In Which a Small Fear grows into a Small Brave that Turns into Big Brave.

“I’m not the artsy one.”

“My handwriting is illegible- there’s no way I can draw.”

“Words, are as close to art as I can get.”

“Photography is my art.”

I’ve said and believed, all of the above. And in the back of my mind I always dreamed of being able to paint pretty pictures. To transform my words, and photography into watercolors… I have no idea why.

I love watercolor paintings.

I think it goes back to being in elementary art- you know- back when I didn’t know I wasn’t “good enough” to make art. I remember the joy of wetting paper and dripping and brushing paint across it and watching what happened with the colors. It was like magic.

Then: I grew up. And i learned what “real” art looks like. I learned though out junior high and high school that my “drawing” wasn’t good enough.

I stopped trying.

Even in my handwriting. The truth is: I don’t bother trying even when I sign my name. It’s a joke. My friends all know: “Tracey’s is the illegible card at the holidays.”

During this years’ MOPS Theme: “Be you, Bravely” I’ve been confronted with something: Somewhere along the line- my “not good enough,” became a fear of art.

I fear art. I avoid galleries. I avoid anything that involves a pen and paper, let alone paint.

I love creativity- so I just stick with my safe things. Words. Yarn. Photography.

Which is fine.

Except, fearing art is: ridiculous. Especially when you don’t even try.

I talked to a friend about it. A friend who’s artwork is inspiring, and who’s art I actually wear on my body. @CeeJay Inky Jones. My friend and tattoo artist.

Cee Jay seems to think I can learn to paint. She’s spending time teaching and encouraging me. It matters.

A lot.

I started trying.

So far: I’ve made these: The Beach scene at he bottom is my first one. Are they art? I don’t know.  Are they good? They are better than Having never tried. I’m trying to do a quick picture each morning.

Interestingly enough- painting is making me braver in other ways.

I gave a talk that was way out of my wheelhouse of speaking topics.

I submitted a few things outside of my comfort zone.  Things I don’t really feel adequate to speak into. But, I’ passionate (and opinionated) about.

I’m editing chapters and getting ready for the next phase of the book project.

Maybe- bravery grows. Like seeds. Or weeds….. Maybe bravery just needs a little encouragement and someone to walk beside you. Hold your hand and guid the brush once in a while.

It’s making a difference to me.

So- What are you afraid of? What thing have you given up on? What would happen if you tried? What if you asked for the help of someone who knows how? What if a small step towards bravery led to something bigger?

It’s worth a shot.

“Dear Lord- You know how messed up my idea what I can and can’t do, is. Help me to be brave and try new things. Help me to set aside fear and embrace the journey of imperfect learning and trying. Help me to learn. Thank you for friends who encourage me and believe in me. Help me take the next steps… Whatever they are and where ever they lead- in Jesus name- Amen.”






Dear Body: I’m Sorry for Bullying you. Thank you for being the beautiful, broken, amazing mess that my soul dwells in.

IMG_8047I left the Neurologist feeling frustrated and irritated.

“I hate this. I hate pain. I hate not being able to do stuff. I hate needing help. I hate having to rest. I HATE MY BODY.”

This particular  rant was inspired by the neurologist’s diagnosis and treatment plan: “Your back is bad. Arthritis hurts. There’s nothing I can do (surgically) right now to fix it. Pain is part of life. You want to try injections? When it gets worse- I’ll fix it.” 

I admit I’m a somewhat difficult patient. Mostly because I refuse to just medicate the pain. I want it fixed. Not drugged. I hate also:  narcotics. I have issues. Lots of them. Not just physical. Just sayin.

This rant follows the ten million others about being fat. The one about having high blood pressure and a baby aneurysm and the one about having no diagnosis for the autoimmune disorder and subsequent chronic pain that I deal with.

As I left the neurologist’s office a sane and gentle voice said this in my head:

“You have spent years learning to share your brokenness as an offering to God and others- you have taught hundreds of others that in your weaknesses Christ’s strength is perfected. Why do you only think that applies to emotions and mistakes and struggles and sin? What about your broken, hurting body? What if that’s a holy gift and offering? You would never talk to anyone else about their brokenness the way you to do yourself about your body. You always encourage others to be graceful to themselves and to appreciate what they daily overcome. Think about what your body DOES.”

