leadership & tattoos

i was browsing the air force's website this morning, reading through transcripts of speeches on leadership. i'd been rereading some of my email exchanges with some of the queen's guard officers on leadership, and was looking for something that would coalesce my attitude toward leadership and officers. i looked, and looked, but didn't find what i was looking for, so i jumped over to the Civil Air Patrol's website.

some of you know i spent a number of years in civil air patrol, the civilian auxiliary of the air force. it is to the air force as jrotc is to the army. coming from a military family, there was a lot of pressure to go into the service, especially since it looked unlikely that any of the boys in my generation (my brother and my cousin) were going to enlist. although female, i was the oldest, so... i cut a deal with my grandfather, who is a retired lt. colonel in the air force, that i would give civil air patrol a try for X years, and if i didn't like it, at the end of the agreed-upon timeframe, i would quit.

i learned many valuable things in CAP: how to speak in public, how to find downed aircraft, basic first aid, how to teach people, how to command, how to carry myself, how to give drill instructions; how to rely on myself, how to lead people, how to excel. those were the positive things i learned. there were also a few negative ones: i learned i'd have to be twice as good as a man to be considered half as good; that because i was female and therefore not able to blend in, i didn't have the luxury of screwing up; and that the military lifestyle was entirely too seductive for me. oh, i got promoted fairly quickly; i held positions unusual for girls to hold (first sergeant and then sergeant major); and i had fought hard to win respect in not just my squadron (94) but in my group (15). but it wasn't for me. so when my time drew to a close, i resigned, and my grandfather, true to his word, let me go without arguing with me and without a fight.

years later, when i moved out on my own well and truly, i got a tattoo to mark the beginning of this new phase of my life. i had wanted a celtic knot of a trefoil leaf, but because i was too squeamish to look while the needle was in my flesh, the artist filled it in, and it became a propeller. i looked, and i liked it... but i didn't like it; it wasn't what i had wanted. so i had the artist fit a design i drew of a triskele, around the propeller. it ended up being huger than i'd wanted -- i originally wanted something i could fit under a watch. but i liked it, and it was mine.

i don't think of the tattoo much unless someone asks me about it. but this morning, when i was on the CAP site, i looked at the <a href="http://www.capnhq.gov/nhq/cp/Webseal.gif" target="_new">seal of the CAP,</a> an image which i have looked at hundreds of times when flipping through manuals, letters, and other paperwork; an image i've stared at while standing at parade rest for countless hours during one CAP function or another. go take a look at it. notice anything?

yep. that damn propeller.