COLLABORATION WITH: MACKENZIE & KATIE

These three words, "How much more?" might as well be the mantra for most people these days. It seems that every week we think we've come to the point of All We Can Handle and we are given yet more, and somehow become stronger and more resilient in the process of navigating what is offered with grace and humility. I love the phrase MacKenzie chose. What a powerful reminder that in our brokenness there is always unconditional love. 

These three words are important to me, as they represent something bigger than myself; God's infinite love. If we are able to love and take care of each other as fallible and broken humans, with our short-sighted and conditional love, how much more is an unfailing God able to unconditionally love and take care of us?

Thank you to talented tattoo artist Katie Kroeker from Metamorphosis Body Art (Winnipeg, Canada) and photographer MacKenzie Jean

COLLABORATION WITH: NATALIE & BRITTA

This has to be one of my favorite tattoos of the year. I absolutely love the way it turned out, and Natalie's fierceness. She writes: 

"I am not a place for cowards" is something I read once and it really resonated within me.
After a rough patch in recent years, I really took to it. Writing about it, I said:

"I am not a place for cowards.
Not for the faint of heart.
I love hard.
I speak loudly.
I debate with tenacity.
I am fully of opinions and convictions.
I do not idly sit by.
I am imperfect,
Fully stocked with question,
And unafraid to ask.
I am passionate and moody.
I stumble over my words
In excitement to speak.
I overshare.
My laughter bounces off the walls.
I'm scarred and tattooed.
I wear my insides on the outside.
I am not a place for cowards."

It's about being fierce and fiery, unapologetic about being yourself. Some people will love that about you and stick by your side for life. Those people are the people I want to be with.

The people who can't handle through-thick-and-thin, all-in relationships are the ones that I'm just fine letting go of.

I am not a place for cowards.

Thank you to Natalie (also a photographer!) and tattoo artist Britta Christiansen (San Celemente, CA). 

 

COLLABORATION WITH: DEVIN, NINA & AMBER

Greetings, 2017! Sharing this tattoo story from Devin seemed appropriate for the start of the new year as we prepare for what is to come, come what may. 

"This is a quote from an Andrea Gibson poem. If you've never heard of her she's one of the most wonderful spoken word poets out there. Many of their poems have moved me during hard times of self-identity and coming to terms with who I am in many ways. Here's an excerpt from the end of 'Dive.'"

life doesn’t rhyme

still life is poetry
not math
all the world’s a stage
but the stage is a meditation mat

you tilt your head back
you breathe
when your heart is broken you plant seeds in the cracks
and you pray for rain
and you teach your sons and daughters
there are sharks in the water
but the only way to survive
is to breathe deep
and dive

Thank you to Devin for sharing his story; to tattoo artist Nina Dinh in Toronto; and to photographer Amber Patrick.

 

COLLABORATION WITH: SUSAN, MIKE & ASHLEY

It was a treat to collaborate with Susan Hutchinson, of the blog Fleurishing, for this tattoo honoring her twins, Henry and Marie. Here's more from Susan about the significance: 

This tattoo represents many things to me, including my identity, my love story and…my children. The number three (trois, in French) has always been significant in my life, but only became evident to me when I met my husband. Suddenly, it was like the pieces of my own personal puzzle were finally coming together. Fast forward (three) years, and I was pregnant with twins. My body became a sanctuary for two human beings to grow and thrive in. Three of us, as one. While we no longer share my body, my beautiful children, Henry et Marie, will always be a part of me, until the day I die. They are my greatest gift.

Thank you to Susan for sharing (you can read more on her blog), tattoo artist Mike Ski (Philadelphia, PA) , and photographer Ashley Ludaescher

COLLABORATION WITH: MEGAN, DR. WOO & JAMES

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What a pleasure it is to share Megan's story. I'm always moved by tattoos that originate from literature and poetry.

‘World enough and time’ is quote from the poem To His Coy Mistress by Andrew Marvell. It is a poem that is huge in its comprehension of time, and space, and love. It sums up the idea that time is racing past, taking everything with it, which is a feeling I’ve had ever since I was a little girl. This poem is also featured in my favorite novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. It is used as a toast throughout the novel: ‘to world enough and time.’

