In a month of marriages are you a bridesmaid and never a bride? As we watch friends throw the bouquet and feel happy for them, do you feel slightly resentful that there is no Mr. Right in your life?
I was thrilled when Amy Sue Nathan’s book, “The Glass Wives,” made its debut in May. Ever since the book by television matchmaker Tracy McMillan was released last year, “Why You’re Not Married … Yet,” multiple blogs have placed the blame for being single on women. However, McMillan offered what might be the best advice thus far in her recent Huffington Post blog, “Become the person you are holding out for.”
It sounds as if she is channeling Dr. Leo Buscaglia, author of “Love.” He has said in lectures, “There is no right person. We become the right person!”
When I first met Nathan some years ago, she had dipped her toe into Internet dating and drove miles to meet a man who suggested they split the salad. Smartly, she never dated him again. As women often learn, stingy men are emotionally vapid.
A single mother, trying to hold together a family that was unraveling, Nathan wanted a relationship and she wanted to publish a book. But it was her “Ah ha” moment of living in the present and enjoying the moment that set her on a path to success. It took place after she decided to break the pattern of “Waiting. Planning. Looking ahead.”
“With that revelation I stopped waiting for whatever, or whoever, or wherever was next. I focused only on the present. No matter what: no waiting,” she said in her guest blog for Psychology Today.
While working on her book she inadvertently designed a blueprint for all women waiting for Mr. Right. By focusing on her dream to publish a novel — which took seven years to complete — each day she enjoyed the process of networking, blogging, meeting other writers and taking a proactive approach towards her dream.
Is your goal to be married? Then get out there and meet people. Join volunteer organizations. Sign up for courses at museums or colleges. Take up golf or sailing. Meet a person who makes you feel good about yourself.
If he is not Mr. Perfect, is he kind and generous with a circle of male friends, which indicates his ability to bond? If so, have the courage to ask him early on, “Are you ready for a serious relationship, because I am?” If this scares him away, love yourself enough to move on without fretting. Why? Because one day, when you ask that question, Mr. Right will answer, “Yes, I am.”
Rita Watson, ritawatson.com , is the one of the Journal’s relationship columnists.
Bradley Hospital has launched a program tailored to help young people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition that affects one in 200 children nationwide, approximately one million in the United States.
OCD is debilitating for children and a challenge to parents. Children with OCD suffer with intrusive thoughts and compulsions that interfere with their daily activities.
Working together appears to be the focus on the new Bradley Hospital evidence-based program for children from 5 to 18 years old. The program is led by Jennifer Freeman, Ph.D., and clinical co-director Abbe Garcia, Ph.D. Garcia recently answered some questions about the new program.
How might this program at Bradley Hospital improve the daily lives of young children and parents?
“The rituals associated with OCD can take up a lot of time and energy and can be associated with high levels of family conflict,” Dr. Garcia said. “By helping children reduce their rituals and by helping families know how to respond to their children’s symptoms, our program gives families back time and energy that OCD has taken from them.”
She pointed out that weekly family therapy “provides an opportunity to heal some of the wounds that have come from battles about OCD symptoms and can have a positive impact on all aspects of family communication and parenting.”
Young children, however, are perhaps less resistant to treatment than older children. What are some ways parents might encourage adolescents to seek help?
“The kind of treatment that we do in our program works best when patients actively engage in planning the treatment exercises with their providers,” said Dr. Garcia. “It is very hard to do this treatment to someone. It works much better when we do it with someone. Teens, who may be especially likely to be hesitant to seek treatment, often appreciate the fact that this kind of treatment will be collaborative; their perspective is valued.”
As she pointed out, “sometimes the ambivalence about seeking treatment is driven by fear of the unknown” and suggests that parents guide adolescents seeking information about “what treatment entails.”
Because some young people who need help for OCD may have experienced poor outcomes from prior treatment attempts, “hesitancy about seeking treatment is a self-protective stance to prevent disappointment,” she added.
“The peer support that comes from being in a milieu with up to 11 other youth with similar experiences and who are pursing similar treatment goals is a invaluable resource for motivating patients to make the most of this treatment,” she said.
The program itself includes up to five hours per week of one-on-one time with program staff in the patient’s home and/or the school setting, depending upon where the patient’s OCD is causing problems.
