Friday, January 9, 2015

Something To Ink About

We strive far too hard for perfection.

We look for it in ourselves, but so very often that translates into looking for it in others. The tendency to 'judge a book by it's cover' is rampant because the world is going too darn fast to slow down and allow for reading stories.

And here's the kicker: tattoos are a story that's been written in the most permanent of parchments.

I got my first tattoo at nineteen. Four years later, I have only five. Not many, but nonetheless for professional reasons, I have gotten all of my tattoos in areas where they, under the proper clothing, can disappear.

I do not wish to lecture you on how my choices are my own, it's MY skin, blah blah blah... SO: I will merely lay out my reasoning, and let you make of it what you will.

My tattoos are categorized illustrations of my greatest fears, flaws, and unfulfilled dreams. It's probably strange, slightly melancholy, and a little dark to most at first glance.

But, I didn't puncture my skin with hundreds of needles and permanent ink because I'm a Princess Sunshine Rainbow Unicorn Pony.

(FINE, I might be a little bit of a Rainbow Unicorn Pony)

Chapter One: At First There Was a Foot
(Artist Credit: Noel of Lady Luck)

Matthew 6:26 states: "Look to the birds of the air. They do not sow, nor reap, nor gather into fields; and yet your Father provides for them. Are you not more worthy than these?"

 (Pardon my Hobbit Toes)

 I have a harrowing tendency to worry myself into a state of inability to move beyond my fear. As such, the image on my foot was born of the knowledge that I should let my burdens lie, and leave the worry to God. The five birds represent each amazing member of my immediate family, whom I worry about more than most. They are included to remind me that they too, are cared for and loved by the same One who cares for the sparrows.

Chapter Two: And Then There Was The Arm
(Artist Credit: Telisa Swan of Swan Family Ink)

"Therefore now I am going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." Hosea 2:14

Contrary to speculation of strangers when I first read them my arm tattoo- this is not a prelude to a recitation of erotic poetry. It is, in fact, one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible in which God details His unending and continuing love for the people of Jerusalem.

I had this put on my arm when I realized the love I wanted was not the same love I needed. I needed to turn back to the One who would never back out. Never walk away. Who would continue loving me even if I turned away.

Chapter Three: And Suddenly There Was a Right Thigh
(Artist Credit: Enzo [Outline] and Sarah Rose Pokalsky [Shading/Hawaii])

The world sits on my right thigh and hip. No, truly. It's right there (Even though I almost forgot Hawaii and had to have it added later. Sorry. Aloha. Sorry.) I have the travel bug (said every basic girl ever). But it's more than that. I wanted to remind myself not to get closed in, to not settle. Its so easy to decide we've seen all there is to see. 

Travel is a gift to the heart and the mind. It expands our horizons, encourages open-mindedness, and gives societies a fighting chance to try and understand each other. I has the globe drawn to constantly remind me that I can't stop now, because there is way too much world out there waiting for me.

Chapter Four: And Lo, There Came a Left Thigh
(Artist Credit: Sarah Rose Pokalsky)

For as long as I can recollect, there was a beautiful picture hanging in the hallway of my childhood home. It depicted hot air balloons in a sky above an abandoned barn and Model T car in a field. The tattoo firstly represents that memory, and the rediscovery of the unending curiosity that accompanied my childhood. 

I look at this Hot Air Balloon to remind me that no matter how great the obstacles or fears, giving a good old-fashioned try is the only way to find out if something can be changed. And lastly (sorry, Mom) It's been my mother's dream for years to take a ride in a hot air balloon. Someday, that will come true. I'll make sure of it.

Chapter Five: The Introduction of The Calf
(Artist Credit: Sarah Rose Pokalsky)

The most recent addition to the Gallery: a chandelier. Not just any old chandelier, and definitely not a Sia-inspired I-Wanna_Swing-From-The-Chandelier chandelier. This tattoo is a rendering of the grand chandelier from The Phantom of The Opera. 

