Ink

Considering that it’s been almost four years since I last got a tattoo and the fact that I haven’t gone more than five without getting a new one since the age of 18, it is not that surprising that I “had some work done” this last week. What may be surprising is that I went for three new ones, all in one day. [Note to self: while the top of the foot does not hurt as bad as I thought it would to tattoo, two hours straight in the chair is more than plenty for me in one go. Anything longer and I would have broken out in a cold sweat. Or hives. Or both.] Here are the finished products from Thursday’s appointment:

Originally when I got the itch for a new tattoo last winter, I wanted just one. A symbol for Kairos, which means God’s Time and was introduced to me by the Momastery essay, Don’t Carpe Diem. The basic premise is that there is no point or possibility of experiencing the divine or perfect all the time (especially as a parent of three Littles in The Tunnel!). Rather, the best approach to life (and parenting) is to look for glimpses of Kairos – the time when God is near and/or all is right in the Universe; those moments (never hours or days) are what keep us going through the rest of the crazy ride. I absolutely love the concept. So when a friend and I were discussing tattoos one night and she found the image/symbol and sent it to me, I loved it, too. I realize this particular variation of the symbol might look to some like a crusader’s cross, but you know what? I am so good with that. Carry on, Warrior. Carry on, indeed. Also, I ended up choosing the top of my foot for this particular symbol so I would see it often (and especially during my yoga practices, which is its own version of grace and time to focus on the divine).

After finding a local tattoo artist recommended by some friends, I went in for a consultation. This is where the plan got more elaborate and I am so glad it did. You see, my last venture in tattoos didn’t exactly go as planned. While I got a tattoo that I wanted, I found out later that there was a major miscommunication and the image I sent the artist via email prior to my appointment is not what ended up on my wrist. Should I have realized that before the ink went in? Yes. But did I take for granted that they had printed what I sent and did I also fail to bring in a printed copy of it myself? Yes and yes. So, rather than an elegant om, I ended up with this:

Still the symbol and therefore the meaning I wanted, but not the version I had originally desired. Was I disappointed? Of course. Did I think I was screwed because, hello, it was permanent ink? Of course! But flash forward four years to when I met this new tattoo artist and saw some of his other cover up work and Operation Fix It was hatched. Why not change the old om and make it what I originally wanted?

Ultimately, in order to make that change, we had to go with a brand new om on my other wrist and a mandala to cover up the old one on the left side. This was a great solution because it gave me a way to incorporate some gorgeous color onto the one side, keep the elegance on the other, and work in some more yoga to my designs. A mandala is a circular, graphic symbol for the universe or a “container of essence” found in multiple cultures and religions. It is also a series of poses in yoga that moves the practitioner in a circular flow around the mat. I’ve participated in mandala flows before and found them to be very satisfying. So when we needed something to cover the old design, I felt a mandala would be a great representation my yoga journey and how it is helping me fulfill my essence. Plus, like I said, the colors are soooooooooo pretty.

That, of course, leaves us with the new om – the second chance ink. The variation I have now is perfect. The size and shape are beautiful. It is elegant and it is fluid. For me, this is just what an om should be. If you are familiar with the chant some yogis do at the start/end of a practice, you know what an om sounds like: “Ooooooooommmmmmmmm.” It can be high or low, short or long. It is not religious. Rather, it is the start of all sounds, and as my instructors remind us all the time, it tones us from the inside. I originally wanted an om years ago because it is all about breath (that and the first time I remember seeing the symbol as an art piece on someone’s wall, it took my breath away because I thought it was so beautiful). Again, as a parent, but also as an individual, I occasionally need reminders to just breathe. It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos and my om is there, front and center, to keep me breathing and keep me in check. Does it keep me from losing my sh!t 100% of the time? Of course not. I am human. But because focusing on my breath is always a way to bring me back down, my om does its job just fine. And this new version makes my heart sing.

So who said you can’t go back and make things right? Even when they’re done in permanent ink?! Life is beautiful like that.

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