgive our children for this unwanted, but much loved, Chanukah gift. Other than “an eye for an eye,” there must be something in the Torah about that.
Greene is a freelance writer based in San Diego
By Donald H. Harrison
POWAY, California—As the 4th of July pinwheels, sparklers, cloud bursts and other pyrotechnics lit up the Poway-Rancho Bernardo area, the 9-year-old boys behind me kept up a running commentary: “That’s the biggest one yet… That’s the loudest! …. That’s the coolest! … That’s the highest! … Oh, that’s so awesome.” Occasionally, the 3-year-old brother of one of the nine-year-old boys chimed in with his appraisals: “That one is green…. Red! …. Oooh, white.”
Although I didn’t expect the patriotic evening would have greater-than-usual sentimental impact on me, indeed it did. Not only did this past Sunday mark the 234th anniversary of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, it also marked what would have been the 100th birthday of my father, Martin Benjamin Harrison.
It occurred to me that my grandson Shor, one of the nine-year-old boys who was yelling appreciative descriptions of the fireworks, was given the middle name of Martin in my father’s memory, and that coincidentally the boy seated next to him in the parking lot of Congregation Ner Tamid was named Binyamin (Benjamin). The two had been classmates at Soille San Diego Hebrew Day School up to the end of the spring semester.
Shor remembered a favorite family story that had been told about my father – that Martin’s parents, Meyer and Florence, had him convinced up to the point that he became five years old that all those fireworks were in honor of his birth date of July 4, 1910. When my father got to kindergarten, a wiser classmate apprised him of the truth—not for him, but for these United States of America, did people all over the country engage in such celebrations.
I looked back at Sky, our three-year-old grandson, who was sitting in my wife Nancy’s lap, and realized that he was of the age of utter and complete gullibility. Had he been born on a July 4th, instead of nearly four months earlier on the calendar, would I have been tempted to tell him we were going to attend a big, noisy, wonderful celebration in honor of his birthday?
Ner Tamid Synagogue is located up on a hill adjacent to the grounds below of Rancho Bernardo High School, from where the fireworks were set off. When the fireworks burst in the air, they were far closer to us than to the spectators at the high school, perhaps adding to the thrill of the occasion. We have our dear friends Gerry and Judy Burstain to thank for inviting us to Ner Tamid, where they are active members.
I saw at least one dog on a leash in the Ner Tamid parking lot, and I wondered how the animal would react to the fireworks. Seeing him there amid soda cups, hot dogs and salad, I remembered the trick my father once had taught our dog, Casey, who was a mixture of German Shepherd and Boxer. Dad would put some delectable morsel down on the ground in front of him and whistle for Casey, who’d come bounding toward him. Spotting the food, Casey would lick his chops, but two soft words from my father brought Casey to an abrupt halt: “Not kosher,” my father would whisper. Casey would remain rigid in place, disdaining the treif food, but never taking his eyes off it. “Okay,” my father would say, after a pause, “it’s ham.” The dog would gobble up the food immediately.
“Ham? Kosher?” friends would ask.
“What do you expect? A dog knows gornisht about kosher,” dad would reply.
Dad used his sense of humor to great advantage in his profession. For many years, he was the national sales representative of his uncle’s company, Stang Textile Corporation, which sold pocketing and lining to the manufacturers of men’s suits. He had a simpler way of describing his job: “I’m in the shmata business,” he’d say. That’s Yiddish for “old rag.”
He used to travel extensively, taking four, five-week-long swings around the country every year to visit his customers at the clothing factories. In between swings, he would correspond with his customers, often sending them cartoons which he drew instead of relying on more formal written correspondence. One of those cartoons he drew stuck in my memory: A man wearing nothing but a barrel holding his hands up in a shrugging gesture, asks“Pockets? Whose got pockets?” The punch line was below the cartoon. “Marty Harrison’s got pockets! Need some?”
This cartoon and others almost invariably were pinned up on the walls of the cutting rooms of the various suit factories. Dad had the pleasure of seeing his “art galleries” in cities across the United States.
He was quite a story teller too, with an ear for accents and regional dialects. He could tell after listening to someone for less than a minute whether that person was from Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago or Kansas City. And he could reproduce many accents, especially when telling dialect stories that often featured Eastern European Jews, French people, British folk, Russians, Australians , Germans, and the panoply of humanity.
Some say dad had a passing physical resemblance to the comedian Myron Cohen, who spent his formative years in the shmata business. Once, dad attended a night of Myron Cohen’s comedy, at the Palmer House in Chicago if memory serves me right. Coincidence of coincidence, they were wearing the same colored suit. As dad started to leave the show room, people asked for his autograph. “I’m not Myron Cohen,” he said. “Don’t be like that—we just saw you on stage!” they insisted. He could not convince them otherwise, so, dad reluctantly signed various pieces of paper, “with best wishes – Myron Cohen.” At last, he got away, and found his way to a bar in the hotel. As luck would have it, Cohen was sitting in a booth.
“Mr. Cohen,” said my father, “I want to apologize to you. I was just mobbed by people who thought I was you and demanded that I sign your autograph. They wouldn’t believe me when I said I wasn’t you, so to get away from them, I signed.”
Cohen was not particularly perturbed by the news.
“You know,” my father ventured. “You and I come from similar backgrounds. I’m in the textile business, just like you used to be—and to tell the truth, I know the same jokes that you tell. I’ve been telling them, and others, for years.”
“That,” declared Cohen, “is a challenge. Sit down.”
So dad said across from the comedian and they made a bet. A drink would be bought for the man who could tell a joke that the other did not know.
Sometimes the joke started differently than the way the other told it, but at a certain point, it would be recognized and the listener would blurt out the punch line. Then the listener would start telling the story, until the other interrupted.
According to dad, the contest lasted between an hour and ninety minutes. Word that Cohen was having a contest with someone who looks like he could be his brother spread through the bar. People craned their necks to listen to the showdown.
At the end of the sessions, two drinks had been purchased. One each.
Dad, our family story teller, died 35 years ago when he was the age I am today. He was a heavy smoker with a three-pack a day habit. Unfiltered Paul Malls. I’m certain he’d have lived to a nice ripe age if he hadn’t smoked. He’d have been able to watch my daughter Sandi and son David grow up, seen both of them married so Shahar and Hui-Wen respectively, and perhaps even met Shor, Sky and his youngest great-grandchild, Brian.
Looking up at the fireworks-stained sky, I recalled that dad had been shocked back to life after suffering a heart attack in the hospital. “Please don’t do that again,” he demanded of us. “I saw myself down there—I was watching what everyone was doing—but I didn’t want to go back. Up above, I saw my brother (Henry), and my father (Meyer) and they were welcoming me.”
We followed dad’s wishes, and did not resuscitate him after yet another heart attack, though it was a very hard decision for my mother, Alice, my brother Bill, and myself.
Our family continues to speculate about dad’s out-of-body experience. Was it evidence of an afterlife? Or was it simply the hallucination of a dying man?
It was an interesting juxtaposition: the last words of a man born July 4, 1910 and volley after volley of fireworks bringing the celebration of July 4, 2010, to a climax.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World