AUTHOR | SPEAKER | PHILOSOPHER | DESIGNER
Each month has its own special virtues and personality. February is an especially happy month because it represents the celebration of love. Being a hopeless romantic, I truly enjoy Valentine’s Day and all the days before and afterwards.
I’ve been thinking a great deal lately about my readers. I continue to receive the most beautiful letters, many from people I may never meet except through the gift of a letter. And as I meditate on my gratitude for these amazing people in my life, I’m humbled to remind myself that if I hadn’t written a book, or they hadn’t read one of my books, we would not have this connection that is deeply important to me. I feel supported and encouraged by the grace and generous spirit of my readers. Just as I can’t imagine my life without having a pen in my hand, I would not want to think of my life without these people who write me and let me know I’ve made a difference in their lives.
People who love to write letters write me that their favorite book of mine is Gift of a Letter. I absolutely love this book because it was written on turquoise stationary, on a beach, as a love letter to my beloved John Coburn. John married Peter and me and we’re extremely close friends. He was my spiritual guide and muse, and together we explored an enormous range of spiritual directions. John and I corresponded throughout several decades.
What started “Dear John” became a book that means so much to me. A reader, Karen, wrote me a beautiful letter recently, telling me she is fondest of Gift of a Letter and has read it several times. She wrote, “If I were asked, ‘Who would you most like to meet for a cup of tea?’ it would be you”. Karen wants to know if I still write letters, what is my favorite time of day to write, what is my favorite pen, and, if I could correspond with anyone in history, who would it be?
I often say that none of us ever know just how much we mean to each other, but we should definitely make an effort to reach out in gratitude, with a pen in hand, and during the month of February, give the gift of love, the gift of a letter to people you admire or who have made your life more beautiful and happy.
Peter wrote a short letter to a dear friend, who has carried it in his wallet since he received it several months ago. Letters – real letters – are treasures and are becoming increasingly invaluable as technology is making so many traditional forms of communicating obsolete and/or unavailable. One is no longer allowed to deposit a Social Security check by mail, for example.
Karen wrote that she is not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, “But I do believe in the power of habits—adding good ones, replacing bad ones. My one new habit of 2014 is to write a thank you note every Thursday.” What a blessing for me to be the recipient of one of her Thursday gems.
January threw us some curve balls with the weather. Twice, because of snowstorms, Peter and I left the cottage to go to a nearby hotel to weather the snow and frigid cold with a wind chill below zero. Peter, who turns 92 in March, feels the cold—any slight draft makes him sneeze and his nose run. “Ice cold. Ice cold.” He wears layers of fleece and still feels too cold for comfort. Our cottage is precious and we absolutely love living here, but it was built in the 18th century and our kitchen, where we live, is a 19th century addition and is 20-30 degrees colder than our bedroom.
In addition to escaping the snow and cold, we’d planned a trip to New York City for several days. We enjoyed the change and our visit with Brooke, Tony, and Cooper. Our hotel was cozy, toasty warm, and we brought yellow and white roses to cheer up our space. I try to always have flowers or a flowering plant on my writing desk for inspiration.
On both visits to the local Marriott Hotel I brought flowering plants I could nurse along. Our most recent stay intended to be two nights, stretched to six days due to the unacceptably frozen temperatures. My gardenia plant had over a dozen buds and I wanted to be there to watch them blossom. The day we came home I awoke to this sensuous, nostalgic perfume scent that reminds me of my youth. Having the gardenia blossom in front of my nose, while I looked out at the snow-covered giant evergreen trees and the snow on top of the ice on the reservoir, was a spiritual meditation that was ever-changing and quietly, beautifully, distracting. Pen in hand, eyes and heart a million miles away.
A few days ago, after returning home to the cottage, Peter and I were having an exceptionally happy day. Everything seemed lovelier than we could remember. Our flowering plants were there to greet us, and some roses were flowering while being refrigerated. All of our personal things welcomed us with opened arms. Peter seemed to thrive the whole month in a private, fragrant, quiet environment. Peter and I enjoy “quiet time” when he can read and rest, and I can write.
January also brought the urge to eliminate clutter and put our lives in good order. The fresh new start of the new year is an opportunity to review our surroundings with plans to eliminate the unwanted, and make space for new opportunities, interests, and creative work. I’ve had to strictly discipline myself to not make organization a higher priority than spending time seated at one of my favorite writing places—the old farm desk in our bedroom, the new white desk in my writing room, or the large French provincial desk in our downstairs study. But I do feel a strong pull to have order in our cottage. I will work on this goal in the romantic month of February.
Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope the entire month will open up great feelings of love and devotion, and you will want to communicate with family, friends, and unknown others. Besides organizing all our spaces so they are pretty, practical, and up to date, I’m also drawn to writing thank you and love letters. I hope you share my sentiment.
Great love to you.
Love & Live Happy
Having flowers in the cottage in the winter reminds us that spring is coming soon!
I treasure every love letter Peter has written me.
Peter and his dear friend Matt at the Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
Don't forget to write ...
Happy Valentines Day!
"Love just is;
Golden in its simplicity."