As I think about the things I want Nico to know and truly understand deep inside, it is to see and be seen. I believe it encapsulates most of what everyone really wants. I have an idea for a tattoo on my wrist and I just might one day get off my ass and get it. Is it possible to do without needles? It would say: listen. It is a reminder for me to truly listen to others (undistracted) and for me to demand that others do the same for me.
I am currently reading an interesting book, called “The Art of Gathering” by Priya Parker. It has given me so much inspiration in my corporate and personal life about how we approach time together, how we respect and appreciate others’ time, and how to pull off the best of gatherings. Less Martha Stewart style that errs on the side of the perfect place setting and more pondering the lead up to the event, how do you connect with your guests before hand, and how do you truly pull off a successful time by planning an experience and not just a conference, meeting, dinner, etc.
A page I read over the weekend said:
“A good life is about seeing and being seen.” page 199
It sent my mind wandering to how many times I have felt that. How often do you go to someone’s house and feel odd because the hosts do not really find a way to weave together why they are having people over, and why they have selected those they have brought into their home? It also brings fresh memories of wonky corporate gatherings where individuals are disconnected, uncomfortable, and uninterested to mingle but required to hang together.
I have not finished the book, but am inspired to bring the ideas Parker shares to fruition in my life. To create a meeting that has purpose and desired outcome and the attendees know why they are there and leave inspired with a plan and next steps. To think about my dinner parties and how the individuals that come into our home feel the energy of what we want to share with them. I encourage you to pick up her book. There are some slow spots, but all in all I have some new ideas of how I will engage differently with others I meet with — more aware of the outcomes I want, and more focused on the individual. If we each remember that just as we want to be seen, we remember to see others.
From time to time I ponder getting a tattoo. I have an idea of what I would get, potentially around my wrist. It would be small and almost like a piece of jewelry. My problem? I cannot stand the sight of needles. They freak me out, whether if it is for a blood test, or to pen a part of me permanently. The pain does not matter so much, I have a high tolerance for that, it is the thought of the needle and the blood that comes after said needle. I get woozy, faint, and useless. Yet, somehow I still kind of want a tattoo.
So when I finished reading Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline I thought again about a tattoo. I was intrigued by this novel just from the title. It resonated with me. As an orphan myself, I wondered what it was about and if I would be interested. It was a quick read novel, and it easily sucked me in. A one sentence synopsis: A girl who is basically an orphan does community service (or go to juvenile corrections) with a 93-year-old woman, they bond, and learn that the woman lost her entire family when she was nine in a fire. You can imagine what happens, but it is the rich story that pulls at your heart-strings.
So what does Orphan Train have to do with tattoos? This quote shares a bit more:
“The things that matter stay with you, seep into your skin. People get tattoos to have a permanent reminder of things they love or believe or fear, but though she’ll never regret the turtle, she has no need to ink her flesh again to remember the past. She had not known the markings would be etched so deep.” page 214
There are so many things I have experienced in life that have etched deep markings on my soul, my brain, and my body. Physical events that have taken a toll on my body. Experiences that have been etched in my brain (both good, amazing, bad, and horrible). Many I would never want etched into my skin. My memories are reminders enough. Sometimes we forget how deep the pain has seeped into our skin. Other times we are reminded of the touch of another and how deep that runs in our veins. The touch that calms us, brings tears to our eyes, and who we really are is brought back to the surface. The best invisible tattoo yet.
I have lived in Oregon for almost 11 years and I have a confession to make. I did not know our state motto until last week while reading: “Pen & Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them” by Issac Fitzgerald. I know shocking. I love my state. I love Oregon, Portland, and my little neighborhood. Our state motto though is downright badass. It is: Alis volat propriis in Latin, which translates to: she flies with her own wings. It means she is free, independent, strong. What is not to love about that state motto?
It does not say “he” it says “she” – after a quick Internet search I could not find a single other state that has a motto with “she.” Many had “he” or “we,” but no other “she.” An Internet search for Alis volat propriis also returns a zillion tattoos with the Latin version displayed on a plethora of body parts. While I do not like to be a follower, it is an intriguing option that might just get added to my short “I’d get that tattoo list.” Why does this saying tick for me? Why does it resonate so strongly? Many reasons.
I grew up fast. At the age of twelve, my mom was sick, and my dad was mostly out of the picture. I had to figure out a lot of things in my own way and fast. What does that do to a kid’s development? There could be a lot of differing answers. For me it meant I learned early to do my own thing. I did not like to do what everyone else was doing. I charted my own journey. No one was looking out for me, and I had to make sure that I looked out for myself. I flew with my own wings and I still do.
That is with Chris flying beside me.
Whether you are a man or a woman, fly with your own wings. Speak out with your voice. Be strong, independent and free. It might be my state motto, but it has also been my unwritten motto all these years.