“One of the first conditions of happiness is that the link between man and nature shall not be broken.” – Leo Tolstoy

Last month my husband, Frank, and I spent several weeks on Florida’s Sanibel Island. It’s a place where nature is respected and protected. In fact, nature preserves make up more than half of the tropical territory and buildings can be no taller than the tallest native tree.
We love that about Sanibel.

Besides feeling refreshed and nurtured by the island’s lush foliage, my joy was stirred by the sight of pelicans skimming over the sea, dolphins breaching, schools of tiny fish in tide-pools, and hundreds of live sand dollars nestled just below the surface in the sand bar.  While there, I took many nature photos and used them in my daily Today’s Touchstone messages. *

When our stay ended, Frank and I both felt reluctant to leave the low-key little island where nature dominates and return to central Florida where development is king.

But upon pulling into our driveway, we were welcomed by a few of the magestic sandhill cranes who visit us daily. These long legged birds always stir our joy and sometimes, our laughter. And I was reminded to focus on the positive, look for beauty, notice nature everywhere, and be grateful for the gifts that are always present. As I was writing this, a lovely female cardinal landed on the window sill right before my eyes and stayed awhile.

Wherever you are, take time to appreciate the beauty and wonder of some aspect of nature. Let the song of a bird or the sight of a butterfly or the scent of a flower nurture the joy in you. You know what stirs your joy.  Choose to focus on that. 

For health and happiness, let’s keep our link strong.

With love,

* If you wish to receive an inspirational message each morning to remind you about The Twelve Gifts in You, sign up for Today’s Touchstone in the box located at the upper right side of your screen, on my home page. Thank you for joining The Twelve Gifts Community!


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“A good garden may have some weeds.” ~ Thomas Fuller

What are weeds anyway?

They are “flowers too, once you get to know them,” said A.A. Milne.

According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, a weed is “a plant whose virtues have never been discovered.” 

Doug Larson said that, “a weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.”

Sometimes, like so-called weeds, there are things in our lives we don’t yet appreciate or love. 

And maybe some of those things have virtues and values we need to uncover. 

With love,


“O God, help me to believe the truth about myself – no matter how beautiful it is!” ~ Macrina Wiederkehr 


Were you surprised when you got to the word beautiful? I was. But maybe you were present and tuned in as you read today’s quote. So you tapped right in to the truth. We’re more likely to sense positive words ahead in sentences like this one when we’re reading mindfully. But, without mindfulness, old default words can spring up automatically, like a leg’s reflexive kick to a kneecap tap.

Please read it again:“O God, help me to believe the truth about myself – no matter how ___________ it is! How might your mind fill in the blank automatically? How does your heart’s wisdom fill it in? Repeat this little prayer several times throughout this day. Keep in it the word beautiful. 

As part of my new self-care plan, I will be saying this prayer once every day until February 14th. Please join me. We’ll check in with each other here on Valentine’s Day to see what we experienced.  Are you in? I hope so.    

Someday the truth of our beauty will seep into every thread of our knowing and fill every fiber of our being. Someday we’ll not only believe we have the gift of beauty, we’ll live it. And our deeds will indeed reflect the depth of the beauty in us.

With love and joy,



“Don’t forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do every day to lift the human spirit, things that are easy, things that are free, things you can do every day. Civility, respect, kindness, character.”  ~ Aaron Sorkin ​

I was sitting in a medical office waiting room yesterday. Every seat was taken except for two next to me. The room was still except for some impatient fidgeting. The front door opened, and an older couple entered just as I coughed. “Bless you,” the old man said, as he took the seat next to me.”Thank you,” I said. “I welcome the blessing, even though that wasn’t a sneeze.”The man laughed. and said, “Actually, I thought it was more of a cough than a sneeze. I’ve got a cough that sounds like a sneeze too.  Can’t get rid of it. That’s why I’m here.” He then coughed, either on purpose or coincidentally.

“Bless you,” I said. He and the woman chuckled. I saw another person smile.   

“Why don’t we say, ‘Bless you’ for coughs?” he said. “Why not say ‘Bless you’ for other things beside sneezing?”

“Why not?” I said. “We could say it like a ‘Hello.’ “”Right,” he said. 

“Bless you,” I said to his wife (I assumed she was) and to the people next to her. He said it to the people across the room. It felt kind of awkward. But it broke the ice, so to speak.  And we all came a little closer to feeling like friends instead of strangers. Little incidences like this are not going to change the world. Or might they? Imagine if every one of us every day did little kindnesses that are easy, fun, and free.

Will you try it today?