Monday 17th January 2022

My Bookmarks & The Big Hug Box. 2018.121.

My Bookmarks & The Big Hug Box. 2018.121.

Regular readers would know I have a ‘thing’ for creating with paint, markers, crayons and pencils. In fact, this creative side of mine has bloomed in the past few years. I made a pact this year to create daily and I did until about a month ago. Here’s the post about my creations which focussed mostly about mandalas. I will come to the bookmarks soon!

I am someone who has learned to enjoy the process of creating as well as the product. Many of my mandalas have been given away or made into coasters and placemats after laminating.

Before mandalas became a thing for me, I created patterns in grids, patterns in free form and more. I just get/got a lot of relaxation and meditative experiences through taking my time, letting my mind flow and enjoying the sensations of adding colour to blank pages.

Then: I still am a product-person too! I began to make bookmarks using strips of the patterns for friends and family. I laminated them and it was pleasing to see them being used and appreciated by others.

But: I ran out of people to give them to…

Until: I heard of the Big Hug Box. Lisa Greissl, a cancer patient herself 3 years ago, wanted to help ‘give back’ and to raise funds for cancer research. I followed Lisa via the Big Hug Box and could see how special her “boxes of hugs via gifts and more” were. I wanted to help by contributing and asked Lisa would my bookmarks work in her gift boxes.

Her response was as joyful and positive as she is. YES. Emphatically YES. A bright, hand-made bookmark would be a great addition.

I loved my skills being helpful to others with cancer. In fact, I was stoked to see an Instagram photo from a friend I met via blogging…who sadly has cancer…but had a Big Hug Box given to her and one of MY bookmarks was in there. I felt like I had contributed to her HUG.

Above is a selection of my most recent delivery to Lisa: 200 bookmarks. I have probably donated well over 100 before this!ย  I admit I now streamline my making.

  • Firstly, the art is cut into suitable size,
  • I have sheets of coloured card which I cut to match The Big Hug Box’s dimensions. I need, in future, to make slightly smaller ones for the Random Hugs of Kindness Boxes.
  • I paste my patterned paper on one side of the card
  • On the other side I add a now-signature Owl stamp at the top of the bookmark and a little quote that is on the bottom
  • Somewhere along this side of the bookmark I write an individual “My Bookmark”, later I embellish that side with some dots of paint.
  • On the front, where the pattern is, I often add a star, or heart symbol sticker and then as Lisa suggested, a little message from me on a sticker: Hand Made For You By Denyse Whelan Who Blogs Here:
  • Then I place 4 or 5 into an A4 laminate sheet and start the slow but careful job of feeding them in.
  • Lastly, over time again, I trim each card and the group becomesย  individual bookmarks.

I do take a few days to a week to make a group of bookmarks. I recently made 60 on top of these at the request of the Central Coast Cancer Centre Head & Neck/Lung Nurse who is part of the group I meet with once a month. She will be adding them to new patient packs.

One reason I continue to make these is that I can share my love and care for another person affected by cancer as I was. I do make a definite andย  conscious decision as I create each one to send loving kindness.


A little while back, Lisa, who lives only 5o minutes away was planning a “packing of Big Hug Boxes and Random Acts of Kindness Boxes” morning at her place and I accepted her invitation to attend. There were a few of us connected to Lisa via friendship and/or cancer. I even got to meet the creator of Colour Me Well who asked me to supply some of my mandalas for cards she was selling to patients.

It was a heart-warming morning, and at the completion, we had some photos taken. Lisa then went to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on Monday 12 November to deliver 40 boxes, ready for gifting to cancer patients, and donated by various groups and individuals. I was thrilled to play a small role.

There is much to be said from helping our fellow humans and connecting and for those of us with cancer even moreso. Do check out Lisa’s wonderful work on The Big Hug box and she is now partnered by Cancer Aid app (another start-up from Chris O’Brien Lifehouse). Do share the information about the Big Hug Box widely…it helps all of us.

Lisa’s story on Channel Ten

Thank you Lisa for your initiative and hard work. I know it’s for the love of it too but with a young family and working, it is a lot that you do for many!


Joining Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays here and Sue & Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love linky on Wednesdays.




  1. Your bookmarks have such fun designs and itโ€™s also great you can use them for such a good cause ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. When I do my work for Beyondblue and people want to talk to me after it, I always feel like I am making a huge difference in the world. There are so many ways we can help others, and if everyone put in an hour a week devoted to helping someone, what an amazing place we would live in.

