February 2008

Dear Friend

I feel extremely blessed by the publication of Happiness For Two in so many meaningful, profound ways. In my Acknowledgement I wrote, “My life’s great richness is due to my being a writer.” I'm humble as I reflect on the basic truth that chances are I would not meet most of you if I didn’t write books that you read. I love all the friends Peter and I have made whom we’ve met through our books.

My first talk on book tour was in Westport, Connecticut at the public library. When I was five years old my parents moved our family from Weston, Massachusetts to Westport in order for my father to commute to New York City, where he took a job at Elizabeth Arden as vice president. How appropriate to begin my tour for Happiness For Two in my hometown.

There is a certain electricity about having a new book published. It is delightfully a birth of fresh patterns of thought written down, printed and bound. Peter and I took a train from Stonington to Westport, allowing me time to reflect on all the years since I grew up there, and we enjoyed walking around the town. I pointed out to Peter where I took ballet classes, where I went to Miss Komer’s dancing class, where the local movie house was located. The evening at the library was joyful. I felt charged up and extremely stimulated to reminisce about my early days in Westport as well as talking about meeting Peter in the next town of Southport at the age of 13 when I was playing tennis in a tournament with his sister. Peter wrote affectionately about this encounter in the foreword of my new book.

The evening was lively and we had dozens of interesting conversations during interaction after my talk. One man misunderstood me when I said I didn’t want to change Peter. He questioned me, reminding me that growth and change is the essence of our earthly journey. I set the record straight by saying that Peter and I have no intention of trying to change each other. That is not our job. Each one of us, and everyone else, has to take their own inner growth to heart and work deliberately to acquire greater character and virtue.

Not trying to change someone else is key to finding and accomplishing Happiness For Two. Through understanding, kindness, patience, love, compassion and empathy we can each set a good example for each other. I write in my new book that if we are frustrated, discouraged, angry, or feel sorry for ourselves in any way, this is just the indication that we have more work to do on our own character. No one else can do this inner work for us.

We went to Los Altos Hills, south of Fan Francisco, to a leadership program for the Daughters of Charity. When I stood before the sisters Saturday morning, I announced that this was going to be a “Happiness Weekend” and it was! We laughed, we shared ideas, and happily discussed together how we could be more effective leaders in order to better be of service to others. The joyful spirit of the sisters, the beauty of the natural setting with lemon and sage trees, olive trees, the mist on the hills, the lake, beautifully manicured gardens, was an ideal setting for this Happiness Weekend.

We spent a few quiet days in the nearby Napa Valley where we were able to walk around the charming village of Yontville where there are great restaurants on every block. We took a drive up winding roads to the top of a huge mountain above Lake Hennessey, where heaven meets earth, to explore a beautiful small vineyard and taste the grapes from the good earth. Ann, who owns the vineyard, graciously shared a wine tasting with us; we carry with us extraordinary beauty of this spirit of place wherever we are.

Looking back, I’m struck by the serenity of our experience in Napa. I was studying Aristotle and could literally hear myself think. These few precious days alone, together, were extremely restoring to us and we were fortunate to have sunny, warm days to enjoy the natural beauty.

January was, indeed, a great month for Peter and me. His classic book, The Art of Questioning, has been re-published in hardcover and paperback. The subtitle is “30 Maxims of Cross Examination”. When the book was first published in 1989, he wrote then from his 38 years of experience as a trial lawyer and federal prosecutor. This book is a must read for all lawyers and non-lawyers. Personally, Peter’s book has had an enormously positive impact on me. His last maxim is “When you’ve made your point, sit down!” How many of us need his wise advice. By learning to ask an intelligent question we’re able to gain insights, information and necessary answers. I’m pleased we will sell Peter’s book (in hardcover and paperback) on my website.

Peter’s book of wisdom that he’s been working on for fifty years is going to the published soon. Figure It Out is Peter at his best. I have been invited to write the foreword and am honored with the opportunity.

As we enjoy the pink sky long after the sun sets, every day a little later, we are reminded that spring is near, the promise of new life that transforms our spirit.

In January I was a guest on over 30 radio shows, many national, some were hour-long interviews about Happiness For Two. What fun to hear from a fan Kate from snowy Michigan, who called in to a radio station to ask me how my writing has transitioned from interior design and Living a Beautiful Life into philosophy. She said on air she wants to come to a “Happiness Weekend” soon. I found it quite fascinating that so many radio hosts, who read my new book and invited me to be a guest on their show, selected several of the same essays for our discussion. Some of the most popular essays to date:
1) Treat Each Encounter Like It Could Be The Last
6) Go on Vacations Alone, Together
12) Together, Explore Your Spirituality
13) Write Each Other’s New Year’s Resolutions
16) Begin Each Encounter With a Smile
29) Encourage Adventures
55) Don’t Discuss Weight
60) Never Pick a Fight
65) Grumpiness Is Contagious
73) Live a Little!
75) Your Happiness Is Up to You

Please let me know some of your favorite essays and why. The quotation that opens essay 3, “Live at Ten” is by the ancient Chinese sage Lao Tzu, who lived over 500 years before Jesus was born. “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives courage,” is the most often mentioned and favorite quote so far.

I met in New York with my friend and literary agent Carl Brandt for a wonderful editorial lunch. We seem to think best when we’re fed delicious food! We met afterwards with my publisher and editor to discuss my new book. The meeting was exhilarating and also full of surprises. I’ve decided to write a book about mothers. I’m thrilled. This seems just right for the book after Happiness For Two and I’ll give you more information as I know more.

Our dear friend Line Mühl, the wife of our favorite artist Roger Mühl, died of heart failure. Peter and I flew over to Nice, France to spend some time with Roger.
I’ve known and loved Roger and Line since I first met them in 1962, and we’ve been close friends ever since. We feel our lives have been deeply enriched by our friendships of excellence with Line and Roger and we’re thankful we could spend some time with Roger after this devastating loss.

We hope to see you as we tour around the country. Many of you have inquired how to obtain personalized (autographed) copies of Happiness For Two. Please place your orders through Jane Hannon at Bank Square Books in Mystic, Connecticut (860-536-3795), and let me know if you want Peter to also sign your copie(s). Several people have made this request.

I send you great love this February. Happy Valentine’s Day! May your happiness, your love of life, spread wide and far, and your “Happiness For Two” increase every day.

Love & Live Happy

Have you taken photos at one of Alexandra's events that you'd like to share? If so, you can email them to AStoddardInc@aol.com. Please be sure to include the names of those in the photo and where and when it was taken! We will try to include them on the website in the future.

Tak and Booksigning 3/9/2008 at the Southport Congregational Church, Southport, CT (see Calendar)

Talk and Booksigning, Happiness For Two. All are welcome to attend the worship service that immediately preceeds Alexandra's talk and booksigning. Books will be available for purchase (cash/check only).


If you would like to order a personalized copy of Alexandra's book, please send your order (including inscription information) to:
Jane Hannon
Bank Square Books
53 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
(860) 536-3795

A favorite Roger Muhl Lithograph

A glimpse of Alexandra's vibrantly joyful ribbon closet!

Alexandra's colorful buttery in her Stonington Village cottage

A burst of spring color graces Alexandra's linen closet shelves.

Can you believe this sunset over the harbor in Stonington? Thank you Shawn for the beautiful photograph!

The Art of Questioning by Peter Megargee Brown

Peter's new book is not available in both hardback and paperback. See Library Section to order!Congratulations Peter!!


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Grace Note

Spend February thinking of my mantra: "Love and Live Happy"

Alexandra Stoddard