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She was someone I had never heard of but as soon as I saw her photo on my facebook feed, I was an immediate fan. Zina Lahr, a 23 year old wunderkind who, by her own diagnosis, suffered from “creative compulsive disorder.” She confessed that she always had to be working on something – creating something – whether nature based creations made from bits and pieces gathered on her wanderings in the Colorado mountains, to truly astounding robots and amitronics which had attracted the attention of a Disney Studios designer.

 The way she dressed was striking – her long chestnut hair adorned with feathers and beads; her wardrobe definitely revealing someone in love with fun and fantasy. That, coupled with a love of gadgetry, made her a natural for steampunk attire.

I am sure many people who initially encountered her made assumptions about who she was and so many of those assumptions would prove false. I was not surprised to learn she was home schooled. But I was surprised to learn that from the age of 8, she studied with John McConnell at his Math and Science Center of Western Colorado. He was a former Los Alamos National Lab physicist and taught Zina how to read electrical schematics and how to make machines. He says about her that she had a unique love of the it all – which she, in turn, used to create amazing anitronic creatures.

 You might assume she was a new-age boho hippy chick, but in fact she was a devout Christian who eschewed dogmatism and political engagement and lived a life of spiritual and physical purity.  

I first saw her photo the week I was turning my own hand to creating a steampunk inspired top hat, with feathers and goggles and other such fun things. I recognized her immediately as a kindred soul.


And she giggled on camera when explaining that the goggles were very practical since they were good eye protection. I thought she was just kidding around. But when I saw the mechanical work and electronic gadgetry she created, I realized she was absolutely right on. There really was a pragmatic basis for her fashion choices.

 The article that accompanied the video made clear that it was the way she dressed as well as the general energy she exuded, that drew people to her. When I watched her video, where she attempted to “explain” herself, she talked about the way she dresses, as simply being who she is. She says she does not dress in order to promote herself, but simply to be who she is – the real deal and entirely delightful.

 When I wear hats out, there are times when those hats are very attention getting. But me too: I don’t do it to promote myself as much as I do it as a way of inviting people to approach me – which they very often do. The hat becomes a conversation piece, a way to talk to a complete stranger – even if what they say might be “I could never wear something like that!” I play in a dance band so we travel a bit to gigs and when I wear something quirky and fun, it generally lets people know I am approachable. And I do make eye contact and smile. The smile always helps…

And Zina had an entirely compelling smile that few could resist.

 Sadly, Zina died in the mountains she loved, probably, authorities say, from injuries sustained in a fall or during a rockslide, a few months shy of her 24th birthday. She was a rare and wondrous being and I can well imagine that her soul shook off its physical restraints and simply took flight. All in all, a short amazing life, well lived.

I think of her all the while I am poking about with my hat and straightening the goggles. I think she might say something like:” life is too short not to have fun and follow your inspiration.” I find that I entirely agree.

See the full article and video here: 


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