7 Things Sunday

One. My sister was offered a big girl job with Laura Geller Cosmetics in Columbia, South Carolina. She’s trying very hard to convince me to move there with her. Hmmmm 😉 I’m sad that she’s leaving Colorado, but I’m proud of her and excited for this new adventure! Way to go, Madison.

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Two. I wrote about the #KnowJustice project a couple months ago when I was working at ArtForceIowa. The Des Moines Register published this article, highlighting a little bit of what is happening with #KnowJustice and some other exciting arts events in Iowa that have to do with race and justice. I can’t wait to see what comes out of this workshop.

Three. This week my grandpa was in the hospital for a heart procedure that ended up not happening. They ended up needing to start him on a new medication that required monitoring him in hospital for several days. I spent a few of those days hanging out with family in his room and keeping grandma company over night. She kept telling grandpa, “I kind of love you a lot” and giving him kisses. And then at one point when he was getting an EKG he told the nurses he wanted grandma to come over and give him a kiss while they were scanning him so that he could see what it did to his heart. Seriously?! Stop. it. I can’t handle that kind of adorableness. #lifegoals.

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They make my heart explode.

Four. I’ve now reached 6 months into my job search. If P.O.D can get nominated for a Grammy three times, I feel like I should be able to land a job in my field, you know? Sometimes life is cruel and unfair. But there are a few applications I’m feeling fairly optimistic about. Fingers crossed. Toes crossed. Everything crossed. Waiting is hard. Staying really proactive in the waiting is even harder. But I know that life happens between point A and point B. I will always be waiting for something, so I should learn to love what happens while I wait.

Five.  I think you have to be very close to someone in order to have the green light to go off on them when they’re being dumb. In my opinion, you have to approach these situations from a place of, “I could be wrong, but…” but still… I respect and appreciate the hard blow of redirection when it comes from a loving place. And it rarely comes. Most of my friends are listeners. They ask good questions. They’re comforting. But sometimes being a true friend isn’t just blindly agreeing, standing in solidarity, or waiting to see what happens. It’s coming alongside, telling them their eyes are closed, and shouting out what it is you see. The other night I was telling one of my best friends about something that happened recently, and they just went off on me and got upset. But I understood they weren’t upset at me or with me, but for me. And I needed that. I needed to have my motives challenged and my actions questioned so I could figure out how to either defend myself or realize I was wrong. I needed to hear the perspective that wasn’t “I understand,” but rather, “I don’t understand what you’re thinking or doing. This is insane and f-ed up and you need to ___ because I love you and I hate seeing ___.” I need to be better at this as a friend, too. It’s a delicate balance and a thin line because when are you being a good friend and when are you just being an ass? BUT, is it not completely worth figuring out how to do gracefully?

Six. This is awesome. And then Frieda told them about love…

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Seven. I was in a yoga class this week where the instructor played this song during savasana and I legit shed a few tears. It’s like a musical security blanket. I will not apologize for kind of really loving The Fray.

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ll be spending my Valentine’s Day at The Des Moines Catholic Worker House feeding lots of friends with lots of friends. They say the way to people’s hearts is through their bellies soooo, it’s perfect. And last night I spent Galentine’s Day eating sushi and listening to some killer comediennes at Des Moines Social Club’s Second Annual Galentine’s Day All-Lady Lineup with some gal pals.

I hope that today you’re all feeling the love.

It’s been ungodly cold lately. Seriously. And blustery. I yearn for green grass, porching, freckles, and mojito season so very much. It’s important to have an arsenal of weapons for banishing winter blues when you live in Iowa. Here’s a list of my personal favorites…

One. Flower power. Because when everything around me is cold and dead, I need something happy and living. IMG_6782

Two. Sweat. I started taking hot yoga classes and I think this may be the thing of all things that has helped me survive the wretched winter. There is something about being in a 90 degree room for an hour and coming out drenched in sweat that detoxes the mind and body. But feel the burn however you prefer. IMG_6820

Three. Books on books on books. When going outside is terrible, stay inside and read. IMG_6802

