To my chagrin I had no idea yesterday was National Tattoo Day. I be celebrating up in herre today. And yes. Just possibly. Definitely maybe. With a tiny new piece of ink.
When people ask about my tattoos (why did you get them? do they mean anything? will you regret them?) I respond:
For me a tattoo is ‘right’ if it feels as though it has always been there & just ROSE TO THE SURFACE when the needle hit my skin.
I’m not sure this helps much if you’re a person who doesn’t care for ink, but in my mind it makes total sense.
All of my art–from Suess to skulls–feels as though it had been carried inside of me and finally ‘let out’ when the tattoo was completed.
I *always* share with kids who ask me about my tattoos the fact I did not get a tattoo until I was old (wink).
I was 28 when I got the Star of David around my navel:
The star, for me, was a natural fit.
Being Jewish–even though I’m not ‘religious’–is an important part of who I am. It’s my core. The centering point of my life.
I was older still when I got my next one (32?).
The Husband knows me well.
The Husband knew I did not want a diamond engagement ring.
The Husband purchased us matching engagement/wedding bands from the Signals catalog.
I loved the choice and sentiment so much (song of solomon) I had the Hebrew words tattooed on (excuse the post-Airrosti photo. you can sorta see the ink.).
My next stop at the tattoo shop was for the tiny image below.
We were newly home from Guatemala and I was feeling, as so many new parents do, wonky and vulnerable.
I now had a little person I loved more than life itself to protect and look after.
I was experiencing the ‘having a child is like walking around with my heart outside my body’ phenomena.
I decided I needed a little protection from the evil eye.
I got me a hamsa hand for happiness, luck and protection.
I frequently forget this tattoo is there (some of the point of it for me) yet clearly recall the morning the Tornado discovered it on my neck.
Oh Mama!! I found a new tattoo!
It took bit of explaining to her three-year-old self NO, tattoos don’t just pop up out of the blue and YES I was aware this one existed…
More than any question I receive about my tattoos (more even than the “Why Dr. Seuss?”) is “What’s the deal with the skulls?”
(quite frankly with stuff like THIS and THIS it is simply the fact I love the look)
For me, with this tattoo, the sugar skull symbolizes rebirth.
I had this tattoo done fairly soon after I moved home from Guatemala as well.
And then there’s the Seuss sleeve. Lottsa queries there.
- Yes. I do love me some Theodore Geisel.
- Yes I’m aware how political his writings are—-although that’s not why I inked the sleeve.
- Yes Ive seen (and adore) gallery showings of his secret art.
I started this sleeve right before I turned forty. Id always loved Dr. Seuss and yet it was a more childish love.
It wasn’t anchored into much of anything—I simply liked his rhymes, characters and colors.
And then we moved home from Guatemala.
All of the stories took on new more personal meanings (how lucky I felt, helping me explain the concept of adoption to the Tornado etc) & the notion of a leg sleeve (tattooed kneecap and all) was born.
Which brings me to a few weeks ago.
Another tattoo which was years in the making and yet feels, as it should, as if it has always been there.
This in-process piece of art:
Times have been rough around here.
Stressful, frazzled, and—to my chagrin—we’ve more turned ON each other in times of stress than TO.
But, after close to NINETEEN years together, we’ve also learned how to push past and work though. That said, this has been the most challenging time we’ve faced.
All that said (translation: back to POOPING BUTTERFLIES as my friend Dr.Seuss would say) I think we’ve made it.
All that said, this made for perhaps my most significant tattoo yet.
A re-commitment of sorts to our family and to sticking together through the proverbial thick & thin.
And, of course, in skull-form.
For me tattoos are as I imagine having a gaggle of children would be:
You don’t have a favorite one & you love them all for differing reasons.
The family portrait, however, with its tremendous significance right now, is my current fave.
And I’m grateful to my artist, Annie Mess, as well for her ability to grasp what this tattoo means & help the art rise to my skin surface.
(looks up from this LONG navel-gazing post to see if anyone is still reading)
The night after I started my portrait tattoo at Golden Age the Tornado —whom Im 99,9% certain has NEVER heard me share the explanation I did at the start of this post—prayed:
Thank you G-d for my mom’s tattoo showed up today.
That for me is 100% it.
