Here's what happened: Tumblr has been incredibly good to me. Many Tumblrs have kindly posted about my work, very often this tattoo. I am, and remain, grateful. Curious, I crawled out from underneath my rock and clicked about. I was startled. Image after image of really thin girls. Girls from the back, with jutting shoulder-blades. Girls from the side, with emaciated ribs. Girls lounging on yachts, with hip bones taking up most of the frame. Quotes about being skinny, then getting skinnier. Apparently this is called "thinspiration" -- thinspo for short. I can't bring myself to explore this topic any further. I once scrolled through this discussion over at The Sartorialist and vowed never again. It has nothing to do with big or small. Rather, it is how we see and notice and document beauty in the world. There's no reason to defend what we see and notice and document, but what we see and notice and document speaks volumes about who we are.

Overwhelmed, I retreated back under my rock shaking my head, feeling out of touch with this particular audience and what they chose to notice. I love Andrea's story, and the much larger sentiment she so eloquently expressed transcended the immaterial coincidence that she has a slender frame.

So you can imagine my whoop of happiness when Sabine offered to share these photos of her tattoo, and the touching story below. This is what I know from reading lifestyle and fashion blogs over the years: this tattoo may not tumble its way through the internet, it will not be reposted and "liked" and tweeted and integrated into an inspiration board and cooed over in the comments. And I could care less. To me, it is perfect, it is heartfelt, and it possess a quality lacking in those scores of skeletal women. A quality that Andrea identified, that they both embody, and that we can all recognize, intuitively, when we see it: a spark, a soul.

A few years ago my first panic-attack struck me and to make a long story short: I ended up in a psychosomatic clinic to learn how to deal with the panic and how to trust again in my body, in my heart. Learning, that it's not necessary to maniacally observe the own heartbeat. And now, some years later, I can finally deal with that. This year was quite a good year, with loads of challenges and great adventures. I travelled to Latin America and Africa (and to those that know me in person: two years ago that would have been an impossible idea even to think about!!), my job is challenging but good, I feel healthy and strong, I love my life, my husband, my friends and family. It's not that the panic is gone forever, but I am stronger than the panic. and that's why I wanted to get inked again, with a kind of mantra: live&breathe. no fear. That should accompany me, visible for me, on my belly.
And then I somehow (via) stumbled upon Mara's blog and the first thing I saw was this lovely and adorable picture. And after that it was clear to me that I want "my" mantra in calligraphy, done by Mara. For me, the first (and also the second and third) sight was breathtaking! I loved to see the words written so beautifully! it took us some drafts and actually I changed some words (the first version has bee too long: live - love - think - breathe. no fear) - but I immediately fell in love with this piece of art!
But still: which tattoo artist? And Bastian, my husband, was not so keen on my idea.  At the end, I let fortune decide. In October I had some days off, was cruising in my quarter in Munich and passed Wild at Heart. I showed Anna, the tattoo artist, the draft and asked if she can make it. And she could. Immediately afterwards, I was sure, that I would regret it ("I am 41, a grown-up, why do I need a tattoo?!"; "Oh my god, I got inked on my chubby belly... How will the tattoo look, after having lost weight?" [not so very likely...] etc.). But 2 days later, after the healing began and I could see the beauty, I loved it and I still do! In contrast to my tattoo on my shoulder, I can see this one every day and it reminds me of - and I know that sounds over dramatic - living and breathing! And of the most important: no fear! Thank you so much, Mara!