April in Glenwood: Rocking random acts of kindness | PostIndependent.com

April in Glenwood: Rocking random acts of kindness

Many of the most loving, compassionate people I know live in the mountains. Maybe it’s the considerable amount of outdoor time in the fresh mountain air that cultivates the kindness and positivity. It could have something to do with the Colorado sunshine.

Perhaps it’s a crazy coincidence.

Whatever the factors behind such a fateful fusion of thoughtful friends in one place, the bottom line is they are inspiring. Many, I’m convinced, are angels that have taken earthling form. There’s one friend who donates her time and resources, including gift cards for hot coffee on cold nights, to the homeless. Another has helped her friends out with rent when times were tough. Others go out of their way to make hot meals for neighbors or share produce from their gardens in the summer to the hungry.

My friend Janelle’s collective kindness comes to mind.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about her selfless, magical ways. Especially during the holiday season. Sure, she shares her knack for cooking and baking to cheer people up all year long. Her talents are much appreciated by those on the receiving end of her surprise meals and treats. But it’s on the first day of December when her aura truly shines the brightest. I’m not sure if she’s ever had her aura read, but I picture it being orange. According to the Psychic Library, it’s a color of “good health, vitality and excitement. In a positive light, orange energy is productive, creative, sociable and courageous.”

Those last four adjectives pretty much describe her to a tee.

Dec. 1 is one of my favorite days because it’s Janelle’s birthday. And when she celebrates each new year of her life, she does it by thinking of others. She chooses her birthday as one day out of the year — actually there are many in her 365 days — where she completes Random Acts of Kindness.

This year was no exception.

On her 40th birthday, Janelle embraced her new, exciting decade of life by painting 40 rocks in bright colors of aqua blue, red and yellow. Each birthday rock was emblazoned with a special message in hopes random strangers would find them and their days would be made. One read, “You make hearts smile!” Another said, “Create your own sunshine!” My favorite was, “You are stronger than you think!” Although when I first saw it, I thought it read, “You are stranger than you think!”

Why yes, yes I am.

Once all the rocks were hand-painted, Janelle and her fun-loving husband, Gus, found hiding places for them around town. Janelle included this sweet note, along with a special gift, and posted on Facebook to explain the mission:

“It’s my birthday! This year for my special day I’d like to give you a little happy. Inspired by my hometown, and in the spirit of giving, we have painted, scattered, placed and hidden Happy Rocks all over Glenwood Springs — 40 of them to be exact,” she wrote.

“If you find one of my Happy Rocks, pick it up to find a little gift placed underneath — a birthday gift from me. Take to heart the message written on the Happy Rock. Once you are finished enjoying the Happy Rock, hide it for another person to find it. If you, too, are in the spirit of giving, you could place a gift under the Happy Rock for another to enjoy. I’ll leave that up to you.”

She finished her birthday wish by speaking her truth: “I believe in finding joy and magic in the everyday, and most especially on my birthday. Spreading love makes my heart happiest!”

See what I mean about angels on earth?

The hashtags she used on the Facebook post included #HAPPYrocksGWS, #TurnMYbirthdayintoalifestyle, #TeamGJ (short for #TeamGusandJanelle), #LOVEeachother and #STRENGTHcomesinmanyforms. These alone show Janelle’s compassion and zest for life.

Her caring spirit is contagious — always has been — and I’m convinced her birthday falling on Dec. 1, as the holidays really kickstart, was as meant to be as her making the mountains home.

Glenwood Springs is lucky to have her.

Project Happy Rock is already making an impact. Several people who have experienced this fun Random Act of Kindness have replied on her Facebook with their delight, and intentions, after finding the inspirational messages. Glenwood attorney James Fosnaught found the “Think happy thoughts” rock outside his office and is paying it forward this holiday season by giving the gift certificate for free lattes to Feed My Sheep homeless ministry.

Lisa Lilly, a business development director at Blizzard Internet Marketing, discovered the “Be happy, you deserve it” rock, and was just that.

“Janelle! Look what I was lucky enough to find on my walk to work this morning,” she wrote. “Your kindness never ceases to amaze me. Thank you for brightening my day, on your day.”

Happy birthday, kind friend.

April E. Allford also loves the “So many smiles begin with you!” rock. She can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.

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