When loved ones disagree on politics

A guide to productive debate

We all have that special some- one in our lives who thinks very differently from us about politics. We may love grandma or our 20-year-old nephew, but when it comes to politics, we just don’t see eye to eye. Usually this can be handled with sprightly conver- sations mixed with humor and love. However, the most recent election, with its dramatic and polarizing differences, seemed to intensify worries and fears on both sides. Daily media reports bring a new twist and turn every day, and it is impossible for many of us to let sleeping dogs lie and talk about baseball and Chicago summer events.

It can be emotionally treacherous to challenge the political views of a loved one. Many people, to some extent, feel personally defined by their political identification. So for your nephew or grandma, there may be more at stake than pulling them to the political right or left. That dear relative may actually take your political assertions as personal rejection or criticism. Such questions may arise as, “Do I have to be wrong whenever I talk with my dad? Can’t he listen to me?” Or “Why is my brother always so condescending to me?”

So remember that when you push your political view there may be a subtle, un- spoken lower-level conversation going on: “Am I loved by this person?”; “Does he or she even have the capacity to love me?”; “How come I’m always wrong?”

You may, with your superior reasoning, win the argument, but you may have ruptured your relationship with someone you love. Is it worth it? And what if the request to debate comes from that loved one? Then what do you do?

There is an old saying, updated here: “A man or woman convinced against his or her will is of the same opinion still!” So here is an important precept and a few suggestions that may help you at that next family dinner or outing.

• Goal: I want to be closer to this per- son rather than more distant when we finish our conversation today.

• If you want to talk politics, first ask your loved one if she or he would like to talk about or exchange some ideas on the current U.S. political situa- tion. Your loved one may actually not feel up to talking about anything except her arthritis or a loss at work. Take this as a hint to back off.

• If your loved one is willing to listen and talk, try to express yourself with consideration and empathy for how she or he may experience what you are about to say. This may help you temper the passion you no doubt feel, so that a view, gently expressed, may be better received.

• Keep in mind that you will probably not make any major world change in this one conversation. Consider continuing the dialogue, for example, over 10 to 30 conversations. Open, loving, accepting conversations often lead, with time, to many positive changes.

• If the conversation should deterio- rate into anger or personal hurt, you risk losing the opportunity for future conversations down the road.

• Know and remind yourself that you are not responsible for other people’s political views. It is a democracy and we all have a right to our own position.

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a New Eastside resident and clinical social worker. Contact him at 312-856-0230.

How to recover from trauma

We all suffer trauma at some time in our lives. It may be a small trauma, such as falling in love with the boy or girl in your seventh-grade class who didn’t reciprocate your feelings. But generally we think of trauma as something big and difficult to endure: the death of a loved one, unexpected serious illness or accident, a physical attack or physical/sexual abuse. 

Sometimes it can be hard even to let ourselves grasp the magnitude of what has happened.  It can be easy to say, “Oh, just my bad luck.”  Or “If I wasn’t so stupid it wouldn’t have happened.”  Sometimes the trauma is so great that we cannot actually believe it happened and block it from our memory.  As a result, we don’t share it with anyone. This does not mean that it goes away.  A very commonly recognized result of unmourned trauma is post-traumatic stress disorder.  Unmourned trauma can cause major difficulties in life such as anxiety, depression or dependence on self-soothing substances such as drugs or alcohol.

The major problem with experiencing trauma is the sense that one cannot prevent it.  It comes out of the blue and we can feel helpless either to stop it or do anything about it once it has occurred.  It is that sense of helplessness and inability to shape our own life experience that can be the source of the inner tension we can feel after trauma.  So what can we do if we encounter trauma or if we struggle with memories of trauma?

Because the major trauma problem is feeling unable to prevent or avoid it, then the best thing we can do is to mourn the loss in a way that takes care of yourself first and foremost.  Do every constructive thing you can to take charge and make your life better. 

For example, if you lose a loved one through death, perhaps you could engage in volunteer work that mattered greatly to your loved one.  If you or a family member has a serious illness, take charge of all that you can to make the situation the best it can be.  Don’t be passive.  Be active.  When you experience being in charge of what is possible, it can be a very effective way to mourn an unpreventable loss.

