Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanks-Living: A Person, A Ma'am, A Tattoo


This is a post in the Thanks-Living series on Mr. Thomas and Me. It is a part of Chasing Happy's #thankfulproject. From November 1st until Thanksgiving day we will be living an attitude of thanks. One that seeks gratefulness in all days and all things. Should you care to join, you can find the prompts here
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It all started with a confession. "Sorry, I was just staring at your arm." 

I look up to see a woman. A random woman. Mid-forties. Shorts, hoodie, blonde hair in a ponytail. Non-descript in all regards. Other than the way she addressed me in the shampoo aisle of our local Target. 

Oh, this arm ma'am. The one with the tattoo. Yes, this is my arm ma'am. Free for all to see. 
"Yes, why'd you go and ruin yourself like that?" 

Ma'am, respectfully, I went and ruined myself like that to remind myself of the faith that didn't allow dementia and loss to ruin me. I went and ruined myself as a memory of not being ruined. I went and ruined myself as a bold statement to keep my eyes on the prize. 

Yes, ma'am, you call it ruin. I call it art. 

Ma'am, you are the first person to say it's not beautiful. And I believe you're the first to see nothing but ruin. Because, though it's not for everyone, though it's large and bold and demanding of attention, it's also meaningful and beautiful and excruciatingly thought out. 

Yes, ma'am, you call it damage. I find myself saved in it. 

Ma'am, I share this cross with two other men -my dying dad and my beloved brother. Those birds, they are sparrows, and they remind me of God's presence in the life of all things. The roses, they're simply beautiful and feminine, like me -despite women like you who tell me differently. The hummingbird, that's for my Mama Bird, the woman who taught me life can look a million different ways, but never is it impossible. 

Yes, ma'am, it's not your style. But ma'am, it's not your body. 

Ma'am, I call it a tattoo. You call it an eyesore. Let's simply avert our eyes and avoid one another. Because if you haven't got anything nice to say, why say anything at all? Maybe, just maybe, America needs less opinion and more respect because our differences make us interesting, not worthy of judgment. America's got to be more like a resume -strength found in being well-rounded- instead of like an encyclopedia -wishing to categorize everything and everyone. 

Yes ma'am, you call it ruin. I call it life. 

Ma'am, your challenge caught me off guard. And at first you, honestly, offended me with your candid statement. Then, I remembered that I walk around with my Honorable Thomas pants on reminding anyone who isn't doing it my way that they are less than me. When, in fact, we're all equal and different and strong. That's what makes us lovely and life interesting, ma'am. 

So, ma'am, call it what you will, but I love my ruins. 

34 comments:

  1. Kathy@Vodka and SodaNovember 1, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    i have absolutely NO issues with tats; i think they're beautiful expressions of personal sentiment and art. i hate it when people say: "professionals shouldn't have tattoos" because that's such an ignorant statement. how can having something on your arm dictate your work ethic? i have 5 tats and my husband has 2 full sleeves. mine are hidden (under clothes) but my husbands are full out on display and he doesn't care either. we are both IT professionals, experts and what we do and our executives don't even bat an eye to his ink.


    having a tattoo doesn't define who you are. people need to get the fuck over it and look beyond that.

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  2. I love talking to people about their tattoos since they are either deeply personal or random and usually involved in a funny story. haha


    This was beautifully written too.

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  3. Wow. I cannot believe that was said to you... but sadly, at the same time, I totally believe that it was. I wish more people understood that such choices are personal and often, have much more thought behind them than you can ever really convey to another. Can't we all under respect the choices of others, even if we don't understand them.


    Kudos to you for standing strong in you "ruin" -- it is almost as beautiful as you. Almost! :)


    -Kate
    www.theflorkens.com

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  4. I cannot believe she said that,what a rudie pants!! Your tattoo is amazing and it speaks so much love.

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  5. I love your tattoo, Its beautiful. I totally agree though, if you don't like it, don't look. It's what I want to represent and it means a great deal to me.. Love this post

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  6. Your tattoo is absolutely beautiful! I can't stand it when someone says tattoos are "ruining one's body"

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  7. Sara Norton-SannerNovember 1, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    I have been looking for a Thanksgiving link-up!! Yay! And I LOVE your tat. It's beautiful. If I were only brave enough, I would do something artsy and meaningful like that. I respect you for being yourself and being a strong woman who stands up for what you believe in!

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  8. I would have punched that lady in the throat. Your tattoo is beautiful, and I hope that lady finds her way to your blog and reads this.

