The First Eris Bracelets Fly!

Intentional and recovery jewelry for survivors

So very excited that the very first Eris Bracelets were shipped or delivered today to some very inspiring women!

These special bracelets remind women of their own incredible power and courage. They are celebrations of accomplishment, healing and determination.

I am continually humbled by and in awe of the women who wear XIZOZU. They truly are indestructible women!

GET YOUR OWN ->

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.

What Gets Remembered. Forever.

I’m not surprised that Christine Blasey Ford can’t remember how she got home or other seemingly simple details after being attacked in an upstairs bedroom as a teenager in the early 1980s.

Thirty-six years ago I was sexually assaulted while walking (with crutches) from a parking lot to a bar in Brookfield, Ct. It was a familiar bar that I’d been to several times over a couple of years. Ask me the name of the bar. I can’t tell you. I don’t remember the dance floor, or where the restrooms were.  I’ve tried but don’t remember any of those things.

But ask me about the sickening smirk on the face of my assaulter; the smell of smoke in his long dark wavy hair. Ask me about his grip on my neck then his hand pressed over my mouth. The coarse brick wall behind my head. The Cheap Trick song blasting from inside the building.  His pants unzipped. The punch to my face once he regained his stance after stumbling backward. I can tell you all about those.

I was not penetrated,

Physically.

Christine Blasey Ford. Thank you. Your courage lifts us all.

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”

D. from USA. XIZOZU and the New Old Sister

Customers Share:

A few weeks ago I received a custom order request from a woman who was meeting her sixty-nine year-old sister for the first time. She wanted to bring her a gift of a custom XIZOZU to mark the occasion, privately. Of course being a story addict, I was captivated by the story and asked “D” if she would share some of the details of how this came to be. Here’s what she told me. She was gracious enough to permit me to share it with you.

My mother became pregnant while in nursing school in the late 1940s. When she graduated she went directly to a Catholic home for unwed mothers where she had the baby and gave it up for adoption. The baby, let’s call her Lisa, was raised by wonderful parents.

My mother assumed all records would be sealed forever but of course several years ago the law changed. Nobody in my mother’s family ever knew. AS it happened my brother is big into ancestry and uses an online site with a DNA service. Lisa was also in the system. Last year the website matched their DNA to be first degree relatives.

My mom had large family and I would have thought she would have been the last of her siblings this would have happened to. We had been communicating with Lisa trying to figure out which of our uncles or aunts would have been her parent. My brother and I were the only ones who knew at this point.

When the birth certificate was found and clearly showed my mom’s signature you could have knocked me over with a feather.

It’s 2017 and my ninety-year-old mother’s health is failing fast. My brother and I did talk to her about it and she really wanted nothing to do with it and it was not to be talked about to anybody else. Lisa eventually wrote my mom a wonderful letter and spoke with her briefly on the phone. Lisa wanted them to meet. My mom, a wonderful, popular woman with many friends, could not handle it at that time; she declined.

Ultimately I did convince my mom to meet with Lisa which I swore would be unbeknownst to anybody else. So the arrangements for a mother and daughter reunion were were made. Two days before they were to be together, face to face,  my mom passed away.

Since then I have stayed in communication with Lisa and my other siblings all now know. My sister and I are going to meet with her this summer and I wanted to bring her a gift.


Sisters meet their sister who was given to adoption in the 1940s.This is the custom XIZOZU™ created exclusively for this wonderful event. What D. doesn’t know is that in gratitude for her being so generous with her story, I’m sending one for her and her other sister as well. Only these three women ever have to know the true meaning behind the piece.

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

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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.

The Tattoo and The Art of Support.

So many of my days are made – by you. Today is one of them

A month or so ago a customer ordered a XIZOZU™ pendant and with the order came a note with this request:

I have been looking for many months for some type of personal symbol or sigil as a unique tattoo that would represent my struggles without being too mainstream, and without others having to know what it truly means. This would be the perfect beautiful tattoo to have on my arm…What you have created here is amazing. May I have your blessing?

Of course I said yes, without hesitation and sent her a larger reference image to make th artist’s work easier.

This photo arrived in my inbox this morning with another heartwarming note that filled both my heart and eyes.

Tattoo designs that let provide comfort and strength

This, this is what XIZOZU is…a beautiful source of both comfort and strength.

For you.

And for me.

What would your XIZOZU tattoo say? Of course you can express anything, but click to see the ones we’ve made so far:

Available Medals

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XIZOZU Surprises Area Student Activists

 

March 24, 2018 – Rutland, Vt, area students speak at the March for Our Lives Rally at Main Street Park in Rutland.

March for Our Lives Student Organizers Rutland Vermont Student Activists

When my plans to march in Washington DC were given the kibosh,  I attended the March for Our Lives rally at Main Street Park in Rutland.

After listening to the student organizers’ thoughtful and empowering speeches, I was move to honor them for their willingness to stand up and do the necessary work to shape the future. So when I got back to the studio, I gave them all medals.

These students didn’t just show up. They did the hard and likely thankless tasks involved in coordinating such an impactful event. They researched and wrote speeches and songs. They motivated others.

There are two XIZOZU medals related to protests, one for marching in one, another for organizing one. These students are receiving the latter.

I decided on keychains instead of chokers since these students do in fact hold the keys to all of our futures. And after what I saw at the rally, I’m pretty comfortable knowing that.

My Huge, Little, Tiny, Microscopic Wonderful World

HOW’S THIS FOR SMALL WORLD?

This morning, I went over to my friend Will’s shop to get his opinion on a new XIZOZU product I’m developing. While we were talking, Peggy, another of the shop’s “regular” customers who I enjoy running into there, came in. We invited her into the conversation. Will, who wears a medal himself, explained how I created XIZOZU, and was teaching her how to pronounce it: “SHĒ-ZŌ-ZŪ”. Peggy nailed it, the second time!

Discovering XIZOZU customers and friends

Then Peggy looked at me a little puzzled and said. “Wait. You designed this? But this isn’t something local. Right?”

I was about to answer when she added, “my friend in South Africa posted about this. I remember seeing it on her Facebook page.”

There was the briefest pause and then we simultaneously said “Penelope!?!!”

I got tingles listening as Peggy told me how she and one of my customers from the other side of the world were friends and had worked together in California.

I admit I teared up a little as I shared this memory with her: One evening last summer I was sitting with my husband on our back deck, doing some research on my laptop and, if I may be honest, grappling over what to do with XIZOZU.

Was it something? Would it catch on?

He was being wholly supportive and you know, wonderfully husband-y. I appreciated all his encouragement but, well, he’s my husband. It’s in his best interest to be kind and reassuring.

I returned my focus to the computer and  an email that had just arrived from a women in South Africa which, after reading twice, I read to him.

I will share with you just the ending:

“I absolutely love what you’re doing here. And these pendants are an amazing way for women like myself to feel proud of our will to survive without having to write what happened across our foreheads. It’s a beautiful first step to allowing the world to see our story. For that, I thank you.”

The message brought me to tears and left me speechless and came at a moment when I needed it.

I knew I would keep going. For that I thank you, Penelope (and Peggy and Will) for being a part of my journey!

And thank you.