Pushing myself out of my comfort zone – part 1

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Whilst what I witter onto the internets here is personal, in so far as it’s the insides of my head, I tend to shy away from really personal stuff as a matter of course. I’ve hinted via a few blog posts that the last year or so have seen some big changes, and it’s been a process of working out how to be on my own for the first time in my life.

Some people might call this kind of thing a mid-life crisis. If that’s what I’m having, then in my usual over-achieving way I’m leaning right into it and having the best mid-life crisis you have ever seen. Part one of this is potentially predictable. For cliches I had a clear choice between motorbikes and tattoos.

I went for tattoos.

It started with one on my inner left arm, from a rockabilly queen called Charlotte. We talked about her apprenticeship in the trade at a time when few women worked as tattoo artists. It took a little over an hour and as I walked back to work I realised I hadn’t brought anything to cover my now leaky arm during a senior management meeting that afternoon. The cost of that tattoo includes a pink cashmere cardigan from a vintage clothing shop.

The next one is around my right breast, across my ribs, and from a mega-talented artist called Deborah. She trained as a designer and we talked about how she’s not so stupid as to get tattooed across her ribs. This one also involved taping kitchen roll across my boobs for modesty, and I turned out to be allergic to the glue in the tape. That was an attractive look.

Holy hell I have never done anything so painful as that one…until…

The third one. This stretches from my upper hip to about 2/3 down my left thigh. Olivia has drawn the most beautiful peacock and chrysanthemum on me. It was drawn freehand and curves round my hip and down my thigh. Outlines took about an hour to ink. I’ve had 2 separate 3 hour sessions adding colouring, with one more to go.

There’s no way to show the whole of this one without a little nudity but hopefully I’ve retained some modesty with this image.

I’m glad I waited until I was older to do this (check whether I feel the same in another 20 years!) as I think I’ve got a better sense of what my enduring tastes are. The first tattoo is based on Japanese embroidery designs. I have been sewing, quilting and embroidering from a very young age. The second reminds me of woodblock prints. I’ve been slowly amassing a collection of artist prints over the last 15 years or so. The last is a homage to Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau. I’ve given nearly 20 years of service to saving and stewarding an amazing building and mural scheme. This is perhaps a weird way to go about recording some of my own story. But I’ve always been a fan of reflective learning, and anyway, if this isn’t what a mid-life crisis is for….

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