It all started with a school project
One day in May 2015, my students and I explored the Aboriginal dot artwork of Australia. Something in me ignited and I soon found my home full of painting supplies and rocks. I developed my own method of painting dots, using a bunch of circular-shaped things, including various nails and a tube of lipstick. No one trained me. The techniques and methods just came to me.
Meanwhile, my class of 28 students, being late spring and all, were starting to squabble. Yeah, they just weren't getting along, something that is typical in the late school year months in a grade 5/6 classroom. Considering my options, to clamp down hard or to demonstrate the behaviors I aimed for students to display, I opted to use my new found passion for painting to make a positive impact. I placed a basket of rocks on my desk and students were invited to take one, put it on their desk, and if they wanted to, they could keep it.
The giving promoted a kind, caring culture in our classroom. There were lots of warm, fuzzy feelings going around.
Around this time, I took part in Reiki Level I training. Shifts in my life were happening.
My class and I ended the year positively (phew!) and summer began. As summer 2015 unfolded, I considered how I could expand on the concept of my giving basket, propelled forward by the positive effect the giving had in my classroom and gaining the confidence to start a Facebook page to show my paintings.
The local basket of rocks
Using my Facebook page, I invited locals to pick up my basket of rocks, which I had replenished, to take to visit someone who they felt needed a little cheer: someone who was battling an illness, a family member they hadn't seen for a long time, or a senior. Even at this early stage, I saw my role as the painter of the rocks and felt someone else was meant to find the person to give a rock to.
A local teen took me up on the offer. The basket of rocks accompanied her on one of her regular visits to a seniors home where the young lady offered two residents, women she spent time with often, each one of the rocks. Both seniors picked and kept one of my painted rocks.
Following the visit, the teen wrote me a letter about her experiences. I was amazed at how my paintings had impacted three lives. It was humbling. It was reaffirming. I gained just as much from the giving as the others involved.
The whole concept came to me on a run
A lady who lived a big distance away from me commented on Facebook how she wished she lived closer because she, too, knew folks who would find comfort in her visiting with the rock basket.
A few days later, as I was out on my regular run, the entire concept came to me: I paint a rock, someone from anywhere in the world requests one sent to a loved one as a way of bringing cheer, and posts are made in social media before and possibly after the rocks travel. I knew it would require a lot of money to mail the rocks on an ongoing basis, so one more step in the giving was needed; a person to take each rock to the post office and mail it.
It was all there in my head:
The rocks will travel.
They will bring kindness.
They are Travelling Kindness Rocks.
Around this time I took Reiki Level II training.
Getting the concept going
I started with the people I knew best.
"Will you mail this rock? The person is going through a hard time and I want this to show up and brighten their day."
Some thought I knew the person receiving the rock. I didn't.
Some thought I knew the person who asked for the rock to go to the receiving person. I didn't.
And many thought they were supposed to pick someone they knew to send the rock to. Na - ah.
Although I had to explain the concept many times, my close friends and family stepped up to the plate and mailed the rocks in August for me. Once school resumed in September, I found numerous coworkers and the parents of students willing to help as well.
To find people with a loved one who could benefit from receiving a Travelling Kindness Rock, I used Facebook. I posted about the concept in the large group Waldorf Tag Sale and found a few folks.
In early October, my canvases were recognized by the administrator of the huge Facebook community I Love Mandalas and he chose my work to be featured one day. I could have chosen to showcase my pieces for sale to over 45, 000 people or publicize the Travelling Kindness Rocks concept.
I opted to use the opportunity to share Travelling Kindness Rocks with the I Love Mandalas community. The choice brought me four weeks' worth of names from around the world, bringing me up to about 100 and firmly establishing the concept.
Knowing the next step
From October to June, I spent my days teaching a class of 28 kids and my evenings and weekends allowing Travelling Kindness Rocks to blossom. Although I had insights at times as to what this is and will be, for the most part just one step at a time was clear to me.
Each time, I took the step.
Throughout those months, I developed and tweaked a website, started writing a newsletter and blogging, was interviewed for television shows and newspapers, experimented with fundraising concepts, and dove into Instagram and Twitter.
I also completed Reiki Masters training.
As time went by and more Travelling Kindness Rocks were sent out, the drive to open up my life even further to the work was immense. I felt like I was standing still in a rushing river, trying to keep my foothold.
In January, I submitted a request for a leave of absence from my teaching position for the 2016-2017 school year. After making this decision, it felt like I was moving with the river once again.
It is August 14, 2016 as I write this. I know some of what's next: workshops, presentations, calendar production, finishing my children's book, painting, and giving.
How this will all look a year from now, I'm not exactly sure.
Although I do have whispers and a vision.
And I know what the next step in front of me is, and I will take it.