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.

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.








2014: Surrender

At the beginning of this year, I was nannying for these two little gems:


I know. The cuteness is too much.

During this time my friend Hilary gifted me a daily meditation devotional titled, Surrender.

Most mornings I would make myself a cup of tea, set baby Lola in her rocker and read an excerpt out loud until she drifted into nap land. Also, my favorite quote happened to be, “Surrender to what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be,” by Sonia Ricotte. Due to the current events of my life at the time, the word surrender felt very fitting.

It became my word. My mantra. My prayer. My theme.

2014 became the year Taylor learned what it means to surrender. In some aspects, I didn’t have choice, and in others, I had to consciously choose to learn. I surrendered a 7-year relationship. I gave up a place I made home. I let go of certain hopes and dreams but yielded to others. I had to accept and become comfortable with a lot of unknowns. I relinquished control of what I could not change, and subsequently that meant enduring the most change I’ve ever experienced in 365 days.

If I were to summarize what I learned it would be this:

Surrender is equal parts freedom and defeat. There is a certain power and greatness in both. When I surrender to a higher power, I am no longer the center of my life and therefore I begin to see this power in everything and everyone. Sometimes it is impossible to have a plan and that is okay. And in all honesty, the stronger I realize I am capable of being, the more intense the desire becomes to just screw it all and have a breakdown.

So, 2014…(insert a string of expletives): You were hard. You were great. I’m glad you’re over.

What is my word for 2015?


You can laugh if you want. I am aware this is a word that is used to describe warriors, severe weather, lion cats and/or Beyonce. But I’m around a lot of Irish people and they use it as an adverb for “very” or “extremely” (ex: “She was fierce loud”).

So, this is the year I will be more intentional, braver, sassier, and unstoppable. I will love, work, and play fiercely. Give me all you got 2015. I’m ready for you.

Happy New Year, everyone.


2014 by Slidely Slideshow



Cheers to 2013

In 2013, I…


-Rang in the New Year with friends by gorging on chips, guacamole, and margaritas at Dos Rios and attempting to sing Auld Lang Syne very loudly

-Displayed my senior show at Grand View



-Clayton and I celebrated 6 years of being together by taking Cha-cha dancing lessons

-Emily and I dressed to the nines and attended the Des Moines Art Center’s Oscar Party, where we met a lot of interesting people

-My great-grandpa turned 90!

-I crashed the Filipino-American Association of Iowa’s Valentine’s Day celebration at Prairie Meadows

Picture 9


– My friend Sarah and I had a girls weekend and saw Sigur Ros in Minneapolis

-Clayton and I found out we were both accepted to graduate school in Scotland



-Clayton was the Easter Bunny for the third time at Gateway’s Eggs, Eggs, Everywhere Easter Egg Hunt. Always so much fun!

-I did a live painting at Gateway Church during the Easter Service

-I graduated from Grand View Summa Cum Laude. Booya.




-I started a summer of nannying for two very awesome kids. This included: berry picking, park hopping, swimming, crafts galore, science experiments, lemonade stands, tours of the art center/historical building/pella/science center/etc, movies, side walk chalking, milk boat racing, reading, etc.

-I volunteered putting on The Water Ride

-Went to a John Mark McMillan concert





– I experienced my first drag show

-Spent Father’s Day at an I-Cubs game

– I went to the farmer’s market a lot

-I visited my friend Andrew in Los Angeles where we went to art museums, a Dodger’s game, stand-up shows, and a Josh Groban concert. While in California, I also got to see the Kretzu family and eat burgers on the beach in front of an epic sunset.

-Clayton started his job as a Job Developer for Catholic Charities in the refugee department.




-I spent the 4th of July (turned 23) with my family in the Ozarks where we played games, ate too much, went boating, layed out, went down water slides, and hung out at a swim-up bar.

-Tried a go at Contra dancing

-Went to see The Lone Bellow and Brandi Carlile on the Riverfront



-I had the honor of being a groom’s girl for my friend Aaron. His wedding was one of the highlights of my summer, for sure.

-One weekend later Clayton and I both stood up in Colyn and Hilary’s wedding

– I saw T-SWIFT!!





– I was primarily unemployed this month so I did a lot of reading

– We moved into a new apartment

-We bought a used Prius and named it Miles


-Clayton and I celebrated 4 years of marriage

-We went to DC to visit graduate schools and stayed with our lovely friends, the Smiths. While in DC we went to a wine tasting, ate incredible ethnic foods, visited The Phillips Collection and walked to markets.

-Threw the 3rd annual 90’s Halloween party

-We briefly had a cat named Frieda. Tragically, Clayton is actually allergic. I can no longer live in denial. I miss her…even though we never really saw her because she was literally a-fraidy-cat.



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-We spent Thanksgiving in Colorado with BOTH our families

-I went to my first NBA game

-Ugly Sweater Run


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-Saw Peter Pan at the Des Moines Playhouse

-Had 7 family Christmases

-Spent lots of good quality time with friends back home for the holidays

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Cheers, friends! I hope you all had lovely years. Here’s to 2014!



Ask Yourself

The end of 2013 is just around the corner! Which means it is a great time to think back and ask yourself some questions about twenty-thirteen. I adored Emily’s New Year post . I may have to make my own. But I would encourage everyone to ask themselves the following 10 questions. It’ll do your soul some good.


