My repurposed book

Usually I channel my creativity into storytelling, performing or teaching. I have never been particularly crafty, except when making Vasalissa dolls. But a good friend must have sensed just what I was needing recently. My friend Melaina, (author of ‘The Circle Series’ and other books), sent me the perfect thing: two CD’s from a series by Clarissa Pinkola Estes- “The Dangerous Old Woman” and “The Joyous Body”. (Yes Estes is author of ‘Women Who Walk with Wolves’.)

As I listened, an urge began to bloom in me to be creative with something tactile. Inspired by the sculpture show my daughters school hold each year, where parents are welcome to enter something, and a book I found in the local library “The Repurposed Library”, I carved a heart into a red hardcover book using a very sharp cutting blade. The title of the book inspired me: “The Naked Heart”. I read it first to check it wasn’t great literature (until 3 in the morning!) and began carving the next day. After carving the heart, I saw in my mind, the sculpture I wanted to create: a heart on a bed of rose petals. After buying the clay, I remembered a well known tale I had read called “The Perfect Heart”.

Next I was inspired by my storytelling friend and colleague Bettina Nissen. Bettina recently gave a TEDx talk in which she described working in a community setting where she would tell 3/4 of a story and then get people she was working with to make up the rest. So I decided to do the same.

The Perfect Heart

by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown

The Perfect Heart

Adapted by Jenni Cargill-Strong

There was once a place where all the people carried their hearts around in their hands. One young man boasted that he had the most perfect, beautiful heart of all. His heart certainly looked perfect with not a single flaw.

One day as a crowd gathered to admire his heart, a little girl said, “It is perfect, but it is not beautiful. You should see my grandma’s heart. It’s reeeaaaally beautiful!” The young man was not happy with the little girl, but he followed her to her grandma’s house. “Grandma could you please show this man your heart?”

The old lady looked calmly into the young man’s eyes. He began to feel like he was in an ancient forest. Then she opened her hands to reveal the ugliest heart he had ever seen. It was covered in scars that had lumpy edges. It had staples and holes in it.

“You’ve got to be joking!”, snorted the young man. “How could THIS be more beautiful than MY perfect heart?!”

“The reason there are so many marks on it” the little girl explained, ”is that whenever grandma loves someone, she gives them a piece of her heart. When they give her a piece of theirs in return, it never fits quite right so it makes a lumpy edge. See, here is my piece. Sometimes she gives a piece of her heart to someone who doesn’t give a piece in return and that is what the holes are from. Grandma says ‘Love is a risk.’ That is why I think my grandma’s heart is more beautiful. When I grow up, I want mine to be just like hers.”

The cover of my repurposed book

The young man grew quiet. The old woman pulled off a piece of her heart and offered it gently to the young man. ✪

That is most of the story of ‘The Perfect Heart’. 

What do you think happened next? Write your ending – it can be as long or brief as you like! Then if you like, you could google the story and see how it usually ends. As a sometimes-English teacher I’d love to try this as a story starter with students.

I will choose my favourite on  and the winner can choose their favourite Story Tree CD! Story Tree friend, Nicole wrote her own beautiful ending in December, 2012 and won a CD of her choice as prize. Well done Nicole!

Nicole’s ending: The young man eyes widened and slowly reached out for his gift of heart. He looked at the old woman intensely and asked, “Doesnt it hurt when you give some of your heart away?”

The old woman said gently with a nod, “Yes, some times.”

“Then why do you give it away then?” With loving eyes and both hands on her chest she replied, “Because my dear boy, the feeling of receiving a piece of another heart makes you feel happy and warm inside here. Try it, put this piece of my heart on yours.”

The young boy’s face lit up as enjoyed his special moment of receiving love for the first time on his perfect heart. Have you given a piece of your heart out today?

“The Repurposed Library”