My name is Deborah DeLisi and this is my story of how picking up a small stone from the beach and writing three words on the back has changed the lives of many, including my own.
I live in San Diego, California, and in late 2014 I had the shock of my life when my 29 year old daughter, Kate, ended her life and her struggles with depression and Lyme Disease. She hid her depression well, and never spoke about ending her life. She had taken a large quantity of acetaminophen and organ failure resulted. There was no warning and no note. Her death was a shock and it took six long months for the initial shock to transform into a living in a reality I didn’t want. In a nanosecond, life became unimaginable and I was lost amongst the rubble of a full-on “Lifequake". The world no longer made any sense. To those who knew me, I seemed deeply grief-stricken and newly depressed, but inwardly, I was beyond devastated and lost alone in a land where my compass no longer worked.
I spent many months crying, walking the beach alone…with my head down, looking at the sand and the water at my feet. And crying, crying, crying. My salty tears created their own ocean of sorrow, blending with the waves and washing over the sand. With eyes lowered, I realized that the ocean was showing me something that looked both alive and dead at the same time: the stones. My beach had tens of thousands of stones that I never paid attention to…until now. I could relate to the stones easier than I could relate to people, and their perfections and imperfections drew me in. They were smooth and felt comforting in my hand.
I started picking them up and taking them home with me. I saw faces in the stones, and at night I would sit on my couch by my lamp, and find those faces on the Stones and draw them and bring each stone to life. I even gave them names, and created “birth certificates” for each one, and a story of who they were. I named them the “Stone People Tribe”. Friends I showed them to really liked them, and creating these “alive stone people" gave me a focus as I sat alone in my apartment, no television to entertain me.
Within several months I started selling some of the Stone People to make room for more stones in my very tiny apartment. At the same time, I started drawing on smaller stones as gift-tokens for a few friends and family members. I drew a heart on one side, and wrote “You are Loved” on the back of each one. They were lovely little stones that felt so at home in the palm of my hand. I enjoyed giving them away.
As I drew these hearts on the small stones, it occurred to me that my daughter Kate would have loved these. In my imagination I could see her face lighting up in a big smile, if only I could give her one. That thought, brightened my spirits, and I realized there are MANY people like Kate in this world. People who are having a down day, or struggling with fatigue or depression, job loss, the end of a relationship or loss of someone they loved. Maybe life isn’t giving them what they hoped for. Maybe a random kind act could make a difference in their day, their moment or their next step forward. I could feel Kate smiling with approval.
It was then that I decided to make more of these stones, and hide them in public places for strangers to find. I left them on park benches, fence posts, at the post office, in parking lots, in shopping carts, and on the beach where I originally found them. Hiding them was as much fun as making them! I didn’t sign the stones, and originally there was no message attached except for “You are Loved” written on the back of each one…a message from the universe to the finder. I felt more connected to life again as I created each stone, imagining that Kate (or someone like her) would be the one who found that stone, and in that moment, she would feel loved, and it would replace her despair with hope in something more magical. It would make her day. It would make her smile. She would feel loved by something larger than any one person.
As I posted photos of the stones I made on my personal Facebook page, friends would tell me, “Come hide these where I live so I can find one!” I said, “No, I can’t be everywhere, but I can teach YOU how to make them to hide where you live.” And so on July 4, 2015, about 10 months after losing Kate, I named my activity “The Abundant Love Project”, created a Facebook page, put up the instructions, and created notes for people to print and leave with each stone. People began making stones…and posting photos of the stones they found and stories of how they were touched by such kindness. A community of compassion and kindness was born, with love as the guiding force.
After being invited to speak at several large events (450-900 people) here in the US and in Israel, the project grew rapidly. We now have thousands participating in The Abundant Love Project. Stones have been hidden and found in the UK, Wales, Scotland, Canada, S. America, Alaska, all over the USA, Australia, Greece, Italy, France, Croatia, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Finland, India, Israel and many more countries.
I invite you to participate in The Abundant Love Project and reach out to others in a fun, creative and engaging way. We each have the power to make a difference by placing a small stone and creating a ripple of love that reaches many.
Mother of two beautiful daughters, one in heaven, one on earth
Founder of The Abundant Love Project
Deborah DeLisi Artist, Author, Teacher, Speaker - www.delisiart.com
Available through Amazon around the world
Lifequakes: The Journey Through Loss and Grief (The story that walks the journey from loss to love and the birth of The Abundant Love Project) https://www.amazon.com/Lifequakes-Journey-Through-Grief-Loss/dp/1515011453
I Will Find You Everywhere: A story of love, loss and learning to live again