In contrast with that old thought that we need to be strong and private in response to loss, it really does help to talk about the loss and what it means to us today.  Talking with a friend can be helpful if that friend has the ability to listen and not offer unsolicited advice.  Talking with a thoughtful clergyperson or a counselor also can help.  As you put your feelings out there, ways to take care of yourself often will emerge and enable you to plan and achieve something that will actually make your life better. 

Most important, if you are experiencing or have experienced trauma, don’t hold it inside.  Find someone you trust who can understand and will want to know about your experience. The value of this kind of conversation is not found in receiving advice from someone who may or may not be qualified to give it. It is in acknowledging the trauma and realizing that you need not experience it alone.

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a New Eastside clinical social worker who specializes in work with children, adolescents and adults. Contact him at (312) 856- 0230.

React Physical Therapy at Village Market

Anyone in need of postsurgical rehabilitation or help with a sports injury now has a convenient treatment option in the New Eastside. On January 9, React Physical Therapy opened its fourth Chicago location at the Village Market.

React’s Franco Calabrese

Franco Calabrese, PT, DPT, clinic manager, said he appreciates a number of aspects of the neighborhood, especially the “community atmosphere and proximity to parks and recreational areas.”

The business offers physical therapy, strength and conditioning training, massage therapy, and athletic training. Rather than focus on the site of an injury, React treats the whole body, using proprietary methods developed by founder David Reavy to remedy underlying imbalances that cause pain.

“If your body isn’t treated as a whole, you run the risk of having the same injury again, or worse,” says Calabrese.

What sets React apart is its one-on-one approach. “The first session lasts an hour, to establish a baseline. Subsequent sessions focus on hands-on treatment with a physical therapist,” Calabrese explains, adding, “You’re not just stuck in a corner doing exercises.”

Patients “run the gamut from high school athletes to people in their 80s,” he said. As the official NFL Combine Training Partner, React also counts professional athletes, including Bears’ running back Matt Forte and Bulls’ center Joakim Noah, among its patients.

A common misconception is that pain is a prerequisite for going to a physical therapist. Calabrese says, “anyone looking to get past mental blocks when training, improve performance, and meet goals” can benefit. React Physical Therapy: 312-929-3646; www.bereact.com; 333 E. Benton Place, Unit 108.

— Shanti Nagarkatti | Community Contributor

Living in peace with adolescent children

Has your sweet teenage child turned into an assertive and aloof know-it-all? It may feel like your child has reverted to a 2-year-old — “I want what I want when I want it!” — but you can no longer simply distract her with new toys.

Parents can help teenagers through this important developmental stage by helping them achieve the independence they will need while remaining considerate of others’ feelings and happy within themselves, even when they encounter disappointments. And we do have to regulate our kids’ behavior until they are on their own.

Such a big task can be influenced by earlier experiences of regulating childhood behavior within the closeness of the parent child-relationship. Here are a few ideas that may help you today.

You are responsible for your children’s behavior until they turn 18. It helps to be diplomatic and kind when you must say “no.” Acknowledging your child’s motive is helpful — “I can see why you want to stay all night at Ann’s party, but we don’t think that is safe for you. How about we have her and some of your other friends from the party come here in the morning for breakfast?” Understand your child’s motive and facilitate that independence in the context of safety and concern.

As your child matures and learns to negotiate permission, you can expand the parameters. Recognize gains with your child to encourage self-regulation.

Teenagers can be assertive in ways that seem disrespectful. Be gentle and respectful, no matter how your child addresses you, and you will show her how to be with others. Do not explode or rage at your child, no matter what she says to you. If you know that she lacks the skills to negotiate with kindness and firmness, give her that model. It will do wonders for her future.

Try to offer alternatives when you cannot say “yes” to show sincerity and respect. If your son wants to hitchhike to another state to visit a friend on Spring Break and you know this would be unsafe, tell him that you want him to go but want him to be safer traveling there. Don’t back down, but try to make it happen in a safe way. Then acknowledge his success in accomplishing this very adult task.

Helping teenagers in this transition can be challenging. We all have personal motives to be respected and taken seriously. We also have motives to help our children mature. If you can try to protect your child from your personal motives and give her your caregiving motives, you will advance her development and be more than happy with the adult relationship that will ensue.

