JAN 2018

Dear Friends,

Happy, happy New Year!

I welcome 2018 with open arms and a heart full of love and gratitude. As a favorite song’s lyrics ring true, “Your Light Shines in My Heart.” I embrace fresh beginnings. I do not make resolutions in the new year. I do not suddenly choose to transform years of habits into some magical easy discipline. The new start is a clean slate; a fresh blank white canvas. Here, we have space to breath, in this clarity we can pay closer attention to our values and the principles that have guided us along our individual path, our evolving yearning to be, and become truly who we are meant to be.

I embrace this expansive opportunity to live in the light as the shortest day of the year is behind us, as we incrementally move toward the spring of rebirth and renewal. By lighting candles and decorating for the holidays we created an atmosphere of celebration and festive traditions that comfort us and heal us as we move into new stages in our brief life span. Just as we end our holiday activities, we have this new year to celebrate. This is not a one day event, but our chance to live every precious day we are alive. Our lives are made up of one meaningful moment after another. The more beautiful one’s present alive moments, the more exuberance we will experience in our day to day journey. Together, as a loving community of good people trying to live decent, caring lives, wanting to play our part in helping lift up the darkness and more to a higher plain of consciousness. The mistakes we’ve all made in the past were learning building blocks into our brighter, more knowing, committed present. Each of us can become specks of fairy dust in the universe, where we become a powerful force for good when we stick together and become unbroken.

We know better than to go along with those who have lost their way and have given up hope. This past year brought me such an abundance of happiness and insights about how I intend to spend the rest of my life; my enthusiasm and faith in good prevailing is high. It’s easy to become discouraged, especially if we are aware of the bad news, internationally, all the time. I’m aware of a great deal of pain and sorrow near and far, and the inequities that are so cruel and thoughtlessly unkind. But I’m equally conscious of the extraordinary generosity and good will of most people I come in contact with who inspire my higher angels. The holidays bring out the best in us as we experience the pure glee of squealing happy children. Being around children is a constant reminder of when we were young, and now that we are the adults who have responsibilitie that can keep us up at night, our challenges can help us focus our energies in more positive, constructive ways.

One simple reason I feel such joy as I begin 2018 is because I’ve freed myself of an internet troll. A young friend who is in his thirties who makes his living as a tech genius explained to me that there are masses of mean-spirited anonymous people who hide behind not revealing their personal identity and have no regard for the feelings they hurt. Apparently when I announced on my website that Peter and I were going to make our visits to Paris a priority when he was ninety—we intended to travel as long as we were able—I was informed I flaunted our trips to Paris with Peter and this person would never read me again.

In the scheme of things, one bad comment shouldn’t have upset my Zen, but obviously it did because this was almost six years ago. Why is it so human to focus more on what’s wrong than what’s right? The ludicrous thing is that I am so protected by a friend who does my website, she edits what comments I can see. What I do review makes me exceedingly grateful I write books, and through the power of the written word I can feel connected to an international group of people who have all their life experiences to share with a wide group of like-spirited people.

Even though Peter told me he’d meet me in Paris after he died, I hesitated and didn’t go for two years. I was calm. Peter made my promise I’d continue to do all the things we most loved to do together, and this is a great reassurance when I weave my nostalgic memories with my current life that I’m enjoying to the fullest.

Shortly after I send my ship out to sail – my 29th book I finally finished— to be read by my new literary agent, I had the excitement of a Happiness Retreat on my 76th birthday. Wow. The weather held for the 2 ½ magical days; when everyone left to return home the temperature dropped forty degrees. The window boxes brimming with hot pink geraniums instantly froze to death. I didn’t have time to bring them inside to cheer up the cottage in the winter months. Last fall they were saved, put in a greenhouse and plunked into the window boxes just before Memorial Day Weekend.

After visiting with friends, family and new friends, I flew back to Paris to resume “Writer’s Workshop,” a ritual Peter and I celebrated over all the years we were together, living in love. Pen, paper, books and time to write is often inspired by the spirit of place, and my escape to a city I cherish was inspiring.

A friend from Stonington Village lived in Paris as a college student. Both her French parents died within a week or two and Betsy went to their memorial service to spend time with her family. We had to choose between going to see Claude Monet’s private art collection, an exhibit for the first time, or go to the Louvre, to the Christian Dior exhibition because “living takes time,” as my mentor taught me. We didn’t want to rush. We went to the Marmitran Museum to savor Monet’s collections, and we were delighted to see such an intimate glimpse of many paintings of him when he was young, rendered tenderly by his artist friends. We walked through a charming park, landing at a famous café where our coffee was accompanied by a freshly baked madeleine. A few enchanted hours shared.

After retreating into my writing holiday, immediately upon my return in early December, Brooke informed me she had tickets for us to go to radio City Music Hall for the Christmas Spectacular. We went with dear friends to weep as we sang Christmas carols and watched the Rockettes kick up their heels in perfect unison. All six of us, three children and three adults, were on the edge of our seats, totally captivated by the magic and wonder. Both the familiar stories, and the uplifting excitement of the fast-paced wonder of the singing and dancing, swept us off our feet.

