Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Abundant Love Project, a guest blog

Greetings from Portland, team! I've been acclimating to my new surroundings, working hard on the new Arts research project, and in the process of getting my first article published! BUSY month, but you've been waiting so patiently for a new project... so, here it is!

Our guest blogger, Deb, does such a beautiful job of describing her project in her letter to you all, she hardly needs an introduction. I will say two things though:
  1. I discovered this incredibly loving project when a photo was posted on facebook of my tiny little cousin Lexi Joan making these creative acts of kindness. I thought, "THAT looks like an ITLT project— it's quick, creative, and so kind!" Lexi and I share a namesake, and seeing her at three-years-old do an activity similar in spirit to ones that I do across the country just reminded me how close our hearts live.
  2. If you don't have tissues on hand, you might want to grab some. Both talking with Deb online and now reading her letter, tears just flow down my cheeks, and I know I won't be alone in this. 


After you take a moment to read her story, I hope you find time with your loved ones to sit and make some of your own. Project details are at the bottom!
This is Lexi and the children who found her stones!


Hello My Friends at ITLT,

My name is Deb, I’m an artist. I was introduced to ITLT when one of my relatives was caring for Joan’s 3-year-old year niece, Lexi, and shared my Abundant Love Project with her.

Joan and I quickly realized we are both dedicated to making a difference in this world. Through small acts of compassionate kindness, one at a time, we believe that a few minutes spent doing something for someone can touch a persons heart forever.

Life can be an amazing, shiny, sparkling experience, yet, it can and does show us another side of being human that takes us through varying magnitudes of unforgiving darkness and loss. The challenge lies in getting through these harder times and that’s my inspiration behind starting the Abundant Love Project.

In September 2014, I had the terrifying shock of receiving a call that my 29-year old daughter Kate was in an ER in North Carolina while I was in Lisbon, Portugal, preparing to teach a workshop. Family members—including my daughter Sara—were able to get there faster than I could, but nothing could help me comprehend why she overdosed on Tylenol. Yes, she had depression, compounded by Lyme disease, but I’d visited her 3 weeks earlier and we had an amazing and fun time together. Her life was lining up and she was so positive and hopeful. I left there feeling that life was giving her the green light and a thumbs up. But it did not work out that way. Kate did not make it.

She passed away just before my plane landed. I arrived to shocking news that left me numb, knowing my world would ever be the same. After her memorial service I went back home to San Diego, where my days were spent crying, feeling hopeless, and crying even more. I live near a beach, and going to the ocean for daily walks and to cry behind my sunglasses was what kept me sane. On these walks, I’d find stones (my beach has stones, not seashells) and bring them home. Soon I painted imaginative faces on my stones, and brought them to life with names and personalities. Within several months, I started painting hearts on smaller stones… hearts that were for Kate. And on the back I wrote 3 words: “You are Loved.”

Each stone I made was for her. But she wasn’t here and my heart wanted to let her know how loved she was. I started anonymously leaving the heart-stones at the beach, on park benches, on fences, and in public places. Everywhere I left a stone, I imagined that Kate, or someone like her, would find it. Someone who needed a lift in their day, someone who would feel loved by something much larger than themselves. Someone who would smile when they found this little gift that was made by a stranger—especially for them— with a note attached that lets them know that they are loved. “Maybe it would help them,” I thought to myself. 


People liked my Facebook posts with photos of the stones, and wanted to find where I hid them. Since one person can’t be everywhere, I decided to make a Facebook community for people to join in and make and hide stones where they live. The Abundant Love Project was born on July 4, 2015, and the Facebook page tells how to make the stones and includes a sample note to leave with each stone and some of the paint pens that work really well on rocks. 



 


Five months later, there are 2,600 people in The Abundant Love Project community, and stones are touching people’s lives around the globe. The stories are coming in, on how finding a stone (or the stone finding YOU) came at just the right time, when someone was gloomy, just had their house burn down, and was experiencing loss and heartbreak. Sometimes the stones were found by people on their way to a wedding or on a romantic walk, and it was perfect too. The stones were working their magic. People were uplifted, and the photos and stories are touching hearts everywhere. What’s amazing is that the people making the stones are healing and finding purpose through knowing their small act of random kindness is reaching someone, somewhere. The stone-makers and stone-finders post photos and it’s gone global: from the US and Canada to the UK, Spain, Greece, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Israel, Australia, Singapore, Poland and more places each week.

