June 2021

Dear Friends,

I love you!

This month’s newsletter is a bit different than usual, because my literary assistant Elissa gave birth to a baby boy! She is taking some time off to care for her new baby, and for the next three months—June, July and August—I will share some previously unpublished essays from my collection Choosing Beauty. Elissa will also not be monitoring my emails during this time, so if you’d like to reach me, please write to me at:

Alexandra Stoddard
87 Water Street
Stonington, CT 06378

I will see you again in September for my usual newsletter!

Love & Live Happy,

You're Invited!

On June 7, I am delighted to be a featured speaker at an online virtual summit called Living Essentially Strong—Cultivating a Lifestyle of Self-Care and Ultimate Joy. This event will be hosted by Christina Arnold, a Joy Life Coach and a regional director with Joy Coaching America from Orange County, California. Christina and I will discuss the rituals I use to support my health, happiness and overall well-being. 

Click this link for more information and to register for the discussion! We hope to see you there!

“With all your science can you tell how … light comes into the soul?”
—Henry David Thoreau

The peonies are enjoying the prayer bench.


One of the 54 books my aunt had shipped to me in New Hampshire when I was a camp counselor, before she took me around the world, was by Albert Schweitzer—The Search for Meaning. He wrote about a disease in Central Africa called sleeping sickness: “The most serious danger of this illness is it coming in and catching people unaware. There is also a sleeping sickness of the soul.” This is when we don’t nourish and support all the values that cultivate our character and encourage our excellence. Our soul is longing to see beauty and find meaning in life-affirming actions and a sense of hope and enthusiasm for the original ways we can express our deeper purpose and place in the world.

Ignoring the essential needs of the soul is contrary to everything we are searching for in our perplexing material age.

Our soul animates our thoughts and actions. It guides and awakens us to our truth and our inner light. Choose beauty. Close your eyes to see a rose in full flower. Value the vital necessity of being alone to reflect, to study, to meditate and wonder.

“Whenever we find even the slightest sign of indifference, or the moment you become aware of a loss of seriousness, of longing, of enthusiasm and zest, take it as a warning. You should realize your soul suffers if you live superficially.”
—Dr. Albert Schweitzer

There is an expression in the plant world called “soul-blindness.” Whenever we humans neglect plants, they not only can’t grow and expand in size and health, but they die. We are responsible for their death. It seems frightening to us to neglect to care for our dog, our cat, or our child. I suffer when a plant in my care dies. When we widen the lens of our perspective, it should be astonishing the way we abuse the sky, our oceans, forests, and cities, as well as the varied species that suffer from climate change. This is due to human greed, blindness and sleeping sickness, and the brutalization of nature.

We need to consider soul-blindness in all aspects of our lives. Soul-blindness is spreading to humans at an alarming rate. We have to awaken from our bad dream.

Whenever we put on blinders, denying our soul’s life, we are also in denial of the divine soul in our human nature. The way to tap into the most authentic, all-knowing power within us is to acknowledge the unity of hearts. Love is a stream of light that flows throughout all of us and unifies all into one. Your heart and mine meet in the “Over-Soul,” as Emerson described it. One becomes all, as all become one.

In Emerson's Words

“The soul is the perceiver and revealer of truth. We know when we see it.”

“The individual soul always mingles with the universal soul.”

“The soul’s communication of truth is the highest event in nature.”

“The soul enlightens man … it takes him to himself.”

“Ineffable is the union of man and God in every act of the soul.”

“We know better than we do. We do not yet possess ourselves and we know at the same time we are much more.”

Peonies, by Pierre Auguste Renoir.

The soul is what connects us. We are together in the spirit realm that is energetically active in each one of us. We are spiritual beings temporarily in a physical body. The soul is infinitely mysterious but at the same time can be understood: Your soul and my soul are both higher expressions of our individuality. We have an obligation to honor the privilege of being awake to the divine consciousness within us, with free will. I choose beauty as my most intuitive connection with my soul’s journey.

