My friend gave me a book I’ve loved and I knew she would want another friend to read. I called and inquired who this book might be sent to. I’ve learned that what we give up when we are caring and loving is what we receive. Rather than a book sitting on a crowded shelf, taking up precious real estate in the library that I’m determined to put in good order, I’m regifting. I write a note in the endpapers, put in a ribbon bookmark and gift wrap it with the prettiest flowered wrapping papers from Grace Your Home, a local shop a few blocks down on Water Street. I wrap a festive ribbon around the package and off it goes as a complete surprise to a like-spirited friend I’ve never met. This exercise takes time. Hurry never.
When I go to the post office and send the present off, I feel I’m part of a loving kindness energy that feeds my soul, as it will the person who will receive the package and savor reading the book. I intend to touch every book in the library and hope my book exchange will warm many hearts of all ages.
Voltaire gave us an important truth, a key to happiness, when he said, “Paradise is where I am.” We can expand the physical boundaries of our four walls when we continuously cultivate our own garden, our earthly home, as our private retreat. Now more than ever in our earthbound lives, it is important for us to love up our personal spaces.
As we move forward with shorter days of natural light, we can be sure we are using every window that brings us light and energy. Locate your best view where you live. Mine is on “three” facing the harbor. In the dead of winter, with the 72’’ fan window and an unrestricted view after the last leaves have left the trees, the desk facing the harbor will be an uplifting spot to climb up to indeed. From pre-dawn to sunrise to sunset, I try to follow all the light I can.
When Feeling at Home was published in 1999, as many of you recall, I invited you to write down the ten words that best describe your personality traits, to show who you are. When Brooke was living in Paris for a year after graduating from college, she did this exercise at a favorite café on the Left Bank and introduced the idea to Peter and me. Part One, “Self Attunement,” begins this book with wise advice from the German philosopher Goethe: “Connect our inner light to the external light of our environment.” I open the first chapter, “Defining Who You Are Now,” with Brooke’s beautifully authentic words: