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Along with this lovely contribution to the Mandalas for Marinke project, maker Maria writes,

“Here is my contribution for your wonderful project. Thank you for letting me be a part of it. I hope I can contribute to help with all of the people who suffer from depression. Big hugs from Portugal.”

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This week I’ve been reading Hope, Make, Heal: 20 Crafts to Mend the Heart by Maya Pagan Donenfeld. This book is all a set of simple craft projects designed to help with different aspects of the healing process after trauma, during bereavement / grief. It’s a beautiful, heart-touching book that’s more than just the projects but also includes lots of tips and reminders for getting and staying in touch with yourself during difficult times.

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In the foreword, Pixie Lighthouse writes,

“When words fail us, brought on by deep pain through trauma and loss – from betrayal, disappointment, frustration, grief, anger – our task is to find our back to the river of our lives. Making allows for flow when the heart is tempted to shrink back, stagnate, and wither. When there are no conversations to be had or no comfort to be found, working with our hands is always available to us and can be a powerful way to help us move forward.”


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In the first section, the author writes about how important it is to feel our feelings during the toughest of times. She talks about how we have a natural reaction to recoil from pain in order to cope, which is helpful in the immediacy of a crisis but fails us as a long-term life strategy. She writes,

“Ignored wounds rarely heal. They often fester, only to reveal themselves later in chronic illness, depression, anxiety, and unhealthy lifestyles. It’s natural to feel helpless in the midst of the unforeseen, but we do have a choice in how we respond. If we can recognize this new opportunity to redesign the life still in front of us, rather than be crippled by something we couldn’t control, we move into an accelerated growth spurt. … This is the hardest work there is, but after the crash and burn, something beautiful is often born out of the ashes.”

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Later, in the same vein, she writes about sewing metaphors including the well-known “a stitch in time saves nine”. She shares thoughts on how this relates to dealing with trauma, how working through what we need to now, in the moment, saves a lot of unnecessary unraveling down the line. Either way, we have mending to do, but doing it as soon as we can is helpful. Not always possible but helpful when possible.

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Finally, towards the end of the book, she writes about the difficulty of having her previous book reach publication as her marriage was falling apart, and the decision to be open about the rough times with her readers (through social media and public speaking) rather than pretending that she was doing better than she really was (a strategy she first tried and couldn’t maintain). She writes,

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“The way forward is built on the reclaiming of who we have always been, our essence, and on recognizing who we are supposed to become. My vast experience with rescuing fabric ended up being a lifesaver when I needed my own rescuing. By focusing on the inherent best qualities of a material, I gain a sense of its potential. I know just how to transform it into the next iteration – which is always more amazing than its original incarnation. In a metaphorical way, people are woven together just like fabric – it can be reinvented by celebrating their strengths, recognizing their weaknesses, and honoring how they once were.”


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See all Mandalas for Marinke posts here.


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!

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