Feeling Powerless: Melting Away the Winter Weather Blues
- Category: Shout it Out
- Published on 23 February 2015
- Written by Dr. Adam S. Weissman
The winter blues affect us all. Short, chilly days, early sunsets, and dark, blistery cold nights offer limited opportunities for warmth, sunlight, routine outdoor activity, and Vitamin D. What's more, that unnerving and unpredictable Winter Storm watch has us glued to our favorite news channel, ready to derail us at any moment from our work, travel, exercise, and social routines, against our will, leaving us feeling helpless and not in control of our own lives.
Uncertainty is the root of anxiety; it's human nature. We naturally feel anxious and unbalanced in the face of uncertainty, whether it's applying to college, financial instability, caring for a sick family member, relationship woes, or having our weekly plans - and in many cases, our livelihood - cast aside by Winter Storm Juno and the icy travel conditions and snows to follow. The key to mental equilibrium is acceptance of the things we cannot control and the ability to slow down our thoughts and emotions by problem-solving and weighing the evidence for and against our worried thoughts.
For example, while you may be unable to make it into the office for that important meeting or project deadline, it may be helpful to reason that our bosses and co-workers will likely understand since they are in the same boat as we are, instead of worrying endlessly about the ramifications of our unfinished work. And while it is possible that a call to a friend or relative that goes straight to voicemail may mean that he or she is in danger, perhaps that friend or relative simply lost power, or perhaps he or she is making the most of the unplanned "vacation day" with a warm bubble bath or an impromptu family movie night.
During this period of uncertainty, it is important that we all take care of ourselves... and each other... the STOP AND COPE coping tips below are a good place to start.
1. Shift Your Focus - When you're feeling tense or stressed out, you may get the urge to mentally replay your worries over and over in your mind. Shift your focus to something more positive. Remind yourself of something that makes you feel good. This can be a place you find relaxing and peaceful (e.g., a favorite beach or park) or maybe for your kids, a place where they had fun recently (e.g., an amusement park or baseball game).
2. Take Deep Breaths - You can also shift your focus to your body. Find a quiet, comfortable place to sit or lie down, and concentrate on your bodily sensations and on your breath. Take long, deep breaths from your diaphragm; try inhaling slowly through your nose for five seconds, and then exhaling through your mouth for seven. Exhaling longer than you inhale deepens your breathing, which helps calm your nervous system. To enhance your mindful breathing, you can say a mantra as you focus on your breath (e.g., "one... relax, two... relax"; "breath in calm, breath out stress")
3. Open the Door and Get Some Fresh Air – You've been cooped up for days... of course you're feeling on edge! Go outside, maybe take a short walk (if it's safe where you are), and get some fresh air. Most importantly, get back into your routine as soon as possible. Don't let your stress or fear derail you from getting back on track with the things that you enjoy and the things that are important and fulfilling in your life.
4. Play a Game or Do Something Fun with Your Family - Schools are closed and the nasty weather conditions provide a unique opportunity for family bonding time. How often are we stuck at home, perhaps with no power (e.g., phone, TV, Facebook)? Spend time together as a family, talking, playing board games, building that fort in the living room the kids have been asking about for weeks! Or watch a funny movie together if you do have power. When we're doing something fun - smiling and laughing, it's pretty hard to feel anxious. Find the silver lining and turn this stressful event into a fun and positive family bonding experience that the kids will remember forever.
5. Anxious Thought Busters – When we're feeling stressed out, we have anxious, exaggerated thoughts; we tend to overestimate the likelihood of something bad happening and underestimate our own abilities to cope. Give yourself (and your kids) a pep talk. Identify your anxious thoughts and "talk back" to your "Worry Bully" (we all have one!) by coming up with more helpful, realistic coping thoughts (e.g., "I have been in worse situations than this before and have been able to manage just fine", "What would I tell a friend in this situation?", "I can rely on my friends and family if I need help", "The power will be back on soon")
6. New Adventures – Sometimes we can get stuck in our daily routine and not take the time to stop and think about our overall stress level, how we are balancing our lives, and perhaps scheduling some time for fun. Think of this "down" time as an opportunity to break free from your weekly routine. Start planning some dates for your next family vacation or perhaps a romantic weekend getaway!
7. Draw or Write – Writing down your anxious thoughts can help relieve some of the stress caused by repetitive worry, especially at night before bed when our "Worry Bully" tends to rear its ugly head and disrupt our sleep. Write down your anxious thoughts or fears on a piece of paper, put the paper aside, and re-visit your list in a few hours. Your worried thoughts may not seem so bad in the morning. Coach your kids to write down their worries, as well, or express themselves through drawing.
