Spreading joy with rock art

One of Belle LaLanne’s painted rocks she created to help spread joy in Winters. Courtesy photo

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Six-year-old Joseph Jara, a student at Waggoner Elementary School, was diagnosed with a right temporal intraparenchymal hemorrhage (a brain bleed) on May 29 and has been in and out of the hospital for testing and surgeries since. His mother Sylvia said that he loves searching for the painted rocks around town. It made his day when they came home from an afternoon appointment at the hospital to discover a personalized rock painted just for him.

“We had a full afternoon of appointments and testing at Sutter Davis on this day and Joseph was so ready to be home to rest and he found this walking up to the front door and was so excited and happy,” Sylvia said. “It brightened his day so much and he still has not stopped talking about it.”

The rock artist, Maribel “Belle” LaLanne said in April she was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis (a condition where muscle fibers breakdown due to muscle injury or genetic muscle disease), which also triggered a painful fibromyalgia flare up.

“My liver started to fail and my muscles began to damage. I was in tremendous pain most of the day, unable to walk without assistance,” LaLanne said. “That’s when I decided to use art as part of my pain management plan. I used to have fun painting rocks with my mom when I was younger to decorate our garden, so naturally I decided that rock painting would be the way to go.”

With tensions and unrest happening in the community, LaLanne decided to spread some happiness around town with her rocks.

“My goal was to put a smile on the faces of anyone who finds my rocks,” LaLanne said.

She said after placing a few batches of rocks around Winters, she posted about them on Facebook. She said she received positive feedback from community members that warmed her heart. She said many people told her that they either found them, kept them or re-hid them for another lucky person to find. She said many were inspired and began to paint and hide rocks of their own.

She said while she is almost fully recovered from the rhabdomyolysis, there is not a cure for fibromyalgia and she’s learning to cope with the constant pain through natural treatment. The rock painting and joy from seeing the community enjoy her art play a part in that.

“The photos I receive several times a day from the community have been such a blessing to me,” LaLanne said. “Through art, I feel connected to my new town of Winters. I have met amazing people and am truly honored to call Winters my home.”

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