What I Got instead of a Tattoo…

Like many people who have experienced a form of a rebirth or changed the course of their life, I too wanted to celebrate the new beginnings in a way that would encompass my story, my journey, and also my principles. I needed something that would always remind me of where I came from, where I was, and where I was going. In some of the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I attended I noticed younger people getting inked when they would hit milestones of sobriety. As much as I appreciated the artwork and the deep meaning behind that ritual, I felt I was born too long ago to jump on the tattoo wagon, yet I still needed something that would visually remind me that I was a certain sort of person, one who is now grounded and solid and is no longer consumed by the darkness. And, since I was starting my new business and knew I would be working with clients who would be sensitive to things like symbolism, and who, too, would be going through some dramatic changes, I decided to settle on a logo that would combine my professional, my private, and my recovery lives.  Symbols, or icons, provide intuitive and easy-to-recognize visual cues that help others to understand the purpose of a feature. For example, the magnifying glass icon used to represent the search function is a widely recognized symbol that requires no explanation. As for me, it was another relatively easy one: enter the Beacon!

I wanted a symbol that would not only signal my beliefs and my professional practice, but one that would have longevity and that would instantly say something to those who come looking for help. It’s straightforward and simple, which is also intentional; people’s lives are complicated enough, and by the time they get to me, I only have a few moments to engage them; I like to think that some do because they understand the meaning of the logo.

The famous writer, Virginia Wolf, had once said, “Lighthouses are endlessly suggestive signifiers of both human isolation and our ultimate connectedness to each other,” and this strikes me as a good description of what I intended to do in my professional life and how I ended up with a name for my business, “Beacon Confidential.” “Confidential” suggested trust and professionalism and I picked “Beacon,” a lighthouse, because I liked its multiple meanings. One, it was a still, solid structure standing in an elevated position and serving as a guiding light and Two, it was also a warning. As a person in recovery, I was both: someone who could guide, but also someone whose life story — much like many of my clients’ — could’ve been a warning to others. Finally, I try to be what another definition of “beacon” represents, which is “a source of light or inspiration.” I don’t know if I’m exactly an inspiration, but I live my life in a way that I hope serves as some sort of a model for those who are still coming out of the dark. Then there’s another layer to it all— choosing a beacon as my symbol is a responsibility: it means that I must live and conduct myself professionally, honestly, and openly. I have to be as authentic to what I believe as possible — after all, standing in a flood of light would illuminate any mark or scratch on the surface. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but letting a beacon guide me helps me stay accountable.

What does all of that have to do with you, dear reader? Well, maybe you too need a symbol! Maybe you already have something you can fondly look upon or refer to when thinking of your own journey. But, if not, should you maybe celebrate it or mark significant passage in some way? Don’t roll your eyes just yet — symbols are important to people emotionally because they have the power to evoke strong feelings and associations in our minds. It’s a representation of an object, concept, or idea that goes beyond its literal meaning. It can convey complex emotions in a single image or word. A wedding ring, for instance, is a symbol of love and commitment between two people. A religious symbol, such as a cross, can represent a person’s faith and spirituality. In the rooms of AA peoples’ milestones of sobriety are celebrated by giving out medallions, and those often become precious tokens that can carry us from one anniversary to another. I know of people in recovery who have decided not to drink because they kept a medallion in their wallet (a great place to keep it, right next to your credit card). Symbols can tap into our beliefs, and values, and can serve as a powerful tool for communication and connection with others.

Photo by Frederik Holmgren on Unsplash

As for me,  I chose my symbol, then realized I was growing attached to it.  Then it acquired a new meaning; it became as special as if it were etched on my skin. Even if it strikes you as childish or silly at first to pick one of your own, it might just turn out to be that one little thing that will inspire reflection and will be there to remind you of your successes and the changes you’ve undergone.

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