359: Author and Philosopher Alexandra Stoddard on Living Well, Sharing Her Wisdom of 81 years
Wednesday June 7, 2023

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Author and philosopher of contemporary living, Alexandra Stoddard has published 28 books since she began in 1974. Continuing to be a source of wisdom, inspiration and sharing through how she lives that curiosity and forever being a student of life elevates our lives regardless of age, she joins me in a special episode to talk about her life’s work.

Our conversation of more than 75 minutes covers a wide breadth of content that she has written about over the years, and it’s all grounded in how to live well, cultivating happiness and contentment, mindfully living in the present moment and how that daily practice changes for the better so much about all that we cannot control in daily life.

From discussing the importance of rituals, to living a life grounded in paying attention to what our senses observe as well as how one can have a happy death as she speaks fondly of her late husband to whom they shared a loving marriage for over 40 years, we talk about many of the topics that are fundamental components to living a simply luxurious life, a life of true contentment. I do hope you tune in and hear the enthusiasm and genuine love of life Alexandra Stoddard embodies and no doubt will inspire in listeners to do the same in their own lives.

Links from the episode:

Below are all 28 of Alexandra Stoddard’s books; you can also find them on Amazon:


Just a handful of Alexandra Stoddard’s many books that are in my personal library.

Explore all of the episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here, and subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts here.


~Explore all episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.

~Explore more Petit Plaisirs here.

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Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

37 thoughts on “359: Author and Philosopher Alexandra Stoddard on Living Well, Sharing Her Wisdom of 81 years

  1. I have been a fan of hers since the early 80’s. A lifestyle pioneer. Certain tips of hers, I have never forgotten and never since ignored. Why not buy pretty stamps. It costs no more and they are so much prettier.never bought a flag stamp since then.
    I hope she is still writing.
    500 Ways was printed in the 80’s. I don’t think you have them listed in the correct order.
    Thank you for reminding me of this gracious icon.

    1. Cara, thank you for stopping by. Yes, Living a Beautiful Life was published in 1988, that was shared during our conversation, but will be corrected in the show notes. Thank you for sharing how her teachings have influenced you.

    2. You are so right about the stamp, Cara. When I choose beautiful stationery to write to my penpals, the American flag stamp always looks so out of place. I need to make more of an effort to choose beauty in the smallest of things.
      Thank you for the reminder.

  2. When I discovered you, Shannon, I thought you must have known of Alexandra’s work. I picked up “Living a Beautiful life” the year it was published. It was so inspirational. Since then, I’ve read and reread all of her books. She helped me restart my life in a beautiful way. Then I discovered you. I’ve done the same with your books and writings. You are truly an inspiration as well. The two of you play a daily part in my wellbeing. Thank you so much! Sharon

    1. Sharon,

      To be even somewhat mentioned in the same breath with Alexandra Stoddard is a compliment beyond what my words could describe. Thank you for sharing and grateful for your interest. Alexandra is an inspiration.

  3. I have been so looking forward to this interview. Thank you, Shannon, for allowing so much time with this guest as she has so much wisdom to share, and listening to her makes one really think about the choices they are making. I love how she still views herself as a student at 81!
    The conversation the two of you had on how happiness is a choice we constantly make, while contentment is something we accumulate along our life’s journey really made an impression on me. Something we may endure can temporarily make us unhappy, however, a positive attitude in those times will give us contentment throughout our voyage.
    Although I have been recommended her books a few times, I have yet to read one. Choosing from all of these titles is a little overwhelming so I would appreciate any suggestions (from any of you) on which one to dive into first.
    And she is right…you are spreading happiness 😉

    1. Michelle, I think Living A Beautiful Life would be a fabulous introduction to Alexandra’s work. It was the very first one I read after I literally stumbled over it in a bookstore in the late ’80s. (Someone had left it on the floor of the store!)

      1. Thank you, Tess. That has been on my “to purchase” list for a couple of years now. I will take the plunge!

  4. What a wonderful chat, such a wide-ranging conversation! I’m lucky enough to be a friend of Alexandra’s, and, serendipitously, I was halfway through listening to the podcast when Alexandra herself called me; a beautiful a-ha moment of my interests colliding. Thank you, Shannon!

    1. How wonderful to have such a treasure of a soul in your life, thank you for sharing that tidbit, Amy.

  5. Shannon, this was such a wonderful episode! My enjoyment increased having the pleasure of listening to back to back episodes with Anna Murphy and Alexandra while spending time in Paris…I’m grateful for this perfect timing! If we can all be blessed to have an aunt Betty in our life, if not, be a Betty to ourselves. Such an excellent conversation Shannon, you have outdone yourself!

  6. I extended my morning walk just to keep listening to the podcast. I have been reading Alexandra Stoddard’s books for years. And, your style of interview was very adept and let the ideas of living fully shine through.

    1. Jasmina,

      That is very kind of you to say and it is a great compliment to hear what you have shared. Thank you for sharing. Alexandra was a wonderful guest I feel fortunate to have on the podcast. xo

  7. Shannon, when I reached the end of your podcast tonight, 9:10 PST, I so wanted to CALL you, and tell you how much I appreciated your graceful interview with my favorite lifestyle and philosophy writer! You asked such insightful questions, and more importantly, allowed her the time to in her own words, answer!

    I read her 1974 book that you referenced, and continued to follow her writings, and even read one of Peter Brown’s books. She answered a question I had on some Swedish enamel paint, and where to get it in the ‘80’s.

    You are both so perfectly simpatico in attitude and values. Merci.

    1. Joan,

      Thank you for your comment. And for sharing you read one of her husband’s books as well. 😌 So happy to hear you enjoyed the interview. Thank you for tuning in.

