If you’ve been in Emma’s class in the last few months, you might have been gifted a little felt heart. This week’s blog post is a re-post from Emma’s blog thinkerpoet.com, in which Emma explains where the heart idea came from, and how it is evolving.
As a young child, I never liked hearts. Like the colour pink, hearts were on every lunchbox, pony’s butt and t-shirt meant for girls. As soon as I could understand language I was questioning gender roles, and at the age of five, I staunchly decided that hearts were too prescribed. I didn’t want to be told what symbols to like. I resisted wearing hearts and chose zig-zags, triangles and stars whenever I could. Hearts, to my young feminist brain, were a symbol of conformity.
Fast-forward to the present moment, where colourful felt hearts litter every surface of my home, are pinned to every piece of clothing, and stacks of which are stuffed into every pocket and bag. In the past two months I have become a regular giver of hearts. I pin them on parked bicycles, gift them to cashiers, offer them to children and parents, and drop them on my yoga students’ mats.
I was re-introduced to the symbol of the heart by two inspired friends living in NYC. Hila and Tate are a twosome that work on spreading kindness and creativity in the big city under the name HateCreative. They were members of my burning man camp last year and late in the winter I began to see photos of felt hearts with safety pins popping up on their Instagram feed, adorning themselves, each other and the people they were meeting. They were carrying these little gems around and gifting them to everyone.
In the spring I got to spend some time with Hila and Tate out in Oregon, at a week-long gathering with some of our burning man campmates. They had cranked out a ton of hearts to give away during their cross-country road trip from Oregon back to NYC. When a trio of us were leaving to hitchhike back to the city, they stuffed some hearts in our pockets and directed us to give them away! It was at a gas station in Oregon that I discovered the power of these small heart-felt gifts.
Artichoke, Holly and I had just stepped into a gas station to buy some snacks before trying our hands at hitchhiking. While we were paying for our snacks, Artichoke reached out and gave the woman behind the counter a blue felt heart. The woman gasped, and looked up at us. Her face started to waver. She said, “Blue was my brother’s favourite colour. Today is the anniversary of his death. I haven’t said that out loud to anyone today. Thanks for this. It reminds me of him.”
Artichoke, Holly and I were stunned by this sudden and beautiful view into this woman’s heart. A small gift handed across the counter had allowed her to open up and feel safe to share something important about herself and that day. We looked at her, nodded, said goodbye and then left.
Once I was back home, I considered other shapes that I might cut out and give to people. But nothing that I could think of came close to the profound but simple symbology that I could now see in the shape of the heart. Where before I saw hearts as a symbol of forced-upon-me-femininity, I now saw them as powerful connectors. I could see how the shape of a heart can be neutral enough that most people will feel comfortable accepting and wearing them, but meaningful enough to also create a sense of warmth and connection.
If you’d like to submit a photo of a heart, or follow the journey of giving hearts, please follow @heartfeltrevolution on Instagram! If you want some hearts to gift to people, ask Emma, she’s always got her pockets full of hearts.
Emma Dines is the creative director of Queen Street Yoga. She loves writing, visiting thrift stores and going for walks in the woods. She also loves cartwheeling, sewing and making her own kimchi.