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  • Writer's pictureMadeleina Kay

A Thread of Empathy Song and Workshop Proposal

Updated: Apr 29

I published an earlier blog post with the draft version of this song along with a vague idea for a workshop. Here is a refined version of the song and the final proposal for the workshop, which will take place in Bologna, as part of a public programme organised by my art collective Dare to Care alongside an exhibition 'The Vibrant Mind' on the topic of mental health.

 I originally wrote the song sat at the piano, but since a piano will not be available for the performance in Bologna in April, I decided to focus on developing the guitar part. I’ve also tweaked the chords ever-so-slightly. The song is still quite long, despite cutting out a couple of sections, but since the song is intended for a workshop where people will be given tasks to complete during the performance – I don’t think it’s a problem. I’ve altered the lyrics slightly from the previous version to ensure the message is as impactful and pertinent as possible and to cut out repeated words. The focus of the workshop is empathy and self-compassion and I needed to reflect that in the lyrics of the song. I realised after I had written it, that the Bridge (which is always where the epiphany of the song should happen) was inspired by the “Let Them” theory which I have seen influencers discussing on TikTok – the premise is not get aggravated or upset by people who treat you badly. Let them be assholes - they are not worth your emotional energy. I think this message fits perfectly with the tasks which participants will be asked to complete during the workshop - which should empower them to overcome memories of others who have belittled, demeaned or abused them. The song's conclusion is melancholy but, in its way, also optimistic because when you have experienced trauma, the only solace is that it can help you to be a better person, by learning from the harm others have caused you.


Song Lyrics



Are You Listening?

Are you feeling, with your soul? Can you though?

Are you distracted?

Can you make your heart whole? Is that your goal?



The cruelty of words,

Can leave you scarred and so alone,

A patchwork of memories,

In the darkness you have sewn,

Each tattered fragment,

Stitched together, laid on your bed,

And as you dream,

Soothe the storm that’s in your head



There’s no protection,

From the harm, that some can do, that some have done,

It doesn’t matter, if you falter,

If you fall, you are not wrong,

So, take a moment, to remember,

And find your peace, your time will come,

Know the strength, that’s in your weakness,

There is light, hope has not gone





I can teach you,

How to take a thread of empathy and let them be,

I can help you, to dry your eyes,

So, you can see, you have to let them be,

I can’t change you, but I can show you,

How to be free, and how to let them be



Hope will heal you,

And make sense of what was done,

You can learn from their hatred,

How to be kind, how to be strong

You can learn,

How to be kind, how to be strong


The Workshop Proposal


The performance workshop centres around the theme of empathy and self-compassion using stitching as a vehicle for mending and healing.


Step 1 (Estimated 10 minutes):

Workshop participants will be invited to write (in any language of their choice) on a white fabric square in coloured fabric markers a response to the following prompt; ‘Write down something which somebody said or did which was harmful to you and invalidated your identity, demeaned your sense of self-worth, made you feel small or worth less or made you feel like you didn’t belong somewhere (it could also be something which you said to yourself).’ The choice of colour should reflect the emotion which this experience gave them. During their period of reflection and writing, the workshop leader will perform a song, ‘How Does It Feel?’ which explores the topic of mental health and subjective experience.


Step 2 (Estimated 10 minutes):

Workshop participants will then be invited to write (in any language of their choice) on a second fabric coloured square in coloured fabric markers a response to the following prompt; ‘Write down a response to the harmful statement. It could be what you wanted to say back to them, whether or not you did at the time. It should be something positive and empowering which reclaims your identity and self-worth, from those who tried to devalue it’. Again, the choice of colour should reflects the emotion which this experience of self-empowerment gives them. During this period of stitching, the workshop leader will perform a third song, ‘A Thread of Empathy?’ which emphasises the importance of self-compassion and learning from pain and suffering how to be a kinder and stronger individual.


Step 3 (Estimated 10 minutes):


Workshop participants will then be asked to stitch their two fabric squares together (along the vertical edge) with embroidery thread, using a colour which they feel represents their identity and expresses who they are at their core.


Step 4 (Estimated 10 minutes):


Workshop participants will be invited (but not obliged) to share in turn what they have written on their squares orally with the group – without comment or questions from other participants.


Step 5 (Estimated 15 minutes):


Workshop participants will be asked to join in pairs and stitch together their 4 squares (along the horizontal edge) with embroider thread, using a colour which represents community to them. The catch is that the two participants will be asked to do this at the same time – so they must figure out a way of collaboratively sewing to create a connection and sharing of their experiences and perspectives.


Steps 6+ (Estimated 20 minutes)


A repeat of step 5 but connecting more and more of the squares until the “patchwork quilt” of their contributions to the workshop and the dialogue, is completed.




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