September 2011

Dear Friend

I hope this newsletter finds you and your loved ones safe after the severe weather so many of us experienced in the month of August. I also hope August brought you some relaxing moments of pleasure and interspection as we all head into the stimulating challenges of the fall that come with an increase of responsibilities and chosen commitment.

At the end of the month, a few days after the earth quake, we learned of the severity of the harmful potential of Hurricane Irene. While we hoped for the best, we also prepared for the worst and spent several nerve-wracking days and nights in Chevy Chase, Maryland, visiting our family. Brooke, Tony and Cooper fled New York City to a safe haven in upstate New York, west of the storm’s projected path. They were safe and grateful that they were cautious, finding their unexpected forced vacation a silver lining before Cooper starts school.

We had flash flood and tornado warnings, as well as thunderstorms, but my daughter Alexandra’s house never lost power and other than getting wet, we weathered the storm without a hitch. The “grands” couldn’t go in the pool on our hotel skylight roof one morning for an hour because of thunder, but we took refuge in the business center Peter calls “study hall,” where we all read, drew, wrote and worked on the computer independently. For some reason, Nicholas, Anna and Lily love this room, with its comfortable swivel chairs and time to use their inner resources.

While the storm was battering up the East Coast, we’re grateful the lethal water spared New York City the anticipated damage. There was a strong chance they would have to shut down Con Edison in order not to have the underground electrical wires destroyed. It was reported on the Weather Channel that the worst case scenario was that Kennedy Airport would be flooded with twenty feet of water. New York City is an island, and the heavy day of rain a week before the hurricane flooded the low lying areas.

Obviously, I was concerned about our cottage because we are only 100 feet from the harbor. Our wonderful contractor Bob assured us he’d do whatever was necessary to make our house safe from the ravaging damages of the storm, and Sunday morning he reported that everything was dry – music to my ears!!

Stonington was enormously damaged in the hurricane of 1038, and Irene was to be as potentially dangerous. There were forced evacuations in our village with Hurricane Bob, but Peter and I stayed in our house. We never lost power, and by mid afternoon, the sun came out and we walked around amazed that the storm swiftly passed through without severe damages. Peter has vivid memories of being in a house on a dune in East Hampton, Long Island, in the ’38 Hurricane and his mother fled in a station wagon headed for New York City. They all swam fearlessly, shooting enormous waves, at a beach in front of their cottage without a life guard. From the time Irene made landfall in North Caroline, Peter was glued to the Weather Channel, being able to see coverage of the now well-documented footage of the ’38 Hurricane.

All of the airports were shut down in New York City due to Hurricane Irene, and we had no idea when we would be able to go home because the trains were not running due to fallen trees on the tracks. Another silver lining – we were able to be with Nicholas, Anna and Lily for several days before they started 3rd and 4th grades at the Chevy Chase Elementary School, learning about their teachers and what friends they had in their classes. Joyfully, because we stayed over a few extra days, we were able to have dinner together after their first day of school. One of the most fun aspects of being a grandparent is that we don’t have the same knowledge as parents have, and we gain information by asking questions. Fortunately, the children are patient to tell us all about their school life, their favorite classes, teachers and friends.

Spending time with our family was a refreshing break from my work although I was able to put in a few hours early each morning before we’d meet for breakfast. I’ve completed approximately 80% of my book in first draft, having saved the more difficult subjects for last. This break away gave me pause to reflect on how I best want to introduce my different subjects.

I became so comfortable in my writing routine, enjoying my writing room completely, that I found the transition of having to work out of a tote bag a bit interruptive, but I’m used to this from book and lecture tour and have been able to carry on. My set up at the cottage is ideal and I’m grateful I’ll be able to return to the cottage and settle back into my daily rhythm and the promise of many productive hours of work each day. I anticipate there will be many surprises that I will discover as I head down the final stretch to finish my book. My literary agent has trained me that an author doesn’t know what the book is all about until he or she has written the first 100 pages. This is so true and interesting because we are in a process of self-discovery every time we face the blank white page.

The legendary editor Maxwell Perkins advised his authors to just “get black on white” and then “we can deal with it.” I’ve been extremely productive this summer, enjoying the difficult challenges of writing every day with no break until the trip to Maryland. There is a great sense of accomplishment in the satisfaction that I am doing work I deeply believe in and find exhilarating in its ability to stretch me in a wide variety of topics. I must say, not everyone will agree with everything I say, but I do have a strong point of view that is important for me to express.

I hope the beautiful weather of September will be a welcome change from the hot and humid days of August. I embrace the four seasons because the variety is stimulating to our senses. Because of my publishing deadline, I am not doing any events in the month of September except a fun one at the Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington on the 29th. A local friend, J. Morris Hicks, has written a life-changing book, Healthy Eating – Healthy World: Unleashing the Power of Plant-Based Nutrition. Jim is having a book launch party that afternoon and is expecting hundreds of people to attend. The vineyard is absolutely beautiful, and I remind you that wine is plant based! The celebration is open to the public and is free, and I assure you it will be a stimulating afternoon. I wrote a blurb for Jim’s important book that is on the back cover:

“J. Morris Hicks’s world-changing book, Healthy Eating – Healthy World is compelling in transforming our health-promoting dietary choices to be over 80% from whole plant foods. Not only will we restore our own fitness, vigor and happiness as we become healthier, we will be celebrating a work-wide paradigm shift by living in harmony with nature on our precious planet.”

To learn more about this event, where I will say a few words, click Preview at www.hp2book.com. On August 23rd, Jim wrote a blog about me. “Famous writer and healthy eater …” Please plan to come and learn more. I told Jim I wouldn’t trade how I feel right now for anything in the world. It’s hard to believe I’m going to be 70 years old in November. I do not feel my age. I promise you there will be many surprises in my new book!

Great love and happiness to you. I hope to see you September 29th!

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.

Alexandra Stoddard and Geraldine Cunningham of Geraldine Cunningham Associates, ATHENA Committee Chairman

The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce and Geraldine Cunningham Associates are co-sponsoring the 9th Annual ATHENA Award and have announced that Alexandra Stoddard will be honored as one of 7 nominees.

Peter, pausing to smell the roses ...

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.

Grace Note

Be a blessing to yourself and you will be a blessing to everyone whose lives you touch.
~ Alexandra Stoddard