Don’t Take Life Too Seriously, You’ll Never Get Out Alive #PenguinsofAmerica

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This post is sponsored by Little, Brown & Co.

I grew up in a religious home with extremely strict, religious parents. Self expression wasn’t something that was encouraged…it was downright discouraged. I was often called REBELLIOUS – it’s how I came up with my blog name and social media handles back in the very beginning. I didn’t even question what I would call myself when I entered the world of social media. It’s just always been who I am. You can imagine, with legalistic, almost-Baptist parents, the ideas of getting tattooed wasn’t something that really occurred to me until I was a little older…I was 22 when I drove down to Key West for a weekend with my non ex-husband and sat down for my first tattoo, a tiny butterfly between my shoulder blades. It was a symbol of freedom for me, and I was so proud to wear that tiny little symbol that served as a reminder that I was FREE.

butterfly tattoo

Some collect ink like artwork. I’ve always been one to wear what I call documentary ink; each time I’ve sat down for a new tattoo, it’s been to document something in my life.

My second tattoo happened 8 years later, when I quit my job in Corporate America to stay at home. Going from workaholic to housewife and stay at home mom? THAT WAS HUGE. I said goodbye to an entire way of life, everything I’d ever known, and embarked on a journey of self discovery that meant so much to me that I hired an artist to give me this rising phoenix on my back.

That was me. Rising from the ashes of my old life and racing towards an unseeable future…it took five or six hours to complete, and while it covered my old butterfly tattoo, it wasn’t a cover up piece. It just meant more and took precedence.


Something funny about this tattoo is that um, everyone tells me it looks like the phoenix has a penis. It’s actually one of his feet…but as soon as someone said it the first time, everytime I catch my reflection in the mirror, I see A BIRD PENIS.

My next tattoo happened five years later, when my ex husband asked for a divorce. We struggled for a while, with me being unwilling to accept that he’d left me, and him unable to completely cut ties. I didn’t know what to do, where to go, how to function in my new role as an almost-single woman.

I lacked direction.

I knew what I needed when I finally accepted the fact that it was over: a compass rose.



A good friend and talented Miami artist sat me down and gave me one of my favorite tattoos, and when I struggled with which way my compass should point, he reminded me that I AM MY OWN TRUE NORTH.


How right he was.


Just a few months later, as I was signing my divorce papers, my daughter and I went in to that same amazing artist and got tattoos. Mine was my favorite quote by Henry David Thoreau, and my life motto. Something that I say to myself each time I feel that my loud personality may be a bit much for this world to handle.



Those a forget me not flowers, a second reminder…don’t forget where you’ve come from, what you’ve endured in life. It all adds up and it makes you who you are.


So then I got divorced. I struggled. I went a little (okay, a lot) crazy. I hit rock bottom.

I started dating, I met a special man. I went to Athens and saw the temples I’d dreamt of my entire life. I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology, and as a Taurus, Aphrodite is my goddess. While I was in Athens, I finally came to terms with the “new” me. I learned to embrace single Jenn. My inner goddess.

Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Perfect, right?

I knew that this would be THE BIG ONE. The big tattoo. The one that would be in your face, loud, brash and bold. The artist I loved in Miami is fantastic, but I knew this wasn’t meant for him. So I wandered into a tattoo parlor in the Village in NYC and met someone that I instantly connected with. I told him my idea and he came up with an original design for me a week later. I went back to NYC two weeks later and sat down with him…


AND I LOVED IT. He drew exactly what I was thinking. It was even more beautiful, more perfect, more fitting for my inner goddess, than I could have ever imagined.

He’s very talented.


Then my grandmother died.

A horrible thing to wrap up a horrible, horrible year. My former best friend and I sat there at brunch one day and commiserated on all of the terrible things we’d been through in 2016, and we decided that should get tattoos to remind ourselves, “WE RISE ABOVE.”

So we did. It’s by far my simplest tattoo, but each time I look down at my ankle, I am reminded that I will overcome anything life throws my way. ANYTHING.


So, why am I telling you guys all about my tattoos? It just so happens that bestseller James Patterson just came out with a new book….a really cool, different kind of book! Penguins of America places penguins in the shoes of humans, showing how humans can take life too seriously. There is one hilarious illustration of a penguin in a tattoo parlor, and when I saw it, I knew I wanted to share about my own.


While my tattoos are serious in nature, the point of my getting them is to put the events behind me, accept whatever life has thrown my way, and move on.


I think that we can all be a little guilty of taking life too seriously. While my tattoos are serious in nature, the point of my getting them is to put the events behind me, accept whatever life has thrown my way, and move on.


By James Patterson & Jack Patterson, with Florence Yue, Illustrated by James Madsen

A lavishly illustrated, humorous book from the world’s #1 bestselling writer and his son that shows how humans and penguins really aren’t that different after all.