Four. Tea Time. If there was anything I learned from spending last year in the UK, it is that there is a strongly held belief that a cup of tea solves every problem. So, I’ve stocked myself silly. If you’ve never been, you should pay Gong Fu in the East Village a visit! My latest favorite Gong Fu tea is Scartlet Ginger. I’m not a fruity tea fan, but the ginger offsets it and I’m hooked. Pictured below is Fredrich’s ‘Wellness’ tea, which is particularly excellent if you’re suffering from a cold. Or suffering from the cold. IMG_6796

Five. Start a project. I don’t know about you, but winter always feels like an inappropriately long waiting period. As in, I’m just waiting for it to be over. Starting something new keeps me busy and distracted from point A to B. I’ve always wanted to experiment with gold leaf and so I began incorporating it into a new painting. Hurray.IMG_6837

Six. Socks that rock. Good socks are crucial to keep those toes warm and comfy. I’m a fan of Smartwool. Personally, I think they’re totally worth the expense, but I ask for them at Christmas. You can wear them days on days without a wash and they don’t get stinky. I don’t know how it works, but it does.IMG_6799

Seven. Snuggle. Get the oxytocin flowing. I’ve been snuggling up with the Burbanks on Sunday evenings to watch all the Oscar Best Picture nominees.  Complete with Kesslers + Coke, popcorn, and twinkle lights. I know The Revenant is incredible, but Room won me over. Go see it! Or read it. MV5BMjE4NzgzNzEwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTMzMDE0NjE@._V1_UY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_

Love, 

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

A couple of years ago on Superbowl Sunday, four words came out of my mouth that changed everything.

I moved back to Des Moines this weekend and in the process of packing up my belongings I found all my old journals. Which might need to be burned after they’ve lost their entertainment value. Do people really keep these forever? Anyway. As I saw everything laid out chronologically, things started clicking. Obviously everyone experiences that hindsight is 20/20. But oh man. I was cringing at the girl in those pages. I simultanesously know her intimately and not at all.

I saw something on one page that caught my eye. In the summer of 2013 I wrote an excerpt from a book I had been reading and it said, “Sometimes God delivers us from the furnace, sometimes he delivers us through the furnace.” Below that I wrote, “God, sometimes I wonder if you’re going to deliver me from divorce, or if you’re going to deliver me through divorce.” 9 months later, to the day, it was Superbowl Sunday. I didn’t even know what I was writing.

I don’t know if everything happens for a reason. I didn’t want to say those words or for this to happen. But if it hadn’t, I would probably still be writing sad, cringe-worthy journal entires. Here’s 7 things I would tell the girl in those pages:

One. You will be spending more time by yourself. This means you will spend countless moments racking your brain about what happened and why. You will write yourself a list of the reasons why the choice you made was the right one, and for awhile you’ll read it to yourself every day. Otherwise your heart will grow too soft and mushy. You should take the opportunity to explore what kind of person you are right now and what kind of person you want to be. There will be a long string of nights where you’ll roll over in bed, limbs reaching for your person, and the chill of empty sheets will consistently startle you. Eventually you will relish your days and nights alone, especially if you’re productive with them. Also, you’ll get a twin mattress.

Two. You will begin to push the limits of what you thought you were capable of. Day by day, you will conquer new challenges. Especially of the emotional and mental variety. Oh, you’ll also fail miserably at some of those challenges. Like, epically fail. But hey, sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. There is nothing more revealing than divorce. You will see exactly what you’re made of. But you’re still in the formative years of self-discovery. Make the most of them. Try to impress yourself.

Three. You will sit through some laughably terrible dates. You will be in awe at how self-absorbed some can be. You will do a fair amount of robotic head nodding. But you’ll also go on some great dates that remind you of what was missing in your marriage and if nothing else, give you a confidence booster. Mostly though, you’ll figure out that a lot of dudes are very confused about what they want. Which sucks, because you’re not so much. Having been both married and divorced at such a young age, you know exactly what you don’t want. Any desire to settle for good enough or to spend time investing in something that comes with a handful of doubts is pretty much squashed by fear of history repeating itself.

