You are invited!

A Healing, Well-Being & Peace Retreat at
The Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona,
also known as “the CASA.”
Friday, October 25 through Sunday, October, 27

Presented by cancer survivor and award-winning author, Charlene Costanzo, this experiential program will explore ways to tap into your inner strength, beauty, courage, compassion, hope, joy, talent, imagination, reverence, wisdom love, and faith in order to embrace life no matter what is happening in your personal world and in the whole world.

Recognizing the dignity and worth of all people is a significant part of The Twelve Gifts message and of this event. Each participate in this active, inspirational, and somewhat playful retreat will take home a personalized “tool kit,” used for daily inspiration and empowerment.

Fee: $135, commuter includes meals; with lodging, single, $250; double, $150 per person.
Pre-registration is required.

Franciscan Renewal Center 5802 East Lincoln Drive
Scottsdale, Arizona 85253

480.948.7460 phone
800.356.3247 toll free
All are welcome.
To register, visit or call 480.948.7460

Every CASA spiritual retreat includes options for single or double occupancy rooms with private bath; pool, spa, putting green; on-site dining; numerous outdoor amenities, including a desert walk and healing garden, and a variety of places to pause and reflect in a peaceful environment.


“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly our whole life would change.”~ Buddha

Imagine if we suddenly saw into the miracle of human beings as Thomas Merton did on a street corner in Louisville, Kentucky on March 18, 1958. We would be so awe-struck that we might laugh, cry out, fall down, or become numb. Surely, we would change the way we lived the rest of our days.

Our life would change if we saw clearly the miracle of a tree, a blade of grass, a bird, of light, of the air we breathe, of water.

Slowly, it is happening. Despite evidence to the contrary, we are waking up. We’re beginning to see less dimly. But why wait? Until we see clearly, let’s choose to live reverently and lovingly, as if we have seen.

With awe,


“To me, art is about arranging certain stuff, in a certain order, in a certain place, with a certain end in mind.” ~ Walter Hamady

Years ago, while walking along the beach on Sanibel Island, I came across this beach garden. While other families were making sand castles, one family had gathered beach debris and transformed it into their own unique expression of beach art.

We can all do that with the stuff of our lives – arrange it in a certain way to give it order and meaning and beauty – and make art. 

Let’s aim to look at things this way. How might I transform this? That? Make beauty? Make art? Make a difference? We are all meant to create.

With love and imagination,


“We can find common ground only by moving to higher ground.” ~ Jim Wallis

Recently, I’ve been posting the message “Let’s find COMMON GROUND. MIDDLE GROUND. HOLY GROUND. HIGHER GROUND” on various photos of feet: toddler feet, bare feet, booted feet. 

I had thought the natural progression from divisiveness to unity was from common ground, to middle ground, to a potent place where miracles can happen as we bring our minds and hearts to higher ground.

However, after coming upon this Jim Wallis quote and considering it, I realize that the very intention, the sincere aiming, to find common ground is done on higher ground. It starts there. 

Whether it’s a relationship renewal between two people or building unity among many…it begins when we have stepped up.

Once there, we move about seeking common ground and middle ground. It’s like a dance. We may at first step on each other’s toes. But if we stick it out, we’ll gain some grace and reach higher ground together. 

Higher ground is always near, nearer than we think. We can reach it anytime. We just have to choose to take the step up. That often takes putting ego aside. But it is so beautiful to dance, walk, talk, work, live – be – in peace and harmony with one another. It’s wise and healthy too. 

Higher ground. Let’s go there.

With love and hope,


“Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply by pouring out love. Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”   
– Sai Baba 

As you probably know, the number of mass shootings in the United States so far this year is more than one a day.

Something must be done. Many things must be done on many levels and from many angles.

One thing you and I can do is increase the level of love among us. Seriously. 

Yes, we must address rising stress, fear and hate, mental health, gun control, racism, injustice, wages…many issues. Absolutely. 

But let’s not dismiss or trivialize the power of love. And let’s not just think about this. Let’s act with love, choosing to love in every encounter, in every situation, with every person, every day.




Consider this image of us woven into one lace-like fabric.

The fabric that we are “consists of holes, but also of threads that tie us together, said Kayla Severson. “The more we embrace our fragility and shared sufferings, the more boundaries we overcome, until the light can’t help but pour on in.” 

Let’s recognize our common threads, embrace our shared sufferings, and acknowledge how basic human needs are woven within us.

Surely you’ve noticed at one time or another what happens when you are kind to a stranger.

I’ve noticed that feelings of connection happen whenever I treat a so-called “stranger” with respect, interest, and caring. I feel uplifted and the other person looks lifted. We smile at each other. Occasionally we hug. Sometimes we tear.

Can you imagine what would happen if millions of us acted kindly toward all the people with whom we share life on earth now?

Amazing changes would come about. Light and love will pour in. 

What are we waiting for?

Choosing love,


“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!