Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people.  I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Or find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my article: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far – and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.

#HappinessUnites Tour – Stop 16: Piercings & Tattoos

When I made my #HappinessUnites Tour list, it originally included tattoos and piercings. Probably half the people I know have at least one tattoo, and several have piercings in various non-earlobe places. At the time, I only had the standard ear lobe piercings. However, in a wild child moment during my younger years, I got two holes in one lobe that my parents weren’t too thrilled about at the time. Since that’s as wild as I got, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do to celebrate the #HappinessUnites Tattoos & Piercings Tour Stop. Did I want a tattoo? Was it time for more creative piercings? I figured that, at the very least, I’d find a tattoo event to attend.

Aside from my adorable temporary #HappinessUnites tattoo, my craziest body art consists of accidental Sharpie ink spots. My first deterrent to tattoos and, say, a nose, tongue or belly button piercing is that getting them sounds and looks painful. I don’t like pain. My second deterrent is, “How do you pick a symbol that you want on your body for the rest of your life?” How do you settle on one thing that will go with everything you want to wear until you die? And, if you’re getting a tattoo that only someone who sees you naked sees then, “What’s the point?”

I asked some of my friends and Society members about why they got their first tattoo, what it was, and how many do they have now.

Beth replied she wanted to express herself as a hippie want-to-be with her peace sign and rose tattoo. She loves it, but has no plans for another. It’s her forever tattoo.

Tracey, my modern family sister (I don’t like the word step) got one when she turned 50 — and paid homage to The Wizard of Oz. Her tattoo is Dorothy’s red, ruby slippers, with 13.1 on her calf because she runs half marathons. So far, that’s her only tat.


Beth's Rose & Peace Tattoo

Beth’s Rose & Peace Tattoo



Tracey’s Ruby Red Slippers and 13.1 Tattoo


Milaina and her best friend at the time, self-tattooed a star on their toes when they were 14. It was to symbolize that wherever they ended up, they’d think of each other as stars. She now has seven meaningful tattoos. But, that first tattoo has since been removed.

Jennifer shared that a group of friends living in Tyler, Austin, and Houston, met up annually in Victoria to volunteer at an annual event. They’d also read Sweet Potato Queens and were inspired to get what they called a BIG ASS CROWN. One of the girls backed out at the tattoo shop, so they all decided not to get one that night. One year later, Jennifer’s mom passed away. Her friend from Austin came up to help her with funeral arrangements and to be supportive. Jennifer had been given some “mad money” and was told to splurge on something. The evening after her mother’s funeral, she and her friend decided it was time to get that BIG ASS CROWN and they did. It’s her only tattoo, and she cherishes it.

Hillary got her first tattoo—two doves with one holding a peace sign—to commemorate friends who’d died when she was 18. It was symbolic of the peace and serenity one gets when they go to the other side. Now she has 26 tattoos and two non-ear lobe piercings.


Jennifer’s BIG ASS CROWN Tattoo


Hillary’s Tattoos


When I hear of the story behind the tattoo, it seems most are more than art—they are a tribute to something important. Keeping that in mind, I started pondering what’s meaningful to me – that is, what’s meaningful enough to put on my body.

While I was pondering the perfect Tattoo & Piercing #HappinessUnites Tour Stop, my co-smile maker, Kari, and I were texting after watching an episode of Girlfriends Guide to Divorce. We were admiring Lisa Edelstein’s upper ear piercings or her jewelry. A few texts later, we decided it was time to add some earring bling – or at least check it out.

Kari’s daughter, Hillary, suggested that we visit the place she’s gotten her tattoos and piercings, Cat Tattoo. She felt we needed to go to a reputable place that knew what they were doing. In preparation for our appointment we looked at lots of pics of ears, and I was still pondering meaningful symbols.

The day of, we decided to grab some lunch before heading to the tattoo shop. We also thought it was only appropriate to have a little liquid courage. Okay, it’s not unusual for us to have wine at lunch (even when we’re not visiting a tattoo shop) but today it was symbolic.

Kari & Pamela Gail’s Pre-Piercing Liquid Courage – Wine

When we arrived, we met Matt, Hillary’s tattoo artist, who told us about his journey to be a tattoo artist. I had no idea it took years of apprenticeship. The dedication become a tattoo artist impressed me. Plus, he gave me quote for a possible tattoo.

Kari & Matt

Then we met Lia, our piercer, who reviewed our ear piercing options and jewelry. Cartilage piercing take eight to twelve months to heal – and you wouldn’t be able to sleep on that side of your head for a few weeks. We picked out our bling, then headed in the back to the piercing table, and it didn’t take long before our ears were filled with extra bling. We were also told we needed to wait to get our other ear pierced until these piercings healed a bit. We got our piercing in September and we’re still waiting to pierce our other ear.


Pamela Gail’s Ear Piercing


Kari’s Ear Piercing


Lia, Kari and Pamela Gail

It turns out the wait has been a good thing. I’ve decided to pick my more permanent jewelry before getting my other ear pierced. Since my first piercing, I’ve learned that different earrings fit in different spots on your ears. Currently, we’re crushing on Maria Tash’s ear bling.

Once we’re healed, we have a new shopping experience waiting for us. We’ll also get to happily unite with others who have lots of earrings.

Oh, as to the tattoo quote: Let’s just say if I’m tattooed, I’m not quite ready to tell.

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