I didn't get my first tattoo until I was 35 years old. Since then I've gotten four more and started on the fifth. It's true that they are quite addicting. The thing about my tattoos is they represent transitional times in my life. They've become a journal on my body. I've always chosen to get them in all black mainly for the simplicity. I do have one in color on my back but as you'll see shortly, I'm in the process of covering it up with a purely black one.
My first tattoo is my Goddess rising out of the flames like a Phoenix. When this image came to me I was sitting in a Women's Studies class at Portland State University. The subject was Goddesses and we were discussing the significance of symbolism. During this period of time in my life I was going through a lot of changes in all aspects of my life and realizing that I had completely lost myself in everything that I was doing. Relationships, work and school. My Goddess represents me coming back to my power and embracing the changes that were happening around me. The flames representing the destruction happening around me and of my lost self, the Goddess representing my true self and the spiral representing the changes and the lessons that I kept coming back to.
My second tattoo wasn't done until 2009 when I went through another major transition in my life and needed a reminder to have compassion for myself. I was beating myself up a lot (mentally, emotionally and physically) during this transition and needed to be much more gentle with myself during this time. I was also studying Zen Buddhism and identified strongly with that spiritual path. It's a Buddhist knot that represents the intertwining of wisdom and compassion. The words above and below it are in Sanskrit. The one on the top is my last name, Kali, which has it's own meaning in itself (see my post on my chosen last name), and the one on the bottom is bodhi for the Buddha.
The next tattoo I got the following year was in memory of my Chocolate Lab, Sumatra, who passed away on September 18, 2009. She came to me from the Oregon Humane Society when she was 6 years old and we were together for 7 wonderful years. She was my rock and my savior during some dark times in my life. We went on walks and snuggled every day. She listened to all of my problems and moved with me over and over again and she still loved me unconditionally. I still miss her. The tattoo is of her paw print. My tattoo artist, Leslie Hero, was able to replicate it from the clay paw print they took before they cremated her. It's on my left forearm. It's an amazingly beautiful work of art and I get compliments on it almost daily.
The piece that Leslie is working on now signifies the transition my life has taken during these past 7 months. It's a tribal piece that represents my freedom and my passions taking flight. It will cover up the color piece that is currently in the middle of my back and I may or may not have her cover it up completely in the middle of the design where there are negative spaces. She has a way to do it if I decide to completely cover it up but the more I look at it I'm thinking that the color peaking through may look kind of cool. We'll see. The first photo is the stencil on my back and the second is the completed outline. The outline took about an hour and 45 minutes so this piece will take a while until it's done. I've discovered that my max sitting time is 2 hours. At that point I just can't get my body to relax and have to call it good.
The entire tattoo will be black. The design was drawn by Leslie after I gave her some ideas of what I was picturing. She totally got it and came up with this amazing piece. I can't wait for it to be completed.
What was kind of funny about this piece is that I was a little nervous about asking Leslie to do it because she was the one who did the color piece that is now being covered. After explaining to her why I was covering it she completely understood and had no problem covering it up. She's the best!
I love that I can express myself with this sort of medium and have reminders that I can carry with me about the transitions that I've lived through and grown through in my life. For me, sharing them makes them all the more powerful.