AUTHOR | SPEAKER | PHILOSOPHER | DESIGNER
Exciting news! The Inn at Stonington is hosting a one day and night event, a Women’s Happiness Retreat, on Sunday, June 14th. As many of you recall, after my book Choosing Happiness was published, I had regular Happiness Weekend events for years. This retreat is the first one just for women, and is at the request of many friends over the years. If you are interested in coming to this exciting women’s retreat, please call the Inn as soon as possible to inquire about availability. The inn is giving my event a special price for the entire event and is first come, first serve. Please ask for Anne. The telephone number is 860-535-2000. This will be my first talk at the inn since Peter died, and I’m enthusiastic to have this great opportunity for us to all be together again to share our ideas and insights about embracing happiness at every stage of life. I loved my experience in April at Johns Hopkins and want to move forward in my new life chapter, continuing the work I love.
Saturday, May 9th, I gave a talk at my favorite sanctuary, Terrain, in Westport, CT billed to be about the shared wisdom of Mothers and Daughters; that dialogue ended up being all over the place, where the conversation centered around happiness, touching on Peter’s death, life after life, and on daily rituals, how we choose to create habits that enrich our lives.
Last year Peter was with me at Terrain, and sat holding hands with his 93 year old sister, who, blessedly, is still alive and thriving. This year I was alone, and asked a 17 year-old daughter of a woman who came from Vermont to please take over Peter’s role of cutting the colorful Grosgrain ribbons for bookmarks. Being at Terrain with friends is what one of mine calls a dream day. Claire came last year with four grown up daughters, this year she was alone, and stayed all afternoon to keep me company and help me set up a table of autographed books.
A friend who works at Terrain in the spa department brought me white lilacs from her garden. I told Nicolisa that Peter and I didn’t buy our 18th century dilapidated cottage, we bought an old white lilac tree. The lilac is in full bloom now, weeks behind Westport’s earlier spring.
When several people asked me if I was going to be with Alexandra and Brooke for Mother’s Day, Sunday, I said no way. They’re going to be with their children and I’m going to be with their mother. It took the audience by surprise that I was planning to be alone, but it was perfect. Mother’s Day wasn’t convenient for family and me to be together, and rather than making a big deal of the day, we chose to celebrate together over Memorial Day weekend. I went to lunch at a friend’s restaurant, Red 36, in Mystic, and Angela invited me to join her with mutual friends on the terrace in glorious sunshine. It couldn’t have been more magical.
The following week was Peter’s and my 41st wedding anniversary. The new restaurant Breakwater, on the deck on the harbor behind the Inn at Stonington, was scheduled to open on our anniversary. I was going to have friends gather to help me celebrate, but as I’m well aware, there are often delays when renovations are involved.
I’d been going on my late afternoon walks to check on the progress, and sit quietly alone on the terrace for several days before the construction was complete. One day, the owner’s daughter, Mari, came to the table with a little bottle of pinot grigio from Santa Barbara, California, asking me if I wanted a taste; they were considering putting it on their menu. Alone, quiet, in reflective solitude, I felt close to Peter, whose ashes were in this body of water, at the breakwater, and I was able to toast him with a delicious wine that was smooth and so completely unexpected.
When it became clear Breakwater wouldn’t be open until later in the week, I decided I wanted to be calm, and let things unfold naturally. On Monday, our anniversary, good friends called to make a dinner date, and it dawned on Jillie and me tonight. When I told her it was our anniversary and I was delighted to spend it with her and Jack, she told me they’d pick me up at 6:15 PM for a 6:30 PM reservation at a mutually favorite restaurant, the Oyster Club in Mystic. I felt this was meant to be, and went for my walk and visited the restaurant that would soon open. As I approached the table where I usually sit there were flowers there, and I was sure someone else was expected. Mari had a card with my name on it and I gently melted into the seat. I couldn’t have been more surprised by joy and touched by her tenderness. As I sat there, vividly remembering Peter’s and my wedding day, our wedding at St. James Church in New York City 41 years ago, our wedding reception at my apartment on East 63rd Street, and leaving the reception in the elevator with the apartment humming with family and close friends as we headed to Kennedy Airport en route to Paris, tears flowed gently down my cheeks as I envisioned the beginning of our exceptionally happy 40 year and four month marriage. I felt as though Jillie was an angel calling me and being available to celebrate with me that night.
