Cassi Borunda’s “balance of tolerance”

“Everybody told me that college would be the best time of my life and while I can’t deny it’s been fun, it’s also been one of the hardest times of my life. Trying to go to class, maintain a social life, get enough sleep, and have some much need me-time, all while battling the long-unaccepted fact that I was suffering from both anxiety and depression, really took its toll on me in the worst way. My depression wanted me to stay in my bed all day, to hide from school and social activities, but my anxiety wouldn’t give me any solace. The guilt and nervousness of falling farther and farther behind were crushing. Ultimately, I couldn’t relax, no matter what I did. My boyfriend leaving me back in September was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I snapped from the stress and ended up having to spend a few days in the mental ward at the hospital. I felt worthless and lifeless, but it’s what lead to me finally getting the help I needed. I went to see a doctor and a therapist and they both told me the same thing: everything is about balance. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I just needed to find the right balance for my life.

For a long time, my scales were tipped too far in one direction, when really they needed to be evened out. That’s all life is after all—a ‘balance of tolerance.’ I choose those words and choose to have them tattooed on my arm so that I could see them every day as I went about my life. They are there as a constant reminder of how I want my life to be. I’m so glad that I choose to be a part of this project because in my darkest time it has made me feel like I am a part of something bigger—a piece of a puzzle. It’s made me realize that I am a living, breathing work of art. I still have a long way to go until I’m where I want to be in life, but I believe in my future and I’m thankful to everyone who made this project possible.”

Cassi Borunda

Cassi Borunda’s “balance of tolerance”

Richard Turbiak’s “…”

“I participate in the Boulder Tattoo Project to creatively be part of something bigger than I am—community—and to embrace that at any level we are always part of a larger whole.

I chose the ellipsis that ends the poem because nothing ever ends. It always continues.

And I chose the tattoo to be inked on my right foot because it’s where I am at any present moment. And my feet are always pointed to the direction I’m moving—forward. There’s never going back …”

Richard Turbiak's "..."

Richard Turbiak’s “…”


Shannon Ketting’s “at canyon mouth,”

“Taking part in the Boulder Tattoo Project made me feel like a part of a community for the first time in my life. Growing up in Los Angeles, I struggled with finding a community I could fit into in such a big place. It feels nice to be a part of something so special, something that brings people together in such a creative way. I love Boulder and all the wonderful people I’ve come across here; it’s the first place I’ve lived where I actually feel like I belong, and I have traveled to quite a few places in the world, trying to find a place like this. I’m very happy to have a tattoo to forever remind me of the love I’ve found in Boulder.

It’s funny, when I first read the poem, the phrase I ended up with didn’t stand out to me. It wasn’t one of my first options at all. When the time came for everyone to request their phrases, a flood hit and I was up in Jamestown without any phone or Internet service. Honestly, I wasn’t even thinking of the BTP at the time. Jamestown was hit hard; our roads were gone and most of the people were airlifted out. I didn’t evacuate because I was extremely lucky and my house up on the hill was intact. The town was devastated, though. It was a very sad time for me and for a lot of people. My whole perspective on life changed during this time in my life, showing me how quickly things can change and how little control we have over some things, but that we can control how we respond. Prior to the flood, I was hoping to get a phrase that had something to do with my zodiac sign, Gemini, but when I finally evacuated, all the phrases that caught my eye at first were taken. A few phrases remained, and one immediately caught my eye: ‘at canyon mouth.’ I was amazed it hadn’t been taken already. I reminisced on the past year I spent living in Boulder; 2013 was one of the most eventful years of my life. My life changed a lot at canyon mouth, I experienced more here than I ever imagined I would. The placement of my tattoo is significant as well. I wanted it on my forearm so I could see it every day to remind myself how wonderful life has been to me.

I found out about the project when I was cashiering at Lucky’s Market. Chelsea came through my line and we talked about tattoos, and she told me about the project. Having a few tattoos already, I was immediately interested; I’d been aching to get a tattoo to remind me of Boulder and this opportunity was perfect. I’m very happy I was able to be a part of this project.”

Shannon Ketting

Shannon Ketting’s “at canyon mouth,”