Tag Archives: Mayo Clinic

Avoiding Narcissists: Top NV Post

I launched Navigating Vita a little more than a year ago and, like with any anniversary, I’ve been looking back on this time in my life. In my effort to learn what resonates with my readers, I’ve also taken note of which posts are read more than others. If the most popular blog posts are any indicator—finding love and having a good laugh top your list. (And they top mine, too!) So it is with little surprise that one of my first written posts: How NOT to Date a Narcissist remains the all-time favorite: the most searched, read and commented on NV blog post.

Bloggers, by nature, delve into the world of self reflection. And we all can be a bit self absorbed at times, right? But someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)  has a condition that Webster defines as “having an inability to show empathy.” The Mayo Clinic site defines those with NPD as believing “that they’re superior to others and have little regard for other people’s feelings.” Their sense of entitlement can manifest into a myriad of behaviors that can be abusive both emotionally and/or physically.

If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a destructive narcissist and are back out in the dating world—than I don’t need to tell you that your *top* priority is to avoid falling for another one at all costs. The charming and chameleon qualities of narcissists easily fool people for months—sometimes longer. Wouldn’t it be easier to to end the relationship before you get sucked in and spit out? With that in mind, I sought help from an expert who could point out telltale signs many narcissists exhibit, even in the beginning phase of dating. Debra Cucci, MFT has become somewhat of an expert on this topic as she consults families and runs a workshop in Los Angeles to help women make better choices when dating. Her advice is eye-opening! Finally, there is a concrete list of characteristics that many charming narcissists share—warning signs to take note of during the first few dates. As we all know, Narcissists aren’t gender specific! This article will help anyone avoid falling for this destructive personality who could likely wreck havoc in your life and those of your children.

And after that heavy subject, I’m happy to report that my 2nd most popular post is light as air: 25 Reasons to LOVE Being a Single Mom. I LOVE this silly tongue-in-cheek article that is a compilation of input from *many* single moms out there. Sometimes life is just too hard. The weight of all that is dragging you down can just be exhausting and talking about it doesn’t always make things feel better, does it? In my effort to find how to fill my glass half-full, I started this list and reached out to more than 25 other single moms to see what they’re thankful for. Making this list not only filled my glass half-way—it over-flowed! Laughter truly is the best medicine. Here’s a post guaranteed to cheer you up, put a new spin on your situation—or at least give you a much-needed laugh!

Chiming in at # 3: is Relationship Guru Dr. Pat Allen Sets Me Straight! Also another early blog post. I reached out to Pat Allen, Ph.D., world-renown relationship therapist; best selling author (Getting to I Do) and the resident sex expert on TV’s  Millionaire Matchmaker. Since I was gingerly venturing out into the dating world, after a heartbreak, I thought, who better to help me (and other separated and divorced women) but the top expert herself! She provides simple advice to find Mister Right—and if you’re anything like me, you may just be surprised by how many wrong steps were taken in your search!

For those interested in NV’s top 10 stories, I’ve enclosed a quick run down below. What surprised me the most, when looking at this list, is that the majority of top posts include interviews with experts. I’m gratified that my network as a journalist has helped me reach out and garner interviews with those amazingly talented experts who can really help us in our efforts to find Mr. Right; show our kids love and compassion;  become better parents; examine infidelity; breathe through our anger; show compassion to others who are struggling; and find laughter in the every day. Thanks for reading and being on this journey with me.

Navigating Vita’s Top Ten Posts of All Time:

1. How NOT To Date a Narcissist

2. 25 Reasons to LOVE Being a Single Mom

3. Relationship Guru Dr. Pat Allen Sets Me Straight!

4. Connect With Your Children While They Sleep

5. Top 5 Mistakes Divorcing Parents Make

6. Is Cheating The Only “Rational Choice” for Married Men?

7.Newt Gingrich in Tuscany!

8. The Power of NOT Holding It All (together)

9. An Italian Mom’s Fight To Save Her Daughter

10. Domestic Violence During Divorce: Not a Rarity

Striking a Balance

It’s a delicate balancing act, especially as a single mom, to simultaneously take care of yourself and also be present and focused on your children. The two goals constantly come in conflict with one another—and yet experts often advise us to do one, or the other, or both, with little instructions on how to do so. For instance, earlier in the week, when working on a Lifechangers article for Dr. Drew’s Lifechangers show, I interviewed Rebecca E. Eberlin, Ph.D., a family psychologist who runs “Navigating Divorce For Your Children” workshops at the UCLA Commons in Santa Monica, Calif. She insisted, and I tend to agree, that when parents are in the process of getting a divorce, they need to focus 100% of their choices on how they will affect their kids. In fact, she listed focusing on yourself and not on your children as one of the top 5 mistakes that most divorcing parents make. After speaking with her for an hour, I could see her point completely.