OCD is often treated with a combination of individual therapy and medication. The International OCD Foundation notes that medication should be considered only for moderate to severe OCD symptoms, adding that both cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medicine effectively treat OCD in children and teens. The approved medications are listed on the website at OCFoundation.org .
Parents of children with OCD may find some comfort in the award-winning children’s book, “Up and Down the Worry Hill,” written by Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Medicine.
Bradley Hospital’s website also has a helpful page for parents on Obsessive Compulsive Disorders. Go tobradleyhospital.org and click on “Programs and Services” and “Parenting Resources.”
Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
It appears that certain themes define togetherness for men and women in relationships: love and romance, compassion and friendship, conflict and recovery. While both men and women believe in love, they show it in different ways. However, it seems that the best predictor of happily ever after may come from the way couples recover from conflict.
Researchers writing in the journal Psychological Science found that those who saw themselves as being secure as infants were more likely to recover from conflicts in their adult romantic relationships. Although we cannot change our past as infants, we can shape and control the present.
Just because a problem is solved and there appears to be an overt win-win, negative feelings can linger. As such, conflict recovery plays a critical role. And our behavior may be the ticket to success.
Love is a decision as much as a feeling. Those who give love receive love. Although research last summer presented in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin reported that men and women tend to show love differently, they are not really from Mars and Venus.
While there is togetherness in long-lasting marriages, it takes a bit of a dance to create a healthy, loving environment.
Through the work of two researchers, Elizabeth Schoenfeld at the University of Texas, Austin, and Steven Yap at Michigan State University, we learned that wives show love by being less antagonistic and curbing negativity. As for the men — their way of showing love included sharing activities together, helping with household chores, and initiating sex. However, the men — while helpful — were not anxious to take over chores. And women appeared to be less likely to initiate sex, letting their husbands take the lead.
A striking characteristic of the happily married came from women — they learned to watch their words. Words are powerful. Our words can help or they can hinder. They can heal or they can harm.
How we spend the next 60 seconds is our choice — it can be with joy and peace or anger and sadness. We can choose to fixate on a negative mood or flip the switch to a positive perspective.
Even those who appear to be deliriously in love find that passion eventually evolves into compassionate love, deep affection and connection, according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychology professor at the University of California, Riverside. She points out in her newly released book, “The Myths of Happiness,” what we know intuitively: Happily ever after doesn’t just happen — it takes work, commitment, words of appreciation, and frequent doses of loving touch.
Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
Hello Friends and Family in Twitterville:
Thank you for all of your patience while I went through the nursing home crisis with HRH – Our Mother. She is quite happy at the new place and so it seemed fitting to write a piece today on being grateful. Although it is called 4 Ways Children Learn Gratitude – we might all benefit from the research.
Love flourishing and love lost:
Was happy to have a chance to write some pieces on love:
But why is it that my most popular piece thus far is this one? 20 Thoughts on How to Say, “It’s Over”
Wishing you all a glorious week ahead.
And again, if I happen to miss an article that you wish for me to re-tweet, please send a link.
With love and gratitude/ R
Memory is once again in the news. Researchers at Yale have determined that recent memory is malleable. This challenges mental health and justice-system professionals who believed that when faced with a recent traumatic event, the mind could accurately recall details. When new memory research surfaces, families affected by Alzheimer’s often wonder if memories of loved ones can be manipulated so as to replace agitating thoughts into more peaceful ones. But according to Dr. Allen Dennison, Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University, at a certain stage of dementia, even remembering a sequence of three can be impossible.
While the concept of malleable memory may be important for jurors to recognize in eyewitness reports, it will have little effect on those with dementia.
The Yale research was headed by Dr. Charles A. Morgan III, associate clinical professor at Yale, who found that that it takes little effort to manipulate memory of those who are stressed. As published in the recent International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, his team studied responses of active-duty members of the military after a three-day interrogation ordeal.
The control group received questionnaires with non-leading questions such as “Was there a telephone in the room?” The experimental group was asked the color of the telephone. In the control group 10 percent mistakenly “remembered” a phone compared with 98 percent in the stressed experimental group who mistakenly “remembered” a telephone.
For those looking to the research to see if unhappy memories might be replaced by more pleasant ones — particularly during the end of the day when disturbing memories seem to surface during “sundowning” — Dennison put it in perspective.
