More Permanent than a Sharpie

Would it surprise you to know that I’m the proud owner of eight tattoos?

Someone once told me that, indeed, he was surprised to find out I had tattoos. Because, you know, I don’t look like the tattoo-type.

But I am. I love tattoos. And, obviously, I have several. I believe they’re an amazing way to show your personality, your style and your passions to the world.

“Tattooing is about personalizing the body, making it a true home and fit temple for the spirit that dwells inside it.” ~Michelle Delio

But I also believe that you should not be stupid about your tattoos. You will never find a name permanently scripted anywhere on me. And don’t look for any passing fads forever inked on my body. Rather, I think carefully about my tattoos — what they’ll be and where they’ll go. Because as much as I enjoy tattoos — and plan to get more — I recognize that there are some times when showcasing your art to the world is not necessarily appropriate. So all of mine are in places that can be hidden — if need be. Though, honestly, I don’t make a practice of it.

I just came back from getting my eighth tattoo. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, let me share with you my first seven.

Cherries on ankle

My first tattoo

My Cherries

In honor of my past, my roots, these cherries on my right ankle represent my family’s heritage. They also represent the values I hold most dear: love, honor, respect, hard work, dedication and passion. My family, working together — side by side — for all of my growing-up years, taught me that these things will lead you to success. They’ll also prepare you for nearly every situation you’ll ever face.


Always carrying my Rosebud with me — no matter how far apart we are.

My Rosebuds

Really, need I say more? Rosebud and I got matching ankle tattoos that represent our BFF-itude. I smile when I look at this tattoo because it reminds me of my best friend, my sister. And I remember that no matter how far apart we may be, we’re always in each other’s hearts — and on each other’s feet.

bee tattoo

My bee reminds me about being true to who I am.

My Bee

This bee on my left wrist? It’s in honor of my dad. The reason is two-fold. Growing up on the farm, I got to learn and experience a lot of things that most kids don’t. One of those was learning to respect and appreciate the work the bees do on the farm — and all of the wonderful food we have because of them. And my dad helped me learn those lessons. The other reason? Once, when I was going through a rough time, Dad advised me to “be myself — ain’t no other way to be.” And it reminded me of a line in “Aladdin” (my all-time favorite Disney movie) when Genie turns into a bee and tells Aladdin to “bee yourself.” Every time I look at this tattoo, I am reminded to be true to myself — because I am exactly who I’m supposed to be, and no one can be me better.


Wearing my heart on my sleeve, er, my wrist.

My Heart

My right wrist bears a tattoo that reminds me of my past — a gift from Amor No More. But more than that, it’s come to signify the power that I have to give myself wings and soar. When I see this tattoo I no longer see Amor No More and our past together. I see the strength and pride I’ve developed over that past two years that have allowed me to take flight and live the best life I possibly can live. This tattoo reminds me of the gift of life and passion and love. And it reminds me to be an active participant in my own life.

my back

A balanced back.

My Back

I wear three tattoos on my back. On the left, an owl — representative of wisdom and intuition. I’ve always felt a special bond to owls (well before they were trendy, I assure you) and always knew one would make its home somewhere on my body.

In the center — the butterfly, specifically, a monarch. Monarch butterflies always remind me of my mom. As a child, I can remember hunting for caterpillars with my mom and bringing them back to an old aquarium on our front porch to watch them hatch into gorgeous monarchs — only to eventually set them free to make their way out into the world. (The fact that this is very representative of a mother’s relationship with her child is not lost on me.) This butterfly, at the center of my back, is to honor my mother.

On the right? My quill and ink well. This was my second tattoo. It represents my passion, my talent, my love. I am a writer — always have been, always will be. It is how I make my living and how I process my life. It is as much a part of me as my freckles, my scars and my green eyes.

My 26.2

And now the story of my newest tattoo. First, some pictures.

getting ready

Nerves apparently show on my face in a big, toothy smile.


Don makes the ever-important placeent of the stencil.

Starting the link

Don breaks out the needle. I'll admit: It kinda hurt-tickled.


Wincing in pain/tickle/joy.


Good thing for me, Don knows how to color in the lines.

Showing off

Showing off my new tattoo in Tractor Supply Company.

My calf

Strength, pride and joy — all in a simple, black tattoo.

I used to hate my calves. Seriously hate them. They were big. They were fat. They didn’t fit in boots. They didn’t fit in pants. They called attention to themselves. They were manly. They made me feel like an elephant. So for me to get a tattoo on one of them — and willingly draw attention to them — is a huge thing.

Since I became a runner, I have fallen in love with my calves. In fact, they’re the body part I’m most proud of — and the one I enjoy showing off. Kimberly Joy is PROUD of her calves. You see, my calves:

  • are still big — the don’t fit in tall boots, and even some jeans won’t fit up over them. But they are strong and muscular. And I work hard for them.
  • have carried me hundreds and hundreds of miles — with only a little complaint.
  • are beautiful AND feminine.

So that’s why I chose my calf for my tattoo. Because as I became a runner — and eventually trained for this marathon — I came to love a part of me that I’d hated. And that part has, in turn, helped me realize dreams and reach goals I never thought could be possible.

Note: Don has done four of my tattoos: ink well, butterfly, rosebuds and 26.2. He’s great, affordable, clean, unassuming, talented, funny and has a really awesome beard.


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