AUTHOR | SPEAKER | PHILOSOPHER | DESIGNER
Happy September! Peter and I always loved this month that holds our most treasured memories. We met in September, decided to marry twenty years later, and forty years and four months of living in love we held hands in bed Thursday, September 24th at 2:57 PM. Both of our daughters married in September – Brooke on her birthday. All of you have your own personal favorite memories of the first day of school, back to work after summer vacation, and that wondrous rustle of leaves as fall approaches with crisper air, and sweaters.
Before I continue, I’m writing you this letter early in August because I decided I didn’t want to delay your hearing from me. I can tell you about my sojourn to France in October. I’m excited to write you before I depart because I’m so inspired to be going.
Some of you may remember how one rotten apple can affect the whole basket. One mystery person – no name – no identification – wrote to tell me she would no longer read me because I flaunt my trips to France with Peter. I’d written that on his 90th birthday we both committed to going to our mutual happy place as often as we could while we could. As a result of her letter, mistakenly, I overreached and stopped telling you about our wondrous excursions for quite a few years. I’m liberated, many thanks to you and your encouragement. I want to share my happiness with you, as I have over many years. I hope you feel we’re together even though we are not in the same place. I think of you often, and am heartened by your warm words about our staying connected. If there is a natural disaster after I depart for my writer’s workshop, please understand. You may remember the disastrous hurricane Katrina that happened after I’d posted my newsletter early.
Before I flew to Paris, my dear friend Kerri and her youngest son Michael met me in Watch Hill, Rhode Island for supper at the Ocean House, on the windswept veranda looking down on the crashing waves on the beach. “Ah!” we were all soaking in the sheer feelings of “being.” It was there, at a round table, where Kerri’s husband Matt and Peter and I sipped sparkling rose’, soaking in the sea air, the breeze, and the awesome feeling of love and appreciation, one month before Peter died.
After Michael had the best cup of clam chowder ever, and we all shared a variety of tasty treats fresh from nearby farms to our table, the we went down the hill to watch the old white carousel and sat on a bench licking chocolate mocha and cookie dough ice cream in sugar cones before heading back to Stonington Village. Michael was four, thirteen years ago, when they first came to Stonington and we met.
Emily, a student at University of Rhode Island, a launch driver at Dodson’s Boat Yard, took us for a spin in the harbor at sunset, out to the breakwater. We were so captivated by the sheer magnificence of being on the water, surrounded by the rear view of the houses of Water Street, the town dock, the fishing boats and sailboats, we felt we were floating, literally and figuratively buoyed by the water. Matt is in the army serving in the Middle East, in the desert, in challenging heat and uncertainty. We carried Matt and Peter with us in our hearts as we glided through the pink-tinged water that inspired Claude Monet and the Impressionists. We plan a reunion at the cottage upon my return to celebrate Labor Day together in order to continue the rapture of being surrounded by the wondrous healing powers of water.
I’m totally immersed in the memories of my favorite heroes who collectively and uniquely shaped the trajectory of my life. “Men In My Life: A Love Story” is the most intimate, tender, exhilarating adventure I embrace with an open, humble heart. The six men I chose to write about are the people I looked up to and revere with reverence and awe. These men are magnanimous, have undeniable steadfast adherence to excellence in the soundness of their hearts, minds and souls. I want to look up to these exemplary characters who are reliable models for me to emulate.
Aristotle was born 2,226 years before I was, making him the beginning of my love story. Because this is improbable, I assure you, what he taught me is more alive today than ever. I was at a dinner at a neighbor’s house recently, discussing integrity. I found myself in harsh disagreement with the views “at table” that public servants, public life is none of our business. If someone chooses to enter the public stage, they have to understand the consequences of giving up their privacy. I’d clipped a cartoon from the New Yorker I didn’t find funny. “It’s not cheating if everybody does it.” You and I have a duty to stand up to our highest principles and values to never sell our souls. I understand we are all flawed, no one is perfect. I’m not expecting anyone to be a saint. I do choose to have faith in the triumph of truth, goodness, love, caring, kindness, and altruism over selfish narcissistic behavior. We cultivate noble habits by practicing doing the right thing at the right time to the right person to the right degree.
By thinking, feeling, and breathing in the greatness of the vital energy of the six men I write about in “Men In My Life: A Love Story,” I am being inspired to lift myself to a higher standard of excellence in my own thinking, words, and actions. Aristotle teaches us we are what we do every day. In honoring my heroes, teachers, and mentors, I feel inspired by their intimate presence in all my choices. What would Aristotle, Carl, Peter, John, Roger and the Dalai Lama do? I weigh my behavior with an acute consciousness of their moral compass, collectively influencing my happiness. I’m never alone. My favorite men will be close to my heart, with me at my muse, as I head off to my sojourn in France to write about them. Because of their example, I seek and find these inexplicably loving, caring connections with others whoever they are, wherever we meet. The highest form of knowing is through the gift of our intuition.
Trust your instinct. There are these superior people who come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Be guided by your heart. I received a call from the Inn at Stonington from Sue, a manager and friend, who has been there since they opened in 2001. A woman whose mother had given her Living A Beautiful Life thirty years ago, came to Stonington Village to celebrate her 56th birthday. When Sue told me her moving story that she and her mother became closer and closer discussing my books, right up until she died in March at 96, I was touched. Karen had read all of my books and columns, and read articles about me since she was twenty six. When she arrived for breakfast, I dashed 50 yards down Water Street and surprised her. Sue, Karen and I had happy tears running down our cheeks. These human connections are a powerful force in our lives: we must pay attention because they are not coincidences, they are meant to be. I teased Karen and told her how risky it is to meet an author, only to be disappointed to discover their writing is not an outgrowth of their character. I want my heroes to be proud of me; the way we succeed, is to not disappoint ourselves. Once we deeply understand our authentic true nature, we must trust our feelings. We are connected through invisible energy that speaks loud enough if we are mindfully paying attention.
Later that evening a friend arranged a magical mystery adventure with the woman who was responsible to book me for a segment on the Today Show to be interviewed, one-on-one, with Barbara Walters in 1974. For the past several decades, I’ve wanted to be able to thank Betsy for the opportunity to discuss my first published book Style For Living: How to Make Where You Live You. When I asked Betsy if she remembered me, she said yes. We’d met before I was invited to go on the show. My next question was loaded: Why did you choose to have me? She laughed, “Alexandra, that was my job; I was the booking agent!”
Happy September. I’m celebrating the fourth year after Peter’s death on the 25th at 2:57 PM. He is very much alive, more so than ever, so I know he is watching over me. Cheers to dear Peter!
Mark your calendars!!
Save the Date!!
Alexandra will be hosting a Happiness Retreat at the Inn at Stonington on November 7th and 8th, 2018!!(More details to follow.)
(See Event Page)
Love & Live Happy
Succulent tomatoes in season. Enjoy!
My precious gardenia (one of two)from an ancient plant
Peter's the Man!
Pierre in Muhl territory where I'm headed!
Peter is always in my heart, always watching over me.
My two favorites -- Peter and hydrangea!
Off to Paris for our wedding!
Peter always bought me flowers in Paris!
Kerry, Alexandra and Peter in front of a Muhl painting
Peter at Ralph's in Paris
Love & Live Happy
"Love me please; I love you. I can bear to be your friend."
~~ Edna St. Vincent Millery