The idea of time racing past, myself powerless to stop it, has plagued me for a while. When my aunt passed away a couple of years ago, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I would never have enough time. On the other hand, I kept telling myself, that life has given me a wonderful gift: the world and time, if I am brave enough to embrace it.

I love that this tattoo captures these two beliefs so perfectly. The first being that time will keep moving no matter what I do. That’s life. Then again, I’ve been given the most beautiful, glorious gift imaginable, the ability to see the world; and use the time I have here to love, go on adventures, seek new wonders, and experience all that this great world has to offer.

Now I have my own personal ‘carpe diem’ mantra with me forever

Reading Megan's story brought to mind two references in my own life about this feeling of time passing. The first is INXS's Not Enough Time, a song that's been on repeat lately. And the second is a quote from Renaissance polymath Girolamo Cardano, as quoted in Nancy Siraisi's book: "The studious man should always have at hand a clock and a mirror. A clock since in such confusion and mass of things it is necessary for him to to keep track of time...; a mirror to observe the changing conditions of his body." A clock, a mirror, the world enough, and time.

Thank you to Megan, photographer James Bean, and to tattoo artist Dr. Woo in Los Angeles. 

COLLABORATION WITH: KATELIN, FLICKA & PHILA

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Katelin just sent along photos from our collaboration.  My yoga practice has deepend these last months (thanks to this wonderful studio in Portland).  I remember at the very beginning of my practice teachers would talk about setting intentions and it sounded like they were speaking Greek. But now, it makes a lot more sense. Katelin's story explains how powerful this can be. So much so she had the intention inked. 

The literal translation of Jai Ma is: hail to the mother. The interpretation of this Sanskrit mantra that most resonates with me most, however, is: the love is so strong. In essence, it refers to the deepest, most selfless, and radical kind of love that I can imagine. In the Buddhist tradition they say it's like the kind of love a mother has for her only child, however, instead of reserving this magnitude of love for just those who are close to or alike us, it's meant to be extended far and wide. It's the ultimate mission: love unbounded for all, and the subsequent presence in the world that follows. 

I was in a relationship some time ago with a woman who lived, slept, and breathed this. She didn't talk about it, she just gave. heart wide open. Her love was big. Not just for me, but for everyone that crossed her path. Boundaries of self extended to include other in utter compassion and kindness. The love limitations of a hardened ego- barely existent, in fact, none that I could see. At the time, I couldn't commit to her in a lifelong kind of way, although our bond and connection was of the cosmic kind. The following separation was emotionally crushing for more than a dozen reasons, but amidst the heartbreak, a deep well of love remained. My only refuge during this time was a vow of the heart, to try to embody the beauty that she represented for me. 

So… on my wrist I tattooed the mantra 'Jai Ma' as a lifelong reminder to let my guard down and let fiercely open-hearted love exist in the spaces within, without, and in between 'the silky oscillation between me and we,' as poet Mo Lohaus puts it. The wrist was the perfect place.. as a yogi, every time I practice sun salutations, I lift my hands overhead, look upwards, and am reminded why I practice, my very reason for existing. This gorgeous piece of art is dedicated to my Heart Teachers, my Mom, all the mothers and brothers, sons and daughters, sisters and fathers, and to my future self: the mother I one day hope to be.

Thanks so much for sharing, Katelin. And thank you to tattoo artist Flicka and Phil Manijak the photographer. 

COLLABORATION WITH: CLAIRE, (KEKE), STUART & ERROL

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Whenever a client requests a tattoo, I leave it up to them to share the motivation behind it. Some do, some don't. I'm honored that many clients choose to share the life-changing stories that have inspired them to mark that moment in their lives on their body. These stories, in turn, inspire me (and hopefully you!). Claire's is the latest. It comes at a time when I've been thinking a lot about death, having had three friends lose loved ones in the last month. How remarkable to have the strength to salvage a marriage, and the grace to honor the person who believed so fervently that salvation.