Since that is way too true and sane and logical to be me- I’m going to assume it was God. Especially since it brought tears to my eyes and gratefulness to my heart as I climbed into my Jeep to leave. The follow un-rant ensued as I drove:

“Thank you, body for being able to walk. Thank you, spine for holding me upright even though you are broken and twisty and full of arthritis and your discs are smashed to bits. Thank you for tolerating my constant pushing you to do more than you feel up to. Thank you body for allowing me to use my hands and mouth to communicate truths as I learn them. Thank you for functioning in all the little ways you do without me noticing or appreciating you at all. (I have an epic bladder, great digestive tract, a fantastic heart rate, amazing lungs that function well even with asthma, and terrific skin- for the most part)  Thank you that I can bike, and sin (in theory) and walk on the treadmill. Thank you for an amazing immune system. (Even if it’s sometimes confused.)  I rarely get sick. Thank you that my surgeries have made my migraines rare events and brought my hands back from the useless abyss and fat or not- I can do a lot. Thank you for going through all that with me, body and for healing and recovering. You’re amazing. Body- I’m sorry for bullying you about your issues. Please forgive me.

And Lord? This broken hurting body is an offering and opportunity for your strength to be perfected. If its my greatest weakness- then it’s also my greatest opportunity for you  to work. Thank you for my brokenness. Help me to learn to love my body- and share it;s struggles-just as it is. “

I can’t explain this change. I feel different. I still hurt. I am going for injections. However- I’m now seeing this struggle as any other one. It’s an opportunity for God to do something. What? I don’t know. But I quit bullying myself for my limitations. I’m done hating my body. (I hope) I’m going to choose to give my body the same grace and love that I do for all my other faults- and to treat myself and my body- the way I treat others. I might complain. I might not like my “issues.”

I’m choosing to be amazed and grateful for what my body overcomes just to function, daily. The same way I am, and do for all kinds of other issues….my own and others. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have… so is my body.

It’s about time.

Dear Lord- thank you for that quiet voice!  Thank you for the body that houses my soul. Thank you for all that I am able to accomplish in your strength with the body you created for me to live in. Thank you for being present- even here. I love you lord- help me to love my body and accept it’s weaknesses. Let your strength be perfected in each one- In Jesus name- amen.



you are not alone in mothering

The Perfection Paradox- In Which Women are Crazy and I’m the Queen of Crazyville.

We’ve all met her. Or, think we have. You know, the chick with everything.

The perfect chick.

Her hair that inspires stars to get makeovers. Her skin looks airbrushed by God. She has a nose that looks suspiciously fixed- but isn’t. It’s just: perfect. Her cheekbones could have been chiseled by Michelangelo. Her eyes inspire Pantone colors. She has make up that looks like Bobbi Brown lives in her bathroom- in a non-creepy way.  Her figure hits that tweet spot between strong and lean with a little extra in all the right places. The extra? Is perky. Not droopy or squishy. But also not silicone- bouncy. It’s all natural. Her personality  absolutely sparkles. She’s the antithesis of Debbie Downer without coming across as fake. She’s just that awesome.

Her clothes? Inspire Tim Gunn. . She walks in high heels as if they are slippers: effortlessly. Her children look like a Gap ad. They have never had baby acne, cradle cap or a tantrum in public. They don’t backtalk, were potty trained before before three and their ultrasounds show them reading the wall street journal. They either stay in the cart at Target playing games with each other-or dutifully help fill her shopping list like it’s the most fun scavenger hunt they’ve ever been on. Her education is Ivy league and she has no student loans. She has her dream job and it works with her family’s schedule seamlessly.

Her husband is GQ cover-ready. He shops for his own clothes,does his own laundry and takes care of the dry cleaning. He is supportive of her personal and career endeavors and does 51% of the housework. Indoors AND out. Money? She’s got it. She never uses couch change for milk or, diapers. Her house? Never dirty. Laundry? Always clean folded and PUT AWAY.

The perfect chick. *Sigh.*

I envy her. I want to be her. (Just once. I love my yoga pants too much to be her everyday. I’m sure she only wears hers to actual yoga classes. I tried yoga. It wasn’t pretty. My tree pose looked more tree frog-clinging to a branch for it’s life than elegantly balanced tree. Just saying.)

