Windsor Kindness Rocks

My favorite activity is to take a long walk through nature. I enjoy the natural world, its earthy aromas, rich colours, and wildlife surrounding my senses and aura.

Recently, I’ve been discovering painted rocks, often with inspirational words painted across them. Indeed, the first painted rock I discovered was a heart shaped pebble with the words “Be You tiful” painted neatly across it. You circled for emphasis.

I felt like I was being told right then at that moment that just being you is beautiful. I was moved by feeling the presence or even a sense of contact with an energy that connects all living things. Ever feel like the universe is winking at you?

Scrolling through Instagram #hashtags while placing other unrelated rock pics of mine, I discovered #windsorrocks and one such person that has been placing several painted rocks in local parks. I met Kayla at Ojibway Park to discuss her rocks.

Kayla, sitting at Ojibway Park with a batch of her kindness rocks.

Kayla has been placing rocks since 2005, but not to this extent. “It wasn’t until the last few years, primarily here [Ojibway Park], that I really started to place them.” She says of her experience. 

Why spend time painting rocks to hide at parks for unsuspecting strangers? Kayla says it’s because “everyone struggles, everyone has bad days, finding a message of positivity on those days can be really powerful. I think we all need those messages here and there. Sometimes people are struggling and they may feel alone…and finding a rock can be a message of ‘you matter’.” Kayla says.

We are all made of energy and that energy emits vibrations sometimes called frequencies out into the universe. What we put out into the universe via our thoughts and actions matter.

Around 2005/6 Kayla found a rock that she saw the shape of a heart in, and believed it to be a powerful sign. She painted that rock and it sat with her over time before thinking, “what if I left rocks around with messages on them? I laid a few here and there during those years.” From those few rocks Kayla is now finishing them in batches and has an Instagram following.

Kayla uses an Instagram account windsorrocks1 to post pics of rocks that she has hidden in the area. People that find rocks are then encouraged to post to the hashtag #windsorrocks to share. She says, “people find them, they post it and share that moment and that connects me to them.” The Instagram following is growing steadily, but perhaps the most significant impact it’s having is encouraging others to join in and place their own rocks.

Kayla says, “I know of a lady and her kid that found out about the rocks, and she wanted to go [place rocks]; so, she went out and found some rocks brought them home and painted them.” Those actions that inspire children to use their creativity and be aware of their effect on humanity create the most beautiful ripples for our future; and indeed, they are critically important and do matter.

Kayla has received personal messages back about her rocks. One individual messaged her saying, “thank you so much for that rock, it came to me at a very sad time, I’m in Windsor for a short amount of time, and I’ll be leaving soon.” Kayla speculates from context that this person was grieving and reliving some childhood stuff.

“This is why I’m doing it, it’s for people it’s for spreading that kindness around to give messages to people that are struggling. It’s important to have those messages out there for people” because as Kayla adds, “you just never know whose picking that rock up and what they’ll do with that message.” 

The power of intention suggests that painting a specific message on a rock and hiding it for somebody to discover means that the rock will now attract the person that best needs to receive said message. That is the magic of the underlying connectivity of ripples spreading through the universe. “Everyone impacts everyone’s life somehow. Everything that you do impacts another person’s life, in some way that you may know or you may not know.”

Kayla used to always place them at Ojibway, but not a lot of people may make it to this park; now Kayla thinks, “the rocks should be near people that may be struggling.” Kayla tries to go to different parks so that she can spread the message further. “I always try to place them in spots where, I think, ‘that’s pretty cool that you picked that up’, it’s not just sitting on the path. I want it to be tucked away in nature so that you’re embracing nature and really seeing it.”

Kayla takes inspiration from personal stuff, friends, and family. There are some cool designs available online and she takes inspiration from them as well. Recently she’s finished one, ‘you must relish life’ and that has taken her the most amount of time to complete, but the one she is maybe most proud of. Many of Kayla’s rocks show a depth of artistic skill, which makes them fun to look at as well as inspirational. 

Kayla spends up to 3 hours a night sometimes, and over 10 hours a week on these rocks, “even on weekends when I’m home I’ll spend a good amount of time, and thinking what can I do next.”

“I do them in batches, I leave them to look at and be proud of, and then it’s like okay let’s get these out people need to see these. But there’s still some that I’ve had for over a month.”

Another batch of Kayla’s lovely kindness rocks.

A common theme in Kayla’s rocks is feeling good about yourself, or to use the parlance of our times, mental health. Rocks with messages of, “Be Unique”, “Be Yourself”, “I am Enough” or “You are not your mistakes” and “Love is Love” across the Pride colours suggest feeling good about oneself as an individual is critical to achieving strong mental health. “We all struggle. Once we acknowledge that, it will take a lot of the stigma out of mental health.”

How can we start to break free of daily distractions and embrace the world around us? One way, Kayla says is to, “be attentive to nature”. If we can be more attentive to nature then maybe we can be more attentive to the rest of humanity. 

“If you see someone’s upset, maybe go ask them about it. The gesture either way tells them that people care.” 

Kayla says proudly of her rock painting, “this is for the other people out there that are struggling. If I can help someone with these rocks, then it’s worth it. It makes me proud to be that impact.”

In the meantime, how can we all help Kayla spread the message? Kayla says “find some rocks, paint them, and start hiding…” the rest is usually outside of our control. If you’re on the fence thinking about this, Kayla says, “just do it.” How can we encourage the movement locally? “There have been ideas of having a rock painting night.” That would certainly encourage community participation, and assure people that there were rocks out there to be found.

The next time you are out walking about, pay a little more attention to your surroundings, you might see the answers you’ve been waiting for right there in front of you. For me, I’ve been moved to action and I already have the following rocks ready to hide in some meaningful spots along trails I’ve walked. I hope to find some of yours along the way.

Happy Rock Hunting!