I've been hanging onto this picture for almost 10 years.
I found it one night while I was surfing the internet, looking for a replacement claddagh ring, since I thought I'd lost mine.
Scouring online Irish jewelry stores — yes, I've been shopping on the net almost since you were able to — I came across this blue heron, all tied up in a mystic knot.
No documentation exists on why the Celts were so bent on tying everything up but we know these knots rarely have a beginning and an end, possibly signifying infinity and the timeless nature of our spirit.
Yes, I'm part Irish, part Scottish ... even part redhead, doncha know? Yes, if my hair catches the right light, you can see the red glowing as brightly as it does on any one of the brother's heads on a 24/7 basis.
And my temper? Well, that's all Irish ... believe it.
I hold my Scottish/Irish heritage close to my heart.
The Gaelic language in my family died on my maternal grandmother's tongue in the early 2000s.
Aye but she was a proud Irish lass, adorning her wee Greenwold Village apartment with shamrocks every March, teaching us about forach (a dessert of oats, whipping cream and sugar), baking us biscuits so hard you know they could break a window, and reveling in the jigs and reels of the local fiddlers.
She was a symbol of strength, independence and determination to me.
I've long wanted to have those qualities and to ink myself as a testament to that discovery.
(Yes, tattoo. I already have two. Both are hockey related. One has to be covered up by something else ... I'm not sure what.)
Maybe that's why I saved this picture that so-long-ago day. Maybe that's why I felt compelled to find out what the blue heron symbolized.
The blue heron is a beautiful, graceful bird, known for its longevity. It is credited as a messenger of the gods and, coincidentally, my first name is Greek for angel, messenger from God.
The blue heron is noted for its intelligence and solitude. In Celtic symbolism, it represents patience, independence and solitude.
North American native tradition holds up the blue heron as a messenger that teaches about self-determination and self-reliance. It represents an ability to progress and evolve.
You might start to see where I'm going with this.
I've been on my own for a long time, learning to be self-reliant, independent and determined. I've faced change and endured obstacles and challenges, been forced to reinvent myself after a career change, and made bad decisions with life and love but always came out the stronger for it.
I love my time alone — well, spent mostly with my faithful boo, Shep, at my side. I've learned to appreciate the quiet, regenerative space around me when no one is there.
Patience ... well, that's a work in progress and I think it always will be. It probably goes along with the aforementioned Irish temper and redheadedness.
Grace ... eh. If you could have seen me on figure skates 25 years ago, you'd be wondering what the hell happened ...
I kept losing this picture — with each fried hard drive or broken laptop — and I suppose that represents the setbacks I've encountered in my overall character development.
Nobody's perfect. We all make mistakes. Like that one tattoo I wish no one would ever see.
This knotted blue heron, though, will sit on my wrist and be visible, where the other two are not.
Once I get it done, maybe this month or next, you'll be able to see the testament to the strong, independent woman I've become, the great blue heron wrapped in his mystic knot.
And I hope Gram is looking down and nodding in agreement, all the while knitting awesome slippers and mittens for Grampy and Dad.
We just won't tell her I'm not much of a biscuit baker, OK?