To Tattoo or Not To Tattoo

https://www.facebook.com/TheProjectTV/posts/10154975516023441

The Project last night reported on a survey of people. They said that most women love a tattooed man; however, most men would not date a tattooed woman.

Meh.

This fascination in first world society to tell others how to live, and what is or is not acceptable, is so unenlightened. I realize that tattooing is a personal taste thing, but the ignorance of some people still astounds me.

It doesn’t matter in the broad scheme of life whether you like tattoos or not; no one is forcing you to get one. It does matter though, if you demonstrate prejudice or ignorance towards the choices of others, and make sweeping generalizations about a person’s character based on their choice to have tattoos.

One lady made negative assumptions about people who choose to have neck and hand tattoos. Really?! I have birds on my neck, and symbols for wisdom and connectedness as well as Buddhist life symbols on my hands.

Tattoos are my voice. I didn’t realize at first, how significantly tattoos empowered and enabled me an avenue of permanent expression. It seems very logical now. As a child I felt unheard. I felt that what I thought and felt was erasable. Rightly or wrongly.

As an adult, I choose to express my thoughts and beliefs on my body. Not for attention, not from ignorance, but for me. I empowered my voice, and ultimately, that journey enabled me to empower my whole self.

People who spend time with me at the beginning of Spring will attest how much I dislike and feel awkward about the attention my tattoos garner. I cringe. Positive or negative, the attention and being in the spotlight is something I do not crave. However, I accept that it is a byproduct of being a heavily tattooed female in a misogynistic society (lol – that last bit is a bit of a tease only).

I respect your right to not like or to not have tattoos; please respect my right to have them. I am grateful that society is not as ignorant as it once was, but there are more important human rights issues that need attention.

Same sex marriage/equality

Rising illiteracy rates

Increasingly violent and aggressive children

Childhood sexual abuse

Domestic violence

Housing and heating costs

Homelessness and disconnection

Increasing rates of depression and anxiety

And the list goes on …


Tattooing as Divine Conversation 

I could not access the words through the thoughts yesterday to write this. Those of you that follow me know how transforming my recent trip to India has been for me. I consolidated and signposted this with a tattoo yesterday. 

But, the journey for this tattoo started in January. So I think it is fitting that I close the year with it. 

In January, I received an email from Alana Fairchild promoting a Lakshmi retreat in India for late October. I felt the calling to go, trusted it, and replied that I would be going. It felt right. I knew I was meant to go. I didn’t realise how right it was at the time, just that I had to trust the calling and step outside of my comfort zone. 

In early March, I was informed that I was under investigation at work for failing to report the misconduct of other staff members. This investigation, ironically, lasted two days shy of forty two weeks (an overdue bub- yep). Whilst I suffered/endured/survived extreme bouts of anxiety and disconnection, the upcoming trip to India sustained me. I knew it would set me on the right path. 

In April, for my birthday, I was going to host a picnic but made the decision to postpone it until the investigation was resolved. After all, how long could it take? 😳

I also wanted to mark my birthday with a tattoo. I was thinking a mandala. I like them. I googled mandala experts. 

I came across a Sydney artist, Mark of Nara. His tattooing is distinct and his website suggests that he works with tattoos in a spiritual and healing mode. This piqued my interest and I contacted his studio to make an appointment. 

No more bookings for 2016. A wait list for 2017. 

Initially miffed, I trusted that what would be, would be. I didn’t look further for an artist. I’ve never been tattooed by an artist with a wait list. It was a bit novel. 

And then, India. A retreat and trip that would completely transform me. I integrated aspects of myself, and began to see myself as beautiful, inside and out. I saw myself as the Divine sees me, sees us all. A child full of light, love, compassion, power. A child who deserves to live her best life, create her best life, away from bureaucracy and limiting, ridiculous precepts. 

Alone in Dharamshala, at the Tibetan Cultural Centre, I was guided towards a statue depicting Green Tara; compassion in action – hand shown and foot ready to jump, sitting on a lotus. She called to me. Really called to me. Something inside was cemented when I saw her, transformed me. If I jump, was ready for action, coming from compassion, I could live my best life and become the best version of myself. 

She is my symbol for India. 

I came home, high, ready to embrace everything that could be, and fell into the drudgery of work. Returning emphasized how unhappy I was in the monotony of work, with no life balance or time/energy to do other things, to be all that I can be. 

Investigation over. 

One funeral after the other: reminders that life is too short to writhe in misery and I decide to take leave for next year. I plan travel, book writing, growing and transforming my business, casual teaching to sustain me. 

And then I receive an email to inform me that Mark of Nara is taking appointments for 2017. I had to send my idea to him. If it appealed, I would get an appointment. 

Green Tara. A brief explanation why. 

He rang a few days later. I booked in for yesterday. 

