“Just Breathe”. Only 2 words, but relatively deep in their meaning. Depending on who is hearing them and the lens they are hearing them through, they can be interpreted in a variety of ways. To me, a couple different things pop into my mind every time I hear them, Family, Cystic Fibrosis, tattoos, and calmness. I wanted to dive into these words a little bit and share with you the lens that I see them through, and what they mean to me.
Family means everything to me. I put all of my family members in the highest regard. They have seen me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows and their love has never wavered. My immediate family in particular has been through things that are definitely not the norm on whatever scale you put it on, but that’s what makes us, us. My sister and I were both diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis very early in our lives, my sister within six months of birth and I was diagnosed at birth, and I’m sure that was a curveball that my parents never saw coming. That being said, that never changed their view of us as human beings, and if anything, it made them love us even more. The sheer amount of work that goes into the daily life of a CF Patient is staggering, so you can imagine the amount work that it took to have two of those patients running around the house as spastic little children that were both stubborn as can be and didn’t want to do anything they were told (Dara mostly 😉). I know for a fact this made my mother stressed to an unimaginable level, especially as we grew into even more stubborn teenagers! The motto of CF happens to be those two words I was speaking of before, “Just Breathe”, because the simple act of breathing can be extremely hard at times for those afflicted, and my mother took that on as a sort of mantra for her kids and supporting them and also for her life. And let’s be honest it really is a good mantra to have, in times of stress when everything gets too hectic that you can’t even bear it, saying “Just Breathe” can a have a calming effect on anyone.
With it being a phrase that we all hold dear to our hearts ,a couple of years ago, my mom gave me a shout and said, “Hey, I got all of us an appointment to go get a family tattoo, I wanted us all to get “Just Breathe” and without hesitation I said “say no more, Ma, count me in!” My dad and I ended up getting those words in Scottish Gaelic, which translates to Tayrn Ennal, in the same exact spots on our left forearms, my mom “Just Breathe”, and my sister just got the word “Breathe”. I only have 2 tattoos and plan on getting many more, but one rule I have for getting things permanently put onto my body is that whatever it is has to have a significant meaning to me and my life and those words definitely fit that bill!
I was always told it wasn’t the best idea to get forearm tattoos or anything that would show during a job interview or what have you, but after I got this tattoo I could literally care less about that. It is barely ever covered up and I always get the question, “is that your girlfriends name?, or is that your daughters name?” and I inevitably have to explain what the words mean and in English and dive into their actual meaning to me. At first, I always cringed at the thought of explaining why I have these words on my body, I’ve never been one to be too open about my circumstances in life because I never wanted to use them as a crutch, so I would just shy away from an explanation at all and say, “Yeah man, girlfriends name!”. This reaction always ate at me every time it happened because it was just simply not the truth, and in the long run shying away from who you truly are is doing yourself a huge disservice. So after about the tenth time this happened I made a decision to never answer the question of what my tattoo means in that way again and instead I say, “It’s a reminder”. It is a reminder of all of the things that I have been through in my life up until this point, of my family, of my heritage, and the all- encompassing relief it gives me to know everything is going to be okay at the end of the day.