Author of Madam, Have You Ever Really Been Happy? An Intimate Journey through Africa and Asia


“What shall I do today?” This was the urgent question my friend, Claudia, told me was her morning mantra during the twelve days she was in voluntary lockdown at her snow-captured home the last week of December. The gods allowed Whidbey Island a glorious Christmas, but couldn’t resist topping it off with something only skiers and snowboarders would relish.

I don’t live alone, and have a joyful cohousing community to make me feel alive, so my isolation was less draconian. But not Claudia’s. She found that she was chatting to herself, as if waiting for the men in the white coats to pay her a visit, and when she finally made it to the Goose Grocer for a quart of milk, she all but grabbed every stranger in sight, like a masked bandit frantically looking to share the spoken word. Then she circled around town and after a couple of days drinking coffee at the nearest bistro, went back home. I’m glad to report that all indicators point to a speedy recovery.

As for me, for the first two days I was in heaven! Back in Jersey, again, grooving on snowdrifts. But when I decided to venture out and visit with a friend a few miles away, who challenged me to rescue him after his car refused to tackle the roads, I realized that my car was a flop on hills as well, and I knew that I had no hope of getting help from Langley’s solitary snowplow. I, too, resigned myself to isolation for the duration.

So, it is with a great deal of awareness and compassion that I view my fellow-citizens. Whether you are suffering from an unspeakable natural disaster or an uptick in the endless Covid catastrophe, you are not alone. Keep your phone charged, plenty of reading material handy, and, finally, take this opportunity to cull through your storage locker or garage full of memorabilia, face what you have postponed for years, and make those hard decisions. Before you know it 2023 will be here.

Which brings me to the next subject. For those of you who read my December 30, 2020 blog post, you know that New Year’s Resolutions have been a longstanding obligation, if not an unpleasant thorn in my side. I can’t let another year go by without tending to them, agonizing about them, and telling them to get off my back and leave me the hell alone. Even after determining never to go near them again, here I am back on the old hamster wheel. Must I join New Year’s Resolutions Anonymous to kick the habit? How can I turn this liability into an asset once and for all, and die in the knowledge that my Karma will not be damaged if I don’t reach perfection? Haven’t I fulfilled my Protestant struggle of living life to the fullest in a resisting medium, knowing that the only way you coast is downhill? Have I forgotten that the year has only 365 days and you can fill them with only so much? Your thoughts and prayers will be gratefully accepted, and any suggestions to help me overcome this bothersome addiction will be seriously considered and wholeheartedly appreciated.

We celebrated Twelfth Night by walking a star made of luminaries, a tradition my daughter, Cary, and her friends have been doing since 1990. This year it was accompanied by a gentle snow. We do a star walk which for me is a walking meditation where you silently pass your fellow participants on your way to the next glowing star point, repeating the walk as many times as you wish. It is a fitting end to the Christmas season that also celebrates the return of the light. At the end we all gather to eat pieces of “bean cake”, which Cary has baked from a family recipe called Hobo Bread. It’s delicious, full of dried fruits and one bean, which some lucky participant will come upon, making him or her the king or queen for the year. Cary got the bean this year!






  1. jerene

    Thank you once again, Meg…for a good read and a good friend!

  2. Nancy Kovaleff

    I loved reading your post this morning! Happy New Year from Vermont!

    Nancy (EW’66)

  3. Tamara

    So Cary is Queen Bean….

  4. Sandie Miller

    A very good post. Thank you and Happy New Year!

© 2023 Meg Noble Peterson