October 2006

Dear Friend

September has been a glorious month. We’ve experienced sunny, clear, crisp days in Stonington and New York. The Indian summer is a sweet bridge between the summer months and winter. I adore all seasons and consider it a blessing to have the changes, but I’m always caught short when Labor Day comes. Everyone is back to work, to school. Dark colors are worn, replacing the playfulness of beachwear.

One of the most meaningful times we had in September was going to Lake Forest, Illinois, where I spoke at the Lake Forest Hospital, Choose Health, Choose Happiness.

My oldest and dearest friend, Wendy de Foe Lane, is an Episcopalian minister in Lake Forest at the Church of the Holy Spirit. She arranged “high tea” at the church following a talk in the church the day after the wonderful hospital event. The tea was open to the public and free of charge, but a “love offering” was graciously accepted in baskets – more than $800 was raised! This grace and generosity of people we meet all over the country amazes me. Visiting with Wendy for five days in a row was a great treat and blessing to us. Wendy and her husband Chuck had a glorious dinner party in our honor so we were able to meet new friends and see their old friends in the comfort and atmosphere of their new home. We stayed over a few extra days in order to speak at a luncheon in Winnetka on September 11th. Flying on September 11th was a choice: our delay of a few hours was due to weather!

We had a wonderful visit to the cottage for dinner when my former publicist, Maggie Sivon, and her oldest and dearest friend since pre-school in Maryland came by on their way back to New York City from Cape Cod. Maggie was the best, most enthusiastic, most wonderful person to work with on my book Time Alive. In two words, Maggie is a super star. We spoke on the phone regularly and always shared laughter and joy. I told Maggie I was asked to speak in San Francisco on September 30th, the same date as the National Book Festival. I expressed my concern that I didn’t want to sign a contract to speak in California in the wild chance that I would be invited back to the National Book Festival. “Oh, Alexandra. I don’t know what to say. I don’t want you to be disappointed.” I said no to the lecture and crossed my toes and fingers for a miracle to happen. And it did! I’m off to the Library of Congress's black-tie gala with 52 other authors and guests from the White House and Library of Congress at the invitation of Laura Bush. Peter is not allowed to attend because it is strictly for the authors and Laura Bush’s guest list. But Saturday morning Peter has been invited to join me at the White House for breakfast before we go over to the National Mall for the festivities. Next month I’ll have pictures to share with you. I’m pinching myself that Time Alive has been selected in the Home & Family category, grateful so many friends will be there to cheer me along.

I’ve written about Kerri Kennedy before; her husband Matt is stationed in Iraq and she brought her children to spend some vacation time together after they’d been separated for a year. Kerri came to the May Happiness weekend and captured Peter on camera putting up a flag in front of the cottage standing on a child’s chair (one we brought in Bermuda).

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Frank Griswold, and his wife Phoebe had a birthday party at the Residence I designed nine years ago when Frank was consecrated. What a joyful evening we celebrated as he leaves his office and will move on to live in Chestnut Hill in Philadelphia where he will write three books! Phoebe’s mother is 92 and being near her will be a blessing.

Brooke and Anthony celebrated their second wedding anniversary on her 37th birthday. They were married in September here in Stonington Village so they came to where they were engaged and married. They stayed at the Inn at Stonington, where we have our Happiness Weekends. We had a sweet visit at the cottage, nostalgic about Brooke spending her last unmarried night with us, awakening to her birthday. We simply can’t believe these two years have flown by. We went to a favorite Chinese restaurant together in New York for a sentimental celebration after going to their apartment for a sip of champagne and some gifts for Anthony to open for his birthday. Two September birthdays …

Many people have written and called me to tell me they see Alexandra on television as a journalist pundit on Hard Ball MSNBC, Fox News, CNN and Tucker Carlson on MSNBC. We’re so proud of her in such turbulent times all over the world.

Alexandra and I have the same name and years ago when I wrote the back page column for McCall’s magazine and she was a journalist at the Washington Post, people confused us with each other. Alexandra’s middle name is Brandon, named after her father Brandon Stoddard, so she calls herself “AB” in her articles for the Hill Newspaper and when she appears as a political commentator on television.

Nicholas and Anna, our twin grandchildren, are enjoying kindergarten and turn five on October 5th. We will enjoy seeing them along with sweet Lily, now three, when we’re in Washington for the book fair. I told them I’ve dedicated my new book, Your Are Your Choices to Nicholas, Anna and Lily. They giggle and think it is so neat “Big Mommy” writes books. Every time we read a book together, we always look at the dedication page first.

Over twenty years ago I was on a tropical island that reminded me of an upside down gumdrop. I started writing a book, “Mrs. Higgensworth,” about a little old English artist who lived at the top of this enchanted island. She loves children and gives free art lessons to all the children she lures up the hill with colorful sweet gumdrops. Nicholas, Anna and Lily asked me if You Are Your Choices is a children’s book. When I said no, not really, they immediately asked me to write a children’s book for them. We’re having a wondrous time. Gumdrops are “gummy bears.” They adore Mrs. Higgensworth. But I can’t get sidetracked just now. I’m figuring out my new book and I do that best by writing.

Look for the new pretty cover of You Are Your Choices that Maggie is holding in our photograph. Notice the Roger Mühl painting of peachy pink tulips behind us!

Please plan to come to Stonington Village for our 7th Happiness Weekend. There are several rooms still available. The foliage will be perfect that weekend, October 27th, 28th and 29th. Call the Inn at Stonington for more information at 860.535.2000. Also think about coming to the Adams Inn in High Point, North Caroline on February 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Ask for Brittany at 336.882.3267 or visit their website at www.jhadamsinn.com. We’re having a seminar “Creating a Happy Home” as well as one on happiness. Come to our first Happiness Weekend in a new location!

Our pink beach roses have burst into another bloom. What an incredible gift of nature to have more than one blossoming season.

Happy fall. There will be some surprises – all good… Great love to you.

Love & Live Happy

You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life

Maggie and Alexandra in the cottage study

Julie on her birthday with daughter Harpa -- our lovely new friends.

Alexandra and Kerri Kennedy, in the kitchen at the cottage, are color cordinated!

Peter stands on a child's chair to put up the flag at the cottage.

Ahh! Another burst of summer blossoms!

Peter enjoying the beautiful new beach rose blossoms.

Skipper's Dock in Stonington Village

A favorite spot to hang out and watch glorious sunsets. Skiper's Dock is behind the Inn at Stonington.

October Happiness Weekend in Stonington Village, Connecticut

The elegant Inn at Stonington will host another Happiness Weekend with Alexandra on October 27th, 28th, and 29th, 2006. Please call 860.535.2000 to make your fall reservations!

Grace Note

"It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another, but above all, try something."
Franklin Delano Roosevelt