Interesting development. I’m busier than ever and my energy level followed suit. I guess I finally figured it out. At least this part of it, anyway. Overthinking is no longer a valid option time-wise. The 5 Second Rule doesn’t just apply to dropped food, it’s coincidentally the exact amount of time needed to make a decision either to act on an idea or forget it. When I started doing and stopped waffling, my entire life changed. The problem, as always, is emotions. They adhere to no rules. They listen to no one but themselves and they make up the game as it’s played. Unfair, dirty, rotten, cheating bastards. Emotions. Who needs ’em? Everyone, as it turns out.

So what’s the solution? The answer to that dwells somewhere among the company of the cure for cancer, world peace, unicorns and the other mysteries of the universe. It’s not for us to know, it’s for us to endure, or so we’re taught. Well I’m not great at swallowing unfounded rhetoric simply because “that’s just how it’s always been.” So change things. Make a move.

I spent the majority of my life blindly adhering to what I was told. My life as owned by me began with my initiation in 2006 and only continued to escalate. Many events passed after Yemoja entered my life, and one by one I accepted them even if they completely obliterated my previous paradigm. And most of them did. Sure, I resisted a few. I’m only human, and I’m most certainly stubborn. I’ve always been a solitary creature, proudly independent. But uncharted waters alone is scary no matter who you are. I found my strengths, my weaknesses, my preferences, my likes (like most Americans I already had a pretty good handle on my dislikes), my talents, my influences, my habits (good and bad)…so mostly I just found what’s defined as myself. So here I am out the other side in 2017, a little bloody and still learning.

I consider myself a pretty good person. I’m not perfect, but I’m open-minded, tolerant if not accepting, non-judgemental and most strikingly aloof. I’m chill, detached. I don’t try to live anyone else’s life but mine, I don’t make decisions for anyone but myself and conversely I refuse to engage in the stresses and drama of anyone. The only entity in my life (including my parents) who have never let me fall is Yemoja. She has my full attention.

Which brings me to the point of this journal entry. Persistence. I moved to Miami in 2009 and though I love it, there are other parts of Florida (or anywhere close to the equator) with as much sand and surf and less traffic. I’ve been trying to get away from the congestion of the city proper after it served its purpose and shattered my shell. Nothing ever works out. Now I know why. The Urban Machine Tattoo Studio. This is all I ever wanted, exactly what I have now. My own boutique studio in a high-traffic area where the potential to build clients and achieve success is high. Boom. This is step one, which is always the hardest hurdle. Will I be in this location forever? Most likely not. It’s a transitional move, but it’s the first move. It’s a real breathing beast now. And it was energy in the making. She had to bring me here to open my mind and heart to more than I would have ever allowed otherwise, she had to keep me here to show me what I can do if I belive in myself. I always suspected there was something to following your gut, following signs. And I’m wired as such that when things are so clearly set in one direction and then resisted the results are catastrophic. Of course there is always re-routing and recovery. Things always work out in the end. If things aren’t okay, it’s not the end.

So one might ask, couldn’t you have opened a studio in any city? Yes of course. If I went back to Detroit I’d be booked solid. But I don’t want to live in Detroit, at least night then and not now. I don’t like winter, I don’t like snow and I don’t feel a seamless mesh of my values with Midwestern thought. In order to spread my wings and fly I needed to move far away from what I’ve known and form my own opinions, which I did. I like sun, I like sand and I like salt, especially in a margarita. I chose Miami, or Miami chose me. It’s a simple rule taught by every parent: if you join, participate; if you agree, commit. Persist.

I’ve reached a point where looking back upon the course of events I see all the bumps and jolts in a different light. Things don’t have to be the way they are. We choose our own destinies. My views on Free Will vs Fate outweigh the scope of a simple journal entry. I’d much rather open a bottle of wine with a willing participant and wax conversation over a descending sun on the horizon. But for the sake of this entry, a summary feels adequate. I have made choices in my life that looking back now would have taken me a completely different direction. Not a bad direction, just different. But I wasn’t ready at the time. I was too afraid. I didn’t know what devastation felt like (the inevitable life-shattering broken heart that no one escapes was still years into my future) and I wasn’t about to risk it. The Devil I knew was better than the Devil I didn’t. So I missed out. My loss. And then boom: complete emotional upheaval, a feeling I can’t explain. It was the worst thing I’ve ever felt before and remains unrivaled. Loss like no loss I’d ever known. After that, nothing seemed to matter. Nothing seemed worth worrying about anymore. So I persisted with all I had left: me. I had to be enough. There’s a Buddhist proverb that states only when you don’t fear losing the things you love most are you truly free. I had reached that point. I’m still there I suppose. A broken heart never truly recovers. That’s the bad news. A broken heart never truly feels with that level of intensity again. That’s the good news.

I have a new awakening and appreciation for the spirit that lives inside me. Every day is a new opportunity to feel great, to accomplish something. To be. A stylist in my salon, who I’ve known for years and now work with, sat down across from me and struck up a conversation. She spoke about when we had met in the Design District when I was tattooing at Art Basel. She said that at that time she was working for an owner who required his entire staff to stay until close, not the norm for her industry. She went on to say that if he was still with a client, even if she had been done for 3 hours, she stayed. And through that, by staying, she’s built a client base that keeps her busy and travels with her. The very thing that picked off the less ambitious stylists and that she frustratingly conceded to is the very reason for her success today. She said, “You have to be here.” It clicked. This lady has nothing to worry about. She laid her groundwork by gritting her teeth, taking her punishment and following her gut. Nothing worth having is easy. That’s where the fulfillment comes from, be it in career, art, love or empire. She didn’t tap out, she didn’t self-sabotage, she persisted. And now she reaps the rewards.

You have to be here. Such simple words, but they burned into my frontal lobe like a brand. You have to be here.

So here I am. The Urban Machine Tattoo Studio, as promised.

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