Taking Care of Yourself

Photo by Jennifer Suarez

On the flip side, are you (like me) sometimes frustrated when someone says: “you need to take care of yourself”?

If you’re a single mom—especially those of us with small children, full-time care of those children, and little family support—the idea of taking a spa day seems nearly impossible. But taking care of yourself means very different things to different people. One of my favorite bloggers, Tracie Louise, eloquently explained some of the ways she takes care of herself in her latest post “Being Selfish”.

I know that I can’t always afford to get manicures, facials, massages, or go on shopping sprees, for instance. I do know, however, that it’s possible to squeeze in time during the week to go on a run (even if it requires a three-year-old in the stroller); take a bath (hopefully without a baby, but trust me, he’s snuck in before!); meditate; write; or take a community yoga class. Another selfish thing for me is to ignore the dinner mess and mounds of laundry and snuggle with my boys while watching a favorite show.

I think the biggest goal for me, and perhaps for some of you too, is to strike that delicate balance—when the pendulum finally rests at the center—between focussing on my children and their needs and exploring my own and having a bit of fun. During the first year of my separation I may have used the excuse of focussing on my kids to hibernate. Granted, my youngest was still a baby, but the only time I spent out was either pushing the stroller while he slept; cheering on the oldest on the soccer field; volunteering in the classroom; or writing an article at a coffee shop. It was quite hard for me to reach out to others, take exercise classes, or even sleep well—as I slept with the baby each night. I put on a good face, but I was literally getting by, moment by moment. Almost two years later, I try to ensure that I continue to cheer my oldest on at concerts or at soccer games; volunteer once a week at school; work; exercise; meditate; and find time for fun with the special person in my life. The effort is well worth it.

If you are where I was in my first year of separation—where you can barely muster up energy to do anything for yourself—I dare you to write down five things you’d like to incorporate into your life with a roadmap to make them happen. Even if it’s just sleeping in once a month. If this is too easy, I dare you to go even further: write down one thing you can do every day just for you. You’d be surprised how you can sneak some “me-time” in—even when you don’t have sitters or you have too much work piling on. Yesterday, with the baby sick at home, I thought it would be impossible to exercise or meditate. Well, a snuffly nose makes sleeping sitting up easier, so I put the little guy in the stroller and took off for an hour run while he slept soundly. In the evening, as the boys were watching a show after dinner, I snuck to my room and meditated for five minutes. I let myself focus on gratitude and putting a negative person’s actions and judgmental words out of my life. When the boys came down to find me, I was able to be present with them and even laughed when the youngest spilled juice on the floor. So, what I’m trying to say—in my characteristically verbose way—taking time out for yourself helps you spend more quality time with your kiddos. It’s hard to snap at the little ones after you mediate isn’t it?

(And, since I know how very different clinical depression is from mere exhaustion or sadness, please know that it’s not always possible to take care of yourself or pull yourself up by your bootstraps. Some of your friends and family members may not understand and can be creating more pressure for you. Read this information from the Mayo Clinic for information. If you think you are slipping into a clinical depression, please call your doctor. Here’s another article with online resources to help. )

For the rest of us…there are no more excuses. I’m adding one more item to my weekly for-me wish list. How about you?

Chicken Marbella: Elegant & Fast

Chicken Marbella is a wonderfully easy dish to prepare with very little clean-up. (And isn’t that what all us single parents need?)I love how elegant it is and it’s great to serve when you have friends coming over as adults love it and kids do too! If you have picky eaters, this dish will introduce them to Mediterranean flavors and we all know that a Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest for longevity. Read this article by the Mayo Clinic if you want further proof! While this dish does require some pricey ingredients, if you stock your pantry with them once a month, you’ll be able to cook a variety of dishes at the drop of a hat. I started cooking Marbella more than 10 years ago from a recipe that I found in the Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins. I’ve tweaked it so much over the years that it’s my own version now. Cook a lot more than you need, as it’s actually better the next day with extra marinade time, is good cold at picnics and also freezes well. I hope you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

Servings: Serves 10 or more
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives with whole olives in the middle
  • 1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic , peeled and finely puréed (or two tablespoons lazy chopped garlic.)
  • 1/4 cup dried oregano
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 chicken breasts cut into small 1/2 inch to 1 inch pieces.
  • 1 cup dry white wine (Red wine works fine too!)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley or fresh cilantro , finely chopped
  • Optional item: small pearl onions.
  • Handfull of brown sugar (also optional. I’ve cooked without and it’s still delightful.)
Directions
Combine the olive oil, vinegars, prunes, apricots, olives, capers and juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.Preheat the oven to 350°. Arrange the chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the wine around them. Bake, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Cook for 45 minutes, but check after 30.With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken, prunes, olives, and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley or cilantro. Pass the remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

Serve over couscous and with a mixed green salad.