I said I would never get a tattoo…

…then I asked someone about their tattoo.

Tattoos have been around for centuries and imprinted for various reasons.  In my experience, in the US they seem to be a way to tell a story.

I was in a conference in the spring of 2014 when I noticed a young woman in front of me with a 3/4 arm length tattoo.  The season was still less than temperate, but she wore a sleeveless shirt as if this body of ink needed to speak.

Her tattoo pictures are here, kylaroma.com Bring Some Color…

I posted this:

Brian Kruse:
I didn’t meet you but you inspired me with your colorful tattoo! It hit me that the tattoo most people carry around is a story waiting to be told. I never got into a space to ask you but if you wouldn’t mind, I’d love to hear your story of what’s going on there.

Kyla Roma:
▶ Short story: It’s my version of a family tree, and each of the three birds represents a part of my family and their story.

▶ Longer Story: I have an anxiety disorder and depression, and in my early 20’s they became debilitating… (continued in image)

Some people have public tattoos and some have private tattoos.  I’m convinced that based on placement, these are stories that are sought to be shared loudly or quietly or only for oneself.

Around this time I had been awakening to a larger world,  a larger universe.  The more I learned, the more I didn’t know.  I was searching for those elusive existential answers.

Why am I alive?
What am I doing here?
What’s my purpose?

Finally through attending a few conferences, reading hundreds of web pages, speaking with new deeply connected friends, I found I could distill it down to one thing and one thing only.  And I wrote this down:

What I really care about is Love
It’s the expanding feeling that I’m beginning to explore Love.  Giving by “self”
unconditionally with no expectations of anything
in return.  Discovering the power in this
and trusting the process.

The process has had it’s setbacks, but I found that if I’m reminded of Love and what it means, I get back on the path.

So the tattoo has to be about Love!  But there’s going to be more to my tattoo than just the word love.  I want it to be semi-public.  I want the tattoo for me.  It’s going to be my reminder.  And it’s also is going to be an accountability symbol.  And it needs to be a landmark of the time the concept evolved.  Here’s the list.

Location: I had just transformed my mental and physical health.  I had changed some fundamental things about my food consumption/procurement and added supplements.  I had been growing a nice little basal cell carcinoma on my right forearm for about 2 years.  When I changed these mental and physical shortcomings, it disappeared in 3 months.  Right forearm over the healed cancer location.

What:  I had this figured out while attending TEDpdx 2014.  The speaker was talking about how “your story hasn’t been written yet”.  I knew I wanted “a” tattoo and this would help me tell a story.  Other speakers spoke of giving, letting others go first, being humble, and being courageous.  Courageous comes from the French word coeur denoting the ability to do something difficult that comes from the heart.  Heart!  Love!  Got it.  It’s going to be a heart. I’ve been in electronics my whole life and now mostly on the Internet so there I’ve got my heart and shape.  <3

Font:  There are a bazillion fonts out there and I knew there would be some kind of variety that would make this thing unique to me in the manner I wanted it to convey.  Ariel, too straight.  Comic sans, puleeeze no (Hi Marcus!), Script something, too feminine (I know, as if a heart could not be, but you’ll see, it holds up!).  I opened up my graphics program to “see” all of them, but nothing stands out and in fact they begin to blur.  I try Google, they’ve got Google fonts.  First damn one I see!  Perfect by how it looks and OH MY the meaning all comes together.  Ubuntu.  Roughly translated from Southern Africa philosophy is “Human Kindness”.  It is an idea from the Southern African region which means literally “human-ness,” and is often translated as “humanity toward others,” but is often used in a more philosophical sense to mean “the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity”.  Wikipedia  It was also the founding principle for the development of the famous and popular Open Sourced operating system derived from Linux.  If you look closely, you’ll notice that the font on this site is Ubuntu and I intend to use that font as much as possible.

How big is would it be?  47 pixels.  I was 47 when the cancer went away.


On my path, I’ll get to look at this everyday and keep my focus on what I believe to be the meaning of life, of why we’re here, and what my purpose is.  Love.  <3

No one will be there to hear you complain

Short version:
No one will be there to hear you complain.

Long version:
My calves were starting to talk to me around mile 11 during my favorite hike up Eagle Creek. This after a super high energy night of bouncing with a bunch of 20 somethings enjoying all that is Con Bro Chill from the right side of the stage.  But I’m by myself, who’s going to listen to my pain?

As I descend further, my left knee starts talking to me too,  quite a bit louder than the calves.  This is a sharp, pointed, stabbing feeling that’s going to stay with me for the next 2 miles.  Who’s going to listen to my pain for the next 45 minutes as my pace slows.IMG_2906

I love how these moments alone bring me lessons I need to learn. Because I clearly didn’t get the message before when I was with someone to complain to.
I begin reflecting on times when I was with a couple different girlfriends whom I had been comfortable enough with to mention that I tended to comment (complain) a bit on my state of health moment by moment.  …this cough has been bugging me.  …my wrist feels like there’s something wrong with it. …my back is really tight today.

The hard truth hits me:
No one will be there to hear me complain.
And it’s come true in that moment for me.
I’m hiking alone.

My lesson gets expanded.  I continue thinking about all complaining, not just physical.  I thought about other people, situations out of my control, Facebook, quality of food.  No one wants to hear about my complaints.  They will out of compassion, but they will eventually be too exhausted to give me that energy over time and disengage with me.

So, what’s the solution?  Not talk?  In my moment in nature on this sweet day of a crisp fall in my beautiful NW full of waterfalls, moss, giant douglas fir and hemlock that surrounds me, I find gratitude.

Gratitude is the opposite of complaining.

And in fact in that new moment my pain subsides a bit closer to normal.  It stays with me still as a reminder to stay present in that thought of gratitude, but it doesn’t punish me now.  The last 2 miles turns into a gratitude-fest.  I was grateful before but it would ebb and flow on my attention that took me out of the forest and into my thoughts of other worlds.  I’m not only grateful about what was filling my eyes, ears and lungs, but I appreciated the very fact that I’m able to hike 14 miles.  For if I couldn’t, I wouldn’t be able to see these marvels that fill my viewfinder.  I’m reminded by what I’m wearing.  I wouldn’t be able to come to these places without my waterproof hiking boots, breathable rain gear, layers of dry-fit, and wool socks.  I’m grateful for all these things now and it expands.IMG_2965

My lesson concludes with the realization that if I focus on the pain, I’m narrowing my view to that one point.  I’m looking so close at that one point, that all else falls away. But if I look “from” that point, my view expands.  My whole existence expands and I feel full of gratitude.