Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rediscovering My Mentor for Living Beautifully

Photo Credit: My husband

Years ago, I discovered the life philosopher and author Alexandra Stoddard. It was the late 1990s and I was handling public relations for a group of interior designers hosting her as a speaker. To prepare my PR materials, I HAD to read her book Living a Beautiful Life: 500 Ways to Add Elegance, Order, Beauty and Joy to Every Day of Your Life (I know. It was a tough job, but someone had to do it.)

I adopted many of her suggestions in that book, and to this day, much of her advice has simply become part of the rhythm, rituals and flow of our family's household.

I was thinking about her the other day as I pulled a loved, but chipped dish down from my newly painted cabinets (she talks about loved, chipped dishes in her book). I idly wondered if she had written any more books over the last several years.

A quick Amazon search turned up a gold mine of her work. She's written sixteen books! Her work includes Choosing Happiness: Keys to a Joyful Life, Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life, You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life, Happiness For Two: 75 Secrets for Finding More Joy Together, Things Good Mothers Know: A Celebration and many others.

I immediately downloaded two of her books to my ipad and ignored my to-do list for much of the day to read them.


You Are Your Choices: 50 Ways to Live the Good Life reminded me to be more mindful of the things I read, watch and actively seek to occupy my mind. Real Housewives reruns may be entertaining, but wasting hours watching them is not the path to leading a meaningful life (my inner sloth says, "awww phooey!") Stoddards shares great wisdom about staying true to ourselves which is invaluable to me as I step a little deeper into the silent noise of social media. It can be easy to loose touch with what we really think and believe when we are constantly reading others' thoughts through endless posts, tweets and comments.

Things I Want My Daughters to Know: A Small Book About the Big Issues in Life is a beautiful gift to not only her daughters, but all women. She shares what it means to be a woman of poise, purpose and joy, adjectives I'd love to have associated with me although I know I miss the mark way too often. She provides practical tips for dealing gracefully with ourselves and others as well as a solid philosophy of seeking life's highest ideals.

I'm so grateful to her for sharing herself through her books. Her unique perspective on how important it is to live well, the courage living well demands and a vision for how that can look is more important now than at any other point in history.  Depth, mindfulness and creating sacred rituals are urgent touchstones in our fast-moving world driven by quick impressions.

I believe that books fall into our lives at the exact moment we need their wisdom. These books have hit my awareness at just the right time. I can't wait to read the rest of them. I'll write a post for other books of hers as soon as I ignore my responsibilities another day to read them!

You can learn more about Alexandra Stoddard and order her books at or

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