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.
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, every time 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.
ALL GOOD THINGS ARE WILD AND FREE.
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.
More about PENGUINS OF AMERICA
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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.
PENGUINS OF AMERICAN GIVEAWAY
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.