Crossing the Great Divide

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Hi Everyone,

I’ve spent most of this week working on visuals for a new presentation, The Journey from Grief to Gratitude, which I’ll be giving in Pennsylvania on Thursday. It’s a talk I’m giving in conjunction with my first book signing for the trade edition of When You Lose Someone You Love. For those who haven’t had a chance to see the book, I made a two minute video giving you a ‘sneak peek’ at what’s inside:


Everyone who comes to my presentation will get a free copy of the book. If you are in the Philadelphia area, and would like to attend, click this link for more information. For those who aren’t able to be there, I thought I’d share a few of the visuals I’ll be including in the PowerPoint.

Many calligraphers, myself included, consider themselves to be interpretive vehicles for whatever text they pen. One of the reasons that I prefer to letter words I’ve written myself, is that I know what I’m trying to convey, which helps me enhance the meaning visually. For example, I’ll be using the image below when I discuss different ways to prepare for ‘firsts’ (the first time you do something without your loved one). I wanted to create an image which was gloomy, and somewhat unpredictable, so I picked a blue-grey palette for the piece. I drew different-sized bouncy letters for the word ‘FIRSTS’ to convey shakiness, and turned the ‘I’ into a candle, to represent ‘one’ or ‘first’. Then I nestled the words ‘are SO hard’ underneath… with tears coming out of the word ‘SO’. I trailed the end of the ‘d’ off into a big, tangled knot, which I hope implies that ‘FIRSTS’ are so hard that you get tied up in knots just thinking about them. Then I digitally superimposed the lettering on a greyed-out watercolor wash. Lastly I added the words ‘plan ahead’ in a formal style in white, so they stand out. The message I’m trying to share visually is that when you know that something is going to be difficult, you need to plan ahead in order to minimize the emotional upheaval.

I’d love to know how you interpret the two pieces below: ‘Crossing the Great Divide’ and ‘Every Ending Leads to New Beginnings’… leave a comment letting me know what the pieces mean to you, and your name will be entered into a random drawing for a book of your choice from the Zenspirations® shop.

After the presentation in Ambler, I’m heading to Lancaster to meet with Wellspring, my gift industry licensee, and my publisher, Fox Chapel, to discuss new products and books. I’d welcome new product ideas, so please let me know what you’d like me to work on, so I can share your thoughts during the upcoming product development meetings.

I’ll be writing next week’s blog from Lancaster, Pennsylvania… and hope to be able to share photos of the book signing and presentation.

Stay Zenspired,


19 thoughts on “Crossing the Great Divide”

  1. Crossing the great divide is an image I needed. Thank you. I have found myself looking back across the divide to find my sister. I see her blue lace agate stone she loved, and there I am looking back for her.. then I turn back forward with a small prayer of thanks for her many gifts in my life, including beautiful stones from Mother Earth.

  2. “Crossing” tells me that grief goes forward and backward. It never is all over. But the light heart does become lighter in time. Sometimes light days come early in grief just to reassure us of God’s hope and peace later.
    Every Ending reminds me there is light at the end of the tunnel. God carries us through the darkest days. The light will come.

  3. Oh wow! Looks like you are a very busy lady 🙂 I was raised in NE PA, around Scranton, PA in a small town called Mountaintop. My grandparents lived near Danville, PA which is also Amish country. You should get to see some great scenery in Lancaster! I love the buggies and horse-drawn carriages. Not sure about product ideas, I love your Bible journaling book and the grief book as well. Possibly some calligraphy how to’s? I always love those. Really I think anything you are involved in will be awesome!
    Huge Hugs dear friend!

  4. Hope you will consider making a color book (maybe)) of book marks. A little book like your grief book.

  5. For me, Cross the Great Divide, means that place in grief where you’re starting to accept that your loved one (my dad) is really gone and not coming back. Your picture shows it. Yes, my heart is broken because I miss him still, it’s been 9 years. But once I crossed that Great Divide, colors started slowly coming back into my life.

  6. I see “crossing the great divide” as moving from right to left – from somber bluish feelings into a clearer, brighter place. The “I heart” says “I miss you but we’re still together).
    I really like the “every ending leads to new beginnings” page … to me it represents looking up out of a dark place and seeing the possibilities and wonderful challenges ahead. There’s a “rosiness” and hearts and love to seeing things in a new and clearer way.
    Great job Joanne!

    ~ Theresa ~

  7. I have two totally different reactions to the two pieces. Honestly, I find the “Crossing the Great Divide” piece to be depressing, gloomy. It actually troubles my spirit because for those who have hope in Christ, there really is no divide; it just means stepping from the physical world to the spiritual world.
    I love the second piece about new beginnings. It is positive and full of hope.
    Joanne, I love your talent and the way you use it to help people.

