Attitude of Gratitude

Since I was twelve, I have had a difficult relationship with my mother. Several years ago, I was preparing to embark on a trip to France with my friend, Cindy. I asked my mother what I could get for her in France -- chocolates, perfume -- she gave me a short list and then added, "And a heart shaped stone."


"When you're at Mont St. Michel, see if you can't find me a heart shaped stone."

And I did. We were walking along the causeway, just before the tide came in (this is before they added the slick, raised, paved causeway). I looked down and saw a heart-shaped stone.

I have made it one of my travel traditions to look for a heart-shaped stone for my Momma...even if we aren't speaking.

I have a nice little collection now.  

A dark greenish heart stone I found near castle ruins in Scotland.  

A heart shaped stone that appears to be a piece of masonry I found near a chateau in France.  

A smooth light gray heart stone plucked from the shores of my beloved Ireland...

I am grateful for this tradition because it helps me to stay connected to my mom in a simple, painless way. It also reminds me that no matter how far I travel, no matter how much I see and experience, I should remember to look for and value the "small" treasures life offers.

Looscaunagh Lough

Looscaunagh Lough is a little lake on the edge of Killarney National Park in Ireland.  I drove by it at least a dozen times during my stay in County Kerry.  For me, it was heaven on earth.  There were several abandoned cottages and I thought how simple and grand life would be if I could love in a little cottage besides Looscaunagh.  I imagine it's just a boring plot of land beside a wee lake to most Irishmen, but I thought it was as close to perfect as one could hope to find. It was just one of two places that I have been in this world where I felt I belonged.