Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Apr 23, 2008

Mindful Joy pin

Way back in the fall of '07, I was asked to be on the planning committee for a Maple Center event, a Celebration of Life workshop day for breast cancer survivors. Originally, I was to facilitate a creative writing workshop, but I had to let that go due to my mother's illness and death.

However, I did manage to fulfill my commitment to create a special ribbon pin for the day. I made 105 of them.
I spoke at the event during the opening remarks:

The Story of the Mindful Joy Pin
Good morning!

I’m ‘Zann Carter. I’m a poet and fiber artist. My volunteer work with the Maple Center is done in memory of my son Patrick who died two years ago this month. My personal mission is to be a voice for expressive arts as a healing modality and to share two beliefs I have:

One, that creative expression is vital to wellness and wholeness of mind, body and spirit. And two, that if you are human, you are creative.

When you received your workshop materials, you also received a package with a little ribbon pin in it. The name of the pin is the Mindful Joy Pin.

I designed and made each one of those pins and stamped each card with stars and “JOY.” I did it as my gift to you all. And in the creating, I received gifts.

The pin came about serendipitously. Serendiptity is when you are looking for one thing and another, often wondrous, thing is found instead. In the fall, I was looking for ideas to share with Benni for the bracelet that you all will make today and instead, the ribbon yarn I was using for another project, began to speak to me.

“ Look at me,” it said, “I’m shimmering shades of festive color, I’m alive with celebration....I would be perfect as a ribbon pin for the Celebration of Life workshop...”

How can you argue with such an eloquent ribbon? Especially when it is a ribbon brand-named Zen in a colorway called Mindful.


And chutzpah! I am only beginning to learn to work with wire. And I had the chutzpah to not only believe I could make a reasonably pleasing wire design to complement that lovely ribbon, but to commit to making dozens and dozens of pins.

It was creative, repetitive work which encouraged a meditative state. I tried to work mindfully each evening, to turn my thoughts to the meaning of this workshop. As I twisted wire to form spirals that symbolize life’s spiritual journey, I would ponder how one celebrates life while standing in the shadow of enormous challenge.

And sometimes, I confess, I was making pins and watching Project Runway.

Working on these pins was also a respite from the challenges I was experiencing in my life: still grieving the loss of my son and grieving the tremendous suffering of my mother with a particularly awful dementia. I thought a lot about joy and sorrow, abundance and loss; about the choices we do have in the midst of situations which have given us no choice.

I had 95 pins made when my mother’s condition began to rapidly deterioriate and I put the project aside in early January to be fully present with her. But the thoughts I had while working on the pins stayed with me. In the shadow of my mother’s dying, I was able to remember light, and I felt part of a great spiral, a sacred life journey.

My mother died peacefully, early in the morning just two weeks ago, on Valentine’s Day, bless her dear heart. I’ve been in a kind of calm, hazy fog ever since. I haven’t come close to understanding what I experienced during those weeks. I know it is Big Stuff, though.

I had to face the fact that I was not going to be able to facilitate the writing workshop today, but I really wanted to honor my commitment to the pins, to figure out a special way to present them. So just three days ago, ideas suddenly bloomed in the fog. I was able to make some more pins and create the cards. I punched holes, I added black Zen ribbon to the cards to represent the shadow of our illnesses, losses, fears....and underneath it stamped J- O -Y and stars, stars, stars. I put a shimmering festive ribbon pin on each card. I did that over 100 times.

And I tried very hard to hold at the top of my thoughts the life-celebration I hope for you to have this day and what I hope you will be reminded of when you look at your pin: a mindful joy, the choices we do have.

I’d like to end with words attributed to Fra Giovanni, 1513....

"...Take peace! The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy. Take joy!"

Thank you and have a very special day here today!


At 5/1/08, 12:06 PM, Blogger Barbara H. said...

Zann, I think you are a truly amazing woman. What a labor of love, and the pins are so nice!

At 7/27/08, 1:57 AM, Blogger molly burkett said...

i found this entry at the perfect time.

also, i am very impressed by your speech, and grateful you're my mama.


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