Four. Possibly the most important thing you, specifically, will learn from this is the art of choosing yourself. It sounds inherently selfish which is why it makes you squeamish. However, the decision to say no to what wasn’t serving you in any healthy way or choosing you in return, was the first of many decisions that involved sticking up for yourself. You will get better at unapologetically saying what you really think. You will recognize that what you need will change and fluctuate (different days will call for different boundaries) and that’s ok. You will start to raise your voice a little bit. You will trust yourself more and more. You will learn to never try to convince someone of why they should choose you because…well because everyone is on their own path, free will to exercise, etc…but also because if they don’t choose you, you’ll choose yourself. And you’re pretty really cool.

Five. Don’t give up on the notion that God is in the business of mind-blowing. In scriptures you read stories where there are these seemingly isolated, terrible events that happen and then later on you see there was purpose in them the entire time. It gets revealed that those events were used to restore people back to their God so they could experience this crazy, redemptive love and freedom. This gets reflected in your own life. When everything is going terribly, a little bit later you step back and see all that was being weaved together to teach you and bring you to the places and people that restore your hope and freedom. But you absolutely cannot see that from where you are now.

Six. Remember that true love is action and not passive acceptance. Being truly loving requires that you define and take a stand for what you believe to be important, regardless of the conflict it may cause. It doesn’t always make sense or come easily. It’s work, it’s messy, and you don’t need to justify it. Fear of what other people think or of upsetting anyone will prevent you from taking the steps that will ultimately bring you peace and fulfilment.

Seven. You will look back at this girl who is so insecure and unable to trust her intuition. This girl full of ambivalence, taking care of everything else but herself. Eventually you will feel like you’re contemplating an entirely different person, but this is only made possible with strength, initiative, self-awareness, and support of those who will listen to your broken record- none of which may have revealed itself if you hadn’t said those four words you hate so much.

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I’m sorry you didn’t get rescued from having a “worst day ever anniversary”. But I’m really thankful that you had the courage to get through the worst day ever and to discover that the worst is never really the worst. I’m proud of you for leaning in and walking through the furnace with all your questions, complaints, and doubts.

Love,
Taylor

Appetites

I started to read the book It Starts With Food. This was written by the people who brought on the Whole30 craze that you hear about everyone and their dog doing. Part of the book discusses how sugary, salty, delicious, shitty food electrifies our taste buds in ways that real, nutritious food can’t. This messes with our brains in a major way. It isn’t our fault that we can’t stop eating that stuff. We still have willpower, responsibility, and choice but they are built to make us crave them. They are designed to mess with our psychological processes and make it feel impossible to give up.

It goes on to say how these foods are easy to eat a lot of, quickly, and not get full because they have such minute nutritional value that they don’t signal to our body that we’re getting fed or that we’re satisfied. This gets coupled with dopamine receptors in the brain which motivate our food-seeking/wanting and energises our feeding. We don’t even have to be hungry. Just the thought of that Krispy Kreme gives us a rush of anticipation before we even get close to taking a bite. It becomes about satisfying the craving, not the need. And thus, eating unhealthy food becomes a habitual response to triggers like stress, reward, and emotion.

“Supernormal stimulus” is the scientific term for something so exaggerated that we prefer it to reality- even when we know its fake. A supernormal food stimulus arouses our taste receptors more intensely than anything found in nature. Candy is far sweeter than fruit. Onion rings are fare fattier and saltier than onions. Modified foods like Oreos and Doritos outcompete any taste found in nature, which is, of course, exactly why we prefer them. These supernormal stimuli are like the Las Vegas Strip of foods. Exotic! Extreme! Dazzling! But entirely contrived. Not real. Totally overwhelming. And if you take a good hard look at their ingredients- you’ll see that they’re actually cheap, dirty, and kind of gross. 

I’m reading this to help me understand why I crave sweets as I attempt to give them up. I know that sugar bingeing is something I do when I don’t want to deal with something else going on. But as I’m reading it, I can’t help but feel like you could replace the word “food” with “porn”, “drugs”, or whatever indulgence you prefer and it would still read the same.

But those aren’t really the problem. They are side effects.

At some point we just turn to these things for pleasure when we’re stressed or lonely or angry or feel like we deserve it. And if you let it go for so long, our brains rewire. The trigger-response bridges are built. They’re set. And if/when it becomes a problem, it’s extremely difficult to burn those bridges. But it’s not impossible. I used to think maybe it was. But it’s not. I refuse to believe that. For anyone.