I was so nervous when I met him. Did not doubt the tattoo or his ability, but so nervous. In retrospect, my body was preparing for the journey ahead. 

We talked about the tattoo, what it meant to me and why. Just in conversation. A moment to mark transition, and a commitment to myself of my worth and my value. A reminder in moments of doubt to trust the Divine and the energy. 

Like India, I am now struggling to put into words the experience. There were periods of animated talk and periods of quiet reflection, for both of us. As we talked more, it became apparent that 2017 represents for both of us, a need to travel and move away from the normal confines of our working lives. 

Green Tara was representing both of our journeys forward; a reclaiming of our own selves. Synchronous. 

My talk of India inspired him, and when his partner came in, she mentioned that she had woken up with India on her lips. They will go, trusting that they are being called too. 

We have the power to create a better world with our intentions. Community is the way forward. I am realizing I am a part of a tribe. Together, through our intermittent interactions, we will transform our lives and our communities. This is the way. 

Mark finishes his tattoos with drumming and singing to seal the intention of the tattoo. 

I was in a meditative state for most of the tattooing process, the pain was intense. Shedding past and outdated beliefs about myself, and the expectations of what I thought my life would look like. With each line, each period of shading, they were ripped from my body and my soul, leaving me happy and returned to my peaceful, calm post India self. 

I am back. I am in control. I am in full trust. I have made the right decision. I am on the right path. This is where I am meant to be. 

The universe does work in mysterious ways. We have to trust that everything that happens, is meant to. We need to act on opportunity and trust the intuitions we receive. They guide us to happiness and health. They empower us to be our best selves, living our best lives. Tragedies, ultimately, become opportunities to shed the old and embrace the new. 

Namaste 🙏🏻 

My 2014 …

It has been a big year and a mixed year. But I really love living. And I love ageing. And growing. It really can’t be beaten.

2013 ended with a failed IVF attempt and that too, was repeated during 2014. However, the former proved to be a miscarriage that resulted in bleeding constantly for three months in 2014 (oh lucky me lol). Apart from hormonal migraines and other hormonal issues I was able to dodge the more feral cold and flus that circulated until two weeks ago when I contracted a horrid chest infection (not enough balance in 2014). Of course, it eventuated right at the very beginning of my holiday period, as life is prone to do. Just when we think we are safe … hehe. 2015 hopefully will see a reduction in hormonal issues for me and a generally healthier year with more balance; fingers crossed, strategising started.

2014 started with my very first real cruise and has ended with a cruise. I truly am blessed to be able to undertake such things, remembering too that I cruised in October for a few days too. Truly relaxing way to holiday but not very adventurous. And ultimately, P&O has great showers in the staterooms and unbeatable vegetarian food but Royal Carribean trumps it in so many ways. April saw a getaway to Melbourne with Lauren and Sara for a few days that cemented those friendships.

I regained my dreads. Focused a bit more on my witchcraft, healing and talking to the spirits. Finished my Masters. Started this blog. And need to extend all of this practice into 2015 religiously.

Whilst I do not have a friendship group, I have many friends. Most made it through 2014 with me, even though I have reconstructed some walls. Some friendships grew much stronger, others just persevered, and some have become a little more remote. My family relationships are strong and I have invited myself into the Cusack clan as part of their family; happened quickly and seamlessly with no real effort. I hope that they choose to stay in my life. I like them.

I am still collecting people, and I like that.

Books remain my truest friends. Thank the universe that Jodi Picoult writes at least one book a year and I am now immersed in Deborah Harkness. I also read a life changing book in Melbourne during April (The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg); reinforcing the notion that everyday practice strengthens the psyche and the soul. This was probably one of my best years in terms of living in the present moment and minimising stress.

Not that work helped that. Probably the biggest time chunks during 2014 centred on work. Whilst I love my job unconditionally, I really need to bring balance back in 2015. Long hours are not conducive to relationships and broader life experiences like religious practice and writing.

I gave much advice during 2014; professional and personal. And I accepted advice during 2014. I sought out advice at times (rare for me) but still remained disappointed at times (referring an ‘alleged’ paedophile at work and no real support from DET or the counsellors because there is just no way to move through working with an ‘alleged’ paedophile in teaching when a victim chooses not to come forward and make the allegation formal). I grew to empathise with others more and become less judgemental (except for the ‘alleged’ paedophile), and developed very strong relationships at work through my work as a visionary and a leader (the former a little tongue in cheek).

I learned how to teach my kids how to read through David Rose’s exceptional Reading to Learn program and strengthened my own practice by embracing creativity and embedding more 21st Century Learning skills. I missed Renee, Donna and Jenny at work. They had been my creative stimuli during 2013. I continued my fetish with dresses and tattoos but failed to get a tattoo after my two in January. Definitely need to rectify this during 2015.