Whether you love or loathe the art of tattoos aside—-for me they all feel as though they’ve always been there and have simply, finally risen to the surface.
- Are you an illustrated woman or man with stories to tell? Id love love love to hear them…
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama saysJuly 18, 2014 at 2:17 am
I love hearing stories of tattoos. And there always is a story behind the design, the actual tattoo and the after. I have one tattoo – a shamrock because I was born on St. Patrick’s Day and for a little luck.
Harriet saysJuly 18, 2014 at 5:38 am
I love this, Carla!
Sarah @RunFarGirl saysJuly 18, 2014 at 3:24 am
I don’t have any tattoos, but I love the way you described them as always being a part of you and just rising to the surface. Love that. I’m a word girl. So I’ve always imagined that I’d have a tattoo of a significant phrase…probably down the side of my rib cage. I’ve always thought if I haven’t done it by now then maybe I won’t do it. Maybe that will change.
Healthy Mama saysJuly 18, 2014 at 4:33 am
I got my first one last year at 52!
Sarah @RunFarGirl saysJuly 18, 2014 at 3:29 am
I should add…that right after my son, Jack had his surgery my husband said that he wanted to get Jack’s scar tattooed on HIS back–Jack’s scar is huge, stretching from under one armpit across to the other armpit. My husband didn’t want Jack to feel alone. I just about crumpled on the kitchen floor in tears. To me, that’s some fierce love.
Kierston saysJuly 18, 2014 at 3:46 am
I love your tattoo stories. Each one having so much meaning.
Lori Musselman saysJuly 18, 2014 at 3:58 am
I’ve always wanted a tattoo. Thinking about getting a teeny-tiny one for my 40th birthday.
Coco saysJuly 18, 2014 at 4:34 am
Love your stories!
Runner Girl saysJuly 18, 2014 at 4:46 am
This is my year I think. 26.2!!
Brittany @ Delights and Delectables saysJuly 18, 2014 at 4:55 am
I love hearing the stories behind tattoos!! Happy birthday dear friend!!!
Valerie saysJuly 18, 2014 at 5:02 am
I have two. One is a yin/yang, which was born from a coming-of-age spiritual transformation of sorts (I think I was about 28 as well, interestingly) when I started to truly appreciate and absorb the concept of balance. It was important enough, and I felt the epiphany deeply enough, that I knew it represented something I would always want to be, to know, to remember. It was like – well, exactly like finding something that had always been there but had never been seen. Such a way you have with apt descriptions!
The second is a phoenix rising toward an “om” symbol. I had that one done when I was going through a major life crisis – maybe a little bit similar to what you’ve been experiencing. I really felt that my world was being turned upside down and shaken, my roots had been torn from the earth and everything that I loved and had built was in ashes. I knew, or at least I hoped and had to have faith, that from those ashes I – we – would build something new and just as beautiful, but I was scared and sad and a bit angry. I was still in the fire. So for me, the phoenix was a symbol of what I knew in my soul to be true, and hoped to get my heart to understand and my mind to acknowledge; that I would come through the fire, that I would be stronger, and that to get there I needed to keep rising, always looking up and always striving toward that oneness and unity of past, present, and future. It was a leap of faith – but again, it was a representation of something I knew to be true, something that was already a part of me and had been brought to the surface at that point in my journey. It’s helped me remember my goals, when the fire rekindles now and then, as fires will do.
I already know what the next one will be, though I won’t get it done until this book is finished. Again, it’s something that completely represents a part of my personality and psyche. Do I have to put those things in ink to make them real? No. But it pleases me to acknowledge them. 🙂
clare @ fitting it all in saysJuly 18, 2014 at 5:52 am
I LOVE hearing the stories and meaning behind your tattoos, especially since I am not as much of an ink person! So fascinating!
Jennifer F saysJuly 18, 2014 at 6:02 am
Pooping butterflies . . . .I love that! BTW, you ROCK the tattoos!
misszippy saysJuly 18, 2014 at 6:27 am
I’ve never heard anyone talk of their ink this way and I really like it. I think you could be a fun episode on one of those ink reality shows!