Penguins – our lovable, cute, flightless friends who are constantly dressed for a formal occasion – have always fascinated humans. As we shuffle through life one day at a time, it’s easy to take things far too seriously, but when we see penguins taking a walk in our shoes it’s impossible not to recognize how silly we can actually be. Featuring humorous illustrations with captions that show penguins in the day-to-day situations that we’ve all experienced – from a relaxing day at the beach to a stressful morning commute – Penguins of America is a hilarious and charming send-up of daily life.


James Patterson received the Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community at the 2015 National Book Awards. His other awards include two Emmys, the Edgar Award, and the Children’s Choice Award for Author of the Year. He is a tireless champion of the power of books and reading, exemplified by his new children’s book imprint, JIMMY Patterson.


Enter to win a copy of Penguins of America and a $100 Visa gift card to put towards getting a new tattoo…or anything, really! To enter, simply leave me a comment with an idea for a tattoo, or why you want to read this book! You can earn one additional bonus entry each day by sharing this post out on social media. This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends at midnight EST on June 15.


Visit the Official Site and Connect with James Patterson:  Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


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  1. mami2jcn says

    My first tattoo was a heart with wings on my lower back. My 2nd tattoo was a large rose petal on my hip. If I were to have another tattoo, it would be of my children’s names.

  2. HS says

    I am interested in reading this book because of the author, James Patterson. I like his Cross the Line.

  3. shelly peterson says

    I am not sure what I would get as tattoo but I do like butterflies and flowers. I would also like to incorporate my kids into my tattoo as well.

  4. heather says

    I want to read this book because I need a reminder not to take like so seriously and to have a little fun along the way.

  5. Chrissy says

    I don’t think I have any great tattoo ideas but I can say I would love to win this book for my daughter! She loves penguins and I love getting her things that make her happy!

  6. Jessica Naca says

    Do you have a close sibling? I love the sister celtic knot. You and someone close could get the same tattoo!

  7. Kristen says

    I don’t have any tattoos, but I’ve thought of getting one of my favorite dog who died about 2 years ago. He was the true embodiment of pure love and kindness.

  8. Tamra H says

    I would like for my next tattoo to be nature inspired – I’m an avid gardener and nature lover. Maybe some beautiful flowers or leaves.

  9. Gina M says

    Beautiful tats! I think the best tattoos are the ones that a person can look at as a daily reminder of something special or important, whether it be a symbol or a quote.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  10. heather says

    I am so curious about this book and would really like to read it now thank you for sharing the information.

  11. Barbara Montag says

    I am thinking of getting my first tattoo.
    Maybe a jalapeno pepper theme since my nickname is JalapenoMama!
    thank you

  12. Kim Henrichs says

    I want desperately to get a passage from the Dark Tower. Hoping to do it soon, it will be my first!

  13. Denise L says

    I’m not someone who will probably never get a tattoo, but I’ve always loved the daisy-chain style ones that go around a bicep or ankle.

  14. Starla says

    Oh my goodness, Jenn.. what an awesome post and OMG at everything you have went through. I really love all of the meanings you have behind all of your art- that’s so beautiful! I have to say, that goddess tattoo is my favorite! I lost my Nana last year in May just 14 days before her 81st birthday. Growing up, she was basically my mother, father and everyone combined into one amazing lady. I have no tattoos, but I do know that my first one will be in her honor. I just am not sure on what I want to get yet. I can say, though, this has by far the worst year in my life without her!

  15. Ellie Wright says

    My husband always wanted 3 little devils with our sons names. But he never has gone through with it. If I got a tattoo it would be a yellow rose. It was my dad’s favorite flower and also the Texas flower.

  16. Tina W says

    If I was ever to get a tattoo it would have something to do with my sisters, maybe 6 flowers in a bunch to represent us all.

  17. Jennifer says

    If I was to get a tattoo I would probably do something nerdy like the solar system or something to do with my favorite video game.

  18. Dana Rodriguez says

    I love your tattoos especially the black and grey work. As an former wife of an artist and an ex studio owner I have too many to count. I have a complete back piece with flowers, fairies and a water fall .

  19. Erika W. says

    I would like to get my kids’ birthdays in cool lettering or Gothic looking numbers. This book looks really cool too!

  20. nickie says

    I have the a ancient Egyptian ankh on my arm, which represents life (immortality) and death. I got it when I was nineteen and I was working at a Egyptian Museum Exhibit at the time. I’m African American and interested in African Heritage, I thought the symbol would suit me. I love it! I will get a few more a few years from now :)

  21. James Robert says

    I have a scroll on the chest with all 5 of my kids on it and the ink bottle with one of them on it.

  22. Susan Christy says

    Why do I want to read this book? I want to read every book! For entertainment, educational value or just a mindless escape – books are my thing! And penguins are so cute.

  23. Kayte CookWatts says

    If I got a tat it would be the hippie school bus that we took our last family trip in. I would also get the character Baloo- that is my nickname for my lover man!

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