Heart-Shaped Rocks Find a New Home

Consider this my belated Valentine’s Day gift.

Once upon a time, almost 16 years ago, I started my collection of heart-shaped rocks. I should clarify that this was an unintentional collection, because in a way, it was as if the collection chose me. It’s easy for me to remember when the heart-shaped rocks entered my life, because they coincided with a new-found love who totally swept me off my feet.

At the time, I was convinced that the rocks and this new love were connected in a meant-to-be kind of way.  After all, here I’d gone my whole life without ever finding a heart-shaped rock, and then I meet this guy, and suddenly, I’m finding heart-shaped rocks everywhere.

I have a bad habit of reading meaning – mostly positive – into almost anything. Combine that with my being a big fan of metaphors, and I ended up projecting great importance onto my heart-shaped rocks.

 Rocks are hard, but hearts are soft, I reasoned. Plus, I’d suffered from a hard heart before (after Divorce No. 1), but then I found this “true” love, which seemed to relay the moral of the story that even the most hardened heart can eventually find love, especially when one least expects it. And don’t forget, hearts must be strong to withstand all the pain that accompanies love.

It was crazy. We’d go on walks on beaches or in the woods or even across a cracked-and-weedy parking lot and I’d find a heart-shaped rock. We bought a piece of land out in God’s country, and oh em gee, that ground was positively erupting with heart-shaped rocks.

Then I went and wrote about my heart-shaped rock obsession collection, back when I worked at the paper, and faster than you could say avalanche kindly readers were dropping heart-shaped rocks off for me at work. One guy even delivered chunks of heart-shaped asphalt.

Yes, you’re right. Normally it’s considered unethical for journalists to accept gifts (flowers and food seem a quasi-allowable loophole) but somehow, with rocks, they seemed OK to keep. I mean, I don’t know of any journalist who could be bought with rocks — unless we’re talking diamonds. )

I absolutely hate myself when I get off track. But as long as I’m this far afield, let me just do this little side mention of a song that song-writer (and anewscafe.com reader) *Erin Friedman shared with me back when I’d written that heart-shaped rock column. Friedman’s song was a rather dark little number about a woman scorned, a shattered pickup window, a dead guy inside the truck and a heart-shaped rock lying nearby. (I hope I have the story straight.) It’s a clever, chilling song, but I remember back then that it only served as a reminder of how lucky I was to have pure, joyful meanings to my heart-shaped rocks.


Anyway, so I had this heart-shaped rock collection, and it grew so large that my plan was to embed the rocks in a huge outdoor wood-fired pizza oven we’d planned to build in my outdoor kitchen.

I’ll just rip the bloody Band-aid off and get to the gaping wound part where the supposedly “true love” turned out to be totally false. The marriage ended badly. How badly? Well, one therapist friend observed that my marriage was one of the messiest, most complicated break-ups this therapist had ever witnessed, what with the triple-loser effect (opposite of a triple-gainer): I lost a charming husband, and a seductress who’d professed to be my dear friend. The philanderers were also my business partners.


Everybody wants to be renowned for something, but I can’t say I was thrilled to be noted as being one of the best examples of the worst marital break-ups in my therapist friend’s professional memory.

I fled God’s country, found a house down in the Garden Tract and got my heart-shaped rock collection back. The thing is, seeing that pile of heart-shaped rocks just depressed the hell out of me. Besides,  they seemed – I don’t know – haunted or tainted, or jinxed.

Even so, I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away. I sure didn’t want to give them away, because my slightly superstituous side wouldn’t want to curse a perfectly fine relationship with my bad juju rocks.

So I hauled my pile of heart-shaped rocks around to my back door until I could think of what to do with them.

The answer came about a month ago when a friend and I went for a walk on the Sacramento River Trail (the Benton Drive/Court Street side). About 1 mile in – maybe more – we spotted something I’d never noticed: a large labyrinth off the path, down a steep little walkway. This labyrinth was made almost entirely of rocks, most of which were probably taken from the nearby stream bed.

A sign on a tree near the trail identified the place at the Peace Labyrinth, and it welcomed people to come walk, meditate, pray and leave a rock.

 We walked down the incline, went to the center of the Peace Labyrinth and started walking, first in tight little circles, but eventually the paths widened out. Mostly, the path was lined with regular rocks, but it was also dotted liberally with special rocks with written messages, and decorated with trinkets and feathers and glass beads and tiny toys. There were pieces of paper tucked under some rocks, private messages, no doubt, like the paper under a rock that had the words, “R.I.P. Dad”. 

 While my friend and I were there we saw two young men who went down to the creek and hauled up some large boulders to include in the labyrinth. One of of the guys mentioned that his dog had died, and this was one way to honor and remember his pet.

 I noticed something else along the paths: lots of heart-shaped rocks, and hearts painted onto rocks. Hearts were everywhere. Apparently, I didn’t have the market cornered on the heart-shaped rock concept. 

I knew then that I’d found the perfect final resting place for my rock collection.  Like the guy whose dog died, my marriage had died, too. So bringing my heart-shaped rocks there would be an ideal way to memorialize my loss.

So that’s what I do now when I go to the river trail: I bring a couple of heart-shaped rocks to leave behind each time.

I realize that this may take a while, because my heart-shaped collection was so large.

But that’s fitting.  My love was large, too.


*Click here for a free download of Erin Friedman’s song, “Heart-Shaped Stones”.

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Deb Smiddy says:

    This is a great column and a fitting place/way to lay your heart-shaped rocks to rest. You can let others enjoy them and get some exercise and benefit from taking them to the river trail. Nicely done. (the writing and the resolution)


    • Deb, it means a lot to have your comment the first one out of the gate. You were the publisher of the paper when I worked there, during my hopeful-heart time.

      The paper hasn't been the same since you left.

      So much has transpired since those days. I hope life is good for you, too. 🙂

      • Avatar Vanessa says:

        Heart shaped rocks are a gift from your twin flame to try to guide you toward their love. From your story I think your twin flame was trying to intervene before you married someone that could end in hurt. Everyone is a twin flame. We usually take turns incarnating so one can watch over the other while having this dream life experience. The twin flame is what you consider God. In patriarchal times it’s easier for heterosexual men to identify that as “muse” or angel or guide. It’s that wisdom that we hear within us but is slightly above us- knows more. Our intuition. That voice of God. Twins also speak in repeating numbers. When you see them know that is your twin saying they love you and are with you. The fact is we are never alone. I am sure I have the largest collection of naturally heart shaped rocks in the world. It started on my birthday a few years ago. My twin flame points them out to me in my mind left and right. Can barely step out of a car in any parking lot without finding one waiting. They are everywhere, really. The more attuned I have become and the more I surrender to my twin- my God- the easier my life is. He points me to everything so need and since have been listening has never let me down. I just wanted to point out I am sure hose hearts are from your twin. Each one an epic display of profound love that never dies. Peace!

  2. Avatar CinnamonKern says:

    …and, to continue the metaphor, you get back what you give, so give a little bit of your love to the world. As far as I can tell, that's the only way to get love back into your life and heart. And, I live in optimism, so I do believe that will happen for you.

  3. Avatar Grammy says:

    As always, your writings awe, touch a cord in my heart and amaze me. What a fitting way to leave the past behind a piece at a time…since our hearts heal a piece at a time-over time. Way to go, Doni! Thanks for your openness.

  4. Avatar Ginny says:

    I've always known that as broken as your heart has felt, you would recover, maybe not 100% immediately. Just a little at a time.

    Well, that is what you have really begun to do with the hurt in your yesterdays. You are taking your heart shaped rocks to their new home, one or more at a time. When you have taken 100% of them to their new resting place, you will be totally 100% recovered and heart whole once again. Not with rocks, but with a living, breathing body. and totally healed mind.

    I once read the following and felt it was worth keeping it above my computer, along with a few other meaningful sentences.

    "Life can change tomorrow, but nothing can change yesterday."

    Just know you are changing all your tomorrows, now, which will give you a wonderful and beautiful tomorrow that is just waiting for you to arrive in that place!

    Love & God's great Blessings

  5. Thank you for sharing your story with such candor and grace – and thanks for the kind words about our song.

    I'm hearing an inspiring, uplifting song in this chapter – a song of hope, healing and grace. ::Hugs::: to you, dear Doni.

  6. Avatar Canda says:

    Doni, I just love this column! What a special place you've found for your rock collection, and a meaningful way to heal. One of the many things I love about you, is that you've never let YOUR heart turn to stone. You're as loving and giving as ever, and your writing is a true gift to us all. Thank you for continuing to share your heart with us.

  7. Avatar AJ says:

    I'd type a long response to this comumn, but there's something fuzzy in my eyes that I need to take care of . . . As always, I find your writing a joy to read . . . even when the writing elicits "something fuzzy in my eyes."

    XO . . . from one who's been there.

  8. Avatar kate nelson says:

    Doni, love this column, love the measuring sticks we find for our interior journeys. Know that you are most heartily welcome to leave any rocks you choose on a sweet little labyrinth in New Mexico.

  9. Avatar Brandon says:

    You know what's kind of funny? Every time I see the Peace Labrynth I think of you, Doni, because it's one of those local-neat-unusual-cool things that I imagine you'd like to hear about it and that you might enjoy it, too. So now I can rest nice and easy knowing your heart-shaped rock story. I have a secret plan to bring some california poppy seeds down there so that they might bloom this spring. Brando

  10. Avatar Nancy/Story says:


    I also collect heart rocks but never attached such emotion to the collection, I just love to arrange them in my flower garden! Your story is touching and I have walked past this site recently without stopping. Now I know that I NEED to see those beautiful heart rocks in all their glory!! As time heals, you will walk the river trail and have memories of that catharsis-purgation, also of the emotions, through art.

  11. Avatar Terry says:

    I agree with AJ. I'm having a bit of a problem posting because of something fuzzy in my eyes, too.

    And I second all the wonderful postings that thank you for this beautiful story. It's such a positive message of how hearts can heal from the most dire pain, one heart shaped rock left in the labyrinth at a time. Thank you, Doni, for sharing your journey of healing with us!

  12. Avatar Grammalyn says:

    I remember finding a beautiful heart shaped rock in Cabo San Lucas and bringing it home to you for your collection. I'm glad that it will find a home in this Peace Labyrinth, along with all of the others. How fortunate you are that so many people love you that they shared their rocks with you. Now it is someone else's turn to enjoy them.

  13. Avatar Lisa Lee says:

    Love this, great ending to the story…..so happy you found a great resting place for your heart shaped rocks. I have often passed that labyrinth on the trail but never got off to really look at it…next time I will. That's beautiful this place has been created in the public.

  14. Avatar Cheri Davis says:

    Love this story! As the heart rocks and your energy are cleansed from the healing energy of water, earth and meditative blessings…those rocks and your generosity will give peace to so many who come along. This is how there is always, always a blessing in disguise to painful situations.

    Many Blessings,


  15. Thank you, everyone, for the sweet and supportive comments. I do feel the love. And I love you, too. We're all lucky to be on this planet together. xod 🙂

  16. Avatar Gwen Lawler Tough says:


    your openness is a gift. Yes, I have tears in my eyes. I pray that as your rocks have found a home….your heart will, too.

  17. Avatar KarenC says:

    What a lovely gesture Doni, coming for a lovely lady. Your solution for the heart shaped rocks is perfect, leave them somewhere for others to enjoy. Each time you leave a rock, your own heart will fill a little fuller with peace and love and your burden a little lighter. I must look for that spot. Thanks for the great story. We are so fortunate to have you in our community.

  18. Doni, what a remarkable story of coping, healing and living!

    I couldn't respond until now – think I had that fuzzy-eye thingie.