I do not know what 2015 will bring me but I have faith that I am on the path to where I am meant to go. I know that I want to include more religious practice, and hone my witch skills in healing and being autonomous and powerful, in my own right of course. I want to continue to love teaching and expand my skills further, helping to create a wonderful climate of learning, and raised expectations and standards at school. I want to clean out all of my baggage in my home and create a more open and minimal space (minus losing the books; I will never part with my books). I want to rid my body of its new found allergen and live a less convenient but infinitely more natural food life in 2015. I want to reconnect strongly with those I have drifted from and consolidate the bonds with those I truly love. I wish for my Max and Molly to stay healthy and happy (my pets) and I wish to resolve, one way or another, my journey to motherhood.

It will be another interesting year. I am sure it will have its own ups and downs. But I relish the opportunity to have breath so that I am able to take the first steps towards it tomorrow.

For those of you have who have read my blog, who have commented, who have supported me since June, I wish you the very best for 2015 and hope that majick weaves its way into your lives, making them incredible tributes to all that is good and beautiful in our world.

Much love and strong blessings from my household to yours …

Tina

PS. I hope you keep reading 😉

 

Finding Your Voice

As a child I was very quiet and very shy. I am still very shy. Painfully so. But so is my dad. This knowledge does make me feel better. Oddly. I fight my shyness mostly. But not always. It stems from a fear of judgement I think. And a sense that I am not valuable enough. Even though intellectually, I know this is not true.

At any rate, I was very quiet. My voice didn’t work for myself. For others it did. If I had to protect someone else my voice had no problem. Just for me. And I always acquiesced. I disliked conflict so it was easier to placate, to not rock the boat, to just do and be what was expected.

In fact, it was only just this year that I realised that my love (possibly obsession) with tattooing arose from my need to ensure my voice. My tattoos are an insurance policy that whilst ever I am alive, my voice will be heard, at the very least, noticed. Not that I like people looking at me – the contradictions that make the wonderful world of Tina what it is. Similar to my belief that we shouldn’t mix foods except for the exceptions that I like lol.

My voice first rose to prominence during my final year of uni. I was blessed to have an excellent English Teaching Method tutor and a very supportive (and patient) class. We were a very mixed group of personalities. Interestingly this is also the first year that I started wearing long black skirts, black jumpers, black shoes, black everything. This was the year of turning for me. I was twenty one.

We were discussing assessment. I dislike formal assessment. Something within me has always said that the arbitrary labelling of students and their work is just ridiculous. It does nothing more than provide kids with a sense that by society’s schooling standards they are either smart or dumb and it pays no heed to the effort that the child has put in. This was something I had never really articulated prior to this session on assessment; I’m not even sure that I really knew I thought that. But I did. And I still do.

And for that one tute session, I was a dog with a bone. Not a cute little Max, but a violent, mistreated, aggressive Pitbull. And even when my tutor realised I needed a change in direction, I relentlessly brought that discussion back to my bone.

I made myself heard.

I made my voice count.

I expressed what I thought.

I expressed me.

The me that fights for the underdog, protects the vulnerable, and stands up for what I believe/perceive to be right. In my mind, what IS right. But I have learned to temper the aggressive voice over the years and now say things the way that people like to hear them ;-).  I digress …

There were several factors at play that day that enabled this transformation to begin. I had the support and respect of my tutor. I had the shock but love from my peers (who intuitively knew that the aggression was spurting from a place removed from our classroom and from this issue – we ended up laughing at the uni bar afterwards). I was away from the place that had silenced me. And away from the people who had silenced me. And I had been for three years. I had forged my own life in Bathurst, separate to who I was at home.

I have tempered my voice over the years. Wonderful advice from an early teaching mentor, who saw in me the potential to enact change if I learned how to, offered me advice I live by, to this day; she asked, “Is this the hill you are willing to die on?” My barometer now is this. And as a result I have blossomed into a tempered hot head, living by the rules I can live by, working to change the rules that I can’t. Most importantly, I have had many people who have believed in me and believed in my potential. Without that, I would have suicided years ago. And I don’t say this flippantly.

A few days ago I was having a conversation with a dear friend who is learning to use her voice. She is a lion. I am so blessed to be on her journey with her. And it shows, my experience and hers, that even after a traumatic childhood, a childhood where we are forced within, a childhood that robs us of childhood, it is possible to still become your authentic self.

And it hinges on the development of your voice.

Finding it. Using it. Upsetting others. Learning to temper it. Using it.

And that depends on your belief in self. And the people you choose to have in your life.

If someone doesn’t like your voice, minimise the impact of them in your life, if you can’t rid your life of them. It is a difficult journey, discovering and learning how to use your voice. And a lifelong journey.

One that I am truly blessed to be on.