The next weekend Cooper was the head angel in the field at her school pageant. And then, after one night in my own bed, I was off to Chevy Chase to have a family reunion, including watching Nicholas in a basketball game. Back a few days later to New York City to track where Santa Clause was before coming to nibble on a sugar cookie Cooper baked, leaving her with Barbie dolls and all sorts of toys. On Christmas Eve we went to a French bistro for supper. Cooper announced that she lost all her patience. “I can’t wait another minute.” A mother-daughter dinner gathering at the next table saw her joy and felt the amazing energy and commented upon leaving how lucky we are. So, so true.

This year is going to be one of personal growth and renewal. The more I study, the more committed I am to continuing my happiness work, believing it is more important now than ever. The day I flew to Paris, a journalist I admire had written an article about me about Choosing Happiness over Sorrow. If you want to read Ann Baldelli’s beautiful piece in “The Day” newspaper that appeared on Thanksgiving day, please know that Ann captured my reality. Her words ring true. You will know more about the process of my growing through the changes in my life in the years leading up to Carl’s death, and then to Peter’s death, and my acceptance.

Common sense helps us to reason with reality. When we focus on what’s possible, and not on what’s impossible, we’re better able to be reasonable about how we respond to circumstances that are beyond our ability to change. There is nothing useful in pining away for something to be wishful thinking rather than real. I’m a hopeless romantic, believing love is the most powerful force for good. The fact that all of us who are alive will die should in no way diminish our devotion to loves ones who will die before we do. Peter was not at all afraid of death, believing in loving one world at a time. Life’s biggest mysteries cannot be definitively proven. Rather than wishing a loved one were not dead, when we give our all to someone we love, when it is their time to die, we can be humbly grateful we were able to love the person for the fleeting period of time we did.

I feel closer to Peter the more I think of him and keep the memories of our extraordinary years we shared. By making the most of what we have available to us and paying the least attention to the aspects of our lives we are denied, we will not only be well adjusted, but we can live without regrets. Rather than being totally blindsided by events that could occur at any moment, we should prepare ourselves for life’s inevitable challenges. Peter certainly was prescient when he said, “there will be a lot of surprises” in the unlikely possibility of our deciding to marry.

Our mutual dear friend and spiritual advisor John Bowen Coburn who married us, counseled us before our wedding. One of his mottos “you never know” rings true as we are living in times of great uncertainty. The wisest choice we can make as we enter 2018 is to commit ourselves to living more mindfully, paying careful attention to our mood and thoughts. By training our brain to use our energy positively, we avoid discouragement and sadness. I’ve never felt more strongly that pain is inevitable, but suffering is a choice. We must learn that everything that lives is in constant flux. Everything is alive for a period of time and is impermanent. By contemplation of all the good we can do in every stage of our lives, we won’t long for the good old days because they are now part of us in memory and consciousness. We are continually evolving into our higher being. The transition from 2017 to 2018 is symbolic as well as real. For many, 2017 seemed like it lasted hundreds of years; for others, it flew by. I’m optimistic about the new year. I’m looking forward to embracing the surprises and meeting the challenges as opportunities to learn and improve my ability to live centered in the moment, treasuring all the beauty, goodness and truth that will make us free.

Thank all of you who have reached out to me in loving ways this past year. Always remember we are not alone. We are here to lift each other up, to encourage, to inspire and live life to the fullest.

I am enthusiastically looking forward to my evening event, Wednesday February 28th at the La Grua Center, “Living in Love.” I hope many of you will be able to come in person to experience the fun together as a community. Love never dies. Peter will be present in spirit-energy, watching over us as we carry on the work the generations before us began. I’m deeply grateful to each of you for being such a life-affirming, positive, powerful force for good in my life. I’m looking forward to continuing to research happiness, and working on “Book 30,” (a working title), and staying in touch with you.

Happy New Year!

Great love to you.
Alexandra Stoddard

Love & Live Happy

Bank Square Books and La Grua Center present an evening with Alexandra Stoddard, who will discuss the concept of Living in Love. Alexandra's Living in Love presentation will take place at La Grua Center, and general admission is a $20 donation to La Grua. Books will be available for purchase through Bank Square Books. VIP tickets are also available, which include admission to the La Grua Center presentation plus a three-course dinner at Breakwater following the talk and a copy of one of Alexandra's books. These tickets are limited and cost $99.

The intimate Living in Love dinner will begin at Breakwater at 8 p.m., after Alexandra's presentation. This dinner will feature three courses plus a complimentary drink, and will include a copy of one of Alexandra's books: Choosing Happiness; Happiness for Two; or You Are Your Choices. You can select your book when purchasing a ticket.

Cozy for two

A stack of Alexandra's books

Kerri and Alexandra celebrating Peter with my wedding ring at Engine Room

Kerri's photograph "in the deep of winter" spring!

The perfection of each unique snowflake

Dashing Peter ...

Laurie and Alexandra at Waterfront Cafe at the beginning of the Happiness Retreat

Ann and Roger with Alexandra

Perfect reading while sitting by a cozy fire during these cold months.

Memories of Peter in the snow!

Grace Note

" I wish you all the joy that you can wish."

~~ Shakespeare