At my workshops, I’ve asked hundreds of people if they believe in the soul, and I’m amazed how confused they become. Many people have tuned out the soul because they don’t believe in its everlasting nature, only in its being present when we are alive. I hear lots of God-talk, never Soul-talk, or they simply believe the soul doesn’t exist.

Our soul is as individual as our DNA. We are as unique as every fragile, beautiful, fleeting snowflake that falls from the infinite sky. We learn by listening, opening our hearts to hear someone’s truth. Whenever we enter into a true dialogue, we each contribute to a deeper understanding of ourselves and how similar we are in our yearning. With trust, we enter and expand on our safe space of specific interconnection.

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

This communion of souls is a most stimulating, highly energetic, rare experience. People who live from their ego dimension believe they know. Treasure what you are capable of sharing with someone else who is on the same spirit-energy wavelength. Honor and hold sacred this union, grateful for the spiritual bond. Trust the mystery as well as the understanding of what you have unveiled.

When we have even one person with whom we can bare our pure, unvarnished, unmasked soul, we are moving forward on a path to greater enlightenment. Two souls letting go of self, feeling a part of their universal place of oneness.

The quality and good feelings of our immediate experiences teach us how true we are living our lives from a soulful realm.

As the great philosopher Socrates confessed that he knew nothing, when we recognize the greatness of the soul, we can be humble enough to admit that we will never know what we don’t know. If we can’t remember our past lives, it doesn’t mean we aren’t “old souls.” We are a temporary part of a continuum.

Look for Peter—he's among the roses!

We are spiritual and physical, meeting in different lives and places, learning from our soul and our connections to all those who have entered into our lives since the beginning of the soul’s evolution. When we have little epiphanies, when we touch the highest ends of resonance within us, we will experience harmony, confident that our basic values and the principles we live by are our foundation.

If you love something, you take care of it. Before the pandemic, I went on vacation and left a ficus tree, four gardenia plants, white cyclamen, and pink geraniums that require attention in my absence. Tino, a friend who co-owns our local flower shop a few blocks away from where I live, has an amazing green thumb. He has a key to the cottage and does his magic while I’m away, caring for my plants and even putting an ice cube in my orchids.

I value my need to have something growing and beautiful where I spend my time. No exceptions. In Maryland, the hotel where I stay has been freshly renovated in a modern, sterile, minimalist style that doesn’t feed my soul. While I was there, I bought two small hearty white cyclamen and walked back to the hotel with a smile because I had accomplished my mission to be among nature and with things that grow in soil.

“Beauty is the gift of God.” —Aristotle

When we overcome our soul-blindness and wake up from a sleeping sickness of the soul, we will find enchanting, magnificent little soul’s grace notes to retrieve, revive, and renew our spiritual vision.

This alive place of the soul’s effervescent beauty awakens us to the mystical and magical.

Peter and me at a graduation celebration for my daughter Alexandra—a moment of celebration and pleasure.


Our soul thrives when we take appropriate pleasure in whatever we do. When I wrote Grace Notes: A Daily Meditation, I turned the word chores into grace notes. In order to maintain a richly rewarding, productive life, we will have to work hard and have the necessary discipline to become good at whatever we do.

One of the great gifts we can pass on to the next generation is how we take pleasure in and relish all aspects of our life. Whenever we do anything well, we will experience a pleasurable feeling in our soul. I love to do my own research because I’m always learning new insights.

Engage your soul when you do the dishes. My sink overlooks the garden. I use this ritual as a time of gratitude and reflection. I see the rainbow in the soap bubbles as I admire the hand-painted flowers on the pottery plate. When properly understood, this can be a grace-filled, useful experience. Whatever is helpful and necessary can be made more pleasurable when we turn it into a mindful teaching moment. Take pleasure in pausing to admire the beauty and sensuality of the small, ordinary activities that can engage the soul when we are not merely rushing through to get something done.  Being nostalgic, remembering where you discovered this pretty plate on a family trip to Portugal, brings a breath of beauty when you’re fully present.

