This past Friday night I got my newest tattoo. I had been planning this one for a few months, refining my design to perfection week after week. Interestingly, my other two tattoos were done in May, so I figured I’d keep with tradition and get this one in May as well. Through word of mouth I discovered Haylo Healing Art Lounge and knew from the moment I walked in that I wanted my tattoo done here. Haylo is female-owned and staffed, and just emanates light, peace and love, so I felt really comfortable here. Catherine was my tattoo artist, and was so patient with me as I tweaked the design several times (as I tend to do). In the end she did a fantastic job, and it was exactly what I hoped it would be.
I had been wanting a cat tattoo for a while, but couldn’t decide exactly what to get. For a while, I was planning to get paw prints on my foot, one for each cat in my life. But looking through other cat tattoo images online, I discovered an idea for something else. I found a semicolon design where the top was a cat head instead of a circle. From there, I began to draw out what I wanted, with the bottom of the semicolon becoming a flowing cat tail, and adding whiskers to the head. I actually went into the studio with the plan to get the tattoo on my left ankle, but realizing I have scrawny ankles, Shane suggested I get it on the back of my neck instead. My excitement skyrocketed once I saw how it would look. To me, the end result is a combination of love, fun, femininity and empowerment. And now I just want to wear my hair up all the time to show it off!
I also wanted this tattoo as part of my continued self-healing over the past couple of years. Similar to my last tattoo, this new one has a special meaning behind it. My two cats, Loki and Odin, have been literal lifesavers for me over the past year. It would have been a lot easier to end it all if they weren’t there, but I worried too much about what would happen to them if I wasn’t there. They are my kids and depend on me, so as much as I wanted my pain to end, I cared more about their well-being. But more than that, they are my ultimate source of comfort in my darkest times. They have some sort of kitty intuition and seem to know when I need them most. When I can’t move from bed or am having a panic attack, they both surround me, getting as close as possible. This has calmed me down and made me feel loved every single time. So it was only appropriate that I dedicate something to them.
The semicolon design also has special meaning. As many of you may know, Project Semicolon began in 2013 and took the world by storm by raising awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. In a sentence, a semicolon indicates a pause, that there is more to be said afterwards. For those with mental health and suicide issues, this semicolon represents our stories not being over. That we have more to say and do before our lives end. Now more than ever I realize that I have a lot more to say and do in this world. This has kept me going when I’ve wanted to give up so many times. While I don’t think any of us are particularly special, I do believe our purpose in life is to just live and see what happens. If we truly only have this one life, we might as well see what it’s all about and do as much good as possible.
Sadly, the founder of Project Semicolon, Amy Bleuel, lost her own mental health battle in March. It was a surprising blow to the community who came to know her by the hope and love she brought into the world with this one little punctuation mark. Her death was devastating, and it provided a glimpse into just how strong our minds are when they’re working against us. And this could happen to any of us with mental health issues; some of us can fight it, and some ultimately can’t. It takes all we have to fight it, which is why I can actually understand when someone takes their own life. Some call it selfish, but those are the people who have likely never had to deal with this level of depression and can’t possibly understand how painful living actually becomes. But she left a very important legacy, and hopefully passed on knowing that she saved the lives of so many; a true hero. I felt that getting this tattoo was even more important now, as it was my way of saying thank you to Amy for all of the mental health awareness she brought to the world.
So if you see someone with a semicolon tattoo, or variation of, know that they may be fighting their own battle, or love somebody who is. And do your part to listen and have compassion, because we all have our own stories to continue to tell.