I’m starting to think the key is to not stop at drugs, porn, food, or whatever your vice is. A lot of people try to just manage the behaviour, but that isn’t sustainable because the behaviour isn’t at the root.

The shame/pain/anxiety/anger/etc. that causes us to turn to the ‘supernormal stimulus’ to numb it out is at the root. But identifying what those are requires digging into the past to see if/how the same indulgences, coverings, and coping mechanisms exist within your own circle of people. It involves confronting how that affected you and then taking ownership and awareness of your own shit (rather than just blaming it on mom or grandpa or whatever). Followed by connecting, processing, and healing. All of which takes work, patience, and time. I know that sounds like a bunch of therapeutic bull but I really, truly, madly, deeply (heyyyyy Savage Garden reference) think it’s valid.

Those of you who really know me, know that porn has been a weirdly significant part of my life. And in working through everything, I’ve recognised that I made it a bigger deal than it was. Than it is. I was really young and naive. What did I know? And I didn’t ever think that watching porn was relationship damaging- addiction to porn was relationship damaging. Addiction to anything can be relationship damaging.

Is pornography itself inherently bad? I don’t know. I can only speak from my own experience and I’m not here to argue about that…but I do know that like food that’s deliciously terrible for you, it can make people feel really freaking awesome and then in excess…cheap, dirty, and kind of gross. I know that it can become preferred to reality, but offers minute mental or emotional value, so you continue to want more, even past the point of completion. It’s selfish. And honestly, that’s really the core part that bothered and scared me. That’s all. I just wanted the person I was sharing life with to be willing and able to give up what was fake and choose into what was real. For the love of all that is holy, I just wanted the dysfunctions that came with it to stop so that we even could engage in what was real. I just wanted it to be like, “You know, watching this is like a solo missioning an entire cake in one go. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s not particularly healthy for me. So, meh. Hard pass.” Because that would take away it’s power. But I think our enemy wants to use the fruit to distract us from the root. He wants to keep us trying and failing at managing habits and behaviors so we don’t identify the real issue and confront it. That is essentially the very first story in Genesis and we’re still living it out thousands of years later.

As I dig and uncover what is behind my own appetites I’m trying to be slow and mindful of not just what I’m reaching towards but why. It’s all about balance and moderation, but I’m training myself to remember that the 2 minute gratification I get from scarfing five cookies is rarely worth it. Especially on the regs. And do I really want to eat, or am I just eating because I feel discontent or insecure about something else going on in my life? I’m a work in progress. Always.

Well. That got kind of real, which always makes me a little bit nervous. But I’m committed to my belief that vulnerability isn’t comfortable- it’s necessary. We have to stop numbing ourselves. We are factually the most addicted, obese, in debt, drugged up adult cohort in US history. At some point, everyone is going to be recovering (or hiding) from something. We’re sure not going to make it on our own like this. We need authenticity and we need each other. This is the human experience. It’s messy and it’s beautiful. IJUSTLOVEYOUALLSOMUCH and I want you to help and join me in getting and staying honest. And living abundant, full lives with lots of confetti-worthy moments (I’ve been thinking lately about how I seriously need to keep a pack of party poppers with me and just pull them out at opportune times).

So, as my friend Andrew and I like to ask each other,

“How’s your soul doing?”

Love,

Taylor

P.S. I genuinely care to know the answer to that question. From anyone.

 

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Equal to my love of confetti: Casey’s sprinkle doughnuts.

Party Hearty

I was asked to take some pictures and video at little baby Eliyas’ baptism a couple weeks ago. First of all, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I thought this would probably be a pretty casual affair. You know, like a little church basement reception with some cake and a few family photo ops. But there was easily over 100 people there, a huge buffet line, live muscians, balloons, booze flowing, dancing, etc. I was told relatives and friends came from Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, and North Dakota to help celebrate.

Wow.

It seemed like the entire midwestern Eritrean community came together. And it was a gorgeous cultural experience to witness. Everyone was so affectionate and happy and they partied from 3pm to well after midnight! Ayyy oohhh.

