Whenever we think we are finally in order, that except for the love in our life, things are really going well, it is time to think again. A little book called “Imperfect Spirituality” by Polly Campbell is one of those books that gently reminds us to take a closer look at ourselves.
In a section called “Focus on Fondness” she reminds us of how easy it is to “fret and worry about all that our partner isn’t doing right.” She suggests that instead of letting our mind wander to that place where we list all of our irritations we move back to loving. She says, “Just a few minutes of focused fondness can ease a little relationship strife and promote better feelings.” (page 147)
The book is by Viva Editions which also brought us a book by Mary Beth Sammons and Nina Lesowitz called “Living Life as a Thank you.”
While I often suggest putting a photo of you and your love on the refrigerator door to remind yourself of happy times instead of fretting, a few mindfulness moments to recap your partner’s positive qualities will bring you to a happier place.
Gratitude and appreciation are healthier than the anger brewing as you let someone else’s little imperfections simmer inside of you. Wish them blessing, be gracious and you can quickly make the choice to kiss instead of scowl.
Copyright 2014 Rita Esposito
Happy New Year! Each will get a separate blog page. Promise.
Spirituality / Thrive/ Monday Nov.18
Thrive/ Monday Nov.25
Spirituality /Thrive/ Dec 16
Here are links to recent Providence Journal relationship column postings. Will add each to a web page when I get out from under the holidays. Happy New Year.
AAY Nov 15
AAY/ Dec 1
AAY Dec 15
AAY Dec. 27
Here are four simple thoughts for the New Year that do not require you to make those too easy to break resolutions. Consider them a few love notes to live by. These thoughts should help you to listen to those in your life who may need you to step back and slow down.
Open your heart to find love
Most of us forget that the way to be loved is to give love and express love. The man who wrote a book by Leo Buscaglia, Love. He believed that we should all take a chance on love and actually tell people our feelings: say the words to children, parents, friends, lovers, and spouses, “I love you.”
Create intimate Saturday nights
Create intimate Saturday night dates whether married or single. For couples, plan a night in with candlelight and music to reminisce and express secret wishes. For singles: yes, you can be happy at home without a date. Pour yourself a glass of champagne. Read a book that inspires you and brings a smile to your face.
Let go of an angry heart
Send good wishes to someone who has hurt you. Perhaps try writing out wishes for them, it will tend to soften the spot in your heart that is hurting.
Practice gratitude daily
The research on gratitude from the University of California, Davis, is compelling. At the lab of Dr. Robert Emmons, researchers found that gratitude is an attitude not just a feeling. Extend gratitude and eventually you will become a more gracious and loving person.
Copyright 2014 Rita Esposito Watson
Jeanne Marie Carley, author of “The Folk Art of Cape Cod,” by Schiffer Publishing Co., says that the hard-working people of the 1700s and 1800s, though often facing harsh times, “left us a legacy of treasures including schoolgirl samplers, wooden decoys, whirligigs, weathervanes and many portraits of sea captains, their wives and children done by itinerant artisan-painters.”
What started out as a course to learn about their new community in Chatham, Mass., has become a coffee-table book of over 550 color plates that weaves in the history of Rhode Island carousels and textile mills.
Carley embarked on the folk art journey after deciding to move to the Cape with her husband, William M. Carley, following his retirement as a senior investigative writer at The Wall Street Journal. Her own background in personal genealogy includes writing and editing articles for various genealogical societies, including Je Me Souviens, the American-French Genealogical Society in Pawtucket.
Through her research, Carley became intrigued by early religious art done by a drifter who was said to have been disowned by a wealthy family. His simplicity of style showed somber images of the Virgin and Child, perhaps reflective of the faces he saw in his travels. “We should remember that the people portrayed in the book often led tragic lives with frequent death at sea for men and often during childbirth for young women. Many of their children had a brief lifespan,” Carley said.
Heirloom quilts often revealed stories of family history, and these became ever more colorful when Samuel Slater opened the first cotton mill in Pawtucket in 1793, providing easier access to fabrics.
If colorful quilts of the era had any visual competition, it was in the form of fanciful hand-carved, hand-painted horses designed for merry-go-rounds.