If the suggestions above prove to be more difficult than you expected, take an in-depth look at “The Smart Love Parent,” a parenting guide written by Drs. William and Martha Heineman Pieper. Or seek the help of a mental health professional. It will be well worth the time and effort.

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a New Eastside clinical social worker who specializes in work with children, adolescents and adults. Contact him at 312-856- 0230.

Freezing frozen fun run

Though it began as a grassroots effort in January 2010, the F^3 Lake Half Marathon has grown to accommodate thousands of hard-core running enthusiasts who don’t let a little cold weather stop them from racing 13.1 miles in Chicago — in January. This year’s F^3 Lake Half Marathon — and new 5K — will be on Saturday, January 28th.

“This is a real ‘bucket list’ race, the perfect way to stay on track over the holidays and earn bragging rights,” says F^3 Founder and New Eastside resident Kimberley Stedman, who brought this unique event to life.

How did this all begin?

Stedman: After traveling to various destinations for winter half marathons, my friends and I decided to create a “budget-friendly” fun run that followed the Magellan Half Marathon course. It started in Lakeshore East, and — that first year — race headquarters was my apartment in The Tides. We even had a beer sponsor provide a free pint to runners after the run.

How was F^3 Events born?

Stedman: Because we needed a permit to continue the fun run, I created F^3 Events LLC, which became an official company in 2011. Every year since, we have continued to grow, so in 2015, the winter half marathon officially moved to Soldier Field. Now we have use of the United Club for indoor gear check and race headquarters.

What makes the F^3 Half Marathon special?

Stedman: We are the original winter half marathon in Chicago! Our race, organized by an all-female team based in Chicago, offers a top-quality goodie bag including a long-sleeve soft tech shirt, swag and a huge medal! We also work with local nonprofits who are the beneficiaries of the event.

Is there anything new for 2017?

Stedman: We are partnered with Chica- go Endurance Sports, who will provide pacers for the event this year.

Want to register? Dust off your Yaktrax, unearth your arctic running clothes and visit www.F3Running.com. Use discount code MAGELLAN17 for $8 off the registration fee for either the half marathon or 5K.

Yoga fans bowled over by new class

If Streeterville resident Idong Ebong hadn’t already known about Pinstripes, he might have considered doing yoga in a bowling venue something of a stretch.

“I’d never been downstairs [at Pinstripes] until I showed up for yoga, so it was nice to discover a space suitable for a large yoga class,” says Ebong.

Since September, Pinstripes and CorePower Yoga (CPY) Streeterville have teamed up to give the community a chance to meditate and sweat, mingle and dine in their monthly “Bends and Blends” event pairing yoga — and brunch.

You read that right… our neighborhood bowling alley and yoga studio have come together to give us a reason to feel great about crawling out of bed early on Sunday morning.

So far, the class is bowling over neighbors. About 30–45 people attend each class, says Marketing Coordinator Angelina Gradilla.

“We are working with CorePower to expand on this idea and, hopefully, grow to two or three times a month,” she continues. “We hope that once more community members get wind of this, we will see our class size skyrocket.”

If you’ve been to Pinstripes, you might be wondering where in that busy space you could find the peace and quiet required to focus on your poses. The class is downstairs, in a river-level ballroom, complete with mirrors in front to check your form, and windows in back to let in morning light.

For newbies, another pleasant surprise will be the bottomless brunch, featuring waffle stations, salmon and wood-fired pizza — proving Pinstripes is indeed a bistro first, then a bowling alley and bocce hall (and yoga studio).

So how did the idea for adding yoga come about? It originated with the Pinstripes team as a way to make the space available for the good of the community.

The Vinyasa flow–type class is led by Loryn Nigro, assistant general man- ager of CPY Streeterville. The $5 class welcomes yogis of all levels, including those who will take their first class
on January 22nd. (The fee also nets you $5 off the $28 brunch and a free mimosa.) Come for the yoga bends and stay for the champagne blends.

To register for the Jan. 22nd class, click here. Mats required; brunch reservations recommended.

AquaMermaid to offer discounted class in New Eastside

Enjoy a workout and turn life into a fairytale!

Join Nora Kaitis, founder of AquaMermaid Chicago, for a unique and fun filled opportunity to learn a variety of swim techniques — while donning a sparkly mermaid tail.

