What’s that on your arm?

Back in May I got myself on the waiting list for a very talented tattoo artist in Vancouver.  At the beginning of July I had a consultation with him where I described what I was looking for, showed some pictures of inspiration and then left the details in his hands.  It’s difficult to describe something artistic when you’re as incapable of fine arts as I am… I left with an appointment for the beginning of August and a sense of calm.  About a week later I emailed another inspiration photo and a story about why I was getting the tattoo, on the off chance that it would help inform the design. 

Throughout the month of July, while I was waiting ever so impatiently for my appointment time, I was constantly asked by friends and family if I’d seen the design yet… No was my reply.. I’ll see it on the day of the tattoo and I have every confidence that it will be perfect so no, I’m not worried.  Last Sunday I took the bus (and then a cab, because I am stupid) downtown… I was calm as a cucumber (even tho I find the mere idea of cucumbers most repellant!) and very confident and peaceful.  It stood to reason I told myself… part of why I was on my way down there to get this piece of art etched onto me was to celebrate the peace I’d found in the last six months. 

I didn’t know what to expect or what the design would look like… but the literal second that I saw his interpretation of my story, I fell in love… It’s a weird thing to say that it was exactly what I wanted; even though I didn’t know what that was until that very moment… His art closed the chapter on the last seven years of my life and celebrated the opening of my mind and heart that has occurred in the last six months.  I look down at my arm and see a reminder of the overwhelming peace I feel now… it reminds me to be thankful for it and to continue to seek peace and strength.  And, it’s really really pretty! 

Please excuse the somewhat crappy picture… the tattoo also looks somewhat crappy because it was only three days old when this photo was taken and it’s still healing… but you get the idea. (also, it’s sideways… but again… you get the idea…)

Hummingbird

And for those of you in Vancouver/GVRD who are wondering…

Gastown Tattoo Parlour

My artist was Logan Howard.  And he will certainly be doing my next tattoo… which isn’t as long away as one might think 😉

Trust in the Timing. Always Trust.

I’ve been wanting to get another tattoo for some time now.  The one I got I love uncontrollably but I want to celebrate my new life.  When people had asked me what I was getting, my answer was that I could FEEL it in the back of my mind but I couldn’t SEE it yet… Frustrating right?  It’s so difficult to not be able to put words and descriptors to a feeling.  Even when I tried, I felt tongue tied and like I wasn’t meant to be talking about it.

Jumping the gun as I am wont to do, I booked a consultation with an artist that came on a recommendation from a friend of a friend before I could ‘see’ the design I was feeling.  I went down with my girlfriend and we chatted with him for an hour.  The style of her tattoos appeals to me and so she showed him hers, we talked about what was driving the tattoo, what I was celebrating, why I was where I am today and what I’d come through.  I really thought that he ‘got’ me.  As it turns out, I was either right and he did ‘get me’ but then didn’t spend any time on the work whatsoever… or he didn’t actually get me at all, which is reflected in his design.

The design is absolute garbage.  It has nothing to do with anything remotely meaningful to me at all.  I still couldn’t see my design through the haze but I knew for sure that this wasn’t it.  ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ was something I said to a friend about it.  I’ll just know.

So I sent the garbage design to my friend… mostly for a laugh… mostly because we’d just been talking about the design and the odd feeling I was getting from this artist.

Well as I’m sure you can gather, the reaction to the picture I sent wasn’t good, but then the most amazing thing happened.  The inspiration that I was searching for… the lens I needed to see what I could already feel.

“May I make a suggestion?” he said.

“Yes!  Of course” was my reply. 

“It’s simple.  I’m lending you the hummingbird coin back.  Use it to inspire you” he said.

 

And there it was.  A rush of emotion washed over me and I could finally see it.

I know what the design is, I’m in love with the inspiration and the meaning behind it and it all shone forth from the back of my mind… it broke free of the haze.

Maybe this all seems overly dramatic for a tattoo.  Maybe it IS overly dramatic for a tattoo.  The thing is that this tattoo is a part of my journey… a journey which is so important to the rest of my life.  I assured my friend many times that I wouldn’t get anything tattoo’d on me that I wasn’t in love with… that wasn’t the perfect thing.  And that was true.