“Opinions vary about whether carousel animals are actually folk art since many of these carvers had trained as wood sculpture apprentices and their animals were primarily made for commercial use,” says Carley. “Nonetheless, the lively Victorian-age carousel contributed to the roots of our national heritage aesthetically and culturally, whether in an amusement park or city park, a seashore resort, a circus, a country fair or traveling carnival.”
Carley noted that “carousels combined the immigrant experience, European-born skilled wood-carvers, and organ-builders, popular entertainment, creation of a new national enterprise. All of these elements merged to create a memorable American epoch centered on the shared and simple joy of whirling around on the flying horses.”
By the 1800s this tiny state of Rhode Island could boast of two prize carousels that brought magical moments to young and old alike. While only about 275 of the more than 3,000 antique carousels still exist, “The Flying Horse Carousel” in Watch Hill is considered one of the oldest designed by Charles Dane.
Carley says of Dane’s designs: “His graceful, gentler and less decorative animals are more characteristic of folk art than those sculpted by the classically trained European artisans in other workshops. The 20-horse ride in Watch Hill was the 1867 prototype that used suspended chains rather than a platform and the outer-row horses have extended forelegs, giving the appearance of flight.”
She added that although the carousel was “abandoned in Watch Hill in 1883 by a traveling circus, buried in the sand in the devastating 1938 hurricane, it was eventually restored and motorized.”
Today it has landmark status, as does the carousel built in 1895 by Charles I.D. Looff at Crescent Park in Riverside, which is called “the jewel of Rhode Island.” Carley said, “He even carved a carousel of 54 animals as a wedding present for his daughter Emma Looff Vogel.”
Children and adults alike are mesmerized by merry-go-round magic. Riding the carousel, our ancestors were transported to moments bordering on a whirling spiritual high. Even today we can tangibly connect with our past by hugging the stallions, listening to the organ, and feeling the wind against our faces.
There is a sense of awe bordering on spirituality when we think of our heritage. Through folk art we see how our ancestors brought to this new country their ideas, creativity, and inventiveness. Sitting on a carousel we come in touch with ancestors who found laughter on the painted stallions despite toiling to turn this land of ours into the state we call home.
Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
Rita Watson (www.ritawatson.com) is a Providence Journal columnist, who has written “A Serenity Journal: 52 Weeks of Prayer and Gratitude”.
Grandma’s dining room had a mahogany racetrack table covered with a crocheted cloth and a bowl of wax fruit.
During the day we ate in the large kitchen where she rolled out her pasta. But on nights and holidays, the dining room doors opened for anyone who happened to stop by.
Our grandparents believed in breaking bread together and savoring Gram’s homemade pasta, a daily staple. At Thanksgiving, the turkey shared a place with her ravioli. The Christmas goose always sat facing her manicotti. The Easter leg of lamb nestled next to her lasagna.
In her dining room, Gram said, we could learn about people and love.
Sitting around the welcome table she helped us perfect the art of reading expressions on people’s faces — listening to the questions they asked or did not ask, and understanding their laughter, snickers and silence.
Our grandmother spent hours preparing meals. After some 12 of us sat and said grace she would run her finger from her lips to her stomach and proclaim: “Four hours cooking and just minutes while it goes from here to there. Eat slowly. Talk. Listen. And tomorrow we will all meet again — God willing.”
Grandpa sat at the head of the table with a giant wooden spoon. If one of the boys began to tease — or if we all got the giggles — he slammed down the spoon while bellowing “Silenzio.” We froze until he broke the silence, reminding us to be grateful. “Now, thank God and your Grandma again for this feast.”
With Thanksgiving and Hanukkah occurring together for the first time in hundreds of years, there will be giving and sharing in many parts of the world. Whether one is celebrating the Festival of Lights or expressing gratitude to the Pilgrims, our nation, those who serve, family and friends — it takes just one room, one table to discover the lessons of relationships.
Gram believed that the table was sacred. No matter how much we may have disagreed with one another, she was convinced that any argument could be settled at her kitchen or dining room table. When she sensed tension, she magically produced a cup of hot demitasse and freshly made biscotti.
“Mangia. Mangia. Try this for me,” she would say. And who would refuse her?
She had the wisdom of psychologists today. Instead of allowing us to dwell on hurt feelings, she helped us to change our mood. Her secret was food. With a kitchen filled with baking breads and pastry treasures, we knew that once she said, “Sit. Eat,” whatever ill feelings may have been brewing within us would simply dissipate at her table of love.
