Valentine’s Day – Gratitude and the Virtuous Cycle
‘Karen and Jay share thoughts on the meaning of Valentine’s Day and even explain how the invention of the postage stamp helped popularize the holiday!’
When we think about Valentine’s Day – we often see images of hearts, chocolates, candy, roses and cards. But we can also find a deeper meaning – thinking of love, cherishing the wonderful people in our lives and more. In a sense, it’s gratitude. We feel thankful. We stretch to do more for those around us. We touch their lives and in so doing, we find that our own hearts are enlarged in the process. This Valentine’s Day let’s make it our mission to be a positive force – and contribute to this virtuous cycle.
In fact, this is essentially the story of one gentleman, John Kralik, a lawyer from Los Angeles who discovered this virtuous cycle a few years ago. It was a December morning, and John was on a hike near his home when he was struck by a terrible feeling that his life had hit a terrible low. At 53, he was going through a difficult second divorce, his relationship with two of his children had grown fraught, his doctor had just diagnosed him as severely overweight, and on top of all of this, the law firm he owned was struggling to collect fees from clients and he was forced to lay off the majority of his staff. He didn’t know what to do or where to turn until one day he received a ‘thank you’ note from a friend for a Christmas present he’d sent her. It was a small gesture, but it lifted John’s spirits at an incredibly important moment. He realized in that moment that perhaps part of his dilemma was that he hadn’t been showing enough gratitude for the people and the things he cherished.
So, he decided from that day forward, he would write one letter every day to someone expressing gratitude for something they’d done. The recipients included friends and family, co-workers new and old, doctors, store-clerks, even former business foes and clients who hadn’t paid their bills; the list truly had no limits. And with each note, John noticed a drastic change in his life. Not only did he feel better by giving more of his time to expressing gratitude for what he was thankful for, his actions started paying dividends in other ways too. He rekindled lost relationships, improved his relationship with his kids and his ex-wives, found love again, re-invested in his physical health thanks to the advice of old friends and lost weight, and even saw his business begin to flourish again. Just by these simple acts of gratitude, by saying thank you regularly and showing love for the things he had, his whole life turned around.
Now you may be thinking it seems impossible for someone to change their life just by expressing gratitude the way John did. Saying thank you doesn’t change your immediate reality. Or does it? Far too often we concern ourselves with what we don’t have or what didn’t happen, an endless pit of wants and needs that never allows us to be fully satisfied with what we have right in front of us. When we express gratitude whether it be within or with others, it lifts ourselves up and those we share it with. And there's science that supports it too!
This weekend we celebrate Valentine’s Day. Candy hearts, greeting cards, roses, and chocolates usually come to mind. Yet this Valentine’s Day, with all that’s happened over the course of the past year, use it as an opportunity to expand your understanding of how you express gratitude for all the people and things that you have admiration for. You’ll be happy that you did.
The Show Must Go On – Newport Winter Carnival Once Again!
My wonderful hometown of Newport, NH, boasts the longest running annual Winter Carnival in America – with 2021 marking its 105th year! Yet, as recently as two weeks ago, given the impact of the pandemic and the recent surge, there was serious doubt as to whether the town would be able to hold this year’s Winter Carnival at all. And, thus the streak and the town’s remarkable record would come to an end.
However, against all odds and with some incredible ingenuity, the citizens of Newport have rallied to the occasion. Happily, this weekend we are thrilled to announce: The Show Will Go On!
Premiering in 1916, people have come from across the country each year to participate in hockey games, snowshoeing, skiing, and axe throwing, just a few of the traditional activities. This year will look a bit different with important social distancing measures put in place and some of the activities being broadcast digitally, but the spirit still remains. Organizers, with the tremendous help of local volunteers have put together a great schedule that includes a live streaming of the queens pageant, a virtual ‘mac and cheese’ cook off, live music and ice skating on the town common, a round robin softball tournament on snow, and this year’s favorite, a ‘Flush the ‘Rona’ ice bucket challenge – intended to show the town’s strong resolve in battling the virus.