8. Close Your Eyes and Imagine Your Peaceful Place – Create your own utopia or relaxing place in your mind and go through each sensory experience – what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. Perhaps make a special soothing playlist for your iPod and play some relaxing music in the background.
9. Open Up to a Parent or Friend - Share your feelings and don't be afraid to ask for help. Encourage your kids to talk about their feelings, as well, and to ask questions if they are feeling scared. Help each other and your neighbors.
10. Problem-Solve – Write down (or say out loud) the steps you are prepared to take to manage stressful situations that may arise (e.g., power outage, road block, running low on food, no public transportation, house or car damage). We are generally better problem-solvers than we give ourselves credit for, especially when we are feeling stressed out. Slow down your thoughts and emotions by following the 5 problem-solving STEPS below:
- Say the Problem
- Think of Solutions
- Examine Each Solution (pros and cons)
- Pick a Solution
- See if it worked
11. Exercise – You haven't made it out to the gym in days, so you probably have some pent up energy. Take a break, walk up and down a few flights of stairs, do some push-ups or sit-ups at home, or sign up for that Zumba or kickboxing class you've been dying to try. No matter what's going on in your life, exercise will always make you feel better. Try it out, and rate your stress level before and after on a scale of 0-10!
This article was written by Adam S. Weissman, Ph.D,the Founder & Executive Director of the Child & Family Institute in Scarsdale and Manhattan. He completed his B.A. in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, his M.S./Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers, his internship at the NYU Child Study Center, and a 2-year post-doctoral fellowship in child/adolescent psychology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Weissman is a nationally-recognized expert in CBT for youth anxiety, depression, behavioral problems, and ADHD, and an accomplished clinical researcher with nearly 20 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, 3 edited books, and over 50 professional presentations.
Disclaimer: Although Dr. Weissman is a board member of the Westchester County Psychological Association (WCPA), the views in this article are his and not the views of WCPA.
Famous Greek Kitchen
- Category: Around Town
- Published on 26 February 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
On one of the recent "coldest nights of the year," we risked the ice and ventured out to Greenwich – near Byram- to sample a family-owned Greek restaurant that received raves from a friend. The hostess was happy to grant our request to be seated well away from the door, and we found ourselves in a cozy booth with white leather banquette seats, shielded from any wintery air that could find its way in through the front door.
The restaurant was warm as was our greeting from our waiter who offered us drinks and a nice overview of what should be ordered from the extensive menu. It turns out that Famous Greek Kitchen opened thirty-three years ago as a pizza and souvlaki house. The owner's children have taken the restaurant into new directions. Steve Karipides is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has expanded the menu way beyond pizza and souvlaki. His sisters Maria and Sophia are also involved and assure diners a good experience.
So what is there to eat? Lots --and many appealing choices from which to choose – both Greek, Italian and continental. The choice of appetizers had quite a few tempters so we went for a bunch of those and shared our main courses. Baked shrimp saganaki with tomato, feta and fresh herbs was irresistible: tangy, hot melted cheese and delectable seafood in a flavorful tomato sauce. On the night we were there they were offering this dish with lobster and scallops – making it even better. Zucchini pancakes with tzatziki was another special appetizer and the pancakes were light and not greasy and came with homemade cucumber and yogurt sauce. We downed that quickly too. Friends loved the Oktapodi, char-grilled octopus drizzled with red win marinade. Other good options are the dips – roasted bean, melitzanosalta (roasted eggplant,) hummus, skordalia (potato, beets and roasted garlic), tyrokafteri (feta and hot peppers) or a sampling of any three for $14.95.
When in Greece ... order the Greek salad – and we did that too. The Horiatiki salad – is a lettuce-less priced at $10.95 with chopped tomatoes, feta, cucumber, onion, olives and peppers tossed in a red wine vinaigrette. Even though we are suffering through the bleakest of winters, these vegetables tasted like they came from sunnier climes.
Though there are many Greek entress on the menu – including souvlaki platters, moussaka, pastitsio, grilled lamb chops and grilled fish, my husband got a whiff of steak from the grill and ordered a rib eye which was enough for three. It was grilled on the outside, juicy on the inside and served with creamy potatoes. Also on the menu were beef and lamb burgers and fresh made pizzas. I wanted to try the lemon-herb organic chicken and the rigatoni with creamy beef and lamb ragu, and a dollop of ricotta – that that will have to be on next visit.
We didn't have trouble getting in on a weeknight and heard weekends are busy but not impossible.
When we finished, I turned to the waiter and asked him why Greek food in the U.S. is better than Greek food in Greece ... and I meant it!
Check out Famous Greek Kitchen and let us know what you think in the comments sections below.
Famous Greek Kitchen
10 North Water Street
Expansion and Upgrade Planned for the Golden Horseshoe
- Category: Neighborhood News
- Published on 25 February 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Gristedes is on its way out and a new enlarged Seasons market will open in its place at the Golden Horseshoe Shopping Center on Wilmot Road. This is just one of the changes that will come to the Golden Horseshoe where plans have been approved for an expansion, upgrade, and a redesign of the 50+ year-old shopping plaza that sits in both Scarsdale and New Rochelle.
In the next few weeks Gristedes will close its doors and the store will be cleared. Once the space is turned over to the managers, 12,000 square feet of space, adjacent to the post office will be remodeled into a state of the art market by Seasons. Seasons, who owns stores in Kew Gardens, Lawrence and NYC, will build a market to serve the community. Their selections will include fresh fruit and vegetables, sushi, fresh fish, prepared foods, dairy items and a bakery along with the kosher products and meats for observant shoppers. Prices for staples and other groceries will be competitive and Seasons hopes to serve as the neighborhood market for nearby residents. Pictured above is the Seasons store in Lawrence that will serve as a model for the new location.
Seasons General Manager David Gellman expects that construction on the new site will begin in late spring and will take several months. In the interim, the original Seasons will remain open until the new site is ready.
And that's not all...
Once Seasons moves, the section of the shopping center that includes Seasons and the liquor store Cheers will be demolished and replaced with a new 10,000 square foot store. In order to accommodate this expansion, the driveway to the shopping center will be rerouted closer to Wilmot Road – and the parking spaces in the lot that borders Wilmot Road will be moved to the center of the plaza. Managers hope to attract a new drugstore into this new location, especially since the pharmacy in Gristedes will be gone. The liquor store will move to another storefront in the Golden Horseshoe.
Another new building will be added near the Bank of America ATM in the parking lot. The 4,000 square foot building would be ideal for a coffee shop.
The area that now houses the deli section of Gristedes will be remodeled into two additional storefronts.
As part of the upgrade, the sidewalk along Wilmot Road will be expanded up the hill into New Rochelle. There will be new lighting and improvements to the sidewalks in the shopping center and landscaping to make the center friendly and attractive.
Parking will remain at 400 spots, with some behind the stores for employees and deliveries.
This new phase follows a series of improvements that have occurred since the opening of the original plaza in 1956. According to Property Manager Rob Fine, his grandfather, a New Rochelle resident, built the original store –now home to Seasons -- in the 1950's. A strip extending from that store was added in the 60's with the second wing built in the 1980's. The site has been a good one for decades due to the demographics of the local residents, its location across from the JCC of Mid-Westchester, easy access from the Bronx River and Hutchinson River Parkways and ample parking for shoppers.
With this expansion and improvement of the site, the management hopes to attract new retailers who will meet the needs of the community in the 21st century.
Raiders to Play Semi Finals at County Center Thursday Evening
- Category: The Goods
- Published on 25 February 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
The Scarsdale Girls Varsity basketball team will play Lourdes (Poughkeepsie) in the Class AA semifinals on Thursday February 26 at 6:30PM at the Westchester County Center.
The Raiders earned their spot in the semi -finals by beating Mahopac at home and upsetting Ursuline (52-46) on the road. The Raiders are now 15-5 and make their first appearance at the County Center since 2008-09 to meet the third-ranked team from Poughkeepsie.
The Raiders are led by captains Abigail McDonald (sr), Dana Maroney (sr) and Alexis Kline (jr). In addition the roster is made up of Ashley Barletta (so), Jordie Cohen (so), Rachel Cohen (jr), Emma Coleman (so), Ally Dweck (jr), Lindsey Kramer (jr), Taylor Mancini (sr), Sam Mancini (fr), Kaylie Waterhouse(jr) and Julia Zucker (jr)
Support the Raiders in their quest for the "Golden Ball" Thursday evening 2-25 at 6:30PM at the County Center.
Meet the Next Mayor of Scarsdale
- Category: People
- Published on 26 February 2015
- Written by Joanne Wallenstein
Former Village Trustee Jon Mark has been nominated to serve as Mayor of Scarsdale by the Scarsdale Citizen's Nominating Committee. As of today, he is running unopposed. So assuming all goes as planned, Mark will be elected Mayor of Scarsdale in the village-wide election which will be held on March 18th. We asked Mark a few questions so that you could learn more about him.
