Role Models & Positive Coping

Good morning, everyone!  It is just after six a.m. here but it is fairly normal for my family and I to be up before 7 a.m. on the weekend.  During the week I wake up for work at 5:30 a.m. and today was just the same, without the alarm clock.  Since I’m up and motivated I thought I would share with you an inspirational story one of my coworkers recently shared via Facebook.  The story of Sergeant Elizabeth Marks is one that I did not know before and like retired Marine Sergeant Kirstie Ennis, Sergeant Marks also continues a physical fitness intensive regime in spite of her injuries.  I am impressed and motivated by the determination of both these women in the face of such great odds and in the past few weeks have worked on incorporating fitness back in my life.  I let that aspect of my wellbeing suffer greatly while I was working full-time and also working on my graduate degree.

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I think one of the most powerful messages shared was her choice to wear the 22Kill ring in honor of her friend who committed suicide.  While suicide victims are not just limited to individuals who serve (or served in the military) this profession, like other high stress employment fields, has a higher percentage of suicides compared to the civilian population and this percentage is higher for both men and women who serve(d).  Even Marks’ physically small but powerful gesture represents a continuing effort to bring awareness to suicide prevention.  Other organizations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are also ensuring work continues to help save lives.

Another message I wanted to share with you today was about the careful construction of Sergeant Marks’ leg tattoo.  I thought it was beautiful the ESPN article discussed at length her choices for the design and the meaning behind those symbols.  I have many peers who have service-related tattoos and the ones that commemorate fallen peers and pride of service are among the ones that catch my eye the most.  Finding the right tattoo artist to craft those messages is something that I think many veterans can relate to and is worth the effort (and money).

I don’t believe I’ve spoken before about the tattoo piece I will have done later this year that commemorates my time at Camp Blue Diamond.  I made the appointment for this tattoo about a year ago.  Justin Nordine, who owns The Raw Canvas in Grand Junction, Colorado, is who I chose based on his watercolor work.  The more I thought about his style the more I realized there wasn’t another single American tattoo artist whose work I came across that made me feel he or she was capable enough of conveying the complex emotions associated with my deployment.  When I was explaining to one of our work studies how I am trying to find a balance between not only light and dark, but also feminine and masculine perception I thought more about the challenge this desire creates for the tattoo artist.  I think the only thing I am hesitant to include is the color red because red is powerful in many ways that other colors are not especially for its representation of blood.  The photographs below (copied from his website) are a small representation of his amazing skill set however I highly encourage you all to check out his Instagram page if you are on Instagram.

Take care and have a great weekend.

~Cheryl

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