The chandelier has two representations. One: my gratefulness to my father and anyone else who ever encouraged and educated me in the arena of music and acting. They are lifelong gifts that can never be taken, destroyed, or replaced. 

Two: The chandelier in The Phantom of The Opera opens as a destroyed, shattered relic of the grand fixture it once was. Dusty, mangled, and forgotten. Truly, the chandelier's only true act in the play is when it comes crashing down from the high ceiling of the Paris Opera, nearly destroying everything and everyone in it's path, setting fire to the building itself.

For the last three years: I've felt an awful lot like that chandelier. No, I haven't crushed anyone or set any buildings on fire lately, but I felt just as useless and destructive. I believed I had failed miserably at being the picturesque individual I was supposed to be. I've seen myself as useless, broken, and unnecessary.

 But the chandelier makes a comeback. In The Phantom of The Opera, just when it appeared completely broken, and too far gone to be of any use- the fixture is repaired, raised high, and although slightly dustier than it was before: it gives off light once again.

I hope I can give light someday as well.

My ink makes me feel strong. I can look at each of the images on my body and rest assured that the memory and story behind each picture will be carried with me forever: far-outlasting pen, paper, or computer chip.

Whatever your opinion of tattoos may be- whether for them, against them or indifferent; I ask you this... We are all waiting to be read. To be heard. To be seen. Please do not pass by a book merely because the illustrations on the cover aren't perfect or beautiful enough for your tastes. There is no such thing as perfection. And you may be missing out on a story of a life you haven't even begun to understand.

To be continued.



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Read More

Looking to lose your faith in humanity?

Go to the internet, young wanderer. Seek, and you shall find. You shall find the dark bits of people’s hearts and the sharp stones they wouldn’t dare throw in public. You shall find the endless reel of news headlines whose words dig like elbows into the paranoia side of your composure and leave you gasping.

It’s all there.

As a shining example, I crossed paths with an article that blew my mind this last week. The article was a compilation of revealed fashion industry secrets from dethroned VOGUE Australia editor,  Kirstie Clements. When Clements lost her job, she took the opportunity to speak out against the atrocities she witnessed during her time at VOGUE. 


The article describes the difference between being ‘skinny’ and being ‘Paris Thin’. And the difference is everything. Skinny is out, people. Paris thin is in.

 And how do we achieve such greatness?

By eating Kleenex and spending a couple hours each day on an intravenous drip.

“…on another shoot I was chatting to one of the top Australian models during lunch. She had just moved to Paris and was sharing a small apartment with another model. I asked her how that was working out. "I get a lot of time by myself actually," she said, picking at her salad. "My flatmate is a 'fit model', so she's in hospital on a drip a lot of the time."*

“In 2004, a fashion season in which the girls were expected to be particularly bone-thin, I was having lunch in New York with a top agent who confidentially expressed her concern to me, as she did not want to be the one to expose the conspiracy. "It's getting very serious," she said…"The top casting directors are demanding that they be thinner and thinner. I've got four girls in hospital. And a couple of the others have resorted to eating tissues. Apparently they swell up and fill  your stomach."*

I really wish I could say this was a hoax. An urban legend made up to make girls appreciate themselves the way they are. But this is true. This what is increasingly even more terrifying is that this is an ENCOURAGED form of beauty that is sold to us as normality. The way we should be, should we want to look right in the right clothing.

I’m over it. I’m over being hit in the head with a bludgeon of fabricated reality.

And due to this, I’ve started to Read More.

Read More doesn’t necessarily mean books, it means to be in focus. To write your own story. To be in the here and now, enjoying the things you love, the things you TRULY love. Because putting my focus on an unattainable, empty goal made being happy a lot less attainable for a while there.

If those same people who sell us air-brushed victims of starvation try to make us think we need to be faceless cookie-cutter copies, we’re going to have to realize that what’s underneath is a lot harder to photo-shop away. 

It's there to stay. And it’s there for good.

And like a good book, it’s what they’ll remember you by, long after you leave.



