54 at 54 Update – Week 5

Running shoes

My son is a genius.  Okay, all of my children are geniuses (as well as my grandchildren…duh) but this particular son is an Athletic Training genius.

My youngest at home (by 21 minutes thank you very much) is an Athletic Training major in college.  He’s very passionate about it and it shows in his accolades and grades.  What’s the old adage?  Do something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.  I think this is it for him…at least for now.

I’ve been texting and calling him for weeks now to help me diagnose what in the hell was wrong with my right knee/leg that had me in pain as I walk/run and then limping the next day.  The pain started on the inside of my knee and ran down my leg.  It was really beginning to bother me because it was keeping me from running AT ALL and I could only walk at a speed of 2.5 mph (which, let’s face it, is barely a stroll).  I was watching all my hard earned dollars spent on that treadmill going down the drain.  More importantly, I was watching all my dreams for this year going down with it.

I was really depressed…old…out of shape…no hope.

out of shape

I asked him to come home and take a look at my leg as well as help me find words to explain to a doctor (if necessary) what was happening.  I needed to determine if this was pain or injury and if I should be resting/icing or working through the pain.

He came home last Friday.  He sat me up on the kitchen table and began palpating, twisting, pushing and pulling on my leg.  He asked me what kind of shoes I wore and whether they were neutral or correcting for something.  I told him that a couple of years ago I was fitted by a local running store to correct for under-pronation or supination.  I could see that this confused him.

Then he told me to stand in front of him, barefoot, and march in place.

“Mom.  Not only are you almost flat footed, but you pronate…not supinate.”

Wait.  What?

Holy screw-up Batman!  Are you fucking kidding me?  We spoke for a while longer and although I was still skeptical (I mean seriously – he’s a kid in his second year of college for god’s sake) I agreed to return the shoes that had just arrived and order a new pair with arch support and mild pronation correction.

I didn’t work out on Friday, Saturday or Sunday and iced my knee all three days.  On Monday I wore a pair of really, really old running shoes to walk, albeit slowly, through my workout.  There was no pain.  Just from switching shoes.  My new shoes arrived on Tuesday and I ran on the treadmill through my c25K program and then walked another 30 minutes at 3.2 mph.

No pain.  Not on the treadmill.  Not that evening and, most importantly, not the next day.  I’ve continued to work out hard the rest of the week and there is no pain in my knee.  My arches are sore but I need to work those muscles so I expected that (he gave me some exercises to do).

So you see?  My son really IS a genius!  Okay, okay – but he’s really good at this shit and I’m really proud.

Moving on…(Literally!  Get it?  Ha!  I slay me!)

My co-worker is off to Disney today to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon on Sunday morning.  She wants me to run it with her next year.

I think I just found my next goal.

disney-princess-half-logo
2016 here I come!

 

Also, I’m back to tracking my food.  I just seem to lose my mind when I’m not paying attention to what, how much and when I eat.  I tried to use the Weight Watcher app again but I just don’t like that point system plus it’s 20 bucks a month.  I’m much more comfortable with My Fitness Pal which sync’s to my FitBit and has every single food under the sun in it.

Still no significant weight loss.  Whatevs.

This week’s stats:  64, 111 Steps/21.29 miles

Namaste

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A Winning Weekend

So Brian didn’t win the contest to get a face to face audition for The Voice, but we had a blast, saw some amazing talent (including his rendition of Colder Weather by Zac Brown Band…which made me cry) and spent the day together.  He might not have won…but I sure did.

Oh…and he forgave me for entering him in the contest without telling him.   He tried to make me promise that I’d never do it again but…well…kid’s got talent so I couldn’t promise – but I did say I’d try.  He’s a theatre tech major (which means he does lighting and designs and builds sets) so my greatest hope is that one day someone in a production will hear him singing in the shop and convince him to be onstage.  Yeah…I know…a mom can dream right?

As I said, I bailed on the triathlon but did set some new goals.  I want to run a 5K by March and a 10K by June.  I ordered new shoes to correct for my supination (under pronation) which means I roll my feet to the outside when I walk, run, jog…whatever.  I also ordered some more compression socks because they are AWESOME!  I could really tell the difference in my feet last week on my four mile “run” as well as this week.  Definitely worth the price.