You’ll glide and swirl through the pool, dive down underwater, buddy up with a partner and maybe even learn some tricks to show off. “Expect smiles, splashes and games!” says Kaitis.

The class is recommended for ages seven and up — girls and boys of all ability levels are welcome, as are adults. Lessons can be modified to accommo- date swimmers younger than seven. Students should bring a swimsuit and a towel. Goggles may be helpful, but are not required.

“The movements are just stunning underwater. It’s a lot of fun,” says Kaitis. “This is your chance to live out your dream of being Ariel.”

The lesson will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, January 29, in the pool
at Lakeshore Sport and Fitness, 211 N. Stetson Ave., and will cost $20 per person (instead of the regular $60).

Sign up here.

Start the New Year with a little self-care

After the hubbub of Christmas has faded to a fond memory, most of us begin to think about how we want to live the next 12 months. Should we lose a few (or more) pounds? Should we focus more on our kids? Should we get more education or a new job? Budget better or earn more? The list of possibilities is endless. But often it seems much easier to start than to continue with these good intentions. The same is true of self-care.

Consistent self-caretaking can be a mixed experience. We are born with natural motives to survive and thrive.

However, over the years, many of us have negative and disruptive life experiences that can cause us to become discouraged or to actively disrupt our own carefully laid plans — and then be annoyed with ourselves for giving up.

A great book for the general reader on this topic — Addicted to Unhappiness by Drs. William and Martha Heineman Pieper — offers a user-friendly understanding of this very common problem in life, while providing useful and enjoyable ways to better match your ideals for the New Year.

If you can’t find the time to add an en- tire book to your busy schedule, here are some recommendations you can tackle right now:

  • First, keep in mind that if you stick to your goals, you will feel better and enjoy life more. People actually do better if they are working for their own enjoyment — not just because they “should.” Why not take pleasure in knowing that you really do care about yourself and want to improve?
  • Confide in a trusted friend or relative who shares your specific goals, is a reliable partner in the process and supports you no matter what. Very few people are inspired to change because of criticism — from outside or from within.
  • Pick specific tasks and goals that are realistically possible for you in your current physical and social condition and don’t overdo it (which could cause an injury that might slow your good progress).
  • If you backslide and miss your goal one day, try not to yell at your- self. Rather, just say, “I can try again tomorrow.” (Coach yourself as you would your best friend!)
  • Keep a diary of your progress and look at it every week or two to get a real picture of how you’re doing, instead of basing your progress on one day. You can enjoy the overall progress this way.
  • Don’t give up or back away from your goals. Your goals are good and come from the very best human and innate part of your mind.

Here’s to a very Happy New Year to you and your family, however you define that. I wish you the very best in the next 12 months. And, with that in mind, please feel free to let me know if you would like me to address a specific concern in future articles — let’s make 2017 a good year, together!

Walter D. Miller, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in New Eastside who specializes in children, adolescents and adults. He may be contacted at (312) 856-0230.

Time to battle the winter blues

Every good coach has to keep his team motivated, even in the toughest of times, like January in Chicago. In this week’s column we attempt to do just that — with an emphasis on attempt — as I realize we are indeed fighting a pretty stiff opponent here.

I call it the “Jan Slam,” the post-holiday comedown, and boy it can hit hard — pow! — like a smack in the face. The thrill, excitement and general revelry of the holiday season is long gone. New Eastsiders are left wondering what we are to do to keep away the doldrums of early darkness and extended cold.

But how to fight it?

The key is not “holing up” in your home. Ya gotta get out and about. It’s hard. The temptation to stay in and hunker down with the cold and wind outside is great indeed.

But finding a way to be around people and activity is key.

Try afterwork socializing, exercising at the gym, going shopping or out for a simple walk. Being out and about can lift the spirits. Visiting museums, people watching in the park or while sitting in your apartment lobby can also be effective. Basically, you should do anything, as long as you are around other people.

It’s a battle no doubt. The “Jan Slam” can hit quickly and decisively — often when you least expect it.

So, remember Coach’s remedy — get out there and stay active and involved, and fight the blues by looking the month squarely in the face and saying, “Hey, January, that all you got?”

