December 2007

Dear Friend

It is hard to believe it is December. We’re in the thick of the holiday season, perhaps the busiest time of the year. I hope this letter finds you well and in the spirit of love. Peter and I are thriving, grateful for the gift of family, friends, work we love, and living in Stonington Village full time.

Our Happiness Weekend November 2nd through the 4th at the Inn at Stonington was a moving experience for us all. This was our ninth time having an event here in Stonington. Friday night at the wine reception at the Inn there was the most extraordinary sunset I’ve ever seen. The entire sky was hot pink and the reflection on the water was an echo. We were all spellbound looking at this natural beauty. We were asked, “Do you often have such spectacular sunsets?” I immediately answered, “Yes,” because we do have the most amazing sunrises and sunsets in our village. This was certainly a wonderful beginning for our weekend together.

Saturday there were strong winds and heavy rain because of a hurricane coming up the New England coastline. We felt glad to take shelter in our cozy cottage in the morning. Several people have come to this Happiness Weekend before, but for those who saw our cottage for the first time, they made us feel so fortunate we live here now. Seeing the rooms where we spend our time through other people’s eyes is great fun. Peter enjoys taking guests around on informal tours, while I usually am in the kitchen serving refreshments.

We served hot cider from Clyde’s Cider Mill and Farm in Old Mystic, and I bought extra from the A&P incase we ran out. We did a blind tasting and everyone thought it tasted of the same delicious caramel flavor. Wouldn’t the grocery store be smart to buy the cider from Clyde’s Cider Mill? Peter read about the historic cider mill in the new Victoria magazine.

The happiness seminar at the Inn on Saturday afternoon was lively. We sat around a warm fire with heavy rain pouring down outside. Peter introduced me before my talk, and I found great pleasure in not referring to any notes this time, because if I forgot to say something, I could be reminded by Peter because he outlined what aspects of happiness I’d planned to cover. There were fascinating questions and comments. Bill, from San Antonio, asked me if I intended “to be happy every day of my life.” I answered yes. While no one had asked me that question before, my answer was genuine.

During a Happiness Weekend in High Point, North Carolina, at the Adam’s Inn last February, a dear friend Anthony was reading a book entitled Happiness: A Guide to Develop Life’s Most Important Skills by a Buddhist monk, Matthieu Ricard. Following that weekend I received a copy of the book in the mail. Ricard’s definition of happiness is “a deep sense of flourishing that arises from an exceptionally healthy mind.” In the end of this wise, wonderful book, there is “A Final Testimony,” where this compassionate man teaches us how to live up to our potential in order to not merely live but flourish, he writes: “I can honestly say that I am a happy man, just as I can say that I knew how to read or that I’m in good health. The sense of flourishing I now feel at every moment of my existence was constructed over time and in conditions conducive to understanding the causes of happiness and suffering.”

After an exceptionally intimate sharing of ourselves and happiness, rain pouring, we saw another magnificent sunset in the far distance over the water. The dinner party at Up River Café in Westerly, Rhode Island, was great fun in the same upstairs private dining room where our daughter Brooke had her rehearsal dinner three years ago. For our group, we had three long tables. Toasts flowed. There were tears of joy. A dear friend Kerri went around to everyone and had them write a birthday message on a sweet card. She presented the card to me, and as I read these tender messages, wiping a tear, the restaurant owner, Dan King, came in with cake and ice cream and candles, singing "Happy birthday." Another friend from Spokane, Washington, who had taken a train with her sister-in-law, was celebrating her birthday two days before mine, so we shared the cake and sang to Bobbie. Kerri’s husband Matt, a West Point Army helicopter pilot, was being honored in Washington on my birthday November 8th. We gave him a standing ovation at the dinner after a touching toast. Last year when he was serving in Iraq, Kerri came to a Happiness Weekend with her mother and sister. There was great joy in his presence among us. We called this dinner “our banquet,” ordering wonderful food from a delicious “Happiness Weekend” menu. Matt drove us home. Because of one-way streets, we couldn’t go home the same way as we came. Peter, seated in the co-pilot seat next to Matt, wanted Kerri and me to be quiet -- as we were joyfully visiting in the back seat. In his gentle wisdom Matt said, “Peter, don’t worry. I’ll get you there.” And, without a wrong move, in the deep black night, we were taken to our door by a real hero.

I’ve received a great many messages in response to my article in the premiere issue of Victoria. So many people inquired as to where they can purchase the marbleized boxes that were photographed in the article. The boxes came from Il Papiro in Florence, Italy, and also the same store in Manhattan, at 1021 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10021. The telephone number is 212-288-9330. Ask for Olga. Years ago when I had a newsletter, I sold their marbleized chipboards. I love our marbleized box collection and enjoy putting stamps and note paper in them.

I hope your Thanksgiving was filled with gratitude for all those loving souls who care deeply about your happiness and sense of fulfillment. Every once in a while I receive a letter that makes me grateful I’m a writer. We sometimes realize the power of one focused hour every day:

Dear Alexandra,
I have known for a long time that I am the only person who can make me happy.This past week I feel I have internalized this message. Within just one week of spending an hour a day on my passion as you suggested, I find myself singing in the car, waking up with more energy, and have dropped two pounds off the scale. Thank you for your wonderful insights, I will think of you as I continue on my path to becoming myself.
Love always, Paula

We are planning a writer’s get-away “Happiness Weekend” at the Inn at Stonington. The date will be determined soon. Please call the Inn at 860-535-2000 to put your name on the wait list. Also, please look to see where I will be speaking as part of my book tour. The schedule is being put together now.

I hope that you enjoy each day of this holiday season. I send a great deal of love to you.

Love & Live Happy

DO NOT MAIL THE ORDER FORM TO THE NEW YORK CITY ADDRSS. We are in the process of updating this information on the Printable Order Form. Thank you!

Have you taken photos at one of Alexandra's events that you'd like to share? If so, you can email them to AStoddardInc@aol.com. Please be sure to include the names of those in the photo and where and when it was taken! We will try to include them on the website in the future.


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Enlightenment Luncheon, Waterbury Country Club

Stephanie and Peter

Alexandra and Mrs. Connecticut, Lynette.

Peter, Peter, Alexandra and Sharon

Washington DC

Matt & Kerri Kennedy on a recent trip to Washington, DC, where he was honored as an operation Iraqi Freedom veteran.

Matt was serenaded with great patriotic music by the U.S.O. Liberty Belles!

Alexandra's new book will be in book stores on December 26th!

Grace Note

Try to spend one hour every day to get in touch with your essential nature.