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House Majority Leader To Trump: We’re Going To Lose

Reprinted with permission from Shareblue.com

In the current political reality, the ten months until the midterm elections manages to feel like it is both light-years away and just around the corner.

And for many in the Republican Party, under the “leadership” of Donald Trump, Election Day 2018 is not exactly something they are eagerly anticipating.

Indeed, recent polling confirmed that the midterms were already shaping up to be a disaster for Republicans. Quinnipiac University found that, on a host of issues from immigration to taxes to North Korea, the American people resoundingly rejected the GOP’s stances.

That repudiation, along with the nation’s marked disapproval of Trump, likely contributed to the raft of recent retirements in the party and the difficulty it is having in recruiting new candidates.

As the Post reports, McCarthy “described scenarios to the president ranging from a bloodbath where Republicans lost the House ‘and lost it big,’ in the words of one official, to an outcome in which they keep control while losing some seats.”

Apparently, McCarthy was unable to concoct a single scenario in which the party did not lose any races.

And no wonder, considering even a deep red state like Georgia has largely turned against Trump, and a Democratic upset in equally deep red Alabama left the GOP essentially mired in a civil war — something the party might repeat with racist convicted criminal Joe Arpaio jumping into the Senate race in Arizona.

All around the country, seats that had previously been solidly Republican either have or are predicted to flip blue. A top election forecaster recently declared that Democrats’ chances of winning the House majority in 2018 were “very real.”

And thus, so is the fear that many in the Republican Party are feeling as they look at the political landscape around them.

But they have only themselves to blame for it. Perhaps if more of them had been able to locate their spines and their consciences and rebuke Trump’s bigotryignorancecrassness, and recklessness, the voters might be more willing to re-elect them.

Instead, Republicans went all in on Trumpism, even knowing the potential damage it could do to the party’s chances. And the American people are ready to make them pay for it.

 

You’re Drinking Too Much. How To Cut Back

By Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune (TNS)

Maybe your 2015 ended with a bang of booze. If you’re nursing a holiday hangover, perhaps it’s time for a change.

Whether your family has an addiction history that’s prompting a rethinking, or you are simply questioning whether a cocktail should accompany every night’s dinner as an appetizer, it never hurts to re-evaluate health choices.

We talked to Dr. Indra Cidambi, psychiatrist and medical director for the Center for Network Therapy in New Jersey, which helps guide patients through detox.

One clue it might be time for a change? If you find yourself explaining that your alcohol intake is a reasonable amount, whether to yourself or others.

“When we don’t want to do something, as human beings, we justify,” she said.

This interview has been condensed.

Q: So, New Year’s resolution season. Is January a good time to cut back?

A: It’s not a good idea to do something because of the season, because that’s not why you should do it. You want to really look at the whole bigger picture. Do I really want to do it? And if so, you need to jot down at least three reasons.

Q: How do you decide if it’s time to drink less?

A: If I feel that my drinking has been impacting my day-to-day life, other people are pointing out to me, “You’re drinking too much.” That means the functioning of that individual is being jeopardized. The question is, should I be drinking, should I be cutting down, or should I quit drinking?

Drinking alcohol in moderation or not drinking at all would be the question.

Q: What is drinking in moderation?

A: The guideline is, one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65 years of age. If it is a man (65 or younger), up to two drinks a day.

Having said that, that kind of moderate alcohol use is really unheard of.

Q: What is considered more than drinking in moderation?

A: More than three drinks a day, or more than 7 drinks a week, for women and men over 65. Four drinks a day or more than 14 drinks a week for (younger) men.

Q: What are the pros and cons of going cold turkey?

A: (For addicts) cold turkey is very dangerous. You really want to cut down mindfully, depending on about how much and how long the person has been drinking. Go to the primary care doctor. Be honest about how many drinks a day you’ve been drinking.

For regular drinkers, if somebody is drinking three to four drinks a day, they cut the drinking to two drinks a day, one drink a day. Bring it down. Say, “Today, maybe I will not drink. Let me try to kind of quit my evening drink as soon as I walk into the house.” Instead of going three times a week to parties, cutting down and going once.

Q: Is it helpful to cut out one thing, like beer or liquor?

A: One drink is one drink. People will say, “I no longer want to drink hard liquor, I’ll only do red wine or white wine.” It’s really the justification again.

