Friday, November 11, 2016

Inked in Beijing.

On October 7th, I got a new tattoo.

This is something I've wanted to do now for about a year. I wanted to have a memory of these very important years of my life that I've spent living in China. I knew immediately that I didn't want anything in Chinese writing. Not my style. Too cliché. (Then again, I have a compass on my ankle. Soooo, who am I to judge being cliché!?) So, I started to think about things that reminded me of China, specifically Beijing. A lot of my thoughts, of course, went immediately to food. But, I can't say I was ready to jump at the commitment of tattooing a dumpling on my body. 

My absolute favourite time of the year at home in Canada is fall. No question! The colours, the smells, the feelings, the coziness, the flavours. I. Love. AUTUMN! However, Beijing's autumn isn't quite the same. My favourite season in Beijing is spring. The colours, the smells, the feelings, the coziness, the flavours. I. Love. SPRING (in Beijing)! 

After a lot of thought (like, almost a year of thought) I decided that I wanted to get something connected to my love for spring in Beijing. And I came up with Chinese plum blossoms. These beautiful pink flowers come out in full force around April/May in Beijing. They brighten the place up after a grey, smoggy, and dark winter.

There's also the symbolism that comes with spring: rebirth, new life, and growth. Which is exactly how I see the symbolism of my life (so far) in Beijing. I've discovered a lot about myself over these four years - I've grown as a person, as a teacher, as a traveller, as a global citizen. I've opened my mind to many different lifestyles, cultures, and ways of life. I've seen a lot of things I never imagined I would. I've been reborn as someone who is internationally minded and aware, as opposed to my closed minded, small town self from six years ago.

I asked the tattoo artist to design the image with closed buds at the bottom of the branch, opened flowers in the middle of the branch, and then closed buds again at the top. To me, this represents the transformations I've experienced while living in China. The bottom buds symbolizing the me I was before moving abroad, the flowers representing the change and growth I have experienced, and the buds at the top of the branch symbolizing the growth and transformations I will continue to experience later in my life.

I love my new tattoo and what it represents. I love that it's unique and original. I love that'll always be a constant reminder of how important it is to discover yourself, to grow as a person, and to experience all that life and the world has to offer.