The Many Journeys on the Motherhood Path

When mothers day brings sorrowIn a couple of weeks we’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day, which may be the biggest breakfast-in-bed holiday of all time. No one deserves the recognition more than moms and we’re not only thankful, but in total freakin’ awe of every mum, mommy, mama, and mother out there! We applaud every marvelous women fortunate enough to spend the day “any way she wants,” encircled by her loving children—or at the very least surrounded by sweet bouquets and cards they sent.

But our larger mission is in supporting the woman who, for a host of reasons, won’t have giggling children fluffing her pillow and presenting her with a flower-adorned tray of fruit and pancakes. We want those women to remember, you’re not alone. You’ll be among countless women cradling more leaden emotions that are equally sacred.

We’re with you too. We understand. Your journey to motherhood might be winding and complicated. XIZOZU exist to hold space for you, wherever you are on your personal path. And to provide a peaceful point of strength during your fragile times.

These XIZOZU were created to embrace all the shapes of motherhood:

I Chose to Not Have ChildrenI Foster Parent
I Struggle with InfertilityI Raised My Siblings
I Lost a Child by MiscarriageI'm Raising My Grandchildren
I’m a Mother of A StillbornI Lost my Child
I’m a Single MotherI Lost my Daughter
I’m an Adoptive Parent I Lost my Son
I’m a Biological MotherI’m a Surrogate Mother

M. from Florida

Customers Share:

Trigger warning: Some of our customers have experienced unfathomable situations. Please be aware that certain stories might be upsetting and difficult to read.

I was 14 when my mother was diagnosed with end stage liver disease and we became aware that she needed a liver transplant to survive . Fortunately with a few bumps and bruises she received her transplant within a year and a half but during that time , I became ill and started my journey with mental illness.

During my freshman year of college, I was raped and then I ended up in an abusive relationship that lasted three years and took strategic planning to leave and that was 15 years ago. 

Because of my history, I’ve now developed PTSD, which I’m currently trying to heal from along with managing the rest of my medical conditions: depression, anxiety, panic attacks , ADD and chronic insomnia. But I keep on trucking.

I’ve learned even when you think you can’t, you can.

M. from Florida
“XIZOZU is being able to share my experiences with others but without having to reveal it to everyone.”

Resources that M. would like to share with you:

U.S. Government Information on Organ Donation and Transplantation

The Younique Foundation’s Haven Retreat for female survivors of childhood sexual abuse


How about you? What makes you indestructible? Tell us here.

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

 

Breaking the Silence and the Cycles of Domestic Violence

Don't turn a blind eye toward domestic violence

When I was five or six I walked into my grandmother’s kitchen late one afternoon and discovered her holding a large kitchen knife against my mother’s already blackened eye.

“You got to keep something cold on it,” my grandmother said seeing me in the doorway. “Or it will swell.”

Why ice wasn’t the first thing she grabbed I will always wonder, but a lot of things adults did back then didn’t make sense and I was relieved that she wasn’t actually attacking my mother.

It was her son, my mother’s husband, my father, who had just done that earlier. With his fist.

That wasn’t the first nor only time my father had physically assaulted my mother.

It happened with unspoken regularity. When a reason for this brutality could be pointed to, it was always senseless. Once it was because she had rearranged the living room furniture. Another time because he found clothes in her closet that still had the price tags on them, and another because she deposited her paycheck into their bank account without letting him see it first. Those were some of the times when the antagonizing prologue could be clearly heard and deciphered before I closed the door of our upstairs bedroom, trying to distract my younger sister, while shooting don’t-go-downstairs looks to my older brother.

One night while my sister and I were downstairs playing dolls on the living room floor when I caught a glimpse of my father leaning over our mother who was backing up in her chair in the opposite corner of the room. He was speaking through gritted teeth, his face inches from hers. I tried to become as small as I could and stared helplessly at Barbie’s eternal smile. My father managed to punch my mother in utter silence. She made no sound. The next morning, she was wearing her sunglasses. At breakfast. Again.

We knew he was dangerous. To her. My father never hit us, his children. That does not redeem him. Nor does the fact that he never touched his second wife. He terrorized our mother emotionally, verbally and physically through most of their eight or nine year marriage and turbulent two-year divorce.

Back in my grandmother’s kitchen as a little girl sitting quietly on a stool by the cellar door, I listened. I don’t remember much of the conversation or how much I actually understood at the time; the knife still against my mother’s cheek. The only sentence I DO remember comes in my grandmother’s comforting voice: “Don’t make him mad. You just can’t make that boy mad. You can’t give him a reason to hit you.

Did I know then how insane that statement was? No. I didn’t. I do now. It’s crazy to blame the victim. But back then it made sense to my young mind as it was precisely the approach I took when dealing with my mother—my mother, who beat me. But that’s another story for another day.

But you see the pattern, right? You see the problem?


When worn in a cluster, XIZOZU™ medals can tell a complete story.

Have you saved yourself from someone else’s emotional or physical violence? Two XIZOZU™ Medal Pendants that honor getting yourself out of harmful relationships, claim yours:

I Got Out of an Abusive Relationship

 YES! I LEFT!

