October 2008

Dear Friend

I hope September was a month of personal growth and character building. As a country we faced hurricanes, the Republican Presidential nominee John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, the financial crisis was dire, leading to a bailout, and the presidential debate went on, as scheduled, despite some backing and filling. A favorite Supreme Court judge of Peter’s, Judge Cardoza’s motto was, “The pretense of knowledge, where there is none, is fraud.” And, my spiritual guide and friend, Bishop John Bower Coburn’s recurring maxim is “You never know.” Socrates, the teacher of Plato, who was Aristotle’s teacher for twenty years, continuously asserted, “I know nothing!”

Anyone who feels dead sure about most anything could, in reality, be dead wrong. Each of us seem to have strong opinions about all the issues facing our country and the world. Many of my readers have opposite views from me about politics and religion. We agree to disagree. I’m glad we can continue to enlighten ourselves, to use sound judgment, and read and study in order to make intelligent, choices about our collective future.

Many of you watch or daughter A.B. Stoddard on television on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN as a reporter from The Hill News and as a political pundit. I look up to Alexandra’s wisdom and the way she is able to obtain the facts and in a balanced middle ground, be able to report the truth. These are fascinating times in our history and I’m optimistic each of us will seek and find the truth, and the truth will make us free. Stay tuned!

September brought some ideal sunny days with beautiful light, crisp fresh air, and the leaves on the tress beginning to turn red, orange, and yellow. My heart goes out to everyone who experienced damage to their home and property due to the hurricanes. One thing we know for sure about the weather, it can change within a few seconds, and often does, especially in New England.

Peter and I enjoyed a most productive September. His book Figure It Out is now being edited; we spend our days in the local library, Peter working on his book, and I spent a great deal of time answering questions of my long-time editor on my book Things Good Mothers Know. Ginger believes I’ve written an important book, and wanted to be sure I expressed myself with great clarity. My work was terribly meticulous and time consuming. I took the assignment to heart and gave it my total focus, hand delivering it to my publisher the day it was due to go back into production.

Now I am back full-time studying Aristotle. I’ve been reading a variety of different translators of his various treatises, and as my favorite nineteenth century essayist Emerson would say, “I’m still learning.” Aristotle’s writing style is systematic, well-organized and divided into appropriate subject-related sections: it is dry, dense, and dispassionate, at the same time, penetrating and insightful! I have added many useful volumes of his work to my Aristotle library and have never studied as hard as I am in order to feel and know I am grasping the meaning of his brilliant mind. His passion is all-consuming, deeply challenging and thrilling.

I spoke at the Academy of Design and Decorating at their annual educational conference to an audience of designers and teachers. It was great fun for me to be able to talk about the importance of excellence in design, in living with colors that uplift us, and the need for us to surround ourselves with beauty that brings greater harmony and happiness into our daily lives at home. As my former boss, mentor and close friend Eleanor McMillen Brown once said, “If you create beauty for yourself and others, you will live a long, healthy, happy life.” Mrs. Brown lived to be 100, five days shy of her 101st birthday. The beauty we surround ourselves with greatly influences our soul. I couldn’t have had a more meaningful experience.

Great good news came to me I want to share with you: Greece is going to publish Things I Want My Daughters to Know. This excites me tremendously, especially because of Aristotle. This contract came as a huge surprise and inspires me to hope that they will publish my book on Aristotle eventually.

Our grandchildren are coming to visit us at the Inn in early October. We will have fun celebrating the season with a visit to the magical toy store, where they get to pick out what they want and we’ll return to a cider mill we read about in Victoria Magazine. We’ll sip cider and munch on the cinnamon doughnuts, crunch in the fall foliage, and the twins and Lily will endlessly perform for us their Irish step dancing they’ve grown to love.

I will meet my new editor in early October. For all of you writers, you know how infinite the relationship is between author and editor. This is kind of an arranged partnership. After my former editor, Toni Sciarra, left my publisher, having worked on thirteen of my books, I will meet the woman who will edit my future books. Aristotle believes we all need good luck in order to live well. Pease wish me good luck! My fingers are crossed.

Have you seen the Quotable Cards Alexandra Stoddard “Always Remember Your Brilliance”? Friends who see it have send it to me. I enjoy sending it to family and friends for their birthdays. This quote is from Things I Want My Daughters to Know. I just learned that this wonderfully successful company has selected four new quotations from my book Time Alive. Let me share with you the quotes they picked:

There is no time to think small. Think big, expansive thoughts about your life and what you want to leave behind. Today is not an ordinary day. Today is rich with blessings and sweet with radiant love. Today is the first day of the rest of your time alive.
AS (page 6)

Choose happiness in your life style. Live authentically. Live by the trinity of what is true, good and beautiful. Aspire to achieve authentic excellence.
AS (page 72)

Slow down
Calm down
Don’t worry
Don’t hurry
Trust the process.
AS (page 142)

Onward and upward. There isn’t a dress rehearsal for your time alive. You are center stage. You are the star of your show.
AS (page 142)

Peter and I have spent lots of time in New York City, being tourists, and going to meetings, enjoying a change of scenery. The renovation on our Stonington cottage is progressing beautifully. In our mission to make the cottage safer, we are having a new staircase built with harder wood and deeper treads. Our wonderfully talented crew surprised us by setting up our writing desks in the downstairs study they call the “hide-away.” We have the thrilling experience of actually sitting down in our own house at our desks! It’s amazing how this step forward gives us enormous pleasure. We can’t spend much time there because of the fumes and sawdust, but after the crew leaves we usually go for a few minutes and breathe deeply, ah, this is our home!

The number one question asked us is, “When will the renovation be over?” This is not a question to be answered with any accuracy. The restoration of our cottage will be finished when the necessary work is done. In the meantime we are enjoying life to the fullest, we are finding joy in our work and in our relationships with others, and we feel richly blessed by great people, known and unknown to us, who let us know that we are making a difference in their lives. Happy October!

Great love to you.

Love & Live Happy

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.

Alexandra and special friends she's met over the years ....


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Grace Note

Happiness is activity of the soul in accordance with excellence.