A few months ago I was asked by Talya Jane Goding, who is a writer and blogger at Feeling Ostomistic, to design a tattoo for her.
Talya is one of the bravest, strongest people I know and it was a huge privilege to design her tattoo with her. She was kind enough to write this guest blog post explaining her tattoo and the meaning behind it.
Without further ado, I give you Talya...
I had always thought that by 25 I would have started a family, be leading a successful career, have my own house and be married to a wonderful and supportive husband. I thought I knew the life I wanted to have. But what I didn’t realise is that at 25 years old I would be dying of cancer and told I had 12 months to live.
That was a year ago.
Now, while I am still dying of cancer at what seems to be an excruciatingly slow rate, one thing that I haven’t lost is my desire to live…. particularly to live the life that I want and love.
A year ago I came to the realisation that I didn’t really know who I was or what I wanted my life to be about. I wanted someone (when giving my eulogy) to truly mean it and be proud when they said I “lived life to the fullest” or “made the most out of everyday and the opportunities presented.”
A year ago I felt I had a lot of work to do yet before I felt like I could say “I lived the life I loved.”
So I sat down and wrote out this long list of things I wanted to achieve, things I wanted to experience, how I wanted to be remembered and what sort of legacy I am going to leave behind.
One of the experiences on that list was to get a tattoo.
This was something that I had thought about getting for years. It wasn’t something that I wanted to do on a whim, it was something that had to mean something to me and had to be something I would be proud to see every day.
A tattoo was something I had control over. It was a choice, unlike the scars from surgeries and battles previously faced.
A tattoo for me was something that I felt empowered over, for once I could have a choice over the pain being inflicted or the narrative being told… it was rather exciting in a way to have this control.
The story behind the tattoo and the process:
I have loved and admired the work of Tasha Miller and of Jubly-Umph for around 5 years now. I loved her style of art and it had a sense of quirkiness about it that I felt drawn to. But I could never decide on which of her designs to have done. I am one of those people that find it hard to choose and would likely get several designs inked…. I still felt that I was missing something on a deeper level, a stronger connectedness with the designs and the reason for that design.
So earlier this year I finally worked up the courage to reach out to Tasha and conversed with her about the why behind a tattoo and what I wanted the tattoo to mean to me. She said she would love to create something for me and the exciting process began!
I wanted a tattoo that encompassed my journey, that showed a warrior/badass chick who was tough as nails, that had a powerful message that summed everything up. I also wanted the character to reflect me.
I wanted a tattoo that I could look at each day and remind me of the badass within. No matter what was thrown at me, I could get through it.
Tasha began drawing the tattoo and we brainstormed all these different phrases. One that really struck deep was “nevertheless she persisted”.
I was so excited with each round of drawings/revisions and I loved her attention to detail and skill, especially when it came time to digitising the sketches and adding in colour.
It was around 6 weeks ago now that I had the tattoo done and it couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time in my life. I have been struggling a lot in the lead up to my ‘deadline’ and while I am not thankfully at that point right now, it has been playing on my mind.
This tattoo has helped me over the past weeks to be reminded daily that: I am tough; I am a badass; I could get through whatever bad day I was having knowing I had made it this far; and more importantly, that I am proud of myself.
I never realised that a tattoo would help me to feel empowered either.
I am proud of the last year I have lived. I have lived the most in these last 12 months than I felt I had in 25 years.
I might be trying to squeeze a lifetime of experiences and happiness into each day, but I now have a better understanding and idea of who I am. It was something I didn’t really know until a year ago.
So I am still dying from this wretched disease, but I am not done living life just yet.
One thing that helps me to get through each day is the words of my late father (who died of bowel cancer in 2012 aged just 41) “that no matter what happens today, the sun will always come up tomorrow”. I always remind myself of this, there are no guarantees in life but always live with the hope that tomorrow will be an incredible day, knowing you have already had your worst day and you survived it! So tomorrow has to be better!
I cannot thank Tasha enough for my tattoo design and for what the tattoo has given me spiritually and emotionally. It has helped me to feel empowered and strong even on days like today where it's a struggle getting out of bed.
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