For many of you, Jules will need no introduction. A passionate and busy heartist since we met through our work at CanTeen, Jules stepped up and managed the Facebook page at a time when I really needed a break. Here she shares her heartist journey with beautiful, raw honesty - thank you Jules xx
"Writing this story has taken me a while! Partly because my baby daughter Nina has extreme FOMO and does not sleep, and partly because I was afraid of some of the emotions and truths which might come out. But now as my sweet baby girl sleeps peacefully in her cot beside my bed I feel I have run out of excuses. And I'm feeling a bit low tonight, for lots of reasons and no reason at all. And whenever my black dog creeps up on me and reminds me that she's still there, I think of hearts.
1000 hearts entered my life with my first Social Work placement at CanTeen. A series of life events motivated me to return to uni and complete a master of social work. When it was time for placement, one at CanTeen was advertised and I jumped on it. I'm not sure why I felt so strongly about it, or why I was drawn to it, but when I found out I got it, I literally lifted up one of my classmates with excitement! Fast forward to the first day of prac and I arrived at the office to lots of welcoming and smiling faces that were preparing to head off on camp later that day. The faces of the people who were to become my colleagues, confidantes and best friends. My first task was to cut out paper hearts for an activity that was going to be run on camp - 1000 Hearts heart making! When we completed the activity I loved it! I couldn't believe how invested all of the CanTeen members were - even the teenage boys were enjoying it!
From that moment on I was hooked. In true Jules fashion I quickly ordered lots of felt, made trips to spotlight for needles, scissors and thread and got hearting! My first batch went to King Edward Memorial Hospital - the women's hospital in Perth. I dropped it to the social work department and asked for them to be handed to mums who'd lost their babies and mums with babies in the NICU. A few months later I received a message from someone I knew. We weren't overly close, you know the kinds of people you work with or study with at some point, and you kind of keep in touch through Facebook. She wrote me a message to say she had delivered a stillborn baby at King Eddy and they had given her one of my hearts. Her words were "until now I don't think I really understood how powerful small tokens that represent care and compassion can be". I cried reading it then and I'm crying writing it now.
Many of my hearts since then have gone to hospitals and affiliated organisations, particularly those working with oncology patients and children. I have delivered hearts through my networks to Perth Children's Hospital, CanTeen, Ronald McDonald House, Fiona Stanley Hospital, Lionheart Camp for Kids, Heartkids WA and headspace. I have made great friends through the project, like Nanna Janice, and extended the project to my friends, like Mumma Carol! I have even had my 5 minutes of hearting fame when Sarah trusted me with the Facebook page!!!
Making hearts is therapeutic for me, it helps me heal from the difficulties I have faced and from the sad stories I am exposed to through work. So it seemed a little ironic and unfair that at my 20 week scan with Nina it was revealed that she had a congenital heart defect. The one thing I would normally turn to I just couldn't face. How could I make so many perfect little hearts, when the one that mattered most was not? I stopped making hearts during the rest of my pregnancy because I couldn't face it. Nina was born quite ill and had open heart surgery at 4 days old. The next few weeks were quite difficult as I watched her in the NICU and realised how hard it is to be a mum when we brought her home!
Fast forward 10 months and she is doing so well! Her surgery corrected her defect and although she will need lifelong checks with a cardiologist she's a very healthy little baby, full of personality, and the kindest, most loving heart I have ever known. So I have returned to hearting! And I know it will always be a part of me, a loyal companion for the good times and bad."