AUTHOR | SPEAKER | PHILOSOPHER | DESIGNER
Be My Valentine
January 2003 was an epiphany. Peter and I are out and about. He is walking without a cane and the surgeon took off his brace. Dr. Levine smiled at us and told us to live fully and have fun. We feel light as air.
We flew to Palm Desert, California, to visit our dear friend Phyllis Washington. I gave a slide presentation at her sublime decorative arts gallery after a surprising introduction. Phyllis got up, smiled and began to sing H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S, H-A-P-P-I-N-E-S-S. We all laughed and adored her insights. I showed my happiest rooms, spaces I love living in.
The desert had a rare storm with heavy rain, thunder and lightning while we ate a yummy breakfast out-of-doors under shelter in front of a roaring fire. The beauty of the mountains, the balmy air, the warmth of friendship felt delicious after our three healing months in our New York apartment. The warmth of the sun following the sudden rain, the light, the fragrance of flowers, the warmth of our lives moving on felt simply wonderful.
This first journey since Peter’s injury and surgery was a spa for our souls. Phyllis had a dinner party the night before we left where she had her lady guests tell about their lives for several minutes. Peter was the only man “at table” and gave a touching talk to end a perfect evening. The “happiness habit” evening proved something significant to me. When two or three or a dozen people get together to choose happiness, the conversation is so upbeat, so full of light and love. I fell blessed to be a cheerleader for all this positive life-sustaining, life-transcending, joyous time together.
Our visit to Oklahoma City last October was postponed until Peter was able to travel. We happily flew non-stop to help raise money for the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics. The OSSM Friends luncheon was a tremendous success. The talented volunteer committee did a superb job with arrangements and planning. The president of this fine school, Dr. Edna McDuffie Manning, wrote us that the necessary funding for the OSSM Friends Faculty Award was complete. The money will be put into an endowment fund where the proceeds will be used to supplement the salary of one of their faculty members.
OSSM goes statewide recruiting the brightest high school students in Oklahoma. If they pass rigorous tests, they come to Oklahoma City to a beautiful campus on full scholarships including room and board.
Dr. Manning asked me to come speak to the students before I went to the fund raiser luncheon. From experience, students have always been a challenging audience, often because they are there by force. I think also because so often speakers talk down to students. This group were all brilliant and responsive. It took about eight minutes before they were with me, before they were open to the message of happiness being a choice. Looking back, this was one of the happiest hours of my life. Our interchange was both stimulating and rewarding.
After my talk, a dozen or so students came to me asking for my autograph, asking if they could send me their poetry, inquiring whether one can be happy if they don’t believe in a higher power.
The gracious introduction at the luncheon by Dr. Manning set the tone for my talk. I realize more each day how happy it makes me to be in the presence of people where I talk about happiness being our choice, our responsibility, and our moral obligation. Only when we are happy are we able to freely serve the needs of others. This over-the-top day began by friends arranging for me to be on the television morning news. After the booksigning, following the luncheon, we went to the Full Circle bookstore and to my great delight, Dr. Manning had arranged for a busload of students to come as well, surprising me with joy. I was deeply touched. There, in a circle around a log fire, sipping cinnamon coffee, they shared their hopes and dreams for the future.
Because of this great school, the best and the brightest students are given the environment to focus, to challenge themselves, to be part of the solutions for the future in a troubled world. Thanks to Dr. Dorothy Dodd and Suzanne Donnolo who both took time from their personal schedules and provided the opportunity for these students to spend more time in interaction.
January is behind us all. Now we have the entire month of February to “Love & Live Happy.” Remember these words on the top of the enamel box? Choose Happiness. Be my Valentine. I love to send Valentine cards. I adore the Necco Sweethearts in pastel colors – “Love you,” “Love me,” “Be mine,” “Cutie Pie,” “Marry me,” “Star Dust,” “Kiss me,” “Be true.” Just as satisfying as a good fortune cookie, these heart-shaped candies make me smile as I see them in a dish.
My daughter, Alexandra, gave me a feng shui calendar for Christmas. I flopped ahead to February 18, “Color” – “Do use red hearts in the SW to enhance relationships, marriage, love, romance, and motherhood, or in the S to attract fame, fortune, long life, reputation, and prosperity.”
I am using this short month to think of love – love of life, love of my family, my friends, my readers, my writing. I am happily working away on two books. Writing about happiness increases my joy.
Happy February. Happy Valentine’s Day.
Love & Live Happy,
Suggested Reading for January
“Letters to a Young Poet” (Random House) by Rainer Maria Rilke.
A marvelous and insightful book. Translated and with a foreword by Stephen Mitchell.
A Note about Roger Muhl,
My Favorite Artist.
Many of you have expressed an interest in this great artist’s work. I’ve been collecting Muhl paintings for 42 years. If you are interested in becoming a proud owner, please let me know. The prices range from lithographs to oils. Fax me at (212) 996-4625. Tell me your price range (lithographs are $1,400 and oils are $6,000 to $36,000). This one artist has brought great joy to the lives of hundred of collectors.
Look for the grace in every act. The more you seek, the more light will shine on all you do.