Why “The Inked Archives?” (or, that new trend, “Tattooed Libraries”)

If you follow my blog, you may have already pondered these questions with or without a perplexed, judgmental expression on your face as you stare harshly at the computer screen. We’ve all heard the phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover” but one can cleverly escape the authority of the phrase on a technicality! No one ever said anything about a blog title!

It’s okay, I don’t blame you. I often wonder the meaning (if there is any at all) behind blog titles and whether or not I am reading too much into them. I wonder if I’m being tricked by a title. 

“Why is it called Puzzles? Because that’s the puzzle!” – Barney Stinson

After wondering about the meaning and if I’m being hoodwinked, I then wonder about the legitimacy of the claims from both title and author. This blog says it is about cooking. Why is there a picture of a smiling child going down a slide? How does that relate? I know, the child is happy because she just ate a delicious pastry, and if I click on this post, I will have the secret to happiness: The recipe for this joy-inducing pastry! 

So if you’ve experienced these same questions and you’ve applied this line of thinking to my blog, perhaps your questions look a little something like this.

The Inked Archives – Hmm, maybe it’s a blog about a tattooed library? Someone tattooed a library onto themselves? How painful! Was it like Prison Break? Why would she need blueprints to a library on her person at all times? Did she really think that tattoo through?

The story of my lifelong conversion – So it’s a story! A story of how she converted a bunch of librarians into getting tattoos of library blueprints onto themselves… Wow, it must be a new trend. She’s very committed to be forever convincing people to get those massive tattoos…

Meet the author – So now she’s an author? Did she write a book about library tattoos? I know, she wrote a “How-to” book of getting your friends to go get tattooed libraries on themselves together! 

Okay, so hopefully I’ve at least accomplished a pity laugh from you. And if you’re dead serious and still reading this while thinking all of the above questions, read on and you shall be enlightened! 

Many of you know that I used to have a blog called “Better Together” and it got its name from the Jack Johnson song. Not very original, but it was the blog I had when I married my super awesome spouse, and I wanted to log all of our adventures together. The title worked for the blog that it was, and I liked it. But after a while, I began to desire a blog meant for more. I wanted a space on the internet that was a microcosm of my life.

Around three years ago, something was brewing inside me. Something that wasn’t quite ready to make its public appearance or announcement, but something that was already there. A love for the Catholic Church and all her teachings was growing and not only did it give me anxiety at the time (for some personal reasons), but it gave me confidence. Slowly that confidence came, and soon my anxiety was gone. I knew that God was calling me to convert to Catholicism, and with a quivering voice, I asked to speak to the priest in my area and the rest is history (or another blog post for another time). This was about two years ago. Around the same time my blog posts at Better Together began to dwindle away.

I still wanted to show that life was better together with Daniel, but I wanted a corner that was more than that. Some place that showed my individuality, a place that showed my flaws. A place that I could write freely about deeper issues without feeling as though it disrupted the tone of my blog. I wanted to write about Daniel, recipes, tutorials roach attacks, and my lunatic dog and batty cat. In short, I wanted to write about the humdrum, day-to-day life stuff, the sappy stuff, but most importantly, the deep and meaningful stuff that I’m often too afraid to write. That is when The Inked Archives was born. It took months to write my first post, mainly because of the fear I experienced. 

I’m the kind of girl that can see meaning all around us, but I’m not the girl that finds it easy to express it or share it with the world. A few close friends, yes! But to everyone? I feel as though I have stories to tell and I’m just trying to get past the mental block of getting them out. I’m a highly sensitive person and as you know, writing heartfelt thoughts down for anyone to see is not a practice too many highly sensitive people like to partake in. However, I have two things that not all highly sensitive people have: A love for God and a burning desire to write. Both of those things outweigh any anxiety or fear. 

So I chose the name, The Inked Archives, based on that burning desire to share the stories of God in my life. I realized that God was in the humdrum days just as well as in the passionate moments. The days that led up to me sitting in a pew talking with a priest about my desire to convert (a very passionate moment) were not made up of every minute having a profound epiphany… They were made up of ordinary, common workdays where God revealed himself a little more as time progressed until it built up into that resolved confidence and deep gratitude I experienced during that passionate moment. God was just as much in my day-to-day as He was in my special experiences; for without him in my ordinary, there would be no extraordinary. 

With that as my guide, I knew it would be all right to still express my humdrum posts in addition to the bigger moments. I could be completely honest about my life; I could express my desire to be with God in every moment and that explains “the Archives” part of my blog. It’s all my stories, both mundane and amazing. 

“The Inked” portion isn’t some implication of tattoos, (it’s okay to laugh) it’s simply a reference to my putting pen to paper (so to speak). It’s the reason to blog in the first place. It’s the burning desire to write put into practice. I know I’m not a fantastic writer. I know I make a lot of silly mistakes (grammar and format). But I have stories to tell, and I finally have the courage to share them. 