How many years have you lived here and what are some of your most vivid memories about growing up in Scarsdale? How has the Village changed since then?
I have lived in Scarsdale for a total of approximately 40 years. My parents moved here in 1951 a few months before my fourth birthday. Scarsdale was my home until 1968 when my mom moved to Riverdale after marrying Fred Friendly following the death of my father Sandor Mark in 1967. After a period away for college, law school and work, my wife, BK Munguía, and I returned to Scarsdale in 1992 and have been here ever since.
Most of the physical changes in the Village from the 1950s to now are the number of homes in the Village. For example, I grew up on Haverford Avenue a few houses in from Weaver Street. The lot on the corner of Weaver was an empty field. Across the street from us we looked out on approximately 28 mostly empty acres where Louis Marx, the founder of the Marx toy company, lived with his family. My brother and I would watch Louis jog for hours -- rain or shine -- up and down his long driveway that extended from his house at the top of the rise on Haverford to Weaver Street. He kept a horse on his property that we would feed carrots to through his pasture fence.
In terms of the schools, I went to Quaker Ridge through 8th grade--it was Union Free School District No. 2 -- the rest of the schools in Scarsdale being Union Free School District No. 1. As a result, those of us who went to Quaker Ridge did not get to meet the kids in the other schools in Scarsdale until High School which required us to learn a lot of new faces.
Why did you decide to return to Scarsdale to raise your own children?
We returned here for some of the same reasons my parents moved here -- and people move here today. Principally for the schools and also to live in beautiful surroundings with an easily enjoyed outdoors.
What do you like about living in Scarsdale?
BK and I have made many good friends here that we enjoy...and it's still a physically beautiful place to live.
What did you enjoy most about serving as Village Trustee?
The opportunity to give back to the place that served me so well growing up and in my adult years.
What were some of the key resolutions you worked on as Village Trustee?
The negotiations for the sale of parcels of Village land for the 2-4 Weaver Street project was the most challenging and time consuming matter I had the lead on as Chair of the Land Use Committee. We had at least eight Committee meetings on this matter, and several Board meetings on it as well, over a two-year period. This matter had a bit of history to it and was a focus of a predecessor Board. At the time I left the Board in March 2014, the Board had adopted a form of Non-Binding Term Sheet that set out the conditions of sale whenever it might occur. This was arrived at through a process that took into account Village objectives that would not have otherwise been achievable (preservation of the facade of the Tavern building for 25 years, no commercial use of the ground floor space, one less curb cut set further back from the five corners intersection and an affordable housing unit, among other things). I believe the process was one that allowed all who wished to have input to express their views and have them considered and provided an explanation of why the Board was proceeding as it did.
There were a number of other matters, but that one stands out for me.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing local government?
Budget issues and the Governor's desire to force municipalities to consolidate through the so-called 2% cap on real property taxes is the biggest challenge our local government faces. I use the term "so-called cap" because it is not a cap at all. Even if a municipal budget complies with the "cap", the compliance calculation excludes state-mandated payments (pension and benefits) so increases in those costs which are controlled in Albany will produce property tax increases even if Village costs are contained. Albany's goal is to shrink and in some cases eliminate local governments – a goal that may be warranted in some cases, but one size does not necessarily fit all, or more to the point fit Scarsdale. However, even without this pressure, each budget year calls for a review of what municipal services are required and/or desired by residents and what we are all willing to pay for them. We are slowly coming out of the economically challenging period that started with the credit crunch of 2007-2008, but if the economic tide is rising, it is not clear it is rising for all -- or at the same rate for all. For retirees living on fixed incomes the economic environment is also a challenge. Further, with a tax base that is by and large residential, substantially all the cost of financing the Village falls on residents and not commercial establishments. Containing the costs municipal government can control while maintaining the quality of life that we want as residents of Scarsdale is what I perceive as the biggest challenge for Scarsdale's local government.
Any thoughts on how to address them?
The Village staff and Board go through a rigorous budget process and examine the trade-offs involved in each budget line item. Often that means deferring capital projects in favor of budgeting for operating needs. That in turn may mean that infra-structure maintenance falls below desired levels until appropriate funding can be allocated for it.
In terms of the state-mandated payments referenced above, that is an issue that can only be addressed in Albany.
