January 2006

Dear Friend

Happy New Year! I welcome this fresh new year full of opportunities, challenges and wondrous surprises. I don’t know what this new time alive has in store for us, but I believe this will be a happy, productive, loving 2006.

December was a month filled with tenderness and appreciation. The outpouring of affection and generosity of spirit fills my heart with amazing feelings of grace and blessings. I hope the entire holiday season had magical moments where you felt awakened to the preciousness of each living, breathing now experience.

Writing Time Alive and then going on tour to talk about my book to groups of people across the country, on television, radio and to journalists, continuously reinforces my belief in the sacredness of our daily lives, our ordinary rituals, our traditions, our ways to celebrate our precious earthly lives.

While I was on book tour, I received an invitation to write a short essay to be included with 99 other essays in The One Book That Changed My Life. While there are dozens of books that have changed my heart, mind and soul, there is one book that not only changed me, but also, quite literally, transformed me. The book -- Letters To A Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke, was introduced to me in 1966 when I was struggling to write my first book. At a pivotal time in my life, Bob O’Brien, a senior editor of , told me to read this slim paperback book. Were my longings to express myself sincere? Did I have an original point of view? Was there something of substance inside me I wanted to share?

I’m not free to share my essay with you now, but I want to let you experience Rilke's own words I’ve drawn together from his ten letters he wrote back to a young poet: “You ask whether your verses are good … I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reasons that bid you to write, find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your hearts. Seek those which your own everyday life offers you; describe your sorrows and desires, passing thoughts and the belief in some sort of beauty – describe all these with loving, quiet, humble sincerity, and use to express yourself, the things in your environment, the images from your dreams, and the objects of your memory. If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches, for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.”

I will let you know when The One Book That Changed My Life is published. The creator and editor of this group of essays is Roxanne Coady, a genius who is the owner of R.J. Julia, bookstores in Madison and Greenwich, Connecticut. I will be in excellent company and am honored to be included in this exciting book. The truth is that there really is one book that can change our life. The evening of Wednesday, February 15th, 2006, I will be at R.J. Julia in Madison, Connecticut to talk about Time Alive. Please tell friends who live nearby to come. This is my favorite independent bookseller and every event is exciting.

The second week of December, my good friend and literary agent, Carl Brandt, and I had our traditional Christmas lunch at The Four Seasons restaurant. We exchanged gifts, we toasted over good wine, and we feasted at the banquet of delicious food, warm feelings and stimulating conversation. Something great always happens when we relax into the pleasure of this once-a-year ritual celebration. This particular luncheon ceremony was magical. The seeds of a new exciting book were planted and I can think of nothing I’d rather do than to tell you about this as we enter this new year.

Carl and I spoke of many different things and the major themes in our lives -- family, children, and friends are on the top of our lists. Grandchildren take over most of our conversation. But there is something that immerged that seems so obvious but is so central to who I am, what I choose to do with my time on earth, and how I wish to live. My husband, Peter Megargee Brown, and I have been married for 31 ½ years and have more fun together than you could ever imagine. As a result of this magical lunch, I am plannng to write a book on marriage. I’m thrilled. I certainly have a lot of experience … I was married for over 12 years to a wonderful man, the father of my two children, my beloved daughters Alexandra and Brooke. I’ve been married most of my life! I’m telling you this exciting news because I want to hear from you. Tell me anything and everything. Let me include you and your stories, your thoughts, in my book about this sacred vow. For now, I am calling the book, The Marriage Book. However, I think of it as Love & Marriage. Love is the central theme.

Please share your thoughts. I’ve read over your letters and E-mails and this seems to be a subject near and important to you. Whether you are single or divorced, share with me about your loves, your losses, the married couples you try to emulate. Are there certain character traits that you believe are the foundation of solid, lasting marriage? Do you believe there are certain people who are meant to be together forever? Is there an element of luck? Do you believe this union should be mutually enjoyable? I’m all ears.

I’m writing Good Friends and yet I have a feeling that The Marriage Book should come out next, before Good Friends. Good Friends is extremely important to me and I believe I have a rock solid outline of essays that inspire me. I think the two different books have a mutual quality of love, compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, caring, humor, and support, but they are definitely separate books. Things I Want My Daughters to Know was written to my daughters, but it is a book of wisdom I’ve learned through experience and want to pass on to everyone who wants to be happy. I believe that the The Marriage Book will be useful to people who are not currently married but who are loving and want to share their love.

As I work on these two books, I’m now focusing on The Marriage Book as the one that will be published after You Are Your Choices. I value your feelings and hope you are as excited as I am. I can just see Peter and me on tour together, loving being with everyone who feels strengthened by sharing what we’ve learned together over these thrilling, challenging, complex years of being inseparable.

A new friend from Decatur, Alabama, Jackie, who co-hosted a dinner in our honor, wrote me that Time Alive made her laugh, cry and become mindful of her own time. “I see that I can plan and control how my time can be spent. I am truly making the most of everything I have.”

I hope you know how deeply touched I am by your loving support of my writing. You inspire me to continue to write, and this brings me my greatest happiness.

Great love to you as you greet this new year. Happy New Year.

Love & Live Happy

BOOK SALE: Open Your Eyes for the month of January: $20.00

Time Alive Stamp!

Brooke took this lovely picture of Nikko Blue Hydrangeas and had a stamp made for Alexandra as a birthday present.

Nashville, November 2005

The Lunch Party at The Southern Lady Conference at the Opryland Hotel (fabulous). Jessica, Carolyn, Alexandra, Kimberly, Lynn, Peter, MaryLou and Sharon

Chicago, November 2005

Susan from Rochester, Minnesota, with Alexandra celebrating a Time Alive luncheon at the Ritz Carlton.

Nashville Tennessee, November 2005

Alexandra, Peter and Sharon enjoy lunch at the Southern Lady Conference at Opryland

Stonington, November 2005

Peter, Ginny and Alexandra at the Stonington cottage -- the 5th Happiness Weekend. Ginny came from Florida for her second Happiness Weekend!

Nashville, November 2005

Good Friends -- the Ladies in Purple. Kimberly and Alexandra at the booksigning.

The beautiful artwork of Ruger Muhl

"Labaie de St. Tropez" lithograph. 21" x 28.5" Edition of 150. $1400 unframed.

Many of you have expressed an interest in this great artist’s work. I’ve been collecting Muhl paintings for 42 years. If you are interested in becoming a proud owner, please let me know. The prices range from lithographs to oils. Fax me at (212) 996-4625. Tell me your price range (lithographs are $1,400 and oils are $6,000 to $36,000). This one artist has brought great joy to the lives of hundred of collectors.

The Inn at Stonington in charming Stonington Village

Grace Note

When you consider your New Year's Resolutions, have firm determination and strength in your purpose to spend your Time Alive joyfully and to count your blessings. I resolve to try harder than ever to live by the Golden Rule, an on-going commitment to attempt to see things from someone else's perspective.