AUTHOR | SPEAKER | PHILOSOPHER | DESIGNER
I sincerely wish you the happiest New Year humanly possible. My soul is on fire and I’m thrilled we’re able to begin 2016 together and embrace all the good in our lives and the world.
Let me begin with great good news! The Inn at Stonington has arranged for us to have another Happiness Retreat the weekend of Friday, February 5th and Saturday, February 6th, then coming to the cottage Sunday after checking out for a final fun visit. When I heard this news I literally jumped for joy because we’ve been waiting for a date since fall. What’s remarkable is how perfect the timing is for me. I can’t be happier because I will have more time to work on my book about Peter and will celebrate a stimulating, fun weekend with friends and like-spirited happiness believers.
This Happiness Retreat the first weekend of February will be the first two-day event since Peter died. As everyone who knows me knows, Peter was and remains the wind behind my wings. I had a Christmas supper with our mutual good friends, and Bill Griffin, an owner of the Inn, just before my family came for the holidays. Bill reminded me that when we initiated this wonderful happiness event, Peter, then in his eighties, could captivate men and women half his age. I have such fond memories of Peter sitting comfortably in a favorite swivel chair in the living room of the cottage with a swarm of joyful people around him as he conducted court. It’s hard to imagine how he could have been happier, and the variety of attendees that continued to come celebrate happiness over a dozen years intuitively understood Peter had figured out the keys to happiness and was more than willing to share his insights and wisdom with all of us. I am wildly excited to think we have the entire Inn to ourselves for these precious two nights, and I’m urging you to please plan to come to what promises to be an exciting retreat. I’m looking forward to our exhilarating discussions, our questions, our stories, insights, tears and laughter.
Our June overnight Women’s Happiness Retreat was great fun and inspired up to stay committed to practice happiness rituals mindfully every day. There were a few devoted husbands who wanted to be with their spouses, and, of course, were welcomed. Peter and I were inseparable, as you know, and because of this gift of grace of our mutuality we were always together, and any event included him. In February, everyone who comes will feel Peter’s strong presence everywhere. This is the joy that accompanies me wherever I am, whatever I’m thinking, however I’m feeling. Because love is eternal and never dies, I continue to celebrate the good life as he watches over me and guides my journey.
Please call the Inn at Stonington to reserve a room of your choice and get all the details of our retreat. I will welcome you with open arms, so will the sweet seaside walking village, and everyone else who comes for a meaningful, joyful adventure together.
The Christmas miracle for me this year was Brooke, Cooper (7), and Tony came here to Stonington Village for Christmas for the first time and because of the incredible, over-the-top authentic atmosphere, it stands out as a high watermark for Christmas spirit and love. Last year I was in New York for Christmas. I took a train to Washington to see my other grandchildren on Christmas afternoon, arriving in time to watch them ice skate before dinner. The city is dazzling during the holidays, but Stonington wins the prize. Having my youngest grandchild, Cooper, here this year was, indeed, magical, and because of her spending this holiday at the cottage, I felt Peter’s spirit more strongly than ever, and all the cheer and festive preparations and decorations were being met with his enthusiastic double thumbs up, “I’m in favor,” and his infectious grin was felt by each one of us.
I’d gone to New York City a few weeks before Christmas for Cooper’s school Christmas pageant. She was, and is, an angel. I have an extra bounce to the ounce, an added step, as her ability to sprinkle happiness everywhere is so highly infectious. I forget I’m 74, and find myself skipping and singing for no good reason. Cooper goes for the fun, and creates it in every activity. Being with her these precious days of festivities, with all the comings and goings, I treasure being here for the interstices of the day – the pleasure of the in between times, when Cooper runs up to play on “three” with friends who live right next door on Harmony Street. Being, not doing, brings surprise moments of delight. These spontaneous moments are less available in New York City, and we all felt the peace and calm of being here together. Brooke, Tony and I were all relaxed and calm as we observed pure glee from all the young on Christmas day and over the weekend.
