Monday, February 05, 2007

Forever 4

You know how sometimes when you learn something and it's just so right and so perfect and so mind-blowing that you actually start making real changes, implementing what you've learned into your life? When something you've read or seen or heard actually changes your life because you couldn't possibly ignore it? When you open your brain to what's being said and allow it to affect you instead of considering it something that you "should" do or something that you'll "do later" or "get to eventually?"

I'm sure we've all experienced it when we've made big changes; maybe when we became a vegetarian, or moved from vegetarian to vegan, or left a sedentary lifestyle for daily gym visits, or maybe even converted to a different religion. Changes like that are incredible and at some point, you think "how did I ever not do this?" You feel good - you feel great! It's all so clear and obvious and right.

Time passes though, and it's possible that what was once so clear and obvious and right is just... a little less. Maybe you forget how much those teachings meant to you and before you know it, you're slipping and maybe picking up some old habits, using old excuses. Maybe you allow yourself to have junk food/meat/dairy "because it's a special occasion" or skip the gym a few times because you're just "so tired" or spend less time meditating/praying/chanting because you're "too busy." Maybe you even feel bad about about slipping and so you try to satisfy your feelings of inadequacy with your vice/s of choice - cigarettes, television, sex, gambling, dressing up like a chicken, or, ahem, drinking large quantities of red boxed wine.

Maybe you catch yourself and return to the lessons and re-read or re-study, and get back on track. Or maybe the excuses get so loud and the distractions so many, that you forget what you learned entirely, as if the lessons never existed and the change never happened.

That forgetting thing was so totally not what I wanted to have happen after I read The Four Agreements. I read it one afternoon about a year and a half ago - in less than three hours my life was changed.

And it felt good! As I started making changes over the next few weeks, I felt so amazing that I thought, "man, I've gotta get this tattooed on my forehead or something so I never forget how right this is." Of course, having a tattoo on one's forehead to serve as a reminder is kind of dumb. How often do you see your forehead? I knew that I wanted a tattoo symbolizing The Four Agreements somewhere on my body where I could refer to it often, someplace where it would serve as a daily visual reminder.

About a year after I read the book, I loaned it to L, and seven months later, this weekend, together we got those tattoos, thanks in part to 43 things kicking us in our asses. I love when shit comes together like it has for us over the last few weeks :)

So, "live the Four Agreements." That was the big plan for our tattoo. Kind of vague, yes? We went through some ideas, but really, had no clue what we wanted. Thankfully, we had a very talented artist and an insanely patient man on our side. Paul (from Gallery of Living Art at Fifth and Cannon in Lansdale) worked with us to come up with four brilliant designs using the elements we wanted:

The scoop on the design
The flower and bud design comes from the cover of the book (specifically, the lower right corner) and to us, shows growth, change and life. We found that the specific design of one fully bloomed flower and three buds was symbolic of the book's teachings: The flower represented the first agreement, "be impeccable with your word," the agreement on which all others hinge; without impeccability of one's word, agreements just can't be made. Additionally, agreement one is not only the most important agreement, but also the hardest to accomplish. The three flower buds then, represented each of the following agreements noted in the book, "don't take anything personally," "don't make assumptions," and "always do your best."

Perfect! So, we looked at Paul's art and choose a design that fit the placement we wanted (we placed our tattoos on the same forearm, but not exactly in the same spot).

Because L is the greatest best friend in the entire world EVER, she let me go first. I have one other small tattoo that I got 12 years ago. Piercing has always been my body modification practice of choice, and I was nervous about the thought of extended needle time.

I shouldn't have worried. The experience was awesome and I can't wait to go back and get the next one (AC's name on the opposite arm). Also, it helped that L held my hand. Thanks, lady!

More pics on my flick'r page:

Of course, L blogged about this, too:

My arm is a little swollen and itchy as hell, but I love my tattoo. In fact, I keep catching myself loving everything - I love my best friend, I love Paul, I love the Four Agreements, I love tattoos, I love change, I love all of it!

Except maybe the dog and cat hair that sticks to the bacitracin ointment that I have to keep on the tattoo. I don't really love that.

But everything else!

Everything else is fucking beautiful! :)


wheresmymind said...

I got a custom tattoo done in honor of my fiance who passed away...I think tats that have special meaning are SO beautiful!

Mikaela said...

I agree, Jeff. Take some pics of yours so I can see it!

Anonymous said...

oh. my. god. i'm dying laughing at this blog entry.

you amaze me.

Emmy said...

I think I must be living under a rock because I've never heard of The Four Agreements book. It sounds like a wonderful book that I'll have to add to my list.

Your tattoos are really cool. I envy your pain tolerance :) I don't even have my ears pierced! LOL

Jody from VegChic said...

Thanks for the post. I checked out the link to the book and it sounds very cool.

Your tattoo looks so cool. Glad thing are working so well for you. It is great when things fall into place like that! (Or perhaps you gave them a little push into place.)

Anonymous said...

That book sounds like a very interesting read :))

Vicki said...

you are wonderfully amazing! i will get my hands on that book as it sounds like a must read. your tattoos are pretty and full of meaning. i admire your spirit. :o)

Nikki said...

I love your tattoo!

Melody said...

What a beautiful tat! I am going to check out that book...

I have a special tat on my back.. the Lavender Fairy..

it has special meaning to me as well.. and I love it.. When I get to my goal weight, I am rewarding myself with another one.. I just haven't figured it out yet.. I know it will come to me when it's right.

Urban Vegan said...

Very pretty tattoo--and so meaningful.

Anonymous said...

i think mine's finally healed. eight days of gooey bacitracin and the scabbiness is gone at last! :)

now i'm just putting lotion on it... how's yours doing?

<3 <3 <3

Mikaela said...

You guys are awesome - thanks for the wonderful messages :) If you haven't read the book, yes! do it! :D

L, as soon as I stopped using the nasty bacitracin (read: petroleum nastiness!), the swelling went down, the bumps went away and healing began - it looks and feels great :D I love you!

Zandria said...

What an awesome reason to get a tattoo! At least it's not a butterfly or a rose... Seriously, very cool that you put so much thought into it and got something that was truly meaningful to you. :)

Mikaela said...

Thanks, Zandria :D

Crystal & Ryan - Café Cyan said...

It's always great to have a story with your tattoo. Mine was free...took a random last minute road trip to LA (from Phoenix at the time - not MN!) and the guy we were staying with wanted to practice to keep up his skills while on parental leave. I love birds, so I got a parrot.

Would I do it again? Probably, but I'd probably get something else in a different spot. Oh well...good memories :)


Mikaela said...

Well I expect you to be posting a pic, Crystal! :)

wow-its-Stacey said...

Your tattoo is awesome!

You know what makes you a beautiful person? Its your ability to weave words in a sense that will make your reader feel they know you even if they are on the other parts of the world.

Aztec Tattoos