  8. Alexandra and I have been friends for years, based on our love of paintings by Roger Muhl. I had the pleasure of visiting she and a Peter many times, and she loves her books. Such a wise and wonderful person! Every one of her books is a joy.

  9. Shannon,
    Thank you for such a wonderful podcast. Thank you, too, for introducing me to Alexandra. I shall be reading her books now. What a beautiful human being. I do have similar elders around me in my life but she continues to affirm what we can achieve even as we grow older. Someone once said to me “we need to grow old to become wise”.

    Warm wishes,

    1. Thank you for tuning in Angela. So happy to hear you enjoyed the episode and will be exploring Alexandra’s books. As Alexandra herself said in the interview, simply because we grow old doesn’t mean we are wise. She shared wisdom well before being 81 years old and has been wise for decades. Choosing to be a learner, a student of life, is a choice, one that we have the option to make throughout our entire lives. Thank you again for stopping by. 🙂

      1. Absolutely! A rewarding choice but not always an easy journey, and a work in progress until the day we leave the planet.

    2. In gratitude! I loved every listening minute. You have made my day. I purchased Grace Notes. It’s a treasure. ~ Teresa

      1. Thank you for tuning in Teresa 🙂 So happy to hear you enjoyed Alexandra. I think you will like Grace Notes and many of her books. Wishing you a wonderful weekend and thank you for your comment.

    1. It is a choice you make to be so, and if you begin now to nourish the skills to do so, it will be. It isn’t something the happens but has already begun because of conscious choice. Thank you for tuning in.

  10. I, too, loved this interview. I listened to it in the car with my husband on our way to a mini vacation get away. It provided many conversation starters on different topics. Alexandra’s life philosophies have helped me throughout my life just as Shannon’s do now. I definitely live a life truer to myself with more confidence because of the two of you. I was happy to hear her speak so positively about how Peter had a good life and a good death which is rarely spoken about. Between Alexandra and Anna Murphy I have become more inspired to grow older with beauty and grace. Thank you Shannon for always presenting your thoughts with intelligence, beauty, kindness and humor.

  11. Shannon, your interview with Alexandra Stoddard was like hearing from an old friend. I first read Alexandra’s books in the 1980s. I was young woman in my twenties trying to determine the type of home and lifestyle I wanted to create for myself. Her words of wisdom helped shape my life in many beautiful ways. Thank you, Alexandra — and Shannon.

  12. Shannon, what a wonderfully uplifting, joyful, yet sobering interview. Thank you to you and to Pamela for the timely suggestion. Also, a quick thank you that you put up photos of your interviewees. It really adds to the experience to see their beautiful faces and picture them speaking to us!
    I was struck by her being an interior designer. That was my original chosen career, before life happened and took me another direction, but what struck me is how similar I felt regarding its goal and purpose. You truly must be genuinely interested in others to want to surround them with expressions and reflections of themselves. I had never thought of why I had wanted to be an interior designer before and really appreciated that perspective.
    This interview touched me in so many ways it’s hard to know where to begin. I want to work on daily rituals now, where I put my energy, how I cultivate happiness, what I offer to others vs what I would like to receive, how I view possessions, learning more and being curious, and last but not least…I want to put a humidifier in my bedroom!!
    I do have one question for you and anyone else that has a thought on it. I loved her phrase “The art of No leads to the Joy of Yes”. How do we say No to things we know/deeply suspect would bring us Joy but we’re just not up to it fully or simply don’t have the time. So many things to ponder, but this is one thing that I seem to struggle with. I don’t want to miss any bit of Joy!
    I also have to mention that I was deeply touched by her love story, how love does grow after death, becomes divine. I think often and very joyfully of my own dearly beloved husband that I lost and I’d never thought about how love can continue to grow. It doesn’t have to be the end of our love story. I’ll be forever grateful to her for this philosophy.

    1. To answer your question, I highly recommend reading her book Daring to Be Yourself as she answers this in detail. 🙂 Thank you for sharing how this interview spoke and resonated with you. I am so tickled you enjoyed it, and yes, something I began doing years ago and have brought it back living in Bend is using a humidifier in the bedroom at night. A skin booster! 🙂 Thank you again for listening and sharing.

  13. Dear Shannon,

    I can’t believe that you interviewed Alexandra Stoddard! . Since the 90’s, I began to not only purchase her books for myself, but gave them to others for birthdays, weddings, and get well wishes. I was inspired by her words. I still enjoy her monthly newsletter and remember her so beautifully writing about Peter. I had the opportunity to meet her at a book store in Lancaster, PA one evening–having a long line behind me I didn’t have much time to do much of an exchange. However, your interview was such a joy.

    Thank-you as always. Robin

  14. Thank you, thank you, Shannon for interviewing Alexandria Stoddard! I have read most all her books over many years. She has influenced my thoughts on cultivating a beautiful and comfortable home. I can hear the joy in her voice as she talked to you, and she clearly admires you! It has been a delight to read all the comments that other readers shared about Alexandra, and it validates that we are kindred spirits! xx Karen

  15. Bonjour Shannon,
    I finally listened to your interview with Alexandria Stoddard and I’m so glad I did. Based on your recommendation I picked up Living a Beautiful life and once I started it I was hooked. So after that I absolutely had to listen to your interview. I join the chorus of others who commend you for doing such a great interview. You totally let her beautiful soul shine through while being the attentive and ever present interviewer. I too want to read some of her other works. She’s a wise woman indeed and I understand why you are drawn to her.

    Hope you are enjoying a petite pause from French classes.
    A beintot,

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