You’re Forever Tattooed in My Heart

The very first ZIZOZU tattoo - a reminder to the wearer of how far she's come and to keep believing.

This week in our private Facebook group, The XIZOZU Sisterhood of Indestructible Women, the conversation turned toward tattoos. How many do you have? What are they of?

It was fun to read how different women used body art to express themselves—they’re philosophies, dreams and sorrows.

So in the spirit of giving I offered a free custom tattoo design to the first eight women who asked for one and was delighted when six women chimed in right off the bat.

One by one each woman shared her story with me privately. A few told me very specific experiences or character traits that they wanted to honor, others told me deeply moving stories about what they were going through currently, others shared their detailed accounts of their pasts and how they overcame emotional and physical adversity. I can’t tell you how many times I had tears rolling down my cheeks while reading their words. The strength—emotional and physical—these women possess is incredibly inspiring.

Using what they had shared I set about finding the expressions that would capture their intention and the essence of their stories. The first one I designed gave me chills as the XIZOZU characters landed on the page instantly; the second made me cry; and the third had me holding my breath as I tried many different angles. Then after one design took shape, I exhaled. I knew that was it.

I sent each woman their custom XIZOZU design and they each sent me back emails saying in their own words that when they saw it, they’d cried. Of course, that made me cry, again.

I posted this to the group:

“Your responses to the XIZUZO Tattoo designs have been more touching than I could have imagined. My heart is bursting.

I still have a few to do but I want to remind you all that the things these XIZOZU express are aspects of the magnificence you possess. Their beauty is in that. I’ve simply given some of your invisible energy and awesomeness a visible shape – made it something you can see. Something you can point to, or touch, and say “That’s me. That’s how awesome I am.” Even on your lowest days. Especially then.

So I hope when you decide where to have them tattooed it’s somewhere you can see, often. When others see them they might think, oh that’s pretty. But you will know…no, that’s fuckin’ beautiful. That’s me.”

And that’s what XIZOZU is: You.

I am in awe of the women who share their stories so they and other women can grow. It’s exactly what XIZOZU was meant for.

Want to see the designs we created? Come over and join the group.

 

 

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”

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.

The Importance of Remembrance and Memorial Jewelry

Remembrance jewelry lets you honor your loved ones and keep them near to your heart

Yesterday’s post about my father’s suicide received a lot of positive attention both here on the blog and in conversations on Facebook.

It was wonderful to see the dialog about mental wellness and suicide open up around me, but what was equally striking was the number of private messages I received in which people privately expressed their experiences with suicide. Those who reached out via text and email wanted to share their thoughts and memories, but confidentially.

That’s exactly what XIZOZU’s all about. The ability to  honor an event or emotion, while still keeping it secret.

Personally I think it’s important to broaden the conversation about mental wellness, grief, trauma, and suicide, so I’ll talk about, or write about, my experience of losing my dad. Others aren’t there yet. I totally get that. Everyone processes grief differently and there’s no universal way to do it.

Above is one of the XIZOZU™ I will be likely wearing for the next few weeks. Its one I wear often. It honors the loss of a loved one through suicide. It’s where I can direct my affection, and sometimes draw  bit of strength, anytime I’m move to, especially when I touch it.

Honor your own achievements, challenges and loss with your won medals.

Get Yours

 

Poem: Evidence I

EVIDENCE I

	We'll need yours too

The first thing asked of 
his widow
is to surrender the only
fragile explanation he left her

which she does
without looking up

Politely the officer refolds the single sheet
careful to not add creases
that weren't already there
and slips it into a large brown envelope
where three other letters are hidden

Unopened
Mine among them

    Evidence
    They will be returned

    Standard procedure

    You know you may read yours
    before we take it

Father may I No No you may not You may never

Seems apparent, but still
we must rule out homicide
We'll need copies for the file

Evidence

I imagine a clerk with unruly hair
reading them
one at a time
mindlessly fussing with a hangnail
while the photocopier
replicates the tragedy
deciding for herself
who he loved the most

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′]