Feb 2011

Dear Friend

Our January was an extraordinarily happy month. We were surprised by joy to have Brooke, Tony and Cooper come to spend several delightful days and nights together to celebrate 2011. Peter believes a baby in the cottage makes all the difference in the world. I agree. Cooper, 27 months old, enlivens our spirits and engages our souls.

Cooper slept in her big girl bed for the first time and loved it, sleeping until seven at the complete surprise to her parents. Only grandparents fully appreciate a baby in the bed to play and delight because it is such a rare treat.

My mentor and former boss, Eleanor McMillen Brown believed “Living takes Time.” I agree. Having Cooper here to experience the rhythms of our daily life brings into sharp focus what’s most important and meaningful to us. We treasure quiet, uneventful times together. One morning when Brooke, Tony and Cooper were out the door, Cooper wanted to know where Peter Rabbit was. I told her he was in the bathtub. She told her parents, “Oh, No. Peter Rabbit.” Patiently, she waited on the bottom step of the staircase to see her grandfather appear. When Peter finally came done the stairs, after hugs and lots of love, Cooper said, “Peter Rabbit, you’re clean!” And he was. One afternoon, after Cooper’s nap, her parents suggested they go to see the fishes. Cooper said, “Yea, with Grand Mommy and Peter Rabbit.” Being led around this water filled enclosure by Cooper was unusually entertaining. She knew her way around.

In the rhythm of our days, Brooke and I de-thugged. Why is it that you always need someone who loves you to help you let go of things that are no longer useful? Tony dropped things off at the Community Center Thrift Shop that may be necessary to others. The re-organization of closets and drawers created a refreshing spirit of harmony and calm.

One night Cooper said, “Let’s have a party.” Because there wasn’t any specific excuse for a celebration, we went to a mutually favorite restaurant on the water and enjoyed the tree lights and snow. Some children are only comfortable at home and in their own bed, but this is not our sweet Cooper. She’s always good to go and have a “party.”

After our family left, we were able to take some “field trips” to a variety of different restaurants nearby. Thanks to our friend and neighbor’s daughter, we were picked up and returned to our cottage, no matter how much snow fell, and there have been record amounts. We’ve embraced village life in this caring community. A friend chuckled and recently told us, “everyone in Stonington has strong opinions, but everyone cares.” We have experienced unusual thoughtfulness among our neighbors and our friends. On a sunny, unseasonably mild afternoon, when we were enjoying a stroll in the snow-blanketed paths near the harbor, a car stopped, and inquired, “Do you want a ride?” “No, thank you. We’re enjoying the fresh air and the sunset.” Everyone wants to help us move about because we have no car, and we are deeply touched to know that villagers are happy to give us a ride.

A restaurant on the harbor, Dog Watch Café, has taken us under their wing. They hosted Peter's two fundraisers for Figure It Out for the Stonington Library, and now, in the weeks of record snow, the owners have taken it upon themselves to come pick us up for lunch at table #2, we affectionately call the Sun Room. Here, overlooking the harbor, every day is different, and in its own way, mysterious. We’ve seen the majesty of snow storms; the water freeze with strings of pearl-like links between the frozen waters. We’re able to be in awe at the natural beauty knowing someone with four-wheel drive will take us home.

Connecticut has record snow fall for January, 2011. Thanks to friends, we have regular delivery of roses in different varieties and colors and enjoy the reminder of Spring a few months away. I’m wondering if our roses hugging the picket fence will be better than ever next summer because of all this snow.

So far, 2011 is proving to be the best year ever. We live our lives in chapters, and the calendar moves us along month by month, week by week, day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. The best possible way to live well is to pay careful attention to every moment as you are experiencing it. The alive now is the raw material of our conscious life, the clay we mold in whatever direction we choose. By our mindfulness we’re able to know what to do and, equally important, what not to do. And by our mood and attitude we’re able to try to do the right thing at the right time for the right reason. Any possibility of happiness is always NOW in whatever our particular circumstances are, colored by our temperament and our natural disposition.

Helped by the inclination to think positively and remain an optimist in all the rough and tumble times we all encounter, I continue to believe in Happiness. “Love & Live Happy” remains my motto. I have made a conscious effort to live in the moment, live in my breath, and this acute awareness is paying huge riches in my contentment, inner peace and rich sense of pleasure in the process.

Peter is writing his memoirs, Keep Figuring It Out. One of his essays is “Approaching My 89th Year.” Peter is my hero and living these grace-filled days together is a blessing beyond words and a delight that is indescribably delicious.

In his wallet, Peter keeps a copy of his motto, written by William Ellery Channing:

To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury;
And refinement rather than fashion;
To be worthy, not respectable, wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open hearts;
To bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never.
In a word, let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common – this is my symphony.

February is the month devoted to love. On Valentine’s Day, I’ll be giving a talk for the Rotary Club of Mystic, Connecticut. It is open to the public and Peter and I would love to see you at the luncheon. [See my website Events page for more details.] My topic is “Happiness For Two.” On Saturday, February 12th at 7:13 AM, I will be on Connecticut’s Channel 8 News (Good Morning Connecticut, the Weekend Edition, WTNH.com) talking about love and “Happiness For Two.”

Great love and happiness to you during this glorious month of love.

Love & Live Happy

Happy Valentine's Day

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.

Valentines Day 2/14/11

Talk on "Happiness for Two"

Alexandra will be the featured speaker at the Mystic Rotary Club's luncheon meeting on Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 2011 at Noon. This event is being held at the Mystic Hilton on 20 Coogan Blvd, in Mystic. Reservations are required. Please contact newlaurs@gmail.com or call (860) 287-1043 to make reservations or if you have any questions.

Alexandra will be signing copies of her books ~~ great gift idea!! Hope to see you all there!!

Peter with his mountain staff!

Our cottage is barely visible behind us!

Happy to be inside at Noah's restaurant

This could be me!

I'm a romantic at heart and love the snow!

Figure It Out: A Guide to Wisdom

Please consider giving Peter's new book to family and friends for the holidays. Make checks for $25.00 per book to:
The Stonington Free Library

Send to:
Peter Megargee Brown
87 Water Street
Stonington, CT 06378

Peter will pay shipping. Your contribution is 100% tax deductible.

If you would like to get an autographed 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

Grace Note

Spend one hour alone doing something for yourself.