I also: kind of hate her.  Don’t we all?

Which is crazy. Let’s do the math:

We all want to be the perfect chick. + We all hate her. = We all want to be perfectly hated. Hello, train to Crazyville leaving now- all aboard!

I’m sure it me. (It can’t be her- she’s perfect. The J-lo version of Mary Poppins.) I suffer with jealousy with a touch of entitlement. (suffer with sounds like i’m a victim- not a jerk. That latter might be more true.) But, come on…it’s just not fair that some people have it all, is it?

Or, do they?

Honestly? I have no idea. Why? Because I don’t bother trying to get to know her. I pretty much just quietly envy, hate and avoid her.

What if she’s not as perfect as she seems? What if she’s just as jacked up and broken and messy as I am –  in different ways?

What if I could learn from her? What if she could learn from me? What if we need each other?

What if I’m “That” chick to someone else?

What if we all are?

I vote we change the math.

No more Perfection Paradox.

No more hating the perfect chick. No more longing to be her. That ride to Crazyville always ends in tragedy.

The tragedy of relationships missed and damaged. Maybe relationships we desperately need.

Let’s be ourselves, bravely. Let’s learn to love each other just as we are-the  perfect (or, seemingly so) and the imperfect.  We could change the world.

Dear Lord- Help me with these of feelings towards perfect chicks. I know it’s crazy. I know they are my own insecurities turned on others like a viper. I also know in my brain that no one  is ever as perfect as they may appear. Help me to accept who I am without comparing myself to others. Help me to accept others imperfect or perfect- as they are. Help me to love myself and others as you do. In Jesus name- amen.

So am I the only one struggling with living in the Perfection Paradox?  Or do I ride the train alone? Are you someone who’s been the perfect chick (even if it’s just been for one magical day..) and felt alone and cut off from others? Let’s talk.

In what ways do others think you have it all together?

In what ways do you envy others? Appearance? Education? Career? Relationships? Kids accomplishments?









No Shame in My Lunchbox Game:

 “That’s a healthy lunch.” If sarcasm were a machete, she’d just taken off my head like Mishonne does to zombies in The Walking Dead.

Out of breath and downright thrilled that I’d managed to pull off getting an edible lunch to my kid before afterschool pick up- I didn’t realize what had just happened until I was driving home. #lunchboxshaming. For real. It’s a thing. I haven’t googled it, due to PTID from  that time I googled that one word. (Post Tramatic Internets Disorder- usually caused by a mom searching for a totally innocuous term only to stumble upon a virtual booby trap* of cookies, spam and or porn.) *you’re welcome for the pun. We’ll call that a gift with purchase, special today only.

Even without Google, I can assure you it exists. I’ve been both victim and perpetrator of the crime.

20 years ago, those sarcasm laden words would have brought me to tears. As a young mom, I’d have taken her criticism as evidence of my total failure at mothering. 7 years ago? I’d have been talking smack about me as a slacker  mom with her as soon as I’d hit the door. I was in the middle of a locavorganic phase. On a mission to stamp out Big agri, Monsanto and all foods processed and otherwise tainted. It’s possible I was reading too much. Been there. Judged that. (Still not a fan of any of the above.)

Last week? I got angry.

Because, really? You’re gonna shame and judge my lunchbox packing?

Apparently, yes. And I’m not the only victim. (Or, perpertrator.)

Where was she when my kid was using Clementines in the classroom like a commodities broker? If it would have fit into his lunchbox I’m pretty sure he could have “traded up” his lunch to a Lexxus. The kid has skills. Thus far- no Lexxus. Mostly- I just find tell-tale evidence of up-traded Ho-Ho wrappers in there. Bummer.

I’m also not sure where she was when I lectured and kept packing those “healthy” but not bento-box crazy lunches as a test of wills. (Sorry Bento-moms, the truth is: I judge you because I’m jealous that your kid will eat sushi or a facsimile there of, for lunch. Mine would rather starve.)

She also missed the days when I packed those healthy lunches only to find them turned in as science fair projects about locker-composting  or just plain thrown out because he refused to eat them. (Truth: some kids will not eat green eggs and ham. Or veggies and hummus, or sushi, or homemade granola. They will trash it or trade it in for ho-hos when you/re not looking. Kids are evil and tricky like that.)

