Tag Archives: tattoos

Magical Thinking

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There’s a book on my shelf that I bought at the suggestion of a friend. It is The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion, the story of how she dealt with the sudden death of her husband. However, the book was not suggested as a way for me to process Brian’s death, but as a way for me to think about my life. I’ve written how I plan to move forward, to pursue my dreams and live the life Brian cannot. My friend wanted me to think about that part as being magical. Taking a year to figure things out, see what unfolds, and explore the possibilities.

I am very much an optimistic girl who looks at the world and sees magic. Heck, technology is magical to me. I am pretty sure my computer is powered by pixie dust and unicorns!

As each day unfolds I am seeing more of what will be my year of magical thinking. Today I did something I have wanted to do for a long time. I went to the salon and had my hair dyed and highlighted purple. I’ve tended, over the course of my life, to do things the conventional way. I am a rule follower and a people pleaser. I don’t rock the boat and I try to be “appropriate” in all situations. Truth be told, however, there is a different Jacque that has resided inside, wanting to be daring enough to get tattoos and have purple hair and do something in life that is all my own.

I asked a few friends if it would be okay to dye my hair purple. Good friends tell you it would more than okay. I also asked Jordan. He, too, gave his blessing. He embraces my quirkiness and thinks it’s cool. So I sat in a chair and chatted with my new colorist about life, and enjoyed the process. It was more than a hair appointment for me. It was a big step in embracing my “innate okayness” and some of my wonderful weirdness, a step in being me, a way to begin some magical thinking.

Just like the title of the book, I want this to be my year of magical thinking, where I explore uncharted territory and open myself to all the possibilities life has to offer. I want to be unafraid to keep sharing my heart through writing. I want to get my hands dirty and be creative. I gave up art a long time ago but it is calling again. I hope my year of magical thinking will take me to new destinations, introduce me to colorful characters, and open my eyes to the joy that surrounds each of us. And I want to do that with tattoos and purple hair.

A Magical Mindset = Joy

Tattoos & the Meaning in Life

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Brian got his first tattoo about a year after his cancer surgery, which was in March of 2007. He got a simple Livestrong band tattooed around his left bicep as a reminder of what he had overcome. Yes, they are addicting, so it wasn’t long before he got another. And then I got one, and then another. We started taking turns at some point and it seemed there was always a new idea forming in our minds about what we would get when our turn came up.

Brian has three Sanskrit words tattooed on his wrist. It’s always scary to have a foreign language tattooed on your body, and we researched and checked and double-checked before the needle hit his skin. He and I are pretty confident that his wrist doesn’t say “I’ll have the Pad Thai.” The tattoos are springboards for many conversations and they are very personal to him. The first word means “strength of mind.” He has it as a reminder that every decision is important and all our decisions have consequences. We battle with our minds all the time, sometimes winning but also losing and having to draw up a new battle plan. Next on his wrist is a word that means “courage” and that is a fairly obvious reminder to be brave and face things head on. The final word means “contentment” and is probably the most important word to him. I can really only speak to American culture, though it’s undoubtedly true of cultures around the globe, but we tend to run around looking for success – money, possessions, prestige, etc., but often miss out on being content right where we are. Brian was successful in these ways and many others for years, but never felt satisfied…never content. He started exploring that word and what it really means a couple of years ago when the economy tanked and we lost a lot of the tangible things that made us “successful.”

 

One evening in 2010, knowing we were going to have to move out of our house, we were sitting by the pool listening to the crickets and frogs, talking about how life had thrown us a curveball. We knew things were going to be changing but we were actually excited about it. We felt it was an opportunity to be different, to chase that elusive thing called contentment. In discussing what we wanted out of life and our future, we came to the conclusion that happiness could surely be found in a job that makes you happy even if it doesn’t make you much money. You can be happy in a small house filled with memories rather than a large one filled with things you just have to dust and insure.

I wish I could say the next two years were as wonderful as we had planned on that warm Florida night. Instead, our world continued spin out of control at times and we hit bumps and got knocked around. I’m not exactly sure if we have reached a point where we can say we are 100% content, but maybe we are getting close. I believe we both feel a real sense of peace. We don’t own a house or live in a place that we call home (though we are making ourselves at home for the time being), we have no jobs, and everything we own fits in a single room. In a way that is very freeing. It’s simple. I like to think of myself as a sort of modern day Thoreau.

Surrounding the Sanskrit words on Brian’s wrist is a lotus. He loves that the lotus starts out in the mud, but pushes its way up through that muck, then opens into a beautiful, clean flower. Brian feels our lives are a lot like the lotus flower. We have to push through a lot of dirty water and mud in the form of life’s lessons and our experiences before we can really open up and let others see the beauty inside.

The final part of his tattoo is the “om” symbol, in the center of the lotus, behind the words. There could be debates for days about the meaning of om, but for Brian it’s simply a reminder to be calm and quiet. That’s good advice no matter what life throws at you, but it’s especially important at this time. Brian has shown strength of mind and courage these last few months. He seems to have found contentment. His life resembles the lotus flower and in the center is a sense of calm.

Tattoos = Joy

Well With the Soul

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Today Brian shared a video and I hope you will take the time to watch it. It sums up how Brian feels. I know that some of life’s greatest lessons are learned in the most difficult times and this certainly qualifies.

We are settling down for the night – our last night at Hope Hospice. If all goes as planned we will be leaving for home tomorrow around 11:00am. We will cross over the river and begin the next phase of our journey. Brian and I have very good days together. Over the last two years we have struggled to find quality time together. Through this, we have found it and that’s a blessing. Brian looks great. He was strong and healthy going into this so he has that strength going for him. His body will put up a very good fight.

Someone asked what the tattoo on my foot means and I said it means “let’s cross over” and that has a much different meaning today than it did two years ago when I got it. We are crossing over to what we know can be the very best part of our lives. We’re choosing to accept cancer as the best thing that will ever happen to us. It is well with Brian’s soul and it is well with mine too.

I want to close by sending out a special thank you to Marsha. I wish I had been here when you stopped by for a visit. Brian told me that you read the journal every night. I was touched by that and also by the thoughtfulness you showed in coming by. Thank you for taking part in caring for Brian.