*All quotes are from a news article on Clement's experiences that can be found through this link: http://www.ibtimes.com/vogue-editor-says-models-think-its-ok-faint-food-deprivation-eat-tissues-go-hospital-drips-be-paris

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Resisting the temptation to do something I'll regret is something I haven't perfected yet.

The result of this lack of control is quite simple: I pay for it each and every time.

I wish I could say I took it all in stride. That I was the bigger person, and walked away with my dignity and heart intact. But then I'd just be another liar with my pants on fire hanging by a telephone wire.
I was not brave. I whined about the world and how it had turned against me. I cried on every pillow I owned. I stood in the mirror so I could see the mascara tracks caused by the deplorable wreck that was my life (I'm really not proud of that one). I shook my fist at the ceiling and told God He wasn't real.

And in response, He kept loving me the way He had been loving me since time began.
I was handed warmth when I lost myself in the winter of my sorrow. I was given light for the shadows I had gathered for myself.

That light was aggravating. How dare there be happiness while I was trying to think about everything that truly sucked about this world?


Down in my dark dark room, in my dark dark heart, there was a sunny cheerful ray of sunshine that knocked relentlessly at the door of my unhappiness.

I opened the door just a bit, out of curiosity, to see why an unstoppable force such as the Creator of the Universe would be interested in visiting my kingdom of self-pity. 

Bit by bit, I'm tearing that castle down. And bit by bit, I'm putting the grudges away.

Turns out, it's a lot easier to walk when you let things go.

And it's a lot easier to see with the lights on.



Sunday, July 7, 2013

Down the Mountain

There are a lot of leftover forts and hiding spots on the mountain behind my house. Sacred places that used to be haven for imaginary elves and native tribal rituals. 

But they say there comes a time when we have to put childish things aside. 

I suppose there also comes a time when we have to leave childish people behind.

And sometimes there comes a time when we have to become more like children in order to get by.

I've heard more than a few 'good ol' days' remarks made by friends lately, lamenting how life was 'so much simpler when all you worried about was whether or not you would get to use your favorite crayon that day.'

As idyllic as this thought is, it is also useless. We can languish in thoughts of what used-to-be until the proverbial cows come home, but it does not for a second change the fact that yesterday is gone like the mosquito I just killed on my laptop, today is outrunning us like a sinewy triathlete  and tomorrow is coming at us like a derailed subway car.

Not to imply that I'm worried about the future.

Which I definitely am.

But we could sit and worry about the future just as much as we regret letting our childhood slip by. And I reiterate: nothing will change.

There's always another approach though. A glass half-full outlook, if you will.

We can retain some of the childlike wonder we used to possess. Try being like a kid for a day, a week, however long it takes to get a spark of joy in your life. 

Because life is far to short to waste being unhappy or worrying about becoming unhappy (which in my mind, is the same exact thing).

Redevelop ye old elementary school mindset. If someone doesn't appreciate you or hurts you, leave those suckers by the swing-set  and go make yourself some new friends. 

If someone is funny, tell them they are and laugh at their jokes in a big ridiculous way (someone who thinks they're too cool to laugh big is actually just super lame). 

Do the thing you dream of. (Bonus of being an adult now? We can travel, we can cook, we can drive, we can read, we can design, we can do the big things, anything is possible: if we stop saying we can't and start running headlong towards adventure).

Boys have cooties. (I find this is just a helpful thing to keep in mind at all times.)

Pick flowers, smell the rain, get sunburnt, eat popsicles, catch a bug, steal an apple, dig in the dirt, play dressup. These things don't have to be left behind and just looked back on. We can still live in bliss in the here and now. It might be a little bit harder and a little bit scarier, but trust me, it's a lot less scary than sitting afraid in your house all day because you just can't face someone or something about your day.

Believe me, living in regret doesn't hurt anyone you hope it'll hurt.

It just makes you look like an old lady sitting in a burning house who can only complain about how darn hot it is and how bad it smells.

Put the fire out and use the ashes to make something new grow.

