Ask Alexandra – August 2001

Question #1:

Dear Alexandra,

A few years back, I seen you doing a special on the effects of population growth. Recently I found a site called Seeds of Simplicity that has your name listed. I am interested in these topics. Also, can you recommend any books on these subjects. I was not aware you were an actress, and a triathlete too. I admire the motivation and drive you have for your interest.

Take care,


Dear Tom,

The book that made me aware of the seriousness of human population growth was Paul & Anne Erlich’s 1968 book, “The Population Bomb”. I think if you read some of their more recent work you will learn a lot. What they write is heavy, but they write in a style that is easy to read (I hate books that are too didactic and dry).

Also, anything by Paul Hawken is wonderful on the issues of human overpopulation and how we are mismanaging our planet’s resources. In terms of consumption, once again Paul Hawken has written a lot on the subject, but my introduction to the issue was reading Alan Durning’s “How Much is Enough?” and then “Stuff”. You can contact his organization, Northwest Environment Watch at for his concise and easy-to-read books. I think I have read 5 of the books that group has put out and I highly recommend them.

Also, organizations like Seeds of Simplicity and Center for the New American Dream can recommend excellent books on consumption.

Thank you for being interested in these issues. For more summer reading ideas, look at the book recommendation section on this website!

Best wishes,


Question #2:


I have a problem, My two older children (12, 13) race road bicycles here in New England. They have both won a lot of thier age group races. My son is 13, my daughter is 12. My daughter Alyssa keeps trying to compare herself to her brother and now wants to quit riding because she is not as fast. We have always told all our kids that Cycling is about fun and fitness, and that if you finish that is success. With the media’s portrayal of unrealistic silicone filled

body types, we have used you, Wendy Ingraham, and Allison Dunlap among others as examples of realistic female athletes. We can’t convince Alyssa that she is a fine athlete and person.


Bill Crowther (Daughter Alyssa Crowther)

Dear Bill,

The following is a letter to your daughter:

Dear Alyssa,

Your dad tells me that you are really enjoy cycling and that you are also very good at it, but that you are frustrated that you don’t always win. I want to encourage you not to quit something because you are not coming in first in the races. There are other ways to measure success and the most important one is “Does it make you happy?” If you are doing something you enjoy, you can’t lose.

Here is a story that really taught me a lot:

When I was twelve, I was on the summer swim team. I was a very good swimmer, especially in breaststroke. There was only one girl, Whitney Perkins (I remember her name even 25 years later) who could beat me, and she was from a nearby town. I was determined to beat her when we swam against each other in the end-of-the-summer championships, so I trained extra hard. Not only did I go to swim practice, but I trained on my own for another hour each day. I swam across the lake in Connecticut where I grew up daily to gain stamina, and I sought advice from the lifeguards to perfect my stroke When the big race came, beating Whitney was important because of all the work I had put into it, and I was very nervous. We raced the 50 yard breastroke, and I lost by a hair. I was disappointed at first, but then I realized that what meant more to me was how fulfilling it was to really train hard for something. No one would ever know how hard I trained, but I knew and I was very proud of myself for that. Also, during my training swims I had felt really happy, because I really love to swim. Like my friend Jim Garfield says, “It is the joy of the journey that counts”.

I think that people who easily win are not as interesting as those who come in 6th, 7th or even last, race after race. I believe it takes more courage and shows more character to stick with something when there is little glory at the end. Those people are in it for the “joy of the journey” and the personal satisfaction of having done a little better than last time, and those are the folks I would prefer to have as my friends and neighbors.

In most of the triathlons and marathons I have done, I have finished in the bottom half of my age group, but I am always having as wonderful a time as the racers miles ahead of me, and I am as proud of myself when I finish as they are of themselves. Don’t give up on your cycling if you love the sport.

The rewards you get from training hard and doing your best are more valuable than any blue ribbon.

Take care,


Question #3:

Dear Alexandra,

I read that you had a childhood filled with horseback riding, swimming, reading and language study. Do you also have any musical talents? And also, who are your favorite muscians?

You are my favorite actress in the whole world!!!!

Bridget W.

Dear Bridget,

If you listen to me sing on the Baywatch CD, you will know I have no musical talent whatsoever! Music is not a huge part of my life, although I listen to country music in my car. Besides country music (I like Garth Brools, K.T. Oslin, Randy Travis, Lori Morgan among others), I like Joan Armatrading, Joan Baez, Jewel, Elton John, Jackson Brown, James Taylor, Holly Near etc. but I have only bought 2 CDs/tapes in the last 3 years, and we only have a boom box at home, not a fancy stereo system.

I admire musicians greatly and music has the power to change my mood and soften my heart, which is a wonderful thing.

Thank you for writing.


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