In A world with Octobers

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ―  a famous quote from Anne of Green Gables. It’s a sentiment I share – especially living in what might be the undisputed capital of autumn. Vermont.

As beautiful as it is, October can also be a difficult month around here. It’s national observances include:

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • National Bullying Prevention Month
  • National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
  • Pregnancy and Infant loss Awareness month

Plus October 10th is both National Mental Health Day and my father’s birthday who was lost to suicide.

But truth is I, and most XIZOZU women don’t need a day or month to be made aware of these experiences – they are, or have been, these experiences. They have personal relationships with these and many other of life’s most gripping aspects. And we address, support and heal from them all year long.

So we use these decreed month-long banner-waving observances to celebrate the current triumphs of our tribe.

And there is a lot to celebrate! Here are just a few recent member triumphs (used anonymously, but still with permission):

  • one women left an abusive, soul-crushing nine year relationship,
  • another marked 8 years cancer free just yesterday!,
  • another made amends to a family member after years of what she described as alcohol-fueled emotional abuse,
  • another brought her sexual assault to the surface and shared it with her mother for the first time.

So yeah, October can be a mother of a month, but also a triumphant one!

I’ve also read the autumn is nature’s way of showing us how beautiful letting go can be. So keep rocking it ladies.

We are all here supporting and rooting for you! Stay on your path, no matter how difficult, and there will always be someone here keeping watch for you when you need to rest.

The Last Lost Days of August

Suicide prevention and awareness

September 2nd is approaching; the anniversary of my father’s suicide.

It’s been nineteen years—yes, nineteen— and I still never know how that day will arrive. Some years the sorrow of loss starts gathering early. It might appear days, even weeks, beforehand, and is persistent like the dense fog that clings to these late August mornings—heavy and opaque.

Other years the date, though permanently circled on the calendar in invisible red ink, passes undetected by my emotional radar and I awake on September 3rd surprised by a guilt-tinged realization that I didn’t think of September 2nd at all. But those years are rare.

But today, August 21st,  marks a different anniversary from that same year that I rarely talk about. It’s the anniversary of the day my father wrote his suicide notes.

Continue reading “The Last Lost Days of August”

I’m Sorry. You’re getting this post instead. | The XIZOZU 8

This week’s eight things ONE THING worth sharing with friends

Issue #6: #enough 

I’d planned to publish a very witty and timely “Presidents’ Day” post today. But that can wait. Changing our nation’s literally off-the-charts level of gun violence just can’t. Not anymore. Here are eight things you can do right now to let our government know you won’t wait either and that you demand common sense gun laws.

8 Ways you can help change gun laws.

  1. ARM YOURSELF. With data. This great video will help you focus on the facts and get the big picture.
  2. BE RELENTLESS. To reduce the likelihood of future gun tragedies, we need stronger gun-control legislation—and that power of legislation lies in the hands of Congress. (I know, eye-roll. But right now they’re all you’ve got.)
    Contact your congressional representative using this online forum. Find out exactly who represents you in Congress.
    Call them: Capitol switchboard at (202)-224-3121. Let the operator know you’re a voter who will only vote for candidates who make gun reform a top priority. Demand stronger actions to get common sense gun reform passed. Here are the 50 legislators who voted NO for making background checks mandatory on all gun sales. Start with them.
  3. PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE THE LOUDEST MOUTH IS.  With the goal of cutting gun deaths by half by 2025, The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence, is a on a mission to get gun control policies passed. Donations go directly to funding political initiatives, translate: lobbying Congress (you know, like the NRA does).
    Other organizations also doing important work in the fight for gun control are: Coalition to Stop Gun Violence,  Coalition to Stop Gun ViolenceMoms Demand Action for Gun Sense in AmericaEverytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords. Make your donation to whichever cause speaks to you the most.
  4. FUEL THE MOVEMENT. Get on your feet and rally. Find an event in your state and show up. Go to States United to Prevent Gun Violence. Find a grassroots gun control group in your area – they’ll know how you can get involved.
  5. LEAD THE CONVERSATION. Host your own information and action get together. Open a dialogue with friends, family, and the community about gun violence and the importance of action. The Violence Policy Center has created a how-to guide.
  6. TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. (I know. No child should have to think about this!) There are different approaches to handling the conversation about gun violence depending on the age of your children. Dr. Gilboa breaks it down for you. I’m sorry you have to even consider it.
  7. LEARN FROM OTHERS. Other countries have tackled this. And won. Let’s learn from their successes.
  8. KEEP THE NATION IN YOUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS. But do it before another tragedy, and back it up with actions.

Take Aim. Get involved. Be part of the solution.

Because I don’t want to design a XIZOZU for surviving a mass shooting.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for caring #enough,
Christine

What’s Wrong with You? | The ZIZOZU 8

This week’s eight things that are worth sharing with friends

Issue #4: What’s Wrong With Me?  

