February 2021

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”


Yellow roses represent hope. Photo by Elissa.

Dear Friends,

I love you.

We’ve been through so much since I last wrote you. When I wrote last month that we are experiencing transcendent moments, I was aware of a global shift in our consciousness.

January 2021 will be remembered for all time as a transcendent moment in the vast memory of history. Each of us will carry the reality of January 6 on our shoulders.

Two weeks later, collectively, we experienced the ceremony, dignity, pageantry, ritual and resolve of the transfer of power in our country when the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States took place at the Capitol.

In those transformative moments of tradition, pomp and elegance, I felt we were experiencing hope made visible. When the youngest inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, age 22, gave voice at the inauguration ceremony, this angel graced the podium and we together experienced a transcendent moment.

“The Hill We Climb” was inspired by the uprising at the Capitol on January 6. Amanda Gorman calls us to rise up, “to offer hope and laughter to ourselves” as we “rebuild, reconcile and recover.”

We will soldier on. Shoulders back, chin up. We have work to do. We’ll all roll up our sleeves as “we lift our gaze.” Onward and upward. I’m reminded of Peter’s arrows he drew piercing a heart at the end of his notes and love letters. His arrowheads always pointed upward toward the North Star, toward the light of truth, the trust of love.

To put February, the month of love, in a universal perspective, I want each of us to read out loud Amanda’s 710-word poem. I experienced her composure, brilliance, confidence and compassion with a flood of tears and a body tingling with soul-bumps. I felt alive, aware of our connectivity to all of humanity.

Elissa painted this yellow rose from my garden.


The Hill We Climb

By Amanda Gorman

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
and the norms and notions
of what just is
isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
Far from pristine
But that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
and no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
we feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
And every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

I'm in love with love.

You and I are called to be light bearers. We all light candles. We revere those mentors and brave heroes who have encouraged us to find our passion, our purpose and meaning for being. “The new dawn blooms as we free it.” You and I have a mysterious bond that binds us together. I feel love’s power more deeply now than ever. I feel certain that we are headed in the same direction as the light of truth and love guide us.

I’m opening my eyes, reaching out my arms, embracing the awakening of unconditional love. I walk on the sunny side of the street, move from room to room in the cottage to be in the light. By taking time to mindfully reflect on all the beauty I see, feel, hear, touch, taste and smell, I am fully present to just how wondrous it is to be alive.

Thank you, Susan, for reminding me of life's simple pleasures.

This Won’t Last Forever

As much as we can rejoice at all our good fortune to love life, this pandemic has brutally taken lives away. I received a thoughtful letter from a friend (through my writing) who began her medical career in Atlanta in the 1980s. I inquired what I can encourage us to do to prevent getting Covid and spreading it. Susan Claire appreciated my acknowledgment of just how sad and exhausting the medical field’s hospital work has been during this past year.

She suggested the following in her letter:

  • Believe and urge all your friends to trust the science. Covid-19 can be a deadly disease.
  • Get the vaccine. (I just had my second dose today!)
  • Continue to wear masks.
  • Social distance until significant numbers of us are vaccinated.

We have to take the long view. Susan Claire reminds us that “this won’t last forever.” Her advice is known to us. I’m grateful to be reminded of the simple but not easy things we need to do to stay safe.

Be brave and strong and do not take any unnecessary risks until the science gives us the green light. Covid-19 is what we are living through now. It is crucial that we respond and do everything in the power of our will to take responsibility for everyone’s safety.

“You don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself.”

“Suck it up.”

“Focus and go for it.”

—Dr. Anthony Fauci, in an interview, when Dana Bash asked him how he was able to keep himself together during the pandemic

Scientists now say we should double our masks or wear an N-95 mask if they’re available to us. When we remain healthy, we are helping all the essential workers who are exposing themselves to care for and serve us. We can greet them with a smile through our masks, thanking them for their service. When each of us keeps all the essential workers in our loving hearts and daily prayer, the collective positive energy is felt, giving them solace and encouragement. By our own appreciation, we’re uplifting another soul as we feel a greater sense of interconnectedness. When we’re out for a walk, from a distance, a double thumbs-up to the UPS driver, the FedEx driver, the policeman, the mail carrier or the utility worker adds a spark of pleasure to our moment.

“Our greatest joy is when we seek to do good for others.”

—Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Thank you, Kerri, for the gift of Joy.

Joy to the World

I highly recommend the special edition of Time magazine called “The Power of Joy: Elevate Your Life * Finding Joy in Trying Times * A Spiritual Peak.” Joy is always timely. A quote from Grace Notes, my daily meditation book, for January 27 is so apt for our situation today. It’s a wise Native American saying: “Sorrow shared is halved and joy shared is doubled.”

It’s natural to feel sorrow when we experience loss. I always think back to Peter’s and my mutual Sanskrit motto, “Participate with joy in the sorrows of the world.” Each one of us, in our own individual way, is experiencing the reality of the massive suffering and loss of life. We are in a pandemic with no clear end in sight. Now, perhaps more than ever, we can focus on joy.

With compassion for all those who are deeply suffering, we can rejoice in our ability to empathize with their pain. Through the intangible power of love, we can be a source of comfort and undying support. I cry, feeling the anguish loved ones suffer. I also understand that joy comes in the morning. We are all intertwined in the invisible threads that bind us together.

