New year, new ink

New year, new ink

What started as me eagerly waiting for my 21st birthday to get my first tattoo has evolved into a decade long tradition of paying someone to inflict hours of pain on me each and every year to celebrate my birthday.  And you thought I was joking when I said I was crazy... 

I remember telling my mother those words every mom is dying to hear come out of their 19 year old son's mouth... "I wanna get a tattoo".  My mom wasn't the most opposed she could be.  After all, my two older brothers already had some ink at that point.  But I still wasn't allowed to do it... yet.  She laid out some terms for me... Not until I was at least 21 and/or I was living on my own.  I still don't know if that second part was a threat or requirement.  It wasn't really like my parents to kick me out, but I didn't want to test it.  I slyly wore a long sleeve shirt and failed to mention my new ink to my parents at my 21st birthday party.  Don't worry, I showed them eventually.

Now, the tradition means so much more.  It's in the back of my mind throughout the year, in a "I wonder what the next one will be?" or "What am I going to settle on" kind of way.  It's a chance for me to reflect on what happened that year, and how I want to wrap up another revolution around the sun with a neat little symbol, precious and meaningful to me.

So, how to bookmark my 30th? 29 was a doozy.  It's been a real turning point in my understanding of what it means to be healthy, happy, and to simply be.  However, no breakthroughs come is without first having to overcome an obstacles.  In the midst of a terrifying major depressive episode, I checked myself in to an inpatient psychiatric facility.  This was a month before my 29th birthday...   I was confused, scared, sad, and the loving support of my friends and family wasn't enough to break the momentum of negativity I felt.  

A year after struggling with medication changes, reimagining unhealthy habits as occasional treats, convincing myself that the 'voice in my head' isn't the real ME, giving mindfulness practice a real chance and LOVING it, and so so so much more, I still get emotional thinking about that time.  I've had more time to relax and reflect lately, and very vivid memories have been at forefront.  In particular, my actual stay in the facility.  I was under supervision around the clock, attending group therapy sessions, intermittent doctor visits, and reading a lot.

I was thinking back to how enthralled I was in the book I was reading.  "Brewing up a Business" by Sam Calgione, the founder of Dogfish Head.  


Laying there in the hospital bed, unable to sleep for a multitude of reasons, I found hours of entertainment, hopeful daydreaming, and inspiration in this book.  This particular line resonated with me then and still does today.  I like to think that I let the quote sit in the back of my mind as a tattoo idea, I began to internalize it's message and began to more easily adopt lifestyle changes to improve own wellness.  

So, fast forward a year, as the big 3-0 approached, I committed to it.  I'd get a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, provided via Sam, through a book, during a dark personal time, that inspired an awesome lifestyle change.  See?  This is why I get stuck in my head and have a hard time answering when people ask what a particular tattoo means to me.

I decided to do a little nod to Sam and the brewery too, by asking Tim to design the quote inside of the outline of the classic Dogfish logo.  After all, he was the one who introduced me to that quote and gave me something positive to stew on when I needed it.  Aside from that, the brewery is great.  They helped turn me on to craft beer and opened my eyes to tons of new flavors, particularly during my formative beer drinking years.  Specifically, Palo Santo and Midas Touch... mind-blowing instant favorites.  

But this obviously goes deeper than just the beer.   I'll always have a soft spot in my heart (and a literal spot on my arm) for Sam (and Dogfish Head).

Motivation to not be a dick

Motivation to not be a dick

How can I change my 'gut reaction'?