Th guilt over the amount of food my kid has wasted haunts me like those videos of starving children. (And No- sending them your kid’s rotten lunch doesn’t help end poverty. Send $ to Compassion International, Samaratan’s Purse or The American Red Cross or Doctors Without Borders to a difference in poverty. Rotten lunch? Not so much.)

Since no one wants those rotten healthy lunches, I quit. I stopped fighting the lunch battle. I started packing lunches my kid will actually eat. Which happens to be: Lunchables.  *Gasp. I know. So far he’s still growing and alive and testing well in the IQ department. Who knew?

I do add a guilt offering of fruit and yogurt. (Okay- sometimes Gogurt. Does go-gurt even count anymore? I do not make homemade yogurt, I’m truly afraid of what would grow if left to “culture” in my kitchen. Just sayin.) The truth is- my kid would prefer peanut butter and home made jam on whole wheat bread….However, there’s a nut allergy in his classroom, and while I’m a slacker- I prefer not to kill other people’s children. Since he’s a picky eater, my options are limited, if I actually want him to eat. Which is the goal of lunch.

I COULD take the time to cut up organic nitrate free cold cuts and cheese and add crackers etc. I COULD go all pinterest on my kid and embarrass him with my wicked lunch packing skills. (At 13 the very idea of my breathing is sometimes embarrassing to him. Parental Humiliation- totally side  effect of  puberty. Go ahead- google that.) But really? It would just be to avoid lunchbox shaming. It wouldn’t be for my kid.

Here’s the thing: lunches are probably 20% of my kid’s daily caloric intake. If the other 80% are reasonably healthy, why would I bother?

My husband  has cancer. I work from home. My husband travels when he’s well enough. I have 2 college aged kids I’d prefer to have a conversation with, rather than spend my time making lunches that will be thrown out even IF I threaten my child with hellfire and damnation. (Tried that, too. Didn’t work.) To say my time and energy are limited is possibly the understatement of the year. Add to that my own health issues, aging parents and: laundry and well… maybe lunchables aren’t so bad. I’m not the only busy mom with limited resources. We all are!

Maybe, a Lunchable is good enough. Maybe, I’m picking and choosing my battles. Maybe, I’m not a slacker after all. Maybe-I’m doing the best I can.

Maybe the mom sending PBJ everday, is too. And the mom who sends McDonald’s because it’s what she can pack up between shift work and is happy she can send that. Quite possibly- so is the mom who’s lunchbox skills and kid’s palate agree with amazing pin-worthy lunches.

What if we stopped lunchbox shaming- both direct and implied? What if we assumed each mom is doing her best and let her parent the way she’s uniquely created and called in this season?  What if there’s more to the story than the 20% (or less) that we’re judging each other by? What if we were guilt free to pack what our kids will eat without fear of judgment or waste?

I think we just might find out, we’re not alone. We just might learn that picky eaters rarely die of scurvy. Kid’s tastes change. We might be able to use wasted energy on things that really matter. Like: talking. Like, listening. Like playing Zombie Dice and getting your momma- backside handed to you by a 13 year old…..beause you didn’t spend the whole evening arguing about his wasted lunch.

I choose that.

So dear mom- reading this- today. If you packed a lunchable? I applaud you. If you packed an amazing bento-box lunch? Kudos to you. If you had your kid pack his own lunch? Good for you. If you threw random foods towards your kid on the way to the bus stop before work because it was the best you can do? Amen. If your kid has the exact same lunch he/she always has because- THAT IS the way they can manage getting through their day? Good job.

As for me? I got no shame in my lunchbox game. At 11:25 this morning, I dropped off a perfectly fine lunchable  with the traditional guilt offerings AKA: commodities for trading -for my kid. It’s good enough. I have no clue what he’ll actually be eating for lunch. Regardless- he will be hungry when he gets home. He always is.

Bonus round:If you want to avoid the whole lunchbox shaming thing…NEVER pack your kid’s lunch in a giant ziploc. Lesson Learned. And let’s not even start with how I should be using washable sandwich bags….#greenenough this momma needs some sanity. THAT would put me right over the line to crazyville. I do enough laundry.