I Ended a Toxic Friendship or Family Relationship 

YES! I GOT OUT!

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I will elaborate on my personal childhood experiences with this all too common family struggle in future journal posts. Today I’ll end here, asking that if you or someone you love are in a relationship that should be all about love and support and it’s instead filled with control and anger, please reach out.

Resources for Dealing with Domestic Violence

Here’s a place to start: National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE (7233)

Jane Doe, Inc.

PAVE (People Against Violent Encounters)

More on Domestic Violence Survivors:

Why Didn’t You Just Leave? Six Domestic Violence Survivors Explain Why It’s Never That Simple.

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.

Holes

When it comes to race, gender and religious equality, we have a long way to to go before we celebrate.

Today is my best friend’s birthday. She’s an incredibly special person.  (Let’s call her, Laura 😉) You’d love Laura. I love Laura.

Had she and I not met there’d be a huge hole in my life, but the truth is Laura was my second choice. Not as a best friend, but as my assistant, which is how we originally met. I hired her while I was an information specialist at an international accounting firm at few decades back. She turned out to be a fantastic assistant and, an even better friend.

But I wanted to hire someone else.

I wanted to hire a black woman. I can’t remember the woman’s name or really anything about her. I only have a dim image of her seated opposite me at the corner of a large mahogany conference room table. She was articulate, poised and most importantly had some great work experience that I knew could make up for some of my lethal professional shortcomings like organization, organization, oh, and organization. I arranged for her to have a second interview with my boss—another woman whom I admired at the time.

Laura also made the short-list. She was a sharp, petite blonde—equally capable but fresh out of college with an unrelated degree and no directly applicable work experience.

The third candidate to make the cut was a male, I remember thinking he was going to be hard to rein in but if that was his biggest flaw, he could do the job too.

After conducting her own interviews my boss asked which of the three applicants I preferred, “because it really was my choice.”

I selected the black woman.

Silence. Would it be better to choose someone who was a better fit?

Better fit? I wondered what could have possible gone on during their interview because the woman I interviewed would easily stand shoulder to shoulder with all of the professionals and administrators in the firm.

If anyone would have had to work to fit in it might have been the guy – as the administrative staff was 110% female.

She padded her concern with other comments: Had I considered that perhaps the candidate would  feel out of place? Was it right to do that to her?

I was shocked when I realized my boss was referring to race. But I did not speak up. Let me repeat that. I did not speak up. And that afternoon we, I, offered Laura the job.

Looking back, I don’t regret it because I gained an irreplaceable friend. Yet I do have regrets. Every now and then I try to appease my guilt by saying I was young, barely 24 and that I wanted to please my supervisors and keep my job.

I did not speak up. I didn’t stand up for that woman who really had first claim to a career-boosting position. A day hasn’t gone by that I haven’t wished I had.

I wish I’d stood my ground, or quit in disgust. It’s hard to admit that because either of those scenarios would have meant a life without Laura. But deep down I do wish it. And as unimaginable as life-without-Laura is now, Laura, being the incredible woman she is, would understand, and maybe even agree.

I’ve never forgotten that other woman—the woman I might have also become friends with, and, who, more importantly, might have gotten the job she deserved.

How many other walls of denial did she have to face throughout her life? The other woman’s absence also left a deep hole in my life.

I’d like to be able to wish her a happy birthday, but chances are I missed it.


Photo by Dave Lastovskiy

You Don’t Need a License to Stand Up for Yourself

But there ware people who can help you get out of an abusive relationship

Summer Solstice. The longest day of the year and the official start of summer.

Yet today I found myself thinking about a brutally frigid morning a few winters ago. It was about eight o’clock, and, without exaggeration, eighteen degrees below zero outside. I shifted my car into reverse when the reflection of a woman moved across my rearview mirror. Continue reading “You Don’t Need a License to Stand Up for Yourself”

Saying It In Secret

Sent this set to a buyer this morning.

The aspect of one’s life that any given XIZOZU™ honors is only identified on the inside of the hangtag. You can share it’s meaning if you choose. Or not.

You see, we deeply respect your privacy and are exceptional secret-keepers.

The Medals We’ve Earned – Survey

The achievements, roles and experiences of women

In a loooong texting session with a friend last night we wound up “discussing” the many XIZOZU medals that we each could personally claim. She offered her list and wow! Was I shocked by the length of her list and by the number of achievements, roles, and situations that she’d experienced that I didn’t know about and that I hadn’t already designed medals or survivor jewelry for.

So I thought I’d ask you. This quick survey is completely anonymous. I don’t ask your name or email. No identifying information whatsoever. So please be as upfront and honest as you can. I simply want to know – how many badges have you earned at this point in your life? And how many have I not thought about? It’s a great help! Thank you.

[si-contact-form form=’4′]

April. Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault

It breaks my heart that this month exists at all, but while it does, honor it. To the millions of people who have experienced sexual assault, there’s no easy recovery. It may be a long complicated road.  But never forget this: You’re strong. You’re not alone. You survived the assault, you will survive the recovery.

Joe Biden’s video should be a reminder to all of us that if a woman hasn’t said “yes,” she has said no.