Happy month of love in all its forms and powers. I seem to have begun this fresh new year in a continuous state of reverie. I find, and always rediscover, whenever I focus my energies on happiness and am preoccupied in an abstracted consciousness, musing on love and all the qualities and values that make humans flourish, I feel light, free, uplifted and inspired.
Aristotle reminds us that we are what we do every day. Iíve grateful I love what I do and I value what I donít do. Iím aware of how vitally important it is for me to take good care of myself in all the appropriate ways, in order for me to feel at my best, to be as healthy as possible, and not cause concern to my precious daughters. Iím taking generous amounts of time to re-evaluate my life and take a fresh look at how well I spend my time. Iím not goal-oriented or particularly concerned with how much I accomplish as I am in how joyfully I go about my daily rituals and how much I love my work. While weíre alive, weíre time bound, as I wrote in Time Alive. I now realize that it isnít just being alive that is relevant, but the quality of our immediate, current lives. I humbly report that I find the matters at hand to be pleasant for the most part and all my thoughts about Peter enrich my life because I realize ours is an ongoing love story.
Everything Ė everything Ė is relevant, and has everything to do with the matter at hand. If my senses will experience my breakfast tray, I want it to be as pretty as my imagination allows. What is meaningful and purposeful right now is of great significance to me. Iím well aware other people may not be as enthusiastic about the little, seeming insignificant, but exquisite rituals I perform in the privacy of my cottage that bring me intense pleasure, because they are considered a waste of time. In truth, I have time, where others may not reinforce my conviction that what my sensuous ways of moving about my day we value and hold true does not require outside recognition or validation to be of significance. The ways we go about celebrating our quiet days at home are visible, tangible ways of expressing our genuine passions and personal delights. Our conception of truths and moral values are perhaps more meaningful when we are alone as when we are being observed because our intention is so pure. Weíre able to set a good example for ourselves. By being true to our higher standard excellence under all circumstances, by living a certain lifestyle, we are being true to ourselves. I know my feelings are not that different from yours from the awesome response to my book Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of your Life..
If fresh flowers, or flowering plants, nourish your soul, you will value having flowers and flowering plans in your midst all the time, without excuse. How can any of us put a price tag on a pitcher of yellow tulips on the kitchen table during a January blizzard? When we reach a certain stage in our maturity, we know what our basic needs are and some sure fire happiness triggers. I promise you life is short. To deprive ourselves of the small but significant things that bring us joy and help us stay connected to all that is true, good and beautiful, in this astonishingly exciting existence, is a shortsighted form of deprivation that shows lack of balance. The beautiful is always a realistic reality to strive toward and attain worthy of focused effort and noble sacrifices. For me, living a beautiful aesthetically sensitive life comes relatively naturally, but just as in happiness, this is also learned behavior.
In a happiness retreat in Washington, when I mentioned flowers as something I choose not to live without, a woman raised her hand and said itís fine for me to always have flowers because I can afford them, but she is supporting her two children and saving for their college tuitions and there is not money to budget for flowers. I have a friend who now lives in a retirement community with her eighty-eight year old husband and nurtures a twenty-two year old gardenia tree in a sunny corner of her living room, coaching it to bloom twelve months of the year, and knowing my passion for gardenias, Iím often the happy recipient of an exquisitely delicate, deliciously fragrant blossom, to give me hope that one of my eight plants will eventually re-bloom. Where thereís a will, thereís always a way. The desire just has to be intense enough. Everyone has their own ways to boost their spirits and for some, flowers are not that important. We have freedom of choice and are responsible for the consequences of our acts as well as our stability and ability to take care of our own needs.
Iím compassionate when I think of everyone who suffers from any lack, and my hope is to continue to find new, wonderful ways to think and live in the conscious energy of happiness, and hope it keeps nourishing and nurturing all the values that make living so meaningful. Our ability to continuously cultivate our mental flourishing is an honorable goal for us all. Our own progress along the path toward greater light has the potential to spread into the atmosphere of others lives to be a positive good that has no bounds.
My beautiful mentor, Eleanor McMillen Brown, told Peter and me she would die when her usefulness was up. For her, that was 5 days shy of 101. For me, I feel Iíll remain relevant when Iím a student of happiness no matter what my age. Recently, a young ambitious financial big shot asked me for the secret to happiness. I laughed, ďThe secret is there is no secret.Ē He laughed nervously, knowing he wanted a quick, easy, cheap solution, and the truth about happiness was not something he was ready to hear. In order to be happy, you have to try to be a decent person, and once youíre on that path, then everything seems to come together and form a longer, more significant whole. Iíve found that when we are genuinely being true to ourselves, at our core, our passions will bubble to the surface and we will naturally and with a certain ease and grace find ways to be useful and serve others. The more we give into love, the greater our inner wealth.