  3. You really are doing something wonderful!

    • Thank you…and I don’t know if you saw me tell you this another time, but thank you for my introduction to How by Augusten Burroughs. He said something (I have it on audible) that resonated so much about getting a diagnosis like I did. It impressed me so much, I bought his book so I could delve into some quotations. Thanks again, Lydia.

      Denyse x

  4. I really love initiatives like this that give people personal and thoughtful items. It’s connection through things and it’s so easy to lose connection with others these days.

    • Yes it is and it was Lisa, the founder of the Big Hug Box, who had this idea and now sharing the Big Hugs with many. I like to play a small role in it somewhere too.

      Denyse x

  5. I can vouch for your lovely bookmarks – I use mine every day. This is such a wonderful thing to do and I am sure the bookmarks in the Big Hug Box will spread smiles to everyone who receives them!

  6. This is such a wonderful initiative, Denyse. Our world needs more people like you and Lisa!

  7. What a nice cause, and a great way to share you talents! BTW, I love mandalas too!

  8. What a wonderful day you must have had Denyse. And how lovely that you had the opportunity to contribute something you love towards making someone else’s cancer journey a little less awful. A lot of people don’t get the opportunity to share their craft with others – this has turned out to be a perfect situation for you and for those who receive your gifts.
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM ๐Ÿ™‚

    • It is always good to meet up with people you already know via social media and this occasion was one of those. Yes, we got to help out but the social connection was the best outcome. 40 Random Acts of Kindness Boxes and (I think) 16 Big Hug Boxes were prepared that day.

      Denyse x

  9. What a beautiful story Denyse and a lovely way to use your creative talents to bring joy to others. I would be interested in hearing more about the Random Acts of Kindness boxes. Last year I participated in the Share the Dignity Christmas appeal and felt so warm inside knowing that someone would find my gift useful and hopefully bring a smile to their faces. Thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. xx

    • Thank you Sue, it was one of those things that comes from being on social media! I follow Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on all media as it is my hospital. Earlier this year, I saw more about Lisa’s story of her cancer and then about what she decided to do about things to help others. I followed the story more and when I realised we did not live too far away from each other made a connection on SM. I was hesitant about my bookmarks and their inclusion but Lisa encouraged me warmly to share.

      Initial bookmarks were slightly different to the current ones as over time I have honed my method and it is going well.

      To see what The Big Hug Box sells to either you (for another person) or for you to donate to a person is here: The Random Acts of Kindness boxes are there as well. Glad you find these of interest.

      Denyse x


  10. Wow, Denyse, you truly are one amazing woman! So talented and generous, what a lovely heart warming story. Thanks so much, you must bring joy to everyone. #mlstl

    • Thank you Deb. I appreciate those kind words. It helps ME too to do this and making connections with others has contributed greatly to my emotional well-being.

      Denyse x

  11. What a nice thing to do Denyse. When my younger sister was going through cancer treatment, I put together a care package for her with a small gift to open each treatment day. She told me what a huge difference it made for her, and it made me feel better like I was doing something, rather than just wringing my hands. I love these feel-good stories of people doing nice things for each other, especially for complete strangers. Thank you for making me smile today. #MLSTL

    • Oh how I loved reading this about your gift-giving to your sister. It IS hard when you want to do something to help but not sure what and you nailed it. I do like feel-good stories too and to think my connection to this project of the Big Hug Box came about all on social media!!

      Denyse x

  12. What a beautiful thing you’re doing Denyse. Just goes to show what the connections we make can lead to. I’m sure those who receive a Hug Box will love your bookmarks. By the way they are beautiful. #MLSTL Shared on SM

    • Thank you so much Jennifer, I do appreciate both your sentiments and the connections I have made since my cancer diagnosis and treatments. We all help each other I reckon!

      Denyse x

  13. Your creations are beautiful, Denyse, and what a wonderful way to give back. I’m also an artist who enjoys the process of creating as much as the final product. I am pleased to share your post on FB.

    • Thank you kindly. I am glad I am now in touch with a fellow artist! I know the process is important (as I say) but when the products are all so colourful I knew I needed to find them a home! This way is a perfect one.

      Denyse x

  14. What a beautiful idea and cause! I love this so much. =)

  15. The Big Hug box is such a lovely idea and your bookmarks make a wonderful addition. I have shared your post on my regular feature on my PainPalsBlog “Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!” Thank you for sharing on Midlife Share the Love Party x