It's not often that we are able to see the direct impact of our kindness and love, but through this project I have the privilege of hearing stories every day from people giving, receiving and making hearts. In this way, we build connections and witness the astounding effect that even the smallest act of kindness can have. These hearts can provide a sense of purpose, help to heal communities, improve mental health and have even saved lives...how? Perhaps these stories from the 1000 Hearts community can help us understand.
An elderly gentleman diagnosed with dementia moved into residential care when his wife was no longer able to care for him. Sitting in his new room, he held a small felt heart in his hand and asked "what do I do now?" His wife leaned in and whispered "you keep holding onto it and remind yourself that you are loved."
A small boy was too afraid to sleep in his own bed after a frightening experience and his mother was close to despair. A family friend requested a heart in super hero colours to encourage the boy's natural courage and resilience. Clutching his heart in his hand, he slept peacefully in his own bed.
A teenaged boy was given a heart by his Mum after a roller coaster period of supporting her through a mental health crisis. She wasn't sure whether the heart resonated with him or not, but several days later when she was making his bed, she found it carefully tucked under his pillow.
A grandmother sat by her young grandson's bedside while he received chemo treatment and someone offered her a heart to hold. She was so touched by this gesture that she began making hearts for other children and families in the paediatric oncology wards, passing the long, worried hours stitching to ease the pain for others. That little boy passed away, and his broken-hearted grandmother continues to make hearts to bring healing to others.
Two young girls died tragically in a house fire, leaving their family and community shattered. When a family friend requested help, 1000 Hearts heartists responded with love and compassion, making over 600 hearts which were pinned to mourners' clothes at the girls' funeral.
A woman struggling with anxiety and depression reconnected with her creative self through making hearts which she embellished with beautiful embroidery. She said "the hearts are helping to save me...they are contributing to my internal peace and emotional re-growth, thank you so much."
These stories illustrate the power of the hearts, but the absolute best way to understand them is to experience them for yourself. Anyone can make, give or receive hearts - they are easy to sew and for non-crafters, free packs are available to share the love. All the hearts are handmade and offered with love and positive intentions.
There is true connection in the moment of giving, even if it's done with awkwardness or anonymity - the receiver feels acknowledged and knows someone has thought of them. Hearts are designed to dwell quietly in small spaces and can be carried surreptitiously in pockets, bras, bags and wallets (even, in one memorable story, in undies*!) The tangible object becomes a talisman that can be held or squeezes for reassurance and courage. If you'd like to share a little love, please get involved.
* for non-Aussies, "undies" are underpants :)
A follow-up to last year's posts about self-compassion, and a reminder to heartists that kindness starts with our own imperfect selves.Read more
How to safely make and share hearts during the COVID-19 pandemicRead more