    (Pulitzer stuff, I'm tellin' ya!)

    Both of my wonderful daughters have collected heart-shaped rocks all their lives (ages 15 and 9). While we may not have as many as you, my youngest dear-one and I will go down to that wonderful sounding place and gift some of our heart-rocks to the memory of my oldest daughter who was abducted from us nearly a year ago now. My 9-year-old and I miss her "big sissy" terribly and that will be a most meaningful way for her to cope with such a significant loss and grow…

  19. Avatar Canda says:

    Alan, My prayers are with you and your girls, and hope the gifting of heart rocks helps in your healing. Reading your story breaks my heart. I am so sorry you and your family have suffered this tragedy. God bless you all.

  20. Avatar pmarshall says:

    Glad you found a good "resting" place for your rocks, Doni. Now you can move on. I always say, don't trust inanimate objects.

  21. Avatar Michelle says:

    Your writing always takes me inside myself. That was a nice thought-ful conclusion. Think I will keep you in my thoughts as a role model for moving forward out of a rocky spot.

  22. Avatar Lynn Guinn says:


    …and powerful. Thank you for sharing this part of yourself.

  23. Avatar Chris Bennor says:

    Doni, this was a beautiful piece – thank you for sharing.

  24. Avatar Michelle Elliott (me says:

    Wow, very interesting to find your story this morning about your heart-shaped rocks. I felt like I was reading about myself! I so resonated with your whole story as I have one very similar. I have collected mine from mountain tops and river beds and even behind waterfalls. There is something inside us that longs to be connected…..to people, to nature, to the universe……..and our heart shaped rocks provide the link…….every time I find one, I am filled with a sense of that connection and my heart is content……..beat by beat……

    Thank you for your inspiring story!………m.e.

  25. Avatar Kathy says:

    Wow. My story so parallels yours. My first love from 13 years old on married me; we bought a business on the Main Fork in Three Rivers, CA. I brought so many rocks up to the store, (on my desk, on the counter, etc.) I took rocks home and spread them about my property. When I was near the river, I walked looking at the ground and certain rocks cried out, "Kathy take me home".

    We divorced after 21 years and broke our 10 year old son's heart. 🙁

    I ran the store for 18 months until it sold. I spent a year of evenings throwing those rocks from my store back out into the river. I verbally threw a lot of resentments, frustrations and pain with them. Well, I still wanted to collect rocks, so I started looking for certain shapes- spheres, pyramids and hearts.

    I learned mostly that if I look with love in my heart, I only see heart rocks! <3

  26. Valerie Ing Valerie Ing says:

    I <3 this story. While Eddie and I haven't been fortunate enough to find heart shaped rocks, every time we're together at the coast we spend time picking up interesting rocks from the ocean shore or the rivers where we spend a lot of time, and I always bring them back and add them to my fountain in the front yard or introduce them into my back yard.

  27. Avatar Rhonda says:

    I HEART – heart rocks (and all other rocks too = ) )

    My story goes as this – I am a avid beach lover/comber, however up until my last visit to the beach, last year I have never found a heart rock, however I placed it in my mind & believed I would find one, and there it was sitting there just for me. I was so excited – I called my Aunt and screamed my wonderful find to her, because every time she would step on any beach, she found a heart rock, so my excitement was more than expected and appreciated by her.

    Just this past February my Aunt passed away very unexpectedly, I was terribly HEARTbroken = ( as I have always felt our souls were always fused together.

    I have just returned back to the beach on a regular basis in the last two weeks, and my eyes have been blessed by more HEART rocks than one can ever asked for/wished for/prayed for. I have found at least 300 heart rocks within two weeks – with today being my biggest find, they were everywhere! I gathered as many as I could, and skipped on my merry way & gave thanks to my Aunt! The Universe is powerful & our loved ones that have passed on bless us in mysterious ways!

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful story – there is something to be said about rock lovers!

    Be safe & I wish you tons of heart rocks!