We can be grateful for those moments that we have that make us roll with laughter, or collapse in tears. Because those are the moments that let us know that our hearts still pump blood through our veins and our lungs rush with air.

We are miraculous, and we are more capable than we could even imagine.

And even though we may no longer build forts, there is no reason we have to come down from the mountain.



PS: Here's a poem tidbit for you all:

Dusk in Idaho

It’s that moment, when crimson fingers of sunlight
give final blessings to the peaks that reign
over the tiny, barely a town
that is Pinehurst.

It’s that feeling, of saw grass cuts on shins and palms,
gifts from the Earth from crawling through meadows
that are really just that vacant lot where
a shiny new house now sits.

It’s that smell, of evergreens dipped in rainwater
until they look just right. Of breezes wearing
the scent of cottonwood like a shawl
crocheted in summer.

It’s that longing, to have seen what woodland creature
created trembling rings in that pond, if
I had been just a little bit faster, or
just a little bit quieter.

It’s those seconds, in between the final performance of sunlight
and the opening act of stars, when wandering too far
awakens imaginary creatures that chase me
or thoughts of supper lead me

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Welcome to the History of Insecurity 101.

Once upon a time, I played dress-up and Barbies way beyond the point of when it was no longer cool to do such things with your young life.

Which apparently for everyone else was age ten, and for me, age twelve.

Finally, one of my friends posed a middle-school style intervention on me. Which is to say she called me out on it in front of all our friends. 

Stricken with embarrassment, I put all of my Barbies into a box and sealed them away. I boxed all of my dress-up clothes and moved on to cool things. Like slumber parties and talking about boys.

Which in turn led to feeling insecure about boys.

Which led to feeling insecure about how I looked.

Which led to wondering what I was supposed to look like.

Which led to reading Cosmo for life advice and beauty guidance.

Which in turn led to the discovery that I, no matter how hard I tried, would never reach that Size 2, C-cup, 5'3", straight-haired, manicured, poreless woman who, according to Cosmo, haunts the day-dreams of any boy over the age of eighteen.

I can wish for days that I had stayed a kid. Unoccupied by thoughts of face fat, or thigh gaps, or dress measurements.

Or I could dress up the way they tell me. Put together a kaleidoscope disguise of perfume, makeup, clothes layered by a professional stylist, skirt cut up to there, shirt down to there, stilletto, stillatto, potato, potawto.

I could be that bubblegum, princess, LA pop-queen if I just tried a little harder or ate a little smarter.

Or I could stop for a second and think.

And maybe...

 Just maybe...

 Finally come to the realization...

that the most powerful weapon...

that I have at my disposal...

Is me.

Exactly the way I am.
Ladies, take it from a girl who's tried nearly everything. No matter how much weight you lose, you're not going to change your eye color from brown to blue. Your bone-structure is not going to adapt to make your hips become any narrower. Your hair will not become straight and silky by starving yourself. 

There are certain things about yourself that you cannot change... Well, maybe through major and painful and risky surgery, but why??

I have looked at a mirror so hard I thought I might go cross-eyed, but it did nothing to change the fact that I am gloriously unique. And thank the LORD for it!!

This... well, rant... isn't to say you shouldn't wear makeup. It isn't to say you shouldn't play dress-up or do your hair. 

Because I myself love a little sparkle and color.

But don't do with a mindset that you aren't enough. Don't to it because you think the boys will like you better. Don't use it like a primer to blend in. 

Someone told me once that compliments from strangers are often a result of confident energy.

In other words, if you feel good about yourself, you give off sweet vibes that make people recognize! It's not the clothes, it's not the makeup, it's the fact that your confidence shines so darn bright that you have to hand out sunglasses to people who choose to hang out with you for too long.

 So, eat, drink, laugh, burp, dance, snort, repeat.

But please, for the love of Ellen, Tyra, Emma and Sophia, be you. Be marvelously you. Be gloriously, blindingly, ecstatically, and dumbfoundingly different. 

They're gonna take notice, Love.