In Which I am Neither a Hypochondriac, Nor, Dying. But, it’s time for a few miles some new shoes…

IMG_7541“Oh, it’s a cramp.”

“I pulled a muscle.”

“I’ll take a nap.”

“Breathing hurts.”

“Im a hypochondriac, this is probably a panic attack. Chill out.”

“Breathing is over-rated.”

“Is an invisible Pirate is stabbing me in the ribs?” (Too much Once upon a Time and Sleepy Hollow Just saying.)

“Maybe, I should  go to the Er.”

“It’s probably my gallbladder.”

“Or, maybe, I’m dying.”

“I’ll wait till Kyle gets home.”

Yes. All those things last week. And yes, I ended up in the ER.  I was totally convinced that my gallbladder was next in line for surgery. I shaved my legs just in case.

Side note: Am I the only one who insists on pre-diagnosing herself before going to the doctor? I’m also bummed when I’m wrong. It’s a sick game. Sick in an “I kinda like to play it anyway- kind of way.

I was wrong. It wasn’t my gallbladder. Hate that.  (the being wrong part- not the no surgery part.)

I wasn’t dying. It wasn’t a panic attack.

The docs checked for a blood clot in my lung. Blood test said yes. CT said not so much.

After 10 hours. a dose of morphine and 2 of dilaudid later, I went home somewhat relieved. But- without answers and still hurting. Though the pain was knocked down to a pirates punch vs stabbing. So there’s that.

The next morning I received the ubiquitous “We’re calling to check to see if you croaked on the way home” call from the ER. Not so much. Instead they  let me know… “It’s not an emergency, but the radiologist found something on the CT scan. You’ll need to follow up on.There’s a dilation of your ascending aorta.” (She said as-cending. I’m twelve- but this time I didn’t giggle.)

I then did what all crazy people do and googled “dilated ascending aorta.” AKA: Aneurysm.

Excuse me?

What? That is not on my watch list. Ebola is, and the measles, so is losing my mind and having a heart attack. But not this.

I got the call Friday. BTW? My primary care doc is not in on Friday.

I managed low grade panic all weekend with the great google of Oz. Which assured me that something of this size is simply watched and managed with blood pressure medication. No need to worry until it’s at least another centimeter in size…(So reassuring.)

The fact that once the last dose of Dilaudid wore off the pain was back -did not help.

I went to the Primary Care doc yesterday.

Google was right. No need to panic. Blood pressure meds now on board. (Which feels like a health moral failure. Just sayin.) Which should keep the fat artery from springing a leak.

The stabbing? Not related to either the heart thing or a pirate. It’s called Pleurisy. Which sounds like something Grandma would almost die of on The Waltons. Primary care doc said: “It’s pleuritic pain. They have it on the report- what did they give you to treat it?”

“Umm… morphine and dilaudid?”

Wrong answer. Prednisone and an antibiotic. A breathing treatment. And a shot of steroid jump starter.

As I picked up the blood pressure script- I hung my head in shame at CVS. Yup. I’m now THAT fat- 40+ chick on blood pressure meds.

I mentally argued with the diagnosis: But, I don’t (hardly ever) eat fried foods.” “I’m a good eater.” “I can’t have high blood pressure!” Well,  I’m a good eater-except for maybe baked goods. That, and not eating all day.

Add that to not making time to exercise and the stress that is my current life- stir it all in a gene pool of heart disease- and this is what you get.

(Confession: not much exercise  even though I DID get clearance to start back up. And even though- I daily nag my husband to exercise. Because I HATE working out on machines and the weathers just been nasty….and a thousand other excuses.)

Anyway-This weekend was a call to shoes. (Goes better with my theme than arms.. Just go with me. Okay?) Which is interesting because the beauties in the pic below, showed up at my door yesterday.

IMG_7541If I don’t want to be THAT,chick. I’m going to have to start logging some GENTLE miles in these.

NO running. NO incline challenges.  No weight lifting.No psycho mileage goal setting. Because those could make ticker go boom. Boom is bad. (Not really at this point. But cranky it up would not be safe right now.)

Just simple, steady, healthy exercise. Something called: walking.

Ugh. Walking? Seriously?

