Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Intercept Anger Before It Begins

We all get angry. It’s a normal part of our human experience. Anger is neither wrong nor bad. As with all emotions, it serves a valuable purpose and in this case alerts us to the fact that something is amiss and needs our attention to correct. It is how we choose to express and apply it that determines whether or not it will be a beneficial force in our life or a destructive one.

People sometimes act inappropriately: they disrespect us or can be just be plain mean at times. It’s not uncommon to take personal offense to their rude behavior and respond with anger. This, however, is the handiwork of ego, that self-serving part of the human experience that values the self above all else and creates a fabricated division of humanity by assigning false values to specific individuals.

Ego justifies a hostile response by judging and labeling the “offending” party as a jerk, ignorant, nasty, etc. By devaluing them it becomes easier to react with aggression. But an angry response benefits neither the perpetrator nor the object. So how then can one respond to the wrong-doer?
Several years ago, I was traveling southbound on a major highway. An upcoming jug handle provided access to the northbound lane where I needed to be. To those unfamiliar with this particular intersection, the turn can be deceiving. Sparing you the confusing details, as I proceeded to enter the northbound lane, a driver to my right made a sharp illegal left hand turn cutting me off and nearly causing a collision. A quick honk alerting him to his mistake resulted in him giving me the finger (no, not a thumbs up). Immediately I felt a surge of rage! How dare he disrespect me! He’s the one who committed the infraction. If it weren’t for my quick reflexes there would have been an accident and he would have been completely at fault! We continued up the highway, he in the lead, me directly behind him. I could see his anger becoming more intense as he glared at me in his rear-view mirror, ranting uncontrollably while flailing his arms about like a gorilla swatting swarming mosquitoes. I said nothing. I did nothing. I simply observed. And the longer I did, the more I felt sadness for him. What could possibly be going on in his life that would cause such a severe and prolonged reaction over a relatively minor incident?

In my work at the battered women’s shelter, I had a client early on who very reluctantly attended my anger management classes on Monday evenings. She was clearly unhappy to be there and each week made it apparent by her passive/aggressive behaviors. I was annoyed and somewhat offended. I needed to speak with her and decided to give myself a week to carefully choose my words, letting her know exactly how upset I was with her. When that fateful evening arrived, I approached her but immediately felt a change of heart. “Would you like to have lunch with me on Wed,” I asked? Her face softened into a smile as she responded, “Yes, thank you.” Two days later, as we sat over platters of grilled chicken and salad, she revealed her very painful story of losing her husband and eventually everything they owned. “I came to this shelter with nothing more than a small bag of clothing. I lost everything and I’m terrified about what’s going to happen to me.” Fear manifest as anger – classic case.

What I learned from both of these experiences was simply a reinforcement of what I’ve known and taught for years: behind everyone’s perceived inappropriate behavior lies unresolved issues of pain, loneliness, fear, insecurity, loss, etc. Ego takes personal offense to the expression of their suffering; spirit seeks to understand and soothe it. It’s called compassion: the ability to feel another person’s pain coupled with a sincere desire to alleviate it. I can choose to live in ego and respond with anger. Or I can live authentically, as Spirit, and choose the benevolent response of compassion. In doing so, the anger never manifests and the cycle of rage is broken. In each moment, God changed my heart and I was given the opportunity to bring healing to those who are hurting. And what greater privilege in life is there than this?

“Be kind to everyone you meet for each one is fighting their own battle.” ~ Plato

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Family Feuds, Quick Tips to Resolve Them

Families: they can be our greatest source of joy or a never ending cause of stress. Some might like to have a few parts replaced, others may prefer to trade theirs in for a more suitable model. Some are grateful to have a family regardless while others would prefer to travel through life solo. If you’re a member of a family, then you know how challenging it can be to deal with the wide scope of personalities, quirky behaviors, opposing viewpoints, different needs, beliefs, and values, along with varying methods of how members doing things. Being unskilled at even the most basic aspects of resolving conflicts, as most of us are, can result in minor differences escalating our stress levels and causing tempers to flare.
Below are some simple suggestions on how to fix family feuds. However, before engaging in the process, ask yourself the following questions: What has my role in this situation been? How have I contributed to the breakdown of our family unit? Is it my attitude, actions, words, or lack thereof? On every level, we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. I must first take inventory of my unconstructive contributions before I can expect to achieve any degree of success with other members.