1. When did I feel most alive this year?

During my selfish little escape to Los Angeles this summer. I’ve never traveled by myself for no good reason other than “because I want to”. And it ended up being exactly what I needed. I had QT time with friends, spent time alone, geeked out at art museums, soaked up the sun, explored, went to an epic concert, and then the second I landed back in Iowa I joined my family for a 4th of July week at the lake house. So. Good.

2. What am I most proud of accomplishing this year?

Graduating from college and getting accepted to graduate schools. Clayton and I are planning on going to Edinburgh in the fall of 2014! It’s been a dream just out of reach for so long. I hope it finally happens.

3. How can I improve my relationships?

It is hard to generalize this. I think of relationships on an individual basis. The ways I can improve my relationship with my sister are different than the ways I can improve my relationship with my neighbor. But I have always believed keys to happy, healthy relationships are presence, communication and thoughtfulness. As someone who has the tendency to be a bit too dependent on my relationships to feed me emotionally/mentally/spiritually, I think one way I can improve my relationships with others is by being more loving of and confident in myself…I realize that sounds backwards. Just trust me. It’s harder for me to be and easier for me to do.

4. What new habits do I want to cultivate?

Well, I start Farrell’s kickboxing in January. Emily and I are kicking sugar and I’m afraid to realize what affect hat will have on me haha. Clayton and I want to become super savers (in an effort to make the whole Scotland thing happen, but also because it’s a great idea in general. We’re definitely culprits of eating out too much (I always say this will change when I have a kitchen that isn’t the size of a peanut but that’s probably a lie).

5. What do I need to let go of?

Nagging doubts. Impulsive Target purchases. My art-making hiatus. Trying to do everything on my own.

6. What lessons did I learn?

Plenty of them, I’m sure. I had a lot of lessons in faith this year. I realized how at my core I really perceived God’s love as conditional. I think this comes with growing up in a rule/dogma/systematic-driven religion. I don’t say that with disdain. It just is what it is. I don’t believe anyone is trying to screw things up for other people. But I feel like a lot of church is people telling you what to know and not how to know. It was shocking to see how disconnected my head and heart could be. I knew that the world is very gray, but felt like there had to be a black and white answer. I knew that God loved me no matter what decisions I made in my life, but I felt like if I gave up on my broken relationship that He would love me a little less. I knew that I’m not big enough to ruin any plan of God’s, but I felt like I was messing with some sort of divine course. I was terrified of missing out on the healing and restoration that He promises, as if there is only one way that can or will happen. I felt intense guilt for something I hadn’t even done yet. I felt guilty for just entertaining the idea.  I had a friend tell me that I needed to stop seeing God as “either/or” and instead as “both/and”. Jesus was both fully human and fully divine. He never answered a question with “yes” or “no” and he never asked close-ended questions. The way he healed one person was completely different from another. This was really transformative for me. Someone can tell me I was wrong about this or that (sometimes that person is me), but at the end of the day God only knows. And I have to be ok with the mystery of Him, knowing that God and silence will be experienced simultaneously and even as the same thing.

“All saying must be balanced by unsaying, and knowing must be humbled by unknowing. Without this balance, religion invariably becomes arrogant, exclusionary, and even violent.”

“Praying takes away your anxiety about figuring it all out for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations. At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. There is someone dancing with you and you aren’t afraid of making mistakes.”

“It is an amazing arrogance that allows Christians to so readily believe that their mental understanding of things is anywhere close to that of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, the Life.” I think the intended effect of that often misused line is this: If Jesus is the truth, then you probably aren’t.”

“God is everywhere and always. And He is scandalously found even in the failure of sin.”

“Honoring and allowing of mystery was consistently practiced by Jesus. So many of his sayings are so enigmatic and confusing…if he had been primarily concerned about perfect clarity from his side, and obvious understanding from our side, he surely didn’t do very well as a communicator, even in his lifetime. Protestants insisted on reading and studying scriptures, thank God, but then they were certain they had the one and only interpretation and ignored many of the others. This, even after Jesus so often (7 times in Matthew 13 alone) taught hat the ultimate reality (the Kingdom) is always like something- clearly a simile or a metaphor inviting further experience and journey, not an idea with definitions that could be checked true or false on an exam.”

Quotes from Richard Rohr’s book (mentioned below).

7. Am I passionate about my career or what I’m doing with my life?

I don’t necessarily have a “career” per se. I’m working towards one. But after the New Year I’ll be nanny once again for Miss Vivian and Miss Lola, who is pretty new to the world. I’m looking forward to spending my days with them. I love being around kids. They give me the chance to be creative. They invite me into their little worlds. They teach me. It’s really great.

8. How well did I take care of myself?

Pretty well, I think. It’s been a very self-reflective year.

9. What inspired me?

At the ChildVoice benefit auction I was inspired by how the organization is growing and the values they uphold. Their goodness and perseverance astound me. I am so lucky to have served them and I hope to do it again in the future.

The documentary Miss Representation inspired me to be cautious of the messages I am buying into as a woman.

These books really influenced my faith and inspired me to expand my mental horizons: The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr, The Benefit of Doubt by Gregory Boyd, and A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans.

The Enneagram! It’s a personality test, but more in depth. Is that really nerdy of me? I don’t care. It’s about self-development. It shows you your tendencies at every level from extremely unhealthy to healthy. It’s helped me to understand the lens through which I see things and to better understand the lens through which other types see things. You can take the classic test for free here and read an in depth description of your type(s) here.

And every year I am inspired by the people involved in the details of my every day life. They inspire me to reach my full potential and love me when I’m not there.

10. If I could sum up this year, what word would fit?