Cindy Soderberg feels like she’s on a mission when she walks out the front door with painted rocks in hand toward the edge of her front yard.
When the Mercer Island resident reaches the prime spot outside the home in the 7600 block of 85th Place Southeast, she spreads the feelings of hope, inspiration and motivation. The 67-year-old retiree, who has resided on the Island for the last 22 years, has been offering residents — and herself — myriad uplifting messages since November of last year.
Inspirited by a neighbor who displayed Black Lives Matter painted rocks last summer, Soderberg brought her art project to life. And she’s not stopping her crusade of kindness and encouragement anytime soon.
The former training specialist at the old Farmers Life Insurance Building started with “Vote” in November and changed it to “Voted,” then in December came “Joy, Hope, Peace and Love,” and she’s rocked and rolled from there. In January, “Hope 2021” and a peace symbol made appearances, and February brought a heart for Valentine’s Day.
“I’m thinking now, ‘What am I gonna do with March?’ Well, I’ve got some golden rocks that I’m gonna put out,” said Soderberg, who thought her project was silly at first, but she’s pleased how it’s taken on a life of its own since she first presented it to Islanders.
Soderberg has plenty of time on her hands during the pandemic to dig deep into this project. People are appreciative that she’s reaching out to lift others’ spirits during tough times.
“I do get comments when I’m out there and people walking by saying they like the rocks, they find them inspirational or nice,” said Soderberg, who added that her housemate Ruth Maloney — who has lived in the abode for 40 years — has her office set up near the front window and has witnessed people stop and take photos of the rocks.
A neighbor who was re-landscaping their yard gave Soderberg permission to grab some rocks, and she also searches for loose misplaced rocks during her walks that aren’t part of someone’s yard.
“I also have rock-searching friends that help out,” said Soderberg, adding that she possesses about 35 rocks in all for messages (which are repurposed with new words), symbols and decoration. “My biggest challenge is weather proofing and retaining the color and keeping them from chipping.”
Soderberg wants to bring lightness to life with the rocks and hopes that everyone can savor each moment.
“It gives me something to do and it makes me smile and I’m hoping that other people may find it enjoyable,” said Soderberg, who also adorned some rocks with a purple ladybug and strawberries. She’s presently taking some online drawing and painting classes to brush up on her art skills.
An upbeat and outgoing person, Soderberg is using her project to communicate with people during the pandemic.
“There’s a lot of sadness and a lot of worry going on, but (I’m) trying to keep a lighter note, and I’m blessed that I’m able to do that,” she said.