Ancient Roman Wisdom for How to Cast Your Vote



Roman Emperor Marco Aurelio wrote: “Make for thyself a definition or description of the thing which is presented to thee, so as to see distinctly what kind of a thing it is in its substance, in its nudity, in its complete entirety…for nothing is so productive of elevation of mind as to be able to examine methodically and truly every object…”

If you are like me, you have probably been riveted by the drama and sensationalism of the 2016 presidential-hopeful campaigns. All of the arguing and mud-slinging, however, have taken us far away from the dignity and ethical leadership that should define the office of President of the United States of America. With the exception of one or two of the remaining candidates who refuse to get distracted from what they are really there for, it seems like we are watching to see who the strongest bully in the playground is going to be. But should the Oval Office really be the set for a Jerry Springer Show episode?

We should all, of course, vote for the candidate we truly believe will make the best President. To do that, our compass should not be exclusively from media images (although behavioral observation can be very telling), but should above all come from the most objective analysis of each candidate that we can muster. We need to reflect, verbalize what we are learning about each one’s policies, and see each one of the presidential hopefuls for what their personal histories –not just their promises—-have truly represented.

Voting is a true privilege and one not to be taken lightly. Being informed requires taking the time to examine each potential candidate’s policies on the things that matter to us dearly. Where does he or she stand on the US Constitution? The Second Amendment? National Debt? National Security? Social Security? Etc. This is how we bypass the hype, “elevate our minds”, and make our vote truly count.


Copyright 2016 .Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. is host and producer of The Italian Art of Living Well (, 7AM EST Mondays) and author of Living la Dolce Vita and Lemons into Limoncello

A Valentine’s Message for Those Who Grieve


Each year in the weeks and days preceding Valentine’s Day, media fills us with images of couples holding hands, chocolate hearts, and advertisements for romantic getaways. If you fit the description of someone who is interested in Valentine’s Day commercialism, this article is not for you. Rather, I direct this special message to the majority of you who—whether partnered or not—may have recently experienced loss. I expand the boundaries of the typical definition of loss. Life as you know, is full of all types of loss (and wins too, we must remember); that is the nature of human existence. Whether you have lost a family member, a job, a home, a friendship, a pet or even feeling the loss of a public figure that represented something important for your life (e.g. the recent passing of Justice Antonin Scalia)—your heart is probably feeling heavy right now. That is perfectly normal (baring a longer lasting depression, for which you would do best to find some professional support). Also normal, however, is the wherewithal to put your heart back together and let the wound heal in a way that makes you stronger, more thoughtful, and more appreciative of life’s beauty than ever before.

In my book “Lemons into Limoncello: From Loss to Personal Renaissance with the Zest of Italy”(HCI Books) one of my suggestions to counteract loss of any kind is to find ways to put more beauty into your life—TODAY. Actually Valentine’s Day is a perfect day to adorn your surroundings with that which makes you smile and affirms the joy in your life. Dr. Piero Ferrucci’s research on beauty (Beauty and the Soul) found that beauty heals both body and mind. Beauty of course, is specific to the individual. A beautiful Italian aria, a simmering sauce that brings back the warmth of your grandmother, a vase of colorful flowers to contrast the gray of winter outside. Or take a ride to a little family-run artisan shop and purchase something within your budget that you can bring home to lighten your heart whenever your eyes land on it. Rent some funny videos and invite a couple of friends over to watch them with you and chat about afterwards. Remember that you can even find beauty in the aftermath of tragedy.

Tomorrow on my radio show, THE ITALIAN ART OF LIVING WELL, along with my guest Italian American leader and activist Andre’ DiMino, we will remember the life of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, first Italian American to serve on the Court. Many Italian Americans (as well as others) are feeling the loss of this extraordinary human being. In preparation for our discussion, not only about his life, but also about what his passing means for the Italian American Community, I watched several interviews where reporters put Scalia on the “hot seat” with their quasi-accusatory questioning. The Justice never lost his cool, and he never glossed over the questions, or threatened to walk out, or even reacted defensively. He was a brilliant man with a mission to uphold the Constitution of the United States, regardless of his personal beliefs, and regardless of others’ criticisms. He showed strength, intelligence, compassion, focus, and a true respect for others no matter what their position.