Please notice: Guy pouring straight up Black Label into plastic cups for everyone, guy with a mullet that rivals Joe Dirt in terms of greatness, and how much of the serving and childcare men are doing. Claps all around.

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The video is kind of long (it actually ends at 5:22) and horribly edited (thus why it continues the length of the song and not the footage) but you can check out some Eritrean dancing here (its very beginner friendly and awesome): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHx7QSR4msY

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

One.  Donald Miller recently wrote a blog that I found really thought provoking. Here’s a little bit of it:

“Every healthy thing God created changes. If something doesn’t change, it’s dead. God designed the world so that it is in constant motion, never sitting still, always dying and being reborn. Everything is changing, all the time. One of the ways God encourages us to change is by constantly starting things over. He created you to sleep, so every night you lie down and go into an odd kind of coma for about 8 hours and then you wake up and start another day. Think of it like a do-over. And it’s not only you. The whole earth is starting over every morning. And it’s not only days that start over, it’s the seasons, too. We are not fixed beings. We can change and were designed to change. Once I realized that, I was able to let go of the old me so the new me could get created. I didn’t have to be scared, lazy, or controlled by fear anymore. That me could die away and a new me could start growing out of the ashes. I could be somebody different.”

This line hit me so hard: If something doesn’t change, it’s dead. I’ve been in a relationship where I go through the same cycle over and over again with someone. We do the same little dance. We have the same conversation 100 times. Nothing changes. It gets easier and harder simultaneously, but either way its unhealthy. And for whatever reason as I read Miller’s words it just hit me that the refusal of change kills. That relationship is dead.  

So how do we embrace that design to change? How do recognize that we are not fixed beings and that we can break out of destructive places? Why is it so hard to lean into something that is so integrated and natural in our world?

Two. Well, here’s one idea. My friend Colyn said the best marriage advice he ever got was to “stay curious.” And I think he and Hilary do a really great job of this individually and together. I see them stay curious about each other by asking questions and giving each other the space and support to explore their ever evolving interests. For instance, at the moment Hilary is all about raising urban chickens and Colyn is on an astronomy kick. There were little phases before and there will be new ones to come. Curiosity keeps us changing, moving, learning, growing, and soaking up the new.

Three. I spent New Years Eve with a lot of good friends. It was a black tie party so we dressed up real fancy-like. There were 19 bottles of champagne on the kitchen table, so I was very bubbly by the end of the night. Kim taught me how to Cumbia to Justin Beiber’s ‘Sorry’, which was perfect. And at midnight someone dropped a giant exercise ball from the top floor. New Year’s Day included a lot of couch reflection time, brunch at Village Inn, and watching Ex Machina in bed with my #spousalunit.

Four. Christmas this year was kind of strange. Cousins were gone. My sister didn’t come home. My grandparents were in a new house. The number of Christmases I attended went from 9 to 3. But it was quiet and peaceful. My mom and I made the cutest little hot chocolate mug cookies and had our annual screening of While You Were Sleeping. I got fat, happy, and played A LOT of card games.

Five. The books ‘Silence’ by Shasaku Endo and ‘The Circle’ by David Eggers are favorites of mine and they are both going to be adapted for the movie screen this year. They each have stellar casts, too. I’m way pumped. Check it:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0490215/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4287320/?ref_=nv_sr_1

And read them!

Six. Latest dance jam: 

Seven. Here’s a recent picture of the Des Moines Catholic Worker crew at Julie’s farewell party. I really love this community. If you’re interested in giving/volunteering/joining you should :): http://dmcatholicworker.org/

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Oh. I can’t forget Mama cat. She’s a very important member.

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Love,

Taylor

Tenfinity

On December 31, 2005 I was in a big, beautiful ballroom watching my dad get married. To this day it is one of the best weddings I have been to, but at that time it also was one of the most profoundly sad days of my life. I knew everything from that day forward would be different. It was really, very, finally, seriously the end of what I knew as family. And what? I was just supposed to celebrate that? Put on a party dress, toss some confetti, eat cake, dance around, and give my best wishes to the happy couple? Happy. Freaking. New. Year. Life.

