When I found out about the “Life Without Ed” Collection, which was created by Sue Gillerlain, jewelry designer and founder of www.sarah-kate.com, in partnership with Jenni Schaefer, author of the book by the same name. I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a necklace with a flower on it—a symbol of strength for me. It hangs close to my heart.

Because of the power and significance this flower possesses for me, I wanted to make it a permanent fixture in my life—one I could look at whenever I needed a tool to help me. So, I decided to have the flower tattooed on my body. This symbol of the experiences of recovery I had at Thom’s workshop would always be there for me to see, remember, and feel.

I knew exactly where to put it: on the inside of my left ankle. In the past I had practiced self-injurious behaviors on that area of my body, and I wanted my flower to be a reminder to always take care of myself, rather than hurt myself.

I got the name of a tattoo artist from a friend and called him up. He said he was going to be at a tattoo convention in a town about an hour away the following weekend. Good sign! I told him what I wanted, and he said it wouldn’t be a problem at all. I should come by and see him.

That Saturday I woke with excitement bubbling in my belly. The convention didn’t start until late afternoon, and the day seemed endless! By the time Rachel and I finally walked into the hall, I was fidgeting with joy and anticipation, my hands were tingling, and my stomach was doing flips. Eventually we made our way to the artist’s table and I introduced myself. He said, “Glad you’re here, Cheryl, have a seat. What have you got for me?”

I took my necklace from around my neck and explained, “I want this flower on the inside of my left ankle.”

He took the charm and did his magic. Within five minutes he had traced the flower on my ankle and asked, “How’s this?” “Perfect,” I said. “Let’s do it.” And away he went.

As he was working, I was smiling from ear to ear, proud of myself for having the courage to get where I was. I was winning the fight. Within half an hour, I had a reminder of recovery on my body forever. I could not have been happier. I walked away feeling powerful and protected. From that point forward, all I had to do was look down, and see it shining right up at me.


Recovery reminders come in many forms: jewelry, posters, seashells, stones or gems, letters, tattoos whatever holds significance for you. What might you use to give you strength when you need it?


With health, hope and strength,