Adapted from Italian Kisses/
Copyright 2013/ Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
Rita Watson is an All About You relationship columnist. From November 17, 2013 Rita Watson: Anything could be solved at Grandma’s table | Lifestyle .
November marks the month of gratitude.
Yet as Thanksgiving approaches, singles and families alike are often so fraught with relationship tension that even sitcoms mimic the so-called joys of togetherness and Martha Stewart turkey moments.
And for many people, the connection between food and relationships is not just a holiday affair.
At the Rhode Island Food Bank’s Community Kitchen culinary training program, for example, relationships are created among trainees and the children they serve at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Providence and East Providence.
“The adults in the [Community Kitchen] program have often been through great struggles because of the economy,” says CEO Andrew Schiff. “While they are here in the program, they receive a daily reward knowing that the meals they are preparing are going to kids who really need them.
“As part of the program, our students go to the sites and meet the kids — it’s that connection which makes this work so meaningful. It really adds a whole different dimension to working in the kitchen,” Schiff says.
Working to cook and serve the meals to children is what Schiff calls “a giving back” opportunity.
In thinking about the concept of giving back, perhaps there is some significance in knowing that this year Thanksgiving is also the first day of Hanukkah, a celebration of the Festival of Lights. Such a convergence is so rare it will be thousands of years before it occurs again.
Perhaps there is a message here, a message of giving and gratitude to inspire new relationships of sharing with others — that which we have received in abundance.
As Schiff notes, “We oftentimes give out of gratitude.”
Rita Watson is an All About You relationship columnist.
Copyright 2013/ Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
All About You H5 November 3, 2013
Bags of candy have lined the shelves of markets and pharmacies for weeks now to be certain that on Halloween no one is left sugarless. The debates about big bad sugar continue to rage on. Between the “for” and “against” advocates there may never be a true meeting of the minds. And now the anti-sugar lobby has gleaned more evidence against “The Sweets Monster” from the addictive Oreo cookie study. On Halloween, what are parents to do about sugar-high children? And how can trick-or-treaters keep sugar-dependent parents from their precious stash? Some sensible trick-or-treat tips and advice from pediatric dentist Dr. Glenn Canares, of St. Joseph Health Services of Rhode Island, can make Halloween a bit happier for parents.
Based on facts and observation, sweets create cravings for more sweets, even in adults. No matter how many times a woman might say, “A minute on the lips, forever on the hips,” few can resist dessert temptation. Even Weight Watchers has come to this realization and packages its own brand of yummies.
There is enough evidence against sugar to ban it from every household in the nation. The United States Department of Agriculture says that on a per capita basis, we consume 31 five-pound bags per year.
Dr. Glenn Canares: Pediatric dentist
While we are so concerned about obesity in children — which indeed has some correlation to sugar intake — parents might also consider ways to mitigate the side effects of sugar on teeth.
Canares says, “I think that the common perception among parents is that the amount of candy eaten is directly proportional to the amount of cavities that are caused. However, it is really about understanding which candy is most harmful, clearing the sugar, and limiting candy eating times.
“The longer the candy is on the teeth, the longer the plaque has fuel to create acid to cause cavities. In general, sticky candies such as taffy and gummies will get stuck in the teeth and take longer to clear away with saliva or water than a non-sticky candy such as a chocolate bar,” he said.
Apparently, the more often someone is eating candy, the less time our natural defenses are protecting our teeth.
“As such, parents should be choosing candy that is not sticky and is easy to clear away from the teeth with water. Also parents should limit the number of times in the day that candy is being eaten. In this way our kids’ natural saliva defenses can work for them. It’s relatively better to eat more candy in one sitting than to eat a little candy multiple times a day,” says Canares.
As for the immediate Halloween problem, here are some thoughts from mothers.
Candy taxes: One young mother told me that when she was growing up, after trick-or-treating her mother would have them empty their sacks. She would sort through it and say, “First you pay your taxes.” They grew up thinking that taxes were Snickers bars that went to the head of household.
Toys for candy: Parents might buy small gifts that their children may have been coveting. Then on Halloween night, the children pay for the toys with pieces of candy. The new Matchbox car might be three pieces of chocolate. Barbie dolls, six pieces.
Hide and seek: This is a twist on the Easter egg hunt. Trick-or-treaters can be asked to help wrap candy in Halloween bags. Then adult and children can decide how many bags get hidden for a treasure hunt that might be stretched out for several weekends.
