Whenever I get a new tattoo, I get a feeling that I was always supposed to have that piece of art on my body, as if the tattooing process is uncovering the pictures hidden underneath my skin, rather than putting them there.
My tattoos serve many purposes aside from looking cool, although that is a bonus. I like to think that my tattoos are marks on a timeline that just happens to be my body. Even though most of the dates hold no significance, I can recite the days that I got each of my tattoos. My goal is to get at least one new tattoo each year, and for that tattoo to serve as a mental anchor, reminding me of what my life looked like at that point in time.
Monday, December 12, 2016, my eighteenth birthday had arrived and I was finally able to get a tattoo. My mother had a friend that owned a tattoo shop that was normally closed on Mondays, but he opened it that night for the sole purpose of giving me a tattoo, and allowing four of my closest friends to come watch. I sat on the table, dressed in my Batman shirt and socks in preparation for my “Dark Knight” tattoo. My friends lined the wall that ran parallel to the table and giggled as the machine made that familiar buzzing sound, and then the words “are you ready?” filled the air. I nodded and then the needle met my skin as a uniquely exhilarating and painful sensation made itself at home in my left arm for the next 45 minutes. That feeling is one that I’ve grown to crave, as it is unlike any other, it hurts but it’s never to the point where it’s unbearable, making it something that I want to experience over and over.
My 2020 tattoo is a skull with a candle coming out of the head that was designed by Dick Cutter at Standard Ink Tattoo Co. Originally, I chose this design for the spooky aesthetic that came with it, but it evolved into a physical adaptation of one of my personal mantras, “be your own light.” That’s the fun part about tattoos, even the ones that aren’t initially full of meaning, can grow into something incredibly meaningful for the owner.
Liz Holliday, the owner of “Thrifting Mom”, is not a mother, but she will wear and sell your mother’s clothes. “It’s your mom’s clothes. I sell clothes that your mom probably used to wear,” says Liz. Liz has had a passion for thrifting ever since high school and since then has developed her passion into a business. “ I ship nationwide, and most of my customers are regulars who always come back”, Liz says. Liz’s account has a current following of 1,542 and her items are sold within minutes of being posted. The process of making posts for her thrifty finds is simple; having her models rep her latest finds stand in front of a linen bed sheet hung by two paperclips. Liz gathers clothes from local thrift shops as well as from shops all over that are not the average Goodwill.
“Thrifting is important to me because it helps reuse and recycles clothes that will more than likely just end up in landfills and ultimately damage the environment”, says Liz. When individuals thrift, it helps boycott against supporting fast fashion. “Fast fashion is brands such as Forever 21 and H&M, that overproduce really cheap clothing by means of cheap labor,” explains Liz. Many fast fashion brands have factories in foreign countries that do not pay their workers adequately, make them work in unsafe conditions, and place their waste in landfills. “ I like to wear clothes that I thrift, because it’s sustainable fashion”, says Liz, “clothes that were made in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s were just made differently than the clothes that are made today. I like the durability of the clothes I go for and the stories that are behind those individual pieces.” Liz helps raise awareness of fast fashion through her posts on her Instagram “@Thriftingmom”. Liz has an end goal of having an official online store. “ I didn’t think that this would continue for this long, but I definitely want this passion of mine to continue with me through the next chapters of my life”, says Liz.
You can see her latest posts and thrifts you can buy on Instagram “@Thiftingmom”
Meet the Storyteller
McKenzie Carver is a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and pursuing a degree in Communication and Spanish. McKenzie is passionate about traveling and the people she meets along her travels. For inquiries or more information, contact her at email@example.com.
After today, my college experience will be over. One last zoom meeting and a brief ten minute presentation are all that stand in front of me graduating from UTC. College has been the absolute best time of my life so far and I’m uncertain how to feel about leaving.
I have not enjoyed the last few weeks of this new normal. Being separated from my family and friends seems to grow more difficult for me each day. I have spent the majority of the last few weeks stuck in a continuous loop of missing my loved ones, wishing I could go back to my hometown, and dwelling on the things I cannot change. Needless to say, my mindset has not been good.
As I sat thinking about what to write about this week, I drew a huge blank. Everything I considered or immediately came to my mind was either too depressing or too selfish-especially considering how my situation compares to others. Nothing was worthy enough for me to document.
I reached out to a few dear friends and explained my mindset and thoughts on it. They encouraged me to write it down anyways, step away, and come back with a fresh mindset. So I-sort of- tried it. I decided rather than focusing on all of the things I wish I could change right now and all that is wrong with the world, I should be focusing on the little, positive, good moments of each day.
In an effort to change my perspective here is a list of moments that have inspired me or brought me some joy during this quarantine and “new normal” season:
A beautiful bluebird laid eggs in our birdhouse and few weeks ago, and the eggs hatched last week. I captured the momma bird on her way to feed her babies.
Books. I have not been reading as much as I should be or could be. Books make me happy though, even if it is just stacking them up for a quick photo.
I have found a new love of sketching. When I was in high school, I started painting a little bit. It is something I have kept up with a little bit through the years, but I have never been very good at sketching or drawing. This has helped me to focus my mind on something I can control and create. It is a nice escape for a little bit.
Nearly every night my parents and I cook dinner and eat together while watching “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” One of my personal favorites is the amount of Marvel movie reruns we have managed to watch in the past few weeks. Also, Every Sunday morning we watch church together in efforts to keep some sort of our old routine the same, even though it is definitely very different.
The past month of being stuck at home has given me the opportunity to do whatever I want, for the most part. One particular night a few weeks ago, I decided to try being a little creative by doing a self portrait shoot and play around with the lighting in my bedroom.
I bought a new fish tank for my betta, Boyfriend-it’s a long story. My best friend bought him for me on Valentine’s Day last year, and he has survived nearly seven long distance car rides and living in a gallon sized bowl without a heater. I figured it was time to give him an upgrade .
These days are pretty lonely. Everyone is dealing with isolation of some form right now, I think. Over the last few weeks, I have tried to stay connected to the people I care about as much as I can. It can be difficult, but I am thankful for modern technology to make it feel like the people I love are not so far away. It has made this season a bit easier by being able to hear my little cousins voice every night and to see my best friend’s face via snapchat or FaceTime whenever I want.
Two of my sweet friends I met at UTC, Amanda and Emily, and I have sent each other personality quizzes, life updates via snapchat videos, instagram videos of silly games, etc to stay connect. One night, we all did multiple Buzzfeed quizzes to see which character we would be in various shows we watched growing up. I used put our faces on the characters we matched.
Lately I have been trying to look at light with a different perspective. How the moon illuminates my parents bedroom at night, or the way the sunset shines in my window each evening. Something about light reminds me about hope and comfort, like warm feeling of sitting in sunshine on a cool spring day.
Even though right now is different than what any of us have ever experience, I think we can all find hope and comfort knowing we are not alone. Millions of people are experiencing the same situation we are, even if it is in a different capacity.
From this day on, I am going to try to find hope and comfort knowing the sun will shine through my window tonight, and God has granted us another day to please him. I will look for joy and light in the smallest of acts and moments. I hope everyone reading this will try to do the same.