Vanessa, Shannon & me

I have two beautiful daughters who both have tattoos. When I asked permission to share their tattoo stories, they thought the only logical conclusion to this blog series was for all of us to get a tattoo together–one symbol, on three bodies that links us together forever. (Um, excuse me…Has someone forgotten about the great job my uterus did? I think that qualifies as a link, right?)

Vanessa’s story

Vanessa’s story is very simple. She moved to Louisiana and became enamored with lots of things and people, but especially the Fleur de

Vanessa’s tattoo

Lys. She has them on nearly every square inch of the walls in her home, in her jewelry collection, her wardrobe and even her car! When she ran out of space, she put one on her tummy!


Shannon’s story

My youngest daughter, Shannon, sprang her wrist tattoo on me, and I felt my stomach turn. Just minutes later, Shannon introduced me to her roommate, who had more tattoos than bare skin…and piercings in her nose. All of a sudden, Shannon’s one little tattoo seemed so socially-acceptable! By comparison, Shannon’s tattoo was downright artful! (Well played, Shannon!) I still mentioned tattoo removal immediately.

Now she has two tattoos, and here is the story in Shannon’s words:

When I got my first tattoo in 2008, my parents had reactions that I will always delight in sharing with anyone who will listen. When I asked my dad if

Shannon’s first tattoo – a purple Orthodox cross

he’d like me to unwrap the plastic from my arm so he could see my newly inked wrist, his whole body shuddered as he abruptly said, “no.” When I asked my mom if she wanted to see it, she put her hand on my arm to make me pause, looked into my eyes, and said, “I just want you to know that there’s a free tattoo removal place up the road when you’re ready.”

Right after I got this tattoo, I moved to Russia, where ink on skin was indicative of a crime you committed and were imprisoned for. For example, a sun on the top of someone’s hand would have as many rays as the number of people they had killed. While I lived there, I delighted in telling people I’d received the purple Orthodox cross on my wrist in prison. You could see their discomfort fade into a smile when they caught me grinning.

The question was always the same. Why would I mark my flesh permanently? My answer varies according to my audience. For Russians, I would say that this is one of many ways people of my age in my culture express themselves. For me, it was important for me to remember where I came from before I moved into a new country for a new, exciting life abroad. For my parents, I gave them little more than responding with because I wanted it. Duh.

Penny loves Olga!

 I got my second tattoo when I moved back from Russia to commemorate my time there. It’s a small, colorful nesting doll, and I have named her Olga. When kids see it, I always move my foot around and tell them she likes to dance. They always look at me like I’m such a weird adult, and I embrace that because my favorite adults when I was a kid were the weird ones!

Did I need to get tattoos to commemorate things in my life that were important to me? No, definitely not. I could have gotten jewelry or sufficed with hanging pictures in my home (which I did as well). But for me, my two small tattoos are incredible sources of positivity and nostalgia. When life serves its ups and downs, I can look at these two images and know that I am supported by a wonderful God (my cross), and I have done beautiful things with my life (my Russian nesting doll) – and more importantly, that both of these reminders are permanent fixtures in my life…and on my skin! I will continue to be supported by heaven, and I will continue to have wonderful things happen in my life.

But in the meantime, I will still tell people I got my tattoos in prison…just for laughs.

The last tattoo story…mine!

Monday, check the last post in this blog series to find out if I got a tattoo!

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