©2016 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: The guideline for moderate alcohol use is one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65, or two drinks a day for younger men. And, says Dr. Indra Cidambi, “one drink is one drink,” whether liquor, beer or wine. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

 

Braking Stress: Zen Commute Can Take You To A Better Place

By Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune (TNS)

Commuters are sentenced to spend part of each day stuck in a compact space, all to get to work.

That time can be stressful, full of other drivers’ raging honks or crammed-in strangers’ blaring phone conversations.

But it doesn’t have to be drudgery — in fact, if you can believe it, some say it should be a time of Zen.

“We can say, ‘OK, I’m going to be in the car for an hour,'” said actor Jeff Kober, who teaches meditation in Los Angeles. “‘Now, what can I do to improve my quality of life during that hour?'”

Resist the urge to relinquish that hour to an inner monologue of traffic complaints, work worries and side-eye looks at coughing riders. Instead, treat it as a time when you can incorporate more contentment, either by getting more meditative or taking measures to create your own oasis.

“Because we’re essentially captive, why not make it into something really productive?” said Maria Gonzalez, who teaches the benefits of mindfulness in business as founder of Argonauta Strategic Alliances Consulting in Toronto.

She cautions that she doesn’t mean productive in the sense of pulling up work email. Relaxing your commute can include parts both physical and mental — focusing on breath, rearranging posture, tiny massages while waiting at a red light.

Plus, taking time to refocus thoughts and transform your mindset from zombielike zoning out to borderline pleasant can influence your life and workday.

“I can’t change the thoughts that are coming through me; I can’t change my emotions; I can’t change the way my body feels; I can’t change the traffic,” said Kober, who recently created a meditation guide for Buick’s “24 Hours of Happiness Test Drive,” geared toward curbing stress.

Experts say, however, that it is possible to change how you embark on, endure and exit your commute.

Before: First, build an enjoyable space for yourself within your commute.

If you drive, choose your car carefully — make sure it’s something comfortable that you enjoy spending time in. Try to keep it clean.

“Become conscious that a car itself is a destination,” said New York spine specialist Dr. Kenneth Hansraj.

“You would think better if you realize you’re spending all the best hours of your life in this machine.”

Then, think through how pleasant a commute can be. Sure, “pleasant” is not a word many would associate with it, but consider the possibilities.

“If we could just allow it to be what it is, which is slightly uncomfortable, we have an opportunity of being able to enjoy it sometimes, if the right song comes on the radio or somebody smiles at us from a car,” Kober said.

Consider setting a goal or an intention. Recognize that you’re putting expectations on it either way.

“The intention that naturally exists — my intention is to get done with this commute,” Kober noted. “So I’ve just doomed myself to an hour of discomfort, because my intention will not be met until I get out of the car.”

A goal can be to simply become present: paying attention to your surroundings in a way that acknowledges what’s around you. Clouds in the sky, feeling of the seat, your hands on the steering wheel.

Kober said that if you can focus your thoughts even just three times — at the very beginning, middle and end of a commute — you’ve accomplished something.

During: Those traveling by bus or train can listen to a 16-minute guided meditation led by Kober available on YouTube. An idea for those new to meditation might be listening to it once, during one commute, and noting any effects.

“See what the world looks like before you do the guided meditation; see if anything has changed (after),” Kober said. “See if it’s a little brighter.”

The easiest way to fold Zen into your commute? Simple breaths.

“Before you actually start driving, just focus on the breath,” Gonzalez said. “Take three mindful breaths. Be aware that you’re right there right now, as opposed to, ‘I wonder how long it’s going to take me today. I wonder how many meetings are going to be on my calendar.'”

Cultivating awareness can force your mind to slow down.

“You become aware that you’re right there, right now, and that’s incredibly powerful,” Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez added that this also stops us from our mind’s natural wanderings toward the past (How long was the commute yesterday? Will today be better?) or the future (I really don’t want to go to lunch with my boss today).

She acknowledges that this isn’t an easy task.

“We’re bombarded by unconscious thinking, thinking that just happens to us,” she said.

Finding one central focus is the key, she said. And good news — this doesn’t mean you have to give up scrolling Facebook.

