It’s a weird time (that might be the understatement of the year). As we continue to muddle through this pandemic, we look for ways to make a difference—to our family, our communities, even to ourselves. Many people have donated to one cause or another in recent months, whether through a purchase they’ve made or directly to a charity or organization. Many people have also picked up a new hobby or two or perhaps set off on a journey to self-improvement. Time spent at home leads either to introspection or cabin fever (or possibly both), so it’s OK if you’ve reinvented yourself 12 times over or picked up and put down new interests.
Art can make waves in ways that absolutely change your life—or at least your outlook on a situation. We’ve seen it countless times throughout this pandemic: rainbows in windows to honor the frontline workers in health care, chalk drawings with inspiring messages, jewelry designers auctioning their art for charity, or brands that are selling it with proceeds going to charities.
We’ve been able to share many examples of jewelers doing good when we need it most, and it’s always a pleasure to have another. In this case, it’s designer Lauren Kessler of Lauren K Fine Jewelry playing with rocks.
Not the kind of rocks you’re used to seeing from the Lauren K line of jewelry—those eye-popping opals, tourmalines, emeralds, and the like. In this example, Kessler and her daughter Carly are spreading sunshine with rocks that, while less valuable in market terms, are certainly no less impactful at a time like this.
With colorful messages painted to decorate each rock—“Be Kind,” “Don’t Count the Days,” “Make This World a Kinder Place,” “Strong”—and images like that of a ladybug or butterfly, rainbows, smiling faces, fish, and the all-important mask wearer, the creative mom-and-daughter duo are delighting their Scarsdale, N.Y., neighborhood with these found-and-festive objects.
So if you’re thinking your artistic strengths make you a good candidate to join the ranks of rock dazzlers, do it! Not only will it give you a fun activity and help you connect with members of your family should they join you, it will also do some real good. Seriously, don’t underestimate it.
“The best part about working on this project has been that I’ve been able to find a creative outlet while in quarantine and being away from my office,” says Kessler. “I’ve loved painting time with my daughter as well as finding new things to paint and challenging myself to do difficult ones. Mostly, though, I’ve loved spreading a little joy throughout my neighborhood. We place them all over and try to bring a little bit of happy to people during this difficult time. I have a neighbor and both of her parents died from COVID-19. We left her some special rocks and she didn’t know it was us, and she was so touched after she found out. We also started a ‘kindness tree’ in the park, which consists of a rock garden around a giant tree. All of the rocks are purposeful and have messages of kindness, hope, and inspiration. People in my town post them all over Facebook and say ‘to whoever is doing this, thank you so much,’ or ‘my kids love them’, or ‘to the anonymous artist decorating the neighborhood, please know how much joy you’re giving everyone.’ ”
You know how we always hear about about how effective a smile can be? Well, we’re all wearing masks right now. But a gesture like Kessler’s more than makes up for it. There’s a path my husband and I like to run on every weekend, in a wooded area of a neighborhood. Back there, a family has taken to creating messages of hope and inspiration in chalk, and believe me when I say they truly do shine a light. I find myself reading them and smiling as my feet pound the pavement, inspiring me not only to keep running (I’m so tired!) but also to strive to be as strong as I can through all of this, knowing that someone out there took the time remind us to do just that—because they’re doing their best, too. Of course, you can’t please everyone (my husband wonders aloud who has this much time on their hands to make all the chalk drawings—cue a roll of the eyes), but trust that you will touch the people who need it most with your efforts. Such a simple, even fun, act, and what a difference it can make.
“While it may not be the most important thing, it’s very therapeutic for me, and we are happy others are enjoying them,” adds Kessler. “My daughter actually received a hand-written letter of thanks in the mail yesterday from people we don’t know!”
Top: Rocks surround the “kindness tree,” decorated by Lauren Kessler and daughter Carly (all photos courtesy of Lauren Kessler).Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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