My best friend Rachel held my hand through the ceremony. I remember watching my tears splash onto our interlocked fingers. I remember being scared of what I didn’t know. But then the party started and I was swept up in confetti, cake, dancing, and ringing in my new year/life with friends and family.

This New Year’s Eve I felt sad and again, the last thing I wanted to do was put on a party dress, eat cake, and dance around. But I did it anyway (and I’m glad I did. Not being 15 anymore and able to drink a lot of champagne also helps). However, it really had me thinking back to a decade ago when I was watching my dad get married (HAPPY 10 YEARS, you two!!).

I was thinking about how if I could go back to that ballroom and talk to 15 year old Taylor I would give her the biggest, tightest hug. I would tell her how everything would not only be ok, but that it would be really, really wonderful. How 10 years from now she would not even be able to imagine her life without Wendy. How she would get to watch both her parents become happier, healthier, healed people. How she’d have pretty amazing relationships with all of them. How yes, the family unit as she knew it would no longer exist, but that it would only grow bigger and deeper in both quality and quantity. I mean, it won’t all be sunshine and roses, of course. But she just needs to trust that there are good and beautiful things ahead.

New Years aren’t always happy. They can remind us of what isn’t anymore.

So as I crawled into bed with my belly full of champagne and my heart feeling a bit like the ball the dropped in Times Square, I tried to imagine 35 year old Taylor crawling in to bed next to me. How she would hug me tight and tell me all the good, beautiful things I had to look forward to. I want to expect that she would tell me how everything would not just be okay, but that it would be really, really wonderful. She would remind me to trust in a God who orchestrates life and growth from death and ashes.
Oh man. Please let that be true.
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Love,
Taylor

2015: Fierce

Last year I wrote in this post about how my word/theme/mantra for 2014 was surrender and I then declared 2015: fierce.

This year was about trying to be more intentional, braver, sassier and unstoppable. It was about giving whatever was in front of me my best shot and fueling my yolo spirit.

One of my friends said, “After surrender, fierceness is what is required.” Surrender felt a lot like laying down and dying, so I grasped on to a word that felt like getting the fuck up and living.

Be fierce, Tay.

It helped that a lot of people knew about this because then everyone ended up holding me accountable to this kind of ridiculous word I was trying to emulate in my life. Thank God for my work friend Sarah (who is basically Grandmother Willow from Pocohantas) who consistently asked me how fierce I was feeling or what fierce thing I had done lately.

I learned that being fierce was a lot about

Giving myself permission:

Yes, you can say what you honestly think to that person. You are not responsible for how they take it.

Yes, you can go on a hiking trip with three random people you’ve never met.

Yes, you can walk away from this and not have to fix it.

Yes, you can make out with that handsome stranger at the pub.

Yes, you can travel. A lot. Even though you don’t really have any money.

 and being confident:

You tried something. So what if it didn’t work? That was brave.

You will finish this dissertation and get your Masters degree.

You totally pull off those overalls.

You can do this by yourself.

You can complete Whole30.

You deserve better.

 

and having a lot of fun:

 

2016: expectant.

Love,

Taylor

 

 

 

 

 

7 Things Sunday

One. All I want for Christmas is 3 kittens and a bag of festive socks…

Two. I love lists and this is a really good one:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/art-therapy-techniques_56562017e4b072e9d1c19f9b

Three. I would like to introduce you to my labor of love as of late: the #KnowJustice Project. Between writing grants, researching, and planning out the implementation… this has been on my mind constantly. I. am. so. stoked. for. this. I probably won’t be around to see it happen, which is tough on the ol’ heartstrings. But I digress…

First of all, did you know that Iowa ranks #1 in the nation for over-incarcerating minority men? A 2014 ACLU report found that they are 8 times more likely (compared to a national average of 3.7) to be imprisioned than Caucasians for the same drug posession charges. Right now it feels like a day rarely passes that we don’t hear about police brutality, a school shooting, or racial profiling. These layered, complex issues involve cycles and systems that seem overwhelmingly hopeless of change. 

