this I believe

So many moments in life call for courage and grit. Managing a bad medical diagnosis. Absorbing the unexpected news that you’ve just been laid off of the job you've loved for years. Having your romantic fantasies dashed by the startling text message informing you that your partner has decided it's best to part ways. These are the moments that require us to dig deep – real deep – to find that inner strength we hope we have. And these are the sorts of moments that mean so much to Lori Ayotte.  

 

This I Believe Rhode Island: Written Words

Dec 21, 2016

Words matter. They matter a lot.  Carefully chosen and timely words have the capacity to spark a lifelong romance.  Vicious words also can serve as the proverbial knife thrust into the broken heart.  Soothing words offer solace in the midst of emotional torment, and, carefully strung together, can form a stunningly inspiring poem.  Listen to what Confucius had to say about the subject nearly 2,500 years ago:  “Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” Clearly, Stephanie Nary agrees. 
 

 

This I Believe Rhode Island: Skywatching

Dec 13, 2016

Perhaps it sounds too much like a cliché to say that in this remarkably fast-paced world, as we live our lives bombarded with digital and other rapid-fire, nonstop stimuli and the relentless demands of our modern-day lives, it's so important to slow things down and reflect on where we are in the moment.  But some cliches are profound and worth repeating, aren't they?  Thousands of years ago Confucius concluded that true reflection is one of the principal paths toward wisdom.  Scott Turner thinks much the same.    
 

Life is full of contradictions and inconsistencies, especially in those moments when we yearn for clarity. As the author Scott Turow noted about our efforts to grapple with uncertainty in the stories of our lives, "The purpose of narrative is to present us with complexity and ambiguity."  Issues that appear, at first glance, to be in sharp black and white relief quickly drift into shades of gray. That's what Beth Taylor reflects on with regard to distressingly ambiguous matters of war and peace.
 

It's no secret that our world is saturated with distressing conflict.  Afghanistan. Iraq. Syria. Turkey. Yemen. Lybia. South Sudan. And on and on. Every day, it seems, we're overwhelmed with daunting news of more intractable strife. It can be so hard to find hope in the midst of such horror. Yet, hope we must. As Albert Einstein observed, "Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding." And there are real seeds of such understanding in reflections by Penina Satlow.   

 

Those of us who are raising daughters in this modern era perhaps take it for granted that they have as much opportunity as their male counterparts to enroll in college and reach for the educational stars.  This wasn't always the case, of course, but today no thoughtful American would imagine denying women equal access.  Sadly, in many parts of the world girls and women continue to face insurmountable barriers.  Indeed, some courageous women have challenged the daunting obstacles they face and, along the way, paid a very steep price.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Studying History

Nov 15, 2016

For some, studying history conjures up images of dusty documents piled high in the library stacks or a professor's book-filled office.  How many of us can recall history courses where we studied fistfuls of flashcards before the exam, doing our best to memorize a litany of dates and what seemed like arcane facts that we quickly forgot?  Some of us were fortunate to have truly inspiring and talented teachers who made history come alive, who taught us how to think about our collective past as a way to understand where we are in life now, and where we may be headed.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Providence

Nov 9, 2016

A sense of place.  Community.  Roots.  Some of us spend a lifetime trying to figure out where we're from, who we are, where we belong.  Oliver Wendell Holmes -- the poet and physician whose son became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice -- once wrote, "Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts."  In this encore essay we hear from Ria Mirchandani about her fruitful search for a sense of home as she forges her path in life.

Take a moment and think back to the teachers who had the most profound impact on your life.  One or two may stand out, perhaps more.  What was it about them that was so influential?  The power of their compelling ideas?  Their unique pedagogical skill and charisma?  Or was it something much more subtle, perhaps the quiet and gentle support and encouragement they offered you?  Not all teachers have such impact, but truly special ones do.  Robert Frost wrote, "There are two kinds of teachers: the kind that fill you with so much quail shot that you can't move, and the kind that just gives you a little prod behind and you jump to the skies."  John Walsh clearly appreciates the difference. 

 
 

John Walsh is a partner in the East Greenwich-based communications firm, Walsh & Associates.  He writes a monthly Op-Ed column for the Providence Journal, which published an earlier version of this essay. Walsh also shares observations at johnwalshcopy.com   

  Some losses in life seem absolutely unbearable.  The unanticipated end of an intimate relationship that's at the center of our lives.  The death of a parent who can no longer provide advice or answer our phone calls, or, perhaps the most difficult, the death of a young child.  So often, it seems, the language we use in everyday discourse falls far short of what we need when we are in the midst of such profound grief, such unmitigated, seemingly unending despair.  What many of us discover at these times is that we need something other than words, perhaps the silent presence of a close friend, or the gentle reminders that somehow, some way, life will and must go on.  This is just what happened to Abby Dawes. 

 

Abby Dawes lives in Barrington with her partner, Brian DiSalvo, and their four-year-old son Will.  She is the Head of Regulatory Relations at Citizens Bank.  Dawes wishes to thank the wonderful nurses at Women and Infants Hospital for their care and sends a special thanks to Dr. David Beitel and Dr. Erika Werner.

The parent-child relationship is so very complicated. Inevitably, its texture seems to change over time, rarely in linear fashion.  Most of these relationships are filled with a complex mix of joy, devotion, frustration, commitment, irritation, ecstasy, celebration, and, yes, sporadic fits of anger.  Such is life, no?  As we age, as children become parents, and often caregivers for their own parents, our understanding of this most fundamental relationship evolves, sometimes in unexpected ways.  This we hear from John Minahan. 

 

John Minahan teaches English and Psychology at the Lincoln School in Providence.  Minahan is a former professional musician and college instructor who lives in Providence.  

This I Believe Rhode Island: Art of Teaching

Oct 11, 2016

  Albert Einstein once said, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." That's a rather idealized vision of teaching, of course, and it doesn't always work out that way. Any seasoned teacher can tell you about the complex mix of joyful, frustrating, triumphant and sad moments. Veteran educator David Mellor reminds us that teaching can be full of wonderful surprises delivered in some rather delightful packaging. 
 

David Mellor has taught high school mathematics for more than twenty years. 

  Those of us who are parents seem to assume that one of our principal tasks in life is teaching our children how to navigate this remarkably complicated world.  Whatever our child's talents, insights, proclivities, or special needs, we assume the role of master teacher: How to tie a shoe, complete assignments on time, manage a neighborhood bully, heal the broken heart.  The list seems, and perhaps is, endless.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Ocean

Sep 27, 2016

It's no secret that water is central to life in the Ocean State.  Narragansett, Greenwich, and Mt. Hope Bays; myriad rivers and lakes; and Block Island Sound, our gateway to the Atlantic Ocean.  Muscular ship building, the gentle mainland-to-the-island ferries, riverboat cruises on the Blackstone.  For many of us, our connection to water defines who we are as Rhode Islanders in ways that are not possible in land-locked states.  The famed New England poet E.E.

Exploring our genealogical roots is much more than a fad. This increasingly popular endeavor seems to represent a fundamental – and quite understandable – wish to know from whence we came, both geographically and genetically. And, these searches often yield surprises, some delightfully pleasant, some downright shocking. Indeed, the complex connections among us are quite amazing, reflecting the proverbial family of humankind, as we hear from Mike Fink. 
 

   

Mike Fink is an English professor at the Rhode Island School of Design. He has produced columns in a wide range of local and national magazines and earned the Providence Journal's Metcalf Award and the National Conference for Community Justice Award, as well as the Never Again Award for journalism. 

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