Despite the tragic loss felt by the Italian American community, the beauty emerges in reflecting on Justice Scalia’s extraordinary qualities and his passion for making a difference. We can all make a difference and be the inspiration for others. This is the way we create meaning in our lives, as a public figure or a private person. Knowing what we stand for and using our resources to make a positive impact, is far more beautiful than any chocolate heart or roses that wilt in three days.

Please tune in or stream in tomorrow morning (2/15/2016) to my very special tribute to Justice Antonin Scalia on The Italian Art of Living Well 7AM EST

Buon San Valentino to all of my loyal readers .



Seduzione, as the Antidote to “Love at First Sight”

Time, Courtship and the Art of Seduction: Using your head–and not just your heart when it comes to AMORE

The Italian Art of Living Well

Photo courtesy Photo courtesy

Yes, there is such a thing as un colpo di fulmine (love at first sight) and in rare cases, the smitten duo turn out to be all they claim to be as time marches on. Those are the success stories, albeit rare. More often a better description is chemistry at first sight, which is something that clouds our judgement. Don’t get me wrong, relationships can’t go beyond platonic if chemistry is lacking; however, there also needs to be the kind of substance and harmony that only comes with the time it takes for each person to reveal (through word and deed) who they really are.

Enter the art of seduction, the master model of which was Giacomo Casanova. While Casanova did teach us few positive strategies regarding winning another’s affection, his was mostly a negative model, because of his “usa e getta”, disposable approach to wooing lovers. …

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In Defense of a Monthly Festa (for Mental Health!)

Super Bowl

Writing bills isn’t the only thing you should be doing on a monthly basis. When my kids were small, I occasionally let them take a “mental health” day off from school. It was an occasion to spend some unexpected time hanging out together having fun, even having a picnic on the living room floor if the weather was bad. I would guess that in each of our memory banks we look back on those unexpected celebrations as important treasures that balanced our otherwise routine lives with the fun and laughter we needed to replenish and be even more productive than we were before.

But have you kept up those regular “mental health feste” in your adult years? They may just do you a world of good, by lightening your mood, revitalizing your energy, and strengthening your social life. Need I say more?

Well today, I have been cooking all morning in preparation of America’s big night tonight—Super Bowl Sunday. Of course I sing along to my favorite arias while creating mini-calzioni; broccolini e salsiccia; chili con carne and more—all with my typical Italian take on whatever holiday gives me reason to invite a few good people over to celebrate. Yes, it is important to fare festa, to dot our lives with celebration, especially if you are prone to:

  • Working non-stop
  • Leading a solitary lifestyle
  • Having a serious personality
  • Gravitating mostly toward intellectual pursuits.

Italy celebrates life full throttle; from the simplest joy of an onomastico (unfortunately, there is no “Saint Raeleen Day”, but that just gives me something to strive for J )—-to the grand occasions in a person’s life that bring a new level of personal growth.

Festeggiare. Throw an impromptu party. And do it regularly. The brevity of life begs us not to wait. I admit I don’t (yet) know what teams are playing; to boot I know next to nothing about football. But I do know how to intuit when it’s time to break out of the box and have some fun, especially when I have been absorbed in a long stretch of work on a project that makes me forget how much time has really passed.

So today—throw a festa.

If you can’t come up with an official occasion, INVENT ONE. You are the sole author of the life you wish to live. Live it happy and decorate it with busts of care-free fun.

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, e buona festa!


Raeleen D’Agostino Mautner, Ph.D. is author of “Living la Dolce Vita” (Sourcebooks) and “Lemons into Limoncello” (HCI Books). She is a columnist for The Italian Tribune, and Host of The Italian Art of Living Well radio show, heard Mondays @ 7AM EST live stream .  You may write to her at