I’d ordered several bunches of lily-of-the-valley from Verdant, our fabulous flower studio just down Water Street, the flowers Alexandra, Brooke and I carried at our wedding ceremony. I made a bouquet for our table at the restaurant that Jillie and Jack would bring home and put by their bed. Upon arrival at Oyster Club, I saw a pretty bouquet of white lilies with sea glass in the vase I thought was created by a glass blower. She’d driven to a florist, organized the arrangement, drove it to the restaurant, placed it on our table, went home, changed clothes, came to pick me up. The whole evening was a magical, spontaneous surprise.
Going to bed that evening I had a bunch of lily-of-the-valley, the vase of white lilies, and a gardenia plant with one fragrant blossom. I lit a candle, turned off the lights, turned on some classical music, and sat up straight in sheer amazement at how peaceful and happy I felt. It was, indeed, a most happy anniversary.
The next night I went to the theater and dinner with friends, and Wednesday, May 20th, I was invited to a by-invitation-only practice dinner at Breakwater All things come to he who waits. I was so excited to go to the new restaurant in the same location where Swooner opened last May, and where Skipper’s Dock had been for so many years. Breakwater extended the bar 18’and all the tables in the bar area are high tops so everyone has a great view of the harbor. Thursday night I met up with friends there and we all celebrated the grand (soft) opening. Having a new, fun restaurant a few minutes walk from the cottage at the mouth of the harbor is glorious. My friends will know where to find me.
My wonderful neighbor Charlie is on vacation for three weeks and told me I’d be doing him a favor if I pruned his purple lilac that hugs and overhangs our mutual picket fence where I sit on a loveseat with a table where I can see a sliver of the harbor view when I’m in the garden. Between my white and pink lilac and Charlie’s purple, the cottage smells dreamy.
The hot pink geranium are in the window boxes, the windows were cleaned with the traditional spring cleaning, and Brooke, Cooper and Tony came for a festive Memorial Day weekend. Brooke and Cooper came up early Friday morning on the train so we could have a faux Mother’s Day together. We had lunch in Mystic, Cooper played in a favorite small park, we discovered a candy store that had just opened two hours earlier, attracted by the big pink sign near the drawbridge. We bought M&M’s the color of sea glass – the colors of Peter’s seascapes. Cooper had a vanilla ice cream cone with sprinkles and, unbelievably, we were off to Breakwater to enjoy the new restaurant together. Cooper had two lemonade stands over the weekend with friends from Stonington and New York City. They raised $102.58 in the two days; all the proceeds go to the Children’s room at the library. Peter and I match whatever they make. $205.16 is a nice donation to the library; they all love being a part of something that’s so much fun and is so rewarding (and they get to sample the cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and lemonade!)
June is busting out all over! I send great love to you. I hope you and friends can come to the Women’s Happiness Retreat June 14th.
Thank you for the out-pouring of tenderness and affection you have showered me with these past several months. I feel exceedingly grateful and blessed in every way.
Love & Live Happy
Alexandra has added two new events!
June 14th - One Day Happiness Retreat at the Stonington Inn in Stonington, CT (overnight)
Please visit the Calendar Page for more details!!
Both events will fill up fast!!
Fisher's Island 1982
Look at my reflection in Peter's sunglasses!
Gazing at Peter
"Thanks for the memories," the most happy possible.
Happy hydrangea days with Peter's dear friend Erica
The magic of hydrangea!
Our sweet cottage is bursting with the beauty of spring
Venice -- A favorite memory
See you at my Happiness Retreat on Sunday, June 14th!
My dear Peter and me at the cottage
"Each human life is like a new symphony heard for the first time. It can't be understood or fully appreciated until after the final cadence."