My pups ran with me on Sunday.  I walk them all the time, fairly fast but this was the first time for a run.  The Brittany was fine – I run pretty slow right now so all he has to do is lengthen his stride a little and he keeps pace with me.  The Beagle however?  She was not a happy puppy.  She has short legs and has put on quite a bit of weight as she’s gotten older.  We’re trying to manage her weight but unless she smells a rabbit – she’s a lazy girl.  Every time my C25K app told me to run, she would pull back on the leash and look at me like, “Really?  Do you really expect me to run?”  And I would look down at her and say, “Let’s go girl – you need this as much as I do.”  She’ll thank me later.

And finally, allow me to share the wit of my offspring.

My oldest at home was talking to me the other evening when I suddenly began to tidy the bonus room in which we were standing.  As he spoke, I began to straighten the loose pillows on the back of the sectional sofa.  There are 10 large pillows, five brown and five black.  As I began to turn them all the right way and alternate brown/black/brown/black the room got quiet.  Then, from behind me I hear, “The OCD is strong in this one.”

Every time I think about it I crack up.

So to you my son, “Strong sarcasm is in you.”  Proud I am so.

Namaste

54 at 54 Friday Update – Week 3 (again)

8 weeks

That little gem of a picture is what is keeping me going right now.  I’m at the end of week three of my full-out fitness life and while I feel amazing I feel bigger than ever.  This always happens to me when I start a fitness plan.  I always feel bigger and not quite comfortable in my skin before things really begin to change.  So I’m taking the fact that I’m really not comfortable right now as a good sign.

All I know is that I’m not quitting.  If my size doesn’t change at all but my blood pressure, triglycerides, cholesterol, etc. is getting better, that’s all that matters.  My only REAL goal is to live a healthful life and not die like my mother.

Quiet determination.

I love my new treadmill so much.  I’m walk/running 6-7 days a weeks for an hour.  Right now I’m at 3.2 mph (walking) but I’m inching up faster every day.  My goal is to walk at 4 mph and run at 5.  Progress not perfection.

Orientation for triathlon training is on Saturday.  I’m still not fully committed to this endeavor since I hate swimming/being wet and I hate biking and I’m not a big fan of running.  But I’m going to go and hear what they have to say.  I also just learned that I’ll have to miss the mock-tri in April because I’m going to Oklahoma for the birth of my new granddaughter.  Not sure how I feel about competing without the practice but again…we’ll see.

On a completely different note, I entered one of my twins into a contest to get a front of the line audition for The Voice in Atlanta, GA on 2/14.  Yesterday they called and told us that he made it to the next round (I had already submitted the YouTube video of his portrayal of The Beast in his senior production of Beauty and the Beast).  I’m not sure how happy he is that I entered him but he’s very pleased he made it to the next round.  If he wins this we’ll be in Atlanta next weekend!  I say “we” but that will depend whether or not he wants me with him.  Good thoughts and prayers would be much appreciated.

Have a great weekend!

Namaste

 

I did it!!!

I did it you guys!!!  Thanks for all the lovely words of encouragement.  It was much harder than I thought it would be (because I’m way more out of shape then I knew) and I’m not lying when I say that my main motivation to keep going was that I wanted to make my family and all of YOU proud.  So when I thought I would puke, when my legs wanted to give out, when my lungs were at capacity, I just thought of this post right here and kept going.  Thank you thank you thank you.

My coworker and friend Sunny, without whom I probably would have stayed in bed instead of participating.
My coworker and friend Sunny, without whom I probably would have stayed in bed instead of participating.

My goal was to finish in an hour and to not be the last person…oh…and not die.

My time was 1:00:51 and I was not last!

That’s a win-win in my book considering I’ve never run a day in my life and I’ve never walked a course quite this difficult (lots and lots of hills).

I hurt today but it’s a very, very good hurt.  I’m going to start a Couch to 5K program on the treadmill (I can set it to “street” so it’s not so cushiony and more like a real road) tomorrow (certainly not today) and try to improve my breathing which is the main reason I walked way more than I ran.  My niece also told me that her drill sergeant when she was in boot camp told her to chew a stick of gum when she ran.  She said for some reason it helped her immensely with breath control.  I’ll give anything a try.

All in all I’m really proud of what I accomplished but, being the highly competitive person that I am, I know I’m committed to improving…especially for the 5K part of my triathlon in June.

Namaste

54 at 54 Friday Update – Week 2 (again)

I’ve been keeping my Wellness Journal since my treadmill showed up and, in that, I just wrapped up week 2.  I’m getting old people – I can’t keep one week count on the blog and one in the journal so I’m on week 2 again.  Don’t judge.

It’s been a really good week.  I walked over 64,000 steps and watched whatever the equivalent of that is on Scandal.  On Wednesday evening I had a therapist hangover (that’s when I feel like I’ve been hit by a Mack truck because of the emotional work I have to do) and I REALLY did not want to work out.  I mean really, really.  In fact, all I wanted to do was go home and climb up into bed and sleep.

BUT I DIDN’T WANT TO MISS MY SHOW!

So I got on the treadmill and walked for an hour.  I felt amazing after of course and so damn proud of myself.  You might wonder why I didn’t just crawl up into bed with my iPad and watch.  I mean really…it’s available to watch anytime for god’s sake!

Because it’s against the rules!!!!  No watching Scandal unless I’m sweating on my treadmill.  Hey…whatever works right?

...unless you're watching Scandal.
…unless you’re watching Scandal.

I’m “running” a four miler on Sunday morning.  Fortunately my coworker (who is 29!!!) is running it with me.  She’s training for a half-marathon at Disney at the end of the month.  This is my first official race.  I have encouraged her to leave me in the dust…she definitely won’t hurt my feelings.  The only thing that has me nervous is that they say you have to complete it in under an hour.  I don’t mind NOT completing it in that time since this is my first and I will likely be walking a lot more than I’ll be running but I’m a little nervous about what happens after an hour.  Do they follow behind you in a car and shout that the race is over and by the way, you’re a loser?  Do they pack up the finish line and take it away at the end of that time?

Seasoned runners out there…please tell me what humiliation awaits me when I get my first DNF.  It won’t stop me from running.  I just want to be prepared.

women running

Diet.  Meh.  Healthy whole foods.  No fast food (I never eat that anyway).  Still having chips but a lot less sugar this week.  In fact, almost none.  That’s a biggie

Weight?  Down a pound which is the goal.  But I’m not getting on the scale again until I finish a month on the treadmill.  They say it takes 4 weeks for you to see changes in your body, 8 weeks for family and friends and 12 weeks for the rest of the world.  That sounds like great timing for weigh-ins as well.

You all have a beautiful, warm and safe weekend.  Oh…and wish me luck!

Namaste

54 at 54 Friday Update – Week 1

This week has been…slow.  I’m still struggling with the sugar but I’ve worked out every evening which is a very big deal.  When I hurt my foot before Christmas, I stopped working out so I didn’t aggravate it.  I never picked it back up.  BUT I’m pushing through even when, like last night, every bone in my tired body said “NO!!!!  Just go home and sit in your chair and relax…you deserve it.”

I told those lying-ass thoughts that they had been evicted and would have to leave…and then I did a 40 minute workout instead of a 30 minute workout.  See what happens when you piss me off.

My diet has been good too (except for the sugar…oh…and some potato chips…ugh).  I’m keeping it clean, low carb with lots of vegetables.  Still too many diet Pepsi’s but progress not perfection.

I mentioned I’d been reading the book Down Size by Ted Spiker.  It’s really given me a new perspective on my weight and, more importantly, confirmed what I have always believed…diets don’t work and anything you do to lose weight you must be able to maintain for a lifetime (with the exception of jump starts and cleaning up your diet…more on that later).  If you can’t do it forever, you’re just making yourself crazy.

From the introduction:

“It comes down to figuring out not the rules, but the truths – the principles that can guide your actions, that can steer you in the right direction, that can bail you out when things go wrong, that your brain (and not your belly) is the lead character in the dramatic performance that is weight loss.”

This is the hook that made me keep reading.  That it’s a holistic approach.  That I can’t undo a lifetime of truths and what’s more, I shouldn’t.  Rather, I should work with my own truths to uncover the healthiest version of me.  He outlines 12 truths that worked for him and that he hopes will help us find our own way to healthy.

In part one of the book, Ted talks about figuring out the reasons we are overweight in the first place.  Genetics?  Lifestyle?  Clean your plate club?  Or how fat acts as a coping mechanism against some kind of trauma, either in childhood or in adulthood.  The bells and whistles started going off in my head as soon as I read that sentence.  I remember that I was a sickly skinny child until about third grade when I began to put on weight…exactly when the abuse began.  Believe it or not, I had never put that together with my sexual abuse…NEVER.

So I started thinking, could my weight gain as a child be related to my sexual abuse?  Later, as a middle age woman, could my weight gain have been as a result of a feeling that I was failing my mother as she was dying?  The time in between 22 and 40 I maintained a healthy weight and was physical fit.  But before and after…

Rocked my world people.  I spent a good 2-3 days just flipping that one over and over in my head until I realized, thinking about it wasn’t going to do a damn thing.  I had to actually do something…so I kept reading.

Ted moves on to discuss motivation and determination and strategies but never strays from the premise that one size does not fit all and that we each must do the work to figure out what works for us AND what our bodies want to be.  We’re not all a size 6 (or 00?  What the what?) and, for me, I know my body will fight me every step of the way if I try to make it something it’s not nor will ever be.  It’s been doing it my whole adult life.

And then, after my post the other day where I said it felt like a I had reached some kind of quiet determination this time I read this…

“It’s quieter than what we typically think of as determination.”

I mean…HELLLLLLO!

This book isn’t a diet book and there are no hard and fast rules about how you’re going to get skinny.  But I promise you that if it doesn’t do anything else, it will definitely make you think.

It has made me think.  In fact, I’m toying with the idea of another Whole30.  Just to jumpstart me and detox from sugar and potato chips.  I felt so great when I did the first one and I think enough time has passed for me to feel the newness again.  I’ll think about it some more and let you know.  I know that when I was at my best, my fittest, sugar and chips were a treat…not a way of life.  I know I can maintain that lifestyle.  I know I feel great in that lifestyle.  I just have to find that lifestyle again.

And the treadmill should be coming about the middle of next week.  Scandal here I come!

Thanks for listening.

Namaste

It Is Better to Give Than to Receive

When I was a youngster (in my twenties), I gave blood once, at work, during a blood drive.  Everything was perfectly fine.  In fact, I went out partying that evening without any ill effects.  Even the hangover the next day wasn’t that bad as I recall.  Of course not – I was YOUNG.

The next time I went to give blood, they refused me.  It seemed I had inherited my father’s heart murmur.  That particular heart murmur had kept him out of the service during WWII – he hated that and wished desperately he had been able to serve.

In researching my own heart murmur, I discovered that it was only a mild irregular heartbeat (after a multitude of tests) and so I had a special form signed so that the Red Cross would be absolved of all blame should I croak on the damn table while helping to save someone else’s life.  No use…they still wouldn’t take me.

Fast forward 30 years.  In all that time I never even tried to give blood.  I just assumed they would turn me away yet again.  So when I walked up to the table at a recent blood drive for my current employer, and the attendant took my vitals and said, “You can step behind the curtain” I almost fell off my chair!

Yay!!!  Woo-hoo!!! They want me!!!

So I sat right there and gave them my blood.  And then it took me a full 48 hours to recuperate.  WTF is THAT all about? 

It’s about age THAT’s what it is about.  The old bod just doesn’t bounce back the way it used to.  Sigh….

At least I was able to give blood – finally – after over 30 years!  I knew I’d give again, I just didn’t think it would be so soon.

Six weeks later I received a call from the community blood bank.  Seems my blood has been deemed “pure” because it doesn’t have some kind of virus most of the population has and that makes my blood suitable for babies and cancer patients AND I’m O+ so, in a pinch, my blood can be used for other blood types as well. 

They want me…they really want me.

Honestly…they had me a babies and cancer patients.

So I made an appointment and gathered my son and my other son’s girlfriend and we headed to the blood bank bright and early one Saturday morning.  All of us very excited to be doing our civic duty.

I signed my blood away, settled into the chair and began squeezing my fist.  Once the machine beeped I was ready to go.

Except I wasn’t.  All of a sudden I didn’t feel so good.  When I said, “I don’t feel so good,” the formerly lackadaisical technicians who didn’t appear to like their jobs very much snapped into action so fast you would have thought someone overhead was yelling. “SWARM SWARM SWARM!”.  The chair I was in dropped my head down and brought my feel up.  Cold compresses began appearing from nowhere and were placed all around my throat and just when I thought it had passed…I puked…three times.  It’s not easy to vomit in that position and so those same techs brought me a new t-shirt and were so sweet to me that I expect to be exchanging Christmas cards with them from now on.

My poor son looked like he had seen a ghost (mom NEVER gets sick) and so I kept saying, “I’m okay.  It’s fine.  I just didn’t eat enough before giving.”  While the whole time I’m thinking, “I’m never giving any of my motherfucking blood ever again.  Even Twilight Edward wouldn’t stand a chance getting to these veins now.  Nope…holding on to this bloody blood from now on…ain’t nobody draining me…”

But later…I knew.  I knew I’d give again.  Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients.

They just called.  I’m scheduled for this Saturday at 2:30 which is AFTER breakfast AND lunch.

Babies and cancer patients.  Babies and cancer patients. Babies and cancer patients.

Namaste

Geezer Alert

I’m about to rant about something which makes me sound (and feel) really old.  I’m not going to rag on the most recent music (I love ALL music), I don’t particularly care what the younger generation wears, and I don’t really care if they spend all day with their noses in their phones on their personal time, but a lack of manners and decorum really pisses me off.

I know that times have changed and blah blah blahdy blah blah, but good manners never go out of style.  Look, I was raised in the projects.  My parents had no social skills and certainly didn’t pass them on to us.  My grandparents were immigrants.  But I knew better than to show my ass in public from a very, very young age.  I knew the difference between my inside persona and my outside persona. (Forget voices.  I’m Italian…I have no inside voice.)

When my kids were at that “magic” age when they began to flex their potty mouth muscles, I made sure to have a conversation with them about their different personas.  I explained that I knew they would be trying on expletives to see how easily they rolled off their tongue and while that was perfectly normal, there was a specific time and place for that behavior, i.e. only with their friends and only out of earshot of adults.  Who could be lurking around any corner.  So be careful.  Very careful.

I made sure they understood that they were a reflection of me and that no matter how “good” they were, a foul mouth and rude behavior would have people thinking poorly of them and that good manners, kindness and a polite demeanor would cast the impression that they were trustworthy, mature and well behaved…even if they were the heathens I knew them to be.  I also made it clear that a poor first impression was very hard to overcome and a good first impression would pave the way for forgiveness of future sins.

In other words…don’t fuck up and make me look bad.

No…of course I didn’t actually say that.  My foul potty mouth is reserved only for this blog and my husband’s ears (and a few close friends).  Otherwise I have daisies and rainbows flowing from my mouth on a regular basis.

It worked.  I am consistently complimented on my kids and their behavior and they make me proud everyday.  They have an excellent vocabulary.  Wouldn’t think of cursing outside of their inner circle.  They open doors, pull out chairs, say please and thank you and blah blah blahdy blah blah.

Here’s the thing though.  Yes, my kids are well-behaved adults but I honestly think the reason I get complimented so often is that the rest of the world has lost their freaking minds!!!  Since when is it acceptable to drop the f-bomb every three minutes within earshot of perfect strangers?  Strangers with toddlers in tow?  Or at a work function?  Or directly to your boss?!

Again…I must be geezing.  I know they are just words and that, as I told my kids, they only have power if we give them power.  But the fact remains that society has given them power and we have to respect that.  Or not.

We recently took a group of our trainees to a community service function.  We were asked to leave.  Let me type that again.  This group was asked to leave a VOLUNTEER function because they didn’t know how to behave.  From the time they walked in the door they were rude, foul-mouthed and not helpful at all.  These are young adults – not high school or middle school kids.  We didn’t accompany them because we thought they were adults.  We were wrong.  And let me assure you, they knew what was expected of them.

And let me also assure you that they heard from me upon their return.  But digress.

On what planet is it EVER okay to be rude, foul-mouthed and disrespectful?  I’m no Emily Post but damn people, it doesn’t cost a dime to be kind and respectful.  But it costs a lot for my company to have their reputation drug through the potty because of a few obnoxious frat boys and girls…yes girls…even they were in on it.  I think that pissed me off the most because, in a male dominated industry like mine, I expect more out of the women.  I expect them to be better than their male counterparts because that is what they’ll have to do in order to get ahead.  Is it right?  Hell to the no!  But it’s a fact so get over it.

What I do not expect is for them to show their ass while wearing a t-shirt with the company logo on it.  Show your ass in your own clothes…not mine.  And while you’re at it, bring me a bar of soap because I’ve got a line of people who need their mouths washed out.

See…told you I was geezing.

Namaste

 

 

Homesick

I am a Maryland girl.  I was born and raised for a period of time in Washington, DC, but in my heart of hearts…I’m from Maryland.  I have a big tin of Old Bay Seasoning in my cabinet (because what self-respecting Marylander doesn’t), crave Thrasher’s fries and Dolle’s caramel corn on a regular basis, think of mountains as soft and rolling like the Blue Ridge rather than sharp and steep like the Rockies, and likely have a combination of salt, fresh and brackish water running through my veins (because the Chesapeake Bay is actually an estuary which has all three). 

Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the Annapolis side.

Maryland is neither north nor south having straddled the Mason-Dixon line for the better part of the last 300 years.  Most of the state has very little accent save for the group near D.C who put an “r” in the word wash (as in Warshington), the group from deep southern Maryland who sound like they’re from the deep, deep south, and the group from points north of Baltimore who sound just like they are from Philadelphia.  We have bays and beaches and mountains and lots and lots of places where not only George Washington slept but most of the Founding Fathers’ laid their heads as well.  In fact, MD is a hotbed for political activity and personalities.  (Camp David is in MD you know).  We are the shit yo!

Western Maryland in the fall…only God makes colors like that.

I’m finding that I get homesick less frequently but with greater intensity than I used to and that the only thing that will cure it is plant my feet in good old Maryland land.  I need to soak up some salt air along with the stench of crooked local politics and fresh cut tobacco.  I just need to go…home.

The Boardwalk in Ocean City Maryland.

When this feeling comes over me, I begin to think about how and when I’m going to go.  With whom I’ll stay.  Whether or not I can make a trip to the ocean while I’m there or if I’ll just hang at the Bay.  Who I’ll stop and visit and for how long.  Maybe I can get a trip to the mountains in while we’re there and stop at my grandparents gravesite to maybe “tidy up” a bit.  Or maybe not.  I wonder how to get where I need to be while still managing to avoid the absolute nightmare that is the Capital Beltway.  I know I need to grab a copy of the Washington Post – Sunday Edition and read my favorite comics and talk one of my friends into a crab feast while I’m there.

Steamed Maryland Blue Crabs

My daughter and her family are still there.  My best friend is still there.  My beach is there.  My Bay is there.  The city dock in Annapolis is there.  My football team is there (don’t bust my chops, The Redskins play in Maryland); my baseball team is there (The Orioles).  It’s where I met and fell in love with the hubs and where all my babies were born…all six of them!  My first house is there and my favorite house is there and the only church to which I ever really belonged is there.

One of the oldest Catholic churches in MD (and Maryland has A LOT of Catholic Churches). I love this church.