Also medical director of Evergreen House Health and Rehabilitation Center in East Providence, he said: “Since many Alzheimer patients cannot register three objects; for example, repeat the words ‘Chicago, baseball, and radio’ — and most cannot remember them in five minutes — anything one says to these patients in the way of redirection is forgotten in a minute or two. So while the research to which you refer may be interesting mechanistically, it would have no relevance to a sun-downing patient. However, our staff psychiatrist spends time listening to content and trying to decipher its meaning and possible non-drug strategies to help manage unhappiness.”
While Dennison acknowledges that Aricept and Namenda often keep patients out of nursing homes for as long as a year, as these have shown to slow memory loss, he is not convinced that often-prescribed antidepressant medications (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , SSRIs) have long-term value.
He said, “My opinion is that SSRIs don’t help demented patients and they often contribute to behavior problems and low sodium in the blood that can get them readmitted to the hospital. I educate families about this.”
Dennison pointed out that sometimes families are reluctant to stop a medication such as Celexa, because their mother had been on it for seven years. He said, “I explain that antidepressants are often started in early dementia to help patients who lose interest in usual activities. I do it this in my office practice. But I stop them when the memory loss becomes obvious due to their lack of efficacy, side effects, and cost.”
He added that at this stage, he channels the television character Dr. House, saying: “It did not work very well because now she is in a nursing home.”
For now, it seems that the greatest hope to brighten the lives of patients with memory impairment is music. Dennison pointed out that at the nursing home, “The women love the Elvis impersonator. That would be an example of a positive memory from when perhaps Elvis re-awakened sexual ‘feelings.’ I have often wondered why they love Elvis so much.”
When it comes to music research as well as happy patients, faces reflect the value of a song.
Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
Rita Watson, MPH, is a Journal columnist. She is a 2013 MetLife Foundation Journalist through the Gerontological Society of America and New America Media.
Please see The best loves are the ones built on friendship on Page H5 of Sunday, May 05, 2013 issue of The Providence Journal
The best loves are the ones built on friendship
When Neil Diamond led the singing of “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway Park after the Boston Marathon tragedy, the words “hands touching hands” took on a new meaning. Researchers tell us that music and touch are healing. And time with friends helps stabilize relationships.
Friendships are protective. Friends help us to stay balanced and will help us laugh at ourselves. And friends who understand the forgiveness factor are treasures. Wilma Askinas, author of “A Splice of Life” once said, “A friend is someone who sees through you and still enjoys the view.”
The most delicious love is built upon friendship, intimacy and trust. If a time comes when passion wanes, friendship and trust become the core of togetherness. Joanne Woodward, wife of the late Paul Newman, reminded us: “Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, ah, now that’s a real treat.”
Today, oftentimes lust mistaken for love trumps lasting bonds. This means trouble especially for those in relationships in which they gradually become isolated from friends and family.
How does one build a friendship in a new relationship and maintain friendship with one’s spouse? The answers to both are surprisingly similar.
Spend time with each other — chatting, exercising, and sharing movies, sports events, good books and friends.
Be yourself instead of hiding behind a mask because you are afraid to bring up touchy subjects or show the real you.
Give the gift of listening when you have differing thoughts; try to understand the other person’s point of view.
Learn to discern each other’s emotional needs and try to fulfill them.
Practice forming words of forgiveness instead of blame when you are angry.
Design a vision for your life together and in doing so create memories along the way.
In all relationships trust your intuition. If you think something is amiss, you are probably right. Test the feelings and proceed with caution. It is sad for women in relationships who eventually learn of their partners’ dark side. Did they bypass the “getting to know you” phase or were they in denial?
When I tried to navigate my way through Copley Square to change trains after the sad Boston Marathon event, I passed young couples and older ones hugging each other at the finish line barricade. A spontaneous memorial of flowers and gifts overflowed.
In a true relationship two people are there to support each other “in good times and bad.” Life is fragile. So it is good to store up reserves of joy. Couples who spend time developing friendship and trust are likely to find the intimate love of “happily ever after.”
Rita Watson, ritawatson.com , is an incurable romantic and All About You relationship columnist.
Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved
For Newspaper article and photos, please go to: Fructose, obesity and healthful alternatives for kids on Page C3 of Monday, April 29, 2013 issue of Providence Journal
Fructose, obesity and healthful alternatives for kids
For those of us who were born with a sweet tooth, losing weight is a life-long struggle. The debate in this country regarding obesity ranges from what’s on the grill to what’s in our coffee. Yale researchers reported on the problem of fructose in the Journal of the American Medical Association this month. Fructose is often called the fruit sugar. Dr. Jessica Stadtmauer, certified by the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners, is siding with the Yale team and believes that parents can wean children away from sugary snacks to healthier ones. However, she also believes in moderation.