Morgan @ Wildly Fit saysJuly 18, 2014 at 6:34 am
I haven’t had a tattoo done in almost 10 years but I’m convinced I need another one now. I got one in high school, and one in college, and now that I’m back at school getting a degree I think I need to mark it with new ink. Problem is I’m far pickier now. Another conundrum I was having is “do I have my boyfriend design it?” … because it would feel weird to get another artists’s work permanently on my body, yet if it’s his it’s like a half step down from his name right. But at this point (it’s been 10 years since WE have been together) we’ve moved on from caring about that conundrum. In fact to celebrate our 10 year anniversary I think we’re going to get matching tattoos. With all of the life stuffs, a wedding is pretty far off right now so it’ll be nice to do something kind of quiet and celebratory together.
TriGirl saysJuly 18, 2014 at 6:47 am
You inspire me in so many ways. I’m sorry to hear you have been going through tough times at home, but I’m so happy that you are coming through the other side. People NEED to hear that families have challenges, but those can be worked through and we can move forward. Marriages don’t always have to end.
Also, I love hearing people’s tattoo stories. I don’t have any, but I think yours are true art. Back when I was contemplating getting one, the chamsah was my top choice 🙂
Roz@weightingfor50 saysJuly 18, 2014 at 7:15 am
Elle saysJuly 18, 2014 at 7:23 am
I am always interested in the the stories behind the art. I heard on the news today that removing them has become as big a business as inking them. Sad.
Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie saysJuly 18, 2014 at 8:05 am
I love the reason you get your tattoos and what they mean to you. I also love that you talk about the realities of a relationship and that people struggle. I’m so glad you guys are connecting again after a rough patch. <3
Debbie @ Live from La Quinta saysJuly 18, 2014 at 8:22 am
I love hearing the stories of your tattoos. Each one is a piece of your life. And I’m so happy for you and your family that you have “produced” the current one.
I have one tattoo, which I got at age 45. I’m not really happy with it, it’s actually a little too small because I wanted to be discreet, but ended up losing some of the definition. Maybe for my 60th (yikes!) birthday I’ll get it fixed.
Dr. J saysJuly 18, 2014 at 10:03 am
When I was much younger I had severe rashes on my arms. It was not an easy time for me. When I eventually got beyond that, I was happy to just have regular looking skin so I never got inked.
AdjustedReality saysJuly 18, 2014 at 10:18 am
I can’t wait to hear the story about the next one! 🙂 I don’t have one but I’ve considered it (if I ever get over my not-loving-of-unnecessary-needles), but nothing has spoken to me so much that I needed it on my skin forever.
lindsay Cotter saysJuly 18, 2014 at 11:32 am
your body truly tells a story. One of many triumphs! Remember that. And 3 makes the perfect balance, remember that too. <3 you bday woman
messymimi saysJuly 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm
No tattoos, but i’ve no objection to those who want them. For me, i just don’t want to have to explain them to my grandchildren someday. Also, i’ve never felt like there was anything already there rising up, or loved something/someone on this earth so much that i’d want it inked in that way.
Jody - Fit at 56 saysJuly 18, 2014 at 3:38 pm
Love the story & feeling behind each one & the tale it weaves!!!!
cherylann saysJuly 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm
With everyone I see sporting ink on their bodies,I guess I am the “misfit” because I don’t have a tat…
but I am considering a little “swim-bike-run” one after reaching triathlon #120 in a few weeks….
Kim saysJuly 18, 2014 at 7:03 pm
I loved reading about why and when you got some of your tattoos!!!
I only have one little tattoo – a longhorn that I got to celebrate turning 40 (for the Texas Long Horns!!!). My whole family is sort of anti tattoo and doesn’t get why I would get a tattoo but it isn’t about them and I sort of want another – just not sure what or where.
KCLAnderson (Karen) saysJuly 19, 2014 at 8:18 am
<3 the Tornado's sentiment.
I do not have a tattoo and up until very, very recently, I never even considered one. I'm still not sure if I ever will get one, but when telling my husband that the idea of one had gone from "never" to "possibly" he asked me what/why/where. I told him I wasn't sure…but that I'd know the answers to those questions when I knew them. I prefer the way you expressed it: something that has always been there and will rise to the surface when ready…
Abby @ BackAtSquareZero saysJuly 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm
I love hearing what people’s tattoos mean to them.