#KnowJustice aims to show youth entrenched in our judicial system that hope for them as individuals is not lost. We believe their life experiences and voices matter. At ArtForceIowa, we don’t stand in judgement of what they’ve done, but in awe of their creative potential (I am blown away by the kids I work regularly). #KnowJustice will give them the tools and opportunity to learn about their personal rights, contemplate their own participation in the justice system, and to respond creatively through art. Using art to elevate the voices of minority, court-involved youth, this project engages the public in a discourse around system disproportionality and the social injustices these youth face. The project has three components:

  1. ArtForceIowa youth who are out of detention will participate in a series of workshops instructed by a group of Drake law students from the Children’s Rights Clinic. In an effort to ensure that youth today comprehend their personal rights, discussions will center around how to handle interactions with law enforcement, what it means to have free speech, and what their rights are at school and in detention. They will be encouraged to think critically and respond artistically, creating work reflective of what they learned in relation to their own experiences.
  2. Youth residing in detention will be collaborating with local artist activists to explore, analyze, and strengthen the connections between personal rights, social activism, and artistic practice. The result will be a participatory visual art installation that is designed and conceptualized around the personal narratives of youth facing significant adverse experiences and systematic disproportionality.
  3. In a society where a lot of tension exists around minority youth and the justice system, it is the youth involved who largely remain voiceless. In the media, it is not their stories, feelings, and thoughts heard. The #KnowJustice exhibit at Polk County Heritage Gallery will display the art installation and other work created by the youth at ArtForceIowa and the Polk County Juvenile Detention Center, giving them a public platform to express and voice their experiences. The exhibition will run for 6 weeks, giving the public an opportunity to better understand the challenges faced by this underrepresented, marginalized demographic. Throughout the exhibition, other special events will take place such as a poetry slam and public roundtable. 

Four. My friend Jacci posted this hilarious article about a sub Reddit feed where ‘Former Emo Kids Have Been Posting What They Look Like Now That They’ve Grown Up’. I don’t have much evidence of me in that phase thanks to DELL desktop computer crashses and the decline of Myspace, but I did find one picture. I think this is Andrew and I at a high school wrestling match when we were 15. He’s rocking a double popped collar and tiger stripe highlights. I’m wearing a Mewithoutyou band tee. I remember that night we went to Smokey Row, played Candyland and Tetris, and took pictures that we later edited on Windows Paint. LOL. IMG_2173

And here we are almost 11 years later. Somehow still best friends. And I’ll have you know that hours after this picture was taken, we freaked out over Spotify adding The Spill Canvas’ old albums to their repitoire (yes, I have periodically checked ever since I opened an account).

Five. Friday night I danced, drank and delighted in the festiveness of Peace Tree’s Annual Holiday Sweater Party with Jaxine, my parents, and the friends we made in there (my favorite being Matt, in his ‘Fleece Navidad’ outfit). My professor/academic advisor at Grand View was playing in his band, The Monday Mourners. So that was fun. Woot woot.

 

Six. This is kind of old news, but I love the app PHHHOTO. Go download it. It does stuff like this:

Seven. I just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it has got me all fired up about creativity. I think 2016 is going to be a year of big magic that I make for myself, if nothing else.

“Stop complaining. Every time you talk about how difficult and tiresome it is to be creative, your inspiration takes another step away from you, offended. I started telling myself that I enjoyed my work. I proclaimed that I enjoyed every single aspect of my creative endeavours- the agony and the ecstasy, the success and the failure, the joy and the embarrassment, the dry spells and the grind…It is not about how you write, or paint, or play… it is about why: because of delight. You must live your most creative life as a means of fighting back against the ruthless furnace of this world.”

Love,

Taylor

7 Things Sunday

One. Everybody, this is Evan. He is the most adorable wee Scottish lad I have ever met. I mentioned to his auntie that I missed hearing him come into the coffee shop saying, “Tay Tay!”…and then she sent me this. Be still my heart. Waaaahhhhhhh. I want to go back.

 

Two. This week was ArtForceIowa’s Holiday Hustle (I’m so good at naming things, you guys). The youths performed Christmas tunes, gave our visitors tours of the space, sold cards and shirts they designed and made, and exhibited paintings. Several sold their first paintings ever and were so proud! It was adorable. Cookies and hot chocolate were consumed. Snowmen were drawn. Holiday cheer all around.