A woman in Israel who started making stones in October wrote: 
“Hi thank you for creating this divine project. You are big inspire, and you really touched my heart. I collect stones from everywhere i go. When my friends was traveling around the world, simple stone was the gift that i asked for. More than that, i just love color, and live in a very happy colorful house. So, you took my favorite things, put them together… But the important thing of all. You create a simple fun way that people can show love to others. And we're missing that so much in Israel. For the people in Israel, it is difficult to us to believe. And its so sad but true. In every stone i make…I'm shifting my mind. In every color i add I'm shifting my heart. And when i give them away.. I give hope to others. So thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. God bless you with all the good that you create for others. I love you. Shirley”
She is an inspiration and it’s people like Shirley that make the stones that are making a difference in the world. The Abundant Love Project is an open project, requiring no membership, enrollment or registration. Just be open to anonymously sharing kindness and compassion to a stranger by making a stone and leaving it in a public place to make someone’s day. It’s also fun and rewarding to get to feel like Santa Claus each time you leave a stone somewhere for a new ‘keeper’ to find it. 




Visit The Abundant Love Project on facebook, spread the word, make some stones, and let’s see how far one small act of kindness can ripple around the world.

Love and Abundant Blessings to All,

Deb DeLisi

You can contact me at: info@delisiart.com or through the FB page

PS. Oh, and Joan’s niece Lexi who made some love stones… her stones were found by other little kids at a nearby playground, and it was adorably sweet and touching. A 3 year old sharing an act of kindness with other 3 year olds! Smiles all abound, especially from Kate in heaven.


MAKING YOUR ABUNDANT LOVE PROJECT STONES

As you create your stones, remember: it’s nice to visualize someone that you are making the stone for. Your stone will be imbued with a very loving energy when you add visualization to the process.

1) THE STONES:
Find or purchase some dark grey-black smooth stones. Amazon sells a variety of black river pebbles/stones, as do landscape and garden supply stores, and I've been told that a Dollar-type store may also sell them inexpensively. You’ll want the stones to be smaller than the palm of your hand but no so small that you can’t draw/write on them. I like stones that are approximately 2-3” in diameter. Smooth is important, and glossy stones are the easiest to draw on.

2) THE PAINT PENS:
It's best to use paint pens—not magic markers—that are waterproof, smear-proof, and permanent. Be careful not to get them on fabric. Here’s what I like and recommend, all are available on Amazon and in art supply stores:

• White Pen: Sakura Pen-touch, White/Blanco .7mm extra fine point
• Black Pen: Sharpie Oil-based Paint (NOT felt tip magic marker), extra fine point
• Gold & Silver Pens: Pilot brand, extra fine point.

There are photos of the supplies used in the facebook photo album. (All of these are pens have spring-loaded tips. If you’ve never used one before, you will have to get paper and push the tips down and hold it a few seconds, then release. Do this a few times until the paint starts flowing to the pen tip. Practice on paper a little before doing your first stone. Allow the pen to lightly glide on the stone’s surface, rather than pushing down on the tip. Compressing the tip will give you a puddle of ink that can’t be washed off. It’s permanent. The pens do need to be shaken a lot with the caps on. Be sure to let the ink dry before putting a 2nd ink on top of it.)

3) THE TECHNIQUE:
Feel free to browse the "Design Samples" album for ideas, but just get creative with your stones. When you're done, you can post your original designs to the sample facebook album to share with others! On the back of each stone always write the message: “You are Loved.” Since the purpose is that this is a gift from the universe, keep the identity of the love sender (you) anonymous.

4) HIDING THE STONE(S):
This is the most fun part! You get to feel like the Easter Bunny hiding eggs. Hide your stones in places that are public: parks, trails, park benches, on top of fence posts, in plant containers in public spaces, on low walls and railings…be creative! It’s advised that you do not leave stones in retail stores and shops. The reason is that someone may assume your stone is merchandise for sale, and they will not take it for fear of stealing. If you're hiding them in the United States, post photos of the stone(s) you create in our facebook album. Post the town and date… but not too many details!

5) FINDING THE STONES:
Attach a note that explains why they're receiving this stone:
“You have received this stone because YOU ARE LOVED! This is handmade just for you and is a gift from the universe, and so are you! I hope this bring a smile to your face today and carry you forward. If you’d like to know more about where this special stone came from or who made it, find The Abundant Love Project on Facebook. Feel free to post a photo you and your stone and where you found it, and your story.” Find examples of notes here

Where will you be participating from?
As always, tag us @itsthelittlethingsdotme and #TeamITLT 
so we can see your efforts!