Nothing. Nothing is wrong. It was a week of learning about how folks handle their self-doubts, perceived flaws and spectacular failures. Next time you’re feeling down about yourself remember: you’re not alone. Figuratively or literally.
  1. MILLENNIAL. Maybe you’re one of them and according to Simon Sinek, here’s the way to handle it.
  2. GRIEF BRAIN. It’s a thing. But it’s temporary. And you’re not alone, many XIZOZU customers wear at least one medal honoring a lost loved one as a place to direct their love or a place to find strength and comfort.
  3. YOU’RE OUT OF BREATH. You’re doing it wrong. Or I was. Here’s how to breathe specifically to relax, quiet anxiety, and even fall back to sleep.
  4. IT’S ALL IN YOUR HEAD. The traveling exhibit Mindful – exploring mental health through art will be at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts through April 2018.
  5. THE BLUES. We all get ’em. Make the most of it with this worth-your-time music documentary: Blues America: Part 1 and Part 2
  6. OH BURGERS! I’m a vegetarian, except for those days when I eat meat. Try this simple approach for a healthier you and planet.
  7. YAY! YOU’VE BEEN A FAILURE. Successful entrepreneurs, authors, comedians, top YouTube creators, and more share trues stories about their complete mess ups in the What’s Wrong with You Podcast.
  8. WRONG vs. RIGHT Can science determine human values? Sam Harris’ The Moral Landscape is next up on my nonfiction reading list. What’s next up on yours?

A customer's keychain with XIZOZU medals of honor—reminders of what's important.CUSTOMER LOVE NOTES:
“I locked the door and saw my XIZOZU. Started the car and there they were. It’s like mini meditations all day long!” —L. (USA)

The new XIZOZU™ keychains are super popular with the non-necklace wearers.


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The XIZOZU 8 is a regular collection of eight helpful or entertaining ideas that we think our friends and fans will enjoy.  Subscribe and get it delivered  straight to your inbox.

Information worth sharing with friends

custom intention jewelry

When You Really Want to Say F*ck You.

Taking charge of your life means taking charge of your emotions
Over the weekend I had a wonderful visit with a cherished friend who’s heading into year two of a really rough divorce. Few divorces are without some ugly bits—dismantling a marriage can be difficult and gut wrenching—but her future ex is just being a colossal prick. His narcissistic behavior pushes all of my buttons while breaking my heart—for everyone involved.

Toward the end of the visit the conversation shifted to XIZOZU™ and while showing her a new design, I laughed and volunteered to create a custom medal especially for her that essentially said “Fuck You Husband.” We both lost it laughing over the idea. “I’ m going to do it!” I swore.  I mean who would know, right?

An hour or so after she left I realized: I would know. And she would know. Petty and spiteful (though temporarily satisfying!) is not what XIZOZU™ is about and that’s what a cynical medal like that would be—small and diminishing. XIZOZU™ are the very opposite of  that kind of damaging negativity.

The medals I make for women are about finding their strength through hard times; they’re about coaxing the positive threads out of life’s challenges; they’re about emotional and physical valor. They’re a place from which to draw strength and direct love.

I am still making her a medal, but it will be a medal that restores her.

What will it say? Something like:

The best revenge is forgiveness.


Get Your Medals

 

Therapy is Expensive | The XIZOZU 8

This week’s eight things worth sharing with friends

Issue #2: Clink! Clink! Clink!  

A nickel shaking in a can—the sound of cold hard cash! Yep, therapy’s a luxury for most people, but we could all benefit from an internal tune-up once in a while. So what do you do when you feel like you need it but you can’t afford therapy? Why not try a little DIY mental wellness.
Here are 8 simple ideas that might help lift your mood, reduce everyday anxieties, process grief, or simply make you marvel at the beautiful upside of human existence:
  1. Laughter is the best medicine. And while it’s good to be able to laugh at yourself, it’s more fun to laugh at therapists.
  2. Good Grief. The Dinner Party. Bring your appetite for sharing and healing.
  3. Step Back. Look Again. Sebastian Errazuriz shows how backing up helps you see the bigger issues to solve deeper problems. You designer types will especially love this.
  4. Powers activate! Wearable totems can help you feel anchored, settle you down or get you fired up!
  5. Coloring book therapy. I do this. It works. No lie. And here are some free coloring pages to get you started.
  6. Forest Bathing* The practice of shinrin-yoku (森林浴) How time in nature improves you. *Forest optional.
  7. Carve out time for yourself. Even just 10 minutes with a proper cup of tea can reset a negative space. While sipping, be sure to check this out; it might change what you do with your tea bag.
  8. There’s always the no-fail: Netflix and chill. No budget for Netflix? No problem. Try these more than 1,000 flicks for free. But still chill. It’s all about the chill.

What approaches work for you to break a funk? Tell using the comments below.