Peter and I both live by the mantra, a Sanskrit saying, ďParticipate with joy in the sorrows of the works.Ē Dr. Samuel Johnson reminded us that we are not hypocrites in our pleasures, life has all different kinds of weather and each one of us will face the pain and darkness as well as the joyfulness. We have to be resilient, because pain increases our strength and appreciation of beauty. We should move through lifeís inevitable changes with a certain lightness of being, a courageous attitude, and a deep appreciation for our good fortune. Our global family is exceedingly complicated. Most questions that are compassionate and thoughtful are unanswerable. We should try to learn what we can to evaluate what we can do to help and try to gain greater perspective to see the world situation from multiple points of view and history. What we can see on the horizon is not what there is to be seen from a foreign culture. There are horrors and tragedies in every corner of the planet that can be experienced in real time, and there are also great joys and profound love right where you are at home, playing with your child. There are miraculous triumphs not shared on the cover of newspapers.
January, this new year, brought a miracle to my friend Genine. She received a new heart. My friend is 46 and this miraculous gift will provide the opportunity for her to live a normal life and raise her son and continue to enjoy all the wonders of normal daily life that you and I are so feely provided. None of us has perfect health, but we do the best we can with what fate has given us and can be grateful for the gift of life. This life-changing good news about Genine receiving the gift of a healthy new heart is the center of my commitment to keep my priorities in sacred light. I want Genineís new heart to inspire all of us to live on a deeper level of consciousness, knowing weíre all only here as temporary quests on this earthly journey. I canít think of anyone who deserves this blessing more than Genine, and I hope she will be a reminder to all of us to show our appreciation for our own hearts through our words and deeds and how tenderly we treat our body.
Since Peter died, a calm has enveloped me that is indescribable. The mightiest event in both our lives has taken place Ė Peter had to go through the main gate. Now I am learning and relearning all the different ways I can keep Peterís wisdom and inspiration alive and relevant to guide us along our lifeís parallel paths. What does Peter think? What would Peter do? Ever since Peter died, Iíve been going through a quiet period and Iím consciously staying connected to Peterís values and insights he left in so many of our hearts, minds, and souls.
Preparing for the ďHappiness WeekendĒ retreat is exhilarating. By focusing on all the good that is possible and the joy that is available to us all when we have the best possible attitude to receive all this potential goodness, it puts the negative realities of the real work in proper balance. This allows me the freedom to concentrate on doing my best to be useful and leave the rest to others. Iím constantly considering how I value the quality of my time. I read an opinion article, ďBe Happy: Think About Your Death,Ē by Arthur Brooks, who suggests we face, and embrace, our own death in order to make intelligent use of the last stages of our life and live in all the ways that will bring us the most pleasure, meaning and contentment now while weíre still able to move about and follow our bliss.
Iím having a great deal of fun focusing my energies on celebrating life and moving about in an easy rhythm. Iím spending more time in New York City, where I can be with our youngest granddaughter Cooper. My three grandparents all died when I was seven Ė Cooperís age; my motherís father when she was five. I feel blessed that Cooper and Peter were so close, both geographically and emotionally, when he died and that she and I are able to spend so much precious time together now.
Happy February, the month of love! Happy Valentineís Day. Be Mine! Those of you who are coming February 5th and 6th, thank you. Iím most excited about spending the weekend together to renew our commitment to embrace happiness in all areas of our lives. Thank you all for sharing your great letters, books, articles, news clippings, and quotes that you want me to see, as well as all the warm wishes you so lavishly send my way throughout the year. Thank you also for tracking me down and going out of your way for us to have a reunion. Our friendships are deeply sustaining, inspiring, and great fun.
There is a lot going on politically and a lot is at stake. Try to remember to participate with joy in all you think, feel, and do. Do your best, and leave the rest. Let your personal commitment to cultivate your own happiness, in order to be in a strong position to help others, uplift your spirits, keep from becoming discouraged, and help you to always try to act from your higher powers.
Iím looking forward to listening more to you, learning from you, having you inform my mind and my heart, as you challenge me. Friends, my life is infinitely more stimulating and fun than it could possibly be without you. You are all blessings to me.