During my recent visit to Toronto I felt an overwhelming urge to get a tattoo to remind me of my life in Canada.

Not just any tattoo, but something that would forever tie me to my second home.  It had to be substantial yet not too over the top…

This is my third tattoo.  🙌🏼

I got my first way back in 2011 at the completion of my hike across Papua New Guinea with my best mate Craig.  We discussed getting a tattoo after we completed the hike.  Such an awesome way to commemorate our adventure together.

This tattoo signifies much more in that as my dad had passed away earlier in the year.  As part of my grieving process, I decided to raise money for Cancer Research.

Through the generosity of everyone who contributed I raised over $17,000.  Pretty amazing!  ❤️👍🏼

As you can see, this first tattoo has significant meaning for me as it reminds me of both my dad and the adventure Craig, and I had hiking across the wilds of Papua.

For this tattoo I chose my right shoulder, depicting the “rising sun” emblem which represents the Australian Military Forces.

I’m sure you’re scratching your head and think why he choose that particular tattoo…

A few reasons!

Both Craig and I knew that this adventure would likely be the most difficult mental, physical and emotional pursuit that we would undertake during our lifetimes.  A real test of self…

The Kokoda Track is a muddy and often narrow track that snakes it’s way across the Owen Stanley mountain range through equatorial jungles, across swollen creeks and sheer drops.  It’s a physical challenge like no other as it takes you from sea level to over 7000 feet, then back again.

But it’s much more than just a hike as its also a WWII battlefield where the Australian army took on the Japanese Army during the dark days of 1942 and defeated them.

No mean feat given how powerful and seeming invincibility they were at the time.

All the way along our hike we found remnants of the battle – everything from foxholes, spent and unspent bullets, hand grenades, mortar bombs and even the crash site of B-24 Liberator bomber deep in the jungle.

We were walking in the footsteps of history.  No surprise, at least for me that I could feel the spirits around me in the jungle, particularly at night which was especially eerie…

This hike was an important part of my grieving process as it gave me time to reflect on dad, his life and his impact on me. ❤️

We often don’t have 8 days of solitude to reflect, but on those mountains everything is in your head.

Trying to cope with the physical strain and effort of lugging your 50+ pound pack up impossibly steep mountains in the tropical heat is singularly difficult, so as you can imagine there was a significant amount of self-talk going on just to put one foot in front of the other.

I got my second tattoo with my son Zach on his 18th birthday.  ❤️

This tattoo is of the star constellation from the Australian flag… the Southern Cross.

We got them on the right side of our chests.

All I can say is that this tattoos popularity has waned over the years and is now viewed as a bit “bogan”.   This certainly wasn’t the case back when I was young.

What is a bogan you ask?

A bogan is Australian and New Zealand slang for a person whose speech, clothing, attitude, and behaviour are considered unrefined or unsophisticated.  In North America perhaps could also be described as a bit “carnie”…  Lol!

It was fine when we lived in Canada as it was a bit of a novelty that would sometimes get questions during the summer if you had your shirt off, but now that both Zach and I are living in Australia not so much!

Oi vey!

Zach was surprised when a mate at the gym told him that it was a bit bogan.  I guess times change… what can I say!

My latest tattoo reminds me of Canada… my second home, and where I’ve spent more than half my life.  Say no more…

Of course, it’s a red maple leaf!

This tattoo is positioned on my left shoulder, and is particularly cool because of the shading so that it resembles a maple leaf in the Fall.

Nothing says Canada like a maple leaf – am I right? 🙌🏼

I realize that body art and tattoos aren’t for everyone.  My daughter Sam for instance is not a fan but she understands why both Zach and I have them, but they’re just not for her personally.

It was particularly hard for Zach’s grandmother to accept his tattoos, given that she was the child of a holocaust survivor…

The horrible memories and stories of her mother’s family being exterminated in concentration camps with the survivors each carrying their number tattooed on their forearms was just too much to bear.

Over time she has come to accept them, but definitely not a supporter of her grandson getting them…

Fortunately, I don’t have the history of these dark days on my family side but can definitely understand her consternation.

For me the most important aspect of my tattoos is that each have significant meaning. ❤️🙌🏼

My dad, Zach, and Canada.  I’d still like to get one for Sam but not sure what exactly to get that would be a strong reminder… still pondering this conundrum.

Until next week!