March 2017

Dear Friends,

My heart is bursting with joy. Before I write another thought, I want to open my heart even wider and reach out to you and loved ones with my spring fever joy. I truly have sunshine in my pocket and I feel the energy of Spring everywhere around and in another mysterious realm. This lightness of being is indescribable but palpable. As I bring the cottage in to greater order, as I spend longer, challenging hours working on my book, I feel productively alive, and feel a lot of spring in my steps as well as a sense of deep calm and the comfort of feeling Peter’s presence.

One of the surprise joys of the month of love was Brook and Cooper taking the train to an inn and spa in Groton where I went recently when Stonington got dumped a foot of snow. The Marriott is a home away from home for me, and the place Peter and I escaped to in extreme weather. Going there, whether alone or with my family, is such a fun treat. I feel so comfortable returning year after year, with so many familiar people who shower me with affection, and make everything so magical during my stay. I truly feel a sense of community.

Cooper jumped into the pool, swam with some other children and her mother while I treated myself to a massage. Later, after lunch, her good friends Mia and Stella joined her in the pool and Cooper became a fish for several more hours. One of the coolest treats was Cooper and I having our hair washed and styled, side by side. Because this is such an over-the-top luxury, and s rare treat, we appreciate it to the nth degree. Cooper’s father Tony picked up the three generations of mother, daughter, granddaughter on his way to Stonington from the city and we all re-grouped at a fun, delicious restaurant we all voted on – Bravo Bravo in Mystic.

Cooper and I had two additional sleepovers thanks to President’s weekend. One of the things we love to do together at night is snuggle with her growing collection of stuffed animals that came from New York City to have a play date with their “friend” “Happy Pappy,” Peter’s blue painted puppy who comforted him the last few months of Peter’s life. Making ourselves cozy in our pajamas we watch a movie in the luxury of my tulip flowered sheets, lots of pillows, and popcorn. Cooper agreed it was my turn to select the movie Sunday night, and with glee she was delighted I’d bought the King & I when I went to see the live performance as a birthday present in November with good friends. Much to my great happiness this story captivated Cooper’s imagination. She was charmed, and thought the young children of the King of Siam were utterly adorable.

Earlier in the afternoon Cooper and her friends ran around a field next to the playground letting off steam and kicking some soccer balls before Mia, Stella and Cooper and their parents drove to Providence to a fun dinner at a make-your-own pizza restaurant. It makes me so happy our children and grandchildren have their own friends here and their own rituals, making their time away from the city packed with activities with friends and out and about in nature. They often go to the “Point” at the end of Water Street and look at the sunset, the waves, and later to go star gazing.

As a result of having dinner out of state, our movie showing was on the later side, but we were eager to watch until we couldn’t stay awake. Cooper wisely suggested we hit the pause button and first thing in the morning, before her parents woke up we could watch the ending.

Whenever someone is having too much fun they’re honey to the bee. Brooke came upstairs and snuggled with her daughter before seven—she and Tony wanted us to go with them to “Rise” a new breakfast restaurant in Mystic that has 5 stars that everyone is raving about. What a fun plan for a bonus day of a long weekend. But first we had to watch the king die and his son’s proclamations take hold, “etc. etc. etc.”

We were weeping and glad to be driven off for a fun event out in the fresh, warm air and sunshine. The unseasonably warm weather brought out my neighbor Charlie’s snow drops in front of his house, and some “friendlies” from his back yard spilled into mine; the first sign of new life makes the heart skip a beat.

Another extraordinary event in an otherwise quiet month with my keeping focused on my work, Janet, who makes candles, presented me with a sample candle of honeysuckle and Jasmine. Instantly, before lighting it, I inhaled it and it transported me to all the haunting aroma of flowers in the south of France. I’m reminded of all the times Peter and I and Alexandra and Brooke would go to Grasse, in Provence, the perfume center of the world, and go to the different perfumeries. We were all fascinated by the intoxicating fragrances we were experiencing.

Some of you may remember my obsession with a specific cream—“Cream 24.” From those early vacations in France and our passion for ways to bring these sensual floral scents home, Peter and I became particularly excited about Jasmine. Here in my hand is a scent that is so unforgettably associated with all those extraordinary memories of Jasmine and other white flower smells from Provence. Soon Janet will make this honeysuckle and Jasmine candle for me. Everyone has their own taste. What cologne or perfume we wear is important to us. When I smell Chanel #5, for example, I immediately think Peter is close to me. Janet’s candle will be another delightful treat to keep Peter and me together. How wonderful life is when we’re so often surprised by joy and then we have the bonus of being able to anticipate a future joy. Janet surprised me with a tiny votive, “a sample,” just a tease. Soon my candle will arrive, now this is cause for celebration.