As far as my blog’s description, “The Story of my Lifelong Conversion,” I wanted to describe even further what this place is all about. I believe in being converted throughout my whole life, not just one act. A continual aim for conversion, if you will. That means to me, I can find true conversion to repent my sins and grab hold of Jesus even through the daily task of washing dishes. 

And if you’re sitting there wondering at the pride of one who would call herself an author without even writing a book, wonder no further. Like I said, I’m not an outstanding writer. I haven’t authored a book. But every blog needs a theme, right? (I’m looking at you, Hawaiian Birthday Party) Well, to go along with “my written stories”, I centralized my theme around “writing in general.” That’s why my life updates are called “‘Chapters’ in a Life” and the little blurb on the side says “author.” It’s either that or I really didn’t have enough themed parties as a child and I’m using my blog as a means to express my deprivation. 😉

Well, if you made it through that long post, congratulations! *virtual hug* I hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the creation of this place, and I hope you’ll be able to laugh, cry, and experience conversion right alongside me through this humble little corner of the internet.

If you only made it through half the post and still think this blog is about tattooed libraries, make sure to credit me when you tell your friends about this cool new trend. 😉

Thanks for reading!

Thrifted Trousers Turned Skinny – A Tutorial

Since moving to Dallas, life has been a whirlwind of activity that goes by both ferociously fast and painfully slow. Starting with the move, and going into the organizing/nesting, the navigating, the exploring, the discovering, the cooking/home projects, the job search, and the routine setting, we haven’t really stopped! It has all been wonderful. I feel so blessed. Through it all, I have come to a startlingly realization! I need some new clothes for Fall!

Now I’m the kind of person who does NOT like to spend a bunch of money on clothes. It just doesn’t make me happy, and I get way more enjoyment out of a piece of clothing if I have worked hard to make it, worked hard to find it, and worked hard to get a bargain on it! Well, this weekend, I have combined all three and I’m ready for the big unveil of article number one!

trouserstoskinnies

Now you’re in luck, because I managed to persuade hubby to take some snazzy photos throughout the process of altering the trousers for your enjoyment and education! Who has been loving the colored skinny jeans going on this summer? I have and I’ve never owned a pair. Fall is coming, and I wanted some that weren’t pastel, and I could wear on through winter. How else would I be able to work the boots? (I mean, I can’t just cover them up! Who came up with the idea of bootcut anyway…)

After going to a local thrift store (and weighing the idea of actually entering the store… it really wasn’t a great part of town…) I scored two pairs of these splendid colored trousers. The green ones happen to be Old Navy, and the others (not pictured) are from Ann Taylor. Now the awesome part? I got both pairs for a grand total of five bucks! That’s right, each pair for a mere two dollars and fifty cents! Now that’s a bargain!

So, I’ve found some great pants, I’ve gotten a sweet bargain on them, so that means it’s time to make them even more awesome.

You will need:

– Pair of fabulous trousers

– Sewing machine (and supplies)

– Pins (Yeah, remember when you bought out the store because they were on sale and had pretty colors on the tips? Cheers to your foresight!)

– Scissors

– Seam Ripper (optional)

– The ability to try on your pants millions of times without hating them by the end.

To start with, try on your pants. Determine by pinching the inside seam how much you would like to take in.

greenpantsbefore

Next, put them on inside out and begin pinning the inside seam all the way from the inseam to the hem. It’s important to do the inside seam because pants often have a professional seam on the outside seam that you don’t want to disrupt. Don’t pin your pants too tight. It’s better to be able to take them in some more than have to rip your stitches out. But don’t worry if you do, it’s fixable. If the inseam of your pants is a little low or baggy, go ahead and measure what you want to take in and do the same as you have for the vertical seam.

pantswithpins

Take them off and put a baste stitch on your sewing machine. Go ahead and follow the pins all the way from the hem to the inseam and do the same for the other side. Turn them right side out, and try them on. Do they fit? If so, turn them back inside out and follow your baste stitch with a regular stitch (making sure to reinforce the start and finish of your seams for the best wear). If they were too tight, use a seam ripper and take out your seams. Repeat the pinning process and give yourself a little more allowance. Try them on, and when they fit to your satisfaction, take them off and cut the extra fabric off to minimize bulk on your legs. Ta-da! How do you like your new skinnies?

pantsafterbehind

pantsafterheadtilt

Living vs. Surviving

Thoughts on Growing, New Experiences, and Art Appreciation

Over the last two years, I’ve been learning like I’ve never learned before about myself, my family, life in general and most importantly, my faith. I’ve allowed myself to be stretched a bit and pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve felt like a guinea pig of late; thoughts, books, foods, and cultures I have experienced anew, within the realm of reason and my faith.

I have not done any of it because I want to be hip, fresh, and trendy, or to become another person’s idea of hipsterdom. I have done it a little out of fear of the absence of change. I’ve asked myself questions like, “what if I never change from the person I am today to the person I am when I’m ninety?” and I’ve observed others. “Are they too comfortable? Not content enough?” Are they stubborn about change inspired by a greater power? Accepting discomfort in my day to day, pushing through a chapter of a book I may not love, trying a food I’ve onced made faces at, and allowing myself to feel vulnerable and hurt at times in my relationships all comes down to this… I do it for the sake of growth in my person (my father calls it “building character”), increased virtue, and a life well lived.