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The XIZOZU 8 is a regular collection of eight ideas that our friends and fans might find helpful. Subscribe and get it delivered  straight to your inbox.

Information worth sharing with friends

Lucy Van Pelt Psychiatric Help 5¢

In Time for Christmas

Remembrance jewelry lets you honor your loved ones and keep them near to your heart
Stylish, discrete packaging allows customers to not reveal the meaning of their XIZOZU™
XIZOZU™ Medals of Honor empower women to honor their hourney but say it in secret.

If you still want a XIZOZU for yourself or as a gift in time for Christmas, I have  XIZOZU™ in hand that can be shipped standard or express service through December 21st!

Plus you save! Each medal is only $20.00 shipping!

HERE’S THE COMPLETE LIST

Let me know which XIZOZU™ medals you’d like and we can take care of the details via Etsy or Paypal.

Don’t wait though! Once these are gone I won’t be making more until after Christmas!

 

International Day of My Father

Suicide has no face

Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day.

Today would have also been my father’s 75th birthday had he not committed suicide when he was 56 years old after an acute struggle with his own inner demon—depression.

If you had met my father, you’d have liked him. Everyone did. To the world he was charming, funny, and gregarious; quick with a clever joke or a pat on your back. Men and women both were easily dazzled by his charisma. Even near the decided end of his life, you as an onlooker would have never guessed that he was suffering with depression of any sort. I was among the people closest to him and, while I knew very well that he was troubled by many things, even I didn’t appreciate the depth of his pain and anguish.

He and I had been silently quarreling at the end of that summer. Like a lovers’ spat. Or a riff with your BFF. I was avoiding him because I found dealing with him a bit infuriating and, if I’m honest, a little exhausting. He was avoiding me because I suspect he was tired of my constantly judging his choices. We had gone more than a week without contact, which was unusual. I was glad for the break. But then it started to pull on me. When I finally called him and asked could we have dinner sometime soon so I wouldn’t have to remain mad at him for the rest of his life. He said “Sure, how about Wednesday.”

I had no idea that the rest of his life was so near.

It was a perfect blue-sky evening at the start of September. We sat at table for two on a dock at a nearby lakeside restaurant. Outside of pushing it around the plate, he barely touched his food and I don’t remember whether he ordered his usual vodka martini with a twist. He asked questions about my work, and my husband, whom he adored. When answering the questions I tossed to him he looked me in the eye and assured me that everything was “going to work out.”

“Are you sure? That’s good to hear because I’m a little worried about you.” This was probably the closest I’d come to saying “I love you” in years.

For the rest of the meal that only I ate, we talked about how we were going to spend New Years Eve – it was 1999, the century was turning. He threw pieces of his uneaten hamburger roll to the panhandling ducks swimming fidgety circles in the water beside us. There. Right there. Amidst the bobbing lake current, the chatty small talk, the clinks of silverware, and the perfectly comfortable silences, we had made up. Tacitly.

I paid the bill, insisting since I had invited him. Then we walked to the parking lot together until our paths divided and we each headed to our own cars. No hugs or kisses good-bye. Just a smile from across the lane of car rooftops. He told me to say hello to my husband. “Have him give me a call.”

“Or you can call him.” I replied, an eyebrow raised.

He smirked and said he might. I knew he wouldn’t. He knew he wouldn’t.

A quick wave good-bye. With our cars pointed in opposite directions, we drove away into the last night my father was  alive.

Of course I replay that dinner a lot when I think about my dad—grateful for having had the chance to repair the small tear in our bond. I look for the ordinary things that might make it feel like any other day, any other dinner: the ice melting in our water glasses, his clasped hands as if in prayer; his elbows on the table; the dependable twitch of his mouth; a small chuckle; his eyes and attention often elsewhere. The rim of light around his face as the sun dropped behind him and the hills across the water. The alleged everyday-ness of it.

I had no idea that would be the last time I’d see his face. Or that his was the face of a suicidal man. There was now way to know that because, I have since learned, suicide has no face.

Today the XIZOZU™ I wear will honor losing a father and losing someone to suicide. That’s where I will send my love and find peace in his memory.

XIZOZU™ for focusing the special grief of losing someone through suicide
Sympathy Gifts for Loss of Father
Unique unisex pendant for keeping a father who has passed close to your heart.

Take Back Your Nights

Using techniques like the 478 Breathing technique can help you relax and return to sleep

Not long ago a friend had recommended this breathing technique when I admitted to feeling anxious. It worked almost instantly – partly, I think, because if we just take the time for a few deep breaths of any kind, we can quiet much of our inner turbulence.

Lately I’ve had some trouble staying asleep and for the last four nights have found myself inexplicably awake from 2:00am till 4:00am. Considering I normally get up at 5:00am you can see how this sleep pattern was a little off-putting.

Continue reading “Take Back Your Nights”