The Yale team found that in MRIs of the brain of those who drank a solution of fructose and those who drank a solution of glucose, only the glucose drinkers showed increased brain activity in terms of satiety hormones. The researchers concluded that fructose did not reduce the appetite or make one feel full. And they cautioned that this might lead to overeating.
Dr. Stadtmauer, who is with Mountain View Natural Medicine in South Burlington, Vermont, pointed out: “This study sheds light on yet another drawback to fructose – namely, its failure to trigger satiety possibly leading to more cravings and increased sugar consumption.”
But she sees this as only part of the problem. She noted that foods with high fructose content such as soda, sports drinks, and even some “health” foods also place a burden on the liver and contribute to abdominal obesity.
She said, “The assumption that fructose comes from fruit and is therefore more healthy as result is completely misleading. It is added to products because of its stability, availability or lower cost — not because it’s healthy. High fructose-containing foods such as agave nectar, high fructose corn syrup and crystallized fructose are simply not healthy in large quantities. There is not a healthy reason for this sweetener to be added to foods that our children consume.”
Here are five tips that Dr. Stadtmauer suggests for parents with young children.
Avoid Frankenfoods: Offer foods that are as close to the way that they’re grown and harvested as possible. Whole fruit, nuts, seeds, edamame and other beans and oatmeal are good, healthy snacks that are minimally processed.
Offer choices: Children are more cooperative when they feel they have some control and say in their decisions. Offer apples or oranges, carrots or peppers, hummus or Greek yogurt. In this way, they’ll choose what they prefer and parents will still be happy with the choice.
Offer a well-rounded snack: Children will feel satisfied and have fewer crashes in blood sugar if their snacks contain carbohydrates along with proteins and healthy fats. Try serving apples with cheese slices, celery with almond butter, Greek yogurt with oats or granola, hummus and carrot sticks.
Make snacks interesting: We eat with our eyes as well as our mouths. Fruit and cheese on a skewer is often more appealing than in individual parts. Toddlers and young children love a variety of finger snacks. Place peas, beans and bite-sized pieces of fruits and cheese in an ice cube tray. The more colors on the plate, the better — not only for its appeal to little eaters, but also for the unique phytonutrients each of these different colored fruits or vegetables offer.
Use healthier sweeteners: No sweetener is perfect, but some options are better than others. The amount of fructose in fruit is probably not a problem. A small amount of sucrose added to a rare baked treat is often all right. Maple syrup, honey and an herb called stevia can add a punch of sweetness without damaging the liver in the process. It really seems to boil down to moderation or minimal use.
Dr. Stadtmauer’s advice for weaning children from sweets could easily work for all of us on the “Fad Diet of the Week” program.
Rita Watson, MPH, ( ritawatson.com ) is a regular contributor to the Journal and a relationship columnist for The Providence Journal’s “All About You” section.
FRONT PAGE: It’s best to break the sugar habit, no matter what type it is. / Rita Watson in Thrive.
To all of my Twitterville friends — thank you for smiles and mentions while I retreated this month to live the nursing home experience with our 93-year-old mother. She continues to remain a lively challenge who appears to have nine lives.
Then came the Boston Marathon tragedy at Copley Square, where I change trains to visit her. It left me completely depleted. Although I began writing an article about about the tributes, last night I eased my way back with 10 Ways to Express Love.
Please know that I am grateful to those of you who ask me to retweet articles. Should I miss one that is important to you, just send a link and I will happily share it.
And yes, I have become a Facebook drop-out, as such, I am trying to get better about LinkedIn. Wishing you a glorious week. / R
The days of the love letter seem to have drifted away from us. And, yet, we often cling to that one special letter that sent our hearts and spirits soaring. As I began looking into the art of writing the perfect love letter, I came across two intriguing finds: The Love Letter Collection, an online project of poet Cynthia Gray, and the book Words of Love: Quotations from the Heart: Allen Klein, A Viva Publication.
If you are ready for a trip down memory lane to when love poems and love letters had meaning, the online project offers the opportunity for participation. What makes it most intriguing is that, as noted on the site, collectiveexperience.org/ love.html, “You can submit a letter you’ve sent or received, or a letter you’d like to send but can’t. The love can be a fantasy love, unrequited love, impossible love, naive love, hopeful love, frustrated love, obsessed love, new love, old love or lost love.”