My dear friend Keke showed me the true meaning of love, friendship, patience and compassion. In the midst of the breakdown of my 13 year marriage she spoke of restoration. She spoke of my marriage being bigger and better than it was before. I couldn't see it. She diligently prayed, believed and got excited for the prospect of my renewed marriage, while I questioned and doubted.

Cliff and I had gone away with our children - things were still a little strained, but starting to get better. It was at this time that out of the blue, I received a message that Keke had collapsed and was quickly diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. 
Despite her own situation, she continued to champion my marriage. She never stopped believing that it would be something great. 
Keke astounded the doctors with her generous spirit, and was passionate about praying for those who were battling cancer like herself. She put others before herself daily.
My last text message from her ended, "...arohanui, keeks xx". Sadly she passed away in November 2012.
Arohanui, is a maori sentiment of encouragement and strength. It means to be large, plentiful, abundant. In its basic form, Aroha means to feel love, concern, compassion, empathy. Nui expresses a state or condition rather than an activity.
Arohanui symbolises everything that Keke was as a person. It was a privilege to know her, and it is a daily reminder and encouragement in my restored marriage.

Thank you to Claire, tattoo artist Stuart Archibald at the Family Business in London,  and photographer Errol Bennet.

COLLABORATION WITH: JOSE, LAURIE, CHRIS & JENET

Hello there, friends. Let's just pretend that the month of February didn't happen, shall we? In fact it did, and there is so much to catch up on. I'll be revisiting some memories. Thanks for sticking with me. I've missed you. For now, I wanted to share these photos featured on Once Wed of Chris and Jenet's stunning wedding. What an adorable couple, and what a memorable evening. Whenever I hear that Jose Villa and Laurie Aron's are involved in anything it's impossible for me to say no. It's delightful working with visionaries like these two. And beautiful printing and design by PS Paper. Thanks to all for including me!

Photography by Jose Villa | Planning/Design: Laurie Arons Special Events 

COLLABORATION WITH: NATALIE, Jed and Penny

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NATALIE: GO EASY ON THE SOUL
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Every tattoo collaboration and subsequent story is special but there are some that are, for me, unforgettable. Natalie's is one. Last summer, en route to Provincetown, I got her email while on a train to Boston. Between jolts on the train tracks I managed to send her photos of the designs from my phone, and the final file when I reached my destination. That was the summer of calligraphy by land and by sea. Natalie just sent along the photos and I couldn't be more pleased with how it turned out. I'm so moved by her story (and her dad's sweet words of wisdom). Perhaps it's because I'm at that age, but the anxiety-inducing conversation around "having it all" seems to be inescapable these days. It's nice to be inspired by people like Natalie who have chosen, instead, to have enough. 

In June of last year I made the decision to close my business of 7 years to be a full-time Mum. It was an absolutely gut-wrenching decision but after juggling both for almost two years and feeling constantly torn, something had to give.

My bricks-and-mortar baby would forever run a distant second to my flesh-and-blood baby, so I chose to let go of the business and take my life in the direction of calm simplicity. A huge change for me, and a time that I felt needed a permanent marker.

The words are my Dad's paraphrased version of the Desiderata. He says them quietly in my ear with every big, reassuring Dad hug that he gives. He is my ever-supportive voice of reason, always sharing his pearls of wisdom.

I was on a wait-list for my tattoo artist and got a call sooner than I'd expected. As I sat down to email the studio, it happened that all the type-tatt images I was about to send as examples had been penned by Neither Snow. Despite my appointment being in three days time, I figured I'd email Mara instead! 

From her train seat on her way to Boston she emailed and, working with the 15-hour time difference, was able to get my words ready for inking.

Mara did the most perfect job for this perfectionist. I wear my words proudly, their placement reminding me to 'go easy' twice a day - just after breakfast and just before bed as I brush my teeth!

Thanks to Jed at Holdfast Tattoo in Perth, Western Australia for interpreting the work so well, and to photographer Penny Lane for the stunning photos. And most of all, to Natalie.