Lisa Ricard Claro – Author

Romance is good for your heart!

The Illustrated Woman: Promises in Ink

Posted on Mar 4, 2015 by Lisa Ricard Claro   30 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized


Don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep.

In spite of everything, I still believe in the sanctity of that statement.

When my kids were but wee kidlets, they learned that saying “I promise” is equivalent in the Claro home to engaging in a legal contract. “I promise” is better than “yes,” superior to “okay,” and infinitely preferable to the dubious and despised, “we’ll see.” When “I promise” leaves the lips of a Claro, the deed, whatever it may be, is as good as done.

Over the years other parents have called me crazy for abiding by that rule. “Sometimes,” I was told, “Things just happen and kids need to get over it.” I disagree. If there’s the slightest chance something I’m promising will not come to pass, then I do not promise. My children learned that their word should never be given or taken lightly, and that upholding a promise—or not—is a true sign of one’s character. Unless death or unforeseeable circumstances prevent making good on it, when “I promise” comes out of a Claro’s mouth, there’s no turning back.

Something my kids heard from me often was, “I can’t promise that will happen, but I can promise to give it our best effort.” In the event of a firm, “I promise,” there were broad smiles because they knew whatever they asked for was a given. Point of fact: When Mama says, “I promise,” you can take it to the bank. I thought it important for my children to know they could trust what came out of my mouth. With a son in his 30s and two daughters in their 20s, they still know they can trust what I tell them. And if I promise something, it’s golden.

I believe this is one of the biggest and best gifts I’ve ever given, and continue, to give them.

A few years ago I went through a doubtful period with my writing. I’ll call it a period of “my writing sucks,” a phrase most creatives will understand, whether you are a writer or not. Change it to “my songwriting sucks,” or “my drawing sucks,” or “my photography sucks,” or whatever. You get the idea—and you’ve maybe painted yourself with those negative colors a time or two no matter your vocation. I was in that place, mucking about in the pessimistic slime.

In the midst of this dark and icky ooey-gooiness, my daughters cornered me about the possibility of the three of us getting tattoos together, a mother-daughter bonding, as it were. Yeah, that was a big, fat “NO!” My response required no consideration at all. Well, the two of them badgered me, played me like a pair of violin masters. I should have known better, should have minded my tongue, when one of them said, “Well under what conditions would you consider getting a tattoo with us?” Fed up, I replied, “You know what? If I ever sign a publishing contract for one of my novels, we’ll go get a tattoo.” And then it came. The words I should have run away from. “Do you promise?” And being deep in the “my writing sucks” swampy goo, covered head to toe in the tarry mess of self-doubt, I said, “What the hell. Sure, I promise. Because it’s never going to happen.” 

So . . . it happened. Last June I signed a three book contract with Black Opal Books. My youngest daughter overheard me discussing it with my husband. She ran into his office and said, “You signed a book contract? OMG! Do you know what this means?” “That I’ll be really busy?” I said. “No! It means you have to get a tattoo!”

Well, damn it to hell, Buttercup. That’s exactly what it meant.

By agreement, we waited until Christina stepped over the line from underaged-ness and into the world of “I can order a drink at any bar in the country.” Yes, my baby turned 21 last week, and I—well. I got a tattoo.

My daughters and I each chose a snowflake, and we each had all three snowflakes tattooed on a body part. So I have my snowflake, and also my Stephanie snowflake, and my Christina snowflake. They each have the same. Mom-daughters, mom-sisters. Symbolic of we three, the Claro women, like our stars (Orion’s Belt—a story for another post). We chose snowflakes because that was my childhood nickname, the one only my parents called me. It was a term of endearment that embodied love and acceptance, pride and individuality. The symbolism was perfect.

The tattoo is bigger than I wanted. I went in hoping for something the size of my pinkie fingernail and ended up with something much bigger, in order to accommodate all three snowflakes. I’m returning to the tattoo artist for more detail work on the whooshie stuff, as well as a small detail he missed, as did I and my daughters until just this second. How could all of us miss it? Do you see it? In any event, this is the first round result—and I have to say, it looks a lot cooler in person than in the pic:


The hubster is claiming that he’s now married to a wild woman, which is ridiculous, of course, because he’s always been married to a wild woman. But now he’s married to a wild woman with a tattoo. He’s not a big fan of tattoos, but I haven’t noticed that my having one has slowed him down any. Ha.