Of course my time there wasn’t all sunshine and unicorns.  As we all know my upbringing wasn’t exactly Ozzie and Harriet (and if you’re too young to know what that means…Google it).  Could I move back permanently?  I doubt it.  We’ve planted roots here.  It’s a beautiful place to live and I love it.

But 8 hours north (by car) is home and every once in a while…I need to be there.  I need to hug people and wander roads that I’d know in my sleep and see what’s changed and visit old haunts.  Maybe it’s a result of the depression cycle I’m in or maybe it’s just been too long but whatever the reason, I feel a distinct pull to the north.

Now where did I put those ruby slippers…

Namaste

Why I Love My Ink

I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 45.  As I’ve said before…it was a mid-life thing (assuming I live to be 90).  It was cheaper than a sports car or plastic surgery and way less damaging than an affair.  I got a simple Om symbol in the small of my back (yes…tramp stamp).  I chose that spot because it was the place least likely to change regardless of what my body did as I aged…when I die at 90 it would be mostly recognizable.  In addition, the symbol had, and continues to have a deep, spiritual meaning for me.  My life was in the shitter at the time and I needed something.  I expected it to help…it did…a little.

What I didn’t expect was to fall in love with all things ink.  When I grew up the only people who had or got tattoos were bikers, sailors, gang bangers or trashy women.  To have a tattoo meant that you were part of the dregs of society and any friends I had that got tattoos at 18 or so, were in the process of having theirs removed while I was going under the needles.  But the art was evolving and I was fascinated.  I wanted something that was private and just mine (at my age there wasn’t any danger of my thong and tat peeking out of my jeans at a party) and my new art filled the bill.  I was in love.

So much so that I planned and thought about my next piece almost immediately.  I had my daughter (the artist) design something around my Om symbol that would not only add color but make it more meaningful.  Around my symbol she drew six cherry blossoms (for each of my kids), five little buds (for each of the grandkids) all of which paid homage to my hometown, Washington, DC.  In my 50th year I had that one inked on my back during a business trip to Orlando.  I got lucky and the artist did a wonderful job but thinking back, I should have waited and done some research…it could have gone very, very wrong.

By then I was watching Miami Ink, LA Ink, InkMaster, Best Ink, and any other tattoo show that came on TV.  I love hearing the stories of why people want to change their bodies permanently and I love watching these amazing artists do their work.  Some are silly and irresponsible while others are joyful and celebrate life.  Then there are those that are sad and pay homage to loved ones lost.  Some are ill placed (neck and hand tattoos????? risky) while others are hidden so well only that “special” person and the owner will ever see them.  All are fairly expensive and the really good ones by the really great ones are sometimes actually cost prohibitive. 

The one I saw that truly changed my opinion of tattoos forever was a picture in a magazine of a woman who had a radical mastectomy on both breasts and was left with horrible disfiguring scars.  Instead of attempting reconstruction (always a deeply personal decision) she had the most beautiful tattoo done over her chest and under her arms to her back.  It was breathtaking and for a moment, you didn’t see the scars…only the art.  That’s when I realized the impact tattoos could have.

The most important tattoo I have is the one I got about a year into my sobriety.  I got my sober date (1/7/10) tattooed on the inside of my right wrist…my “drinking” hand.  That tattoo served many purposes.  First it served as a constant reminder of what I was fighting for.  Second it was like a talisman…guiding me through the tough times.  And finally, it was a reminder that if I picked up, having it removed was going to be expensive and hurt like a sonofabitch!  Let’s just say that simple, quick and inexpensive tattoo served its purpose.

I have a swirly hard to read tat on my right ankle that says “Let Go”.  My friend and I got them together and they match.  Whenever I’m having trouble remembering that I’m not in charge…I think of that little piece of ink.  It works.

Finally, I recently decided that my sober date had served it’s purpose and it was time to move forward and stop looking back.  I now have four cherry blossoms covering that date and the words “Be Still” in my favorite font below it.

It also reminds me that I’m not in charge..

“Be still and know that I am God…” ~ Psalm 46:10

What’s next?  Only time, money and my impulsiveness will tell.

Namaste