My precious sister, Jenny, came smiling so broadly and bearing a present wrapped so beautifully that I knew something very, very special was at hand.  It was not my birthday, nor any kind of special occasion.  She announced it was one of those “just because” gifts she sometimes gives.  (She’s the world’s best gift giver anyway, a real truffle hound when it comes to searching out the very most wonderful things she can delight in sharing.)

It was a book called A Fine Romance:  Falling in Love with the English Countryside by Susan Branch.  Have I ever feasted my eyes on a more soul-satisfying book?  If so, I can’t remember when.  It is a travel journal, written in Ms. Branch’s own clear and charming hand-printing and chocked full of photographs, her beautiful and often whimsical art embellishments, delightful quotes, recipes, lists, directions, humor and the joyous outpourings of a deeply grateful heart.

One of her biggest thank-yous was expressed in this paragraph on page 205:

“I have to say, I’m so impressed with the generations of self-sufficient, hard-working, independent-minded, peace-loving, stone-house building, brick-laying, flower-planting, rock-wall-piling, river-walk making, lamb-raising, farm-managing, foot-path allowing, tiny-arched-bridge-constructing, cathedral-climbing, bell-ringing, hedge-planting, preservation-honoring, history-loving, gravestone-carving, tradition-keeping, luv-lee English people, land-stewards who decorated this beautiful country go gorgeously.  I’m glad I’m related to them!  I hope they know how truly heavenly it is.  If you are an English person reading this. . . THANK YOU a thousand times for not tearing it all down to build something new & for keeping the gardens alive & blooming long after the artists who made them are gone.  I can’t imagine how, when such things as indoor plumbing & electricity came into being, you managed to hold on to the character of these villages & towns while modernizing.  But thank you.  You didn’t tear down all these luscious hedgerows to widen the roads for cars, & believe it or not, with all my complaining, I’m so glad.  It’s perfect just the way it is.”

Somehow, in one paragraph she manages to sum up all the things I, too, so dearly love about England and the English people: this cherishing and sharing of lovely small details worth preserving, as well as their ability to deeply enjoy such satisfying traditions as afternoon tea and ancient pubs.

This book, by sharing and calling attention to these things, is one of the most joyful objects I have ever held in my hands!  I am grateful beyond the telling and giving thanks.

Wherever you are, and what ever you are doing, may I wish you a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING!







The more clearly you know who you really are, the more likely it becomes that you will be able to give humanity the gifts you brought into this world.

There are many ways you can gain this self-knowledge.  A few I have discovered are:

1. Enneagrams

2. Ayruvedic understanding of body type

3. The Myers-Briggs Personality Tests

4. The tests from What Color is your Parachute by Richard Bolles

Google these wonderful things and avail yourself of the insights they provide.

“It is very dangerous to go into eternity with possibilities which oneself prevented from becoming realities.  A possibility is a hint from God – – One must follow it.”

Soren Kierkegaard


Recently I made a journey with two relatives to Cherokee, North Carolina, where the remnant of the once proud Indian tribe has gathered.  We went in search of genealogical records that would prove that we have this particular blood line in our DNA, a heritage that each of us would proudly claim.

Gentle, peaceful and wise, they farmed and lived in harmony with nature in this beautiful and ancient land.  With their own alphabet and sacred customs, they were in most ways far more “civilized” than the political leaders who sent them away to Oklahoma on the infamous  “Trail of Tears.”

Back home, I came across a quote I had clipped several years ago because its message pertains to the natural way we learn and develop – – by following the trail of what we hold close in heart.  Here is the Cherokee quote:





As you may have noticed from the website (, we are committed to understanding and nurturing genius, which we believe is in all who have their five senses intact (and even in some with only three, such as Helen Keller.)  In most people, it is simply asleep, like software not yet activated.

What follows is possibly the best thing I have ever read about genius, and it comes from Patricia Polacco, a wonderful illustrator of many very fine children’s books:

“Genius is neither learned nor acquired.

It is knowing without experience.

It is risking without fear of failure.

It is perception without touch.

It is understanding without research.

It is certainty without proof.

It is ability without practice.

It is invention without limitations.

It is imagination without boundaries.

It is creativity without constraints.

It is…extraordinary intelligence!”