October 2018

Mark your calendars!! Save the Date!!

Alexandra will be hosting a Happiness Retreat at the Inn at Stonington on November 7th and 8th, 2018!!(See Event Page)

Dear Friends,

I embrace October with you, and am eager to begin a new, fresh month. Please try to come be with me on October 13th, Saturday at Stone Acres Farm.

Before I begin, I want to remind you as I remind myself of a Sanskrit saying,” Participate with Joy in the Sorrows of the World.” This saying was Peter’s motto he wrote for his 35th class reunion at Yale when everyone was asked to submit a summary of their lives (so far!). Peter’s exuberance to tell his story could not be reduced to a few brief paragraphs. Peter’s selection of an ancient, well-known quotation happened to be the one I selected for the book I wrote “Joyful Living in the Real World.” Coincidence? Perhaps. I had no memory of Peter having selected these words to support his philosophy. Do you believe in coincidences? Who was it that said coincidences are God’s way for us to pay attention?

As a preamble to my newsletter to you, I am keeping in mind to “participate with joy in the sorrows of the world,” as I feel deep compassion for everyone who lived in the path of the latest hurricane, Florence. Having spent lots of time in the various communities that have extensive damage to homes, personal property and land, I’m sorry for the tragic loss of lives. Please understand that when any of us suffers, we all feel the pain. I send my love and heartfelt empathy and hope the healing process will fill you with appreciation from the outpouring of support and understanding.

In southeastern Connecticut, on the shoreline, the aftermath of Hurricane Florence was coming our way with heavy rain. Windows upstairs and down in the cottage were wide open to the refreshing breezes and warm air. I dashed out in bright sunshine to have a salad at our local Mexican restaurant after picking up the New York Times at Tom’s News. It didn’t occur to me to (a) close the windows, (b) put on a raincoat, (c) bring an umbrella, (d) put on rubber gardening shoes, or (e) bring a flash light. Wrong. Joyously enjoying a yummy salad of spinach, finely chopped cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, and avocado and cucumber slices while seated at the window, the sky fell. Blue sky turned pitch black. I couldn’t see well enough to even glance at the headlines. I calmly finished enjoying my salad and asked if by any chance they had an umbrella I could borrow. Milagro means miracle – I was blessed. Flash flooding reminded me when Peter and I were having dinner at a former restaurant location of Water Street Café, now directly across Water Street, when the water level (from the pouring rain) rose above the door level onto the floor. Walking home it became apparent the wind was too strong for the umbrella. My blue ballet shoes were under water. Had I been more cautious before leaving, I would have been singing and splashing happily in the deluge, however, I felt a need to get home to face the consequences of my indiscretion. Calmly I opened the front door to the cottage in the teeming downpour to discover the floors flooded with water from three open windows in the living room – pools of water on the desk and tables, upholstered chairs soaked. Upstairs was so much worse. My desk where I had been writing was sopping wet. The boom box directly under the west window had an inch of water in it with the Gregorian chant CD in water. I was standing in pools of water with bare feet, quietly assessing the scene. I closed the windows. Rather than crying, I thought of my friend Matt who is deployed in the Middle East, serving our country, and all those flooded in the hurricane, and I lit a candle to realize how fortunate I am. What happened to me could have been easily avoided. I brought this mess on myself.

In everyone’s life some rain must fall, and it will, whether we are prepared or not. The lesson I learned from my being so casual when the sun was shining brightly on my writing desk when I was working is to protect what I most treasure. This doesn’t mean be fearful, but reasonable. Rain was predicted. Heavy rain. Flash flood warnings. It was only a matter of time. My Girl Scout motto “be prepared” applies to all manner of things. I have no one to blame but myself and this blithe denial of probability was just plain dumb. I thought I could get away without a problem and was willing to take a risk.

I’m deeply unsettled and struggling with the tribal politics we are facing in our great country now. I know that many of you have different political and religious views than I do, and each of us can hear people under oath tell the truth, and somehow logic tells us that one of the two people telling their story is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth and the other person is lying. In the book Joyful Living in the Real World” that is not being published currently, is relevant to so many issues we are all facing now. One of my essays in that book is about truth, and my new literary agent especially likes that essay and believes it is deeply relevant today. While I am putting all my focus and energy into “Men In My Life,” truth is central to the character of the six men I chose to honor and the most vitally important moral imperative to me. If I’m living with you in a “post-truth: era, I will not accept this reality without hope for reform and transformation. I am a student of truth and hope you will continue to share your views with me in order to educate me, and, as so many of you have, to inspire me.

The storm inside my house is a metaphor that we own our life’s consequences. There are causes and effects. Things happen. I want to be able to live by the truth that when we do our best, we can leave the rest. We can be motivated by all the right reasons to do the right thing, and have good intentions, but often neglect and fail to act according to our best judgment. Character is character, through and through. For all of you who are parents, you know that our children must own up to their behaviors. Let us continue to set the best example.

Briefly, September was magical in all the ways I had control over. I celebrated Peter’s 4th anniversary of his death, with Amy and her team, who came to stay at the Inn at Stonington go to a Sustainability conference. I spoke about sustainable happiness. As we work to reduce food waste, we must also recommit ourselves to open our hearts and minds to be more receptive to learn the truth, even if it is inconvenient or painful or raw. We can all speak up, and enter into meaningful conversations with people of all stripes. When I hear people don’t have heroes, they don’t dream anymore, and they’re discouraged (another powerful essay in the same book), I realize how vitally important it is to be true to our higher nature.

I send you great love this new month of October. I plan to see some of you October 13th, Saturday, when we can spend a beautiful, meaningful, memorable day together. Please come if you can to a day at Stone Acres Farm in Stonington for Recipes For Happiness. I look forward to seeing you and friends there.

Love & Live Happy

Happy times

My two loves, Peter and hydrangea

A Peter Megargee Brown masterpiece, "August Seascape"

Peter, a happy sailor

Peter is always in my heart, always watching over me.

My two favorites -- Peter and hydrangea!

Alexandra and friends at the Compass Group Sustainability Stakeholders Meeting at the The Inn at Stonington, September 24th

A photo taken at the Inn at Stonington during Alexandra's Wellness & Sustainability event. More photos to follow next month!

A sweet note Alexandra left for Lisa at the recent Wellness & Sustainability event in Stonington

Love & Live Happy

Grace Note

"Truth is the prize."

~~ Alexandra Stoddard