When I got home my sweet, elderly housemate Norm asked me, “Do you feel like you can be yourself at work?” I love this guy. Who asks that? I laughed and said, “I do! It doesn’t feel like a typical workplace. I get to work with people I consider friends and everyone is very encouraging of being yourself.” And then my heart kind of exploded at the sound of my own words. ArtForce has been such a good family to come home to. I am one lucky lady.

Three. BUT my time at ArtForce is wrapping up. Well, at least my paid time. In January I will be very unemployed, which feels simultaneously like a world of possibility and world of unfortunate impossibilty. But perhaps there are friends out there sprinkled across the US of A who think “Hey, Taylor should come stay with me/us while she looks for a job in this new, exciting place.” Or perhaps not. But you never know unless you ask. So, if you’re such a friend, call me/beep me sometime. I can compensate for hopsitality with a variety of domestic and creative endeavors.

I’ve also been contemplating just working any job that will give me loads of overtime for the next 6 months and saving up to spend the summer back in Edinburgh where I can work the festival, travel, attend my MA graduation, and hang out with the people I miss so soooo much.

#dreamingandscheming

Four. I’m excited for this:

http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/mike-birbiglia-man-show-winter-35560500

If you’ve never watched Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend on Netflix, I recommend it. At least until you get to the part about The Scrambler. Trust me.

Five. Yesterday I was enjoying a cup of coffee, like I do every morning. I’d probably drank half of it when I got this really bad side pain. I excused myself to the bathroom and suddenly felt my face burning. I caught myself in the mirror and BOOM. It looked (and felt) like I had suddenly developed severe sunburn all over my face. Then it spread. My neck, arms, and legs broke out into hives. The backs of my knees were swelling up. I was itchy and hot everywhere. My dad ran to the store for Benadryl. Bless him. And all was fine. But apparently we had started on a new bag of coffee that I had never had before.

So, please do not ever offer me Hills Bros. coffee. I am just thankful I didn’t randomly develop a caffeine or coffee allergy in general. That would make my life so sad and tired. But out of curiosity, does anyone know what could have caused this? I drink coffee…all kinds of coffee…alllll the time. I’ve never had this happen before.

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Six. Awhile back my grandmother went through a break-up…so-to-speak. There was a man I called her “companion”. That was the most accurate description I could think of. Calling him her boyfriend felt weird. But they had been doing life together for as long as I can remember. When they stopped, I remember driving in the car with my grandma and she told me, “The other day I was sitting in Jester Park and I saw this deer. Just beautiful. We used to always go and watch the animals there together. I just wanted to pick up the phone and call him but I knew I shouldn’t do that. It’s just hard to change those habits.”

And as she said this, I felt something in my brain move. As if I could feel my own perspective widening. Here was this 70-something year old woman. My grandmother. She was describing her own feelings and life situation. And at the time, they were exactly the same as mine.We were going through the same thing. All of the sudden the 50 year age difference didn’t make any difference at all.

I have also found myself in pretty transparent conversations recently with middle aged women I adore. I feel like I have a lot of moms, which is great. They bring me a lot of joy. And honesty. They’ve opened up about grief, marriage, changes that happen with having adult children, hopes, faith, crises…the whole shebang.

And then when I stay at the Catholic Worker House, two of my house mates are guys in their 60s. And they’ve become dear friends who I admire deeply. Their life stories are already so incredible and they’re still living them. My boss is in his 30s and has an elderly lady friend that he regularly meets up with for oysters and champagne. He says they’ll sit and talk for hours every time. How fabulous is that!?

I don’t know…it’s all just got me thinking about how rare inter-generational living is in America compared to other places. It’s kind of a shame. You learn so much from people of all ages and you can develop wonderful friendships, too. Ones that give you wisdom and preparation for the roads ahead of you. All I know is that my life has felt much richer lately because I find myself spending quality time with people outside my own age range.

Seven. There’s a fascinating exhibition at the Des Moines Art Center. Go check it out and/or read about it here:

http://www.desmoinesartcenter.org/exhibitions/laurel-nakadate

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Love,

Taylor