Native Chicagoan Jon Cohn has worked as a high school coach, youth coach, recre- ational director, sports official and radio and TV sports announcer.

Besides the New Eastside News, Cohn writes a weekly sports column for a sub- urban paper and has completed his first book, Stuff People Might Want To Know (From Someone Who Really Shouldn’t Be Writing A Book).

— Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

New streetlights in New Eastside

The Chicago Smart Lighting Project, an initiative of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Infrastructure Trust (CIT), aims to replace nearly all the city’s 290,000 “amber” streetlights with “white” energy-efficient LED lights over the next four years. The change will affect all “orange” streetlights in the New Eastside and will be one of the largest installations in the world.

“It’s going to change the dynamics of Chicago,” said Lakeshore East resident Todd Guynn. “The LED lighting can be very harsh.”


The GE Ecolux® Sodium (HPS) bulb, similar to streetlights that mimick the spectrum of natural light, according to Dr. Stuart Richer, an optometrist at the James Lovell Healthcare Facility in North Chicago.

The city began “test” installations of streetlights last year. Several people in the impacted neighborhoods have voiced concerns about the light they give off, which reminds them of “strip malls” and a “Greyhound bus station.” The city declined to comment on when or where the “test lights” are, only saying about 1 percent of the 270,000 light fixtures have been replaced. (In total, currently 4,100 of the city’s 317,900 light fixtures use LEDs.)

Research from the American Medical Association indicates that large amounts of blue light can cause “discomfort” and insomnia, finding that “white LED lamps have five times greater impact on circadian sleep rhythms than conventional street lamps.” The research also says that “blue-rich LED streetlights operate at a wavelength that…adversely suppresses melatonin during night.”

“When you return to your apartment after being exposed to all this high-energy blue, you’re likely to have trouble sleeping,” says Dr. Stuart Richer, OD, a practicing 35-year optometrist and human physiologist at the James Lovell Healthcare Facility in North Chicago. “This is a very, very important public health issue. We’re potentially putting in streetlights disruptive to the retina and human physiology.”

The new lights, which will be funded by outside investors, will slash the city’s electricity bills by at least half, and will provide “more reliable and improved nighttime visibility, giving communities a greater sense of safety,” according to the mayor’s office. Stretches of orange lights currently ring the New Eastside, radiating out from Lakeshore East Park, which uses low-intensity LED lights, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesperson Mike Claffey.

A spectrum of LED lights are available on the market, including 4000 Kelvin (K) lights, whose high levels of short-wavelength blue light can possibly cause retinal damage. “In my opinion, the best thing to do would be to put in a streetlight that mimicked the spectrum of natural candlelight but was energy efficient, such as sodium vapor 2700K or tungsten-halogen 3200K,” says Richer.

In advance of the Dec. 14 deadline for final vendor proposals from the CIT’s nine short-listed candidates, community members are voicing concerns about what is happening in their neighborhoods.

In an April 17 press release, CIT chairman Kurt Summers said that replacing the lights would be “complex,” and that “community participation in this process is critical.”

Even so, only one official meeting has been held regarding the lights (a May 3 industry “networking conference” at Malcolm X College) and no further public hearing is scheduled for the lights, which could last upwards of twenty years — leaving some residents feeling left in the dark.

In a statement issued following the May meeting, the CIT’s one-paragraph response about the new lights did not directly address health or wildlife concerns, and failed to explain where the public could find further information. The CIT simply said it will provide “light where needed” and “light when needed,” and that it is committed to “shielding light and directing it downward,” as well as selecting lighting with “warmer colors.”

Similar installations around the country have garnered mixed reviews. In Brooklyn, public outcry over 250,000 new LEDs led to the city replacing about 29,000 lights with lower-intensity fixtures. Other cities, like Santa Rosa, Calif., enjoyed smoother installations, thanks to an involved process of responding to public feedback as the lights were put in.

Involvement is what residents here are looking for as well. “If I could see what they were, I’d like to have a ballot,” said Guynn.

“In a perfect world, Chicago would ask, ‘What are the parameters of the community lighting we’re providing?’” says Drew Carhill, board member of the Illinois Coalition for Responsible Outdoor Lighting, a nonprofit advocacy group.

— Tricia Parker

1 2 3 4 5