When we love, there is happiness and joy. Without love, darkness. Joy is paradoxical. When I learn of someone hurting, my heart immediately focuses on what I can do to ease their anxiety and distress—a phone call, a note, flowers or a prayer. I always can light a candle, think good thoughts, and I find I have more pep in my step.

“The Power of Joy” makes us realize joy is highly contagious. It’s easy to transmit. We can be an oasis of peace and a pool of serenity that can ripple out to all those around us.

"People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used."

—His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Matisse shows us the beauty of a lone geranium in a mossy terra cotta pot. The smallest things can bring us joy.

Many of you have read The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, with Douglas Abrams. “The Power of Joy” magazine has meaningful, memorable excerpts from this tear-wrenching book that was published in 2016. Two spiritual leaders, both Nobel Peace Prize winners, whose joy is “burnished by the fire of adversity, oppression and struggle,” met at His Holiness’s India home in exile for a week.

The central theme of their exciting reunion’s conversation was that by being a “reservoir of joy” we can help others heal and also foster our own happiness. “Together they explored how we can transform joy from an ephemeral state into an enduring trait, from a fleeting feeling into a lasting way of being.” We form a virtual cycle. “The more we turn toward others, the more joy we experience. The more joy we experience, the more joy we can bring to others.” Archbishop Tutu believes we are “meant for a very profound complementarity”: “We are bound up together. We are bound up and can be human only together.”

Of all the wise people who have taught me the most, it is this humble Buddhist monk, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Happiness is his way of being. Joy is how he approaches the world. This living, breathing human being is jolly. “The human drama is often a comedy,” he wrote, “and laughter is the saving grace.” Thank you, Peter and the Dalai Lama for the laughter, smiles and lightness of being that you grace me with this “dark winter” of the pandemic. By providing comic relief, we have moments of lightheartedness as antidotes to counteract the intensity of our own existential threats as well as our inevitable anguish.

The Dalai Lama teaches us everything we ever have to know and feel about happiness and joy. If we want to be happy and if we want others to be happy as a way of being, we must cultivate compassion in our daily practices of mindful meditation and prayer.

Allow the Dalai Lama’s timeless words to speak to you: “I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not but, at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”

His Holiness chooses his words carefully. He instructs us that as “humans who live on earth,” we have been assigned by destiny to take on the difficult undertaking of “making a happy life for ourselves.” Our tools are free will and choices that support this ultimate state of being. Karma teaches us about cause and effect. Positive, wholesome actions are the root causes of happiness and joy.

“Love is an introduction of all that makes a difference from beginning to end. It’s a total compliment … to make a complete and enjoyable life.”

—Peter Megargee Brown (said to me on his 90th birthday in Paris)

Eternal love, always together.

Love Loves Love

February is, has been and will be forever the month of love. When we take the task of making a happy life for ourselves seriously, we realize we can’t put our lives on hold. I often hear people lament, “I can’t wait until this pandemic ends,” or “I’ll be happy when life gets back to normal.” The harsh reality is that when everything in our life runs smoothly, we have a tendency to take happiness for granted. There is nothing typical in our lives now. Each one of us has to figure out how to become enlightened as soon as possible. Because each of us is profoundly individual, we are responsible for envisioning spring in the heart of darkness. I tenderly water and mist my plants and flowers. I kiss the buds that are soon to blossom.

Our days are now becoming brighter, longer. We’re headed in the right direction. We’ve just had another snowfall, painting nature into a quiet, pure wonderland. The temperature has dropped to the low teens at night. I luxuriate in bundling up, keeping warm as I spend more time inside the cottage I so dearly love.

Brooke miraculously was able to get an appointment for me to have my first vaccine shot the end of January, rescheduled from March 8. I received the shot and am feeling fine. I’m celebrating my good fortune in all aspects of my life. I’m thriving on your unconditional love, grateful you and I have each other to “love up.”

While my heart is wide open with an expansive feeling of joy, please remember what a huge role you play in my well-being. It is all my friends-in-love who make me the whole person I am. You are role models of the pure love that makes us inseparable.

Happy February 2021. Happy Valentine’s Day 2021!

Love & Live Happy,

“So we must exercise ourselves in the things which bring happiness, since, if that be present, we have everything, and, if that be absent, all our actions are directed toward attaining it.”


Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age
by Dr. Sanjay Gupta

This brilliant book will help keep us alert, healthy, happy and resilient. For good reason, it immediately became a New York Times #1 bestseller and went temporarily out of stock. Ani at Bank Square Books, my local bookstore, said they now have a few copies on hand.

Dr. Gupta dedicated Keep Sharp to you and me, to his wife, and to his three young daughters. His words to Sage, Sky and Soleil touched me the most. He wrote, "Always take the time to be completely present, because it is perhaps the best and most joyous way to keep your mind sharp and your life bright."

“Happiness is a perfume  you cannot pour on others without getting a few drops on yourself.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle. Just be.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

“Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. … Stick to your purpose.”

—Abraham Lincoln

Just a Note

Friends—I'll write you next month about my Greek dolls that I briefly mentioned last month. I want to dream more about their presence in my life!