this I believe

This I Believe Rhode Island: Inspiration

Sep 23, 2014

Taking initiative.  Inspiring words.  Inspiring words about taking initiative – now that’s a great combination.  Isn’t it wonderful when we’re on the receiving end of inspiring words that truly move us into action, sage advice that turns out to last a lifetime? Audrey Hepburn once said, “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible!”  Bernie Luger tells us about a mere handful of words that brought that message home to him years ago.

Originally trained as a chemist, Bernie Luger became a casino manager.  In 2007, he left casino gaming to become an advocate for education reform for disadvantaged youth.  Currently Luger is the Chief Operating Officer of the Providence Public Schools.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Anonymity

Sep 16, 2014

In an interview with Mother Jones Magazine, singer, songwriter, and poet Ani DiFranco once said, “I’m a little hibernating animal. Anonymity is one of my favorite things.”  Some of us yearn for anonymity, to be out of the spotlight and fly below radar.  Others of us find anonymity and invisibility painful, especially when we’ve worked so hard to achieve something terribly important.  Jane Medas Fleury shares some special thoughts about working hard in a quiet way that leads to neither fame nor fortune.

Jane Medas Fleury has worked in information technology since the days when it was called data processing, most recently at the Rhode Island School of Design.  She is now trying her hand at poetry and writing.

You know that expression, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?  What it means, of course, is that we should do what we can to make the best of difficult circumstances we encounter, to extract something positive out of the unbidden events that come our way.  This isn’t always feasible, but isn’t it wonderful when we manage to figure out a way to turn life’s traumas into meaningful, sometimes glorious, even magnificent, opportunities?  That’s what Elena Yee has experienced in her life, as we hear in this encore essay.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Gratitude

Sep 2, 2014

We all know that life can overwhelm us at times, but it sure is nice when we can take a step back and feel grateful, truly appreciating what's good and rich in our lives.  The ancient Roman statesman and philosopher Cicero put it succinctly:  "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others."  If we're really fortunate, we find times in our lives when we're able to stop and truly embrace profound moments and encounters that come our way, as has Daren Girard.

Daren Girard is an emergency physician at Landmark Medical Center in Woonsocket, where he also serves as the Medical Director of Emergency Services.  Girard, his wife, and two children, Sophie and Teddy, live in North Kingstown.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Advanced Care Planning

Aug 26, 2014

Anticipating the end of life isn’t exactly at the top of the list of what most of us would choose to dwell on.  The reality, of course, is that all of us are headed there, yet there’s compelling evidence that relatively few of us truly clarify and document our wishes for end of life care, should the need arise.  Maybe it’s procrastination or maybe it’s plain old denial.  But as we hear from Melissa Miranda, what a gift it is to the ones we love when we’re able to say it like it is or, rather, how we want it to be.

Melissa Miranda lives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island with her four daughters, attended Roger Williams University, and works at Healthcentric Advisors in Providence, where she is a Senior Program Administrator. Melissa leads a Patient Safety project, supporting quality improvement efforts in the hospital and nursing home settings.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Mentors

Aug 19, 2014

Support.  All of us need it now and then, during those occasional life crises or, perhaps, because of the more chronic, ongoing challenges we face.  The most fortunate among us can draw on people who love and care about us, sometimes at a moment’s notice.  And sometimes these relationships leave a deep and everlasting imprint, changing the course of our lives, as we hear from Nadej Giroux.

Nadej Giroux lives in Warwick, Rhode Island and is delighted to be a full-time mom and homemaker. She moved to Rhode Island from Russia 15 years ago.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Identity

Aug 12, 2014

The famed writer and poet Gertrude Stein once said, ''Growing has no connection with audience. Audience has no connection with identity." Stein's claim, it seems, is that our true identity is embedded deep within each of us and develops over the years in its own inexorable way. It's a complex, even debatable phenomenon, as Alex Myers knows very, very well.

Before moving to Washington, DC, Alex Myers taught English at St. George's School in Middletown. His first novel, Revolutionary, tells the story of Deborah Samson, who disguised herself as a man and fought in the Revolutionary War.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Salt Marshes

Aug 5, 2014

Have you noticed how easy it is to overlook the profound importance of nature's subtle features?  For example, how teeny lady bugs have a major impact on crop production in agriculture.  Or how common tree leaves enable light and carbon dioxide to be absorbed from the environment for photosynthesis.  It sure does help to slow things down and notice how much nature's less obvious forms do for us in our daily lives.  And that's what we hear from Elena Suglia.

Born and raised in North Kingstown, RI, Elena Suglia is studying biology at Brown University and is interested in becoming a marine ecology researcher and science communicator.  Elena is an active rugby player, blogger, poet, and pianist.