Assuming I have successfully completely this task and corrected any transgressions , I can now proceed using the following strategies:

1. As respectfully as possible (it is always possible), clearly and succinctly identify the area that needs attention.
2. Remove all distractions such as all technology, small children or any projects you may be working on. This enables all parties to be fully engaged with one another.
3. Allow each party ample time to state what is on their mind without interruption. In this way, each individual will relax knowing they will have adequate time to express their thoughts and concerns.
4. Validate their perspective. Consider their feelings, needs, desires, and such as valid, even if you vehemently disagree with them. Listen with your heart, not simply your ears. It’s called compassion.
5. Ask questions to gain deeper insight into what they are saying.
6. Avoid criticizing or making fun of them. Be respectful at all times.
7. Avoid blame or accusations. Both are destructive and will sabotage any progress from occurring.
8. Inquire as to what they need from you for this issue to be resolved. Listen open mindedly and non-defensively. Discuss whether or not you will be able to accommodate their needs. Make any necessary adjustments.
9. State your position, needs, feelings, wants, etc. Express what you need from them in order to put this issue to rest. Make certain your requests are fair and reasonable.
10. Compromise. A “winner takes all” mentality is not a solution. All parties must feel satisfied in some way in order for the issue to truly be resolved once and for all. Thank them for taking the time to work through this issue.

Families will always disagree on things but our differences needn’t escalate to family feuds. Each member plays a vital role in the wholeness and integrity of the unit. When we learn to embrace the /uniqueness and giftedness of each individual, we can utilize those qualities to strengthen and enrich the whole. And we can finally live in harmony with and enjoy our families, free from fighting.

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Seasons Feedings Nov 19 on The Connected Table LIVE!

Mid November marks what we like to refer to as “The Feeding Season.” Magazines show pretty dishes of festive foods and everyone talks about what to drink at the holiday table.   We’re Giving Thanks to an abundant season for Italian white truffles, fresh cold water oysters on the half shell,  crisp Hudson Valley apples in the orchards near our home and an abundance of wine in our growing global cellar.

When it comes to Thanksgiving, is your favorite part of the meal the turkey or the sides?  Holiday side dishes take front and center on our show November 19, 2p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, when we interview award winning cookbook author, journalist and culinary educator, Rick Rodgers, who recently released The Big Book of Sides (Ballantine Books/$30.00).   Indeed,  it’s a big book content-wise filled with more than 450 recipes from traditional to inspired to Americana and ethnic. We’ve spent the last few weeks trying some of the recipes, often enjoying them as our main courses. Rick also suggests how to pair the sides with main courses and with special occasion menus.

Rick Rodgers

Rick Rodgers

Rick often works on the sidelines or, rather behind-the-scenes, as a recipe tester, consultant or co –author for other books.  He’s written corporate cookbooks for Williams-Sonoma, Kingsford Charcoal and Sur La Table.  He received an IACP Cookbook Award for The Chelsea Market Cookbook. His articles have appeared many magazines including Men’s Health, Food & Wine,  Fine Cooking and Bon Appétit which gave him a Food & Entertaining Award as Outstanding Cooking Teacher.

But when it comes to The Big Book of Sides he takes center stage in our book.



We’ve always been big fans of Beaujolais wines, especially the 10 appellation Crus, called the “jewels” of the region.  But it’s the Crus’ younger sibling, Beaujolais Nouveau, that captures the most attention over the holidays. Its arrival on the third Thursday of November is celebrated with as much fanfare as the first New Year’s baby.  And no one celebrates bigger and better than Les Vins Georges Duboeuf when it comes to “Beaujolais Nouveau Est Arrivé

Franck Duboeuf

Franck Duboeuf

We’ll be speaking with Franck Duboeuf, co-proprietor with his father Georges, about this year’s Beaujolais harvest which we hear has been “blessed with ideal weather.”

Beaujolais is made from the region’s local Gamay varietal. By law the grapes must be hand harvested and the berries undergo carbonic maceration to extract the bitter tannins and retain the fresh fruit flavor. The wine is bottled and released six to eight weeks  days after harvest and then rushed to market in time for its official debut.  Beaujolais Nouveau uncorking ceremonies take place one minute past midnight on the third Thursday in November around the world. YouTube videos feature some of the most creative ways to uncork Nouveau, and we’ve experienced several. A personal favorite: Frank Duboeuf delivered the first bottles of wine on a Harley Davidson motorcycle with brigade of Beaujolais Bikers comprised of NYC chefs and HD Biker Club members.  Classic!

We’re curious to see what magic Duboeuf has up his sleeve this year to ring in the 2014 Nouveau and taste it ourselves at 12:01 a.m. on November 20.



THE CONNECTED TABLE BANNER WITH TIMESJoin Melanie Young and David Ransom on The Connected Table LIVE Wednesdays, 2p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT on W4CY and i Heart Radio. Each week we bring you the dynamic people who work front and center and behing the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality. Melanie and David are your Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple. Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook.