The best things in life are free

A few months ago, my dear friend and colleague from Madrid had a small box tied up with a ribbon delivered to my desk. It contained two beautiful stones resting calmly. A week before delivery of the gift, she had texted me a photo from a beach in Malaga with this message: “This stone made me think of you. It represents topics we've talked about, something so seemingly trivial but beautiful when you stop to appreciate it”.

There's something deeply special and touching about a gift that doesn't cost anything: Acknowledging that someone took a few moments to think of you in their time out in nature, and that they wanted to connect with you through sharing that beautiful object. Knowing that the stones on the photo were now with me made me feel warm inside, connected to my friend, and grounded.


Receiving this gift made me take a few moments to reflect on beauty in nature. I adore blue skies, dreamy sunsets, blossom, daisies, and all creatures -- and am fascinated that everything in nature has a purpose, a story, a history. Just leaving the confines of my seated world to breathe in some air or picking up a withered leaf from the ground and feeling its sensation in my hand can give me a sense of calm. And focusing on the colours and textures enables me to simply focus on the present, not the zillion thoughts buzzing around my mind. So spending time in nature is a short cut to serenity. I just don't do it enough.

In an age of information overload and “busyness”, we often forget how a truly personal touch, be it a handwritten letter, small gift, or random act of kindness, can make us feel. This special feeling takes me back to receiving letters from my sisters when they were at boarding school. It was so exciting to read their news in the absence of today's “real time” feed and just small things, like the patterns or animals on the writing paper made me feel happy inside. More than this, their words were gorgeous: “I can't wait to see you all again. I hope you are looking after mummy.”

Back to those stones…I left them in the box on my desk. Whenever I feel stressed, I open the box and connect with their positive energy by feeling their smooth texture and looking at their colours. My friend happens to be one of my “rocks”, one of those people who’s always there for me and inspires me.

I'll leave this with a Maya Angelou quote: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be kind always and get outside whenever possible.