By Audrey Cooney
If you’ve ever found a rock tucked into some crevice or under a bush in Braintree painted with bright colors and an uplifting message, chances are it was placed there by a town resident on a mission to make you smile.
“It’s a simple thing, but it’s those simple things that spread joy,” said Carolyn Murphy.
Since last June, Murphy and a group of helpers have painted thousands of rocks with sayings like “be courageous,” “you got this” and “believe in yourself” and hidden them around town. It’s part of a project called BraintreeRocks, the local iteration of the Kindness Rocks Project, a hobby that has followers around the world.
When you come across a painted rock, Murphy explained, you’re free to keep it or hide it for someone else to uncover.
“It’s a fun thing that families can do. It gets people out of the house, and it’s free,” she said.
Murphy said she began painting and hiding the rocks after a surgery meant she was stuck at home. Her daughter, who started a Kindness Rocks group where she lives in Maine, encouraged her to start as a way of keeping busy.
“I started painting, which helped me immensely and it helped me forget about my pain, so I just kept doing it and doing it,” Murphy said.
After hiding some of the rocks, Murphy said she started to see people posting on Facebook saying finding one of them had made their day, or photos of their child holding up a rock and smiling. Soon, she was spending all her free time painting and hiding rocks.
“It just fed me, and it just kept fueling me and pushing me forward,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work, the painting, but it’s worth it. The main principle of it is kindness. We spread joy, we spread smiles, we spread love.”
Over the past year, she estimates that she and others in the town who have since joined in have painted and hidden 3,000 rocks. She’s learned through Facebook posts that at least two have ended up in Europe.
“I have rocks all over,” she said.
Murphy said she always has rocks with her when she leaves the house, tucking them into spots near the post office, or Shaw’s, or in the town forest. A Facebook group she made for the project called “BraintreeRocks #braintreerocks #BTR” has more than 300 members who post rocks they’ve painted, ones they’ve found and photo clues for ones they’ve hidden. She still gets a kick out of how happy people are to find them, she said.
“The main message is just spreading joy, kindness and love throughout your community,” she said. “And what a better world it would be, if we could all do that.”
Follow Audrey Cooney on Twitter at @Audrey_Cooney
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