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LOVE THURSDAY

Cindy Maddera

I have been planning a new tattoo for years now. I knew that I wanted something on my right wrist. I knew I wanted words. The words part is why this tattoo took years to plan. I come from the school of Words Matter. Words hold weight. They can pack a punch. They can gently caress. Words are important and the words you decide to permanently place on your body should be well thought out. I had originally toyed with the idea of Om Shanti Om. Om is the vibrational sound of God. Shanti means peace. All very yoga and zen. It made sense that someone like me, someone who would rather live on their yoga mat than in the world, would tattoo Om Shanti Om on their body. It was also very predictable. 

One day I was roaming around the internet when I came across an image of a hand lettered sign that read "Je suis fort". I am strong. All the cogs in my brain sort of clicked into place and I knew that this was it. So I started doing some research. I looked into translations and spellings and the difference between fort and forte (forte is feminine). I typed the phrase in a gagillion different fonts until I found the right one. Some of you may be wondering why French? Why not just put I am strong on my wrist? If there is one language I could just learn over night, it would be French. I have just always loved the sound of that language and that accent. It is snooty. It is proud. It is romantic. It is funny. It is lovely. It is also not a universal language which makes it, I don't know, more personal (?). Not every one who sees my tattoo will know it's meaning. So they either have to ask me and start a conversation or just move on and assume for themselves the meaning. 

Michael asked me the other night what was the time when I was born. I said that I didn't know. I'm sure it's on the birth certificate somewhere, but I think everyone was more concerned with making sure Mom and I didn't die than to worry about the time. I was born at seven and half months, weighing in at around 3 pounds and 2 ounces. I was so tiny, it terrified my Dad to hold me. He held me once in the palm of his hand and fed me with an eye dropper. Once. He didn't hold me again until I was a normal baby size. I probably shouldn't have survived, but I was strong. In my lifetime, I have poured scalding hot coffee down my front twice, swallowed a marble, broken both arms (not at the same time), had my tonsils removed, ridden out a tornado in a camp trailer, not worn a seatbelt and was saved from crashing into the windshield so many times by my mother's right arm. I survived all the dangers childhood could throw at me. I do not give up or give in easily. I am strong. 

Yet there are times, so many times, when I don't feel strong. Childhood dangers turn into adulthood dangers. Those dangers are more mental than physical. The weight of all the losses get so heavy at times that it feels like I am walking through mud and on those days it just seems easier to lay down in that mud. There are days when it's not so much the weight of losses that get to me as much as the numbing feeling of barely just existing. There are weeks of just going through the motions of living a daily life, feeding the animals, cleaning a microscope, cooking dinner, watching TV, going to bed, getting up and repeating it all over again. Life Loop. I might miss a day or two (or three or four) on my mat. I meet the minimum number of required steps. I am not strong. On those days, those days where the voices in my head are telling me I'm not enough, my new tattoo is a reminder. It's my reminder that I am the girl who doesn't give up or doesn't given in. Also, it kind of looks like it says "I am forty" which makes me laugh. 

I have to give a huge thank you to Brandi Cantrell at ICI Private Studio. Not only is she one talented woman, she's funny and nice and knows what she's doing. I highly recommend her. Thank you Brandi.

Happy Love Thursday!