Author: Jessica Mullen

Turning tattoo regrets into personal power

rainbow arm

I've spent the last two hours staring at my freshly tattooed arm, breaking only to chase off a scaryrabid cat outside. Last night, I came to a conclusion about this new tattoo: it is aesthetically upside down. But tattoos are never perfect. Instead of criticizing surface style, I want to explain how potential regrets can turn into personal power. Whether in battle, ritual, or another reality, when it comes time to put your tattoos to good use, a meaningful mark trumps a pretty one.

1. Placement
My talented artist, Briza, wanted to put the Ace of Wands in the same direction as my other Aces–the Pentacle and Sword. But my vision was to have the Wand going the opposite direction. So that's what I got.

Looking at it last night, I realized my arm as a whole would look more pleasing if I had gone with Briza's preference. And so I despaired, and regretted, and went to bed.

Waking this morning, I remembered that I chose the placement for a reason beyond aesthetics. I wanted to embrace both the right-side-up and reversed readings of the cards. By placing the cards in opposite directions, I am accepting the dual nature of the cards.

There are destructive and constructive forces in the universe, and I strive for balance between the two. I want to be able to call on both sources of energy as needed. With all cards going the same direction, there would be no opportunity to see them both ways.

2. Subject matter
These fucking clouds are a buzzkill. Clouds are an integral part of the Aces, and they are taking up a large, prominent area on my forearm. How did I come to a point where I wanted to tattoo clouds on my body? They're gray, and they're bulbous. I've always hated the cloud on the original Pentacle, so why would I add more??

This may be a weird answer, but the clouds are a shield. They are a barrier. They will protect me, and hide me when needed. They are also a life-giving source of water, and shade, and change. This tattoo brings them new respect.

3. What I see is not what you see
When you get tattooed, you want to admire it. But there are only so many places on your body that you can easily see without aid of a mirror. When I look down, I see these clouds and these birds, neither of which are my favorite elements of the tattoo. I want to stare at the colorful bits!

By forcing myself to perpetually gaze at clouds and birds, I am reminded of two things. One is the reason I got more tattoos on my arm in the first place–to cover up nasty self-inflicted scars. The other is escape. The clouds will forever recall the darker times in my life, when I don't have a handle on my own energy and I self-destruct. The birds will always represent the choice to leave that state of mind.

I can choose whichever reality I want to exist in. Or I can wallow in depression. With such ambiguous flexibility, I find a constant reminder of the situation useful. My attitude and experience is my choice alone.

I now look at tattoos as tools. The symbolic and literal meanings of the objects on my skin serve specific purposes in this reality and others. As a designer, form versus function is a constant challenge. No matter how pretty something is, if it doesn't work, it won't get used. As time speeds up and we enter new planes of existence, I am still searching for compromise.

China Doll on Flickr

lifestream inspiration #2

I'm working on several posts/articles about how to exist with a split personality, how to cut out caffeine (or die trying), and how to choose a tattoo. However today I am so discombobulated and split-personalitied that I can only find inspiration to not go back to bed.

1. China Doll on Flickr. I am working on a hair dye plan and stumbled across this pretty girl on Biorequiem...
China Doll on Flickr

2. Traumzeit tarot. It is driving me absolutely crazy not being able to find higher res version of this image! The Ace & Six of Wands are giving me brand new beautiful ideas for my tattoo. I want to order a deck but navigating the artist's site seems a fruitless labyrinth.
traumzeit tarot

3. David Gelernter's interview on Big Think about lifestreaming. They use my illustration for the video still!

5 ways to love Mondays


I try to look at each Monday as an opportunity for a fresh start. No matter how unproductive the weekend was, or how much I'd rather stab myself in the face than go to class, if I do these things I can have a pretty good attitude that lasts throughout the day.

1. Wake up as early as you can.
I've been getting up at 3am on Mondays lately, which seems obscene typed out, but it's really quite sustainable. If I get enough sleep on the weekend and go to bed early Sunday night, having the couple extra hours to myself in the morning helps me prepare for the week.

2. Do pushups.
I'm getting back into the habit of daily pushups. I do 50 as soon as I wake up, right before I jump in the shower. It wakes me up, gets my muscles feeling delicious, and over time the results are super worth it.

3. Groom! Shave your legs, paint your nails, shape your brows.
If I feel sexy, I have a sexy day. And I don't feel very sexy with chipped nail polish and hairy legs. Feminist critique aside, taking the extra 15 minutes to focus on your appearance gives you that much more confidence when you step out the door.

4. Plan your meals and calorie budget for the week.
Kel and I have been in the habit of planning our meals for a few months now. We use a whiteboard in the kitchen, and have started filling in the calories next to each meal. This has resolved so much stress in our lives! Now we know exactly what to shop for, we only have to think about what we're going to eat once a week, and it seriously cuts down on eating out. Adding the calorie count makes me extra aware of when I go over my budget, and I'm hoping it will cut down on mindless snacking or too-big portions.

5. Make your lunch.
I always set aside time to make my lunch. It's pretty hard to find vegan options on campus anyway, but bringing my own lunch allows me to be flexible when and where I eat. I save LOTS of money by not eating out, and I snack on apples in the morning and afternoon. Our Texas Caviar keeps great in a Tupperware and we make a double batch to last us all week.

lifestream inspiration #1

The following are my tasty treasures of lifestream inspiration to get me through the weekend. What is inspiring you today?

A friend from college, Jonathan, introduced me to Die Antwoord today. Yo-landi's hair alone is LIFE CHANGING MOTIVATION to do something different.
Die Antwoord - Taking Over The Interweb

Next, Kelly and I are working on a MONTHLY PUBLICATION! Temporarily titled UTOPIA, it will be a PDF lifestyle design zine debuting in March for my inaugural birthday issue. I came across the following publication the other day, which contributed to our run-fueled decision. The New Minimum: "Our priority is to match good content with great art direction."
The New Minimum

Lastly, I have been OBSESSED with Zoetica Ebb lately. She pulls together her diverse interests and activities into one exquisite brand. Writing, fashion, art & photography all so delicately consistent, carefully orchestrated, and painfully gorgeous. I need to steal her site category scheme.

by allan amato

Zoetica Ebb // — Art, style, space adventures

The importance of self-love on a Monday morning

If you are anything like me, you woke up this morning with a million things to do before the work day even started. Emails to send, paperwork to tend to, projects to work on. But maybe you hit that snooze button a few too many times, and now there's no time to do everything you wanted before leaving the house for the day.

I hate it when this happens. I woke up this morning feeling like all sorts of shit. I ate too much this weekend, got only a couple hours of sleep, and I have an endless pile of homework and work obligations that are suffocating me. It's raining and cold out, and I'm pretty sure I hate my haircut right now.

To this list of woes I reply: so what! It's Monday, and it's time to set things straight! And so I am choosing to write this post of positivity at 6:36am instead of checking off any other item on my to-do list. I want to talk about what good things are coming this week, and what I'm going to do to make them happen. I think of writing this post as meditation, and what I concentrate on now will guide the trajectory of my week.

These are the awesome things I want to focus on this week!

  • trying to remove gluten from my diet! And receiving this book in the mail.
  • making progress on my exhibition and thesis. I am done overthinking this! It is time to disseminate.
  • creating premium content! That is all I want to do with my life! I should remember that more often.
  • finishing our last week of training before the Austin Half Marathon on Sunday. Holy shit.
  • recording lots of fun podcasts & staying on top of posting them.

What things do you want to get done this week? What improves your Monday morning attitude?

For those of you who want to see the rest of the above photo, log in lovelies...
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