So I’ve come round again to the point: Don’t make promises you can’t or won’t keep. If the words come out of your mouth, make them happen. And sometimes you find, as I did with that trip to the tattoo parlor, that doing something you never thought you’d do isn’t such a bad thing. Stepping outside one’s personal expectation zone for the purpose of keeping a promise is rewarding to the spirit and the heart, and I’ve proven once again to my children that promises are to be kept. We’ll forever wear a symbol of the strength of a Promise, and our bond. Watch out world, because the Claro women are an indivisible unit. I promise.


Have you ever promised something you wish you hadn’t, and then had to make good on your word? Do you agree with me that promises should never be broken, or are you of the mind that they are made to be broken? In my situation, what would you have done?

The winner of last week’s giveaway is Pat from Critter Alley. Please provide your email address, Pat, and I’ll get the e-book to you right away. Congratulations!

Thanks for hanging out with me. See you next week for more of the Naked Truth!


30 Responses to "The Illustrated Woman: Promises in Ink"

  1. Comment by Pat
    March 4, 2015 at 8:03 am  

    What? I won something? Woo-hoo! I’ll PM my email through Facebook.

    You are my total heroine with the tattoo. For the longest time I’ve wanted to get a cute little paw print tattoo. Hubby is appalled at the idea. However, you have inspired me…

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 8:45 am  

      Go for it, Pat! My daughter had her Dachshund’s paw print tattooed on her ankle. They had to reduce the size, or it would have been too big, but it is actually Special Agent McGee’s paw print. So cute. Perhaps you might do the same with Indy’s paw print.

      • Comment by Cathrina Constantine
        March 4, 2015 at 9:11 am  

        Just sent Pat the Ebook of Don’t Forget to Breathe. Hope she likes the spooky mystery!

  2. Comment by utahrob
    March 4, 2015 at 8:46 am  

    I just say, “I’ll get right on that. Right after I get my picture taken shaking hands with the Pope.” Don’t get needle fever. 🙂

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 8:49 am  

      Beware, Rob. You never know when the Pope will put in an appearance. 😉 No worries on the needle fever. This is my one and only tattoo.

      • Comment by utahrob
        March 4, 2015 at 8:57 am  

        I’ve got two: I was a sailor for nine years. I had the good sense to put them where nobody can see them–upper shoulder. I don’t answer the phone when the Pope’s in town. One of my tats I still like; the other one not so much. Thanks again for your support. I’m always nervous until I get your seal of approval.

        • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
          March 4, 2015 at 9:22 am  

          I’m always learning something new about you. Thank you for your military service!

          My son has no tattoos, because he figures what he wants now is something he’ll regret when he’s 40. My daughters both have “needle fever” as you said. I’ve been told tattoos are like Lay’s potato chips—can’t have just one. I believe I’ll be the exception to that rule.

          You know I love your writing, Rob, and always look forward to your posts. You certainly don’t need my seal of approval, but you always get it because your work is so compelling. I’ve told you before, the only complaint I have is that you don’t post more often. 🙂

          • Comment by utahrob
            March 4, 2015 at 9:55 am  

            Your son is right. 🙂 I work on some of my posts for six months, some much longer. I read somewhere that you should never post something you consider half done, so I only put up what I think is finished. But they never really are finished. I just reach a point of diminishing returns.

  3. Comment by debmayhew
    March 4, 2015 at 9:09 am  

    Promises are not meant to be broken as far as I’m concerned. I try very hard follow through on just a simple “yes” to my kids, but a lot of times that doesn’t happen. But when I say “I promise” it means something more – just like it does in your family. And personally I’m not much of a tattoo person, but I love the way you tied in so much meaning to your snowflakes! Please tell me the blue swirls are supposed to be there and are not bruises, though. I kept waiting for you to write about how much it hurt (or not)! Congratulations on keeping your promise, Lisa, and the reason why you did!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 9:25 am  

      Yes, Deb, the blue swirls are supposed to be there, though I am going back for some detail work. There was no bruising, and while I can’t say it didn’t hurt, the truth is that it wasn’t that bad. It was kind of like a series of little bee stings, but there was no real acute pain. I think it depends on where you have the tattoo placed. Mine is on my shoulder, Stephanie’s is on her side, and Christina’s is on her hip/thigh. The shoulder is probably the least painful. I’ve heard the ankle and wrist really hurt, but I’ll never know first hand. This is my one and only tattoo.