Let’s all light a candle to celebrate Peter’s 95th birthday on March 15th. I laugh when I realize I’m 75, because Peter never in his wildest dreams envisioned living to be 92 1/2, nor my growing older. Even though I was 73 when he died, our ages crept up on him and we always felt young and playful at heart.

Let me thank you again for reminding me how glad you are to have known Peter and to have read some of his books. I’m looking forward to celebrating his birthday as I continue to celebrate my 75th year, always ready to light a candle in remembrance of his wisdom, devotion, and guidance. I love that his grace, magnanimity, and intellectual curiosity will continue to inspire each of us to live by his example. For some of you who unfortunately never met Peter except through stories of others, I will assure you your knowledge of his extraordinary character will shine through in my writing. There’s no way to hide Peter’s excellence, and time enhances the memories and expands the multiple meanings of his words and gracious actions.

I love you Peter. You are my hero. You lived a most beautiful life and died loving life right up to your last breath. While we now communicate without words, I continuously get signals. You were to many, “the bird man.” You could make amazing bird sounds and would bring a red cardinal into our backyard. Whenever I hear their tweet tweet I feel your presence. There are always many rewards on all levels when we put our lives in better order. For me, all the slush piles of saved paper always invariably had some sweet loving message for me. You, right up to the end, were encouraging me to keep up my good work. You were, after all, my greatest supporter, the most devoted believer in my message. As I’ve been sorting through years of accumulated random notes and writing, it’s all a necessary part of the whole. So many thoughts we shared and discussed at length are written down in cryptic fragments, short hand to trigger our memories at a later date.

Now is the later date and this is a rich inheritance, our shared philosophies, left for me as a gift to incorporate into my thoughts and work much the same way we shared our research over our years, of living in love together. Each of us lifted the other up. Higher and higher and higher we dared to expand our vision, and continued to be influenced by the people from all disciplines who believe they can help contribute to greater good for the greater amount of people.

I’ve gone out on a limb before and regretted it. A writer whose words were refined poetry, all the competing contrary points of view, all were compressed into what sounded too good to be true. At a spiritual conference this particular author gave Peter and me such a phony experience, I went away with a bad taste in my mouth, feeling cheated because I was so certain I was willing to risk my name, my reputation.

Peter and I believe His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a genuinely good person, and we’ve been in his presence over more than twenty years and have read dozens of his books. If you haven’t read any of his books, consider dipping your toe into his teachings and see what it does to your spirits. The Dalai Lama is a jolly old man, who is a force for all. We have been taught immeasurable wisdom and life insights that increase our joy in our relationships with others and our love of life.

You’ve heard a great deal about Aristotle over the years. Peter and I shared in our admiration of his teachings, the notes he left behind from teaching the brightest young minds in Athens at the time. The book I wrote about Aristotle is on a shelf in a manuscript box because my agent Carl didn’t feel it was the right book, at the right time. The fact that I’m not chomping at the bit to preach about ancient Greek wisdom in these highly immoral times in history is probably making him feel comfortable. I’m pausing on that topic, but the brilliance of his mind and the excellence of his teachings is so deeply embedded into every fiber of my being that I’m glad he, along with Carl and Peter, are guiding lights to me as I work on my book.

Happy March. I will enjoy celebrating Peter, and all our unforgettably meaningful memories, as well as celebrate my oldest daughter, Alexandra, who turns the big five-o the end of the month. Peter certainly was right when he said with a wink and a grin, “It’s later than you think.”

Together, let’s give each other energy to do our part to finish the good works that others, the heroes we admire, expect from us. I’m happy so many great people have set such a high bar. It’s inspiring indeed.

Great love to you,
Alexandra Stoddard

Love & Live Happy

Peter, my love, keep watching over me!

Peter, "still learning"

Elegance lives on in Oscar de la Renta postage stamps

Arms around me

Peter's grin makes me melt

I cannot look at a photo of Peter and his beautiful smile and not smile!

Our private grace!

To know Peter was to adore him

Happy birthday month Peter! We will all toast to you on March 15th!

The beauty of the peony

P.S. I love you

Grace Note

"The force of the truth is great, but the victory difficult. However, once you receive this victory, it can never be taken from you."
~ Arthur Schopenhauer