Stitching is my Therapy - Guest blogger - Sarah of 1000 hearts
Sarah De Jonge is the creator of the 1000 hearts project.
She believes that kindness can change our hearts and our world.
She has a psychology degree, counselling qualifications and about 15 years’ experience helping people through the tough stuff of life.
In her work for non-profits like Lifeline, CanTeen and Cancer Council Tas, she has witnessed despair, fury, heartbreak and brokenness.
Through it all, she has been astounded and touched by the goodness and resilience of the human heart. She's seen the power of connection and knows that a small act of kindness can make a massive difference to someone who’s hurting.
She believes that being kind to ourselves and others helps us, and our world, to heal. 1000 Hearts brings together a few of her greatest passions. Ever since she was a small child, She's collected small items to carry as talismans against fear and sadness…
A kindness project...
1000 Hearts is a kindness project that started in 2016 because Sarah wanted to spread some love and compassion.
Inspired and driven by her work in the non-profit sector, she felt a need to do some thing that offered love in an all-inclusive way with no cost, no conditions and no limits. The project is based around small pocket hearts which are handmade from wool felt and stitched with love and good intentions. These hearts are then offered to people as a symbol of compassion, care and kindness.
Not only do they bring therapy, love and kindness to the recipients, but Sarah and many other heartists around the world get to experience their own therapy and satisfaction of giving whilst making them.
Thankyou Sarah, for sharing your beautiful words below:
Years ago, I volunteered as a telephone counsellor for Lifeline. One night, a young man phoned who was what we called “a suicide in progress”, meaning he had already taken action to end his life. I was struck by how alone he was, unable to identify anyone who cared about him. In that lonely night, I felt my heart go out to him and I said “I don’t want you to die. I care about you – please let me help you stay alive tonight.” He was quiet after I said this – the kind of quiet that grabs you by the throat and makes you fear that you’re too late. Into this echoing silence, I dropped a single wavering question; “how does it feel, to know that someone cares?” and in a wretched, broken voice he replied; “feels good.” He allowed me to help that night, and as he drifted further towards unconsciousness, the ambos arrived, someone picked up the phone and said “we’ve got him” and I was left with an empty line.
I’ll never know what happened to that young man, but I can tell you what happened to me after the experience. I learned a memorable lesson about the power of connection, and how the care of just one person can be the difference between life and death. I wanted to be that difference and in 2016, I set myself a goal – to make a thousand pocket hearts and give them away to anyone who needed a little love. I didn’t know it at the time, but this project would change my life and bring together a community of people determined to make the world a kinder place.
It took me three months to sew a thousand hearts and as so often happens, what I thought was the end turned out to be just the beginning. As my little hand-made hearts made their way out into the world, people who received them felt like they were a part of something and soon there was a steady stream of people requesting hearts and asking how to make them.
In March 2018, I set up an Etsy store to make the project more sustainable, and our community of heartists continued to grow. It is my great privilege to hold the stories people share with me and it is through the sharing of these stories that we can start to understand the power of the hearts. Not long ago, a grieving community pinned pocket hearts to their clothes at a memorial service for two young girls who died tragically in a house fire. In Australia and around the world, sewing groups make hearts for children affected by domestic violence, people impacted by cancer, patients in palliative care, foster children and young people diagnosed with eating disorders. A little boy, struggling with difficulties in his family, sewed a heart to give his counsellor during their first appointment. Hearts with rainbows stitched on them sit amongst offerings of love at the memorial for victims of the Orlando nightclub shooting, and hospital staff gave them to young people injured in the bombing at a concert in Manchester. A woman slipped a heart into her mother’s coffin. An elderly gentleman held a heart in his hand during a confusing first night in an aged care facility. Many anxious children carry one in their pocket on the first day of school, and adults dealing with anxiety and depression have written to tell me that making hearts has changed their lives.
A pocket heart can be a talisman of hope. It can be offered when the right words are hard to find, and squeezed when life feels overwhelming. Making hearts is a mindful activity that brings a sense of calm purpose, knowing your creation will help someone get through a hard day.
In amongst all the stories and requests, I hear a theme of love. Love that holds us up when darkness threatens. Love that offers hope in times of despair. Love that makes life worth living, even when the odds are against us. By focusing on small acts of kindness, we can start creating a better version of ourselves, and when we are able to offer that same kindness to ourselves as well as others, that’s when the real transformation begins. For me the most powerful thing of all has been to read the messages that say (in varying ways) “thank you – your heart made a difference to me.” It’s beautiful to learn that a simple act of kindness can become a legacy and that a single heart, stitched with love, can be the difference between despair and hope.
You can visit with Sarah, become a heartist, support her in her Etsy shop or request hearts at
Or follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/1000_hearts/
As you stitch along in your daily therapy, think about what it's doing for you, love yourself and open your heart. Then perhaps the kindness to yourself will make a difference and spread to others in all walks of your life...
hugs from Helen