Parents addicted to chocolate?
As for parents addicted to chocolate, follow your heart. The dark chocolate study in the British Medical Journal last year said that one piece a day — about 3.5 ounces for 10 years — might keep the doctor at bay by decreasing the risk of cardiac events.
What about these studies? Based on statistical standards, many sugar studies do meet the tests for validity and reliability, which brings me to the Oreo cookie study. It was done by students at Connecticut College. It seems that this innocent looking confection can be as addictive as cocaine — to rats — who preferred the Oreos to drugs.
What is the moral to the sugar story? Moderation, education, and thoughtful consumption. Happy Halloween.
Rita Watson, M.P.H., is a Journal columnist. In the spirit of full disclosure, from one fully schooled in epidemiological studies, she admits:
“If I bring a pint of Cherry Garcia into the house, I feel compelled to eat it immediately. And I won’t even try to resist a Federal Hill cannoli or two. Then there is the hot flourless chocolate cake and Bailey’s chocolate mousse at McBride’s, the hazelnut torte at the Brown Faculty Club, and my grandmother’s tiramisu. As for those addictive Oreo cookies, unlike the munching lab rats, I do not eat the filling first.”
Whether you choose to be a “Downton Abbey” look-alike, a sexy bar maid, or an M&M, expect a laughter-filled Halloween. It’s a great night for singles and couples alike. You might decide on a costume influenced by today’s movies such as “Batman,” “The Lone Ranger” or “Gravity.”
Or perhaps you will choose a look from Ruth Edna Kelley’s “The Book of Hallowe’en,” published in 1919 and updated in 2011 with full illustrations and postcards. She might inspire a ghost or goblin in the form of a spirit which supposedly roamed the earth on All Hallow’s Eve.
What makes Halloween such a fanciful time? There is none of the anxiety that surrounds “Hearts and Flowers Day,” with women wondering if they will receive an expensive box of calories. On Halloween there is enough candy to go around for weeks — all the treats for the asking. The only requirement is a mask and a plan with your best female or male friends or the love in your life.
Keep in mind that unlike New Year’s Eve, no dates are necessary. Just give yourself a night off to revel in the holiday.
If you don’t wish to costume shop, think of sheets, wigs, and household items that can turn you into “The Chef.” Here is a chance to be creative and make a statement. Try a white cotton T-shirt with his and hers hashtags that can be as simple or daring as you wish. For couples dating too long, she might want to write #outofpatience while he sports #outofexcuses.
In the world of costumes, Hollywood trends for women continue to be sassy and for men, heroes all. This season, despite the disgust so many expressed about Miley Cyrus at the MTV Video Music Awards, you can expect to see Ms. Miley and Robin Thicke costumes.
For a Miley, I’d encourage shirts with some pink felt teddy bear designs instead of those pasties of hers. And then you can mimic her hair — if you dare. Robin Thicke’s outfit was a throwback to the 1988 “Beetlejuice” movie, and apparently the black and white striped suits are dancing off the racks.
Making Halloween a treat is up to you. And if you are with a serious love who thinks Halloween is just for children, bring out the kid in him. Fill the house with jack-o’-lanterns while reminding him that the tradition was meant to keep ghosts at bay. Place orange candles in the bedroom. Then offer some tricks and treats.
Buy daring lingerie or a large feather boa fan. Hang a magic fairy puppet over the bed. Or dress up as a genie — blink twice — and let your wildest relationship wishes come true.
Rita Watson is an All About You relationships columnist.
Copyright 2013 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved
Providence Journal (Oct 20, 2013, All About You, p. H5)
As many of you know, our Mother, who often traveled with our Dad during his Frank Sinatra days, joined him for their next adventure together. Here are two columns from Psychology Today — With Love and Gratitude — which upload automatically to this homepage.
Here are the columns that I finally managed to post last evening. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
- A positive approach to crafting a new you, Projo
- Hitting the gym — not the makeup counter, Projo
- ‘Irreplaceable’ wraps mid-age love into a mystery
- Secrets of writing and sustaining your love story
- Kind and caring words should be on your love list
- ‘Nantucket Blue’ is a young romance suited for summer (also in Psychology Today)
- July 4th is time to think about love and fireworks
- The summer fling goes digital
With love and gratitude/ R