Here’s the truth: I’ve been known to run my fat self straight to a tibial plating. I Biked myself to 3 cervical fusions. (probably not related to biking. But blew my biking fun for a few years:()

No more excessive pain filled attempts.

It’s time for something more drastic. Called: moderation. Who knew?

How appropriate that my new shoes have a reminder not to board the “crazy train” right there, on the tongue? Too bad I can’t bend my neck to see my feet…..

How about you?

Have you had any unexpected shoe- changes recently?

Life changes or challenges that are turning you in a different direction than you were going a week or a year ago?

Lets talk. Post your change ups in the comments!

I’ll pray.

Dear lord- I’m so glad they found this junk in time. Please help me to do the things I need to do. Change the things I need to change, and stop beating myself up over the whole thing. Help me to face this new challenge with wisdom. Grow compassion in my heart for others- cause this has brought up a lot of judgments I’ve been making about others health issues that I think are “their own fault.” That i didn’t even see as judgments. Help me be a merciful encourager to others as they stumble on their own path. In Jesus name- amen.

And now it’s time to go WALK on the stupid treadmill for 20 minutes instead of writing about it, which I greatly prefer.








Thanks, Today Show- But, I Refuse to take the Mommy Wars, Bait.

“Seriously? Are we still here? It’s 2015.”

That was my response to the discussion this morning on The Today Show.  Inspired by an Op-Ed piece written by A SAHM. She said (I’m paraphrasing)  “Parenting is not a job, it’s a privilege.”

Which somehow managed to spur another round of Mommy Wars. Somehow the questions it raised were “Is parenting a job? ” i.e. a “real” job. A  Career, with a capital C.

Totally missed the point. And I’m totally not taking the bait. It wasn’t a Mommy Wars Attack post- it was a perspective post on parenting as privilege vs parenting as a burden. It wasn’t an attack on working moms. It wasn’t a call to re-categorize/ recognize parenting as a “Job.”

I agree that parenting is a privilege.  (And a high calling, actually.)

I also agree that it is work. Hard work. Someday’s I’d go so far as to say it feels burdensome.  Grueling. Exhausting. And wonderful.

I’d call it: a vocation.

a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation.“not all of us have a vocation to be nurses or doctors”
synonyms: calling, life’s work, mission, purpose, function; More a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.
“her vocation as a poet”
a trade or profession.

Do I really care if you call it a “Job?” A “Career?”

Nope. In my opinion, that’s  just arguing semantics.

Like most people-  I just want my sacrifices and work to be respected  (And appreciated would be nice too. But I’m a mom and much of what we all do goes un appreciated until there is no food and people are running around naked due to a clean laundry shortage. Or, pubescent meltdowns go un mitigated due to lack of parental availability….It happens to all of us. Even SAHM’s aren’t home 24/7. There’s a lot of appointment and carpool and time management overlaps.)

Call it what you will-  A job? A career? A vocation? Just know that it’s hard and  involves daily sacrifices.

As do all vocations.

They’re also: worth it.






Sneak peek at the #motorcitytattooexpo2015 Cee Jay Inky Jones

A beautiful- life changing coverup CEE JAY created Friday!
a gorgeous cover up piece in progress




Something beautiful by Mario Sanchez The number of artists and the variances in specializations at the Expo is incredible!

This is @Cee Jay Inky Jone’s Final tattoo of the expo- a gorgeous watercolor piece. What you won’t believe is this is actually a cover up!
The incredible Cee Jay Jones at work- With a Neo Tat Machine- of course. If she bleeds Eternal ink- I’m pretty sure she’s built by NeoTat. Or would happily have her hand remade into a neonate machine.
Cee Jay working on a a watercolor American eagle piece.
Cee Jay being interviewed while working… I’m convinced she loves Eternal Ink so much that if you cut her- she’d bleed Eternal Ink.

11047119_10204814201727576_379011921_nIMG_0040_2IMG_0032_3IMG_0035_3IMG_0052_2Check out Cee Jay’s Facebook, Instagram and Website for more pics from the Motorcity Detroit Expo and to book an appointment at her  Sassmouth Ink shop opening April 1st!!!

If you really want to know what the world of  Tattooing can be like- read her hysterical and poignant book: Ink on My Face available on Amazon right now!