“There is only one question: how to love this world.” —Mary Oliver

Tune in. Absorb the nuances. Let your daily life be an expansion of your soul’s yearnings. When I appreciate ironed linens, I love my ironing ritual. My ironing board becomes my sacred altar. I smooth out the wrinkles in my mind. When I want to show my love for a friend, I take pleasure in writing a handwritten note on handsome stationery, with a fountain pen and colored ink. By putting a striped ribbon around the neck of a blue water bottle, it becomes a special flower vase to leave with the note at their door.

Pleasure is always present when we’re choosing beauty, happiness, and love.

Dr. Samuel Johnson wisely reminded us, we are never hypocrites in our pleasures. Take joy in all you do, what you don’t choose to do, and always be mindful that whatever you do with your personal care and touch will bring you and others pleasure.


Accomplishing genuine simplicity is simple, but not easy. In order to live less stressful, less frustrating, less disappointing lives, we have to focus on the quality of our experiences. Einstein’s genius taught us simple, but not too simple. Be careful what you give up. You never know what will become useful or necessary.

Each of us learns from our own experiences, not secondhand from others. While there are lonely people who need more to do, most of us are “whelmed.” In order to get caught up, we have to give up sleep or leisure, both necessary for our overall wellness. Through trial and error, we learn how much we can stretch ourselves, without feeling hollow inside or getting sick because our immune system has become compromised.

The balance between doing and being is crucial.

“Nothing is more simple than greatness; indeed, to be simple is to be great.” —Emerson

Choosing Beauty is seeking the sweet spot in our soul’s quest for radical simplicity. We don’t have to give up what we love. Most of us have overly complex lives for all kinds of reasons, some of our choosing, and some that we accept, out of circumstance and necessity. Even if we feel we have to go to an event we don’t choose to attend, don’t let the few hours of obligation spill into and spoil the surrounding time.

Keep your communication with your soul in the center of your consciousness. Under your unique current circumstances, there are obvious and subtle ways to simplify your daily life without giving up your essential rituals and the celebrations we all depend on for our ability to thrive. Knowing what we need versus what we may want will help us find clarity.

Never continue to sell your soul short in your need to simplify. If you know you can only thrive when you are around fresh flowers, budget them into your groceries: food for the soul. Each of us can shed more light on our best way to simplify when we’re realistic about how we truly want to live, and the actions that can support our well-being and add to the beauty of our quality time. Choosing Beauty eliminates all the discord and negative energy. We simplify by eliminating all things that are not appropriate. That is radical simplicity.

Simplify. Simplify. Thoreau went to Walden Pond. When you know your ways, you will love simplicity. Pure, unadulterated simplicity is a balm to clarify our minds and hearts. What a gift.

Visualize my friend Candice with Amal on her trike!


Treating our body with reverence is our sacred duty. Each of us inherits a unique body that is our earthly home, housing our soul in this lifetime. The one person responsible for promoting and sustaining your radiant health potential is you.

Good health, body and soul, is sacred. While many people are born with a predisposition to abnormalities in their physiology or compromised immune systems, we all can take the reins to lead the way to well-being throughout the seasons of our lives. Your soul will help you maintain your discipline, focus, and resolve.

You know best. Pay attention to cause and effect, and be responsible for your well-being. Your body responds to the choices you make about your nutrition, the amount of exercise you require to increase your energy as you enhance your mood.

By communicating honestly with your soul, you can greatly improve your health spiritually and physically. Treat your body as your deity. Pay caring, tender attention to how you feel, to the textures of your emotions, to your attitude, your habits, and temperament. Caring for your body is caring for your soul.

“Every second of life is a miracle.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

Wellness is our greatest blessing. By treating our body and soul with reverence through sacred, private rituals, we will be in a continuing consciousness of healing. We have one body to care for and love throughout our life. By making the best of what we have, we will be at home in our earthly home. Our body and soul are one. Celebrate its sacredness.

“There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness and truth are absent.”
—Leo Tolstoy

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure, not this thing or that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”
—William Butler Yeats

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; but remember that what you now have was once among the things only hoped for.”

“Very little is needed to make a happy life.”
—Marcus Aurelius

“For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life.”
—William Blake