The Significance Of My Tattoos

I got my first tattoo when I was 18. I have always loved them and kinda thought I would end up with a sleeve or married to someone with a lot of tattoos. Turns out, I didn’t get as many tattoos as I thought I would and Perry doesn’t have a single one! There was a moment when I thought he might get one. It was right after we got married and were traveling in southeast Asia. He got a rash underneath his wedding ring. It bothered him so much and he teased me that he was allergic to marriage, saying that he may end up getting a ring tattoo. Within a few weeks, the rash cleared up and I haven’t heard a peep about a tattoo since.

People often ask if I have the alphabet on my feet. Yes, I may be in education, but no, I don’t have the flipping ABC’s tattooed on me. They are initials. After college I worked in a naturopathic cancer clinic leading play and art therapy. It was a small center that partnered with the Mayo Clinic and offered alternative treatment to help boost people’s immune systems, teach them how to eat properly and also coping skills through tai chi and the program that I led. The patients came from all over the world and stayed between six weeks to six months and sometimes longer. They became like family. I spent nearly all day, every day with them and their loved ones talking to them, taking care of them and learning so much about life.

When I left the clinic to pursue graduate school, I couldn’t help but think of them often. One night, my roommate asked me to tell her some stories and she began to draw their initials with a pen on my foot as I talked about each one. I could tell you the order that I met them in, where they were from and how they changed my outlook on life. The next day, I bumped into an acquaintance, who also happened to be a tattoo artist, and he asked me about the ridiculous pen markings on my feet. I told him the story of the significance and we both got tears in our eyes. He asked me if I wanted to make the markings permanent and within hours, I was sitting at his studio getting inked.

The number 11 had always been a lucky number for me. It was my softball number and my friends and I would always send each other texts messages and make a wish when we looked at the clock and it was 11:11. There so happens to be 11 patients on each foot, tattooed in the order that I met them. I also like that when I put my feet together, the pattern looks like an 11, too. Little did I know that the number 11 would remain a significant one in my life (keep reading…)

A few weeks later, I went back to the clinic and surprised some of the patients that were still getting treatment. They couldn’t believe that I had tattooed their initials, but, honestly, it was a no brainer. These people were warriors. They give me so much strength and remind me when I have a bad day to be grateful for my health, because it could always be much, much worse. I don’t think they know how much they changed my life.

So now onto the finger tattoo. On Perry’s and my first anniversary, we walked to a local restaurant near our house. I was 20 weeks pregnant at the time. Perry and I were waiting until the birth to find out the gender and already had a boy’s name picked out, but the girl’s name was more difficult and we couldn’t seem to agree on anything. So earlier that day while driving alone, I started rattling off girls’ names. It went something like this: April, May, June, Summer, Autumn, Winter...Winter...Winter. Hmm, that’s really pretty. I wonder why people don’t name their child that more often? At dinner, I told Perry that I came up with a name and not to laugh. I said, what about the name Winter? He spit out his wine and I thought that he was going to tell me that I was such a hippy and yada, yada. He surprised me though by saying that he really, really liked it and that it sounded so serene, calm and strong.

I wrote about this in my birth story, but it’s just too cool not to share again. When we showed up at the hospital, our nurse’s name was Ali Winter. My jaw dropped and I looked at Perry. We both had the biggest smile on our faces because in that moment, we knew that our baby just had to be a girl. It was too big of a coincidence not to be. Our Winter baby was born in the 11 month of the year, in sweet November, and I couldn’t have been more excited, as 11 was most certainly my favorite number.

Perry and I just celebrated our 3rd anniversary. At dinner, I got the wild idea to get a tattoo for our daughter. Perry was totally on board and thought it was super special that we picked out her name on our first anniversary and thought it would be lovely to get a tattoo for her on our third. So after dinner, we walked to the closest tattoo shop and I got the Roman numeral 11 tattooed on my right ring finger. Now the left ring finger is for Perry and the right is for Winter. Who knows what I will do if we end up having another baby?! I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Dress c/o Love Winnie James || Vase c/o Agave and Stone

Photography by Anna Boardman (expect foot tattoo photo)