My husband has come in to me curled up on the bed before, quiet and pensive, but distraught. When asked why I was so, I explained that I wasn’t the person I wanted to be and I had been okay with that in the past! I explained that I didn’t just want to live my life or “survive.” I wanted to be extraordinary, I wanted to pray for sainthood, and I wanted to be obedient to God in all ways. In short, I wanted God to use me in a powerful way, and the thought that I just wasn’t living my life the way I wanted to was eating me up inside. I had come to a realization that I was content a little too much to be surviving the mundane, and living for worldly pleasures. I had a daily routine that I didn’t feel the need to depart from, and it wasn’t even a routine that made me happy. I was content to let damaged relationships stay damaged, and I figured I couldn’t fix them anyway so why try… I left very little room for God’s will and movement in my life. Once that huge realization slammed into me, all I could do was lay still on the bed and rethink my priorities. How did I want to live? Was I happy being mediocre? Was I willing to live my whole life for a few fleeting pleasures? Did I want to raise my children the way that I was behaving and would that encourage goodness and virtue in them?

No, I wasn’t happy. I was depressed everyday. No, I didn’t want my children to believe in worldly things that would leave them longing for more, and I didn’t want them to end up lost and alone in a sea of people who believed just that.

So where did that leave me? I arose from the bed and decided it was time to start really living. Not that “surviving thing” I experienced month after month, but actually choosing goodness and virtue instead of instant gratification and ease. I knew that I had a lot of growing to do (both in the immediate sense and the spiritual sense), and it was time to make the choice to grow. Sure, I had been a good friend. But had I been a great friend? Sure, I tried to live for God, but had I been trying my hardest?

You know what? Living is hard. Holding your tongue when someone says something against you hurts. Choosing to let go of fairness in your relationships doesn’t make you want to do a little jig. Eating a piece of salmon that makes you want to gag obviously isn’t a fun experience.

But you know what else? Surviving is harder. When that comment against you hits and you retaliate with the worst thing you can think of in order to hurt that person, you don’t feel good. You feel worse and you sink into a depression. When you write up a score card within your marriage to see whose turn it is to do the dishes, clean up the cat vomit, or take the trash out, you don’t feel any better. You feel tense. You can’t enjoy that time of your partner taking their turn dealing with life’s messes because you know it’s not their gift to you, it’s a rule they abide by whilst resenting you a little more each day. And when you don’t try that salmon, how will you ever know that you like fried fish, and let’s be honest… One day, that fried chicken is going to get old! (Come on, a little lighthearted humor for the post.)

And so, here I am, in my new life, feeling uncomfortable, a little awkward at times, and stretched, but I also feel grateful for my blessings and I feel like a broader person. I don’t feel boxed in by my perfect little square of likes and dislikes. I’m still learning what I like, and I’m learning more about people, the world, and God through my new experiences and willingness to attempt things out of my comfort zone.

A perfect example of this is my recent ventures into the vast world of Art appreciation with my husband. When I walked into an art museum for the first time, I definitely felt a bit uncomfortable by the high-class atmosphere of the lobby. I felt confused by the awe-struck silence of those in the galleries who stared for fifteen minutes at what appeared to me to be a blob on a canvas. I even judged the artist of the canvas in question for their “lack of talent” and thought them to be shallow, when in reality, it was I who held that title. Let’s not even talk about the fact that I once considered the people observing the art to be complete snobs… I was stuck up, close-minded, unapproachable, and prideful.

It wasn’t until I allowed myself to open my mind to new things that I actually began to see what others saw and I identified with them! I started to see that people really were in awe, and for good reason! On closer inspection, I learned a bit more about the artists, learned how to appreciate their style of art, and learned what they were trying to express! It was then that I was able to empathize with the artist too. It didn’t stop there. Some of the art I observed on that first trip moved me deep inside, and still others taught me things I did not know about my own faith and the world! Without being stretched out of my little bubble of what I do and don’t do, how would I have ever known of the beautiful world of religious and sacred art! And oh, how amazing is that world! On that first trip doing something I would normally never do, I grew in so many ways. I learned lessons of empathy, humility, and beauty, thus worked to increase virtue, and I learned about my God and my Catholic faith!

Now, I am an advocate of new experiences for the sake of growing and increasing virtue. I am a believer in allowing yourself to be moved and put in temporary discomfort for the sake of becoming a better person and living your life well! I may even adopt my Dad’s phrase of building character with my own kids. I want to be a great future mother. I want to build relationships with everyone that I can, and not just a select few! I want to be molded into the person that God wants me to be. I want to be extraordinary for Christ.

Lastly, these words from Pope Benedict XVI echo in my mind since we are on the subject of greatness and comfort.

“The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”