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  9. I think it's beautiful. What I think is even more beautiful though, is the story there and the beauty in the person wearing the art. It would be so easy to just get pissed off and fight back and use hurtful words but not letting other people get you down and staying true to the message on your beautiful arm? It's a beauty that not many people possess.

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  10. That's a great post ! I am not a tattoo person, but who cares ? It's your body, you do whatever you want, plus I think it's beautiful, cause it's not a random drawing. It's your life on this arm, your past, your struggles and your strenghts.

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  11. I LOVE this, Amber! Beautifully written. I wish that lady would have had an open enough mind that she could have heard all of that and know your heart, and not just see the external.

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  12. I absolutely LOVE your tattoo. I love thought process and the reasoning behind your tattoo. I only have 1 tattoo, but I am so amazed with people who do have tattoos because just hearing the logic and reasoning behind it is fantastic.

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  13. It IS beautiful!!!

    I have tattoos myself and my only advice to people getting them is "make it meaningful for YOU". Awesome post!

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  14. Fantastically well put Amber :) I think that was so rude someone said that to you. And honestly I don't know what I would've done in that situation! As the old proverb goes, haters gonna hate! (Just kidding haha)

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  15. Katie @ A Beautiful Little AdvNovember 1, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    I CANNOT believe a stranger said that to you!! Her behavior is WAY more shocking than any tattoo ever is. I'm so glad that you stood your ground. We should never have to explain something that is part of our bodies, that is part of us, that IS us.

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  16. Oh hi, you're gorgeous. As is your tattoo, which tells a beautiful story of love and sacrifice and it serves as a beautiful reminder. Also a great conversation starter, I'm sure!

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  17. LOVE this post. I can't believe someone was rude enough to say something like that to you. While I will admit to staring a tattoo or two, it's always because I'm curious about what it means to the person or just trying to figure out what it is. Tattoos are one of my favorite forms of expression and art - they're so personal and individual and I think that's something that should be respected.

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  18. Oh girl you rock my socks off and warm my heart! I just love you and this beautiful post!

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  19. I can't believe she said that! People are so ridiculous. Your tattoo is beautiful! I love them and I've always thought about getting one of my own.

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  20. So beautiful, inside and out. Not only do I love this post, but I love your spirit. Thank you for inspiring me.

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  21. It still surprises me that tattoos "mean" so much to people... I guess it's a generational thing. I don't think mine say anything about my character (or lackthereof) other than I love art and I can sit around while being poked with a needle for many hours... :)

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  22. Oh Kate. YOUUUU are my jam. I did have to look around and make sure that I wasn't being punked because I REALLY THOUGHT I WAS. Which would have been fun because I would have met Ashton Kutcher.

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  23. I love the stories behind tattoos almost more than I love the ink itself... Have you seen that show Bad Tattoos? It'll get you hooked!

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  24. Wouldn't it be lovely if she ended up here reading and recognized the ruin?!? Oh how the world is a funny little place like that. Slash, I'd probably say TAKE THAT because I could. :)

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  25. So glad you've found the Thankful Project Sara! :) It's been a little bit of a stretch for my mind, but I'm loving it all at one time! :)

    And thank you for loving my ink... It's not for everyone but the appreciation of it as art (at the very least) IS!

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  26. Lauren, thank you for loving my ink... It's not for everyone and I respect that we've each got our own choices to make... But the appreciation of it as art (at the very least) is something I believe we can all stretch ourselves to feel!

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  27. This is amazing, wonderfully written.. beautifully said! I love your tattoo, your spirit and all it has clearly brought to your life. Hold your head high and take others ignorance in stride, you made a brave personal choice that resulted in something incredibly beautiful and meaningful, be proud. Your words are inspirational!

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  28. Oh thank you Nicole. You are SO sweet. And encouraging which makes me feel special. :)

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  29. Simply beautiful.

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  30. omg! idk how I would have reacted! honestly idk how you didnt slap the woman! so rude. people these days think they are all knowing. and btw your tattoo is beautiful!! ( http://www.justaskb.net )

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  31. Man, I wish you could have said all this to her. But I am glad to read it, because it was so great. Whenever I see your tattoo in your Instagrams I always wonder what it is and what the story behind it is. Love this picture because I get to really see how beautiful it is! I admire people who have such conviction behind their art! Mine don't have really great stories but I think they are beautiful and they mean a lot to me. Just like yours :)

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  32. Wow, wow, wow! I know I'm late to the game but what a beautiful post!

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  33. This is beautiful. LOVE this post!

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  34. I love your tattoo story! it is beautiful. as are you!

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