I want to say that I shouldn’t have jumped the gun on going for that first consultation (since I’m actually on a wait list for the guy I REALLY want to do the work), I shouldn’t have tried to explain something that wasn’t ready for public consumption and I shouldn’t have tried to force the issue of seeing what it was.  But had I not had the awful design to show to my friend… to open the window to his simple suggestion, then I may not have gotten where I am now.  It’s a metaphor for life if you think about it.  Mistakes and decisions you make will inform the future.  You might not see how at the time and you might not know when, but if you’re open to the idea then eventually the whole picture is layed out in front of you.  Perfect and meant to be.  I love that!

The Hummingbird Coin

One day last year in the middle of my struggle for sanity and a firm grip on my life, my dad came down to visit. We took the bus down to Granville Island and while he was talking to a sales clerk, I was digging through a dish of small pewter coins…. On the front each one had a Northwest Coast Native animal symbol and on the back an inspirational word. I found one that said Peace on the back with the depiction of a hummingbird on the front. The sign on the front of the dish said ‘Pocket Spirits’ and while I’m not much for the idea of items being ‘spirits’, I felt compelled to buy it. I thought if I didn’t have any peace of my own, maybe I could at least have this… I carried it around in my wallet for a year… every time I went into my wallet I saw my small bit of peace.

The Hummingbird Coin

I was pretty far from being peaceful and it would take me an additional six months to actually find peace, but still this little coin I held on to… the only peace I had at the time. It was a small reminder that peace was out there and that it was something that I could have. Something that I wanted. I didn’t know what it felt like but I was sure that when I had it, I would know.

I’ve mentioned how I found my peace in December. The calm peaceful feeling that I now have is one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received. I don’t know if you can identify the feeling of peace if you haven’t had the feeling of being not peaceful. It’s hard to describe… the immense sense of calm that I feel now. I still have my moments of course and I still have bad days, but I’m peaceful overall.

About three weeks ago I found the coin on my desk. I don’t know how it got out of my wallet but when I saw it on my desk I knew I didn’t need it anymore. I’d found my peace and it was stronger and more powerful than the piece of pewter I was holding. I sat, rubbing the coin for a long time… playing with it… contemplating it… and at that moment I knew that I needed to give this very important piece of my healing away. I have a friend that could certainly use some peace and so I said goodbye to my coin and put it back in my wallet so it was with me the next time I saw him.

I’m an incredibly sentimental and romantic type of person.

(Romantic:  defined as marked by the imaginative or emotional appeal of what is heroic, adventurous, remote, mysterious, or idealized).

Most people in my life don’t meet me there… my sentimentality is oft regarded as cheesy or ridiculous. My ability to remember tiny, seemingly insignificant details about people I care about, and my innate ability to understand someone more than they can ever know has been labelled as crazy. I assure you, it’s not crazy and it’s not something I can control. For those that I care a great deal about, it’s a built in operating system (to steal a phrase from a friend) function to care about and recall these small details… things that seem insignificant rarely are. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life hiding it… laughing along when my sentimental side is dissed… pretending that it doesn’t bother me that instead of appreciating who I am at my core, I’m mocked for it. Truth be told, it does bother me… of course it does!  It’s a side of me that is integral to my character and no one feels good to be mocked on about something that is innate to who they are.

I took a chance giving my coin away to my friend. In the ongoing effort I’ve been making to be true to who I am, I knew I was going to say what I wanted to say, regardless of how my sentimentality had been received in the past. I was pretty sure that this time would be different.

I took the coin out of my wallet and held it tightly in my hand. I told the story of how I ended up with this coin and then, pressing it into his hand, said ‘I’ve found my peace. Now maybe you’ll find yours’.

The gift was received in just the way I gave it. That it was just an object at one point but that it had meaning to me and I was passing it along. I was told that it was a true gesture of love and trust. And I wasn’t mocked as being sentimental or cheesy… I was met where I am with an understanding of who I am and why something like this would be important to me. The gesture wasn’t cast off, but accepted and embraced in the pure way it was given.

There are some ‘things’ that we have and hold on to that cease to become things… they assume a life and a power of their own and while to the naked eye this is just a $2 piece of metal, to myself and to my friend, it’s a powerful piece of love and friendship and powerful love and powerful friendship can change our worlds. When we change ourselves, we change the world… and when we find our peace, we find that the world around us has more peace.

My hope for my friend is that every time he reaches into his pocket and his hand grazes this coin, that he feels the power in the care of another. That he knows that if I can find my peace (and Lord knows, it was a hard road!) then he can find his peace and he will forever have a friend to walk down that road with him.  We are only alone on difficult roads if we choose to be… and those in my care… those who gain access to the core of who I am… they will never be alone.