  4. Comment by Cathrina Constantine
    March 4, 2015 at 9:12 am  

    I dislike the phrase promises are meant to be broken. I disagree!! Good Post Lisa!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 9:26 am  

      Thanks, Cathrina! And thanks for getting that book to Pat so fast. 🙂

  5. Comment by Cathy C. Hall
    March 4, 2015 at 10:18 am  

    I was sure the tat had something to do with writing–and because I know of your promise-keeping, I guessed you made a book contract promise back in the day. Good news? That promise pushed you to work past your doubts all the way to hard-earned success–YAY, you! (Not so good news? You had to get a tat. But it’s a pretty darn cool tat!)

    P.S. Promise is a word we don’t throw around the Hall house very often, either–words have power and that one is way too strong to use lightly!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 11:56 am  

      There was only one thing I ever thought of when we talked about tattoos in the “what if” mode, and that was always a snowflake. Have to say, I never expected to get three of the darn things, but in for a penny, in for a pound, as grandma used to say. I’m not sorry that I had to fulfill my promise, but why couldn’t it have been something else, like yogurt at Five Spot every day for a month? lol

  6. Comment by Pat
    March 4, 2015 at 7:37 pm  

    Many thanks to Cathrina. I downloaded her book and have read 2 chapters. This is a book with plenty of action!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 8:45 pm  

      Wonderful! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it, Pat. I’ll be sure to tell Cathrina.

  7. Comment by Claudia
    March 4, 2015 at 8:22 pm  

    I think your stand on promises is grand. Too often these days our words mean nothing, verbal or in print. I hate the way Love and Promise and True among others are used like a mopping cloth to wipe away a mess of some kind. I have no tat mself and probably never ever will. I admire you for keeping your promise and love the symbolism of your snowflakes!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 4, 2015 at 8:46 pm  

      Thanks, Claudia. I did learn a lesson about being more careful regarding what I promise, though. lol

  8. Comment by Linda O'Connell
    March 5, 2015 at 1:41 pm  

    Ah, Lisa, you have only just begun. I have a natural tatto. A spider vein broke in the shape of a heart, on my shin when I met my honey. It looks like a tattoo.

  9. Comment by klelange
    March 5, 2015 at 10:12 pm  

    We feel the same way about promises, especially when raising our kids. For one thing, like you said, it implies a stronger statement and commitment. For another, it can be turned around on you by someone wanting to manipulate. As a contractor, my husband learned early on that you never promise a customer anything. There are too many variables with everything from supplies to help to the customer themselves. He does his best in every aspect to get work done well and on time, but never promises.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 6, 2015 at 2:51 pm  

      Boy, are you ever right about making promises to customers. I used to be a customer service manager, and can attest to the truth of that. I remember deliberately giving delivery dates that were beyond what we expected to achieve—that way, when the product came in earlier than specified, everyone was happy.

  10. Comment by buttonsmom2003
    March 5, 2015 at 10:26 pm  

    I think I see the missing detail – the little dot at the end is missing on the middle snowflake. I like your thinking on promises but I have to admit that the word didn’t hold the same strong meaning in my house growing up. I think the sentiment behind your tat is great. I’m sure you really impressed your daughters by keeping your word.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 6, 2015 at 2:52 pm  

      Well, they knew there was no doubt, because it was a promise. I will take greater care in the future, though!

  11. Comment by T'Mara Goodsell
    March 6, 2015 at 6:52 pm  

    If we are only as good as our word, you are awesome. I admire that…and love your tattoo!

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 25, 2015 at 5:21 pm  

      Thanks, Tammy. 🙂 I wasn’t sure how I felt about getting a tattoo, but it’s grown on me. Even the hubster is getting used to it.

  12. Comment by Theresa Sanders
    March 8, 2015 at 3:20 pm  

    You are one wild woman, Buttercup, when it comes to keeping promises 😉 Seriously, though, while I’m not much of a tattoo person, I do think yours is very pretty. I love the blue snowflakes, but more, I love the deeper meaning of the bond with your daughters. And I definitely agree about promises: they are not meant to be broken. You are an awesome Mom and an even better person.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      March 25, 2015 at 5:22 pm  

      Wild & crazy, that’s me. 🙂 You can bet I’ll be a lot more careful with the “P” word going forward!

  13. Comment by Jeff Davis
    April 6, 2015 at 9:45 am  

    Promises are carved in rock in my home,and Ive tried to pass it on to my kids.Say what you mean,mean what you say,and follow through.

    • Comment by Lisa Ricard Claro
      April 6, 2015 at 2:13 pm  

      It’s in the corduroys, CD! 🙂 Thanks for checking out my blog/website. I appreciate it.

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