Calm, experiencing record warm temperatures with mild, pleasant fragrant breezes, created a balm of happiness in the sunshine. We were at home, our cozy, adorable cottage, all festively decorated, but we felt we were on vacation in the tropics. We lit balsam fir candles, floated from one room scented from lilies, another paper whites, another hyacinths and freesia. My eight gardenias are thriving with healthy foliage but have no buds or blossoms now, but a friend snipped off one of her blossoms to give me along with a box of sugar cookies she baked. It’s not only “all good,” things are awesome around here. Engine-red tulips sprinkled around the rooms, red candles and bows make these dark winter days come alive. Etched on a crystal dish a friend gave me, filled with red and green M&M’s, are words I treasure: Everyday is a gift ~~ Untie the ribbons.
Cooper, Brooke and I decorated our adorable tree. Cooper made an angel of shiny silver with her own hands traced and cut out for the wings. We opened one gift each on Christmas Eve, and mine made me burst into happy tears. Cooper’s voice read “The Night Before Christmas” as we sat together and I turned the pages of this treasured book.
We drove to the point at the end of Water Street and watched in amazement how the full moon created dazzling twinkling, sparkling lights on the harbor. The waves were pounding the shore at high tide.
One of the biggest blessings Peter and Cooper both continue to teach me is the beauty of living completely in the moment. Whenever I do get in the flow, and I try to live mindfully aware of the present moments and be present, not thinking about the past or concerning myself with “later,” but really being in sync with my breath, right here, right now, I find an inner peace enveloping me, enlarging each simple wonder that unfolds in all the delicious sensual, aesthetic delights that surround us when we’re seeing and sensing in an attitude of love and the comfort of acceptance. We have dark skies in order to see the stars twinkle and make us wonder in reverence for our insatiable curiosity that makes us inquisitive and marvel at our natural world.
When we quietly savor all the subtle varieties of flavors, textures, significance and sentiments of this time of year, our hearts open wide in the dazzling illumination of gratitude for the life we’re blessed to live. Let us fully awaken to our freedom to choose to live a deeply and richly rewarding life.
The new year gives us a fresh start to challenge ourselves to evolve into the person we truly want to be. January one, day one, we begin to think of the world we carry inside us as the German poet Rainer Marie Rilke reminds us – “Before we can change the world into a more loving, peaceful paradise, we must first try to be a healthier, whole, living peaceful person at our core.”
The Buddha discovered once he became enlightened that “The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” I intend to have Peter’s example to fully concentrate on what’s in front of me in the “hereness” of this intimate moment, as well as Cooper’s inexhaustible glee to play and have fun in a world of curiosity, joy, wonder, love, make-believe and enthusiasm.
We can find enormous satisfaction, meaning, and purpose by the strength and courage of our will. Let’s pay close attention to our deliberate intentions and strive to be of good will when our self-control and self-discipline may, at times, be challenging, in order to always “be here now” and not miss out on all the happiness that we seek for ourselves and others.
Happy, happy, New Year! I sincerely hope we’ll be together February 5th and 6th. Please continue to share your exciting discoveries with me, I’m inspired to take this thrilling journey with you as our consciousness expands to greater awareness and deeper understanding and love.
Great love to you.
Love & Live Happy
On to 2016!
an the Inn at Stonington Happiness Weekend
February 5th & 6th
The Inn at Stonington will be hosting a full weekend with Alexandra Stoddard on February 5th and 6th. Please call the Inn to book your weekend. Availability will go quick! Their number is (860)535-0000.
Please visit the Calendar page of Alexandra's site for details, costs and itinerary!!
Peter captivating the audience at a Happiness Retreat at The Inn at Stonington
Stunning photos taken at the dock at Breakwater. Thank you Mara for these lovely photographs!
Alexandra and Peter on the dance floor!
Kerri photographs Peter and Alexandra at an event at The Inn at Stonington.
Off to Paris after our wedding!
"The only journey is the journey within."
~~ Rainer Maria Rilke