So many people have gone above and beyond to ensure this time-honored tradition is maintained, and their efforts should be greatly applauded for continuing to build community even in the face of the challenges presented by the pandemic. For more information on the carnival schedule, click here.
Claremont - A Small City that Loves Being First
Claremont, New Hampshire sits on the Vermont border just west of my hometown of Newport. It is a city – really a large ‘small town’ – that has a rich, fascinating past – and is on course for a marvelous future. As mentioned, Claremont is formally a ‘city’ - but, in New Hampshire, cities are simply defined by their ‘mayor and city council’ form of government. It is not an indication of size, as Claremont’s population of 13,000 reveals it is one of the Granite State’s many small towns – albeit one of the state’s larger ‘small towns.’
My personal fondness for Claremont goes back to my memories of growing up in our smaller town of Newport, only 10 miles away. I remember Claremont as being the shopping center of our region. When you needed to go buy new clothes for the first day of school, your mother would take you to Claremont. There was the W.T. Grant store, King’s Department Store, Fishman’s, J.J. Newbury’s – and great shops all along the thriving main street, known as Pleasant Street. And, soda fountains, ice cream shops, the Corner Book Store and more.
But, long before my memories of Claremont, early on the community had established itself as a city of ‘firsts.’ Claremont has a long history in our state, and in a way, the story of Claremont is bigger than the city itself. Claremont was founded around the time of the Revolutionary War and was the first town to petition the state to form a high school. They pushed the legislature and Concord responded by allowing every city and town to charter a high school. Claremont’s original Stevens High School still stands today and has been operating since 1868. In that same mindset, Claremont has the oldest surviving Episcopal Church building in New Hampshire, which has been open since it was chartered by the legislature (think about that for a minute!) in 1771. Claremont is also home to New Hampshire’s first Roman Catholic church, which was overseen by the son of the priest from the Episcopal church!
And, Claremont boasts some notable citizens in its past. Olympic Gold Medalist Barbara Cochran, Actress Dorothy Loudon, Former NH Attorney General, now Federal Circuit Judge Jeffrey Howard, former Yale and Columbia football coach, Larry McElreavy and even the former President of the Northern Pacific Railroad, Jule Hannaford, back in the early 1900’s.
In keeping with its glorious past, today Claremont is blossoming today as an emerging area for commerce. The city was an early adopter of broadband, and thus Claremont is now well suited to benefit from the work-from-home revolution as more people seek to leave the big cities and relocate to scenic small towns (or cities!) like Claremont. Right off the highway, (literally right off of Interstate 91 from western Mass, CT and NYC) and with rail service from those same locations and even an airport to boot, Claremont is wonderfully poised – with a bright and exciting future.
Positive Profile of the Week: Charlene Lovett
With our spotlight on Claremont this week, it seems quite fitting to be highlighting the city’s wonderful Mayor, Charlene Lovett as our Profile of the Week. Mayor Lovett grew up in Claremont, graduating from the iconic Stevens High School. She went on to serve as a military intelligence officer in the United States Army for 22 years, returning to her hometown in 2008. Since then, she has yet to be idle and has shown a true willingness to jump head-first into giving back to Claremont and the Granite State.
She was elected to the New Hampshire Legislature in 2010 as a State Representative from Claremont, even attaining a Vice Chairmanship as a freshman! She did all this while also contributing to the community, serving as president of the local farmers market, and then being elected to the City Council in 2014. She was elected as Mayor the next year, a position she has held ever since.
Charlene has been instrumental in positioning the city to attract jobs and industry. As Mayor she has prioritized the local economy and advocating for the ‘Claremont Advantage,’ touting the benefits of doing business in a supportive, business friendly community. We love Charlene’s leadership, her positive spirit and her dedication to her city, state and our great country. With her inspired efforts for Claremont, the future is bright. Well done, and huge thanks to Mayor Charlene Lovett!
Quotes of the Week: Love and Valentine’s Day
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz
“For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul.”
“We are most alive when we're in love.”
“Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another.”
“Soul meets soul on lovers' lips.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley