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Wear your heart on your skin in this life

This weekend I joined the ranks of the Portland hipsters and ultra-cool and got a tattoo. For most people it’s no big deal, but for me it, was a big deal. It was a lesson in keeping my promises and following through when I said was I going to do something.

I had always wanted a tattoo but I never found anything that really spoke to me or that I felt I absolutely HAD to have tattooed on my body. In December of last year the Vegvisir came to me and I honestly don’t remember how I found it. The Vegvisir is an Icelandic symbol meaning guidepost. It is said to be an internal compass and helps the bearer find their way through rough waters. When I found it, I was unemployed and down in the dumps and needing something to grasp on to so I pasted it in my journal so I wouldn’t forget it.

A couple of months later I interviewed for my current job and made a promise to the Universe that if I got the job, I would tattoo the Vegvisir on my arm and we would be even. I got the job, but I waited to get the tattoo. I was nervous and needed to research about the best places so I asked around, talked to random strangers about their tattoos and took mental notes. It wasn’t until I told my friend Tressia I wanted to get a tattoo that the ball was set in motion.

Tressia has two gorgeous tattoos I love and she forced me to get out of my comfort zone and go the tattoo shop and talk to the artist where she got hers done. I figured it wouldn’t kill me and I wasn’t committing to anything. We set a lunch date and visited the shop after our lunch. I walked into the shop feeling like a fish out of water not knowing what to ask or how to ask it. Tressia took control of the situation and explained to the artist that I was looking to get a tattoo. I showed him my design and he told me he really liked it and told me how much it would cost and when I should come back. This particular artist is in high demand and is typically booked out six months in advance. BUT! He did take walk-ins on Sunday. We made a date to come back and Tressia bounced out of the tattoo shop like a giddy school girl while I stood there wondering what I just did.

On the day of reckoning, I awoke to excited texts and messages on my phone from Tressia with plans to meet. I was excited but mostly nervous while Tressia bounced off the walls. As we waited for the artist to set up, we looked around the shop making cracks about horrible tattoos I could be getting. I think it eventually morphed into a half-naked woman riding a phallic-shaped object. The laughter eased the tension and I was ready to go when Dan called me back. I’ll spare you the gory details from here, but I found the whole experience to be very positive from inception to execution. The staff at Atlas Tattoo is incredibly kind and supportive and everything was done quickly and efficiently. Yes, it did hurt.

I came away from the whole experience walking on Cloud 9 feeling very proud of myself.. it could have been the after-tattoo endorphins, but I said I was going to do something and I did it.

I know I am not the first or last person to get a tattoo but the whole thing was an important lesson in keeping my word. I made a promise and I kept it. I could have chickened out, but I didn’t. Yeah, it did hurt but in the end it was worth it. I don’t have a picture to share right now as my arm is bandaged up, but if you’re friend with me on Facebook – you will have seen it.

While getting a tattoo is not for everyone, I would recommend keeping this story in mind the next time you make a promise to yourself, the Universe or anyone else. Find someone who will take you to the edge of the cliff and encourage you to jump. Find someone who will jump with you and hold you accountable and make you feel like you’re not in it alone. It’s worth the endorphin rush in the end.

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About Anna Alexander

I am a freelance writer and producer living in the Pacific Northwest. My husband and I live with our cat Grendel who lets us pay his mortgage.

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