Happy Octoberfest! September proved to be a turning of the wheel in the right direction for me. I hope this is true for you. For an accumulation of simple and profound reasons, I put my mind and heart to being true to my word. “Living A Beautiful Life: How to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of your Life” resonates with me now more than in the 1980’s when I wrote this book, published in 1986, 33 years ago, I was forty-five years old. You can do the math.
Wow! What an amazingly exhilarating adventure I’ve been on these past years of learning how to live a beautiful, loving, meaningful, happy life. My teacher Aristotle taught me that life is not merely to live, but to live well. To live “The Good Life” is a journey of discovering and wonder. All philosophy, he said, begins with wonder.
The iconic and paradox of our life’s story is that all living beings are energy sources. As thinking, feeling, human beings, we can use our minds and hearts to create good energy that radiates light mysteriously and miraculously near and far, or we can use it to harm the planet and fellow travellers on earth. In order to live a beautiful life, we must mindfully pay attention to all that is true, beautiful and good, in our thoughts , words and actions. We can be nostalgic and sentimental about the past and who we were in our former self, but the one thing even God can’t have the power to change, is the past. History is the facts about specific time and place and what truths reveal. The truth is we are what we do everyday. Our thoughts lead to our active virtue. Each of us, every moment, every hour of our precious days, have the opportunity to shape, not only our own destiny, but to uplift the human condition in the process. When our intentions are pure, when we are clear in our motivation to become an integral part of helping our world to become more peaceful and loving, we begin this inward journey of discovery and remembering; by organizing our private world of retreat, our personal environment where our soul’s longings live and breath and have their being, we are free to vigorously enjoy our work with passion and dedication.
Our home, when it is most meaningful, is our life’s story. Our autobiography is written in the beauty of our relationships with our loved ones, and the objects we most desire that are beautiful. The fulfillment of loving and being loved, accepted and honored for who we are at our core, is fundamental to us all. Let your possessions reflect and reveal this time of life.
Before I share with you my rediscoveries and exciting reinventions, I want to tell you my great, good news. I have completely recovered from my new hip surgery! Mid-September, I returned to New York City to see my hip surgeon and to celebrate Brooke’s 50th birthday. Alexandra went with me to my doctor’s appointment before we met Brooke for a beautiful and memorable luncheon celebration in an enchanting garden in a French restaurant. At my doctor’s office I was x-rayed, a nurse asked me a battery of questions, and I was given a gold star for the steady progress in healing fully in less than give months. Because of my age and the nature of my operation, six months is average, and one year is when the body is fully healed. I am grateful for my body’s ability to hear so well. Everything is intimately connected, as we all, so well, know. There has to be harmony and tenderness in the balance and relationship between our brain, mind, soul, spirit, energy and our temple, our body.
Thank you, and you, and you, for being a crucial part of this amazing full recovery. Your prayers, letters, cards, tokens and flowers have been a continuous reminder of how fortunate I am to have you in my life. I send my warmest love back to you, and, in the days ahead, I will focus my attention on being worthy of the abundance of my blessings. Please keep in mind, and of course in your heart, that without you, I wouldn’t be living this incredibly fulfilling life five years after Peter’s soul lifted up to eternal light and immortal love.
Sunday morning in late August, Brooke, Tony and granddaughter Cooper left the cottage – lock, stock and barrel. I’m not exaggerating … there were literally dozens of tote bags, shopping bags and suitcases on the floor of the living room. Brooke, the quintessential stylist tidied up every room, scrubbed the kitchen floor, and walked out backward to assure there were fresh zinnias and late blooming geraniums in every room. As is her beautiful manner, there were notes and presents in a “moving on” ceremony. After a summer filled with family and our being together in paradise, on the water, in this seaside walking village, they returned to the city to their real life – Cooper’s new school, work, and my fresh start. The first thing I did was go out in the abundant sunshine with a friend, go to a movie we both wanted to see, sit out on a terrace enjoying Thai food for lunch, and “being” calm, and content.
Little did I know what I would do next: “Empty and Be Full.” “The Way to Do is to Be.” Zen. Briefly I took everything out of a huge hall closet jammed with all of Peter’s clothes, coats of ours, pink and white polka dot boots of Cooper’s when she was four, and all the tote bags and “stuff” we threw on the 18th century pine floorboards. I was clearly not living a beautiful life in this closet. What began as a gift to our dear friend Matt of an Ocean House jacket of Peters, led me to remove everything from the closet and put in Brooke and Tony’s bedroom (where Peter died) to sort through and edit.
Ah. I took a deep breath, and began my project in earnest. Mike, the head carpenter and wood man during our cottage renovation, was across the street working on some new shutters for a client and pried open the closet’s double hung window that had been painted shut for several lifetimes. White canvas. Blank slate. Fresh new beginning. I painted the window sparkling white, opened it wide to the hot pink geraniums in the window box, and realized I was living my intensions to “empty and be full.” I then opened the front door to the cottage for friends and neighbors to engage in our friendly, spontaneous visits. Charlie, my immediate neighbor in the perfect-shade-of-pink house with the green door, suggested to Mike that we could bring up a wire from the basement and I could have a secret space to write, with a door to close. The thought was intriguing, but, on second thought, I write in fifteen different places in the cottage now. I want what the Japanese refer to as “Space to Breathe.”
I added one small chartreuse orchid plant (purchased at Trader Joe’s) to a square cubby, and I smile as I think of these revelation. As of this writing, all of Peter’s clothes that were in that closet have been given to friends and acquaintances: Charlie has a madras blazer, Kim has many, and some for his son. Kevin has Peter’s Bill Blass red plaid trousers and some plaid pants from Ralph Lauren.
On September 25th, the celebration day, friends took neckties. Kerri came to help me celebrate. We heard bagpipes from the other side of my new trellised fence, we rang bells, lit candles, laughed, cried happy tears, and felt goose bumps up and down as we lifted Peter up on angel’s wings to celebrate an extraordinary happy man’s beautiful life and good death. There is such a feeling of joy in the air I’m breathing as I’m moving on to continue my spreading the message of “Living a Beautiful Life” – Aristotle would say, “the Good Life.”
As we face some of the most challenging times in American history, let’s be true to our core values, and the basic principles we believe in with our open arms and loving hearts.
I will see many of you soon. I am free to travel to your communities to speak about the vital significance of cultivating personal happiness that is our wisest, most profound choice, especially now.