Family.  Nearly all of us know how much complexity is packed into that very simple word.  For some, family is the center of our universe, the source of succor and sustenance.  As George Bernard Shaw said, "A happy family is but an earlier heaven."  But for others, family is fraught with angst and sometimes worse.  And perhaps more typically, for many family is a very complicated stew of joy and sorrow, as we hear from Kelly Kitel.

Kelly Kittel describes herself as a fish biologist by trade but a writer at heart. She lives on Aquidneck Island with her husband and three of their five living children, but, she says, her favorite writing space is in their family yurts on the coast of Oregon. Kittel recently published her first book, Breathe.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Look Into Nature

Jul 22, 2014

The wisdom we gain in our lives has many teachers.  The most obvious, of course, stand in the front of our classrooms or sit at the head of our family dinner table.  But other profoundly influential teachers are less obvious, such as when our natural surroundings convey profoundly important life lessons.  Albert Einstein once said, "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."  And we hear similarly wise words from 13-year-old Theo Richter

This I Believe RI: A Tall Treasure

Jul 15, 2014

Even for the most seasoned Rhode Islanders, the Ocean State harbors lots of savory secrets, some tucked away in the folds of South County's farmland and others in Woonsocket's triple deckers. Within our roughly 1,000 square miles we are surrounded by a wonderful mix of compelling scenes and sounds that help shape our lives. This encore poem by Rhode Island's poet laureate emeritus, Tom Chandler, about a tall treasure in Foster that is part of who we are.

Tom Chandler is poet laureate of Rhode Island emeritus and associate professor of creative writing at Bryant University. He has been named Phi Beta Kappa Poet at Brown University and has been a featured poet at the Robert Frost homestead. Chandler is the author of five books of poetry, including his most recent, Toy Firing Squad. His work has been published in Poetry, Boulevard, The New York Quarterly, The Christian Science Monitor, and many other journals.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Time Alone

Jul 8, 2014

Years ago the famed theologian Paul Tillich wrote: “Language... has created the word ‘loneliness’ to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word ‘solitude’ to express the glory of being alone.”  Isn’t it true that so many of us struggle with the challenging tension between the unmitigated joy of being by ourselves and the occasional agony of unbidden loneliness?  We hear writer Nancy Kirsch’s thoughtful and not-so-solitary reflections on this very complex subject.


Nancy Kirsch has worked as a lobbyist, corporate lawyer and, most recently, as editor of The Jewish Voice, the newspaper of record for Rhode Island’s Jewish community. An award-winning writer, she is now engaged in freelance work. Kirsch lives in Providence.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Being Sure

Jul 1, 2014

It seems almost trite and hackneyed to say that we human beings thrive on trust, on being able to connect with others in a way that feels truly safe.  But as we make our way through life’s complicated journey – flourishing here and stumbling there – it really does seem that being able to trust the people who are central in our lives is essential.  The 19th century Russian author Anton Chekhov put it so well: “You must trust and believe in people or life becomes impossible.”  And that’s what we hear from Matthew Eriksen.

Matthew Eriksen is a Professor of Management, Faculty Director of the Leadership Fellows Program, and Coordinator of the Leadership Development major in the School of Continuing Education at Providence College. He also engages in life, leadership and team coaching.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Letting Your Soul Fly

Jun 24, 2014

For many of us, music is central to our lives, whether it’s in the form of casual listening on our MP3 players, as spectators at symphony concerts and the opera, or as passionate performers.  Shakespeare’s Duke Orsino put it one way in Twelfth Night, “If music be the food of love, play on.”  For others of us, music has been our salvation, a remarkable source of comfort and confidence, as we hear from thirteen-year-old .

Lauren Durkin is a seventh grader at The Wheeler School in Providence. Her love of music and theater has led her to performances at local theaters such as Trinity Repertory and the Gamm Theatre.

This I Believe Rhode Island: Empathy

Jun 17, 2014

Sometimes in life we learn remarkably important lessons from unlikely sources.  Perhaps a passing comment from a taxicab driver that resonates in profound ways.  An eye-opening anecdote shared by the stranger in the adjacent airplane seat.  Or the spur-of-the-moment comment made by the new neighbor who’s out walking her dog as we’re weeding the garden.  Isn’t it wonderful how these surprise moments in our lives have the capacity to teach us true life lessons?  And that’s what happened to Jill Pfitzenmayer.


Jill Pfitzenmayer is vice president for the Initiative for Nonprofit Excellence at the Rhode Island Foundation. A licensed psychologist, she also works with adults in private practice.