Totally unrelated to anything I think I’ve ever written about, but I got another tattoo yesterday. Depending on how you count them, it was either number 10 or 11. (I have a phrase that has part of the words on one foot and the other part on the other foot.)

I got my first tattoo when I was 18 while I was still in high school. My mom was very displeased with it, even though I was of legal age.

Over the years, I continued to get more every couple of years. I mostly got phrases, spiritual symbols, or things that were otherwise meaningful to me. One of my favorites was the Buddhist dharma wheel I had tattooed on my left ankle, which I had done before I had kids.

But one of my upper arm tattoos that I’d gotten when I was young was not well done and it always embarrassed me. I never wanted to wear tank tops or sleeveless dresses because I was embarrassed about it. Earlier this year, I took a chunk of my back pay from Social Security and got that tattoo covered up and another one on the opposite arm, so now I happily wear tank tops again, which is nice in the Texas heat.

But the tattoo I got yesterday is probably the most significant of all because it represents me and my little family. (It’s also the largest tattoo I’ve ever gotten.) I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband’s nickname for me is little bird, so this is what I got:

The three smaller birds on the bottom represent my three kids, who were really into birds as little kids. I already had a small tattoo of the three little birds, but my tattoo artist expanded it to incorporate them.

The idea for a tattoo that said “lucky little bird” popped into my head a month or two ago and I knew without a doubt that it was the perfect tattoo for me. And I’m so beyond thrilled with how it turned out.

I really do feel like I’m a “lucky little bird” and it felt so fitting to have my largest tattoo be one that honors my marriage and my kids.

I also really liked the symbolism of having them be blue birds, because blue birds represent happiness and hope.

The cherry blossom branches symbolize spring and renewal, but cherry blossoms are also known as sakura in Japan. They also symbolize that life is beautiful but short. My husband and kids are all really into Japanese culture so it further reminds me of them.

I’ve always felt that tattoos should be deeply meaningful and significant to the person wearing them. People can obviously do whatever they want, but I think tattoos are more meaningful when they have a deep personal meaning, compared to ones like say the Tasmanian devil from the Warner Bros. cartoons or a giant rose. I’ve never wanted a tattoo that you’d see on too many other people.

Even though I have so many tattoos, I don’t look heavily tattooed. Both my upper arms and ankles and the insides of both wrists/forearms are tattooed, but they’re relatively small. I could cover them all up if I had to.

It may sound silly but this most recent tattoo was by far the most important of all because it represents what’s most important to me. Maybe in light of my husband’s cancer, it felt more significant to honor my relationship with him in such a permanent and prominently visible way. The artwork itself turned out beautiful, too. I’ll be proud to show it off–like a wedding ring you can’t ever take off.

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