  8. Good day Joanne. The last drawing really caught my attention. I like the words in the center with the light background…the “clouds” are starting to move away and light is coming. A new dawn. I think this picture is appropriate after a great loss, whether it is a death of someone close, a favorite job or something else. Whatever the loss we all need to feel that there will be a new dawn with a new beginning and that we can move forward.

  9. I feel very divided in my heart lately…I am realizing that I live my life for everyone else around me…I don’t know who I am as an individual person anymire…I am known as a wife a mother so and so’she friend…but I am invisible to people otherwise. I am a very quiet person. I feel at coming to this realization a part of my life is ending and a better part is awaiting…I need the courage to step over the great divide.

  10. Joanne thank you very much for first of all writing a beautiful book! Then for sharing your visuals from the book! I was so disappointed last month when you were giving it away with the purchase, I have been wanting to buy it for a long time and something always comes up when I think about it! But, I have placed it on my priority list to buy. I have been very depressed and sad lately due to too many deaths in the family! I lost my aunt this past Thanksgiving holiday and then her husband in April, my cousin and I were taking care of them as they had no children, then my other aunt just passed last week, as it was the anniversary of my father, mother and mother-in-law. I just lingered over your post today and enjoyed the visuals as it helped me!
    I know everyone who attends your presentation will have a wonderful experience! I hope you will be able to come to the Los Angeles area sometime in the future to present.

    My friends and I enjoyed all of your coloring items that was at Michaels. I would love to see more journals and other coloring items.

    Thank you for all of your wonderful and positive inspirations!

  11. Crossing the Great Divide reminds me of how you’re leaving a life with a loved one & being catapulted into the unknown. New Beginnings is like an eye, the wider it opens the better you see. New products: calender and gratitude journal.

  12. “Every ending leads to New Beginnings” speaks to my heart. Those times I am longing for my Mom and Pop, I picture them creating my room in Heaven. So in this phrase, Endings mean the journey of death , which transforms into a New Beginning in Heaven with my loved ones. That hope is what I picture when I am needing my parents.

  13. Joanne – Regards to my home town, Lancaster PA. I just know your trip with be outstanding. Be sure to look for inspiration in tradition PA Dutch designs, especially “hex sign.” That’s hex as in good things like love and friendship and so many other themes common to Zenspirations.

  14. Beautiful designs! The first one looks like stain glass window and how we are separated from our loved departed by a barrier we can’t see through. Light penetrates like hope or healing but the broken bleeding heart acknowledges the pain. I like the realism.

    In the second piece, again I see light as a metaphor for hope and renewal, rising above the dark mountains of grief.
    I am sure your talk will be such a help

  15. Hi Joanne!
    “Crossing the Great Divide” : I perceive it to mean even though your aching heart will always be breaking, you have gone from being so sad and depressed for a period of time. It is realizing you are crossing over “the line” from despair to HOPE and knowing you are going to be OK and each day will be better than the other.
    Every Ending Leads to New Beginnings: For me, this reminded me when I went through my divorce. I felt like I was in a deep dark hole and thankfully by only looking up towards the Light and having my faith in God, He got me through this tough time in my life. It took some time, but I got a new beginning with my present husband, Chuck. Praise and thank you God!
    Have a great weekend with your book signing and I know through your love and kindness, so many people will be touched by you this weekend and they will take home a part of you to help them cope with their loss.
    Love and miss you …XO HUGS

  16. Your images are so “real”. I think when people see them they can know this is a journey you know and are just being sympathetic to someone over the loss of their loved one. Thank you for that, Joanne.

  17. I would love to see 5×7 journals with zentangles on it that I could color and also journal in. I would love to see chest like sturdy paper boxes that were zentangled so I could color them, seal them and give as gifts. Coasters would be cool as well, really cool.

  18. Hi Joanne!
    These illustrations are so beautiful and perceptive. I think your talk and your book are going to help many people.
    To me, I see the Great Divide, as grief itself. Sometimes when you are in it, you can’t see or even imagine, that there is another side. But as you work through those dark days, it gradually gets a little bit better. Grief is still there, but you find a way through it, to the other side.
    In New Beginnings, I imagine that moment when you realize, the grief isn’t as heavy as it once was. You can actually see the new beginning ahead and start to think in terms of living without that other person. You realize you are stronger than you knew and that strength allows you to find purpose again. So often, our identity is tied to the loved one we have lost and we can’t imagine who we are without them. But then suddenly, it’s like we wake up from this deep sleep and start to see color in the world again.

    Thank you for sharing your heart with us! Love and blessings!!
    Mary Anne

  19. in my life i have to live first hand the separation from my love ones. My parents died in a car crash and 4 years later my son suffering from leukemia. I can relate to “ every ending leads to new beginnings. It has not been easy but I have learn to relay in my God to leave every new day knowing that His purpose for me are bigger then my.

Comments are closed.

SIGN UP TODAY For the Zenspirations Blog