I’ll be posting more pics from the expo soon! it was a great time. I love seeing artists do their thing-  Cee Jay is one of the most talented, creative and hard working women I’ve ever met. It was great working her booth and helping showcase her work.



FYI: for your first tattoo convention: Motor City Tattoo Expo 2015

Re-work in process

IMG_5206Last year was my first Tattoo Expo experience.  IMG_7070 It wasn’t what I expected (Thank goodness. I have issues.Duh. ) What I experienced was art and families and fun and community. I loved it.

So… I’m going back again! Get ready Detroit! This time I’ll be helping with a friend’s booth. You can see some of her incredible art work here: www.artbyceejay.com. 

I thought I’d write up a newbies guide to tattoo conventions…

1) Dress in layers (The temps vary in all convention places… Be prepared for inking and showing your ink if you’re so inclined.) Last year I was the sweaty chick. Artists need lots of light. Some of them are hot. You’ve been warned.

  • 2)Bring cash. Most vendors accept credit cards…  cash is always good.

3) Research the artists and vendors  before the show. You won’t want to miss any favorites. You can find them here: Motor City Tattoo Expo. Click through to the artists and vendors.

4) If you’re interested in getting some work done- contact the artist  and set up an appointment in advance. Or, come early and be prepared to wait or come back. Expect to put down a deposit to hold a spot if you want to get something done. Then show up when the artist tells you to.

  • Taking a couple of OTC anti -inflammatories an hour before your appointment helps.
  • I suggest bringing an instant cold pack for after the piece is done to minimize swelling.
  • Booze and other drugs- don’t make for a good tattoo experience or outcome. Justsayin. They affect your body in addition to your brain. Bleeding etc. can be a problem. Don’t be stupid. Actually- don’t be stupid is a pretty good motto for life, in general.
  • Listen to your artist recommendations for aftercare. The healed tattoo is your end result. aftercare is YOUR job. Do it.
  • Hydrate before during and after your tattoo.Water is hydration. booze is dehydrating. It doesn’t count.
  • Eat a little something before getting your work done. (I’m bringing some energy bars so I don’t get Hangry during the show. Hangry ain’t fun or, nice.) Blood sugar issues can make for a less than fun- up close and personal experience with the floor. I don’t recommend it. (I also don’t recommend being tattooed in a neck brace. Been there. Almost passed out. Oops.)

5) Art isn’t like microwave popcorn. It’s not always done in exactly 2 1/2 minutes. You might need to wait for a bit beyond your appointment time.  Be patient. It’s like at the doctors office. YOU want them to spend time with YOU, right? Then be prepared to wait while the artist spends time with others. It’s worth it. *also- artists need to eat. Let them. You don’t want a hungry artist.

6) Bring clear, decent sized reference pictures (Not wadded up in your pocket.) to help communicate what you’re looking for in a piece. *Don’t expect your artist to copy exactly someone else’s work. That’s stealing someone else work. Artists aren’t fans of that. A convention may not be the time to complete a full sleeve or backpiece- if the artist suggests that what you want, would be better completed at the shop- don’t be a jerk. Book the appointment. You’ll be happier than trying to get a rushed piece.

7) You get what you pay for. Shopping for the cheapest deal on a piece of permanent body art will get you: the cheapest body art.  What’s your body worth to you? remember: You only have: 1.

8) Ask for your artist’s input. Listen to it.

9) If you aren’t happy- stencils and sketches are the time to fix it.  Speak up. Don’t be a jerk- just explain the changes you’d like. It’s much easier to fix before it’s on your skin.

10) Don’t try to micromanage the creative process. Let your artist do their thing. Depending on placement- bring a book to read or someone to talk to. SOMEONE does not mean every person you’ve ever met. There is limited space in a booth. Don’t crowd your artist or, others.

11) Don’t be creepy. If you bring a camera- ASK before you take pics. That goes double for people’s art on display in their both. BUY a print. Don’t just snap a pic. #artistsneedtoeat #dontstealtheirwork also- if you want a pic with a favorite artist- probably don’t try to get one while they’re in the middle of someone else’s tattoo.

12) Happy? Tip your artist. Booth space, tattoo supplies and convention costs are expensive. Also: don’t forget to tip them through social media. Post pics and tag your artist. Word of mouth is a powerful way to help your artist.