It is often difficult to get people to volunteer to service on Village boards and councils and participate in the non –partisan system. How can we get more people involved?
That's a good question and I wish I had an answer. Young families who move here are of course fully occupied by raising their children and pursuing their careers. They have little time for extra-curricular activities of the sort municipal government involves. However, I believe that Scarsdale is attractive as a community in large part due to the involvement of residents in the Village affairs. Hopefully as they adjust to life here and when time permits, the younger generation will come to see that they can have a voice in Village affairs and will seek to volunteer. Some already do, but when more do, that should be a positive development. That is not to say that attracting volunteers is only an issue among the younger set. It is something more residents should consider doing, regardless of how long or short a time they have lived here.
What's your view on Scarsdale's unique form of governance – the non-partisan system?
I have addressed this topic publicly a number of times, most recently at the last Village Board meeting I attended as a Trustee on March 25, 2014. Here is what I said:
"I would like to take this brief time to address a broader subject in light of my experience over the past four years and express my thoughts on our non-partisan system embodied in part by this Board.
Since the early 1900s Scarsdale residents have run municipal government on a non-partisan basis. While dissatisfaction with that approach is expressed from time to time, the overwhelming evidence is that our Village is very well run as reflected by the continuing desire of almost half our residents to remain here long after their children have completed school, and by the arrival of new residents. The very able Village staff keeps things running day-to-day and I see no basis for concluding that a partisan system of electing officials overseeing Village staff work would improve how the Village staff carries out their day-to-day duties.
What the Mayor and the Village Board do in general terms is to oversee the staff; establish spending priorities through the budget process; appoint residents who volunteer to the various Village Boards and Councils; and focus on areas of resident concerns and consider how improvements might be made. What the non-partisan system supports is the very strong Board principle that when acting, Board members must consider the interests of all residents when deciding on a course of action.
The ability of the Board to approach issues without the pressures of partisanship gives it the freedom to balance competing concerns in exercising its judgment on the matters before it. It does not mean that the Board is always right. It does not mean that every resident is happy with every Board decision—we receive regular reminders from residents that some are not happy with Village operations or decision-making. However, it does mean that every resident who wishes to voice an opinion to the Board is heard and his or her comments are weighed in the balance. That openness of approach – the willingness to hear all sides of an issue -- is not something that I am convinced a partisan system would produce, much less improve.
Another benefit of our system is that there are no barriers to entry. Almost any resident can participate by simply investing the time and effort to do so. Many take advantage of the opportunity and more should. Board members are your neighbors and the issues that the Board addresses are issues for all of us in the Village. The community interests Board members share with all residents is one of the strengths of our system."
As Mayor – what do you look forward to addressing – what issues do you expect to address during your term?
I expect that the Board that takes office in April 2015 will continue to address issues that have faced Boards over the past several years: budget, land use, development, historic preservation and sustainability will all continue to be among the issues on the Board's docket. The Board will address specific issues in these and other areas as a body as they are presented. I also look forward to making greater use of the newly reinvigorated Scarsdale Public Television in an effort to continue the work of Mayor Bob Steves and the Board to enhance transparency of Village operations and have spoken to members of the Cable TV Commission on this topic.
Many people seem to leave the Village after their children graduate from high school. Do you think Scarsdale is hospitable to empty nesters and seniors? What works and what could be improved?
It is true, many leave, but many stay. I believe approximately half of our residents are empty nesters. There are a number of programs that focus on senior citizens in Scarsdale that seem to work for those who participate in them: Senior Adult Programs operated by the Village Parks and Recreation Department and the liaison work done by the Advisory Council on Scarsdale Senior Citizens are among those programs and organizations. While the good work that these programs do could be expanded, finding additional Village funds for such programs becomes a budget issue and involves the sort of decision-making referred to earlier. Those who leave the Village do so for a variety of reasons and I understand from speaking to some friends who have left, that the high property tax cost of living here is often a principal reason for their departure as opposed to the lack of senior oriented programing (there clearly are other reasons too ranging from desires to be near adult children and their families, a move to a sun belt region and the like). A large part of that cost, however is attributable to the school budget which is approximately three times the size of the municipal budget. Since empty nesters are by definition not using that asset of Scarsdale, many logically feel they no longer want to bear that cost, which is certainly a reasonable position to take. However, as noted in answer to some of the first questions above, since the schools tend to motivate people to move to Scarsdale, modifications in the structural model that finances the school budget and municipal budget would involve a community-wide discussion that goes far beyond the scope of what the Mayor and Village Board are generally asked to do.