Focus on one thing that relaxes you, and return to that if you’re distracted. So whether music, a book or even perusing social media makes you happy, home in, and if you get distracted, return to that thing.

“Just come back to what you’re reading, because how many times have we started reading something and we say, ‘Oh my God I’ve read this paragraph 10 times,'” she said. “The mind did not stay focused.”

As a bonus, this serves as a separation from work.

“This moment means there is a point of separation, and you’re going home,” Gonzalez said.

Keeping your brain on topic helps calm it, she said. And training it to do that can carry over into other moments, work and otherwise.

“As you’re doing this, you’re gaining a benefit, because you’re seeing how you can apply this in your day,” she said. “Going into a stressful meeting or a deadline, now you know what to do.”

Of course, don’t relax so much that you fall asleep.

After: Effects of a commute can persist after you settle into your cubicle chair or your couch at home.

New York masseuse Dot Stein, known by the name of her business, Dr. Dot, which employs masseuses around the world, crafted car-focused massage techniques. Designed to ease pain in the head, ears, jaw, neck and shoulder, they’re targeted at places that tense up while traveling.

She knows of what she speaks — Stein built her career giving musicians massages, building up a lot of on-the-road experience.

For example, she said, during driving, stress can tighten the scalp. After your commute, or even during if you’re on a bus or train, slowly massage your temples. Grip small handfuls of your hair and tug, she said.

And the ears also need comfort — honks and screeching tires take a toll.

Squeeze earlobes as if you’re ironing out the folds of your ears with your fingertips, Stein advised. Place a palm over each ear, and use your hands to move your ears up and down

From the moment you leave home or work, traveling to the other, think of your commute in a fresh way. Besides, experts point out, you’re expending energy either way. You might as well make it positive.

“If I have determined that that’s just wasted time, then there’s no way I’m ever going to be OK with it,” Kober said. “I’m just going to be waiting until it’s over.”

(c)2015 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Obviously, you have to pay attention while driving, but you can create a climate in which you no longer dread the experience. (Darren Baker/Fotolia)

Cooking With These Foods Can Help Battle Predisposition For Obesity

By Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune (TNS)

Incorporating more foods into your diet to avoid gaining weight — it sounds too good to be true.

But one doctor says that a few foods can slow your risk of obesity.

Dr. Mitchell Gaynor, author of The Gene Therapy Plan: Taking Control of your Genetic Destiny with Diet and Lifestyle, which focuses on reversing gene damage to maximize longevity, talked to us about foods to take out or bring in.

Research shows, Gaynor said, that multiple genes affect someone’s chance of becoming overweight.

“What we used to think is that if you had a gene or genes, for instance, a lot of people in your family were overweight, you would just assume you would be overweight at some point in your life as well,” he said.

But, he said, “Genes are largely dynamic, and you can change the expression of genes.”

For example, you can eat foods that are protective against things that your genes might predispose you to, like cancer or obesity.

Genes affect the formation of new fat cells — people form new fat cells at different rates.

But even if you can’t change your genes, you can change what’s happening in your body, said Gaynor, who is also founder of Gaynor Integrative Oncology in New York City.

And knowing whether you’re predisposed to genes that, for example, cause obesity, can help you know how to counteract that.

If you’re more predisposed to obesity, Gaynor said, you can home in on the hormones that influence weight.

According to Gaynor, three major hormones affect what the scale says: insulin, which helps the body process sugar; and leptin and glucagon-like peptide-1 (or GLP-1), which make you feel full.

Everyone has those three hormones, but sometimes inflammation blocks them.

“The major causes of inflammation are too much white sugar and white flour and heat-damaged vegetable oils found in fast food and processed food,” he said.

So in addition to the oft-prescribed fish, for example, consider cooking with other anti-inflammatory foods, such as rosemary, extra-virgin olive oil, artichokes, garlic, turmeric and cinnamon.

“It’s good to have cinnamon at the end of every meal, even if you’re having cinnamon tea, or you could have desserts with cinnamon instead of white sugar,” he said.

(c)2015 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Steven Jackson

How A Mindful Marriage Can Reinvigorate A Relationship

By Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune (TNS)

When your spouse leaves dirty laundry two feet from the hamper, the last thing that comes to mind is meditating on your feelings.

But experts say being present in the moment — or having a “mindful” marriage — can translate to happier couples.

