Mar 2011

Dear Friend

The entire month of February moved us swiftly toward Spring. Peter and I are reminded what Mark Twain said about New England weather, "If you don’t like it, wait a minute..." We had ice and snow and a huge wind and rain storm the end of the month to wash away the remembrances of the blizzards …

Peter and I spent some happy days in New York early in the month before going to Chevy Chase to spend time with Nicholas, Anna and Lily. While we watched them swim in the pool at our hotel, I asked Peter what did he want to do to celebrate his 89th birthday? Who did he want to be with? Where? Without a moment’s hesitation, he said he wanted to go to Paris after spending a few days in New York City, including spending a long, sensuous lunch on his birthday March 15th at our favorite restaurant, La Grenouille. This is thrilling, and we’ve set the motions in place. That’s our big exciting news.

Our time in Chevy Chase was glorious. Thanks to the “grands” father videoing their basketball games, we were able to sit cozy by a crackling fire playing and having fun. The girls performed Irish dance shows for us and we made Valentines for their classmates, friends and family. We continued to make up goofy poems and have a heap of giggles.

The hotel business center is on the same floor as our room, by choice, and while Peter has a moment’s peace in our room reading, I have the joy of sitting with the children and helping them write and decorate love letters to their parents. And in the process I was hand delivered a few and realized they mailed some to me as a surprise. Lily sent me a love letter on her favorite Lilly Pulitzer note paper we’d given her for Christmas, asking me not to throw her letter in the trash because it is “sortov expensive”. We laughed ourselves into tears.

Back in New York City we went to Cooper’s ballet class where she runs around in a hot pink tutu barefoot, and looks in the mirror, not at her teacher. When she bows, her neck bends. Period. A woman questioned why a two year old is taking ballet lessons. My short answer is, why not? I did when I was little and it makes Cooper enormously happy. At home she endlessly performs after her mother introduces Princess Cooper – ladies and gentlemen, and we clap and giggle, “do it again.” And again and again. And unlike the cliché, “you’ve delighted us long enough,” we can never have enough of this glee. Music class is more exciting because Cooper always moves to the different instruments, running around on her toes, and at the end of class, chases every bubble in the air before they fall to the floor and pop.

Our time away from the frigid weather and ice was refreshing after our wonderful visits with our children. It was fun going on television with Peter to talk about Happiness For Two even though the producer was out sick and the host didn’t have the book’s message completely understood. When I told her the most important thing about Happiness For Two is to “Treat Each Encounter as Though It Could Be Your Last,” she questioned me and said, “That’s pretty negative.” I stuck to my guns and did my best. When I laughed and stated to Peter, “I'm doing all the talking,” he smiled and said, “That’s good!” We had a good time.

On Valentine’s Day I spoke at the Mystic Rotary Club’s meeting at a lovely luncheon. Because my subject was Happiness For Two , I began with a favorite quote from my book by a favorite American poet, Robert Frost, about love: “Love is an irresistible desire, to be irresistibly desired.” I’m deeply touched some friends surprised me and came to hear my talk, including Sharon, Kerri and Matt. It was Kerri’s birthday so we were all able to help her celebrate.

I’ve been working on a new book with clarity and focus and am determined to have success. The British writer Somerset Maugham wrote something that always has a sure place in my mind: “It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get it.” Even though book publishing has changed because of technology, I am up to the challenges ahead of me and will continue to try to stretch myself as I look ahead with courage and confidence.

At times, I feel some of my readers feel frustrated that I don’t have a new book coming out or that I’m not loading my schedule with seminars and talks all over the country. I urge us all to be patient. Recently I was asked by a journalist in an interview to write down one of my mantras so she could watch me write with a fountain pen on my smooth bright white writing pads. The first thing that came to my mind is by a favorite German poet, Rainer Marie Rilke: “If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it, blame yourself because you are not poet enough to call forth its riches.” I’ve often felt that we should live like a poet where we can see the beauty in everything and create something uplifting to help inspire others to experience the beauty all around them with fresh, new, more loving eyes. We are one – in Wordsworth’s words – with the rocks and stones and trees.

I feel all is well and all will be well, and my tenacious spirit and determination to never give up will pay rich rewards of satisfaction and fulfillment in the years ahead. The 19th century writer Walter Pater sought in art, “experiences of brilliant intensity that promise nothing but the highest quality to your moments as they pass and simply for those moments’ sake.” I’m grateful to Stanley Fish for this great sentence in How to Write A Sentence and How to Read One.

Brooke, Tony and Cooper came to the cottage for President’s Weekend. We couldn’t have had more fun. Cooper invited us to play, and we experienced a snowstorm that was magically beautiful sparkling brilliantly. And when we went to the grocery store, we bought, in Wordsworth’s words, “A host of daffodils.” The yellow spring flowers inside with a fresh blanket of snow outside brought us a great deal of happiness.

The entire month of February I made sure we would have fresh flowers in the rooms of our cottage. Valentine’s Day helped! But I value having this beauty from nature around us as we await spring.

Every day I read some passages from Peter’s new book, Figure It Out. Today, Walter Pater caught my eye and won my heart. “To burn always with this hard gem-like flame, to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.” My mentor and friend Eleanor McMillen Brown’s favorite word was Success. Peter has a whole essay in his book on Success.

I wish you great happiness in the month of March, and in all your days ahead, “Success.”

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.

Alexandra & Peter with Matt & Kerri Kennedy

Book Signing at The Dog Watch in Stonington

Alexandra and Paula

Kerri & Peter

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

I think the universal language of the world is not English but a smile.
~~ Takahashi Yu