There are letters from “the suffocation place,” long and heart-wrenching, or short and simple as from “respiratory damage” — “Even so many years later, when you cross my mind … it still hurts to breathe… .”
After reading these, ask yourself if love letters are gifts from the heart or as Roxane Gay, who edits the collection, suggests, “Maybe, love letters are the kindest lies.”
In “Words of Love: Quotations from the Heart,” published by Viva Editions, the 10 chapters of short quotations are grouped into “What is Love?,” “Falling in Love,” “First Love,” “Romantic Love,” “Loving Couples,” “A Mother’s Love,” “Loving Yourself,” “Hugs and Kisses,” “Love Conquers All” and “Unconditional Love.”
The quotes are a collection of humor and wisdom, ranging from Zsa Zsa Gabor’s “A girl must marry for love and keep on marrying until she finds it” to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s “True love begins when nothing is looked for in return.”
If you are thinking about writing to your true love, this book is an inspiration.
What if your true love has gone? Write the letter that helps your heart to heal by remembering the good in the relationship.
What if the love in your life is disappointing you? Try wearing rose-colored glasses, and write a letter that expresses only the good times shared. How would you end such a letter? That would depend upon how you feel after your private thoughts are on paper. If your heart tells you that the relationship is over, give thanks for the joy that you both experienced and move on. If not, embrace the future with loving kindness.
Rita Watson ( ritawatson.com ) is an incurable romantic and relationship columnist for All About You.
In a world of happy hours, we sip and smile until a pregnant woman walks onto the scene. Then we begin to watch to see if she is drinking. We look at neighbors and socialites who party with seltzer instead of Chardonnay and wonder when the baby bump will appear. With approximately 5,000 infants born each year with fetal alcohol syndrome in the United States, heightened awareness is key. Dr. Peter D. Friedmannat Rhode Island Hospital, a proponent of screening, says: “During the first trimester any alcohol consumption is concerning.” As such, it is important for a physician to ask when the woman had her last drink.
Dr. Friedmann pointed out in “Alcohol Use in Adults,” published in a January issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, “Clinicians should routinely screen patients for risk drinking and further discuss management strategies.”
The AmericanAcademy of Pediatrics tells us that “Children with fetal alcohol syndrome don’t grow to normal size. They have abnormally small heads, distinctive facial features and can develop mild to moderate mental retardation. Some children with fetal alcohol syndrome are also born with other birth defects including heart, eye and ear problems. As children with this syndrome grow, most will develop learning and behavior problems.”
What happens if a physician suspects that his patient might be drinking? Dr. Friedmann noted that “Physicians have the opportunity to perform a brief counseling intervention or motivational interview to help a woman reduce her drinking.”
There are two tests that clinicians might use to assess drinking in pregnant women. T-ACE is a measurement tool of four questions that are significant identifiers of risk drinking (i.e., alcohol intake sufficient to potentially damage the embryo or fetus), devised by Robert J. Sokol. T-ACE stands for Tolerance, Annoyance, Cut Down, and Eye-Opener.
A similar test called TWEAK stands for Tolerance, Worried, Eye-Opener, Amnesia, K-Cut down.
In both tests, the short questionnaires essentially try to determine alcohol consumption, including how many drinks it takes to get high. Annoyance felt when friends express worry about your drinking. And drinking first thing in the morning as an eye-opener. Forgetting what happened during drinking (amnesia) is a serious concern. And both questionnaires ask: Do you think you should cut down?
Based on the results, a clinician will make recommendations for intervention, which often includes counseling.
A British study in 2010, led by University College London, found that some drinking was acceptable during pregnancy. However, the BBC reported that the president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that abstinence was the safest choice.
Dr. Friedmann agrees, stating: “No universally safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy has been identified.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 1 in 8 pregnant women in the United States reports alcohol use and about 1 in 50 pregnant women report binge drinking; that is, five or more drinks at one time. The Surgeon General has reported that nearly half of all U.S. births are unplanned, as such, “Any woman who could become pregnant should talk to her doctor and take steps to lower the chance of exposing her baby to alcohol.”
Rita Watson, MPH, ( www.ritawatson.com ) is a regular contributor to The Providence Journal and a relationship columnist for our “All About You” section.keep looking »