Forever In Ink: Free To Be

February 10, 2014 § 3 Comments

I awoke with three words on my mind: Free to be. I shook my head to clear away the confusion I was feeling from waking up in a new place. My eyes focused on the waves crashing against the sandy beach… a dream? No. That is actually what I was waking up to. We were on a private beach in Uluwatu and I had falling asleep in the sun. The words in my head, free to be, would become my next tattoo.

Last April, on a trip to Hawaii, I bought a piece of driftwood that someone had burned “Free To Be” into. I had intended the driftwood as a gift, but the more I looked at it, the more I connected with it. It came home with me and spent the next 9 months on my bedside table. I awoke every morning to it.

Last summer, I remember heading out for a walk and watching a couple of dogs running as fast as they could through the park. Carefree, ears flapping in the wind behind them. I wanted to feel like that, energized and happy to be running as fast as I could for no other reason than the sheer enjoyment of it. But even the walk was work at that point. It just seemed so far away.

You know my story from following previous blog posts. I worked my ass off, settled the rest of my commitments and set off on my travels. I found myself in Bali with a group of women I had never before met, only been on conference calls with prior to the trip and stalked them on Facebook. We were all participants in a trip called the Magical Bali Bucket List tour with Spices Tours. Two weeks in Bali together. It could be a wonderful experience or a terrible nightmare. It was a wonderful experience.

My tattoo in Bali from Sailor July at Lady Rose Tattoo.

My tattoo in Bali from Sailor July at Lady Rose Tattoo.

I wasn’t planning on getting a second tattoo–at least not in Bali. But, one of the gals on the trip and I got to talking about tattoos–she’s a vibrant canvas of so many beautiful ones! One thing lead to another and soon there were 5 of us who all signed on for a Bali tattoo. Now the hard part… what do I get? I do what I always do when I don’t know an answer yet. I slept on it… in the sunshine on the private beach in Uluwatu.

Two tattoos. On the same arm. Not small. Extremely prominent. Two tattoos that are just so… me.

Free to be. It’s about many things. It’s giving myself permission for this journey I’m on. Even though I’ve gone ahead with it, there’s still a part of me that feels guilty for not taking the path more travelled by. The path so many others take. I tried it for a long time because I thought I was supposed to, not because I ever really wanted to. This tattoo is about following my heart and being whoever it is I want to be in any given moment.

We're all free to be.

We’re all free to be.

It’s also about reminding myself that if this is a principle I’m living by, it applies to everyone else too. Every friend who may or may not see what I see; loved ones who struggle with my alternative lifestyle choices; past, present or potential partners… everyone. We’re all at where we’re at and we’re free to be there as much or as little as we want. Whenever I find a monologue in my brain that’s anything other than cheering somebody on in the choices they’re making, all I have to do is look down at my arm and remember, “Oh right… we’re free to be.”

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Right after I scheduled this post to publish, I came across this TED Talk about modern slavery… obviously I have some opinions there, unfortunately that discussion didn’t quite fit into the flow of this post.

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The Year Of The Internal Me

December 31, 2012 § 5 Comments

This year started out as… well, I can’t remember exactly what it started out as. It ended up being the year of the internal me. I worked long and I worked hard to uncover many of the beliefs that have been holding me back from being the person I so desperately wanted to be. The result? Self acceptance for everything I am, everything I want and permission to make it all come true.

The first of the indulgences I’ve allowed myself was getting my very first tattoo just last month in Saskatoon. I’ve been talking about it for the last four years. I quite literally wanted to put my heart on my sleeve. I had begun researching tattoo parlours in Calgary, but hadn’t gone so far as to visit them yet. I wanted the right person, the right opportunity. The “right” things in my life just seem to fall into place when it’s time (like how David and I met and began this blog). I had a feeling this tattoo would follow a similar path.

Photo credit: Reginald Tiangha

Photo credit: Reginald Tiangha

Back in September, my friend Dan got his first tattoo, his parrot Baub. I made a promise that I would follow through with mine before my 31st birthday, which is in March. Wouldn’t you know it, Dan and I planned a road trip to Saskatoon in November and he mentioned he was going to add some foliage to Baub while we were in town. His friend Baillie owns a long-standing tattoo shop called Eye Of The Needle.

“Do you think Baillie would have time to slip me in too?” I asked Dan.

A quick text message to Baillie confirmed that she thought she could do it.

I found an image of the anatomically correct heart that I wanted. The “real” shape of the heart reminds me to keep at least one foot planted in reality as I have a tendency to spend my time with my head in the clouds. We emailed it to Baillie and a couple of days later showed up for our tattoos. The heart took about an hour and a half to ink onto my upper arm. It didn’t hurt exactly, it felt more like many incessant and annoying mosquito bites. Every chance I got after that, I’d peer down at my arm. Yep, it was still there. It’s been over a month and it hasn’t washed off yet. I think this thing might be permanent.

I haven’t worn a long-sleeved shirt since the day my heart appeared on my arm. I didn’t want to cover it up. I’ve been doing that most of my life. Hiding my emotions. Pretending I don’t feel strongly about something when really I do… I feel strongly about a lot of things… but always trying to be the peace keeper. Trying not to rock the boat.

Now it’s out there. It’s out there for everyone to see. It’s my reminder to check in with myself regularly. To ask myself what my true feelings are about the situation I’m in, the decisions I’m making, the people I’m hanging around with. And it’s my opportunity to speak up for myself, to say what’s on my mind and to stand firmly in the person I am.

Now, with another New Year on my doorstep, I can proceed with creating even more of the life I want. Without a lot of the BS I used to tell myself along for the ride, it will likely come my way a whole lot faster.

May you also find the courage to be honest about what you want, where you want to go and the inner strength to make it your reality.

Happy New Year!

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