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A story painted through pain

With grateful intentions and a selfless spirit it is my life's mission is to die on empty. To live, love, and embrace each day as if it were my last. To give the gifts the universe blessed me with - back to the universe with interest... to not take one gift with me to the grave. The reaper of life is always waiting his turn to pull you under. I best make him wait. I cannot forget that while in front, leading the charge, there will always be others who are watching. I must remain authentic. Through patience and toughness, the pain of embracing my struggles will be useful to me as I face my vulnerabilities. I must have the courage and willingness to entwine these efforts daily - even if I have to go at it alone. Getting to the top of the mountain is a lonely journey. With each triumph, I know more are lurking off in the unseen distance. I must be vigilant There will be times when a Goliath of a situation, or challenge will be more than I think I can handle. In these moments I must never quit. I must die trying regardless of how scary the monster is. Beyond the circumstance of hell, out in the distance, there is hope, and it's beautiful. The impossible is possible. The biggest challenge is facing the devil I know. The one inside who's married to Doubt and their first born, Complacency. They all know my weaknesses. I need to exercise my self discipline and hold the line of personal expectation. This mission is one that I do not take lightly. Someday when all my gifts have been given, the day when the reaper has finally claimed my soul, I will have no words to say. There will only be this painted story.. a message scribed from creative effort through intentional pain... a statement to him that I had the discipline to die on empty and he has nothing to take. Forever.

This is that story.

Over the last few years I have spent approximately 80 hours in a chair spread out amongst 20 different sessions painting a story of accountability to myself. I have waited years to share this in detail. Being pounded on throughout these 80 or so hours gives no opportunity to be distracted with a cell phone, video game, or watching a movie. The only distraction is the temporary pain. One that often leaves me fried and exhausted... but in the end, there's no better relaxation. To sustain the grind leaves me with only my thoughts and sprinkled conversations.

Broken down into pictures like chapters in a story book, I share this with you. :)

Chapter 1: Grateful

If I were forced to choose only one tattoo for the rest of my life, it would be Grateful. This by itself has inspired many unprovoked conversations with strangers and friends. It is a powerful word that needs no explanation; it's the action of being thankful.

Chapter 2: Selfless

Almost as powerful as Grateful, to be selfless is to put yourself second for the betterment of others. In the "me, me, me" cultured society we live in today, it's a good reminder to slow down and think about the bigger picture.

These two words were designed to be the inverse of each other. Like the yin yang, Grateful is transparent, fluid and gentle. Selfless is solid, resolved, and sharp. Metaphoric details to the depth of the message. More on these words: Grateful, Selfless, Patience

Chapter 3: Forever

The words I chose to stand behind are ones that I tell myself to keep me guided through the smoke of life. Forever.

Chapter 4: Die on Empty

The wealthiest place on earth is the graveyard. More people take their gifts with them at the end of their life rather than sharing them with the world. This takes a special kind of vulnerable courage. This is not done in an instant; it is a lifelong commitment.

Chapter 5: The Reaper

Around an unknown corner, hidden in the shadow of Father Time, the Reaper waits for everyone. No matter the effort, you cannot avoid the scythe of his grasp. Best to put him behind you and live the life you've always wanted. If I cannot see myself doing "X" in the future, why am I doing "X" right now? This can be very liberating if you think about it...

Chapter 6: Lead

Having the courage to stand for something or someone is a gift unto itself. This is not an innate trait or talent. It is one that takes practice to do well and one that takes a lifetime to master.

Chapter 7: Hold the Line

We could have anything we ever wanted... so long as we were disciplined to not do the things want to do, but instead did the things we needed to do. Complacency is a lifelong struggle for me. At least that's what my inner voice tells me. Having an easy life means doing the hard things. I must hold the line and not give into the easy things.

Chapter 8: Embrace the suck

Gosh damn this is not easy! But man! If you can find the courage to fight the demons of "X" on a daily basis you will become better! Choosing the hard work over the easy work pays dividends. Sometimes you don't even realize the return on that effort until years later.

This is not easy.

This is very hard.

and dammit if ever! can be a lonely place.

Just keep your head down and your attitude up!

The heavens look down and reward the efforts of struggle. The struggle can be fears, vulnerabilities, doubt, lack of skill, you name it. Is why I chose to make the rock a skull. The end of something unwanted.. something difficult to face, but willingly face.

You are never done with the struggle. There are always more lurking in the distant shadows of the unknown. More on this: Willfully struggle~

Chapter 9: Into the fire

When I think of a David and Goliath undertaking, I think of myself facing myself. Knowing where you want to go, what you want to do... but to do so, you must go into the fire and face yourself. The best opponent who knows you as good as yourself. You're overshadowed with your former self and that makes for a hell of a fight to beat your own shadow. This can feel like hell sometimes. But it is possible...

In the dance of the battle, look to the horizon and hope will be waiting. Cheering you on sending you glimmers of light. You just need to keep going and not quit. The patience and toughness this requires of you will be useful in more ways than you can comprehend... just keep going. It is possible.


Interesting as I recall the moments of time I was dealing with at each chapter in my life. I sometimes think about future topics to talk about, others just come to me at the moment. This one however, has been many years anticipated and deeply thought about. *Crazy as I remember this moment right now.. I got my first tattoo when I was 19. It was only a few days after Thanksgiving in the year 2000... (I only remember this because a family picture was taken just before haha!) This moment right now is within days of being exactly 22 years later. Looking back on that time I would never have imagined having such art on my body. I'm just happy I took the long waited years to make something so meaningful.

I need to give my artist a huge, HUGE! shoutout... Missy Mahan, owner of Desert Bloom Tattoo and Salon. Missy is incredibly talented and patient. Being a designer myself she allowed me to express my thoughts and wants. She handled each session like a pro! Always ready and on time. Aside from those needed benefits, Missy is also very soft handed. This is incredibly important when getting tattoos done. The healing process was simple and easy! The Desert Bloom is of the coolest, most relaxing places I know. It's entirely open where only three artists work on clients. It's a quiet and funky joint. There's a hair salon in the back that brings another kind of causal energy. The only thing missing is a coffee shop!

In the spirit of art, here is our morning sky, painted with the desert sunrise. I'm so happy I stepped out that morning to load my truck. It was only 4 minutes later the sky was mostly grey with no history of this kind of awesome... Damn! Have a grateful weekend!

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