We first noticed the mention of mindful marriage when Jennifer Garner and fellow actor and husband Ben Affleck said years ago that they aimed for a mindful matrimony. Theirs has since soured — they announced they’re divorcing recently after 10 years. Others referencing a thoughtful relationship include Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, who announced their own “conscious uncoupling” in 2014.

Mindfulness might not have led to a perfect ending for those couples, but therapists say it helps so many marriages that some are building their practice around it. Couples counselor Maxcia Lizarraga, based in Nashville, Tenn., even credits it for the success of her own 44-year marriage.

“Being mindful is about being present in the moment without an agenda to change that moment,” said Durango, Colo., clinical psychologist Darrah Westrup, co-author of The Mindful Couple: How Acceptance and Mindfulness Can Lead You to the Love You Want. “You’re aware of this moment and watching it.”

This is helpful for individuals as well as couples — anyone can benefit from wrangling his or her thoughts more positively. And in a relationship, this can lead to more patience and compassion.

Westrup said she has increasingly focused her practice on this concept, adding that she feels “more and more people are on this path.”

AVOIDING MISCONCEPTIONS
Key to understanding mindfulness, Westrup said, is that you cannot have an agenda. Being present in the moment does not mean keeping score on small details — for example, taking note of when your partner doesn’t do the dishes. Being more mindful starts with acknowledging it isn’t about changing your partner.

Couples also make the mistake of viewing mindfulness as a quick fix that will make something upsetting less upsetting or an irritating habit less irritating, Westrup said.

“People will talk about accepting or being present, but behind it is this (misconception) that if I do this, then I’m not going to be so troubled by the present,” she said.

Instead, you need to take the practice to the next level: Take time to center yourself in the moment, noting where you are and how you’re feeling — without judgment.

Accept your reactions to your partner. If there is laundry on the floor, acknowledge the emotion of frustration, for example, as well as your reaction.

ADJUSTING FOCUS
Therapist Lizarraga, who centers her work on couples and leads Mindful Marriage workshops, said she advises clients to take a step back during a difficult (or even mundane) moment and acknowledge both their emotions as well as the self they hope to be in a relationship.

“Kindness is actually the glue that can frequently hold a marriage together,” she said.

Harnessing your thoughts can be as straightforward as noting the thought, “My spouse is such a nag,” and altering it to, “I’m having that thought about my spouse again.” Take a moment to think of the type of spouse and person you would like to be, Lizarraga suggested, and how that can manifest in the moment.

“Whatever you focus on grows,” be it positive or negative, said Lizarraga.

REFRESHER COURSE
Corey Allan, a marriage and family therapist based in Dallas, said mindfulness also can combat the inevitable routine of marriage.

“Months, years later, you get into this idea of we’re roommates, we just do life together, and there’s no connection, the spark’s gone,” he said. “I sum up the whole idea of mindfulness as intentionality.”

But in the whirlwind of their lives, when getting the kids off to school is a morning miracle, how can couples train themselves to take moments for mindfulness?

A few moments after the alarm buzzes can be a first step, Lizarraga said.

“It starts off in the morning, saying good morning, how did you sleep, how was your night?” she said. “There’s that sense of connectiveness: ‘Oh, my partner cares how I slept.'”

Getting to know each other is natural at the beginning of a relationship but harder to continue as a couple travels toward the long term.

“When we begin a relationship, sharing is a natural process,” Lizarraga said. “We want to know everything: Tell me about your family, what you think, what you want to do.”

In marriage, those questions — “What do you think?” “How do you feel?” — are equally important but can be eclipsed in the day-to-day tasks of, say, finding a briefcase or buying groceries.

Mindfulness can remind couples to ask those kinds of questions.

But this targeting of truthfulness, said Lizarraga, begins on an individual level.

“The idea is really being able to share a sense of our authentic self, ‘I’m fearful of this,’ or ‘I’m concerned about this,'” she said.

Whether you’re saying “good morning” or marshaling your energy at a scattered-laundry war zone, taking a personal timeout to pursue a few thoughtful moments can have a lasting effect.

“The whole notion of demonstrating compassion in that moment can make the difference in an entire day,” Lizarraga said.

(c)2015 Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Photo: Mindfulness can help a marriage grow, but like anything else, it takes a little work. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)