Tattoo convention dont’s:

  • Don’t be a table hog. Standing in front of someone’s table forever because you’re being  some kind of weird groupie-and not purchasing or setting up an appointment is rude. Move along. This is business. (I my have kind of done this last year. Don’t be like me.)
  • Don’t interrupt someone else’s tattoo session. You wouldn’t want someone interrupting yours. There is usually someone at the table to answer questions while the artist is working. If not- ASK if it’s ok to ask a few questions while they’re working.
  • Don’t gawk. Seriously. Complimenting someone on their ink is fine– staring like they’re an alien or a piece of meat-is always : rude. So is being a creeper about their ink. Respect people. Duh.
  • Don’t rip on someone’s work or pricing just because YOU don’t like it. Artists are people. People with body art have it for reason. (Even if the reason is they got drunk and tattooed. It happens.On the other hand- If you ask my about my ink- there’s a meaning behind every single part. Be prepared to listen:) ) Remember that.

**Save yourself some aggravation and just valet park at the Marriott. It’s worth it.

Be nice. Smile and have fun. Meet people.  Your experience at the Expo will be what you make it.

Be safe. See you there!

PS: Stop by Cee Jay Inky Jones Booth-say “Hi”. better yet- Book an appointment and get something inky-amazing.


A Mile in Her Shoes. Or, Rather A Mile in My Uggs, Her Hijab #Shoefie #amileinhershoes

  • 10341901_10204688841673653_8746401882729432477_n“You need to be careful.”
  • “Think this through, it could be dangerous.”
  • “Be careful where you go.”
  • “This might not be a good idea.”

The words played on shuffle in my mind, as I did what women have done daily for thousands of years.

I carefully veiled myself. I covered my head in reverence and modesty. Finally.

After weeks of research and preparation- (and maybe some avoidance) It’s time to move into the chapter about the religious differences that separate us. First up: Muslims and Christians. Continue reading

A Vaccination Proclamation: Dear Parents Everywhere

UnknownI do hereby acknowledge that I have no responsibility or right to decide what is right for you and your family in regards to vaccinations. (Among myriad other -parenting decisions. )

I respect your holy calling to parent the child (children) that God has entrusted to you. He chose YOU- your unique design and unique desires to raise them in the way you feel convicted and convinced to be best.

I refuse to impose my convictions on you.

I choose to respect our differences and sacrifices.


Don’t vaccinate.

You do what’s best for your family, and I’ll do what’s best for mine.

If that means children have to be withdrawn from school settings to protect others. I respect that choice. If that means choosing the potential risk of infection- over risk of  potential complications- to vaccinations. I respect that choice. I trust YOU to do your own research and make an informed choice.

If that means doctors appointments, expenses and facing the risk of potential side effects- of vaccinations- I respect that choice. I trust YOU to do your own research and make an informed choice.

Parenting is hard. There is conflicting advice and research on every parenting decision from feeding to discipline.

Opinions… everyone has them.  And we all think we’re right. (I actually AM- Of course.) It’s one of the things we humans are naturally very generous with.

Wouldn’t the world would be a better place if we were more generous with respect and less so with opinions and judgments? I think so.

Since I don’t walk in your shoes, live your life,  parent your child, or hold responsibility for any of the above- I refuse to judge.

If the vaccination shoe fits- wear it. I’d rather be the mom stumbling along beside you- in love and respect in her own shoes- than a shoe saleswoman trying to convince you to buy/wear mine.  (If I did- I’d be shoeless and you’d have shoes that most likely wouldn’t fit. I may have either freakishly small or, freakishly large feet. . It’s not likely they’d be a good fit. Justsayin.)

Dear Lord- parenting is hard. We bear the weight of making life impacting decisions for tiny people who have been entrusted to our care. Each child is a unique masterpiece hand made by you. Each parent – yet another unique masterpiece. I pray for wisdom. I pray for respect to replace judgments- I pray that we’d learn from each other and love each other. I believe that we desperately need each other on this journey through mothering. We are better when we mother together. Love you lord- and pray for the health and safety of  each child and parent facing these decisions. Life is precious. Make us brave enough to live out out convictions and respect others. In Jesus’ name- amen.




Where I write about what it's like to walk a few miles in my shoes and the shoes of others….

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